We’ve crossed over the threshold of time, moving from one year into another. This article is number thirty seven in a line of bulletin articles I’ve been privileged to write at the beginning of a new year. Four such articles have come at the beginning of a new decade, and one served to usher in a new century and millennium. I suppose it’s common for a preacher to mull over, to a somewhat greater degree, just what he should write at the beginning of a new year. He wants to say something profound, something that will motivate thoughtfulness and action in a positive direction on both an individual and a congregational basis.
Along that line I would ask this question: “Do you want to do better this year?” Most of us would say, almost without hesitation, “Yes!” Of course, different people will make different applications as to in what area of life they would like to do better. Some would focus on lifestyles, others on relationships and still others on their financial situations. Some would want to acquire knowledge or training that would help them get a better job and move up in life.
But we should all give the closest scrutiny to our spiritual lives. That is truly the most important aspect of our lives with the farthest reaching consequences. How are you doing spiritually? How are you doing as a Christian? Do you want to do better this year?
How can you do better spiritually this year? Are you at every assembly of the church that you can possibly attend? If not, you can do better by making up your mind that you will be present whenever possible when the church meets. No excuses! You’ll be at Bible classes, and you’ll have your children at Bible classes. Both you and they will grow spiritually as a result.
Are you reading the Bible regularly, according to a plan, or is your Bible reading regimen pretty much a hit or miss prospect. Do you depend upon what you pick up at the church services you attend for most of your Bible knowledge? If so, you can do better. If you’ll set aside, on purpose, thirty minutes a day to read the Bible, you’ll probably be able to read it nearly all the way through this year. Such a schedule is in this bulletin! About three chapters a day will do it, and most people can read three chapters in thirty minutes or less. You’ll be amazed at how much your Bible knowledge will increase, and since faith comes by hearing the word of God ( Rom. 10:17 ), your faith will grow stronger.
Are you praying regularly, at set times, every day? If not, you can do better. The more you talk to God, the more you let Him into your life, the closer to Him you‘ll become. As you develop a closer relationship with God, your spiritual life will get better.
Are you doing anything actively in the work and activities of the church? If not, you can certainly do better. Involvement will help you gain a stronger sense of really being a part of the church. It’ll give you a greater sense of purpose and identity as a Christian and a member of the Lord’s body. And being involved with your brothers and sisters in Christ will bring you into closer relationships with them.
Do you want to do better this year? You’ll have to make up your mind, and you’ll have to follow through on a consistent basis. Are you ready to make the commitment to do what needs to be done, with God’s help, to do better this year? It’s up to you …
Gary L. Hutchens