LEAD A LIFE WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING: THE OLD HAS GONE
Every year around this time I am usually overcome by a feeling of incredulity at the expedience by which another year has come and gone. Aside from the end of another Christmas season, the start of a new calendar and thoughts of warmer weather comes the realization of unmet hopes, dreams and expectations of yesteryear, and the apprehension of having to make new (or "re-gift" old) ones. It is once again the "official" designated period of resolution-making! (I thought I just heard a long chorus of sighs and jaded mumblings). I'm sure many of us have by now "scripted," or at least considered all of those purpose-filled hopes and desires for the coming year as I have (or maybe have already broken them), right? A new survey shows most Americans will likely opt out of making any resolutions at all this year (Marist Institute of Public Opinion), and for those who do, some reports state only ten percent of all resolutions made will actually be successfully carried out.
So, with a new year upon us and quickly becoming history, how do we make it more "successful" than past ones? How do we accomplish those things we want and strive to do what we are called to do? And how do we "deal with" the inevitability of hopes and dreams which don't come to fruition this year?It's a daunting endeavor, but in this two-part series I will address how we can try to make a difference in our year, how not to view it (and life) as just something to "get through," and how to live it in a way that honors the Lord in an Ephesians 4:1 sort of way. “Lead a life worthy of your calling for you have been called by God.”This isn't just a new calendar on the wall or a numerical change in a date. It is an opportunity for transformation, a chance to do away with improper behavior (or sin) and a time to have a revolutionary year, and I suspect most of us wouldn't mind "something new" this year. Instead of making resolutions and trying to attain them, let's resolve to alter how we think and what we do in order to lead a life worthy of what we were called to do, and trust God with the rest.
“If anyone is in Christ, the old has gone, the new has come!”(2 Corinthians 5:17).Paul spoke this to the Corinthians about a new life in Christ by no longer thinking and doing what they were accustomed to, but to change their actions in order to live according to God's ways and purpose. Today, we can use this to inspire us to re-evaluate our relationship with him, our actions toward others and the path we are walking. Some of us may be struggling with our "old" self which hampers our effort to grow in the Lord. Maybe our "old" consists of unbelieving friends who encourage us to stumble, maybe they are habits we haven't completely given up, or maybe they are ways we continue to act or improperly react. Whatever may be stymieing your growth or plans (no matter how small it may seem), what "non-resolution" could be better than to leave the "old" where it belongs so you can move into the "new"?
What We LACK: When Jesus heard this, He said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me" (Luke 18:22).When many of us first heard or read this verse, we probably flinched. I know I did. In order to follow Jesus, I had to sell everything I had and give the money away? For the rich young ruler, to whom Jesus was speaking, it was exactly what was meant. Jesus' lesson and desire for us is to purge our lives of anything and everything that stands in the way of our relationship and our devotion to him. This passage may be literally speaking to some of us, needing to rid ourselves of all worldly possessions, however, there are likely other areas in our life Jesus want us to free ourselves of. If this was re-written specifically for us it may say, "Break off that relationship (or unrelenting search of one) and follow me," "Quit your endless quest for ‘more' and follow me," "Stop that behavior and follow me," or "Give up living for yourself and follow me."
It is so easy to get caught up in everyday life, placing "God" on hold (or pushing Him to the side), while we seek for "something" with our own power, mind and worldly desires. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).So where is your treasure today? Do you find your heart there too? Is it leading you toward Christ or "astray" from him? What may be something we have lived with all of our lives is not something we should continue to do as a believer. Don't miss out on another year of living life to the fullest, following the Lord and experiencing what your true heart desires by hanging onto something. Establish what "it" is in your life that needs to be sold, eliminated or changed, and follow him.
Something to FORGET: Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I d Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14). How often do you talk with someone and hear about "what was" or "what could have been"? Not even in the short-term sense, but what may have happened years ago and why they can't do something now. Living like that is not forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. It is allowing yesterday to jeopardize your life today. Many of us seem to struggle with "forgetting the past," even at the time he wrote Philippians, Paul admits he hadn't mastered "forgetting" yet. We all have our "should haves," "could haves," and "what ifs" in life, and we can learn from them and use them (to grow) without letting them obstruct our progress, but we need to "forget" in a sense "what could have been" and look toward "what can be."
Maybe things were "easier" back then, maybe we had "more," maybe we had "somebody," but we can't try to live both in the past and in the present. We each have to decide where we are going to live—in the past where things "were," or in the present seeking the amazing life Jesus has planned for us. Paul shared with us where he was striving to live. I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things (Philippians 3:8).For each day we don't live knowing and growing in Christ, we are losing time, effort and the opportunity to do so, as well as not attaining our God-given potential. Before we can expect to experience the new life God has for us (by pressing on and straining toward what is ahead), we have to determine, deal with and forget the things which have held us back (or controlled us) for so long. Leave the past in the past. Learn from your mistakes, don't carry any regrets and live for today. We need to have the faith to trust God enough to let go of the old and embrace the new. We won't be able to walk into the future if we have a foot in the past. It will be the best "non-resolution" you ever make.
Written By Dr. Lewis Akpogena