Start the New Year with Praise

Yesterday, the calendar flipped a page and the year became new, a clean slate, ready for you to write on it your plans for each day. But, as you contemplate what those plans will be, I urge you to first spend time with God, praising Him for a new year and a new beginning. Maybe last year was particularly hard for you or perhaps it was a great year for you and you have no idea how you would ever top it. God doesn’t want to change your plans. He wants to change you so that you will know His heart and follow His pathway for you. I think it all begins with praise.

We go to sporting events and wear strange colors and shout for a team that will entertain us for the next couple of hours. Why don’t we spend more time exalting the one who holds us in the palm of His hand and who loves us with an everlasting love?

When we lived in Maine, I was always happy to get behind the snow plow because I knew that he was clearing the road for me to drive on so that I didn’t wander off the road into a ditch or slide off into the surrounding landscape. I think of God as my snow plow, going before me and clearing the way. But it’s not just any path that He is clearing; it is the path that He has prepared for me to take, if I just trust Him to lead. First praise, then trust, then step out into the new year filled with endless possibilities. Mostly, it is filled with God’s promises that we can claim as we get closer to our Maker.

May your New Year be blessed with praise, thanksgiving, and trust.

By the way, I don’t do resolutions. But I do a word for each year. Last year’s word was “trust.” This year’s word is “listen.” I want to be attuned to listen to the voice of the Lord and to actively listen to those around me instead of being absorbed in my own life. Do you have a word for the year. Feel free to share it in the comments.

Teaching and Learning

One would think that these two concepts go hand in hand, but as I learned in the classroom, this is not always the case. I could create the best lesson ever, with all kinds of visuals and other bells and whistles and yet there would still be students shaking their heads and telling me that they did not understand.

God is and always has been the best teacher. He promises in His Word to teach us the way we should go. But sometimes, like the stubborn students, we are determined not to learn and want to go our own way. It is to our benefit to go the way God is instructing us to go so that He can help us along that way when we run into tough times. No matter which path we choose, our own willful one or God’s, He always keeps His eye on us. There are some students who learn by looking at the teacher’s eyes and observing what he/she is saying and doing. In teacher lingo, we call it “modeling” what we want the student to learn. God does that for us daily. He shows us the way He wants us to go, the best path for us, but it is up to us to choose to go on that path.

This is one of my favorite verses and is in the same Psalm in which David recognizes that God is teaching and guiding him. God is also our hiding place, our refuge that we can always depend on during the hard times. I think that sometimes I create my own hard times and places because I didn’t follow God’s path that He wanted me to take.

Finally, the Psalm concludes with the exhortation to rejoice and sing. We who are following the Lord’s instructions and hiding in Him as we encounter difficulties can always find a reason to rejoice. Always!

Have a wonderful and blessed New Year! May you find the path the Lord wants you to take and follow it, being willing to be counseled by the Great Counselor, and finding refuge in His comforting presence. Rejoice in the New Year because God is still KING!

A Prayer

The Scriptures are filled with prayers for each of us. Most of us think of The Lord’s Prayer when we say that the Bible has prayer in it. I read the Bible daily and often find prayers that help me in my daily walk with Him.

This is a prayer to say daily because we should always want to stand right before the Lord. It’s hard to lead others to eternal life if we are faltering in our own walk with Him. God knows that we suffer from anxiety, and He also knows that He is able to keep us through whatever it is causing the anxious thoughts. We should strive not to be offensive, to God or to people so that the testimony we give to others stands out as truth and something others will desire.

Have a blessed day as you begin each day with prayer and a clear conscience before the Lord.