As 2018 dawns upon us today. Let's pause to reflect, pray and give thanks to God for another new year. This is what 4 Christian leaders have done. They have taken the time to pray, reflect, and to bless us.
Lysa TerKeurst, the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the New York Times best-selling author of Uninvited, The Best Yes, Unglued, Made to Crave, and 16 other books, writes: "I'm so excited for 2018. There is so much waiting to be discovered, revealed, learned & rejoiced over. So, I'm determined this year not to let the troubles of this hour steal the joys of this day."
She ends with a prayer: "Yes, Lord. I will go where You want me to go. I will pause when You want me to pause. I will pray the dangerous prayers of change. I will say yes to Your invitations that make no sense. I will. Just because You ask me to.."
Meanwhile, popular author, preacher and retired pastor John Piper encourages us to soak 2018 with the Word of God. He writes: "The reason I read the Bible is because I am stone-cold dead without Christ and his word. But I want all my life - every part of it - I want my life to be glorious. I want life to be beautiful. I want life to be vastly more than it is if I'm left to myself. I want to see how astonishing reality is at every turn - every person, every rock, every tree, every animal, every work of salvation."
"I know that, left to myself, I am an absolute dud. I am blank, nothing deep, nothing moving, nothing intense, nothing beautiful, nothing precious, nothing sweet or wonderful - just empty, blank, unmoved, coasting along from one worldly preoccupation to another. There is one hope for John Piper in 2018: that I would have eyes to see the God-entranced magnificence of everything - namely, that God would be pleased in my Bible reading to cause me to see the glory that is really there. That's why we read our Bible: to see glory, to savor glory, to be shaped into the image of the glory of God, to show the glory so that God is magnified as we are satisfied in him."
Dubbed as "America's pastor" by Christianity Today, Max Lucado encourages us to travel light as we venture into the New Year. "I don't know how to travel light. But I need to learn. You can't enjoy a journey carrying so much stuff-so much luggage. Odds are, somewhere this morning between the first step on the floor and the last step out the door, you grabbed some luggage."
"Don't remember doing so? That is because you did it without thinking. That's because the bags we grab aren't made of leather, they are made of burdens. The suitcase of guilt. A duffel bag of weariness, a hanging bag of grief. A backpack of doubt, an overnight bag of fear. Lugging luggage is exhausting!"
"God is saying to set that stuff down; you're carrying burdens you don't need to bear. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Yes, I need to learn to travel light!"
While Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, encourages: "Instead of merely focusing on weight loss and exercise (there is a place for that), let's focus primarily on our relationship with God in this coming year.
Is it really possible to change-to be a "new you" this year?
The answer is yes, people can change.
Scripture teaches that if we want to change, there is our part and there is God's part. A classic verse that pulls those together in found in Philippians 2:13-14, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.""