Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution? Have you given up on doing that? Perhaps in past years you’ve been through the cycle of optimism, trying hard, faltering, getting discouraged, and giving up.
Indeed, most people who make a New Year’s Resolution have given up on their project by mid February. Many people discard the whole idea and say, “I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions!”
But there is another way to approach the start of a New Year: Pray for God to lead you in a “New Year’s Renewal.” For a number of years I’ve been using the clean slate and fresh start of a New Year to make a New Year’s Renewal. I pray about what the Lord wants to do in my life and how I can work with him to grow in that area.
My New Year’s Renewals always boils down to one thing, the One Thing: More than anything I want to be the kind of person who lives for the one thing of being devoted to Christ with all my heart.
Each year God shows me a problem I need to overcome or something about how I live my daily life that needs to change so that I can get more centered on Christ as my One Thing.
Bible Heroes who Lived for “One Thing”
My friend Howard Baker in his book, The One Thing, showed me that three of our Bible heroes inspire us to live with singular devotion to the Lord:
- David: In the midst of his painful and frightening desert trials over about ten years in which he was horribly mistreated and nearly killed he prayed, “One thing I ask, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life… My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’” (Psalm 27:4, 8).
- Mary: She set aside her kitchen work to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him and she received his affirmation: “There are many things that can be worried about, but only one thing is needed – it is the best thing – and Mary has chosen it!” (Luke 10:41-42, my paraphrase).
- Paul: He counted his many accomplishments and blessings as dung compared to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:8). He expressed his life ambition, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
More than ever, I want to seek the One Thing that is the best thing, to be more devoted to Christ, don’t you? Of course you do or you wouldn’t be reading this devotional!
How to Make a Real Change
How do we grow to be devoted to Christ as our One Thing? How do we make real changes to how we live our daily lives as an expression of love for God? How do we overcome worry or anger? How do we learn to rejoice in trials? Pray without ceasing? Love difficult people? Not by trying hard! That won’t last very long. Or it’ll just make us proud!
The way to make a real character change – to learn, grow, or heal in any area – is by training. Look to Jesus as your Coach and “work out” with him. “Train yourself to be godly” Paul advises us (1 Timothy 4:7).
An important part of any spiritual training program is meditating on Scripture.
To meditate on Scripture is more than reading it. And its different than studying it. When you meditate on Scripture you pray through God’s Word by applying it to the struggles and opportunities of your life. You become as a bee that stops on a flower and lingers, staying on the flower to suck out the nectar and using it to make sweet honey.
“Your word, O Lord, is sweeter than honey!” exclaims the Psalmist (Psalm 119:103, my paraphrase).
May you and I, day-by-day, discover more sweetness in Scripture and use it to live for the One Thing of loving God and loving others as he loves us.