As we begin our new year, many have made resolutions.
Most of the resolutions we decide upon concern life choices for the betterment of ourselves and hopefully the benefit of those around us.
Many congregations have set aside times of fasting and prayer looking forward to what the Lord has for us in this coming year.
We as Christians are to seek the will of God for our lives on a daily basis however there is certainly something to be said for those times of separating ourselves to hear from the Lord, and waiting for orders from heaven for the coming days and year.
This is especially true in the beginning of a new year.
Scripture holds records of such set apart times and definitely sets an example. Taking time personally and corporately and following some specifics from the word of God will provide us with direction and blessing as we journey into 2013.
Throughout the Bible we see a record of God’s obedient servants who set up an altar of worship to the Lord.
Among those are names we should recognize — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Noah.
These men worshipped the Lord and not the idols of the land.
They held standards of God as they chose to obey and worship him.
The actual structure was erected as a place of and for worship, repentance, national unity, prayer and a call to a nation and people to refocus and remember their Lord.
The altar composition could consist of materials such as uncut stone, natural rock and earth, built humbly with human hands to worship and honor the living God.
For us, foremost, our altar of worship must first be established in our own hearts.
We must “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength” according to Mark 12:30.
This love is birthed from within.
Our commitment to the Lord dwells in our innermost being, the heart, which is the place of our depth and desires.
Matthew 6:21 reads, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
This time of coming before the Lord in the beginning of the year allows for reflection upon the journey of the previous year.
It also allows for a time of thanking and praising the Lord for his goodness.
It affords us the opportunity to put behind us the mistakes, losses, fears and struggles of the past year as a whole and begin again.
Through God’s grace this resolution helps with the process of starting over, as we choose to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what is ahead.
Each day can be a new day with new beginnings and hope for tomorrow, wherever that tomorrow takes us.
Grace is our daily supply for forgiveness and strength, providing us with vision and a hopeful expectation of the future.
Secondly, the altar of worship in our hearts must be our place of meeting daily with the Lord.
We serve the Lord who earnestly desires to be a part of our lives.
Our worship must be sincere in nature. Exodus 20:3 reads, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
This refers to anything or anyone that we place before our relationship with the Lord.
Taking time to reaffirm our love and commitment to Christ will help us to recognize those areas that need spiritual adjustment; moving from self reliance to God dependence.
Many times, many things and legitimate excuses and duties can serve as distractions in our lives.
These “good things” may also hinder our spiritual growth and cause our love for God to grow cold.
To begin a year with daily resolution for prayer, devotions and fellowship will provide peace and a sense of personal direction.
Our spiritual compass will automatically face upward.
Finally, Jesus set a pattern for us to follow in the scriptures.
In Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12 and Mark 1:35, we can read how Jesus set aside time to seek his Father; a time for worship, prayer, to receive strength and direction.
Just as God’s heavenly throne and altar is available to us every minute of our lives, so should the “spiritual altar of our hearts” be open to him.
Let us allow the Lord full access to our hearts and may our lives be reflective of our choice.
It can be a daily challenge, but attainable, for with God, all things are possible.
Patty Scahill of Austintown is a conference speaker and author.