There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the LORD’s counsel—that will stand — Proverbs 19:21
Looking at a new year can bring on a host of emotions. Sometimes the task ahead can be daunting. Other times the prospect of the unknown can be exciting. We may also find that having a clean slate to work with is a relief and there is a peace that comes with the new year.
No matter how you feel as you approach 2017 know that it can be your best year. The reason is that when you have God giving direction and laying out the vision of what is to come it makes life an adventure. Adventure doesn’t mean easy. I couldn’t give you three easy steps to the best year of your life but I can give you encouragement that you can have the best year of your life.
How can I say that? Glad you asked. I have a question for you.
What is in your heart?
Do you really want to have a great year? You can have it. God says that if you delight yourself in Him that He will give you the desire of your heart. That shows me that if you really want it you can have it.
Beyond that what can you believe God for? How big is He to you? What is He able to do? My Bible says God is an exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think God. That means my desires and my ability to ask will always come up short of what He is able to do. He will always exceed my expectation! So my faith needs to rise to new levels to have a better year.
Finally we need to realize the simplicity of just following God as our leader. Again, this is not always easy, but it is simple.
There have been many times that I have lamented over a member of my family, who will go unnamed (you know who you are), and their inability to make boxed macaroni and cheese. If they could just follow the directions everything would turn out right. But rather than boil the water before they add the noodles I see them dumping the box in water that is just starting to warm up. Oh I warn them that soggy macaroni noodles are on the horizon but do they listen? No. Not until they are eating mushy mac ‘n cheese.
All joking aside I know that God’s plan is better than mine. If we could just catch a vision of what God has planned for us and follow His will we would have the best year of our lives. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for a look in to what He desires for your year ahead. Press in, fast, pray and find out from the scriptures and your personal time with the Holy Spirit what that is.
2016 was an amazing year for us as a church. God is faithful. We can see it behind us and we can believe for it ahead of us.
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The year of 2017 will be a year to GROW
God has it in His heart to grow us a all this year. One night while I was getting ready to go to sleep God kept me awake and delivered four areas we are going to grow as a church this year: Giving, Relationships, Outreach and Worship. It just so happens that each of these areas starts with the letters that spell GROW. How easy is that to remember?!
Let’s have a look at each one.
Remember that we said you cannot grow without giving. It is essential for growth. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. We would think that receiving more is the path to grow but it isn’t. Giving is where the blessing happens and we now have the capacity to succeed.
We also asked the question what should we give? The answer was: Time, Talent and Treasure.
Time gives place. I would encourage you as you fast and pray for the upcoming year to be asking for Divine appointments and interruptions. Ask God for open doors of opportunity to share the gospel and to be used by Him. How can you utilize your time to elevate Jesus in your life so He can be elevated through your life like we heard from Pastor Luke a few weeks ago?
Talent gives power. We often feel like we can’t contribute anything but I would venture to say that God’s grace in us is a power we underestimate. Each and every person has so much to give with their unique gifting, Don’t bury your talents in the ground. Use them to multiply the kingdom of God’s influence in your life and in the church.
Treasure gives potential. It is amazing at what The Rock Church does with roughly only 7% of the people tithing, How much more could we do if that number doubled? Just 14% would double our potential. But think about that for a second. !4% isn’t even a third of the church tithing. If everyone just did their part we could have exponential potential for kingdom advancement!
Whether we are giving of our time, talent or treasure, and I believe there are times for all three, our core motivation to give is love. Love gives. Our definition of love is; ‘Personal self-sacrifice for the benefit of others.’ Keep this in mind throughout the year.
The second area God wants to grow us is in our relationships.
First and foremost we need to grow in to a deeper love relationship with God. Seek intimacy this year with the Holy Spirit and listen for His voice. Dive deeper in your personal study time and your church attendance. One church service a week will feed you and maintain your Christian walk. If you really desire to grow this year get in to more than one church service a week. That is one of the reasons we offer eight weekly church services and additional classes, events and groups is for you to have multiple opportunities every week to grow.
Second we should grow in our relationships with others. This includes our families and friends. The people we surround ourselves with will shape our lives. Sometimes your relationship with your family as more of a witness than a friendship. Have the wisdom to know the difference. Surround yourself with faith filled people who will encourage your growth. Nothing is better than growing with people of like faith. If you are having trouble in relationships go back to love. Give in love and it will change your relationships for the better.
We all have influence with the people we encounter on a daily basis. Whether it is a neighbor, your child’s school teacher or a coworker you have influence. There is a personal reach God wants to use you for. Your testimony is a witness to the lost of the goodness of God through Jesus Christ. We need to grow in personal evangelism and in inviting people to church. Most people when asked what would motivate them to come to church said that they would go if they simply were asked. That is some low hanging fruit we are missing! Not only that but this year as a church we are going to grow in our community outreaches and through world missions. We already have plans for the Back to School Bash, community events, and short term missions trips where we will give and grow in our outreach. Find your place and do your part. See yourself as a full-time minister and a part of the body of Christ here at The Rock Church and World Outreach Center.
Finally God wants us to grow in our worship. Remember that worship is more than four or five songs at the beginning of church or a good song on the radio. True worship is sacrificial obedience. This includes our songs as we see in Hebrews 13 where it talks about the sacrifice of praise which the the fruit of our lips and thanksgiving to God. But it also goes beyond our songs of praise because the first time we see worship in the Bible is when Abraham offered Isaac on mount in the land of Moriah. There were no songs, guitars, drums or anything else other than wood and fire for their worship. We need to grow in our sacrificial obedience. When we do what we don’t want to do in honor of God’s word and leading it is worship to Him. Can you imagine a church filled with people who give their lives in sacrificial obedience? Can you imagine the power and the miracles when we operate in greater levels of holy living? Can you imagine the irresistible witness we will have when we live a life of love for God and love for the lost and lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Him? It will be amazing!
As we give in these areas we will grow in 2017. As a church each year we set aside some time in the month of January to fast. We don’t dictate a set time or way to fast. For each person they may choose a time, a set of days or a certain food or meal that they will fast. Some even extend their fast to things like social media, television and movies or other things that they desire to give up for a period of time to focus on prayer. I would invite you and your family to join us in a fast during this month. Set a time, fast and pray. As you pray would you pray for The Rock Church and World Outreach Center? Please pray that we grow. Specifically that we grow in giving, relationships, outreach and worship. Pray for your church family as well. Lift up the people who make up our church and their lives. Pray for yourself and your family. Pray over these specific areas for yourself and your family too. Pray also for your 2017 and write down any specific goals or areas God wants to grow you in.
I believe that our best days are ahead of us. 2017 will be our best year yet!
Adapted from a post originally on Thoughts From Last Year