Take the opportunities built into a new year

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Many people take opportunity at the first of the year to make New Year’s Resolutions. Oftentimes, these commitments are only vague memories by the first day of February.

On the first day of the year, my pastor, Dr. Frank Cox, suggested some very outstanding New Year’s Resolutions that every Christian should consider. I have taken them to heart and will seek to be consistent in these nine areas:

  1. Be a person of prayer. None of us should have to be reminded to pray, but too often prayer is relegated to the blessing before the meal, Sunday morning prayers at church, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, or at night as we fall asleep. There is power in prayer. Since God has invited us to communicate directly with Him, this is a privilege and honor never to be taken casually.
  2. Be a student of the Scripture. The Bible is so much more than food for thought, it is food for the heart and soul of the believer. As you study Scripture, do so with the prayer that God will allow the Holy Spirit to open your understanding to what you are reading. You will be amazed at how God answers that prayer and reveals truth to you.
  3. Be an encourager. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world of encouragers? You may not be able to make that happen for others, but you can start with you. Think about it every morning. Make it a matter of prayer that God will lead you to someone in the course of the day whom you might encourage.
  4. Be a good inviter. So many have said to me, “I feel inadequate as a Christian witness.” My response to that is, “How are you at inviting?” We invite friends and neighbors to join us for a myriad of events. How about inviting them to church? In the fellowship of the church, they will sense the joy of being a Christian; they will hear the Gospel taught and preached. By inviting them, you are being a witness.
  5. Be a willing missionary. By the way, while we know, and are so thankful, that God calls career missionaries to serve across the world, don’t forget that every Christian is a missionary. If God didn’t call you to go across the world, but left you where you are, He, no doubt, needs you as a missionary right where you are.
  6. Be a volunteer at church. I helped in the nursery at our church one Sunday. Honestly, it was one of the most fulfilling times I remember. Getting on the floor with the children and seeking to represent our loving Lord through playtime and communication about how much Jesus loves them was a real blessing. In addition, I have enjoyed several terms of service on the Personnel Team.
  7. Be hospitable. While this should be our nature at all times, it must be especially true at church. I remember when Janice and I were newcomers to the city as newly marrieds. We went to a large church nearby. From the time we walked into the church, sat through the morning worship service, and walked back to our car, not one single person ever said “Hello,” “Welcome,” or anything else for that matter. Just a good old common dose of hospitality should be natural for all of our churches.
  8. Be a sacrificial giver. While recent surveys tell us that Christians are giving a little over 2 percent of their income to God, we know we are admonished in Scripture to give a tithe of all the Lord has given to us. While the tithe is Old Testament law, Jesus commended the tithe in Matthew 23:23. Do you really think we should give less in the age of grace than was required under the law? The tithe is not really sacrificial giving. It is basic. It is the beginning place for the believer.
  9. Be accountable. It is wise for every follower of Christ to have an accountability partner, someone who can be trusted to give wise counsel and trusted correction. You may be that person to someone else, but who is that person for you?

I am certain that following these nine principles will assure a great year of Christian service in 2017, and that it will serve only to strengthen your church and bless people around you.

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