Here are ten Biblical directives
to make 2018 better than 2017:
1) PUT GOD FIRST IN ALL THINGS. PERIOD.
In Exodus 20:3, God commands, “You must not have any other god but me.”
Anything we put before God becomes our god, INCLUDING OUR POLITICS. Enough with politicizing everything! Don’t put Caesar before God, or even render Caesar equal to God.
2) READ THE BIBLE.
This may sound cliché from a pastor, but seriously we must read the Bible. Did you know that a majority of Christians are Biblically illiterate? Reading the Bible is a vital spiritual discipline.
3) DON’T JUST READ, BUT SEARCH, STUDY, LIVE.
Reading the Bible, alone, is not enough. Just because you read the Bible, and just because we can quote memory verses, does not mean we understand what we know. Just because we have read the Bible does not mean we are its interpreter-in-chief. There are lots of things that go into understanding what the Bible says in our times. Join a Bible Study, or Christian Education class, to grow in understanding of what the Bible says and the context it was written in. Also, we must be humble and not use Scripture to judge; rather, utilize it to shape our own lives. (James 1:22)
4) SHHHH. BE QUICK TO LISTEN.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters,” James writes in James 1:19, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” In this age of social media, everyone is screaming over the other to get THEIR OWN message out on top. CHRISTIANS BEWARE…this is not just or godly behavior, but sinful and unjust. WE MUST STOP IT, PLEASE.
5) BE COOL.
Stop living in fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Stop worrying about things, and stop sweating the small stuff! Seriously. We as Christians are free in Christ to do anything …so long as we are bringing glory to God. So, live and let God handle the details. BE COOL, because the last thing the world needs are religious hot heads. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love…But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” (Galatians 5:13, 15)
6) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: LIVE JUSTLY.
In Micah 6:8, the passage starts off telling us that God wants us to seek justice. This doesn’t mean vengeance or retribution. Rather seek justice in our own lives…or, to put it in better words, to LIVE JUSTLY, to allow justice to guide your own life and how you live in relationship with other humans.
7) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: LOVE MERCY.
In Micah 6:8, the passage goes on to tell us to LOVE MERCY. Rather than seeking an eye for an eye, we ought to be seeking reconciliation and strengthened relationships. We are called, by God, to BE MERCIFUL…just as God is merciful toward us. We are also called by Jesus to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.
8) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: WALK HUMBLY.
In Micah 6:8, we are called to walk humbly with our God. What is humility? It is knowing our place. It means knowing that we, too, are sinners, and that we are in NO PLACE to judge others. Those who walk humbly will LOVE MERCY, for they know they’ve received much mercy. Those who walk humbly with their will seek justice and live justly for God is JUST and to walk with God is to walk side-by-side with justice.
9) DO NOT JUDGE.
This one seems to be a real doozy for people, let alone Christians, to follow. We judge others to puff ourselves up…to make us feel better about the sinners we are, because at least “we aren’t that person over there.” Yet, by virtue of judging we are worse than the sinner “over there” because the very act of judging puts us above God…who is the ONLY WORTHY JUDGE. (Matthew 7:1-2)
10) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
The Scriptures are explicit. GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:7-8), and those who know God will not only know LOVE, but will be transformed by it. Jesus summed up all the Law and the Prophets in a four-lettered word: LOVE.
These are the 10 Biblical nuggets of wisdom that will help make us, and those around us, have a more joyful 2018 than 2017. Let us grow in faith together as we come to understand God’s love for us more deeply. Happy New Year to you all.
Let this virtual journey through the stations of the cross be a point of reflection for you on this Good Friday.