The question, “how do I change my life?” is really answered by WHO can change my life. Jesus is the answer. The only thing that brings true and lasting change into the life of any person is the saving grace of Jesus Christ, first in salvation (positional justification) and then in sanctification (practical application). God made man to live in communion with Him, in perfect harmony with His will and His ways. God intended that our thoughts and actions be directed by His Holy Spirit. Of course we know that changed in the Garden when Adam sinned, but God in His love and mercy sent Jesus. Jesus IS the answer for real change.
We just celebrated the remembrance of Jesus’ birth and now we have entered into the New Year. This is the perfect time to make two New Year’s resolutions that will have a profound impact on the direction of your life this year:
- Spend more time with God in prayer.
- Read and study the Word of God.
New Year’s Resolutions?
You’re probably thinking…”but New Year’s Resolutions don’t work!”
You are right. Statistics like this support the belief that New Year’s Resolutions are ineffectivet:
Studies reveal that 25% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January, 
The likelihood of keeping a resolution throughout the year is very bleak. It’s estimated that 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions will have been broken by the year’s end. 
So why set a New Year’s resolution to read and study the Bible more?
Won’t that resolution fail like all other resolutions? I think not, because unlike with other resolutions, God will honor the desires of a heart that yearns to know Him better. Plus, God has given us:
A Helper who will challenge us to stick with it.
A Helper who will give us the strength to keep our resolution; and
A Helper who will teach us God’s Word.
The Helper, of course, is the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised to send Him to us and for us, and that He would teach us all things.
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Bible is the only book that, when we read it, the Author is present with us. He is with us to teach us and to help us understand. Ask the Author questions as you read, and be ready to hear Him “speak” from the pages of His book.
So why set a New Year’s resolution to pray more?
Resolve to pray more because prayer is a restoration of our communion with God. Prayer facilitates a deeper and more intimate relationship with God.
We cannot begin to understand the communion with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to their sin. Jesus’ gift of salvation has given us both the forgiveness of our sin (Ephesians 1:7) and His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) that makes us worthy to come before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and to talk with God. Jesus restores the relationship God intended with His creation. Through prayer, we are able to enter into the presence of our amazing, gracious God, our Father in Heaven. Remembering this creates in us a desire to spend more time with the Lord talking to Him in prayer.
Spending time with God in prayer and reading and studying His word are the best ways to establish our hearts in His grace (Hebrews 13:9b); and, with a heart devoted to Him, our lives will change.
Our Lives Move in the Direction of our Most Dominant Thoughts
No truer statement can be made. What controls our minds will direct our lives. The things that we “feed” into minds will fuel our hearts and direct our words and actions. All too often we forget the things we should remember and we remember the things we should forget. What we should remember is JESUS! What we should fill our minds with are thoughts about Him, His will, His ways, and His teachings.
Sanctification (growing in holiness, Read: What you need to know about Sanctification & Glorification) begins with rightly remembering 1) who Jesus is, 2) what He has done for us and 3) who we are in Him. When we forget any part of those three things, we are prone to wander, to turn inward, and eventually fail and fall. God in His mercy and grace has already given us everything we need:
God has given us liberty from sin, sight to see and ears to hear. (Luke 4:18)
God has given us eternal life and unity with Him. (John 17:3, 23)
God has given us His Holy Spirit. (John 14:16, 16:7)
God has given us His love (John 17:26, 1 John 3:1)
God has given us His joy, peace and hope (Romans 15:13)
God has given us His Word and His mission. (John 17:8, 18)
God has given us the promise of glory to come. (John 17:22)
Do we really believe that we’ve been given all those things? Of course, we do! The real question in daily living is less about whether we believe those things, but whether we remember them because when we live remembering all that we have been given we are free to live reflecting the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Our True Identity
In my book Why the Butterfly? Rightly Remembering Jesus I wrote about rightly remembering. The book includes a section on remembering who we are in Christ. One of the best places to learn about our identity in Christ and remember all the riches we have been given is in the Book of Ephesians. We are told in the first three chapters what it means to live in newness of life, regenerated by Jesus. We are told that we are: blessed (Eph 1:3), chosen (Eph 1:4), holy and blameless (Eph 1:4), predestined (Eph 1:5, 11), given, redeemed (Eph 1:7), forgiven (Eph 1:7), enlightened (Eph 1:18), quickened/made alive (Eph 2:5), saved (Eph 2:5, 8), raised up (Eph 2:6) and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13).
