If we determined to live by a particular Scripture in the New Year (assuming, of course, that God grants a year to us), we could choose none more noble, comprehensive, or God-glorifying than Colossians 3:17. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (ESV). For all the things we’ll say and all the deeds we’ll do in 2024, let’s make sure we do all the following.

First, let’s make living about holiness. “Strive…for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Holiness involves being set aside by the Lord for his purposes. No one is holy by accident. Nobody is unintentionally righteous. None will ever find himself in heaven, surprised to learn there is such a place. If you please God, it’s on purpose, with effort. Life is not about career, hobbies, retirement goals. It’s not even about basic survival. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7). Holiness transforms us into Christ’s image, to God’s glory.

Second, let’s value what Christ values. That means the church, “which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). No object in your home is worth that price. Nothing about an earthly job would cost that much. No experience on anyone’s bucket list could be so expensive. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25). If Jesus died so I could be in his church, what keeps me from living with that as priority number one?

Third, let’s have open Bibles. In Berea, they were “examining the Scriptures daily” and God calls it “noble” (Acts 17:11). Read the Bible straight through, or find a plan that suits. Or, have an app on your phone read it to you. Given our ease of access to the Bible, there’s no excuse for not being in constant contact with it. As my grandfather, Roy Deaver, would say, there’s no substitute for familiarity with the text of Scripture.

Fourth, let’s make progress reaching our potential. We’re to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). Only God knows our potential. In areas we’re talented, could we be better yet? In areas where our talents are not so good, could we be less bad? Is there any room to grow in knowledge, wisdom, courage, patience, love, joy, peace, mercy? If you want your congregation to grow, begin with the man in the mirror. If you’re not beyond where you were spiritually this time last year, you’re doing it wrong.

Fifth, let’s give like we got it from God (because we did). “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). If your church is like most, a lot of saints and good works depend on what’s put in the collection each Lord’s Day. If 10% was given in Abraham’s day (Gen. 14:20), and 10% was given under Moses (Lev. 27:30), surely we shouldn’t give less than that under a vastly superior covenant (Heb. 8:6). At minimum, take 10% off the top of your take-home pay and give it to the Lord. Rather than giving “till it hurts,” the better concept is: give till it feels good.

Sixth, let’s rescue the dying as we’re able. Christians should “save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear” (Jude 23). The danger of fire is that it can burn anyone, including the rescuer. While Paul says we should restore those caught in sin, he also writes, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). Thankfully, if we “take up the shield of faith,” we can avoid injury and “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). So, help those who will have it, but realize plenty of people don’t want Christ’s help. And, some are too far gone for rescue (there are fires so consuming that even firefighters can’t enter).

Seventh, let’s worship like we want to be doing it. According to Jesus, the Father seeks “people to worship him” (John 4:23). True worshipers are “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), so Paul can say that we “worship by the Spirit of God” (Phil. 3:3). Following the Spirit’s truth in front of us in Scripture, and with the Spirit himself indwelling us, Christians are the only people qualified to offer acceptable worship. Make an effort to focus like never before on the purpose for our assemblies. Watch the Christ, not the clock. If you want to carry something home from the worship hour, make your heart a bucket and bring it to fill.

Eighth, let’s pray like we couldn’t live without it. None cares more than God cares, and none can carry a heavier load from us than he can (cf. 1 Pet. 5:7). By the Bible, God speaks to us. By prayer, we speak to God. If communication is only one-way, that’s not much of a relationship. If you don’t pray often, that’s a sure sign you don’t put much stock in prayer. Why would God be keen to answer prayers of those who don’t believe in its practice? We should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) “and be thankful” (Col. 3:15). Surely, sincere, grateful, continual prayers affect the answer God gives (Jas. 4:2-3).

Ninth, and finally, let’s slow down enough to keep the Lord in focus. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10). Be still? We’re busy folk. Our phones are abuzz, our internet is ablaze, our calendars are booked, our attention is bombarded. Heaven’s not the place where we finally have time to give attention to God. Heaven is the place for people who focused on God on earth (Col. 3:1-2). The devil “prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet. 5:8), “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Hab. 2:20).

– Weylan Deaver