STOVER: How to make 2018 the best year ever

Published 1:29 pm Saturday, January 6, 2018

By LARRY STOVERPraise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene

Wouldn’t it be great if we all knew exactly what would happen to us in the year ahead? Imagine if we had some keen insight into the challenges we will face during 2018. We could all have a sigh of relief if we knew in advance the problems we were going to have to face or the life changing events that would rock our world. Plans could be made or resolutions could be set in motion to meet those challenges. The new year would become an adventure while anticipating the great things that would happen. The tough times would be met with foreknowledge of their outcome.

That would be a dream world. The reality is, I can’t tell you what to expect. No one know what changes will take place in our world or what new situations will arise in our lives. Some of us will probably face something that will turn our lives upside down and bring chaos while we discover a solution to the dilemma.

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While we do not know the final state of affairs for the year, we can make plans. We can implement a strategy that will make this the best year ever. Listen to the wise counsel of those around us and shake off the frivolous insight of those who “fly by the seat of their pants.”

Some of my favorite stories from the Bible involve the children of Israel entering the “Promise Land.”  Deuteronomy eleven can be the source of wisdom that makes this year the best it can be.

After giving a brief historical remembrance of how God, with his mighty power, delivered the people from Egyptian bondage, the Lord paints a wonderful picture of the Promise Land, and the requirements necessary to take possession of it.

It is described as a land “flowing with milk and honey.” God is quick to note that this new land would be nothing like the slavery and oppression of their years in Egypt. Rather, it would be a beautiful country that the Lord would oversee it all year long.

There was one critical requirement for this to become a reality. The people would have to make the decision to “Observe all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land.” He goes on to say, “If you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will” bless the land.

Obedience is still the key for you today. God wants to bless your work, your home, your family and every effort you make every day. He wants to drive Satan from your midst and destroy his oppressive actions against you and your family. He has this amazing plan for each of us if we will follow the wisdom of his leadership. This same message was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Those blessings were all contingent upon the people following the guidelines he had in place through the wisdom of his word. We continue to stray from his divine instructions. The Lord wants to help us, guide us, teach us and make our lives the best they can be but we can’t achieve his potential if we fail to listen to his instructions.

How important are his “instructions.” Deuteronomy eleven makes that very plain. It goes on to say, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord has promised.”

Remember the story from the Bible about the wise and foolish builder. The wise man built his house on a foundation of rock and the foolish man built his house on a foundation of sand. When the storms came along the house built on a solid foundation stood firm while the one built on sand collapsed. It’s all about the foundation! As we look ahead to this new year, listening to and following the wisdom of our heavenly Father will make 2018 “Simply Beautiful.”