5 Tips for Getting Closer to God in the New Year
Each new year gives us the time to reflect on life and make - or attempt to make - positive changes. Making resolutions is the easy thing. Doing it is a little more difficult!
So, if you are wanting to get closer to God this next year, here are 5 tips to help:
Sin Separates, So Change It!
One of the first things to consider about getting closer to God is to realize what creates the separation to begin with. In Isaiah, this simple truth is given:
"But your iniquities have separated you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:2
So, if sin causes us to not follow God, how do we change this situation? The answer is with this one word: repentance. Repentance means to change, especially one's perspective about sin.
Repentance starts with a change of attitude about what we are doing. Realizing that something is wrong and changing the way we think and feel about it is a start. Once we do this, we can then change our actions and stop doing it.
However, changing what we do doesn't change what happened. We also need to be forgiven for the sin we did. Going to God sincerely and honestly and asking Him for forgiveness is how we experience it. (For more on forgiveness, click here.)
Knowing Jesus Is the Key
The key to following God is knowing Jesus as Savior. In fact, it is really impossible to follow God without Jesus! Jesus said:
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
Jesus is the Key to the Father because He is the Savior. The Father sent Him to this earth to reconcile humanity back to Him. (Colossians 1:21-22)
Understanding that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and believing that He rose to give us life is essential to following God. Without it, we really can't get very far.
Stay Connected with Prayer
Prayer is how we communicate with God. So as it is in any relationship, if we want a good relationship with God we must have a good prayer life.
Here are some pointers on prayer:
Prayer isn't going through the process of repeating religious words. It's talking with God, so don't try using fancy words or meaningless memorizations. Just talk with Him!
Although prayer is talking with God, remember that we are talking to the Almighty. So, use some reverence.
You can talk to God about anything. In fact, in 1 Peter 5:7, the Bible tells us to cast all of our cares on Him because He cares for us. If it matters to you, it matters to Him because He loves you.
Have faith when you pray. You can believe God is listening because He really is.
Get in the Word
If prayer is how we talk to God, the Bible is how He talks to us. God has told us all that we need to know in the Bible about Him and what He wants. So, dig in!
Many people get discouraged when reading the Bible because it is a big, complicated book. But, be patient. Great sculptures are created by carving out little chips, not big chunks.
Of course being around people who can teach the Bible is important too. This is where church comes in. Being an active part of a church that teaches and practices the Bible does many things to help us in our effort to follow God. One of those things is to have the support and encouragement of others, but another is to have the Bible taught to us.
Watch Out for Trouble!
One thing that many people incorrectly assume is that if we're following God, we won't have any obstacles. While that is nice when we have smooth sailing, don't be surprised when we're rowing against the storms of life.
We need to realize that we have an enemy, Satan, who wants us to keep away from God. So, if he can create problems to discourage us he will. Problems with situations or even people around us can be a sign that we are on the right track.
We also need to remember that not all problems are bad. God allows some problems into our lives so we will be strengthened and grow closer to Him. In this case, the problem is really our friend!