For some, New Year’s resolutions have been powerful motivators for life transformation. In an informal poll I discovered that losing weight, paying off debt, learning a new skill, exercising regularly and spending more time with family are all popular choices. Some resolve to grow in their faith and spiritual disciplines.
I commend anyone who may be deciding to deepen their spiritual outlook. A decision to attend church weekly can open doors to knowledge and new friends. Being a part of a community of faith is a proven source of happiness and strength for millions.
The discipline of meeting together with people week after week will help you think beyond yourself and your own family. You will discover others who will inspire you to grow to new levels in character and wisdom. These are a few of the many reasons the Bible instructs us to meet together regularly with a local church.
Another promising change may be just a prayer away. Praying daily is mentioned in several scientific studies as a means to relieve stress.
Jesus made it a practice to pray often. He prayed regularly and He set aside times for more intensive prayer and meditation. The great Apostle Paul wrote, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything pray.”
Prayer may be the missing ingredient in your spiritual development. Stress related illnesses are common. Perhaps a prayer a day will keep the doctor away.
I experienced a significant improvement in my life when I began reading the Bible regularly. In ancient times, people did not have ready access to the Holy Scriptures; however, with the technological explosion of the twenty-first century we have the Bible available to us 24/7.
Millions received the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook or the Apple iPad for Christmas. These are just a few of the devices with which you can read the text of the Bible. I have discovered that many bring these devices to church each Sunday to follow along with the sermon.
Smartphones are great tools for reading the Bible. A popular free application called YouVersion gives the reader access to many different translations of the Bible on the iPhone, Blackberry or any Android-based phone. The YouVersion app provides reading plans for the Bible reading novice.
The reading plans give the reader the option to open up the day’s reading automatically. Nothing like a little encouragement! By the way, other apps do similar things.
I appreciate the ease and flexibility of the YouVersion reading plans by allowing the reader to read well organized selections from the Bible. This is easier than trying to read the Bible straight through and giving up in Leviticus. I have met many who have said, “Pastor, I just cannot get past all of the genealogies.”
“The Essential 100” is a popular Bible reading plan that will give you the heart of the Bible in a little over three months in short, daily readings. By the way, if you do not have a smartphone, you can type “Bible reading plans” into your internet search engine and print out a few which interest you. You may also go to BibleGateway.org for great Bible reading plans and information.
My hope for you is simple: Decide to do things that will improve your relationship with God and with other people. Jesus said that loving God and other people are the main two principles of life.
Use the New Year as a way to get your life going in the right direction spiritually. It will transform you into the person you need to be.
— Chris Crain, Pastor, North Valley Church, Margaret