Editor's Note: This article is from several years ago, but we want to encourage you to center your Bible reading on Jesus this next year. This article provides a basis for this and also makes recommendations for a monthly memory verse as well as a daily email devotional.
I just got in from walking our dog. Itís that time of the night when everybody is home, but not yet asleep. For the previous four weeks, Iíve enjoyed walking the dog because it was quiet outside, but everyoneís Christmas lights were still twinkling. Tonight it was just the glow of the streetlights and the curtain-muffled glow of bedroom windows where people were on their way to a nightís rest. The color, the bright lights, the yard decorations, the unfamiliar cars of relatives, and the special feel of Christmas are all gone. Winter has arrived and spring is a long leap ahead. The realization left me a little melancholy.
Melancholy is such a good word for this time of year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun hides as wave after wave of bad weather makes repeated appearances. Colds and flu stalk us at work and school. Even vacation opportunities seem distant. You can call it the post-Christmas blues, the cold weather blues, or sunlight deprivation. No matter what you call it, we need to know how to live with joy after the Christmas lights are put away and weíre left with Christmas bills, an extra five pounds, and a touch of winter melancholy.
As Christians, we can find ourselves in a similar place spiritually. Our passion for Jesus is still there, just in hibernation or on the wane. That edge of excitement is lost and that rich passion of early faith has lost a bit of its bloom. Our focus on Jesus is a bit blurry. With no holiday excitement of sweet birth stories, miraculous conceptions, and dream motivated escapes, weíre left with the ďregularĒ stories of Jesus to sustain us. How are we to live after the Christmas lights are put away and the excitement of Christmas is gone?
To me, the most important challenge is to hang on to the wonder of Jesus. Letís admit it: itís not easy to live in wonder at the King of Kings. The problem, of course, is us. He is just as wonderful and his grace is just as boundless on January 15 as it was on December 25, the problem is with us and our expectations and sense of wonder. So let me issue you a challenge — hang on to Jesus this year. Passionately pursue him, a relationship with him, and a deeper and abiding awareness of his presence in your life. Dig into the Gospels and go in search of Jesus. God gave us four stories of Jesusí life for a reason, so we could know the heart of God as demonstrated in the life of Jesus.
WWJD bracelets became so trendy that many who wore them donít even know what the letters even represented. Still others wore them and made no attempt to live up to what Jesus did. But letís be different, okay? Letís begin by reading in the Gospels and truly getting to know what Jesus did so when the opportunities present themselves, we know what Jesus would do in a given circumstance. Rather than being trendy, let's be faithful in living like Jesus. Here are a couple of simple things to keep in mind as we begin our journey into the year with Jesus.
- Letís take out a Bible and make a commitment that when the end of the year comes, the most worn pages in that Bible will be in the Gospels — letís make Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John our tour guides through the new year.
- Letís begin each day praising God for sending Jesus and asking the Father to help us know Jesus better.
- Letís memorize 12 verses about Jesus to place in our heart. (See the twelve recommendations below.)
- Finally, if you havenít already done so, weíd love to have you sign up for WJD! the free daily devotional based on the Gospel of Matthew called ďWhat Jesus Did!Ē (Click on the word sign up above and it will take to you the place to sign up online for our devotionals, make your choices, enter your email address, and then press the subscribe key! You will be sent a confirmation note that you must return to sign up for the devotionals.) In addition, go to our partner site, SearchGodsWord.org, and choose the "New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs" reading plan for the New Year, then choose your default translation, and then go to the bottom of the page and press update choices. Then you can go to Search God's Word each day and your daily Bible reading verses will be available wherever you are.
Letís not lose our joy, our sense of wonder, our excitement of Godís love for us in Jesus, just because the Christmas lights are put away!
January — 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ... God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
February — 1 John 4:9-11
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
March — 2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lordís glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
April — 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ... Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
May — 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
According to the Lordís own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
June — John 14:1-3
ďDo not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Fatherís house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
July — John 14:21
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
August — Colossians 1:28-29
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
September — Acts 4:10-12
Then know this ... It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. ... Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
October — John 16:33
ďI have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.Ē
November — John 1:14, 18
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Fatherís side, has made him known.
December — John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.