It’s a New Year, this 2018 we’re in now. For many, it’s a time of setting new goals and resolutions. Some that will be kept, some that won’t. So many opportunities. Setting goals can be a wonderful thing, and so can dreaming big and making changes and choosing to embrace all that the year will bring.
Yet in today’s world, there’s so much pressure to do more, be more, reach higher, and cram that planner full of goals and to-do lists and plans. Even the minimalists have plans and things you must do to minimize. There is some good in that. But must we be so complicated?
What if we choose to just slow down, set aside what those around us consider “successful”, and focus on what is actually most important? Without big plans and step-by-step lists and planning every moment of every day?
What if we took time to be holy? What if we looked to Jesus and let Him guide our steps? What if we prayed through each goal and plan we set, and held them with completely open hands? What if we accepted that this year was going to hold surprises and plans going awry and beautiful moments and incredibly painful ones too, and we chose to see them not as interruptions but as His very best plan for us?
Two things are speaking to me as I ponder my own next year. I love to plan and I have big dreams too. I love to achieve and do and succeed. But the Lord is whispering to me that I don’t need to be successful in anyone else’s eyes but His. And His plans may be completely different from mine. I am to focus on Him alone, take time to be holy, be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.
So, this song that we sang together at church yesterday spoke to me:
Take Time To Be Holy
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
And then today’s devotional from “My Utmost for His Highest” was so perfect: (https://utmost.org)
Let Us Keep to the Point
By Oswald Chambers
“…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” —Philippians 1:20
My Utmost for His Highest.“…my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed….” We will all feel very much ashamed if we do not yield to Jesus the areas of our lives He has asked us to yield to Him. It’s as if Paul were saying, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory.” To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point. An undue amount of thought and consideration for ourselves is what keeps us from making that decision, although we cover it up with the pretense that it is others we are considering. When we think seriously about what it will cost others if we obey the call of Jesus, we tell God He doesn’t know what our obedience will mean. Keep to the point— He does know. Shut out every other thought and keep yourself before God in this one thing only— my utmost for His highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone.
My Unstoppable Determination for His Holiness.“Whether it means life or death-it makes no difference!” (see Philippians 1:21). Paul was determined that nothing would stop him from doing exactly what God wanted. But before we choose to follow God’s will, a crisis must develop in our lives. This happens because we tend to be unresponsive to God’s gentler nudges. He brings us to the place where He asks us to be our utmost for Him and we begin to debate. He then providentially produces a crisis where we have to decide— for or against. That moment becomes a great crossroads in our lives. If a crisis has come to you on any front, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Am I getting nobler, better, more helpful, more humble, as I get older? Am I exhibiting the life that men take knowledge of as having been with Jesus, or am I getting more self-assertive, more deliberately determined to have my own way? It is a great thing to tell yourself the truth. The Place of Help, 1005 R
What can I add to that? Powerful, challenging words, these are. Oh, beautiful one, do not let pressure or opinions or desires take you away from giving your utmost for His highest. Listen to the gentle nudges, and whether it be a small moment or a great crossroad, surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably. Take time to be holy. Set your goals, if you like. But may you obey the call of Jesus as you do, and let your most important goal, your determined purpose, be your best for His glory. May 2018 be a year of looking to Jesus and being purely radiant.
Only by His grace,