What Will Make This Year a Success?
This time of year everyone seems to be looking to start over, to be better than they were at (fill-in-the-blank) in the previous year. Blogs, social media, and other news feeds are flooded with things like, “The Best New Year’s Resolutions,” “How To Be the Best You, Yet,” “How To Organize Your Year,” “How To Lose Weight and Get In Shape in 2016,” “The Busy Mom’s Quiet Time,” or “How To Be Successful in 2016.”
As I started my own planning and organizing for the New Year, I began to realize that a lot of the advice people offered was basically focused on self. They advise us on how WE can be more successful. I believe being organized and having a plan is wonderful and good, but is dangerous when we take stock in OUR strength and OUR plan to accomplish OUR goals in order to be successful.
As I was reading 1 Samuel 16 the other day, God impressed upon my heart how I can achieve “New Year Success.” It is one simple word (although not so simple to carry out sometimes)–OBEDIENCE.
Simple obedience. Being obedient to God’s Word will guarantee success. It may not be the worldly kind of success, but it is the kind that is applauded by our Heavenly Father. We know it is applauded by God because His word says so in 1 Samuel 15:22: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” Our actions are important and our work matters, but if we are not doing them in obedience to God, what good are they to Him or us?
How can we stay focused on being obedient in 2016?
Focus on God’s Mission.
In 1 Samuel 16, God gave Samuel a mission–to FILL the horn with oil and to GO. It was God’s mission for Samuel to carry out. Study God’s word to see what mission you are to carry out this year. One example might be, love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:30-31). Pray and ask God to show you how to be obedient to that mission. How could you show God’s love to those around you?
Remember God’s Purpose.
In the same chapter of 1 Samuel God revealed His purpose behind His mission. He told Samuel that He would reveal the man that He had selected to be the next king of Israel. Samuel had that purpose to keep him focused during his mission and to help him stay the course in obedience. We must also remember that God has given us a purpose: to carry out His mission wherever He sends us. God desires us to bring glory to His name and make Him known among the nations with an obedient heart.
Seek God’s Plan.
God spoke His plan to Samuel and told Him where to go and with whom to talk. Sometimes I think I could be a lot more obedient if God would just audibly tell me what to do every day (or maybe not). I am prone to stray from God’s plan, and my obedience is challenged; I require more discipline to stay in His word. Obedience to stick with God’s plan also requires a stronger, more frequent prayer life. Stick to God’s plan in obedience no matter what the cost, it will be worth it!
Do Away With Hesitation and Doubt.
Samuel began to doubt his mission, purpose and plan. He worried about what might happen to him if Saul found out that he was to anoint a new king. His hesitation potentially jeopardized his obedience. He focused on the “what-ifs” and panicked. I’m guilty of this!! I cannot judge Samuel here because I fall into that same mindset often. “But what if this happens or what if that doesn’t work?” I allow my hesitation and doubt to hinder my obedience. When I find myself in this position I have two choices: say no to myself and obey God, or be ensnared by my self-centered doubts. Of course, we all want to say, “Oh, I would choose obedience!” I know we desire to obey, but I also know that obedience is not the easiest response. Pray hard this year that hesitation and doubt will not hinder your obedience, then seek God’s solution.
Ask for God’s Solution to Your Hesitation.
Samuel asked, “How can I go?” God then plainly laid out His solution. His solution did require acts of obedience on Samuel’s part. God told Samuel to TAKE a heifer for a sacrifice, INVITE Jesse to the sacrifice, and promised that his obedience would yield further direction. I love how God gave him step-by-step instructions that required obedient action. God didn’t just let Samuel sit still and bring David to him. He wanted Samuel in on the action, to grow his obedience. God does the same thing for us. His Word is very clear as to the way we are to live and interact in our world. His instruction and commands require our active obedience in order to grow our faith-filled obedience. Be willing to act!
Keep Walking in Obedience Without Giving Up.
Samuel could have easily given up after going through all of Jesse’s sons, but he knew God had provided a mission, a purpose, a plan, and a solution, so Samuel continued to be obedient until he had completed the task set before him. Oh, how God must have greatly delighted in Samuel’s persistent obedience!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were persistently obedient all year, in order that God may be glorified through our lives?! Let the world see a transformed life surrendered in complete obedience to God in all that we do and say, for the exaltation of our Creator and Heavenly Father, drawing others to live the same way and surrendering their hearts and lives to Jesus!
What a beautiful picture of
New ANY Year Success!