I'm sitting here with my new prayer journal open and comparing it to last year's. Going through my new prayer journal always gives me a a look back. That in turn makes me want to further my obedience and spiritual victory for the new year.
The first week of January I keep pencil and pen close at hand so I can write down projects, goals, etc. for my new year. The Lord's mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23) and for that I am so very thankful. I am also thankful for the new year. It's like having a clean slate handed to you from the Lord to use as a springboard to "start anew".
The BIGGEST (and really only) lesson I learned from my depression, wilderness years was that all the good that I do can only be performed with joy and energy when the Lord does it for me and in me. I have realized that most of what I was doing in obedience to the Lord (for many, many years) was being done in the power of my flesh. The flesh cannot do it and either rebels or becomes so exhausted it lays down on us. That's what happened to me and when I broke I did a bang-up job of it!
I never really realized how powerful my flesh was until the depression hit and I couldn't stop the fear, worry, unbelief, and emotional pain no matter how I tried. I also never realized how completely Calvary set me free from my every sin till I learned to turn to Him in the midst of my battle and confess to Him my guilt, my complete turning from those sins to Him and His resurrection power and then resting in Him to fulfill the work of Calvary in my life by His work.
Now I have had my BIG battles. I still have my BIG battles. My flesh likes things its own way and when it's got its own way for a long time it doesn't lie down easily. I just recently had a two week battle with the flesh over an issue. However, when I faithfully turned to Him and told Him I wanted no part of that wicked sin and I was relying on Him to give me the victory and freedom that were mine He was right there to meet my need. For about two weeks I had to come to Him over and over when the temptation would hit, but He won the victory for me with Calvary and the flesh lost.
Now that was what seemed to be a diversion from the main topic, but it's really the foundation for resolutions that work. YOU CAN"T keep resolutions in the power of the flesh! In January when every one is in the mood for a "new me" you're surrounded with the support of friends, media hype, and your own brand new gust of energy. However, after just a few days of the flesh rising up and telling you it's always had it's way in that area and does not intend to lie down and do right without a fight you'll be glad I wrote those last few paragraphs! :)
Since my depression I try to stop about twice a year (New Year's and my birthday) and make what I call my "guilt list". These are things that drive me crazy about myself. You could call them my besetting sins, my hard-to-break bad habits, or whatever you want to call them.
After I've made my original list, (and that list includes health habits, use of time, irritations, people problems and how I deal with them, etc.) I mark the ones that I have the power to change. You know there are some problems that we have no authority to change and there are things that are totally out of our control to change. If I cannot change it I must simply give it to the Lord. I use Colossians 4:12 in those situations and pray that all involved will allow the Lord to do a work in their hearts (me included) to stand "perfect and complete in all His will" in the situation.
Then I go through and ask myself on each of them if I have a Biblical reason to feel guilty. Satan loves to accuse the brethren and he will try to make you feel responsible and guilty for everything he can. Make sure you have a specific verse that counts you guilty. If that is true go to the Lord with it, confess it, ask Him to show you His solution and then begin to carry out the plan.
With what I have left that I am responsible personally for and I have a Biblical reason that I need to change then its time to obey.
Let's take our prayer life for example. If my prayer is half-hearted, sounds like a child repeating the alphabet, ("Lord bless mom, dad, sister, brother, all the missionaries, etc., etc., etc.) there's plenty of Bible to let you know things need to change!
Memorize those verses that tell us to pray and pray seriously. Get a good book on prayer and start reading it. Get your spiritual engine fueled up. May I recommend reading Prayer, the Greatest Force on Earth by Thomas Payne as one of the first ones to read. Take your Bible and as you're reading through it start marking the prayers in the Bible with a special color of pencil. Take note of the men God loved and made comments on their prayers. Take note of the mighty works of God that happened as a result of prayer. But most of all, begin praying. Just like any thing else that you want to become an expert in the way to do it is to practice it!
Now let me assure you your flesh will not want to pray. But the Lord has taken care of all that and you are free, free, free from the flesh being in control because of the finished work of Calvary. You don't need to try, strain or endure. You simply need to obey the written word and the Spirit's little loving urgings by His power poured out to you from the mercy seat.
Another thing I strongly recommend you do with all your new resolutions, goals, ideas, etc. is to get them on paper and then lay them out before the Lord and ask Him to take them all and show you which ones are your ideas and which ones are His ideas.
I'm an idea person. For every suggestion I have hundreds of wonderful little ideas pop into my head. I know where the book, article, or online page is to feed my ideas. However, I've wasted a lot of precious time by not thinking through a project I started. In carrying out many of my projects I got my priorities out of order and I neglected God-given responsibilities to do a Tami-project.
You can only spread yourself so thin becoming the "new you". Look very carefully at your goals and make sure they're going to make you spiritually stronger, that you'll be ministering within your God-given realm (our ministry heart is our home) and that as a result of carrying out your goals you'll be a better child of God, wife, mother, homekeeper, and church member.
If getting yourself in shape means you'll be leaving the children to go to a gym 5 days a week you might want to consider rethinking the thing. You can get yourself in shape with two milk jugs with water in them for weights and toddlers laughing as they try to do workouts with mom.
However, the checking account, the babies, and the Lord will all be in better shape if you do it His way--keeping at home! (Titus 2)
If you've set a goal to help your husband with the tight finances but you choose to neglect that he is worse than an infidel if he doesn't provide for his family, that you are to be a keeper at home (with a full list of duties that will keep a saint working from daylight till dusk) and that your children's Godly training is you and your husband's responsibility not the local church's or the government's, than you've not only made matters worse but you also will have to do the entire thing in the power of your flesh because the Holy Spirit will not minister Christ to you for that new job you took to help with finances!
It would be far better to take a hard look at what the Bible gives a woman to do and learn to be a thrifty wife and mother. You also need to ask the Lord to give you His value system and not the world's! The Lord is totally unimpressed with rather you have the newest cell phone, the right brand of purse, or the "world-approved" year and make of car! My husband often says that we don't need more money we need to learn to make sure we've learned to live within the budget the Lord has given us.
All of the above are just some motherly cautions. Some of them I've learned as I searched the scriptures and applied them to my life and some I've learned by trying it my way over and over until I finally figured out that somewhere I wasn't listening to Him and His word. It's much better to hear the truth and apply it before the sin has left a scar in our life or the lives of those we love.
As an older woman I see so many young women with good desires and goals but they try to carry them out the way the world does. It is in all of us to try to find an escape to our sins and the curses that accompany them--but there is truly only one cure---Calvary!
I pray that each of your resolutions that the Holy Spirit has put in your heart come to be a truth applied in your life this year.