Beginning the New Year Well

Dec 31, 2020

A Hard Year, A Faithful God

Well, here we are at the end of another year. And what a year it was! We saw a pandemic, hurricanes, racial tensions, a political firestorm, and many other events that have tempted us to lose heart. You personally may have mixed emotions of anxiety, anger, or despair. And yet, in the midst of 2020 our God was causing everything to work together for the good of His people (Rom. 8:28). Like the ingredients of that favorite cake that your grandmother makes, eaten by themselves you would probably gag, but once she adds them all together and bakes it at the right time and temperature, the result is worth what went into baking it.

Grace City Church, because God is good and does good we really could not have orchestrated this year more faithfully than He has. His word gives us eternal perspective by helping us remember that because of the gospel, our greatest problem (sin) has been dealt with once and for all, and our greatest relief and hope for the past, present, and future: the forgiveness of sins through Christ’s death and resurrection – is as secure as God is faithful. Our heaven is yet to come, and our hell is bearable now. So as 2021 fast approaches, we look forward to it with hope.

When he was a mere 12 years old, our Savior said, “Did you not know that I must be about my Fathers business?” As vitally connected disciples of Jesus in a local church, let us also seek to be faithful by being about God’s business, trusting that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). As a way of assisting you in beginning this new year strong, the pastors wanted to give you some suggestions to equip you to think rightly about entering it. Below there are some practical ways to assist you in personal discipleship and fostering community within GCC.

These are in no way to burden you! Many of you have likley already begin planning your new year with godly, biblical, categories in mind. But for those of you who haven’t thought about how to structure your time, this is for you.

Bible Reading Plans

  • Mcheyne Bible Reading Plan: Takes you through the Bible once in a year, the Psalms twice.
  • Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Read the Bible semi-Chronological in a year, reading each day for 5 days, giving you Saturday and Sunday off, or any two days of your choosing. This plan also gives you two days to catch up or to allow the bringing of other books into your reading diet. (Andrea and I will be doing this together in 2021)
  • Grant Horner’s Bible Reading Plan: This is not for the faint of heart, in this plan you will read ten chapters from 4 different books of the Bible. I have tried this before, but failed. But it promises to be a great plan if you desire the intake of a lot of scripture.

Cultivating Your Prayer Life

Apart from the daily habit of hearing God speak to us through His word, we also want to encourage you to speak back to Him in prayer. Below are some helpful tips to cultivate your prayer life.

  1. Use a list by utilizing index cards. Take each card and make it a separate category to pray about. Very simple, and you can keep your index cards near the same place you read your bible.
  2. Concentric circles. Closest relationships first, then extended family, friends, then Grace City Church, co-workers, neighbors around you, the city of Wilmington, global missions, etc. This is one way to utilize your list, and of course you don’t have to pray about everything on the same day, you can space it out throughout the week.
  3. Use the word of God. Pray the word of God over these people. This will keep your prayers from being merely repetitive. Read the word of God first. Meditate on it. Pray in it. Then pray what God shows you from the word for the people that are appointed to be prayed for that day.
  4. General and specific prayers. A general prayer may go something Like “draw the city of Wilmington to Yourself Jesus” and a specific prayer may be “Lord please draw Tabitha to Yourself as I share about Jesus with her.”
  5. Be quiet.  Be silent after reading scripture and think about how God wants to answer your prayers in light of what you’ve read.

Create a Book List for 2021

Aside from the daily habits of hearing God speak to us from His word and us talking back to Him in prayer, it’s also a healthy habit to think through where you are now and where you’d like to be spiritually. Reading good, theologically sound books is one way to cultivate personal discipleship. One way to do this is to pray about where you feel God wants you to grow this coming year and then put a book list together. For instance, if this past year you experienced a lot of fear, I would suggest a book list like this:

  • The Joy of Fearing God by Jerry Bridges
  • Running Scared by Ed Welch
  • And then a biography of Christians who faithfully endured by trusting God through hard times. Maybe Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, which highlights the martyrdom of 5 missionaries in Ecuador and how 5 wives walked through their suffering.

Or if parenting was tough, or marriage needs attending you could choose a book as a married couple and read it together. Remember you can do it anyway that best fits your life, the most important goal is growth in godliness. We recommend using this site for choosing good books to read.

Also, what squeezes the most juice out of any book is being able to share with others. So pick someone within GCC and ask if they’d like to read a book together, or spend time over coffee sharing what you’re learning in the book you’ve been reading.

Time Management

Lastly, we know that time management (how to prioritize and best use your time) is very difficult. We are so distracted.  Below are three helpful resources to look at that have benefitted your pastors.

Well dear church, this blog post is long, but we do pray that it serves you as you prepare to enter 2021. We desire nothing more for you than to see you this year grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ together!

Walking with you into 2021,

Pastor Aaron