Another new year, and time once again to look at our attitudes and habits. Are we allowing old tired habits and attitudes to weigh us down, or are we doing things to help us grow and keep us spiritually strong?

1. Does your Bible need a good dusting?

Most of us wouldn’t dream of using a new appliance without reading the manual, but we will blunder through life without ever reading our Maker’s instruction manual.

Want to know about God? Read His book. Just three chapters a day, and by the end of the year you will have read the whole thing.

For those new to Bible reading, I suggest starting with the New Testament, and those new to Christianity might want to start with the Gospel of John.

It’s fine to skip all the “begats” the first time through, and don’t worry if you don’t understand every word. Understanding comes with time and familiarity, and the passages you need, when you need them, will be crystal clear.

2. Do you pray daily, or only when you’re in need?

Daily prayer connects us to the strength of God, and brings us closer to Him. It doesn’t have to be long and wordy. Many times my morning prayer consists of a “Thank you, and please be with me.”

(Small warning: If you start praying daily, you will find that your prayers get longer, as time goes on. It’s a good thing, but you will have to plan accordingly.)

3. Is it a prayer or a wish list?

Don’t fall into the trap of treating God like a celestial slot machine. When you pray remember to praise Him, and thank Him for all the good things in your life. Prayer should be a conversation, not just a list of all the things you need.

All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is, no, and sometimes it’s, wait. Remember, God sees all and knows what’s best for us.

For Biblical instruction in prayer, refer to Matthew 6;5-15.

4. Am I making God too small?

He is the creator of the universe, all knowing, and able to be everywhere at once. Nothing is too hard for God. He can handle all your problems and fears, and even your anger. He is interested in the day-to-day affairs of your life, and wants you to share them with Him.

Jeremiah 32:27 “Behold, I AM the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?

5. What about church?

No, you don’t have to attend church to be a heaven-bound Christian, but in Matthew 18:20 it says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

There is much strength and comfort to be found in gathering with others of like faith. The trick can be finding the right church, not a perfect church. The only perfect church is an empty one.

Things to look for:

1. Is the gospel being preached?

2. Are souls being added to God’s kingdom?

3. Is the church reaching out to improve the community?

4. Is love the prevalent attitude?

5. Is there unity of spirit and purpose?

6. Is there humility?

You may have to visit a number of churches to find the right one. It’s better to take your time and be sure, rather than join yourself to the wrong church.

(A note on tithing: It’s the preacher’s job to teach the congregation about tithing. It’s a good, sound, biblical principle. That said, if anyone suggests you can get rich by tithing or “sowing a seed” do not walk, run for the nearest exit.)

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