Fall Festivals, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . all now in the rear view mirror. With 2018 over and winter settling in, it’s a good time to take stock and by the grace of God do better. Of course, Scripture is clear: there’s no batting 1000 down here. Perfect decisions. Perfect attitudes. Perfect motives. It’s not going to happen this side of heaven. But that’s no excuse for not doing better. Even when incarcerated and unsure if he would see the light of another day, Paul did not go passive. He wrote: But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 1:13-14).

So, assuming you belong to the Lord, a few’ do betters’ as you press on for that ultimate prize: 
 
Value Your Blessings – Spoiled brats don’t. Loved ones.  A place to call home. Health to work, move about, and enjoy comforts that many in third world countries know nothing about. And then to add to those temporal blessings, the forever blessings that belong to the child of God.  A spoiled brat ignores it all.     

Scripture tells us: And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ  (Eph 5:18-20).  Cheerful gratitude is the norm for the Spirit controlled believer. They value their blessings as gifts from above.      

Evergreen boxwoods line the front of our house. Despite the changes in the seasons – from hot to cold, rain to drought, and back again – as shrubbery, they live up to their name.  Every one of them. No exceptions. They’re ‘ever green.’ 

God’s grace makes it so that His child can be a spiritual evergreen giving thanks always no matter the season. That’s not to say you can’t pray for things to change. And it’s certainly not to say you are grateful for bad. Bad is bad, no matter the lipstick slapped on that pig. But there’s still good. God’s good. In the midst of bad, He still does good. And He’s promised to work good from any bad.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).  For spiritual evergeens, there are always reasons to give thanks.   
     
Squire Boone, the younger brother of Daniel Boone, was wounded in battle at least eleven times. When finally settling close to Corydon, Indiana, he built a mill, etching on one of the foundation stones: “My God my life hath much befriended. I'll praise Him till my days are ended."  

Go green and value your blessings.    
  
Determine Not To Gripe – Is there anything easier to do? It doesn’t take a PhD. Not even a high school diploma. No denying yourself. No character. No planning ahead. It just happens. Discontents never have to be pointed south.  

Paul says: Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Phil 2:14-15).  Translation?  Don’t bellyache. 

Before 2019 unfolds any further, think through the kind of situations that typically set you off.  A co-worker’s attitude?  Well laid plans, vetoed by the unexpected?  Inlaws who act like outlaws?  List those potential tripwires hidden in your 2019.  Then consistently pray over that list, telling the Lord you want to be a Philippians 2:14-15 believer.  It’s one way you can prepare yourself to respond right should something or someone trip that wire and try to short circuit the grace of God in your life.   

While watching TV Charlie Brown heard the announcer say at the close: "Funding for this program was provided by donations from our viewers and wasted by a producer who didn't know what he was doing." 
Given a new nature . . . indwelt by the Holy Spirit . . . His Word in our own language . . . all because of God’s heart of grace toward His own, no authentic believer wants to hear that. So determine not to gripe.  Make the most of the grace God’s funded to you.    
           
Take Care Of Your Body – Be nice to it. Until those new models arrive, it’s all you got.  Besides, you are not the only one using it. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body (1 Cor 6:19-20). Your body is where God has chosen to dwell, which is even more of a reason to be responsible with your anatomy.  

No, you cannot do anything about your particular gene pool. Good, bad, or neutral, it is what it is.  But we can eat right, making sure we don’t eat too much. We can maintain a realistic outlook knowing even the godliest do not have a blank check to burn the candle at both ends. And exercise?  Just remember Paul wasn’t using skymiles to flit across the Roman Empire. For the glory of God, determine to take care of God’s home here on this earth . . . you. 

And what about, Live As If Each Hour Was Your Last . . .  or Schedule Daily Time With The Lord In His Word . . . or Resolve To Reach Others With The Greatest News, The Gospel . . .  Yes, there are many ways we can strive to do better.  Just do it, remembering God’s already provided the funding for it all. 
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil (1 Thess 5:21-22) . . . and have a blessed New Year!  
Blaine    

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