2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
While it's a good idea to take a look at your spiritual walk throughout the year, January 1st is often a time of renewal. A New Year, a New Start. So, instead of setting regular resolutions like losing weight, getting better grades, etc., why not try to set goals to improve your relationship with God? Here are some ways you can do just that:
• Improve Your Prayer Life
Simple enough, right? Just get better at praying. It's not that easy. A lot of Christians make this resolution and soon fail, because they take too big a step at first. If you're not used to praying often, jumping into an active prayer life can be a daunting task. Maybe start off praying each morning when you get up, or even while you brush your teeth. Start off giving five minutes to God. Then maybe try adding another five minutes. Soon you'll find that you'll start going to God more often and for more things. Don't worry about what to talk to Him about, just talk. You'll be amazed by the results.
• Read Your Bible in a Year
Getting into the habit of reading the Word is also a common New Year's resolution for many Christians. There are plenty of Bible reading plans out there that guide you through reading your Bible in a year. It just takes discipline to open up the book every night. You may not even want to read the entire Bible, but rather use a year to focus on a specific topic or area of your life that you want God to help you improve. Find a reading plan that works for you. There are many to choose from on the popular app You Version.
• Help Other People
God calls on us throughout the Bible to do good works. Whether you adhere to the idea that you need good works to get to heaven, like Catholics do, or not, like most Protestants, helping others is still a part of a Christian walk. Most churches have outreach activities or you can even find local volunteer opportunities through your school. There are so many people who just need a bit of assistance, and helping others is a great way to set a Christian example.
• Get Involved in Church
Most churches have children programs, youth programs, women’s programs, men’s programs or Bible studies. If not, why not be the one to get a group together? Start your own Bible study or put together an activity that some of the other Christians at church can enjoy. A lot of groups meet one day a week, and those meetings are a great way to meet new people who believe and can help you grow in your walk.
• Become a Better Steward
One of the most challenging issues for Christians is the idea of stewardship, which is the process of tithing. Some Christians don't make a lot of money, so it becomes harder to give. Typical our activities like shopping, paying bills and eating out make it difficult to have money left over. However, God calls on all Christians to be good stewards. In fact, money is mentioned far more often in the Bible than other topics.
• Plant Some Seeds of Faith
How many times have you evangelized to friends or family. Make it your goal this year to talk to a certain number of people about your faith. While it would be great if someone converted or "got saved" through your discussions, don't get too caught up on that number. You'd be amazed how many people will end up believers from a discussion you have about what God has done in your life. It just may not happen while you know them. Also, use platforms like your Facebook or Instagram profiles to demonstrate your beliefs. Plant many seeds of faith and let them grow.
• Go On a Mission
Not all mission trips are to exotic places, but almost all mission trips will change you forever. Between the spiritual preparations before you leave on your trip to the work you will do on the trip itself, God works through you and for you as you see people eager to hear about Christ and as you hear their appreciation for the things you are doing on your trip.
• Bring Someone to Church
A simple idea, but it takes a lot of courage to ask a friend to come to church. Faith is something most Christians have difficulty discussing with non-Christian friends, because it is often something very personal. Yet, many Christians would never have come to Christ without that one friend who asked them to come to church or talk about their beliefs. For every person who might shoot you down, there are two or three other people who will be curious about why your faith is so important to you. Taking them to your church services or activities can help show them why.
Dear Lord, thank You for the New Year You have given to each of us. Help us to use this year in a manner that is pleasing to You. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.