5 ways to put God first in the new year
Before we get into the 5 ways to put God first in the new year, it’s helpful to discuss why we would even want to put God first. When we become Christians, it’s no longer us that lives but Christ that lives in us. We are completely transformed into a new creation and we become so closely attached to Christ that we die with him and he lives with us. We are told to put our flesh to death, so naturally we need to transform our minds to see out the things of the kingdom and not what we want, not what our flesh wants and desires. So in doing this, we need to put God first and desire the things that he desires. And as we seek out God and put him first, the fruit of the spirit will follow in our lives.
Another reason why we should want to put God first is the peace we receive from God. Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Perfect peace is on the other side of your surrender. The same can be said for joy because when we put him first, we come under his guidance and protection and from that place, we can step into fullness of joy. The bible says that the joy of the lord is our strength. How good is that!
#1 – Read your bible
This is one of those points that people just say again, and again, and again, and again, and honestly no matter how many times you hear it, sometimes you have to realise it for yourself. And I may just be another person who is telling you to read your Bible, but people say it because it’s true, even if we don’t realise it. I think sometimes we struggle to do things when we don’t know the benefit – but once we know the why, we appreciate the process more and want to prioritise that thing in our lives.
So how does reading the Bible help you put God first?
- It will help you to learn more about God’s holy, unchanging, faithful and loving character.
- God will speak through his word to us – when we are making decisions in life, whether big or small, we need to see what God has to say about it.
- We will start to know God’s will for your lives. Now there are a range of ways that we can know God’s will for our life including the word, dreams, visions, feelings and revelations from the holy spirit, but the Bible is a really solid way you’ll start to know God’s will for your life.
#2 – Spend time in prayer
The Bible makes it clear that prayer is an essential part of our walk. Prayer is the way that we connect with God. It’s like any relationship; you need to take the time to talk to and get to know the other person. I love to think about prayer as a way of communicating with God and we can thank him for who he is, ask him for guidance, pray for protection and provision and just pour out our thankfulness in all areas of life.
Prayer helps us put God first because when we pray, we communicate with God first – instead going to friends, family or colleagues about a problem or even something good that’s happened in your life, when we turn to prayer first we prioritise God and acknowledge that his voice and input is the most important.
#3 – Spend time with Him
Another way to put God first in your life is to spend time with Him. This ties in with the previous points on reading the Bible and prayer, but I think we can expand it beyond this too. To spend time with God is to take time out of our day to connect with and come before Him. We can spend time with God through prayer, journaling, reading the Bible, worship or soaking in His presence. When we spend time with God we separate ourselves from the world and draw near to Him. The Bible says “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
How does this help us put God first?
- We are constantly reminded of the fact that we have a God. If we’re running around with no thought for God, we can forget he exists. When we spend time with him throughout the day, we can ask him questions, thank him for something great that has happened, talk to him about challenges and ask him for guidance. We are reminded that we serve an incredible God who has a plan for us, loves us, and wants a close relationship with us.
- Spending time with God helps us refocus on the eternal, not the things of this earth. It’s so easy to get caught up with our jobs, friends, church and everything else that takes up our time and forget why we are really here. Spending time with God helps us to renew our mind and focus on what he’s called us to do here on earth, and where we will be one day.
#4 – Be careful about what you take in
What you watch and listen to has a massive impact on your mind. In our society at the moment we are bombarded with ungodly messages, media and underlying agendas. With the advancement of technology we are living in an age where we are constantly surrounded by images, video and sound that influences the way we think.. We mindlessly scroll through Facebook and get hit with targeted ads, we see billboards and advertisements on every street corner, we watch videos on YouTube and then go further down the rabbit hole with the algorithm, we get thousands of videos on Tiktok and so much more. 20 years ago, even 10 years ago, we didn’t have the technology that we do today and it’s hugely impactful, which is why being cautious about what you are taking in is vital for putting God first.
How does this help you put God first?
- It’s obeying scripture – the Bible is full of commands about being careful with what we watch and how it influences us. As much as our flesh wants to go with the culture, we need to actively turn away from that lifestyle and pursue only the things of God.
- It guards your heart – Proverbs 4:23 says to guard our hearts for it determines the course of our life. Our hearts control the rest of our lives so we always need to be mindful of guarding it and keeping it pure, especially when it comes to what we watch.
- It helps to avoid temptation – being careful with what you watch helps you put God first in your life because it will reduce the chance of content that will tempt you. A study showed that for Christian men between 18 and 30 years old, 77% are watching porn every month. A whopping 36% are watching porn daily. And while the numbers are much higher for men, women are struggling with this too. I won’t speak for all of those people, but I’d be inclined to say that the bulk of these people are watching tv shows or movies, or listening to music, that is full of sex. Don’t put yourself in situations where you will stumble!
#5 – Set boundaries
This one is an excellent point to finish on, because without boundaries, we can struggle to do the other four we’ve discussed. It’s incredible important to take care of our bodies, minds and emotions because this directly affects our relationship with God. Setting boundaries can help us avoid stress and rest in God’s peace and there are multiple areas of our lives where we need boundaries.
How does setting boundaries help us put God first?
- It gives us time – it takes time to read the word, worship, pray and spend time with God.
- It lets other people know what our priorities are – this is an excellent way for us to cement the fact that God is #1 in our lives for ourselves and also for other people. When we can set boundaries to prioritise our time with God, it shows that we’re serious about our faith. When other people see us spending time with God it can also encourage them to do the same.
Looking for more?
If you want to learn more about how to put God first in the new year, head over to Spotify using the link below to listen to the full podcast episode on 5 more ways to deepen your relationship with God. If you haven’t already, make sure you listen to the first half of this series too!
Written by gracebuckman
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