Read each of the verses and note that God doesn’t say you will be blessed, but rather that you have been blessed. He doesn’t say, you will be chosen if you do something, but that you already are chosen. God doesn’t say, you will be made alive if you do the right thing, but that you already have been made alive. Every designation of who you are in Christ is spoken of in the past tense because it has already taken place. God gave you this identity when He saved you. 
“It is Finished”
We live in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Because we are “in Him,” His finished work has been credited to our account and we have received all the gifts listed above. We truly have everything we need. When we remember that, we are free to give everything we have. Remembering what we have been given, and to whom we belong, will direct our thoughts and actions. We will make better choices in daily life and better reflect the love and grace of Jesus.
Remember, Read, and Pray
Make a choice today to remember better. Set a resolution to read the Bible and pray more. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us. When we pray, we speak to God. It really is a two-way relationship, and we are privileged to enter into that holy communion with God.
Here Goes…Our Beginning-of-the-Year Pitch for Daily Bible Reading
Make a resolution to read the Bible daily! And, remember, you have a Helper who will encourage and teach you. If you read 3 1/2 chapters of the Bible each day, you will read through the Bible in one year. You would never go a day without food. So, do not go a day without your “Daily Bread.” Visit our Daily Devotions pages. Daily Bread and Hope for Today. (Sign up to get the weekly devotions in our Friday emails.)
Reading the Bible will grow your faith and fuel you to pray more and to serve Christ in God-honoring ways. So, where should you start?
You can start anywhere (suggestions here). Jesus is on every page of the Bible. Keep your eyes open and look for Him—the volume of the Book is written of Him (Psalm 40:7) and all the Scriptures expound things about Him (Luke 24:27)
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path….
Revive me, O LORD,
according to Your word.
(Psalm 119:105, 107)
 Tom Connellan, The 1 Percent Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever” Peak Performance Press, 2011
 Shari Abbott, Why the Butterfly? A Book About Rightly Remembering Jesus, pg. 76-77 available at the Reasons for Hope* Jesus store.
More inspiration for the New Year:
What are “The 70 New Year’s Resolutions?”
A New Year’s Meditation by Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
A New Year, A New Hope, It’s My Year – Guaranteed to Make You Smile! (video)
How Do I Change My Life? Two New Year’s Resolutions that will work!
Is a New Year’s Eve party biblical? What about the alcohol?
At the Gate of the Year: A Message to a Troubled Nation
I Resolve To….(video)
A New Year, A New Start. . .Another Resolution?
A New Year, A New Beginning
Good Reminders for the New Year
Not feeling in a celebratory mood? Remember, you are not alone. Read this article & watch the short video.
Do not be anxious about anything. (Phil 4:6)
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must rightly remember who is in control. Our God is sovereign over all things, including COVID-19. As Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said, “The sovereignty of God is a soft pillow on which weary people lay their heads.”
Remember also God’s gracious promise, and that it is true and He is faithful to keep it: Hebrews 13:5 …”I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” The next verse remind us of the power that comes in trusting God and how we can live: Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man [or COVID-19] shall do to me.
God loves us, and in Christ we find confidence and calm in times of uncertainty and trouble. When we trust in God, fear is replaced with faith, stress is replaced with strength, anxiety is gone and hope abounds, problems become opportunities, and we are able to receive the blessings God has for us in the midst of difficult circumstances. Turn to Jesus. He will lead you to the still waters and give rest for your troubled soul.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…Hebrews 6:19
Be Ready Always...
to give a reason for the Hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15). When you can’t share the gospel with your words, share it by leaving tracts that tell people about God's grace.
When leaving a tract, always be diligent to pray about the short gospel message. Pray that it be found by someone who is in need of Jesus’ saving grace, and pray that the person will have a tender heart and open ears to receive the gift Jesus desires to give them.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, even a small tract can help in turning a broken sinner from darkness to light.
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