Practice Makes Progress, Jesus Makes Perfect

Dr. Ronnie Kent

Practice Makes Progress, Jesus Makes Perfect

January 24, 2023
Dr. Ronnie Kent

So here it is again, a new year-January, 2023. And with the new year all of us are faced with that daunting task of trying to make this a better year than the previous one both for ourselves and for those around us. That usually entails something like New Year’s resolutions. We know they are needed, we know we probably won’t keep them and yet we keep making them. So what is the problem? Is it that we make poor resolutions or that we are just pitiful people and cannot do the right thing no matter how hard we try?

I think maybe God has a better answer than either one of the above. He tells us continually to seek first Him and His kingdom and all these other things, these resolutions, will be added to us as well. So what are we seeking when we seek His Kingdom? Are we seeking Him or what He can do for us? If we seek Him, all He really asks us to do is to love Him and allow Him to love us too, as we love those around us.
And Jesus told us how we can love God – with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Certainly, to do this means many things but all involve a few things so maybe we should start the new year looking at just a few simple things that would cause us to make great strides in loving God the way He asks us to.

First on my list is always read in the Bible. In talking with so many Christians it really seems like the struggle begins here. How can we possibly know the author of the book if we don’t read the book? How can we possibly know all the promises He has made us so that we can live this life abundantly as He has promised if we don’t read those promises? How can we possibly love others as He has asked us to if we don’t read how He tells us to do it? It is a great goal to read the whole Bible in one year but that is a daunting task. It usually involves at least an hour every day. If you are struggling to read the Bible every day I truly doubt that you will be able to read it one hour every day. So let’s try not to eat the whole elephant at one time. Why not start with the book of John and just read a passage every day. Most versions of the Bible, even electronic ones, divide the text into sections that will make this possible. I believe what you will find is that as you read that passage you might just want to read even more. If that’s the case, keep reading when you would like to. Watch God draw you to himself through His Word, it’s a promise – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

And then there are the big three that almost everybody, Christian or not, usually deal with: how you sleep, how you eat and how you exercise. Once again try eating each one of these elephants one bite at a time.

1 – How you Sleep
If you’re not sleeping well, why not? The majority of people have a very doable solution to sleeping more and that is going to bed earlier. And most people struggle with going to bed earlier because of something involving a phone or a computer or a television. So, a start would be to decide how you will put those devices down so you can make it more likely you will get in the bed earlier each night. It does not have to be an all or none solution. Just 15 minutes sooner than the week before for one week then maybe 15 minutes sooner than that the next week. Be honest with yourself! If you struggle putting down electronic devices, ask someone to help you – a spouse, a friend, a parent. You will probably not be successful every night but even one or two nights a week is a start. You might be surprised at how much better you feel and you might want to do two or three more nights the next week.

2 – How you Eat
Improving what you eat and drink seems to find it’s way on everyone’s resolution list. Most of the time, issues with food and drink has to do with your environment. What is available is usually what you will do. Try planning just one day having a healthier meal plan that also makes sure you drink enough water (probably one of the most common areas that people need help.) Plan the meal, get what you will need and then do it. As you realize that it is doable, you might just keep adding a day each week until…you are eating a healthy elephant.

3- How you Exercise
Last, but certainly not least, is that thing we call exercise which really is just our ability to move around in our world so that we are not limited in our ability to do what we want to do. Very few people end up running a marathon but really none of us should have to struggle walking a little extra distance in a parking lot. Once again, don’t try to do it all at one time. A very good start is to park further out in the parking lot instead of the space closest to the building. Just think, if you walk an extra 50 steps into a store each day That will mean over the course of a year you could potentially add an extra 36,500 steps to your physical activity. Now for me, that is a successful resolution. Who knows, you might like the way you feel so much that you make it 100 steps each way which would mean you walked 36 1/2 miles more this year than you did last year – and that’s pretty cool! Then, maybe you can move up to walking 30 minutes every day which is about 3,000 steps which would mean that you walked about 500 miles more than last year and that is the whole elephant!

My whole point is that in all these very basic aspects of life, our goal is to move toward wellness –
not how much we read the Bible, but that we read it
not how much we sleep but that we are more rested
not how much we don’t eat but that we eat better
not how much we move but that we move more

We have to realize change causes friction and friction cause heat, and heat usually makes us feel uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to if we expect it. Any change toward wellness will usually take a little time to see the results we expect. This time waiting to see desired results is the time most people give up and quit. DON’T QUIT! Little moves toward wellness + time = great results so just give it time. How much? I don’t know for sure, but I do know it will be worth it both to you and to the people that are watching you. Remember when Jesus told us to love God, He also told us to love others. The more we move toward wellness the more we will be able to help those around us to do the same.

One day we will be able to realize the perfection that Jesus has already obtained for us by His life, death and resurrection if we put our trust in Him – it’s called heaven. Until then, all He asks is that we seek Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength and love others like He loves us. Now that’s a pretty good New Year’s resolution if you ask me!

Practice makes progress, Jesus makes perfect.