Scripture of the Day:
Ephesians 5:15-16
“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Hope Discovery of the Day:
There is hope in a new year because God’s grace is already there to meet us, whatever the year brings.

Ever feel like you are drowning in a sea of responsibilities? With no relief in sight? Trying to find hope in it all, you run to other life preservers, hoping something will provide relief. Ahhhh. Take a deep breath. It’s ok. We are about to embark on a new chapter in our lives in a brand new year – and His mercies are fresh and new each and every morning of that year. When you feel submerged in the sea of life, don’t give up keep holding onto hope.

The holidays are behind us, which likely brought a lot of activity and fullness or perhaps sadness from the unfulfilled expectations holidays can bring – and this year is about to close. Here in the chasm between festivities complete with feasting and celebrating and a new year we are about to embark on, is an amazing opportunity.

Will we embrace the new chapter that the LORD has for us? We don’t know what 2018 holds, but we know the LORD is already there and will be with us. It sill blows my mind that our God is outside time and can be everywhere. What a Savior and LORD!

It is likely that this past year might have left us crawling to the finish line. I have felt that way. Especially when my computer decided to crash during the busiest time of the year for me. Good times. But I also see what lies before me and the opportunities to proclaim Christ’s glory in 2018 and I am just filled with inexpressible joy. There is hope in a new year because God’s grace is already there to meet us, whatever the year brings.

When 2018 rolls in, will we be prepared to make the most of it? For some, this might mean succeeding at what they endeavor to accomplish, for others, they might be afraid to dream, lest they fall short. But making the most of the time ahead is not necessarily measured by what we achieve, but by who we are in that time.

When we number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom, we put God first in our lives and ask Him to direct our steps. This is the purest definition of success: being in the center of God’s will and seeking to honor and please Him with all we are and all we do. Letting go of our aspirations, we place them in God’s hands and trust Him with the increase. Just to be busy in the work of God is a thrill. What He does with our work is His decision.

As we seek to cultivate the gifts of God in our lives, there are some tools that can help me greatly. So this post is going to be kinda practical. Consider it a few life preservers I am throwing your way. (And no, I don’t get any kickback for anything I mention below). Here are a few life preservers that I have used that have transformed how I use the time that God has given and flourished with hope even when I felt like I was overwhelmed.

Big rock in first: A Bible Reading plan
This past year I completed a bible reading plan that I love. Ligonier Ministries has several to choose from. Don’t think that your devotion time has to look like someone else’s. Just do it. You will never regret time with God. Check out some great free bible reading plans here. My personal favorite is the 52-week Bible Reading Plan.

While I read the Bible, I jot down thoughts and verses that stand out to me. I ask God for wisdom to understand. And then I write. I find God inspires ideas during this time.

Goal Setting and Planners
The past two years, I did “The Best Year Ever” by Michael Hyatt. This year I purchased a planner called, “Power Sheets – Cultivate What Matters” that I am working through. Taking the time between Christmas and the beginning of the year as a time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the past year helps to revisit our former goals and adjust our timetables for goals we are setting for the upcoming year. I also have another planner called the Tools 4 Wisdom Planner, where I place the goals formed from the Cultivate planner and all of my appointments. I am old fashioned that way – I like to hold my planner in my hands and write in it, rather than solely depending on electronic calendars.

Being a part of a group with other people also seeking to accomplish similar goals can make a huge difference in our year bearing the fruit we want it to. Maybe your spouse or a friend walks beside you as you set your goals. Small groups are awesome. Facebook groups can help in this regard, as well.

With all this productivity, I can hear some of you saying, “yeah, right. Rest. Sure.” But I start each day at His feet. We need to be still to be able to reflect. But more than that, I am realizing the importance of resting intentionally one day of the week. Ha! Heard of this before? The Sabbath. So this book, “The Rest of God“,  is going to be read while I am on the treadmill. LOL. So, I have a ways to go when it comes to resting. Ironically, though, we need to rest in order to be productive. And we need God’s enablement in order to do any of the things He has called us to.

Cut yourself some slack when you don’t meet some of your goals and rise up again. We all need grace. Just. Keep. Going. Remember, making the most of the time ahead is not necessarily measured by what we achieve, but by who we are in that time.

See ya guys in 2018. God is already there waiting for us. Let’s live each moment well – basking in His presence and making His kindness evident and known to all. Live passionately. All for Jesus. And let’s all encourage one another to do the same.

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