Are you staying strong with your New Year’s resolutions or goals yet? My focus on the word ‘joy’ for 2017 has led me to dig deep. My life stems from who God calls me to be. But this week, I awoke overwhelmed wondering “why am I doing all of this?” I quickly heard “because I asked you.”
Clearly, to do what God is asking me and not feel overwhelmed, something must change. I sought God’s help and found a great devotion and guidance in His word.
Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive. ~Titus 3:14 (NLT)
Great, what I do meets many needs, but it feels like I’m not managing it well. So I kept seeking…and read this:
But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” ~1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
This one hit me. How are we to be holy? God shares this original scripture referenced in Peter in Leviticus as He’s teaching the younger generation of Israel before entering the Promised Land. They needed instruction on how to live as God’s holy people. First, God dealt with sin and what NOT to do. Then, in Leviticus chapter 19, He explains what to do: be Holy like Him as Peter later quotes in the verse above. But we cannot be holy due to the sin that separates us from God.
Earlier in the text, Peter describes how we accomplish being holy through Jesus:
So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. ~1 Peter 1:13-14a (NLT)
Self-control is practiced by sinful people like me by putting our hope in Jesus’ saving grace. This grace saves me for eternity but also saves me today in my overwhelmed state. I can let go of old ways to live overwhelmed by His grace, not my burdens. The more God gives me to do, the more self-control I find in Jesus’ saving grace.
For the last few months, habits have been circling around in my brain and it’s my MemoryMinders word for 2017. Memory can be improved with habits and more joy opportunities exist with habits. Adjusting or deleting the bad and adding good habits help me do what God is asking, allowing margin to be flexible, be still and listen to God.
As a dear friend reminded me last week, joy isn’t something I need to work at; it comes from abiding in Him. It’s found in His grace and why my first habit is seeking Him. But I’ve dropped other good habits as life got busy. Picking those up and adjusting priorities has led to some habit do’s and don’ts.
Just like God did in Leviticus, let’s begin with the don’ts.
- Linger on Social Media: This can be a fun way to connect with others, learn new things and share ideas-except when it interferes with real life. To that end, last week I began taking Sunday’s off of social media. I call it my Social Media Sabbath and I don’t engage on Sundays. So far, it’s refreshing. I’m connecting with God and my family more on a day to rest and refresh in Him and those I love. Try it! Share your plan with your friends ahead of time and I bet you’ll get support like I did!
- Watch TV: While I don’t watch much, when I do, it sucks me in. I’m limiting TV to after my responsibilities and to relax with my family by choosing wisely.
- Multitask: We think the more things we do, the more we can cross off that proverbial to-do list. But it’s really smoke and mirrors which divide our focus and weaken our ability to function and remember well. I’m renewing my commitment to do one thing (or as few as necessary) at a time. It works. Prioritize what’s most important. Do that, and then move on.
- Worry: I’ve written whole blog posts on this, so won’t go into detail here. I’m reminding myself and others of God’s provision and to not worry, just pray. Let go of worry and let God work.
Eliminating what isn’t working is the first step on the bridge to being Holy like God and following His footprints. Revising or replacing bad with new habits is next. I’m working on those will share the “Do’s” and my progress in a few weeks. In the meantime, think about your habits. What do you need to stop or revise? Let me know for some added encouragement.
Remember the habit loop we discussed from our Holiday Wellness Plan? It applies to our daily life habits too. Let’s review and eliminate habits which prohibit walking in His ways. Understand your habit don’ts and exercise self-control through Jesus’ saving grace. Let’s walk over Jesus’ bridge into God’s plan!