We are just hours away from the end of 2016. Before we know it, 2017 will be in full swing and for the most part 2016 will be a distant memory. But before that happens, ask yourself a few questions:
In the past year, did your faith in Christ increase or decrease?
Sure, we like to think that staying the same is not only a real thing but a good thing. After all, we get things just the way we like them and change is the last thing on our mind. But the truth is, everything changes. You are either growing or dying, increasing or decreasing, blooming or withering. Staying the same is really an illusion.
God doesn’t change who He is, but He is always working. He never takes a micro-second off, let alone days, weeks or months. There is never a place we can get in our relationship with Christ where we can say we have done enough or are doing enough. The truth is, we can always do more. He is always working, so should we.
“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV).
Were you in the Word of God more or less in 2016?
It’s a good thing to have a set devotion time with God’s Word. But we have to be careful not to get into a rut. I know this all too well. Reading a chapter in Proverbs each day is a good habit, but when your goal is to read it and not seek what the Holy Spirit is wanting to tell you, then what have you really gained?
The Word of God is incredibly powerful and we are told to “hide it in our hearts.” Each one of us could read the same scripture and God could reveal something different to each one of us. Scripture can speak to us in different ways at different times but we have to be open and sensitive to it, not reading it as if we were an Evelyn Wood speed-reader.
Do you read and study it daily? If you’re not, why? If you are, great! Challenge yourself to be in God’s Word more in 2017 than you were in 2016.
Did your prayer life grow or wither in 2016?
We all talk about how pressed we are for time. Really? If you really want to know where your time goes, do this: Take a sheet of paper and write down in detail what you do in an average day and how much time you spend doing it. Be as specific as you have the guts to be. But let me warn you, when you do this you won’t be in a position to sling the old “I’m too busy” excuse anymore.
We make time for what we want to make time for. It’s that simple. There is plenty of time in every day of our lives to spend some of it in conversation with God and in His Word. Couldn’t we really give up watching that sitcom re-run for the ninetieth time? Can you cut back on social media for some time with the Lord? How about turning off the radio while you’re driving and spend it with Jesus?
Let’s just call this “I don’t have time” what it really is, a load of bull manure. We claim to be followers of Christ, but if we put our time where our mouth is, what would it really show us to be?
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV).
Where was God working and leading you in 2016?
This could be broken down into what happened to you this year? What doors opened or closed for you? Was there something bad that happened but turned out to be a blessing? Did something happen that could only be the hand of God for you in 2016?
There is definitely and answer to this question. Were we paying attention and seeking becomes the more pointed question? This is when I am thankful that God led me to keep a journal. I can go back and see things that I had forgotten about and realize what He was doing. It’s easy to forget about something in December that you prayed for in January. To be able to look back and see how faithful and incredible our God is never gets old.
Consider keeping a daily journal. I know it doesn’t sound like a “manly” thing to do (my apologies to any ladies who may be offended) but it is a blessing I hope I don’t give up. Men like General George Patton, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison all kept a journal. Think of the gift you will be leaving to your family. You never know, what you write in a journal may have an impact on your great-great grandchildren for the kingdom of God.
Are you prepared for what God has in store for you in 2017?
Whether 2016 was a year you won’t ever forget or a year you wish you could forget, God always has something in store for us. He has placed people in your life, led you in a certain direction or away from a specific place. You may not realize it but He has been preparing you for something in the future. Are you prepared? Are you looking?
You never know when one small act of obedience helps lead someone to faith in Christ. God may have been preparing you for years for just that moment. You may do something in this next year that you don’t give much thought about, but it may start a chain reaction that leads someone to Christ years after you have stepped into eternity. There are no small things when it comes to God. Just as one small acorn can turn into a mighty oak, your small act of obedience could have a mighty impact for the glory of God.
“To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.” Revelation 2:26 (NIV).
There are many more questions that could be asked besides these I have mentioned. But at the end of the day or year, it really boils down to one question: As a follower of Christ are you ready and willing to do whatever God is about to call you to do, whenever He calls you to do it? He will handle the able part, will you handle yours?
Run to the Cross!
Related Scriptures: Proverbs 16:3
Colossians 3:23 & 24