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"My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity." Proverbs 3:1
There are three things I need you to know on this day. The first day of 2017.
These three things have changed the entire course of my life, and continue to mold my heart.
My prayer is that these three things will be a part of my every day life and that they will also be a part of yours.
The first thing is God's Word.
"His word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path." Psalm 119:105
When I wake up each morning, I crave His Word like I crave my cream-heavy coffee. It hasn't always been this way. In fact, only for the past 5 years have I been waking up reading God's word. If you know my age, you know that is a lot of time that I was not reading it.
However, it doesn't matter when we start reading His Word, it matters that we start.
My mornings used to be filled with anxiety and heaviness on my chest. Fear would almost always consume my mind from the moment I opened my eyes. I thought it was just how I was wired. I thought anxiousness was just who I was.
Until I discovered the blanket of peace that covered my anxious heart through the reading of God's Word. I had no idea peace could exist in a heart riddled with fear.
January 1, 2012 my world changed forever. I began reading one chapter a day in God's Word. My heart will never be the same.
He speaks over and over and over again. His voice stills me. Like a mother quiets her babies cries, His Word quiets my soul.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8
The second thing is prayer.
Prayer came about a year after I started reading God's Word. Yes, I prayed before that. However, my prayers were very few, and very self-motivated. When I wanted something, I prayed. When I was desperate I prayed.
Now, prayer is a way of life. Prayer is what fills my mind when my thoughts want to go back to fear, worry, and anxiousness. Prayer is now more about listening than speaking to my Father in Heaven.
My prayer journals are filled with praises, requests, longings....
It helps for me to flip back pages...days, months, years...and see the faithfulness of my Father. There are times when doubt suffocates me and can almost swallow me whole. I then pick up my prayer journal and instantly I am reminded of God's hand in the course of my life.
God is constantly telling us to "remember". He told the Israelites over and over, "Do not forget what I have done...remember."
Prayer helps us to remember. It surrenders our will, our hearts, our desires to His. It quiets a heart wreaking in pain, grief, anger, jealousy, loneliness....
Prayer brings us to His feet and gathers us close. Prayer makes it able for His hands to cup our face and wipe our weary tears.
Prayer brings His will into fruition in our lives.
"Thy will be done, on Earth as in Heaven" Matthew 6:10
"pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5:17
"Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees." Corrie ten Boom
"No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack." E.M. Bounds
"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work." Oswald Chambers.
The third is surrounding ourselves with wise people.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 3:20
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Perhaps this thing can be the hardest for us. We like to be liked. We like to surround ourselves with people to feel loved, wanted, invited. We like to fit in.
However, the people we choose to spend a lot of our time with will shape us. For the better or for the worse.
This has been a hard lesson for me.
I can pinpoint times in my life where the company I kept made an impact. Either for good, or for bad.
We must be very aware of the friends that we allow in our close circle. They will leave a mark on our character. We will also mark theirs.
Loneliness can be a part of this process.
I think about Jesus. He had 12 close friends. Just 12.
And one of those betrayed Him.
Jesus knew the importance of surrounding Himself with the people that would spur Him on....or hold Him back.
He felt lonely at times. Oh so lonely.
Remember the night in the garden before He was crucified?
His friends fell asleep. They were too tired to pray.
Jesus was alone. In the garden. Praying. By Himself.
There will be times when we feel alone. But, don't let that discourage you. It is part of the walk.
He will bring wise people in your life. Pray for them to come. Look for them.
And most of all, be a wise friend.
Pray for your friends. Encourage them. Speak life over them.
"The person you will be in five years is based on the books you read and the people you surround yourself with today."
These three things can change the course of our lives right now. Starting today.
A new year is on the horizon. Full of possibility.
Will we choose to stay the same in our faith? Or will we choose to surrender our hearts to God's plan for us. The plan that He chose for us before we were even conceived. When He knitted us together in our mother's wombs.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17
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