In Philippians 3:13 Paul discusses “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” We all have something holding us back from being the person God wants us to be, and we should all have a goal in front of us that is helping us become the person God wants us to be. The thing holding us back we should leave behind, and the thing propelling us forward we should focus on. Life is difficult, but we sometimes make it more difficult than it has to be. We sometimes get bogged down in past events that do not benefit us. We cannot alter the past, and we should take comfort in the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ. We can do something about the present. We can make 2013 a better year than 2012 if we simply strive to make God a bigger part of our life. This begins by making small changes in our life that will alter the direction we are heading. We need to continue to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14)
We all want to “press on toward the goal for the prize…” but often this is as far as many of us get. We have a desire to move forward, but we never act upon it. We might not act upon on our desire because of a lack of motivation, or we might not act because we do not know what to do. We may want to move forward, but we lack the practical steps that will help us reach our goal. Every individual and every family is different. You will need to figure out what areas of your life you need to improve upon, and you will need to find out what works for you. That being said let me offer you several practical things you can do in 2013 to alter the direction of your life.
Disconnect – We live in a busy world where we are constantly connected. We have smartphones with access to the internet, e-mail, Facebook, etc. We come home from work and we turn on the TV. We do not have to give these things up, but it is good to disconnect from time to time in order to draw closer to God.
Make more family time – Part of living in a busy world is that we sometimes neglect our family. We have a Christian responsibility to take care of the people closest to us. We need to make sure we are spending enough quality time with our children and our spouse. Do not neglect the people closest to you!
Simplify – Make sure you own your possession and that your possessions don’t own you. Sell something. Give something away. Make life easier by getting rid of the things you do not need. This may not seem like a spiritual exercise but it is. We live in a consumer driven, materialistic society. We need to make sure we are not influenced by the negative influences of our culture. Simplifying our life will help prevent against this and it will make you feel better about yourself.
Invest in someone – We are called to live in community. We should take this call seriously. One of the greatest things we can do with our time is invest in another human being. Become a mentor to a younger person. Spend time with someone who is in their twilight years. Get to know the people you worship with on Sunday morning.
Educate yourself – We are required to love God with our mind. We should strive to learn more about him and his holy word. There are many great opportunities to learn more about God. Audit a class at your local seminary. Search iTunes U and you will find helpful classes by N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight, Peter Kreeft, and others. You can also choose to read a book that will challenge you and cause you to think. This year choose to love God with your intellect.
Give up something you are fighting for – Francis Chan once said, “Our greatest fear should not be fear of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Very few things in life truly matter and because of this we often take up causes that are not worth fighting for. Whether you are fighting for a political cause, some right you feel is worthy (animal, gun, etc.), or the superiority of your favorite sports team give it up and focus that time and energy on following God.
Spend time with God – Make time for prayer and Bible study. Make God a part of each and every day. Reflect upon the great things God has done in your life and never forget who you belong to and where you are going!