By Sharon Sloan
“I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws. I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:30, 32
Fresh start. New beginning. Desire for change and growth. These thoughts fill my mind, as I turn the page of my calendar and a new year unfolds. While I love New Year goals like organizing my house or living within a budget, what really matter most to me is the condition of my heart. So each January, I ask God to show me a specific scripture He wants to use to reshape my heart during the coming year.
I know my response to God comes from my heart. If my heart is selfish, or opposes God in any way, I won’t experience the renewal I desire for my life. The best way to find a fresh start or a new beginning is with a clean heart, and for that I need the Word of God.
In the Old Testament, David prayed for God to cleanse him from his sin and purify his heart, (Psalm 51:10). Inviting God through His Word to search and cleanse our hearts is the primary requirement for a renewal. Hebrews 4:12 says this about God’s Word: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
My very first annual verse many years ago was Philippians 2:3: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Do nothing out of selfish ambition! Many years later, this timeless truth from God’s Word reverberates in me daily, often moment by moment.
In God’s orderly character, each annual verse has built upon the one before. Here are some from the past few years:
2006: “Those who honor Me, I will honor…” 1 Samuel 2:30
2007: “For My own sake, for My own sake, I do this… I will not yield My glory to another.” Isaiah 48:11
2008: "Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1
2009: “I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise Your name for Your love and Your faithfulness, for You have exalted above all things Your name and Your word.” Psalm 138:2
2010: “If You are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know You and continue to find favor with You.” Exodus 33:13
God has gently and faithfully been transforming my heart continually through His Word. As the annual verses string together in harmonious succession year after year, I see clearly His theme for me: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).
As I pause to reflect on all my annual verses beginning with Philippians 2:3 through Exodus 33:13, I see His perfect design: All because of Him, all for Him, and all to know Him.
Jesus told us in Matthew 5:8 that those with a pure heart are blessed and they will see God. God wants to give us a new, moldable heart. He leads us through a process as He transforms us into the image of His son. Godly character is not built immediately, but rather through consistent, gradual growth.
Dawning on the horizon of our hearts is a fresh, New Year. Let’s seek Him for a treasure from His truth and ask Him to transform and reshape our hearts.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
Sharon Sloan and her husband, Jim, live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with their two children. Sharon is a She Speaks graduate and leads a P31 Gather & Grow group in her home. A paralegal by profession, Sharon now works part-time at her church. Sharon is passionate about encouraging women in their personal walk with the Lord by daily being in His Word. The Sloans invite you to visit them at: www.joyinthetruth.blogspot.com.