See “the world” for what it is.
15-17”Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men‘s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God‘s will is part of the permanent and cannot die.” John 1:9-13 (Phillips)
That‘s a tall order. It requires us to guard our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). It takes discipline to keep our mind, will and emotions from being enamored by the ways of this world. Instead, our affections are to be fixed on things beyond this brief time-based journey.
Modern society has values, principles and philosophies which form its organizational foundation. We all live in this secular social system. But what happens when the flow of secular culture runs contrary to the course of Divine order? How do we respond? Simple. We defy the system. Thus, this guidance from scripture: “Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it.”
Why? Because the bulk of this world-system is built upon greed driven ambition, base desires and false glamour. In short, our culture is fated to fail. What to do? Avoid the culture trap and sidestep the failure. We who are following God‘s plan are “part of the permanent (eternal) and cannot die” (fail).
With all of this in mind, I offer the following 7 Priorities for a new year.
- Get to know God‘s plan a little better every day. We cannot serve God well if we don’t know what He is like and what He is doing in the world. A Christian should take his or her talents seriously. Find ways to serve God by exercising your gifts with full heart, soul, vigor and faithfulness. “Much will be expected from the one who has been given much, and the more a man is trusted, the more people will expect of him.” (Luke 12:48)
- Talk to God daily. This is essential for spiritual growth, for deepening our understanding of the nature of God and becoming “in tune” with what He is doing in the world. Walking and talking with God (prayer) is our daily responsibility. Prayer (that time of mental and spiritual focus) helps to open our eyes to see the world as God sees it.
- Be available to God. If His kingdom is where our faithfulness is pledged, God can use us regularly. God is Divine Love (or Agape). The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. God‘s love is in us. Therefore the primary work of the Christian is to minister to others. This requires that we keep our daily goals and pursuits in proper perspective. 24-26 Jesus told them, “…The man who loves his own life will destroy it, and the man who hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. If a man wants to enter my service, he must follow my way; and where I am, my servant will also be. And my Father will honor every man who enters my service.” (John 12:24-26 – Phillips)
- Make Fellowship a priority. Christians need to maintain good relationships with other believers. “Do not neglect the assembling of yourselves together, as is the habit of some, and all the more as you see the age drawing to a close.” (Hebrews 10:25). We all need one another because we are “members one of another.” (Romans 12:5) Being the Body of Christ makes us a part of a family (“the household of faith”). As closely connected people, we experience a spiritual intimacy with one another. “If one member suffers, all suffer. If one rejoices, all rejoice.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
- Be Salt and Light on Earth. We live in a dangerous and evil filled world. Our presence should shine a light in the darkness and rub salt into the rot of depravity. As we move about the marketplace of life, full of the Spirit of Truth, this will occur naturally. 13 “You are the earth‘s salt…” 14 “You are the world‘s light it is impossible to hide a town built on the top of a hill. 15Men do not light a lamp and put it under a bucket. They put it on a lamp-stand and it gives light for everybody in the house. 16 “Let your light shine like that in the sight of men. Let them see the good things you do and praise your Father in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16 – Phillips)
- Burn with Love. First, love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Then, love your neighbor as you love yourself. Remember these words from scripture, 13a“It is to freedom that you have been called, my brothers. Only be careful that freedom does not become mere opportunity for your lower nature. 13b-14You should be free to serve each other in love. For after all, the whole Law toward others is summed up by this one command, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself‘.” (Galatians 5:14 – Phillips)
- Fight the “Good Fight”. Our battle is against spiritual enemies. Forget society‘s methods when confronting evil. God is a boundless resource from whom we draw our strength and wisdom. The good fight of faith requires the right battle gear. “Put on God‘s complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil‘s methods of attack. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you. Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ‘s men and women.” (Ephesians 6:10-18 – Phillips)
I have given up on the practice of setting New Year‘s resolutions. I only end up despondent and depressed a few weeks later when I fail to deliver on them. The nature of New Year‘s resolutions is inherently short-term. Priorities are better than resolutions. I set them and I measure my progress throughout the year. How about you? Have you set any goals for the New Year? Now is a great time to do so!
Happy New Year
Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, a popular Bible teacher and a rabbid Coastal Junkie ®
For additional information write to: Coastal Life Ministries, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656