Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ten questions to ask

Dr. Don Whitney has written an excellent article entitled "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or On Your Birthday." And I happened to run across it...several days before my birthday! Besides, I have an oversight meeting coming up, and I trust this will aid in preparing my thoughts for that!

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

Well, there are many things, but the one that sticks out in my mind is prayer. And prayer not only to start and end the day but prayer throughout the day, just as Nehemiah shot up "arrow prayers" as the walls were rebuilt. In my own experience, I have the most enjoyment of God and assurance of His provision when I am living as if God really hears me and really is the one who is establishing the work of my hands.

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

More than ever, I see that "humanly impossible" covers a lot of territory, so it's a little hard to narrow down! Actually, I don't need to narrow it down... The most humanly impossible thing I will ask God to do is to grant me the grace to mortify my sin and to conform me into the image of Christ. After all, what do I have that I have not received? Yes, I am responsible to use the means of grace that God has provided, but without God's Spirit nothing will come of it. And the question comes "Do I REALLY believe this?"...

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

The number one best thing I can do is pray for the salvation of unsaved family members! I can also look for opportunities to serve them and show my concern and love for them. While I certainly want to speak of Christ as God gives me opportunity, I also know that they've heard numerous times and that there is a theology of wiping the dust off one's feet. I need wisdom to know the whereabouts of that fine line!

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

I want to make progress in the memorization of Scripture. I have made flash cards to put in my purse so I can take them out while on the bus or waiting in a long line. It is a great way to redeem the time! I have gotten out of doing it recently, so I should get back in to it again! It is amazing how God has used the very passage I am memorizing for either my own or someone else's encouragement or admonishment!

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

Hmmm...well, I could say the Internet, and that is what I would have said several years ago. God has mercifully helped me to overcome much of that! But the main thing that sticks out to me, due to some lessons the Lord has taught me lately, is the time-waster of worrying! It's amazing I still have to learn that lesson! Jesus really did mean it when He said none of us could add an inch to our height by worrying. The Lord has made my mind so that I am always thinking through things, which can be a real blessing, but a common temptation I have is to try and figure out all the ways a situation could turn out in situations where it causes me to worry or to be presumptuous. I know that God lavished grace upon me as He gave me great peace during the lay-offs at work. I pray that will more and more be the experience of my life!

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

I don't know about "new" but I do know that I should continue in the ways begun! Because I am single, I have more time to devote to the Kingdom of God, and a major ministry God has given me is praying for my church. I make it my practice to pray through the church directory in prayer at least once a week. I make a special effort to pray for the young people in my church, as they are the Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville of tomorrow. I was especially moved by a sermon Pastor Jim preached recently on Acts 4:36-5:2. I want to more and more be like Barnabas and encourage and think the best of my brethren. I have some ideas on how I can practically encourage them, but I won't post it because I want it to be a surprise.

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

My sister Julie's! That didn't take even a nanosecond to think about! I have had her as a burden upon my heart recently. I think it's particularly because of her upcoming marriage in 2010. I actually have had dreams about her conversion, which shows how much I have been thinking about and praying for her! So she is the one God has laid upon my heart in a special way at the moment.

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

Honestly, if I grew spiritually this year as much as I did last year, then I would be very, very pleased! Of course, I don't want to fall into a rut, and that's always the danger, so I will again continue in the path begun and pray that I will grow more and more in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I endeavor to do this by remembering the lessons I learned last year...focus on the Gospel, pray each day to be filled with the Spirit, work and live each day before the face of God, meditate on Scripture and ponder its application, consider the deceitfulness of my own heart but even more than that consider the grace and mercy that has been lavished upon me in Christ. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results...I do the same thing over and over and expect better and more results!

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

I can be more specific in my prayers for other people. To do this, I will ask others how I can pray for them, even when I don't know of some struggle they are facing or some event that is about to happen in their lives. It's good and right to pray, for example, that a friend will be given the grace to resist temptation, but it is even better to be able to pray that my friend would be able to resist the sin of covetousness if that is something they are struggling with at the moment. I haven't done a study on this, but it seems to me that the vast majority of prayers in Scripture are dealing with particulars rather than generalities. Besides, asking someone "How can I best pray for you?" is a great encouragement to others!

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

This is a hard question because we often don't know the impact that certain events and decisions in our lives have upon ourselves and others. Eternity is the most important question to ask, and I would say that spreading the Gospel and praying for souls is very important. It may be the thing that matters in 10 years as well, since we don't know how much longer we will have to spread the Gospel as freely as we do now! Personally, I know that seeking the Kingdom and God's righteousness is most important in my daily life, and I know that will deeply impact my life here and in eternity! As for Christians corporately, I think we would do well to become more Gospel-focused and Scripture-focused. We need to pray for revival in our churches so we don't lose Christ as our First Love. The world has so much to entice us to take our eyes off Christ and Heaven! Related to this, we need to be good stewards of our possessions and use them for the Kingdom and not use them selfishly or frivolously.


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