How Will You Change in 2024? Part Two

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

Life is full of interferences that constantly distract us from our personal and spiritual goals. Paul was well aware of the enemy’s efforts to destroy God’s plans. “Straining toward what is ahead,” he pressed on. And so must we! In this writing I want to continue to explore practical and scriptural help to keep us pressing on!

Live a Life of Change

I read 75 out of 200 book titles incorporate the word “change” in it. Since the beginning of the 20th Century over 18 million titles use the word “change.” Something compels us towards change. We want change! In our lives, our circumstances, our society. I believe God connects change to our gifts and abilities. Our gifts, when properly used, change us, and change others.

Though, it’s not always easy to embrace change. When I was about to become an empty nester, I complained to my son, “I don’t like change!”

He told me, “Mom, that’s because as you get older change becomes more of what you are losing, than what you are gaining.” He often shares insightful words with me. It’s hard to welcome change when we experience loss more than gain. I’ve especially faced that with my health over the past ten years.

So, how have I tried to take the words my son shared and turn them around?

  1. My first thought became, I need to purpose each year to discover, create, and incorporate something fun and new into my life. Though I’ve lost the ability to do several things I truly enjoyed, more time to pursue other areas of interest and giftedness opened up in my life. 
  2. I try not to lose heart. Honestly, I find this an immense challenge. Maybe you do too? My health needle is always moving in my life, often not in the direction I prefer. Your life may face different unwelcomed changes. Some things God allows are simply out of our control. But we can find great consolation in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
  3. I determine to focus my biggest changes in life, toward Christ. Either we believe nothing compares to life in Christ, or we don’t. For me there’s simply nothing better than change that brings glory and honor to God.

Perhaps you have some other thoughts on this subject? I’d love to hear them.

In short, in order to press on, we don’t make change our enemy; we make it our objective!

Live a Life of Abiding

I assume, by now, you’ve viewed my video on my website home page. I can’t stress enough that a follower of Christ lives a life where their faith dwells deeply in Christ. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:31). Faith isn’t just what we believe, but how we respond or act upon what we believe.

In John 15:9-10, Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now abide in my love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.”

We must also abide in the Spirit and rely on the strength he provides from within.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). 

We never press on in our own strength. We draw our strength from God’s Word, by abiding in his love through keeping his commandments, and by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in every believer.

Live a Life of Practice

Lately I’ve been cleaning out paper files. One of those files is “Computer Help.” It comprises brief notes, I wrote when learning to navigate new things on my computer years ago. If I forgot how to manage something, I would simply refer to my note. Something my husband appreciated versus asking him repeatedly for help. Now I store my help notes in a folder on my computer. So, I took my written notes to transfer them to my computer. However, I soon realized, I no longer had a need for my written notes. My notes contained navigation skills I now had mastered. I thought about all the techie stuff I could now accomplish simply from practice.

The Christian life consists of a lot of practice in the right direction. We find our help notes in the Bible. Christian maturity develops slowly over many years, it results from pressing on in faithful practice of what we find in God’s Word.  

Live a Life of Fixing Your Mind

Marcus Aurelius, philosopher, and Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD observed: “The things you think about determine the quality of your mind. Your soul takes the color of your thoughts. Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

One of our greatest struggles in life becomes the battle over our thoughts. This is another constant challenge in my life. Everything starts in the mind and determines the shape of our lives from day-to-day. Therefore, God asks us to fix our minds on “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).

How can we press on when our personal world feels like it’s falling apart, not to mention the rest of the world? We fix our minds on the one who tells us he is sovereign over everything! 

Live a Life of Diligence

Paul stressed a life of diligence, but so did Peter. In 2 Peter 1:5 he tells us to add diligence to our faith. Why? Because Christ offers us the opportunity to become partakers in his divine nature. What an offer! We weren’t called to spend our days just putting our time in. We remain diligent because of everything we’ve received through Christ.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Let go, and let God.” A phrase that applies to every area where we have shown diligence. It is not the prescription for us to live a life of laziness. Nor should we live expecting God will handle the responsibilities he has assigned to us.

Consider adding this fun word to your vocabulary, hurkle-durkle. A 200-year-old Scottish word that means: To lie in bed, or to lounge after it is time to get up or go to work. Let’s refuse to hurkle-durkle the time the Lord has given us on this earth. Let’s press on!

Live a Life of Persistence

Years ago, in the late fall, we moved into a fifty-year-old home in Duncansville, PA. The prior and only previous owners were three sisters. The house was being sold by the last sister still alive. A house that sat on an acre of land. The owner only made one request of us. Please don’t take out, remove, mow over anything in the yard until you see what happens in the spring.

We respected her wish, waited for spring, and then…WOW! In the spring a long row of peony bushes popped up, hundreds of bulbs sprung up from the ground, wildflowers appeared everywhere, especially an abundance of vibrant orange poppies. We even had a grapevine of lush red grapes our children could sell to those who drove by.

The sisters had created something of ineffable beauty and inspiration. They practiced a great principle. That we reach our goals one step (or bulb) at a time, no matter how small the step. The women loved to plant and realized with the accumulation of time they would achieve what they envisioned.

Pressing on, requires vision and patience! Paul realized, and so must we that we are God’s work in progress. One day spring will arrive and everything we envisioned and more will overwhelm us, if we press on to win the prize for which God has called each believer.

You will change this year. That’s a given. The question, I hope, you will prayerfully consider is, how will you change in 2024?

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