5 Ways to Start the New Year with God
By: Dr. Dillon Burroughs
As we begin a new year, how can we better grow in our relationship with God? Scripture offers five ways to help.
James 5:16 teaches, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” As believers, we recognize the power of prayer, yet often only turn to prayer when everything else fails.
Instead, we are called to pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17), looking to God first, not last. Our power and effectiveness are found in his strength, not our own.
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus quoted the Old Testament promise, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus had just gone without food for 40 days. He knew what it meant to need food.
Yet even in his weakened physical condition, Jesus recognized God’s Word was more important than the food we eat. Without God’s truth, we do not know how to make choices that please God or how to overcome temptation. To start the new year with God, a fresh commitment to reading, listening to, or studying God’s Word is vital.
Scripture is clear that believers in Jesus are to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25). This happens best in person, face to face. In our hyper-connected society, a positive goal could be to commit to more time in person with other believers.
How could this look? Some options include:
-A renewed commitment to regular church service attendance.
-Joining a small group Bible study.
-Meeting with one other person each week to help one another grow spiritually.
-Praying regularly with a friend at work or school.
Many opportunities exist, but you must take the initiative to connect. Community happens when we commit to it.
In 1 John 3:17-18, we learn, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” One of our most powerful methods of spiritual growth is to show God’s love to others.
Whether through your local church or another community organization, many ways exist to impact others in practical, everyday ways. Some ideas include:
-Volunteering at a senior citizen’s center.
-Serving meals at a local soup kitchen.
-Gathering supplies for a mission trip.
-Donating items to a local thrift store that serves the community.
-Assisting with a local jail or prison ministry.
-Helping at an after-school program in your area.
-Writing to your church’s missionaries with encouragement and prayer support.
Many people do not realize that one of the most powerful ways to grow spiritually is to help someone else come to faith in Jesus. This is true in several ways.
- First, sharing our faith with another person reminds us of how God has changed our own life.
- Second, sharing our faith forces us out of our comfort zone. We are required to learn new ways to communicate and to depend on God’s Spirit to lead our efforts.
- Third, sharing our faith allows us to see God at work through our life into the lives of others.
There is an old saying that if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting the results you’ve always had. If you want to grow spiritually this year, commit to change in these five areas. God will work in and through you to change your life—and the lives of others.
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Dr. Dillon Burroughs
Dillon Burroughs serves as senior writer at The John Ankerberg Show and has written nearly 40 books on issues of faith and culture. He is also an associate editor for The Apologetics Bible for Students and has contributed to many works on apologetics and Christian worldview. Dillon is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and holds a PhD in Leadership from Piedmont International University. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his wife, Deborah, and their three children.