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It is that time of year again. We stand at the threshold of a new year and people are full of excitement and anticipation. Part of that excitement is making a list of resolutions or goals for 2015.

We make resolutions because we want to improve our circumstances. We want to improve ourselves and our quality of life. The top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around the same three areas: money, health, and family.

I encourage you to also make faith a part of your “wish list” for 2015. Here are 5 resolutions that can strengthen your Christian walk next year.

Read the Bible. Spending time with God’s Word is vital to any Christian. It encourages and educates us. It provides direction when we feel lost. It reminds us that God is near. Examine your daily schedule and find the right time when you can reflect on Scripture.

Speak more carefully. While we ignore much of what we hear in a typical day, words matter. Words can build up or tear down. Don’t allow destructive talk, gossip, or vulgarities to rule your speech. Resolve to watch your language and speak in a manner that glorifies God, especially when it comes to the name of God.

Go gadget free. Yes, your smart phone is fun and it is a great way to stay in touch with others, but it also robs time from important areas of life. Make a rule to turn off your computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. at least once a week. While it may seem like this is hindering your ability to connect, it will actually allow you to make even deeper connections with those around you. Bless your family and friends by being present in their lives.

Pray frequently. Prayer is central to our faith. It is deliberate communication with our Heavenly Father. It is an act of worship. It is a spiritual discipline. It allows us to adore, petition, praise, and confess. Scripture shares several occasions when Jesus made time and space to pray. Follow in the example of Christ and find time to pray to our Creator.

Volunteer your time. You can make a difference in someone’s life by investing minutes each day. Take time to volunteer at a local charity, non-profit, or ministry organization. Live your faith and demonstrate that you are a servant of Christ. There are programs designed to help pregnant girls and teenage parents make good choices and establish a solid foundation for their lives and the lives of their babies. There are programs to feed the hungry. There are programs to mentor married couples. All of these programs need volunteers to strengthen others in need.

As we prepare for 2015, make faith part of your improvement plan.  Make a plan to strengthen your faith now and into the new year.

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Bible open

It is that time of year when everyone starts to think about new year resolutions. Do something different this year. Instead of focusing on your diet or exercise plan, take time to consider your spiritual condition and how it can improve.

Here is a list of challenging ways to strengthen your faith in 2014.

First, read your Bible on a daily basis.  This may seem daunting to many, but it is a worthy practice.  Take an honest look at your schedule to determine the best time and place to read scripture.  It is okay to block out the time on your calendar.  You can even set an appointment reminder on your computer or phone.  Try to eliminate potential distractions and interruptions on the front end.  Once you find the right time and place, stick to your plan.  Feed your faith.  Make time to hear the message of Jesus.  Allow it to sustain and encourage you in all things. Remember that reading the Bible is a valuable practice.  Every time you do so, you are making time to meet with God.  That is no trivial event.  Each meeting changes us, develops strength in tough times, and allows believers to grow in the example of Christ.

Second, keep a prayer journal.  As you pray for people, life events, and direction, write what you pray for.  How many prayer lists did you throw in the trash this year?  Too often we turn prayer lists into a “one and done” event with no follow through.  Carry these prayer needs over into the next week or next month.  We need to provide greater support to our brothers and sisters by praying them through the tough times of life.  Prayer needs to be more consistent in our lives.  A prayer journal helps us make the practice more constant and genuine.  It is okay to track prayer requests and organize them as you see fit.  This allows us to be more intentional in our petitions to God.  A prayer journal also allows you to see the progress and changes that take place over time.  Odds are that you will discover being transformed as well.

Third, discover your spiritual gifts.  We all have different gifts and abilities.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6 shares, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”  God has made us all unique, but we are called to use our talents and abilities to glorify God. Discover how God has gifted you.  Take a spiritual gift inventory.  There are plenty of surveys, tests, assessments, and analysis guides online or at your local Christian bookstore.  Remember that there are no wrong answers.  Each survey is a way to discover what characteristics and traits God has implanted in you for service. Once you have completed the survey, pray for God to reveal the best way to use your gifts and talents for the body of Christ.  Seek wisdom and opportunities to use the gifts that you have received from God.

As we prepare for 2014, remember to include God in your personal improvement plan.  These simple steps can strengthen your faith and build the spiritual muscle God wants you to have for the year ahead.

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