Monday, January 5, 2009

What's The Big Deal About A New Year?

Welcome Proverbs 31 subscribers! Thank you for visiting today, and thanks to all my faithful readers & bloggy friends over the past year!

Now, I dont know about you, but when it comes to new years celebrations, all I can say is..... yaaawwwnnnn; ho hum. Whats the big deal anyway?

I am just not a new years eve fan. All the hullabaloo about an outrageously expensive ball dropping seems to leave me a little dismayed - it is simply the turning over of another day in another month on another calendar, for goodness sakes!

In that same mindset, I try not to get caught up in making new years resolutions, because I know that even the best intentions with the greatest motivations will fail, if in our hearts, we are not truly committed to your goal.

Although there are lots of areas where I could come up with valid resolutions, the most important thing I want to work on this year, is my relationship with Christ. I know that as my relationships flourishes, everything else in my life will follow suit, including my relationships with my husband, children, friends, attitude, joy, and so on.

As a result, I plan to purchase the Chronological Bible (available on the P31 website and mentioned in a recent devotion) this week, and read the entire bible this year. I cant wait!

And secondly, I so want to live in the center of Gods will this year.

Yesterday morning at church, our pastor was talking about this subject, and God spoke to my heart about what it really means to live in Gods will.

Three and a half years ago, I left my career in the corporate world to be a stay at home mom, with the hopes of becoming a Christian speaker and writer, which I felt God had called me to. He confirmed that calling by opening many doors for me , and soon after I was given the amazing privilege of becoming a part of Proverbs 31.

Since then, I have felt like I was living out Gods will for my life. But after hearing yesterdays sermon, I began to doubt that. I found myself thinking I truly living out Gods will for my life? Was quitting my job and serving in ministry really all God wants from Tracie? Was I doing what God expected of me every day? Then we read the following verse.

Romans 12:1-2 says this, " Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." (NIV)

I started really thinking about what a living sacrifice is. I sat in the church pew, wondering whether or not God would agree with my opinion of whether or not I am fully living in His will. Hmmmm. I came to the quick conclusion that His answer would most definitely be a big fat obvious NO.

So, going against my typical anti-new years resolutions-making-attitude, I made a resolution. To try to live out Gods will for my life this year - not just in actions with great intentions and a true love for God, but in my full heart, with persistence and hope, and a desire to be molded and changed.

The Bible makes it very clear how we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Christ. The instructions are clear, but the task is daunting.

We have to die to our prior selves. We have to give up the things we like to do, to do the things that God likes for us to do. We have to commit to stop doing things, or behaving in ways that are not pleasing to God, and seek strength in Him to begin a process of change. A process of change that will not be easy, but that will be so rewarding when we see changes in ourselves that are pleasing to Christ, through the work that we are allowing Him to do in us.

I came across an anonymous writing about being a living sacrifice, which is below:

"When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting or hurt with the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for Christ...........That is dying to self.

When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence;.......That is dying to self.

When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did........That is dying to self.

When you are content with any food, and offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God....That is dying to self.

When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown......That is dying to self.

When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and you are in desperate circumstances.....That is dying to self.

When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit, inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart.....That is dying to self.

Dying to self. Yikes. Sounds hard! It is! But I have made a covenant with God today to try to begin this process. Trust me, I know I will fail in many ways, every single day, but just like the beginning of a new year is fresh and new, inspiring us to improve and make changes in our life, I know that each and every day is a new day in Gods eyes, and that by the sacrifice of His son, that I can start with a fresh clean slate each morning.

So what does God really want? He simply wants our hearts to be full of Him, trusting Him, and for our lives to be a manifestation of His will - a life that is handed over to Him, so that He can do with it as He wishes. So that He can transform us to be a light for Christ.

He is calling us to a life of sacrifice and service. Luke 22:42 says, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (NIV) That is a hard pill to swallow at times - our will normally drives our actions; but God desires to hold the steering wheel of our life instead of us. His will, not ours.

Do you want to make a resolution that really matters this year? Do you want to set aside the earthly resolutions about weight loss or money changes, and commit to a covenant with God to become a living sacrifice? If your answer is yes, I invite you to pray this prayer with me:

Lord, today I pray that you give me the strength, perseverance and desire to be more like You. To put aside my selfish desires, and focus on others, even if it means a sacrifice for me. I pray that you begin a process of molding me Lord, of helping me to more patient, loving, and kind with my children and my husband; to recognize when my children need extra hugs and kisses instead of scolding; to discipline with love and not anger; to remember to be grateful every day; to reach out to those in need; to try to respond to all situations in a way that would please you and not in a way that I am accustomed to doing. Not just a heart change God, but a life transformation. Teach me Lord, how to be a living sacrifice for you. Bestow grace and mercy upon me as I stumble through this journey, but know my heart Lord. Your will, and to be like You, is my true desire. In Jesus' name, Amen.

