December 27, 2014

New Habits for a New Year

I have written before how much I love the New Year. Ever since I was a boy with my Atari 2600, I’ve loved hitting the reset button and starting fresh! Advancing years and more maturity have shown me that it is not always possible (or even desirable) to do so. But I still love this time of year when there is this seasonal impetus to start over, and make fresh plans, and do differently!

And so, in that spirit, allow me to suggest to you four areas in which you might hit the reset button in your life as the calendar changes in just a few days. Perhaps for you it might not even be a reset, but the booting up of a whole new machine! But either way, here are four habits I encourage you to take up in the new year (and even today!) …

1. Plan to read the Bible. We all say we want to read the Bible, but I know from personal experience that want-to doesn’t always translate to action unless we have a real plan. So take up a Bible reading plan beginning January 1.
  • The New Testament in a year, 1 chapter a day.
  • The Old Testament in a year, 2 chapters a day.
  • The Bible in a year, using one of several plans that can be found (and often read) online.

2. Devote yourself to family devotions. Make it a regular habit to gather together with spouse and children to read a passage from the Bible, talk about briefly about how it applies, pray together, and sing. You might work your way (more slowly than the plans mentioned above) through books like Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, John, Romans, and Ephesians. 15 minutes a day will bless your whole family … for years (perhaps generations) to come!

3. “Remember the sabbath.” God meant what He said when He commanded us to take a day off every week (and to give those who serve us a day off, too, Exodus 20:8-11). He meant what He said when He taught us to set aside that day, even from our normal recreations (Isaiah 58:13-14), so that we might have time for uninterrupted delighting in Him. It’s what is best for us! It is good! And it is a key test of whether we are willing to trust God’s word, or think ourselves wiser than it. So give yourself the treasure of a whole day, every week, for rest and worship and delight in the things of God. I promise you won’t regret it, or lack any good thing by cutting your work and chore and shopping week short by a day!

4. Get yourself a missions piggy bank. We are just finishing off our annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering® for international missions – a chance to give Jesus a Christmas present of His own (so to speak), by supporting His missionaries. Some of you have perhaps given part of your Christmas bonus, or of your gift-giving budget. And God will reward that! But perhaps you thought to yourself: ‘Boy, I’d have liked to have given more.’ Well, next year you can – if you’ll get a piggy bank, or a coffee can, or a little gift box … and fill it up all year round with money for missions. $20 per monthly paycheck would mean an additional $240 for missions next December. And $50 per month would be $600! So get a little container, and make Lottie Moon a part of your regular monthly budget. Again, you won’t regret it!

So there are four new (or renewed) habits for 2015. They’re all quite simple, and well within the grasp of nearly everyone who reads these words. Take them up in the New Year, and the rewards will be such that no piggy bank will be able to hold them!

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