My Word For 2018

Last week, I had the privilege of preaching on New Year's Eve at Church of the City. (If you're at all interested, you can check out the message here.) Knowing that everyone was gearing up to engage in their resolutions for 2018, I was asking God to show me what we needed as encouragement to do so.The most prominent insight that I received as a reminder was how often we tend to make commitments toward change and attempt to fulfill them in our strength. It's almost as though we make determinations entirely on our own and then ask God to join us in our pursuits, rather than the opposite. This insight broadened to my awareness of how we do this in our commitments as followers of Jesus, as well. A quote came to mind from J. Heinrich Arnold who says, “As long as we try to conquer evil by sheer willpower, evil will get the better of us.” As Jesus, Himself, once said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." John 6:63 When we attempt to run toward our resolutions and fail, we find ourselves consumed with guilt and shame, which causes us to withdraw from others and completely abandon the commitments we've made. The beauty comes when we begin to believe the words written in Hebrews 4:16, which say "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and grace to help in time of need." The Lord desires that we would flourish as a result of a connection with Him, as we are reminded in verses like John 10:10 and John 15:5.So, in response to this reminder, I thought maybe it would be helpful for us to simplify our pursuit of our resolutions for the New Year. Rather than starting by making extensive lists without the consideration of sustainability or the direction of God, maybe we could begin by asking God for one word. Yes, I know this seems overly simplistic, but when we allow this word to be the foundation for our resolutions toward change, we have an anchor to hold all of our commitments.My word for 2018 is INTENTIONAL.I feel as though the Lord is leading me toward a commitment to deeply consider the "why" behind the decisions that I am making. Whether it is the things that I choose to spend my money on, the things I say yes or no to participate in, or the ways I use my time, I need to be intentional with those choices. This one word, then, leads me to consider the resolutions that I will make to uphold this leading from God. Only seven days into the New Year, this commitment has been challenging, but my word has been a beautiful reminder. I've also found some supplemental resources for encouragement and insight. One is a return trip through a book by Greg McKeown called Essentialism.So, what's your word for 2018? How is God leading you to live it out practically?P.S. If you're still unclear, I'd love to commit to pray with you about it!