Take New Ground

Guest Blogger Candace Gray

Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Happy New Year!  Everyone is thinking about what the new year will bring.  Some people make resolutions and some people set goals and create detailed plans.  Some people just wing it, having been disappointed by previous failures in the past.  But if you are a person with a strong desire to live a purpose-driven life, you can’t afford to wing it.  You must set goals, make plans and try again, because it’s not just about you.  There are others who will be blessed because of what you do.  You desire to be a change-agent, problem-solver, healer, peace-maker, leader, creator, giver, do-gooder and anything else that glorifies God, helps others and makes the world a better place. 

In Numbers 13, God was preparing the Israelites to possess the land of Canaan.  Twelve people were sent to examine the lay of the land.  As they explored the land, they saw both the bountiful resources of the land and the potential obstacles to possessing the land.  When they returned from seeing the same set of facts, they came to two different conclusions:   Caleb and Joshua concluded, “We should go up and take the land, for we can certainly do it.”  The other ten concluded, “We can’t attack these people:  they are stronger than we are.(13:31)”  They observed, “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.(13:33)”  One group focused on the power of God and the other group focused on their own limitations.          

This devotional series is written to encourage you to keep moving forward with making a difference.  You will face obstacles along the way, that tempt you to view yourself as a grasshopper.  But do not underestimate the significance of living a life of purpose.  The desire in your heart is there for a reason. The ideas you have are there for a reason. I encourage you to do the thing on your heart to do. I am praying for you and me to be focused, purposeful and bold in 2023.  Someone’s life is depending on it.  When we step out with the bold faith of Caleb, God is faithful to show up and help us. 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What ideas would you like to implement in 2023?
  • What’s holding you back from taking new ground in 2023?
  • Are you more focused on your own limited ability or God’s unlimited power? 

For the month of January, I have invited my friend Candace Gray to share a weekly devotional. Candace is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same.  She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Three Positive Questions to Ask Ourselves in 2021

Typically, as a new year begins, I take time to reflect on my goals from the past year and consider my plan for the future. This year is different. 2020 made it quite clear that we can make our plans, but they may not turn out as expected. So how do we make the best of the coming year? How do we walk in a positive direction, even though our world has been turned upside down?

As I take time this month to pray, ponder and prepare for the year ahead, I am narrowing my focus to three simple questions:

  • What life-lessons did I learn from 2020?
  • What would I like to accomplish (while remaining flexible) in 2021?
  • How can I serve others in a more loving and meaningful way this year?

Despite the challenges, this past year has been a time of learning and growth for each of us. For me personally, I developed a greater appreciation for the relationships in my life. I learned to adapt and create new ways of serving others through our Engage Outreach. I enjoyed a slower pace and clearer calendar. Most importantly, I have grown to value time alone in prayer, seeking God’s direction and guidance.

Take some time in the coming weeks to reflect on the three questions above and consider the positive steps you want to take as you move into the new year. Maintain a growth mindset as you think about all the ways  2020 made you stronger and more resilient. And as always, I encourage you to keep a daily gratitude journal and prayerfully ask God to give you a new focus for 2021.

There’s More To Be Done in 2021!

New Thinking for the New Year

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Why is it that we stay in the same rut, thinking the same thoughts and yet expecting different results? Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Every January 1st offers the opportunity to make new plans and take positive steps forward in our life, and it begins with our thinking. As we determine to make improvements in our life, let’s begin with a fresh start and a positive perspective.

Every year, I like to think of a new motto, a key Bible verse and one word to focus on for the next twelve months. Here are mine:

Motto: Live Clean in 2017!  In every area of my life, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, I want to clean out the old negative habits and form good healthy new habits.

Key Bible Verse: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity.”

My Word for the Year: Strength

Along with these inspirational objectives, I also like to ask myself a few questions as I think through specific goals. Here are three questions to consider for the new year:

  1. How do I want to improve from last year?
  2. Who do I want to get to know better this year?
  3. In what ways can I reach out and be a blessing to others?

Three simple questions that can guide your thinking for the new year. I hope it is a wonderful 2017 for you as you step out of the old and bring in the new.

 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  • The Apostle Paul

Pray, Reflect, Reset

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My favorite time of the year is the week between Christmas and New Years. Of course, there is the obvious reduced stress level, with all of the wrapping and entertaining put to rest. The kids are happily playing with their new toys for a few days at least. I enjoy the sense that everything seems to slow down and shift into relax mode. This is the perfect time to prepare for the coming year with deliberate prayer, reflection and resetting of priorities and goals.

I want to encourage you to set aside some quiet time of reflection during this special week. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Pray – Ask the Lord to direct you and guide you in the coming year. Thank Him for the blessings of the past year and for His care and comfort through the challenges.  Seek His wisdom as you make new plans and ask for His favor and direction. Pray for your family members, your friends and your business. Most important, pray that His love flows through you in all you do.

Reflect – Consider the things that went well throughout the past year and think of ways to continue to build on your strengths. But also think about the things that were not so good – things that need to change or be adjusted. What do you need to do differently going forward?  Each year, I prayerfully ask the Lord to give me a Bible verse to focus on during the year (my 2016 verse was Romans 15:13) and to give me one word to focus on from that verse (my word was hope). As you take time to reflect, allow the Lord to lead you toward a verse and a word for 2017. I’ll tell you mine in next week’s blog.

Reset – The new year offers us an opportunity to reset with a fresh outlook and positive goals. Ponder and dream about what you would like to accomplish this year. What do you want to learn? Who do you want to get to know? What organizations do you want to join and what do you need to cut out of your schedule in order to take on new responsibilities? How do you plan to strengthen your physical health? What books do you want to read? What do you want to memorize? Think of all the areas in your life that you want to reset toward improvement.

That’s what I love most about the new year – it’s an opportunity to reset with a fresh start! I hope it is a wonder-filled week for you this week. Be intentional about being still and allowing true relaxation to take over. Often we find our strength and guidance in those quiet alone times. Listen and love well, and don’t forget to write your Thank You notes.