Sunday, December 31, 2023

5 Tips for Christian Living in 2024

As we head into a new year, 2024, I want to give you some tips for how to live your life in the coming year. As people we should always be growing, always learning more about God, and always attempting to see ourselves becoming more like Jesus.

That takes intentional decisions, decisions to live a special kind of life. We need to give careful thought to our lives and the things we’re doing. We need to practice. We need to study. We need to experience. We need to repent of sins. We’re going to talk about all these things and more tonight.

I remember last year I was at a service in early 2023 when they asked us to write on a piece of paper one goal for the coming year. I wrote something pretty simple on the little piece of paper. I wrote, “I will be more positive in my ministry in 2023.” And I remember when I got home I took a magnet and put it on my fridge. I took it down around late December. But I looked at that little piece of paper about one hundred times throughout the year.

First thing today, I'd like to challenge you to do the same thing. Pray, ask God for guidance, and then write a simple statement on a piece of paper as a guidepost for the coming year. Put it on your fridge, and let it be a reminder to your through the year. But please phrase it like this: “In 2024 I will…” Don't "try" anything. State it as a current reality. 

Maybe it’s something negative you want to state, like in 2024 I will quit smoking. Maybe it’s a positive statement, In 2024 I will be more hopeful. In 2024 I will attend church every Sunday. In 2024 I will pray 3 times a day. But when you get home, stick it to your fridge, so you see it over and over. That will help you remember to stick with the goal.

Alright, second point today, is for many of you the new year 2024 will be a year that you take another step closer to God.

That’s something pretty simple, and it starts with you deciding right now, to take one step closer to God.

Maybe in the past, you attended dinner church once a month, or every other week. A step forward would be to say, well, from now on, I’m going to attend every Sunday. Or maybe you’d say, my step forward will be I’m going to start attending morning church too. Or maybe it’s I’m going to start attending the bible study each week as well.

You take a step forward. I’m going to officially say that the salvation army is my church. This is where I go. This is my home church. It can be something as simple as that.

For some of you, it may be that 2024 is a big turning point, where you take several steps closer to God, you go from very little spiritual activity, to reading your Bible everyday, praying over your meals, and attending special events at the corps.

But what you want to avoid is same old same old. As a Christian you should be taking steps closer to God, each year.

Third point today, is we want to get in the mindset of giving.

There is a poisonous attitude that can negatively affect Christians. They show up to the church but they show to take. They show up demanding to receive. And nothing they ever get is quite good enough. And they get mad easily. They make demands. And if all their demands aren’t met then well it’s not a good church and the pastor is mean, and then they leave. But that’s not what Christianity is. We don’t come to get, get, get.

And some of us have a bad attitude that way. Where’s my food. Where’s my drink? Where’s my seat. You make demands when you get here. But you should be serving.

What is the best way to start to get out of that toxic pattern of entitlement? How do you go from taking to giving?

Try something pretty simple, grab something from the free table tonight, and bring it to friend. Hang it on their doorknob. Knock and give it to them. Find something you know your neighbor will like, and bring it to them tonight. Bring an extra to go meal for a friend.

It’s simple. But you’re setting yourself up for delighting in giving. And when you do it, it will feel good. And then you’ll want to do it again. And pretty soon you’ll be buying stuff for people you don’t even know. Pretty soon you’ll be bringing a meal to someone you don’t even like. Pretty soon you’ll be bringing food to an enemy someone who was cruel to you. Because by doing it, by practicing it, you’re re-programming your mind toward the action of Christ, which is to give.

Begin to set a new pattern. To give. Let it start with something small, a loaf of bread for a friend, and let it grow from there.

Point number four, target a sin in your life, to see it removed.

Many of us here have things we need to work on. There are obvious things, like smoking, drinking, porn, or drugs. But there are also things like gambling, playing the lotto, swearing and cursing, compulsive lying, stealing, manipulating people for your benefit, unforgiveness, or even hatred.

These things can be dealt with though. And I want to give you some simple instructions on how to.

What is it on this list that you battle? What is the sin you hide? Do you see it in your mind.

First thing, let’s pray about it. Father, God please help us with these issues. We know we can’t remove these things on our own, but we believe God you have infinite power, so God we ask you to set us free in Jesus name, amen.

Now, keep praying about it. Whenever it comes up in your mind and you feel ashamed or upset or angry, turn that feeling into a prayer. Lord, I feel so ashamed, God have mercy on me in Jesus name, amen.

Second, understand God loves you so much he will help you in every way he can to set you free. Put the sin in his hands. Admit you can’t fix it. And then put it in his hands. Be motivated by His love for you.

Thirdly, recognize you are under threat as well. Anyone, Christian or not, who is living in active willful sin is in danger of hell. If you were to die, while in an active sin, that you haven’t repented of, you would be brought before God, judged as guilty of sin, and you would be sent to hell, permanently. I’m not trying to scare you, but I am trying to help motivate you toward change. You are in danger in active sin.

Fourthly, let the love of God, and the fear of God’s justice, motivate you toward change. Sit down with your pastor. Ask for help. Visit a support group. Buy a book on freedom from that sin that you find online on amazon, and read it. Continue to pray about it. Take actions to be free. And you will find freedom and deliverance.

Fifthly, after you’ve found freedom from the sin, make plans to stay free. Being an alcoholic addict recovered by God’s grace, I continue to this day to attend recovery meetings that help me stay free.

Last point today, turn your life over to Jesus Christ today. Call out to Him, ask him to be your savior, renew your commitment to follow him and serve him all your days. Recommit your life to Jesus Christ today, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let me Him lead you into the new year, and new seasons ahead.

I believe we’re going to see the world get darker and darker as we head into the future. We’re going to see increasing wars, increasing famines, prices going up, jobs and housing harder to find, corruption in governments will spread, even our freedoms will come under attack, but at the same I believe we will see more and more people realizing that they need Jesus to face the darkness. As the world gets darker, I believe we’re going to see at the same time, the body of Christ growing more mature, and more pure, and more active, and we’ll begin to see revivals break out. As the world falls more and more under the sway of Satan and evil, we will see more and more people giving their lives to Jesus and being lights in the darkness, shining ever brighter until the second coming of Jesus. Amen.

Alright, so, to review…

1. Set a Goal for the new season ahead

2. Take a step deeper into the body of Christ (or several steps)

3. Learn to give by setting a new pattern of giving

4. Target a Sin in your Life, repent, and give it to God

5. Give your life to Jesus Christ, and shine brightly in the darkness