Oh, did I type that outloud?
It’s that time of year again… New year, New me! Or so we say to ourselves. We join a new gym, try on our new cute little fitness outfits our loved ones bought us for Christmas – or how about committing to eat healthy and quit eating carbs. It seems like our resolutions always involve getting “cleaned up” – we have a new found energy to clean out cabinets, organize rooms, clear out the clutter – even think about those people we have relationships with that aren’t so healthy…
We get new Bibles for Christmas – you know, the big study Bibles with commentary by those great theologians, complete with a reading plan for the year and we are determined to read more of the Word – and less books about the word.
The new year is always a time for reflection and renewal – and that’s great! But are we more focused on our ideas of what is healthy and good – are we more focused on what others tell us is the “reading plan” or the right way to organize and/or get our lives in order? Is that “diet” truly healthy or simply a fad?
Rather than focusing our attention on what the Bible says is true, righteous, and honoring to the Lord and truly healthy for our feeding our souls to grow in our relationship with Him?
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil” (Proverbs 16:3-6, ESV).
As we look at our new year’s resolutions – I pray that we will turn our focus off ourselves and what others say is a “healthy” lifestyle and rather, “commit our work to the Lord.”
When I came across this Scripture, it really stopped me in my tracks. We have had a heck of a last year and I was tired and glad that it was over to tell you the truth. David and I have moved across the country this year, but before we made that trek – we had to go through a tremendous amount of trial, triumph, and even a little tragedy. In the midst of it all, I had a breather – so in my infinite wisdom, I determined that I would fill my 5 minutes of whitespace by committing to a graduate program.
And as I came into this new year I was struggling as to how I was going to manage it all… The new house, the new church commitments, the new domestic violence support group I am starting, the graduate statistics program I am navigating through, the new relationships – both ministry and personal… and then there is my health.
Last year began with a trip to the ER that ended with major surgery that didn’t make a dent in the physical issue I was having, then there was the emotional trauma of trying to deal with unruly family issues – both of which left me physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained.
I was determined to begin 2019 with a whole new outlook on what healthy really looks like, feels like, and one that is grounded in Scripture – and God answered with a big “Halleluiah!” And then He began his personal training session with this particular Scripture: “Commit your work to the Lord…”
Through that little verse we can see God’s worldview on a healthy life where plans will be established, purposes will be realized – even the evil, arrogant, abominations get punished. Learning that it is by the work of the Holy Spirit’s steadfast love for us, in us, through us – and the unwavering faithfulness of Christ that our iniquity is atoned for and we have the strength to forgive others of their iniquities towards us (Phil. 4:13).
We also learn that even through all of the evil that goes on in our world – whether it is the evil intentions of others, the intimidation of a predatorial society that is hell-bent on Satan’s latest deception by tolerance of sexual immorality, idolatry, malice, bitterness, or even the evil, unhealthy products on the isles of the grocery store or pictures of what we should look like on the cover of magazines… it is by the fear of God – (that is the knowledge of who He is and all that He is capable of, both His mercy and His wrath) – that we have the ability to “turn away.”
This morning, prior to my digging in to my statistical hell-hole that I have put myself into, I committed to seek the Lord first – and as I did, I found myself writing what would become an outline of this series. It might last a month… it might go through the entire year – we will just have to see where the Lord leads. But as I take myself through this journey, I invite you along as well – but keep in mind, it’s geared towards women – broken, unhealthy, strong, determined, fierce Proverbs/Titus women – who, just like me, need to dive a little deeper – into the cracks and crevices of our dirty little temples and really use more elbow grease than last year.
So, here’s the outline (so far) – Pray for me as I begin this journey – and also know, I’m counting on you to hold me accountable.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Pr. 9:10).
I believe that this is where we shall start. Since wisdom is found in the “fear of the Lord” – we will discuss what that means: Fear of the Lord is having a reverence for a Holy, Almighty, God, who has sovereignty over all creation. He demands to be worshiped and all that He has created has but one purpose and that is to worship Him and enjoy fellowship with Him forever – and He alone made that happen by sending His son to humiliate himself as a human being and then to die for our unworthy selves on a cross – the curse of all mankind was placed on His shoulders, the only one perfect and Holy enough to satisfy the wrath of God.
Those who do not repent and believe will be cast into hell and be tormented forever – therefore “hate the sin, love the sinner” is yet another lie/deception by Satan – because God doesn’t throw the sin into hell – He throws the sinner.
But more about that later.
The outline of our Healthy New Year’s Resolution: Committing our work to the Lord.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver (Pr. 16:16).
Whatever you put into your mind- whether through your eyes, ears, nose, or mouth will affect what you think, feel and believe about you, the people around you, the world you live in, and the God you claim to serve (that is to say – whether the god you serve is indeed the God of the Bible or a figment of your idolatrous imagination).
All the ways of a man are pure in his eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit (Pr. 16:2). A just balance and scales are the Lord’s all the weights in the bag are His work (Pr. 16:11).
…and your plans will be established (Pr. 16:3b).
“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord (Pr. 16:20)
Holly T. Ashley is the founder of R3: Redemption. Restoration. Recovery. Domestic Violence Services and Training and Co-founder of Cross Strength Ministries, a 501c3 non-profit Christian organization. Holly serves under the direction of her beloved, Pastor David Ashley, M.A.A., MDiv. Holly holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on research and is currently a graduate student of forensic psychology. Holly is a former newspaper columnist as well as the author of 4 books on domestic abuse and family violence including a training manual for those in the field of abuse and sexual assault. To learn more about Cross Strength Ministries or any of its subsidiaries, please go to: www.CrossStrengthMinistries.org and feel free to donate while you are there. 100% of your tax-deductible donations go to the ministry, which is privately funded and receives no government monies.