Sunday, January 1, 2012

Monday's Devotion: Becoming Better this Year

"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me." Philippians 3:12

Yesterday's sermon was on Philippians 3:12-16 and how we should move forward in this new year. As we were covering these verses, that first part kept catching my eye. It's amazing how true Paul's words are! Paul, the dude who wrote a good portion of the new testament, and encourages Christ's followers to live fully for Him (the Lord), admits that he hasn't met perfection; that he hasn't reached his goal. No, not his goal, but the goal that God has prepared for him. Paul expresses his desire to continue striving to glorify the Lord with his words, actions, thoughts, all of him. If you are familiar with these verses, they go on to say that Paul he is going to forget what is behind and press on to the goal. Paul's words, here, are really inspiring to me! As the pastor spoke about yesterday, he explained that Paul said he was "forgetting what was behind him". Letting go of the past! Moving on! The preacher then went to explain that meant to not hang on to past because that can really keep us from moving on in the future. Refusing to forgive someone, thinking of how things "used to be", or even (and this one hit me square in the face) bringing up past victories over sin. All of those things keep our feet planted in the past! They keep us remembering how we used to be instead of working on who God wants us to be. We are always in the need of improving!

In keeping with how God always presses a point in a few different ways to make sure I got it, this morning's devotion was on Matthew 26:41, "Watch and pray so will not fall into temptation. The [heart] is willing, but the flesh is weak." As I was making my list, yes, I said list of New Year's Resolutions, my biggest goal was to make sure my goals for this year were reasonable (for example "go down one dress size" as opposed to "dropping 25 pounds"). I also wanted to make sure they were clear. I can't just say, "be a better daughter." I needed to be specific. Because although my heart is willing to be a better daughter, I needed to lay out specifics for myself to help me to attain that goal. So instead, I decided that I would like to have lunch with my mom once a month (if I do this more than once, GREAT, but at least once is an attainable goal). This morning's devotion was very clear about not giving in to temptation. My heart is beyond willing to have a daily devotion, but I know that if I don't become disciplined, there will be days, or even weeks, before I really sit down with the Lord. My flesh is weak.

So the moral?

1. I need to put away the past. No, I did not reach all my goals last year. Yes, my feelings were hurt last year. But the important thing, just like Paul mentioned in Philippians, is that I need to put the past behind me and keep looking forward, to the goal Christ has set before me. Learning means to see the mistakes you made yesterday, so you can move forward a better person today. It does not mean to keep looking at yesterday to beat myself up for failing or to beat someone else up. I have to keep the past there so I can move on now.

2. Be specific in how I can reach those goals. I know my personality. I know that I need specifics, and I need to write them down, and I need to check them off. I also need to recognize the roadblocks that have kept me from the goals in the past and prepare for them for the future. I don't have to dwell on the past (see #1), but I need to learn from it so I can move on. All of those things hold me accountable. For me, writing my goals for this year down on a big poster board that I can check off is exactly what I need to make sure I keep my eyes forward, on the prize.

3. Avoid roadblocks and detours. Life gets in the way. This morning, I wanted to hit that snooze button again so I can sleep in one more day before school starts tomorrow. But I knew that if I didn't get up before the rest of the family, I was never going to get my devotion in; I was never going to get today's blog up; and I was never going to get in my 30 minutes of exercise in (another goal for this year). I set that alarm clock, went to bed early, set out my work out clothes, and made a point in my mind to not fall into temptation to sleep just a little bit longer. I don't know about you, but I have to set up precautions for me to not run into roadblocks or take that little detour if I want to keep my eye on the prize.

I want to become better this year. I want to glorify the Lord with my words, actions, thoughts, all  of me. I want to win the race God has set before me with flying colors, and the Lord has given me a new year, each year, to learn from my mistakes, and to prepare for the long journey ahead. May you be blessed this year and may you run the race God has given you with grace and endurance. May this year be a truly new year for you to look forward and let go of the past. May your heart and mind be willing to press on!

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