We’re now well down the road of our journey into the new year. The Christmas garland and lights are packed away. Our kids are back into their school routines. We have a new sitting president to be praying for in the White House. And you’re far enough along on your New Year’s diet and exercise plan to now know whether it was a “I really hope to…” or a “Now, I’m really going to…” resolution.
The New Year has provided a good opportunity for many of us to be thinking about our spiritual resolutions as well. A number of you are now well into an annual plan for daily getting into God’s Word. Some have committed to a plan for getting God’s Word into you, too – memorizing and meditating on a Scripture portion for the new year.
Last year I encouraged you to become a part of “The Colossians 3 Company,” and many of you responded by memorizing that chapter of Paul’s Spirit guided instruction to Christ-like living. Lauren and I worked on the passage together. We cheered each other on in learning it and often repeated sections of it to each other for spiritual encouragement in the midst of our day. What a great tool it has been in getting our attention turned up onto Christ and onto the new life wardrobe He calls us to wear. (Lauren and I are continuing to review it and have promised never to use it as a weapon to preach at each other ; )).
This year I’m encouraging you to choose one of the gospel accounts of Jesus life and ministry and to put your devotional emphasis there. If you choose a pace of reading the gospel through once a month it works out to about a chapter a day. (Choose Mark’s gospel and you can slow that down to one chapter every two days.) My plan is to read Luke’s gospel with the prayer that I’ll get to know Jesus better and grow to share more of His heart for the world. To do that I’ll need eyes that turn information into personal consideration, conversation and communion. This has got to be about more than putting daily check marks in a list of “to-do” boxes. This is really all about nurturing a deepening relationship with the Lord.
Some of you will once again respond to the challenge of memorizing a portion of Scripture together, as well. This year I’m encouraging you to select some verses from John 14 and/or 15. There are lots of great passages to choose from: 14:1-6 – the promise of heaven and Christ’s return, 14:15-27 – the promise of the Holy Spirit’s coming and His ministry in us, 15:1-11 – Christ, the True Vine and the life of abiding in Him, 15:12-21 – the call to love in a world that will be opposed to you. Again, like last year, I’d encourage a pace of 3 to 4 verses a month for the first six months with the last six months for smoothing, application, meditation, and review.
Scripture reading and memorization should never be a burden; a discipline requiring perseverance and encouragement, yes. But even better than the best of other new year’s resolutions, these disciplines of the spirit open new doors for Christ to keep on doing His deep change heart transformation in us.
For any of you who would like to be a part of this plan, let’s also take another run at providing some encouragement to each other. Last year we called our group “The Colossians 3 Company,” more than 50 of you took part, and a handful of you posted some of your reflections online on our website. This year let’s simply call it “The Gospel Project,” and let’s post reflections from our gospel readings and our John 14, 15 meditations. Together, let’s see what God will do in us and through us as we purpose to grow in our love for His Son.
I began this note with a thought about New Year’s resolutions. Let me close it out with saying that
February is too soon to give up if you’ve struggled with a slow or inconsistent start. Some things are worth
pursuing, even when the results are slow in coming. You can aim for perfection, but give thanks for progress. Every day brings a new challenge in our walk with God. Time in His Word with a listening heart will always get you closer to Jesus.