There are only a few days left before the end of 2018 and in quick succession we will be ushered into 2019. During this end of year period we typically find two things happening. Either you find persons partying and wanting to bring in the New Year in a festive high or in strong contrast they are quiet and in a reflective mood pondering on the year gone by. For me it is always the latter, because as my father always use to say, “Dane, if a man cannot reflect on his yesterday, he will always be a failure today!”

So, in typical fashion I was in reflective mode and mood this morning and talking to the Lord about the year gone by. My question to the Lord was, “My God, how can I improve as a person in your eyes for the coming year”. Before the question could have fully left my lips, I felt the Lord respond by saying. “If you want to grow and get closer to me in 2019 then learn to LISTEN & LOVE more”.

Immediately I liked the sound of that and more so because it had a nice rhyme to it. But sounding good and having a nice tagline or slogan is not what I want to carry into 2019. Many a person have this and before the first few months of the year fades so does their watch words that they vowed to uphold and guide them throughout the year.

I didn’t want to be a statistic, so I had to stop and take in what the Lord was telling me. After all, I asked a question and he answered with a solution to carry me through 2019 – LISTEN & LOVE.

Now the million-dollar question is, what do I have to listen to? Well, would you be surprised if I told you the answer is God? Yes God! Many of us believers can attest to the fact that disobeying the Father gets us in trouble each and every time. We didn’t do it as the Lord wanted and exactly as he wanted. We were a stiffed necked people similar to the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. Going around in circles for years because of the hardness of their hearts.  Why didn’t they listen, or should I say, why don’t we listen?  Well the why’s are many and for now I just wanted to highlight the what.

This new year I pray for myself as I pray for you, “that the Lord gives us more of a teachable spirit”. I pray that we are engulfed with a spirit of full obedience to God’s words and ways without wavering or wondering.  It is not the hearers of the word who succeed but the doers of the word.

“For the listening is manifested in the doing. If you say you are listening, then show me your doing”.

God reminded me that not only listening is key but also loving. Some say that the bible is incomplete and there are books missing. But I say to you as Christ has said to us:

Galatians 5:13-14 NIV 13 “… serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

All of Gods words comes down to love. Him loving us so much so that he sent his only begotten son (John 3:16), us loving our neighbours (Galatians 5:14), our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and loving our God with all our heart and soul (Matthew 22:37). LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

After all, this is the differentiating mark which sets us apart and makes us distinctive.

John 13:35 (NIV) “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

As the song writer Jackie DeShannon penned, “What the world needs now is love sweet love. It’s the only thing the world needs more of.” For a surety God wants us to display more love in the coming year, even if persons don’t reciprocate in kind.

Both these things, Listing and Loving are going to call for inner strength to consistently achieve them in 2019. However, I am called to the challenge by God and I must step up to the plate.

In 2019 I choose to LISTEN, and I choose to LOVE. What do you choose for 2019??

Your Brother in the Lord

Dane A. Miller