FIRST-PERSON: 12 spiritual tips for 2011
DORA, Ala. (BP)--As the New Year rolls around, many folks will make New Year's resolutions to change or improve something in their lives. One of the topics that makes every Top Ten list is "get out of debt." But what about spiritual goals? With the Bible as our guide, here are 12 tips and corresponding scriptures to help you make 2011 your best year ever:
1. Commit yourself fully to Jesus Christ. God wants more than a relationship; He wants a total commitment. "Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek Him with all their heart" (Psalm 119:2).
2. Put your commitment to Christ above all else. Only when Christ has first place in your life can the rest of your life be in right order. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you" (Matthew 6:33).
3. Put the needs of others ahead of your wants. If we look at the life of Jesus, we realize that our time on earth is not about personal comfort, but about being a comfort to others. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve...." (Mark 10:45a).
4. Spend time daily in the Word and in prayer. The Living Word wants you to spend time with Him. Remember that prayer is a two-way conversation; don't just talk to God -- sit quietly and wait for Him to speak to you. "Happy is the man [whose] ... delight is in the Lord's instruction ... he meditates on it day and night" (Psalm 1:1-2).
5. Attend church regularly. As a member of the family of God, it's important to spend time with and worship with fellow believers. "not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other ..." (Hebrews 10:25).
6. Become a blessing to your pastor and church staff. There is no end of volunteers to criticize pastors; be one of the rare few who encourage them. "Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work" (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a).
7. Learn your spiritual gifts and use them in specific places of service. Until you find that perfect fit, just serve wherever and however you can. You're far more likely to find shoes that fit by trying them on rather than by staring at them through the window. "Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10).
8. Consciously seek opportunities to tell others about Jesus. The day you accepted Christ's offer of salvation, you volunteered for service in the Army of God. And that means active duty -- you're on assignment: "... in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us" (2 Corinthians 5:19).
9. Confess your need for Christ's control over your finances. Everything we claim as our own is simply on loan to us from the True Owner. Commit to follow His guidance in managing all that's been entrusted to you. Only through the leadership of the Holy Spirit can we properly manage money. "Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much. So if you have not been faithful with the unrighteous money, who will trust you with what is genuine? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to someone else, who will give you what is your own? ... You can't be slaves to both God and money" (Luke 16:10-13b).
10. Determine to live within your income. Trust God as your Provider and refuse to create credit card debt or any other unnecessary debt. "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Philippians 4:11b).
11. Begin to eliminate all credit debt. Concentrate on paying off credit cards, focusing first on the one with the lowest balance. Romans 13:8a says, "Do not owe anyone anything ..." Pay your debts on or before their due dates.
12. Faithfully tithe to your local church and trust God's Word for His provision. Like a bucket under a spout, tithing aligns believers to receive God's blessings. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Judy Woodward Bates is an author, speaker and TV personality; visit her website at www.Bargainomics.com.