Today :: By Nathele Graham

There. I’ve written it. 2019. A new year and new challenges. Many people like to look at the new year ahead and resolve to make big changes in their life. Maybe you have a bad habit you need to break, or you want to better yourself in some way and choose this time of year to promise to make those changes for the whole year. If so, I hope you’re successful. I’ve made many such resolutions over my 66 years and have never kept one. I start out with good intentions, then I forget for a day or two, and before February comes around I’m right back doing the same things I resolved to stop doing. Does that sound familiar?

Because of past failures, I’ve resolved not to make New Year’s resolutions! Maybe you feel the same way. A full year is a long time to look at when making big changes, so maybe it would be better to take it a day at a time. Here are a few suggestions as to where to start.

TODAY, PRAISE GOD. “Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being” (Psalm 146:1-2). 

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and forget to praise God. This shouldn’t be something we have to make an effort to do, but it should be a natural part of our Christian life. Everybody faces struggles and it’s easy to get distracted, but there never should be a time when we forget to praise God.

Too often we get blinded by the problems we face and dwell upon them. The problems become the focus of all our thoughts and we stop praising God. Even when we have a mountain of worries, we can find a reason to praise God. Did your child give you a hug “just because you’re the best?” Praise God. Did you find a flower hiding in the weeds? Praise God. There are many little things for which to give Him praise, but we overlook them while looking at our cares.

The sun comes up each morning and gives us warmth. God created the sun and placed it perfectly in the universe to benefit us. A soft breeze on a summer’s day is worthy of giving God praise. Even when things seem to be going wrong, praise Him. Remember, He sees tomorrow and knows how the turmoil of today will end. The most important thing to praise Him for is His love. Because He loves us, He went to the cross to purchase our redemption. If you’ve accepted that sacrifice, then no matter what happens in this life you’ll live forever with Him.  Praise God that He will never leave you.

TODAY, SEEK GOD. “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Psalm 119:2).

We all have hopes and dreams, but too often we chase after the wrong things. It’s not wrong to desire the perfect spouse with whom to share your life and raise a family. It’s not wrong to seek a better job. (Scripture tells us that if we don’t work we aren’t entitled to eat.) Problems start when we desire good things for wrong reasons, or do wrong things to obtain our desires. That’s because we stop seeking God’s perfect will for our life.

Today, instead of seeking your own pleasure, seek God. Pray that today you will be more Christ-like in your words, actions, and attitudes. The things of this world will always leave you unsatisfied. If you seek after the world, you’ll never find satisfaction. Today, seek God. Look for Him in Scripture and get to know Him. Apply Scripture to your life, and live for God rather than for yourself. Seek ways that you can show His love to others.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Today, seek the things of God.

TODAY, DO GOD’S WILL, NOT YOURS. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Too often we only look at things from our human perspective. We forget that God loves us, but He loves other people too. As I reflect back on my life, I can remember many prayers I prayed begging God to do things my way. Many of those prayers were answered “No” and some were answered “Wait.” Much unhappiness would have been avoided if I would have submitted to God’s will instead of thinking that I knew better. Instead of telling God what He needs to do for you, listen for His guidance today and submit to His will.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

We can be quick to ask God to do our will, but slow to do His. Today, turn that around and do His will.

TODAY, TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). 

It’s easy to be short-tempered with people who annoy you. Anger feeds on itself, and before you know it, a misunderstanding will grow into an all-out battle. Anger will always make a bad situation worse. We never really know what another person is going through, and the person you’re angry with might need a friend. If you reach out in Christian love, you may win a soul to Christ.

Don’t take joy in another person’s failure, but show compassion. They are human beings with feelings. If the situations were reversed, wouldn’t you like compassion rather than condemnation? Instead of gossiping about a co-worker or an acquaintance, be the one who shows kindness and forgiveness. Just as a bad attitude is catching, so is a good attitude. Today, put backbiting and thoughts of revenge behind you, and treat others in the same way you would like to be treated.

TODAY, CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WISELY. “A soft answer turneth away wrath; but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). 

Words can hurt or they can be gentle. They can praise God or they can curse. Today, resolve to speak only words that don’t cause anger and aren’t vulgar.

“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). 

Compliment a person instead of criticizing. Choose pleasing words rather than vulgar ones. God hears everything you say. When you stand before Him, will you tell Him the same joke you told your friends? Will you use His name to cuss or to praise? The words you speak today are known to Him, so choose them wisely. Lighthearted talk can ease a tense situation, but there are many jokes and jesting that should never be spoken. It would be better if today you use words to share the Gospel with someone rather than assuming they’ll learn of salvation from someone else. Today, speak in a way that is pleasing to God.

TODAY, THANK GOD. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

There are many things to thank Him for, but it’s so easy to forget to say those three words “Thank You, Lord.” Maybe a loved one was driving through a storm and made it home safely. That’s a reason to thank God. Did you get that much-needed raise? It’s God who deserves your thanks. If your bills have all been paid this month, that’s reason to give thanks. There are many things throughout the day that we should be thankful for, but just don’t think to tell Him thank You. Thanking Him is akin to praising Him.

TODAY, REPENT FROM YOUR SINS. We think of repentance happening when we first meet Jesus, and then we don’t have to do it again. It just doesn’t work that way. No matter how long we’ve been walking with the Lord, we still sin. We were justified when we first accepted Jesus, but the sanctification process takes time. Repentance means to change your mind. When you recognize something in your life as sin, repent and then stop doing that sin. You may be so blind to a sin which you continually commit that you think God’s OK with it, or you twist Scripture to make your sin acceptable.

Study Scripture to learn God’s ways and conform your life to Him. Pray as you read, and let the Holy Spirit show you things you need to repent of and change.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).

Even though we make excuses for our own sins, God sees sin as sin. Instead of making excuses about why it’s OK for you to continue to live in opposition to God, allow Him to search you and reveal any wickedness within you. Even a “small” sin can hinder your walk with the Lord. Today, turn from sin and live for God.

This is a short list of suggestions of things to work on daily. I’m sure you can think of others. If you resolve each day to make one change, before you know it you will have been walking closer to Jesus for a whole year. Take it a day at a time, but resolve to walk closer with God today.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

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