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Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Every new morning is a new beginning of our life. Every day is a completed whole. The present day should be the boundary of our care and striving (Matthew 6:34; James 4:14). It is long enough for us to find or lose God, to keep the faith or fall into sin and shame.” I find his words to be at once both inspiring and motivating.

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In the American culture in which I live, there is much emphasis on long-term planning. We plan for retirement and financial independence. We make 5, 10, even 20-year plans for our lives, all the while knowing Jesus called it foolishness as none of us has a guarantee of even tomorrow (Luke 12:13-21). It leads me to believe we as disciples of Jesus are getting it all wrong.

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One of the most amazing things about God is the way He allows us to choose the way we will go. He doesn’t force us to love Him, to serve Him, to follow Him, or even accept Him. He says, “Here I am. What will you do with Me?” Such humility from anyone is admirable, but from the Creator of all things is incomprehensible. In Philippians 2:5, Paul urged those seeking to follow Jesus to “Make your own attitude that of Jesus Christ.”

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Every day, you get to choose; you get to make your own attitude. Nothing is preordained. Nothing is prescribed. The God of love and freedom leaves the choice to you. He will accept your decision, but He longs for you to come to Him.

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This is the 1,000th post here on EvenIfiWalkAlone.com. That’s over half a million words, and I admit, a little crazy. When I wrote the first post, I didn’t envision writing 999 more. As I realized I was approaching a thousand posts I had to ask myself, “What’s the purpose of it all?” I don’t write to hear myself talk; I have no delusions of being so interesting. I don’t do it for the money; I’ve never attempted to make a single penny off this site (and never have!). So why do I keep pushing new thoughts out there every Monday and Thursday?

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The answer is, perhaps anti-climatically, because of Jesus. Christ told us to take His Word into all the world. The Internet seems like an efficient way for me to follow His mandate. Beyond that, it’s in hopes of making a difference in a single life. I’m grateful for all of you who read this blog, but I feel I would continue even if there was only one. I would because God gave me the ability to write, the gift to encourage, and the command to share His mission. He’s given a similar assignment to you.

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How do you begin your day? Starting your day in prayer and studying Scripture is rocket fuel for your day and for your life. If you want to know Jesus better, there is no better way than to spend time with Him. If you want Jesus to be first in your life, there is no better way to demonstrate this than meeting with Him first thing every day. Forget your cell phone, forget your email; how you begin your day says much about what is most important to you.

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So many teachers say to make certain you spend time with God each day, but let people off the hook by saying it doesn’t matter when this occurs, so long as it does.  I think this is ridiculous. Being a Jesus person doesn’t depend on you being a morning or night person; it depends on you saying, “I will give Jesus the first of my time, every day.”

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Those who have been reading my work for a while know I set a theme for each year in my life. One of my favorites from the past remains, “Consume less, contribute more”. That principle has stuck with me and continues to shape the way I live. As I contemplated this year’s theme, I kept bouncing between several ideas and could never seem to land on one. When I awoke on the first day of the year, I still had no theme.

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As I was standing in the quiet of my house in the early morning, I suddenly felt compelled to go to my knees in prayer for the upcoming year. Out of this time, my theme very naturally presented itself. As I was praying, the chorus to the song, “Scandal of Grace”, began playing repeatedly in my head. It begins, “Oh to be like You”. I knew in an instant this would be my theme for the rest of the year.

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You don’t need a New Year to make a new start, but there is something cleansing, refreshing, and hopeful about the change of the calendar year. A new year presents a clean slate, a fresh palette, and a blank page. New dreams and possibilities dance playfully before our eyes. There are new moments waiting to be lived, new roads to be explored, and expanded heights for us to reach.

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While the temperature in many parts of the world registers a deep chill, our blood boils nonetheless with warm vigor and boiling dreams. These are days that must be more than lived, they must be tasted, held, and molded to form new possibilities. I love a new beginning. It reminds me of what Christ did for each of us when He laid down His life so we might experience a new and better life of our own.

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The light of Jesus shows up best in dark places. It was into the darkness that Christ came as a baby. His light shone so brightly it brought shepherds in from their fields. Seekers from far off lands traveled two years to reach the light given off by Christ at His birth. Countless prison ministries find men and women encountering Jesus in the darkest depths of their lives.

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Persecuted Christians encounter Jesus in ways few of us can imagine in some of the darkest places on earth. When we are at our lowest, at our worst, the light of Jesus shines best. It calls us to Him. It promises something better, something cleaner, something more. In what areas of your life do you most need the light of Jesus today?

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How might your life look different if you knew you had only thirty days to live? Pastor Craig Groeschel says you would do three things differently. First, you would turn your “when” into “now”. Second, you would trade your intentions for actions. Last, and certainly this applies only to those who are determined to be Christ’s disciples, you would devote your whole heart to Jesus.

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I agree with Mr. Groeschel. I think we recognize all these points to be worthwhile changes in our lives. If time were winding down, we’d want to make the most of it. I have news for you: time is winding down for all of us. The question then begs to be answered, “Why wouldn’t we alter our lives to affect those changes now?”

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Until we make tomorrow today, I am convinced we will die the same (or worse) as we are right now. As a people, we are notorious procrastinators. Some are worse than others, but we all have an uncanny tendency to put off those things we deem uncomfortable or difficult. It’s true in all areas of our lives, but nowhere are the results more devastating than in our walk with Christ. How many times have we resolved to read through the Bible… next year.

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Perhaps you committed to getting up 30 minutes earlier for some quiet time with God, but since it was already Wednesday, it seemed wise to wait until Monday to kick off the new habit. Or maybe you determined praying with your spouse or best friend would be a great idea, so you promise you’ll begin doing this tomorrow. The trouble is, tomorrow never comes. Until we make tomorrow today, we will forever be adrift in our wishes, dreams, and best-laid plans.

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I was listening to an old message from Francis Chan, and he said something was mind-blowing in a life-altering kind of way. While we’ve talked here before about living with Jesus (see “Are You Living For or With Jesus?”), Francis took it to an entirely new level for me. He said since Christ is both in us and with us, whatever we do, Jesus does.  Pastor Chan said it more forcibly. He intimated when we choose to engage in sin, we are essentially forcing Jesus to engage in the same behavior. He doesn’t mean this in a literal sense of course because Jesus never did and never will sin.

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But Jesus did experience the weight of our sin when He hung on the cross. So, every time we choose to sin we are causing Jesus to experience the horror and weight of that sin. Again, it’s not that Jesus must die again for the new sin. What He did on the cross was once and for all. Still, if we believe Jesus is always with us, does it not then follow He is with us when we sin?

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