“At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at His command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.” -Numbers 9:18-19
Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe it’s the end of 2017 already? I feel like we were just ringing in the year, and now it’s coming to a close. It’s crazy how fast this year went by. I felt like I blinked and it was gone.
However, this year was indeed filled with many things. Many good, and a few bad. Over all, I can say that 2017 was a good year for me. Probably the best in recent years. And during this year, I had this idea to write down these lessons that I had been learning, and boy am I glad that I did. While I’m only going to give you 17 of the ones I had written down that I had learned from this year, I was stunned when I looked back on the pages of pages of things I had written down! It’s been such a blessing to me to look back on these lessons, and to carry them forward with me into the future.
If I had to choose one word that summed up 2017, it would be surrender. This was a year that was, especially in the last half of the year, characterized by surrender. Surrender of relationships, dreams, and plans. And these things were not always easy. However, it was out of some of these things I had to surrender that some of the most powerful lessons came about, many which are listed below.
So without delay, here are the 17 things I learned in 2017 that I wanted to share with you today. May these strengthen you in your own walk with Christ and in seasons to come in your own life.
- Your obedience to God, no matter what you’re losing now, will always be worth it in the end. This was one of the most powerful lessons I learned this year, and one that I repeat to myself over and over again. When you obey God, you may be losing something now, but no matter what it is, it will always be worth it in the end (see Philippians 3:7-11).
- Pray for God to guard your heart. This is one of the most powerful things you can do. And it works. He will guard your heart against temptation, emotions, and wrong desires. Pray this as many times a day as you need to. It works. And it’s commanded in Scripture. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Above all else. Pray for God to guard your heart.
- Fear melts away in the face of surrender. In my struggle with fear and anxiety, God revealed to me that these emotions often arise when I’m in conflict with God. When I don’t want to do what He’s asking of me, or I want to do something my own way. But true freedom is found in obedience and surrender to God. When we walk in obedience to Him, joy, life and peace will fill our hearts like it would no other way. Plus, there’s a boldness and courage that empowers you when you submit and do what God says. There’s a peace that floods you when you give in to God and His way.
- Live today and consecrate yourself as though God will do amazing things among you tomorrow. Right before the nation of Israel was about to cross the Jordan River and enter in to all the fulfillment of the promises of God, Joshua gave them this command in Joshua 3:5, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Basically what Joshua was saying was that they were to set themselves apart, to make sure their hearts were ready for the amazing things God was going to do tomorrow. So, always have your heart in a posture that if God were to drop a miracle or hit the start button on something in your life tomorrow, you’d be ready to receive and walk in it.
- Pray for people to share the Gospel with. I did this a few times this year, and God answers this prayer. God will bring people into your path to share the Gospel with. He may do so without you praying this, but if you’re having a hard time sharing the Gospel, pray for God to bring those people into your life, and He will. And then He’ll help you carry out that mission to share the Gospel with them.
- Every no is a yes to something else. And every yes is a no to something else. Every choice you make impacts something else. Think about the end result of your choices before you say yes or no to something.
- Life is hard work. You can’t just sit on standby or auto Pilate.
- Run your own race. God has called and set everybody on a different course in life. Don’t compare and certainly don’t judge others based on their lane in the race. And don’t listen to others who try and distract or discourage your way in life. God has ordained that, too.
- Don’t waste opportunities to make a difference while you have them. Your words, actions, and smile could change someone’s day and even life. There’s no delete button in life. Live without regrets and seize the opportunities while you have them, because most of the time, you don’t get a second chance.
- There are seasons where God has us set apart for training in Godliness. God often brings His children into a season of waiting. This is when He trains us for all that is to come. This time is so critical, so never despise it. When He moves us forward, we’ll have the foundation of this time to keep us grounded and we’ll know how to live when we get to where God is calling us.
- You don’t lose or waste any time by waiting on God. He knows the exact, right time for everything.
- Don’t waste or despise times of singleness. It’s just a season. When you’re with someone, that’s often not a season, but a whole new way of life.
- It is vital to always be in the Word and keep your relationship with God fresh and vibrant, because when someone comes along and asks you about your faith or needs witnessing to, you’ll be ready (1 Peter 3:15).
- You can’t save people. Only Jesus can do that. You can’t force the truth on other people. Your job is to pray for them, share the Gospel with them, and live the Gospel for them to see, and let God do the rest in time. Just do your part and God will do the rest.
- Ask God to show you His best. Oftentimes I think we settle for okay because we don’t have the patience to wait for what God’s best is. But it’s so vital to know what God wants in and for your life, and what He doesn’t. So pray, “Jesus, show me Your best”. But also be prepared to have Him show you what’s not His best. But either way, needing to know what God’s best for you is vitally important. You don’t ever want to settle for what His best isn’t—even if it looks best to you at the moment. His best is so much more than we could ever hope or dream of.
- I don’t have to be in control because I follow the One who is. God knows all. I don’t. When I lock my eyes with Him and just follow Him, He’ll never lead me wrong, and it’ll save a lot of heartache. Pray, “God, teach me to follow”.
- Enjoy life! This is one I’m learning. God gave us good things to enjoy! He loves to see us enjoying the good things of His creation. Lighten up. Have fun. Enjoy life. You’re set free in Christ, we need to start living like it. And enjoying the good things in life that God provides is one way to do that. He loves to see His children joyful and loving the life He’s provided for them. The real, abundant, and joyful life that is rightfully ours in Christ Jesus.
Well, that’s about 17, ya’ll. I hope these are an encouragement to you. Thank you for all of you who take the time to read what I write and for those who have been an encouragement to me over the past year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for 2018. May it be a year of growing in Christ, loving Him more, and watching His marvelous plan unfold.