Happy 2014!

A new year begins tomorrow! Some of you may have already started making resolutions – things like losing weight, spending less, or finally finishing that DIY project. Some of you (like me, I admit) might not bother with resolutions at all. Still, the new year is always a good time to evaluate and to consider what you could do to reach the life that God intends for you to have.

Sunday’s message challenged us to examine our habits and see which ones were yielding only short-term rewards and which ones are preparing us for God’s kingdom.  Use the sermon notes to evaluate your habits this week.  What habits are holding you back?  What goals can you set to establish new habits and break the ones that are keeping you from fulfilling all that God has in store for you?

Here are five goals to consider pursuing in 2014. They were inspired by this list, you can find more ideas there.

1) Keep God’s Word with you.  Seek out new worship music, do devotionals, or follow a daily reading plan.  Meditate prayerfully on the week’s message.  (The weekly sermon notes always offer ways to explore the message in a deeper way!) Keep a journal, set up an accountability group, or find another way to help you set aside the time to study, pray, and worship each week.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

2) Read more, both Bible and other things.  Reading the Bible is a vital part of developing a relationship with Christ – otherwise how will we know what He desires for us? If, in the past, you’ve had trouble committing to reading the Bible frequently, consider checking out one of the reading plans linked to above.

We also have a whole page of recommended reading for you to check out! Jeff will be happy to recommend a book for you, too.  Make time to read with your kids, listen to an audiobook on the way to work, or turn off Facebook for the evening and spend a few minutes with a good book instead.

3) Contribute to Real Life’s growth and message. If you haven’t yet, consider taking up the challenge of tithing. Our Vimeo page is full of stories of people who took the financial plunge for God and saw the rewards multiply in their life.

Also, we always have a need for volunteers! Next time you’re at church, fill out a communication card to let us know if there’s an area in which you’d like to help. Stay tuned for calls for volunteers during special events, like VBX or Sprucefest.  Your contributions of money, time, and manpower help Real Life reach families in our community and spread God’s message further every month.We can’t do it without you!

4) Prioritize family and togetherness over the Internet.  Social media may make us feel more connected, but studies have shown that using too much Facebook, Twitter, etc. can actually make us feel more disconnected, envious, and unfulfilled.  Yikes! Set a goal to make more time with your friends, family, and loved ones, whether it’s a Bible study group, game night, monthly potluck, or even just a quick coffee!

If you’re really brave, consider tracking how much time you actually spend on the Internet! When I find myself “busy,” it’s often just because I’ve been wasting too much time online.  Try to hold yourself accountable to your screen time, and work on whittling it down in favor of spending time with a flesh-and-blood person.

5) Try out Life Groups!  Looking for a way to develop that togetherness? Try joining a Life Group! Our new session starts January 26th, and we invite you to try out as many groups as you need in order to find one that feels comfortable for you. Hopefully, our amazing group leaders will make everyone feel comfortable, and you’ll have a hard time choosing one!

Life Groups meet weekly to discuss the previous Sunday’s sermon. Trained leaders moderate discussion and pray. Life Groups also have plenty of time for much-needed conversation and community! These groups can also provide the accountability you may need to accomplish #1.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2014? What Kingdom habits do you want to establish? I’m going to work on making more time for prayer and keeping up on a Bible reading plan. How about you? Share in the comments!

Happy New Year!

-Laura

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