This will be a year of unlimited possibility. Declare it with me!
Right here at the beginning of this new year, let’s consider our habits.We are what we repeatedly do. If you haven’t read my book, Make That, Break That, this would be a great time to get a copy!
I desire real change this year, a transformation. In any area of life, if you want to see something new, you’ve got to make a change. The way to live life the way God has for us is challenging; it’s doable but it’s challenging.
For 2023, let’s develop some habits that are intentional and worthwhile. What I want to share with you are God principles. If we apply these principles, they will change our lives. Get rid of excuses that keep you from achieving and seeing the changes you desire and jump in all the way. Let’s do this thing.
For our journey this year (check out my sermon, “Unlimited Possibilities”), you will need hope, hope your marriage can be restored or that your finances can be improved, hope for whatever it is you long for. I have a word for you… “But God.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT) promises, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
In addition to hope, the second thing you need is repentance from the past, a course correction.
Repentance is not a negative thing. It means to stop going in your current direction, change the way you think, and go the opposite direction, no looking back. Recovery programs sometimes use a tool, “My Life in Five Chapters”. The first four chapters involve no real change, going down the same road, falling into the same hole or nearly falling into it, and taking a long time to get out. But, chapter 5 is the key. Just go down a different street. This is transformation. My goal is to help take you down a whole different path this year. Like Philippians 3:13 says, let’s forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead.
The last thing is to form some new habits. Romans 12:21 says it this way, “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” The things we put first not only show truths about us, but they have power. Let’s focus on what to do first.
Put God first. I promise you, if you put God first in your life, it is going to be a completely different year for you. Let me make a strong statement. If God is in your life, but he’s not first in your life, then he’s not really in your life. He will not take another place on your list if he’s not at the top of it. The first of the 10 Commandments is all about him being first, “Then God gave the people all these instructions: “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. “You must not have any other god but me” (Exodus 20:1-3 NLT). That little “g” god is really just any love or passion we may hold dear. He does not mind you loving something, but he does mind you loving it more than him and he will not take another place other than first. Here at the beginning of 2023, I challenge you to develop a habit of putting God first.
Give God the first of everything. Many preach this as a money principle. It is not just a money principle. Leviticus 27:30 NLT teaches that one tenth of all we have belongs to the Lord, 1/10th of everything. This includes your thoughts and your time. Set apart a tenth of your time and your thoughts and give them to God. The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God in first place in your life (Deuteronomy 14:23 LB). Thank God that our giving feeds the hungry and builds buildings. But that’s not the purpose. Give to God the first of everything you possess.
Consider the following. Give God the first of your year. We are in a time of prayer and fasting at my church during January. We set aside this time to put God first in our year.
Give God the first of your month. Review your schedule and make sure he is in your schedule. Likewise, don't schedule things that will schedule God out.
Give God the first of your week. A good example of this is to make sure Sundays are set aside for him. Spend time in God’s presence and skip that additional golf game on Sunday morning or sleeping in. We gather on Sunday to worship God not only because that was the day Jesus was resurrected, but because the early church decided they wanted to celebrate on the first day of the week, putting God first in their week. Take the day to worship and to rest. if you give God this time, you'll be surprised what you get done the remainder of the week.
Give God the first of your day. Talk to him first thing in the morning before anything else. Give him your first thoughts. Pastor Chris Hodges challenges people to give the first fifteen minutes of the day to God - 5 minutes in the Word, 5 minutes in worship, and 5 minutes in prayer. Do this and then watch God work in your life in amazing ways.
When I give God the first of my time he multiplies my time. When I give God the first of my finances, he multiplies my finances. I find that the 90% will go further than 100%. When I give God the first of my thoughts, he multiplies my thoughts. Keep a notepad handy. You will want to write them all down!
Give God your first and your best. “Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine” (Proverbs 3:6, 9-10 NLT).