January 1st, 2018

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” -Psalm 1:1-2
First, Find time for God- Build that Personal relationship with Christ. Look at your day… where in that day can you make an  appointment to spend with Jesus. Then write under that time slot in your calendar Jesus. Invite Jesus to meet you. In this time you can read your Bible, read a inspirational magazine or book, pray, sing, walk, journal, etc. Jesus would rather meet with you for one minute a day than 20 minutes one day a year. As you build that relationship, you will learn to hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit, and The Holy Spirit will then personally convict, guide, rebuke, teach, counsel, comfort. and when that happens our relationship will deepen and we will grow.
Second, choose to in 2018 to truly make Jesus Lord of your life by sacrificing your money, your time, and your talents for His plan and His ways. Look at your life and ask what  areas of your life are not turned over to God. A little story to illustrate: The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box “Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?” Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. “A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you, and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday is only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.
On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last, she had enough money to buy the necklace. Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere Sunday school, kindergarten,  even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath because her mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story.
One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”
“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”
“Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite.”
“That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.”
“That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as  always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?” Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the  other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her a genuine treasure.
So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that He can give us beautiful treasures. Here’s the question: Are you holding on so tightly that you are missing your opportunity to be blessed.
Third, in the midst of the hardships and trials that may come in 2018, choose to lean hard on God…. life happens…. Financial troubles, emotional, family dynamics and there are many others. When we face these times we often want to quit… lock ourselves away…. pull the covers over our heads… and just stop… life happens to us all… but those who have a relationship with God have divine strength and un-surpassing peace that the unbeliever does not have. It is here where the power of our testimony draws other people to our awesome God.
When everything comes easy and life makes sense and there are doubts, it is our nature to forget God. When life falls apart and doubts arise, our tendency is to look for answers. It is God’s higher value to teach us how to trust Him in the middle of our doubts and provide answers that comfort us.
When you walk through times of adversity and doubts and come out on the other side, often our faith is deepened and our confidence in God is strengthened.
We have an amazing year ahead of us, with God on our side.
God bless,
Pastor Shaker
*Article was taken and put together from several resources.