Are you viewing 2016 through the lens of the media or the Word of God? The media reports that, among other things, family values are crumbling, lawless is rampant, the weather system is producing unprecedented damage, the education system undermines parental authority, the economy is literally bankrupt, and morality is at an all-time low. However, as a woman seeking to please God 2016 extends the opportunity to establish priorities rather than resolutions that will allow you to experience a fruitful year in our Lord’s vineyard!
God’s Word states, “for I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jer. 29:11 NAS) Your response to my question could set the tone for the priorities you prayerfully establish for your year. If you believe that your heavenly Father holds both the future and your hand than you will optimistically step out into a new year anticipating to end the year as a Conqueror (Ro. 8:35-39). If you listen to the negative report of the media you have potentially projected a year of failure and the prospect of hitting December 31, 2016 as a Fatality. The choice is yours. May I offer you some suggestions for priorities that will allow 2016 to be one that continues to mature you into becoming a woman who pleases God?
What is a Priority?
The word priority implies that some things come before or prior to some others—not instead of. Spiritual priorities assist us in our quest to become women who please God. Early in my spiritual growth, observation taught me that spiritually mature women establish biblical priorities while weak women only have wishes. If our lives are going to significantly impact the Kingdom of God we must prayerfully select activities that will contribute to our spiritual growth. Proverbs 16:9 teaches that that we should make plans, counting on God to provide direction while Proverbs 23:23 encourages us to get the facts and hold on tightly to all the wisdom we can get. While there’s no “one size fits all” list for us to prioritize our lives by, there are some tactics that assist us in setting and reaching spiritual priorities:
Prayer—it is the most necessary, yet habitually the most neglected tactic, in the quest to sort our priorities. Scripture teaches that God has promised to provide all our strength and all of our needs (Phil. 4:13, 19), that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), and with God, all things are possible (Luke 1:37)! Taking the time to petition our heavenly Father helps us prioritize the responsibilities we accept, can multiply our time along and reduce stress (1 Pet. 5:7-8). I can attest to the fact that the times I have jumped into a commitment without preceding it with prayer was equivalent to jumping off a bridge and then praying that I would not get hurt when I hit the ground! Since my heavenly Father loves me He has allowed me to feel the impact of my willful decision. Though sometimes I regress, usually prayer is my first-reflex reaction when faced with the decision of how to prioritize my time – it makes all the difference!
Focus on the eternal rather than the temporal—this strategy requires creativity since we must live in the world (Matt. 6:33; 1 John 2:15-17) but must not embrace its philosophy. A significant question to pose in decision making is will this choice advance the kingdom of God? Mary, the mother of Jesus is my role model for this tactic. Her reflex response, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) is the one I seek to have when presented with situations that I do not understand.
Distinguish between spiritual and personal priorities. A highly organized person can make things happen. When they are organizing they can be tempted to trust their organizational skills rather remaining dependent on God—that is why prayer must precede planning (Prov. 16:3). I frequently ask myself, “Am I well organized or controlling?” My symptoms of assuming the controlling mode include being manipulative, insisting on my way, failing to provide adequate information to those needing help with the task, withholding affirmation or encouragement, neglecting to express gratitude, and being critical and demanding of others. By God’s grace each year of my life I become more like Ruth who followed Naomi’s advice and waited (Ruth 3:11) rather than Sarah who took the timing of God’s promise into her own hands (Gen. 15:1-18:15, 21:1-7).
Set aside time to meditate. The time that we save far exceeds the time that we spend in planning. I must consistently remember during my planning sessions to refuse to allow the immediate to take the place of the important in my life. Since I normally have more “think time” on the weekend, I take a portion of it to sketch out the week. I seek to commit my plans to the Lord and record them in “sand rather than stone” (i.e. I must remain flexible). The day of the week I use for planning is really unimportant. What is important is that I humbly place my plans in the hands of my heavenly Father and trust Him for their implementation (Jer. 29:11-14). Regrettably, occasionally I must relearn that there are consequences for needing to ask forgiveness rather than initially seeking permission when establishing the week’s priorities. Trust me – the consequences are not worth the impulsive action!
16 Priorities for 2016
I love the book of Proverbs because of the timeless truth and wisdom it contains. As well, it presents the word portrait of God’s ideal woman (Prov. 31:10-31). I searched its rich contents and prayerfully crafted sixteen priorities for 2016. They are included for you below. May I encourage you to:
Place each priority on a card you can easily carry with you.
On the back of the card write the entire scriptural reference.
Weekly meditate on one priority and its accompanying verse for the entire year. Since there are 52 weeks in the year you will review the priorities a minimum of three times.
I will choose to fear (reverence) God because this submissive response is the foundation for all spiritual knowledge and wisdom. (Prov. 1:7)
I will choose to listen to God because in so doing I will be secure (Prov. 1:33).
I will choose to seek wisdom from my heavenly Father’s Word because the words of His mouth are contained in them (Prov. 2:6).
I will choose to walk in the way of the good. (Prov. 2:20)
I will choose to trust my heavenly Father and acknowledge Him in all decisions rather than relying on my experiences. (Prov. 3:5-6)
I will choose to seek godly wisdom and understanding (Prov. 3:13).
I will choose to be attentive to my heavenly Father’s words and sayings. (Prov. 4:20)
I will choose to use my words carefully. (Prov. 4:24)
I will choose to use the ant as a role model for my labors. (Prov. 6:6)
I will choose to embrace godly wisdom above any other resource. (Prov. 8:11)
I will choose to carefully consider the results of acquiring a prideful spirit (Prov. 11:2).
I will choose to strive to mature into a gracious woman. (Prov. 11:16)
I will choose to be slow to anger. (Prov. 16:32)
I will choose to focus on building my character. (Prov. 22:1)
I will choose to accept with a teachable spirit the correction from those who are truly my friends. (Prov.27:6)
I will choose to dress myself with character qualities that provide me with the spiritual stamina to face the unknown challenges of the future with confidence. (Prov.31:25)
Blessings on your year as you focus on being a Conqueror (Ro. 8:35-39)!
THE EVERYDAY HOMEMAKER’S MONTHLY MEDITATION THOUGHT
Jesus has said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
Therefore, I may boldly say, “Jesus’ promise to me of an abundant life gives me reason for constant hope.”
A GIFT FOR YOU!
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