So is the new year really a big deal? It depends on how you look at it. As I consider all the exciting things that I pray God will do in my life and through me this year, I have to admit, I am getting excited! As I imagine how my children can grow spiritually, how my marriage can be strengthened, how my faith can grow and how my trust in God can deepend, I am getting excited!

What makes the new year a big deal, is not resolutions, parties and balls dropping in Times Square, but that we can see it as a fresh start, and a first step to a stronger and more empowering relationship with Christ, so that all in due time, Gods Will be done, and we can have a part in carrying it out for His glory.

If you want to join me in this quest to seek Gods will for your life, and His ways in your life, in this new year, leave a quick prayer request in the comments and I will pray for you. I pray in turn that you will also pray for me.

I will be talking about Gods will all of this month, and I invite you to join me.

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Anonymous said...

When I was considering the new year, the same verse from Romans 12 came to my mind. I also felt a strong desire to really discover how to offer my life as a living sacrifice. Thank you for sharing on this topic today. I hope that we will both have success in this!

Joyful said...

Tracie, I too am reading through the chronological Bible this year, and as a form of accountability, I'm daily posting one thing the Lord speaks to me on my other blog, "Pondering In His Presence". I'm so excited about this journey. Already the Lord has opened up new truths from His ancient Words.

Also, for the past 10 years the Lord has directed me to a theme verse for each year. Sometimes it's about an aspect of His character that He wants me to learn, other times it's an aspect of mine He wants to refine. This year He has drawn my attention to 1Corinthians 2:2, For I resolve to know nothing this year except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Simply Jesus is my goal.
My motto, if you will, for this year is: His will be mine in 2009.

Please pray for me as I've asked the Lord to unsettle my heart and exchange yesterday's longing of contentment to today's yearning for holiness.

Praying for you my friend,

Joyful said...

PS. Tracie, you may be struggling with knowing His will and living fully in it, but I just want to say, thank you for being obedient and sharing your heart here. I know my life has been challenged and blessed! Your life is an encouragement to me and I'm sure a blessing to many.

Sad Granny said...

Tracie I don't always go the blogs, but I am so glad I did this morning. I have let my feelings get hurt because my daughter does not want my traditions. I realize that, like she says"Mom I am not like you, if I was, I would be you."
So I have tried to keep my thoughts to myself (even though I fail allot--I am 66). I love my daughter and Granddaughters but felt like a wedge was coming between us. She has her own ideas of what and how I should be a Grandmother.
I know they didn't have a great life growing up, alcholic father, my breakdown and divorse. I feel very much like a failure.
So this year I will try to back off (which is not hard for I live 800 miles away). It hurts; but then like you said; that is dying to self.
And Joy, I love that "His will be mine in 2009." Can I use that too?

Anonymous said...

Dear Tracie :)

Thank you for saying the words that were in my heart and were trapped. Living as a sacrifice for the Lord is a great beginning.

I will be praying for you and please pray for me and we take the first step in sacrificing our lives.

May the Lord continue to bless you.

Unknown Friend

B His Girl said...

Hey Tracie,

Yesterday at church, I had a conversation at the altar with God about HIS plans for my life. They always look different than I would select. Yet... as I have walked in His ways, they always amaze me because I see Him on the path. His will is done. Nothing I could dream could ever measure up to His thoughts. It is always more than I could have imagined. I pray you LIVE by faith and not by sight. May you life echo Paul's.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Live for HIM. That is the goal of the New Year.

mary said...

Thank you Tracie for your wise words this morning. Lord pour out Your wisdom, Your peace, Your love, Your will be on Tracie in the coming year. This article you wrote today brings to light my fear of success in living Jesus's will for my life. It brings to the heart, the greater fear of failure. Lord help me let go & let You be the one & only in my heart & life. Guide me to the understanding that Your will, Your way is the only way. Amen

Anonymous said...

Thank you for encouraging me this morning. Your message really ministered to me. I know you are a busy mom and I appreciate you taking time to use your gifts and talents for God.

Meeka said...

Hi Tracie,
Wow, I love the prayer you added for a "resolution". It is truly exactly how I feel & goes along with what I like to call my constant struggle to be who He wants me to be. Thanks for praying for me, will do the same for you. And thank you for reaching out to us & being an encouragement in our walk with the Lord.
Many blessings,

Anonymous said...

Tracie, this is such a wonderful new year's message. I truly want to live out God's will for my life and in a way that will glorify him. Some of your examples you used as ways of dying old self in order to offer my life as a living sacrifice really hits home with me. I will struggle with many of those issues. I want to be more committed to the Lord. Please pray for me and I will pray for you as well.

