Part 5 (final part) to – My New Year’s Resolution is…

In this fifth and final part of our sequence of devotions on our New Year’s resolution we are going to wrap up our action plan with; how to apply our previously learned steps in our action plan, along with timelines to measure our progress, and finally, allocating time to make it all happen.

First, to sum up all we discussed, we talked about a goal for this year (and all years going forward Lord willing) being a closer walk with the LORD. We discussed that in order to reach our goal we must have an action plan in place and that we must follow through with our plan.

The first two steps in our action plan were; (1) Reading the Word daily and (2) Praying as often as opportunity comes to mind. Now we are going to bring the whole thing together by being doers of the Word and not merely hearers only, which by now (if you have been following the whole series of devotions) you would know is not acceptable to the LORD.

I like what Charles Dickens once said when he stated; “I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.” In order to even begin working on our action plan we need to have a mindset to do so. In other words, before we devote the time we need to devote the will in our minds to follow through with it.

Zig Ziglar once said “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” So you must commit to your action plan and then have the discipline to follow through with it if you’re ever going to get anywhere closer to your goal!

That brings us to our first step in applying our action plan; committing the time to do it. I know, “I don’t have enough time in the day.” I’ve heard that from every single person I’ve talked to that wants to do something but needs an excuse to not do it. That is the number one excuse by the way for every person who fails to commit to follow through on a desire. I heard it once said that “If you want something done, find a busy person to do it.”  Let’s look at three simple questions about our time; (1) Do you get up at least 2-3 hours before you have to be at work? (2) Do you watch TV or play games after you get home from work for at least 1 hour? (3) Do you go to bed at least 1 hour before falling asleep? If you answered “no” to question (1), then start. I get up at 5am each morning before I have to be at work by 8am. I live 30 miles from my job. I have 3 dogs to feed and take care of in the morning, including dishes. I also work out for 45 minutes in the morning and still have time to sit, read, and pray to the LORD before I leave for work. In order to make all that happen, I planned ahead to wake up 3 hours before I have to be at work. Like Jesus said in His parable about the cost of discipleship that one must count the cost before committing. Question (2), if you answered “yes” then you know the answer – cut back the TV time! And for question (3), most people are not like a Suzy Snoozie doll that closes their eyes as soon as they hit the pillow. Fit some time in at night to read and pray to the LORD. If you don’t allocate the time then you lack the commitment. If you don’t have the commitment, then guess what? NO FOLLOW THROUGH!

I cannot begin to tell you just how important it is to begin and end each day with the LORD. Deuteronomy chapter six is a memorization chapter (at least verses 4-9). These are known to the Jews as the Shema, which means to hear, or better translated for the modern mind “Pay attention!” Verse 7 says that God’s word should be on our mind when we lie down and when we rise. David, Daniel, Joseph, and Jesus (just to name a few off the top of my head) all dedicated the first and last part of each day to time with the Father in heaven. We have absolutely no excuse not to do the same.

So where to begin? Here’s an easy one. Start with either Genesis or Matthew and read at least one chapter in the morning and one chapter at night each day until it becomes a habit. It is believed that habits are developed after 66 consecutive days of application (according to a study done by the University of London). Sixty-six is very fitting for us as people, considering six is the number of man. And man is always falling short of perfection on his own with the LORD. This means you need to start your reading off with prayer. Pray for strength, commitment, wisdom in His word, and direction throughout the day. Here’s an easy prayer the Lord gave me a long time ago when I started this same journey; “Lord, give me wisdom in Your word today that I might have the wisdom to obey. For through Your knowledge I know I must, stand firm in the way of righteousness.”

End each day with a prayer of repentance and thanksgiving; Repentance for being the sinful person that you are (for we all sin), and thanksgiving for His blessings throughout the day. Then, get into the word!

Want some mile markers to track your progress with your action plan? How about an easy one…See how long it takes you to read through the Bible? When I started this action plan some 14 years ago, I could barely read an entire chapter in 3 days let alone two chapters in one day. Now, I can’t even think about starting my day without the word and without talking to my LORD. Neither can I end a day without Him. I have been through God’s word about 15 times in the past 14 years. When it becomes a habit, you can’t break it. It becomes such a part of your life that you feel like you’re missing something if you don’t incorporate it into your daily routine. And you would be! Jesus said “I am the bread that came down from Heaven.” And again, “whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of Me.” John said of Jesus; “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

You cannot grow closer to the LORD without His word any more than getting a beach body without exercise. Both take a desire, a goal, an action plan, commitment to the action plan, and follow through with that action plan.

No matter where you are today in your walk with the LORD, begin new this year with a fresh start. Start by counting the cost. Find the time in your day that you can allocate to your goal. Commit to freeing up that time. Then, follow through with developing a new and awesome habit of spending time with the LORD each and every day.