#033: Are Your New Year's Resolutions Motivated by Your Desires or God's?: How to make 2018 a Spirit-Powered, Christ-Centered, and God-Directed year.

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My, oh, my, it's 2018. Can you believe it?!
Happy new year, friend!

If you are a dreamer like me, you've probably already dreamed up how you want to be changed in 2018 - how you want to be a better you.

I have my own list of what changes I want to make. I want to...

  • live more out of intent and less out of habit;
  • spend more quality time with my family;
  • grow the Indwelt Women community and help even more women to grow in their faith;
  • be more in shape and feel stronger;
  • steward our finances better and make a big step towards financial freedom;
  • grow deeper in the knowledge of God's Word.

These dreams are great. I'm sure your dreams and aspirations are great, too. You created your list with great intentions.

But statistically speaking, only 8% of people actually achieve the goals they've set for themselves in the New Years. Why is that? Can we Christ-followers be different? Can we actually stick to our goals? Most important of all, how are we Christians supposed to make New Year's Resolutions? How should they look different than our nonbeliever friends'?

In my opinion, when a Christian makes new year's resolutions - or any kind of goals for that matter - they should be Spirit-powered, Christ-centered and God-directed, with a prayerful and surrendering heart.

Prayerful Dreaming and Planning

Often times, we dream of what WE want to do.

WE want to eat healthier.
WE want to spend less money and more time with family.
WE want to read more and scroll less.

Don't get me wrong - those things that we want, they are good things. 
It is not wrong to want to be healthy and be good stewards and be more intentional.

What I'm trying to get at is the heart level - the root cause of why we set the goals we have.

When we make these goals, these New Year's resolutions, are they motivated by our own desires to serve our own purposes? Or are they motivated by God's desires to serve His purposes?

Do you see the difference? One is motivated by self for our glory; one is motivated by God for His glory.

One way to keep our hearts in check is through prayers. 

Before, during and after we set our goals, we should pray:

  • Pray for God's guidance and leadership as we envision the year to come.
  • Pray for God's wisdom to discern our hearts' motivations behind why we want what we want.
  • Pray for God's revelations if any of the goals we set are driven by fear, unbelief or lies we are believing in.
  • Pray for God's wisdom to prioritize what is important for the current season of life and what is not.
  • Pray for God to help us fix our eyes on Him as we work towards these goals.
  • Pray for God to give us perseverance and endurance in achieving these goals.

Through prayerful planning, we align our hearts with God's; His desires will become ours.

Surrendering Our Plans

The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps.
— Proverbs 16:9

After we have set our goals and made our plans, we should lift up our plans to the Lord with open hands and surrender them.

By surrendering our plans, we are submitting to His Will and letting Him guide our steps. We put God's glory above ours, His Will above ours.

This is the scary part of the whole thing, isn't it?
You wouldn't have set the goals if you didn't desire them in the first place; by surrendering the goals, you feel like you are relinquishing your control.

Allow me to be frank (and I mean it in the nicest and most gentle way): you don't have control in the first place.

... he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
— Ephesians 1:20-21

God is the sovereign God who has control of everything. He is above all rules and all authority.

We can't lose what we don't have in the first place.

We can't control what happens to us in life because the control does not belong to us.

BUT, we can take comfort in knowing that our Heavenly Father works all things together for good - for our spiritual, eternal good.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:28

Because God Himself orchestrates everything to work in our eternal favor, we can have the confidence in surrendering our plans to Him knowing that whatever steps He establishes for us, they are for our good.

I love what Matthew Henry says about how God works all things together for our good:

Either directly or indirectly, every providence has a tendency to the spiritual good of those that love God, breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, fitting them for heaven.
— Matthew Henry

If you surrender your plans to Him, no matter where God leads you this year, you can be sure you are being molded more like Christ and brought closer to God.

2018: Your Spirit-Powered, Christ-Centered, God-Directed Year

All that goes to say: a Christian should have a prayerful and surrendering heart throughout the year as they make plans.

In addition to that, our minds also need to be rooted in the Truth in order to discern whether or not our plans glorify God, in order to fulfill what God has called us to do.

To be rooted in the Truth, we must first open up the Bible to know what's on God's mind.

For some of you when you hear the word "quiet time", you might feel overwhelmed because you don't know where to begin, or, you might feel guilty because you haven't been reading.

I want to encourage you that quality Bible time doesn't have to be overwhelming.
It doesn't have to require a full hour of your full attention.

To spend time in the Word begins with one verse, after another, after another.
It begins with a heart that desires to draw closer to God.

Starting January 3rd, 2018, I want to come alongside you, encourage you to open the Bible and be in the Word through our Revive My Quiet Time! Challenge.

It is a FREE 21-Day challenge that will get you in the Word one verse at a time.

Every day for 21 days, we will read one verse together.

We will spend our time digging deep into the verse and really dwell on what God's trying to teach you. We will comprehend, interpret and apply the biblical text according to our current seasons of life.

I will hold you accountable, along with other women who are also in the challenge with you in real time.

We will support and encourage each other in the private Indwelt Women Facebook Community. Request to join here.

We will come out of the challenge feeling refreshed and filled up because our cups are filled with Truth. We will kick off 2018 with a heart that is reoriented to Christ and a mind that is transformed by His Word.

But these won't happen unless you actually open the Bible.
So what do you say?! Join me for the challenge and let's do this together!

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Podcast music: Sunny Holidays & Summertime by Nicolai Heidlas