Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6, Living Bible
Some folks measure time by years--January 1 to December 31. Some folks keep track of it by birthdays. Some by how long it is until they can finally draw retirement benefits and kiss work goodbye forever, or how many weeks or years stand between them and getting married or going on that long-anticipated vacation. OK, this is the first day of the New Year, right? Question: Did the rising of the sun appear to you any different than it did yesterday, or last week, or last year as you remember it? Yes, I know, you were sleeping this morning and didn't happen to notice. But you will. Saying that this is a new year is accurate but somewhat superficial and contrived. Tomorrow Starts Today says the title of my devotional book. So is today simply to be a rerun of yesterday, which was a repeat of the previous day and month?
Are you like the man who contended he had twenty years of experience when in reality he had but one, repeated twenty times? Focus on several guidelines that can make today and this year better than previous ones.
Guideline #1: Live it today. Two challenges to being fully alive today are yesterday and tomorrow. Some live in the past; others in the future. There is God's grace for yesterday's failure and His strength for today. A paraphrase of Matthew 6:34 puts it like this: "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes" (The Message).
Guideline #2: Say it today. Some folks simply can't find words of encouragement though they do care, sometimes deeply. We're like the old farmer who told his wife, "You know, I love you so much that sometimes it is all I can do to keep from saying so." Make it a daily practice to encourage, to let people know you care, that you do love them, that you value them.
Guideline #3: Pray about it today. "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer," wrote Joseph Scriven after his fiancé was drowned in a tragic boating accident. It's still true.
Guideline #4: Refuse to worry about it today. And about the only way you can do that is by first praying about what you worry about, reminding yourself that God is faithful, that He cannot lie, that He is impartial and will honor your heart cry, and that He knows the end from the beginning. As Paul put it, "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don't forget to thank him for his answers" (Philippians 4:6, Living Bible).
Guideline #5: Smell the flowers today. An acquaintance tells how he noticed that people who live into their 80s often comment about little things they have noticed which he completely overlooked. Smelling the flowers helps you put life in perspective and, yes, live to a ripe old age.
Guideline #6: Trust God today. Tomorrow isn't as important as today. Can you say, "God, just for today, I'm going to trust you with all my heart! I refuse to live tomorrow until it comes"? "Therefore," said Jesus, "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34).
Guideline #7: Have a blessed day today. And I am confident you will when you follow these simple but effective guidelines, for God blesses the one who puts Him first and walks in the light of His Word. Of that you can be sure.
Resource reading: Matthew 6:25-34