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A new year, another beginning, a fresh start.
More opportunities to grow closer to God. More chances to be the person he created you to be. More possible ways to serve those around you.
If you’re like me, it’s often hard to know where to begin making changes. Whether you have a lot you want to change this year or just a few things, either way you’re going to need God’s power to do it. And that’s what this book is all about—tapping into God’s daily power to live the life he wants us to live. Because on our own, we are weak, vulnerable, and spiritually exposed. But Christ gives us the power to overcome temptation, to forgive those who hurt us, to choose what is right over what is easy. So daily, we will look at a verse or two, and ingest spiritual truths that will strengthen and empower us to live the live God wants us to live.
To get you started, consider this: what do you want your story to be a year from now? What major difference do you want to see in your life when you reflect back on this new year? What’s one tiny baby step you can take today to begin moving in this direction?
Because you know how we grow? We practice daily.
Rarely does success come without time, discipline, and hard work. Successful people often joke that they spent years becoming an “overnight success.” What many don’t realize is that it’s the things no one sees that result in the things everyone wants. It’s the faithfulness to do mundane things like flossing, walking around the block, eating better, and, most of all, spending time with God before rushing out the door each morning.
The best way to think about changing your story is to focus on today—not tomorrow, next week, or next January.
It’s time to take that first step.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
- --Jer. 29:11, NIV
Have you noticed how many New Year’s sales are going on? Each January you see “new year, new you” marketing pitches everywhere you turn., Knowing we might not have gotten all we wanted for Christmas, stores encourage us to replace broken appliances, update our technology, and buy those products to help us keep our resolutions.
Retailers know it’s often easier and more cost-efficient to discard something broken and purchase it new rather than invest the time and money into repairing the old. Why bother fixing a broken coffee maker when you can toss it and purchase a new one for the price of a few pounds of coffee?
As God’s creation, however, we cannot be thrown away and discarded. While others may judge us or we them, it’s often our own self-condemnation, fueled by the enemy’s accusations, that blocks our fresh start. We end up feeling weak and defeated and unsure of how to begin again.
But remember, God has promised to never abandon or forsake us. Our Father is committed to forgiving our sins, healing our wounds, and blessing us with an abundant life.
He’s the source of the “new you.”
God, I’m so glad you don’t discard me when I mess up. Thank you for your mercy and kindness, for the way you take my broken pieces and make me whole again.
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
- --Gal. 5:25, NIV
One small decision today could have a big impact on your tomorrow. Chances are you can think of something right now that you know God would love to include in your story. For example, just consider what might happen if you remember to pray tonight, or workout tomorrow morning, or attend church this Sunday, or spend some special time with someone you love.
It doesn’t always take a long time to see big differences in your life. Weeks or months from now, what story do you believe God wants you to tell? What does God want you to want? Take a minute and jot down some thoughts about what you believe God wants for your future. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to commit to what you write just yet. Just capture on paper the first thoughts that come to mind.
Based on what you believe God wants you to want, what do you need to start? What discipline do you need to start doing to start heading toward where God wants you to go? Just one thing. You’ll be tempted to pick three, four, or even ten, but don’t. Whatever you do, pick just one thing. Because if you pick more than one, you likely won’t achieve any of them. But if you select just one, you can absolutely start writing the story God wants you to write.
Show me how you want me to grow this year, God. Give me your wisdom and discernment about how to focus my habits, choices, and routines around one area of change.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
- --2 Cor. 5:17, NIV
Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” He knew a great life is built by small disciplines and wise decisions. For most of my adult life, I’ve followed his advice and started one new discipline every year. It may not sound like much, but they add up. Over the years, I’ve gotten in better physical shape, become a better student of God’s Word, and a more intentional financial steward. I’ve started small and just kept at it.
Sure, I’ve slipped up and had to start over. But the new disciplines that stick are the ones I accomplished by praying about them and committing to them daily.
I’m convinced two of the biggest mistakes you can make in life are not starting and not finishing. Maybe you’ve had good intentions to start some new habits in the past. Maybe you left many of them unfinished. Regret has set in. Sometimes you feel like a failure. You’re embarrassed to even try starting over.
While you can’t undo the past, today you can start a new habit, even something simple as reading this devotional all the way through, that could dramatically improve your future. If you’re willing to take that first step, Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, will give you wisdom, strength and direction to help you complete what he’s called you to begin.
I can only imagine how different my story will be, Lord, if I add one new positive discipline over this next year. With your help, I know I can make the change you’re calling me to make.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it.”
- --2 Tim. 3:14, NIV
To the delight of dental hygienists everywhere, I’m an evangelist for flossing. . While I want us all to have healthy gums, I’m committed to flossing because it represents the importance personal habits and routines have in our lives.
Flossing matters to me because it’s the first and easiest discipline for me to quit. I’ve never liked it, and when I’m tired, I’d rather just brush my teeth and fall into bed. But my choosing not to floss opens the door for other challenge.
When I force myself to floss, even though I don’t want to, I feel disciplined. Since I feel disciplined, I continue with my workout plan. Since I work out, I eat better. I sleep better, too. And when I sleep well, I wake up early and do my Bible reading before work.
On the other hand, when I don’t floss, I feel undisciplined and more inclined to drop other habits as well. Since I didn’t floss, I’m more likely to skip a workout, which then helps me rationalize eating more junk food. Those lazy, sloppy habits then come back to haunt me when I don’t sleep as well at night.
Okay, I’m exaggerating—a little. But you have to agree: certain disciplines lead to other positive actions. And the path to discipline begins with the habits you cultivate. Yes, I encourage you to floss today—but more importantly, commit to the habits that will honor God, strengthen your faith, and improve the quality of your life.
Dear God, today I will practice habits to cultivate discipline in my life. You are the source of my strength, and I can do all things through you—even flossing.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
- --James 1:5, ESV
Today you are one decision away from changing your life forever.
You might not even know exactly what that one decision will be. It’s more natural to assume such a big, life-changing decision would be obvious. And sometimes they are, like whether you should take a new job in another state or whether to return to school and finish your degree. Or if you should marry the person you’ve been dating for the last few months. Clearly, huge decisions like these will send countless consequences rippling through your life. And that’s one of the many reasons we should faithfully seek God for wisdom.
But daily, smaller choices can also have a big impact. Our lives are constantly spilling into the lives of others, and theirs into ours. Like falling dominos, even our smallest decisions sometimes cascade into consequences—both positive and negative—we could never have seen coming.
Ultimately, the decisions you make today will determine the stories you will tell about your life tomorrow. Each new day presents opportunity after opportunity that could become the plot twist that carries you to a new page, a new chapter. Every day, all day, you make one small choice after another. Where to go, what to say, what to do.
And those choices just keep accumulating, each one twisting, folding into the next, until eventually they’re all woven together into the tapestry that is your life story. Today, ask God to guide you to the decisions you need to make in order to grow closer to him.
Father, give me your wisdom and discernment in all the choices, both big and small, I make today. Remind me that each decision I make can draw me closer to you.
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