Janice said...

Tracie, I so enjoyed your blog this morning. It is what I needed to hear. I am not a big New Year's resolution person either, but you put into words what was on my heart that I want to do this year. Thank you for motivating and encouraging me. I will be praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Tracie, Thank you for your post today. I have been feeling that I need to move into a stronger, more committed, selfless realtionship with Christ. I need to put into actions what I have been lerning and begin to walk the walk Christ asks of us. I have difficulty feeling like I know what God's will is for my life and feel like he is asking for me to begin a more disciplined time alone with him, reading the bible and learning to sit quietly in his presence. I also am reading the Cronological Bible and pray that his spirit will move within me and that I will be submissive and allow him to do his work to refine and mold me into the woman he desires me to be.
I will be praying for you and please add me to your list of friends to be prayed for.

Casey S. said...

Thank you so much. I have printed off that prayer and want to pray it daily. My 9 year old son and myself will be baptized next weekend and I have made the decision to live out God's will. The fear of failing is also with me. Please pray for me as I will for you. I will also be reading through the chronological Bible.
Again, thank you. I needed to read this today.

Cheri Bunch said...

Tracie,the Lord used you to touch my life today. He confirmed three things to me through your words. The first was the word "tradition". This morning as I was reading in 2 Thessalonians that word jumped off of the page from these verses:
"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation though sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or epistle."

I kept reading those verses over and over again.

Secondly my pastor mentioned Romans 12:1-2 as well yesterday. It was the part of the sermon that really made me take note.......He expressed our need to lie on the altar so that we might be filled with the Holy Spirit, offering Him our bodies as a dwelling place. This morning my prayer was that of surrender to the Holy Spirit as I petitioned Him to fill me afresh!

The third word was "change". The last three days this word has entered into my life in various ways and for various reasons, and it continues to challenge me. I believe that there will be some changes.....Something one on the altar should expect I suppose.

Thank you so much for your timely words. They have touched my heart, confirmed words already spoken, and deepened my faith.

I pray that this will be an awesome year for you!

Because He Lives!

Julie P said...

I was reading your P31 devotion today, and had just finished reading the definitions of "tradition," when I hear "Papa Bear" on the cartoon "Little Bear" tell Little Bear that a tradition 'is something we do on the same day every year' (not quite the accurate definition...). I thought that was so strange, and thought I'd come to your blog to thank you for sharing the true definition of "tradition."
Yet God had greater plans for me- your blog entry for today was an answer to my prayers. A friend hurt me deeply yesterday- not intentionally, and I had been asking God to show me how to deal with it. Do I call her on it? Do I tell her I forgive her for hurting me- though she really did nothing wrong, and knew nothing of the incident? Your entry detailed that we must die to self, and that is what I need to be doing. Also,my girls have been sending me to the edge today (not quite over the edge yet...), and I have been impatient today. The prayer you included spoke the words I need to be saying. I too am a stay-at-home-mom, and long to be Christ to my daughters and my husband, to be His reflection. I must say, I was a dreadful mirror of Christ today. Your entry was like Spiritual-Windex for my soul. Thank you for straightening me out this Monday afternoon.
I too started the Chronological Bible this year, and have enjoyed it so much. The Lord has brought out some really great things about His character to me already. Thank you again for your entry today. I know God used you to speak to me, to refresh me and to pour fresh oil on spirit. Thank you so much.

Crystal said...

Dear Tracie,

I too am planning on reading God's Word through the Chronological One-Year Bible. I want to make this a year where I become more intimate with the Lord, and I feel I can do that best by spending time in His Word.


Kimby said...

Hello, Tracie!
Thanks for your very timely devotional and also for your blog on the "New Year!" Wonderful points to ponder as 2009 begins -- "See, I am doing a new you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19) God is at work, in your life and mine (and all of your blog followers, too!) PRAISE HIM!
Take care,

Renee Swope said...

Tracie and family, I am praying for all of you and for Christie.

For those of you coming to visit Tracie from the P31 devotion, please pray. Her sister fell yesterday and had to be taken to the hospital. We haven't heard how she is doing but I know Tracie and her family would treasure your prayers.


Jolene said...

Thank you for sharing your heart with us. You helped me to think about the New Year in a totally new and different way! I really appreciate the encouragement!

Your friend,


Jen said...

It seems like many of us are being called to live a life that is different than before!

Kara said...

It's so nice to read these posts each day when I have the chance. It's so encouraging all the time.


Meeka said...

Hi Tracie,
Just wanted you to know that you were in my thoughts & prayers. I pray that you are recovering nicely & that your family is coping well & feeling His love & peace.
Oh, I received my chronoligical bible just yesterday. Please pray that I stay committed & that I keep my excitement! Thanks so much!
Be blessed!