Three Ways to Keep Your Heart and Life Turned Toward God 

 

Happy New Year friends! Are you ready for the start of a new year?  Let’s talk about what it means for us to have our BEST YEAR EVER! 

 Who doesn’t dream that this year can be better than last year? No matter our starting point, at the beginning of each year, we dream of whatever is missing to be found, whatever is broken to be fixed, and whatever has changed to feel like normal again. The difficulty is figuring out what we need to do in order to make that happen for us.  

Cue the New Year’s Resolution. Some are quick to hate on the idea of a New Year’s Resolution for a variety of reasons. But, all a New Year’s Resolution means is that someone wants to make something in her life better. A resolution isn’t a promise, nor is it a quick fix. In many ways, it’s a step away from denial toward a healthy truth that some part of life could or should be better than it is.   

One of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions that I heard while working on staff at my local church was “I want to get closer to God.” That’s a great New Year’s Resolution! 

Not only do I want to cheer you on, but I’d also like to offer a few ideas if you want to make this the best year ever when it comes to your faith.  

1. Stop feeling guilty!

Don’t let guilt be the biggest reason that you want to grow closer to God. Sure, you might have missed more church than planned or scrolled through Facebook more than your Bible.  But here’s the thing: Guilt might get you going, but it isn’t enough to get you to the goal. 

When we feel guilty about not connecting with God, that’s when we imagine that God is disappointed with us. Then we start trying to do things that we think will please God. But, when we falter, like miss church or forget to read our Bible then those guilty feelings come roaring back! Then, we might start easing our way as far away from God as possible. THAT IS the recipe for the worst year ever, not the best year ever. 

The path to the best year ever with God is to start with GRATITUDE. Each day, I take time and write down all of the big and little things that God has done for me. This means that I give thanks for the electric blanket that keeps me warm. I give thanks for the friend who met me for coffee and offered compassion, not judgment. I give thanks for God’s presence and provision as I navigate a heartbreaking relational trauma.    

The more that we give thanks to God for what He has done and how He takes care of us, the closer we will feel to God.  

2. Get Life-Giving Friends

If you want to have your best year ever, you won’t be able to do it on your own. You will need to have life-giving, like-minded people who love Jesus cheering you on and challenging you toward your best year ever.   

What does it mean to have life-giving Christians around you?   

  • They love Jesus and actually love ALL others (Mark 12:30).  
  • They don’t cut other people down for struggling with personal problems (Galatians 6:1-2) .
  • They are generous in giving their time and resources to others (1 Timothy 6:18).  
  • They live with hope (instead of negativity) (1 Peter 3:15).

The most important lesson is that we have to make room for these people in our lives. If you have too many negative people, even if they say that they are Christians, you will NEVER have your best year ever. The negative people won’t let you!  

How do you get away from negative, selfish people who suck the life out of you? You go out and fill your available time with life-giving people. You ask them out for coffee, make dinner plans, and join their Bible studies. The more your schedule is filled with life-giving people, the easier it will be for you to ease the life-sucking people out of your life.   

3. Pick a focus verse 

 Life is a roller coaster, isn’t it?  So, when my emotions are riding high or I’m feeling low, I need a way to steady my heart and mind so that I can make wise decisions that will honor my relationships and keep my heart and mind looking toward God.  

 For me, choosing a few verses to repeat over and over to myself is an important tool to stay strong and stable while my life still on a wild, difficult ride toward an unknown future. At the time I’m writing these words to you, I have no idea what my living situation or marital status will be in six months. But I know this, if I can hang onto God’s promises, then I can hang in through anything. 

Hanging onto God’s promises means that I tuck God’s Word into my heart and mind so that I can hear Him later when He’s trying to speak to me.  God uses His words to speak to us, so if you don’t feel like you’re hearing from God enough, perhaps it’s because you need to know more of what He’s saying. 

This year, one of these verses that I am focused on is Psalm 46:10: 

Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.  

Since this is a focus verse for me, I repeat it over and over again so that when I am in a situation where I’m anxious about the future or I want to control an outcome, then God will use His words to speak to me and calm me down.  

You can Google “popular Bible verses” and find one that fits your life. You can post on Facebook and ask people to share their favorite Bible verses if you feel too overwhelmed to find your own. 

It doesn’t matter if you choose the same verse as someone else. God will speak that verse back to you in a way that is personal and perfectly customized to whatever you are going through.  Each time you sense God bring that verse back up, you’ll feel loved, cared for and reminded about how much you matter to Him. 

And that is how you know that you’re living your best year ever!  

I’D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Which one of the three “best year ever” tips interests you the most? Do you have any other ideas to share?