Sunday January 5 2014

Devotions for starting the new year


Christians ought to engage in and pursue certain things that will keep them spiritually alert, fresh and devoted to their faith. Writing down resolutions and plans is a good thing. But is that all? Is a well-developed plan that a Christian needs and the rest will fall into place? Ideally not.

Cover to cover Bible reading
Yet seeking God’s will is not a one-off thing. Pastor Fred Wantaate, Senior Pastor of Makerere Full Gospel Church, says it is for the Christian’s good to read their Bible from cover to cover.

Cover to cover Bible reading involves reading, preferably using a well-structured guidebook, the whole Bible throughout the year. January is a good time to start. “All the answers that you need are in this book (Bible),” says Wantaate. “It will provide counsel, wisdom and knowledge that you need. God will speak to you through His Word.” While some churches provide own Bible reading guide materials, one can find universal guidebooks such as Daily Guide and Daily Bread in Christian bookstores.

Give thanks
Pastor Fally Kuteesakwe of Christian Life Church Bwaise says beginning of the year should be a time of thanksgiving.
“One should do a self-evaluation in the physical and spiritually. And then give thanks to God for the accomplishments,” she says. Kuteesakwe says thanksgiving is a form of acknowledging and appreciating God for what he has done.
Thanksgiving can be in form of giving harvest from one’s gardens, money, singing hymns, and also feeding the poor or giving the needy, among others.

Build an altar
Pastor Brian Migadde of Victory Christian Centre Ndeeba says entering a new year is like opening a new room or atmosphere for which one needs to be specially equipped. “That you can do by building an altar,” he says.

Migadde explains that this is drawn from the example of the children of Israel who, whenever they arrived at a significant place, they built an altar for God to offer sacrifices. Abraham did at Shechem (Genesis 12:1-7). Today an altar can be a special place or hour for prayers. Altars can be personal or public.

Prayer and fasting
To Andrew Seguya, there is no better way to begin a new year other than with prayer and fasting. “It’s killing self and awakening the Spirit in me,” he says of fasting. Seguya argues that it is not about his plans but God’s plan. That is what he purposes to know. “This requires me to be alert to hear God’s voice. Prayer and fasting helps me connect to the heavens.”

First fruit offering
Making the first fruit offering was a well observed custom in the Old Testament. “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship, the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honoured.

Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land.” Deuteronomy 26:1-3.
Brenda Nakafeero, a Christian, says that this also applies to today’s Christian.
“It’s to recognise that the blessing of the harvest came from God, and offering the first harvest to God is acknowledging that it all belongs to Him,” she says.
Nakafeero notes that as people seek God’s blessings in the new year, they ought to thank he first that blesses. “I give the whole of my January salary – my first fruit of the year to the Lord as an offering trusting him to bless me more.”

Dedication and repentance
“The beginning of a new year is a time to dedicate oneself to God and if there is something they ought to have done but did not do, repent,” says Kuteesakwe.
Migadde adds that it is like crossing over for which one must be equipped. “There are forces challenging you in the new land (year) for which one needs enough power to confront,” he says.