Now that we have been two weeks into the new year… how is it going in your pursuit of the Lord? Have you resolved a way to have fewer distractions? Are you in the process of simplifying so you can have more of God? (See https://nathancherney.com/simplicity/)
For myself, I have eliminated specific distractions for the month of January. (See https://nathancherney.com/new-wineskins/) Here’s what I have committed to:
- No social media on my phone (I deleted the apps so I can stop the constant ‘checking’ I automatically do when there is downtime. I only go on social media on my laptop when I need to)
- No movies
- No sweets (I do not want to be distracted from my health goals as well! )
- Less sleeping in – waking up earlier to spend time with the Lord
While I have not been perfect in maintaining these goals, I am still working on doing my best to eliminate distractions and to walk in simplicity. My aim is not only to write about the Spirit-filled life, but also to live it out with you!
These goals got me thinking about the way people typically set New Year resolutions… the ‘new year, new me’ approach. That is, since a new date has arrived – a new year or for 2020, a new decade – it’s time to do new things for the sake of becoming that person you were ‘meant to become.’ Don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer in setting goals, having a vision, and partnering with God to be who He has created you to be and to do for Him. I realize that setting goals can be done at any time of the year as well. However, when it comes to the new year, there’s a programmatic mentality to drop what has been in the year before to embrace the new. Is this method the best way to set goals to accomplish them? Better yet, is this a biblical approach to how we should start off the new year?
The Lord led me to a word that helped give me an answer to this dilemma. That word is mentioned over 240 times in the Bible and is typically stated in the form of a command. This word repositions our focus to look into a different direction first before moving forward with what God has for us. The word is:
You might intuitively associate this word with ‘not forgetting’ as I naturally do all the time. I tend to be quite absent-minded when it comes to the big three: wallet, keys, and phone. Thankfully, my wife pays more attention to detail than I do and can find those items easily when I cannot remember where I put them!
Yet this common but powerful word has more in store for us than simply bringing to mind a detail we are supposed to know. The Hebrew word ‘zakar’ means: “to bring someone to mind and act on their behalf.” Therefore, it’s not only a cognitive reminder of a person but what that person did for us. It’s not only a mental memory but one that is paired with action.
We see this is Scripture as a characteristic of who God is and what He does for His people:
- “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.” – Genesis 30:22
- “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” – Genesis 8:1
- “So Moses said to the people, “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the LORD has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand.” – Exodus 13:3 (NLT)
The Lord did not simply ‘forget’ Rachel, Noah, and the Israelites existence – Instead, His act of remembrance was duly noted in His response to them. God’s loving-kindness was demonstrated for those who were in need as they relied on His power to make a way for them in their circumstances.
It is imperative that before we move forward, we first ‘remember’ to remember – that is, go back to 2019 and remind ourselves of what God has done… for He has done great things! What has He done for you?
- When times were tough, and yet, you came out of it. How has this given you perspective on the ups and downs of life?
- When those victories that came through when you least expected it… How did God’s character reveal itself to you in a new or different light?
- When devastating circumstances shattered your world, and you learned first-hand of people’s compassion and generosity. What happened?
- When a hard-earned lesson left you older and wiser, with the experience you need to sympathize with and guide others. What have you learned and with whom can you now help?
- When serious health problems brought you to a heightened appreciation of life. How has your outlook changed for the better?
- When your hopes were dashed, but a new and better opportunity presented itself. Which door closed, and which door opened?
This list is not exhaustive, so it does not include the breakthroughs you have been seeking, the healing you received, the restoration you have been longing for, and the salvation for your loved ones, and much, much more!
When you remember what God has done for you in the past, you are given the strength to overcome in the present. His faithfulness and goodness is a reminder that God’s got you NOW because He has done it BEFORE!
For this week, take time to remember who God is in light of what He has done for you back in 2019. It has only been 2 weeks – so you shouldn’t have forgotten the year just yet! Feel free to use the questioned prompts above as a way to better gauge and remind yourself of what He has done for you in the year. Remember – He has done great things, even through the small and seemingly mundane details of your life. Remembering what has been done will give you the foundation to stand on today while giving you hope for what He has for you in the future. If He came through before, He can and WILL do it again.
Have a blessed week!