Denise was asked: Should we set goals for the new year and sum up the last year?

Denise’s response: I set a goal for myself recently, and I have already started working toward it! I became convicted about my body needing to be stronger. You know as we get older, our bodies are not going to get stronger by accident. They only get stronger by doing something on purpose. And so I set a goal to exercise — on purpose — every day. Physical exercise is so good for you. It is good for your mind; it is good for your mood; and it is good for your body. So I think it was a wise decision for me to start exercising.

And, of course, Pastor Rick and I want our ministry to grow. I want my program, TIME With Denise, and School of Cinderella to grow. When you have something that’s valuable to you, like a precious plant, for example, you absolutely want it to grow. And so my goal is to do whatever I can to help these precious responsibilities that God has given me to bear fruit and grow.

Maybe you need to do something for the relationships in your life. For example, if you want a friend, you have to be a friend. Maybe you need to open your heart and say, “I want a friend in this new year!” or, “I want to be kinder to my children” or, “I want to do more for my grandchildren.” It comes down to a decision that we do these things on purpose. The Lord is gracious that He has given us another year. He has given us breath in our lungs so we can press forward into this new year.

Don’t just write down your goals and then put them in a drawer somewhere. If you are really serious about it, write down your goals every day. If you really want this and you’re serious about it,  you have to add some energy and push toward the fulfillment of those goals. And it really helps you if you write down a strategy. Write: “This is my plan for the day. I am going to __________.” And then the next day, do the same thing. If you’ll do that for 21 days, even scientists say that you can create a new habit.

You have a new year before you, so say, “God, what do You want to do with me this next year? I am alive. You are in me! I want to do something this year!” And if you ask Him to help you, then this year won’t be the same as last year.

This past year was very difficult for so many because of the serious things that are happening on the earth. Maybe someone you know died or maybe you lost your job. Some very real and very serious problems and situations happened this past year. Some people have said, “This was the worst year of my life.”

Last year was one of the most important years of my life because of being quarantined and having more time on my hands. One thing I have gained through this time of quarantine, and seeing what is going on around the world, is that there is an urgency to know Jesus better. We all need to understand Him better, to know His character better, and to know what He thinks. And I know that the only way to understand Him better, to know Him more, and to hear what He thinks is to spend more time with Him.

I am not talking about time spent with Him out of obligation — not “I read my one chapter so I can check it off my list” time. Someone once told me, “I really don’t get much out of the Bible.” And then that person asked me, “How do you get so much out of the Bible?”

I answered, “It’s because I’m desperate. I am desperate to know how to live. And I know that in this Book and in His presence and through the Person of the Holy Spirit, I am going to understand more about how to really live, and I am going to have the power to do it.” But it’s not just about me or you being strong — it is about being able to help someone else be strong. These are the things I’m thinking about for next year.

We are living in a time that we never expected — an invisible enemy came to kill people we know, to cause us to lose our jobs, and to make us weak and sick. None of us knew this invisible enemy was going to come. But the Bible says that in the last days, pestilence will come. Pestilence means diseases, so we need to know how to be strong against the attack of pestilence.

Look at Matthew 7:24-27: It says, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house….”

Don’t you feel like that? Do you feel like rains are coming, the wind is blowing, and storms are coming against us? But these verses continue: “And it [the house] did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rains descended….”

You see the rains descend both on the foolish and the wise. Verse 27 concludes, “And the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house: and it fell. And great was its fall.” Jesus is saying that if you want your house to stand when the storms come, you have to build your life on the Rock.

Are you one who would say, “Well, Denise, I know that you are a strong Christian, but I don’t think of myself like that. I think I just need more of Him.” But to know His Word is to know Him.

The Word says that we need to know and understand the height and the depth and the length of His love (see Ephesians 3:17-19). So when we learn about the love of God and how much He loves us, that means that the storms can come, the winds can blow, and the floods can rise — but because we have experienced the love of God, we can say, “I am not moving from this place. I am not moving from this Rock. My life is founded on this Rock. I am not moving from here.” When you know how much He loves you, you want to stay in that place. It’s going to keep you on the Rock. And that’s going to keep you strong.

I believe that there are many blessings waiting for us this year and in the new year. God hasn’t run out of blessings. And in His name, I bless you right now. I speak a blessing over your finances; I speak a blessing over your health; I speak a blessing over your relationships. I speak a blessing over your job and favor wherever you go. I hold the blood of Jesus over you! And I speak the Word of God over you that no weapon formed against you shall prosper (see Isaiah 54:17).

Make a commitment to spend more time in His Word this new year. Write down your commitments, practice them daily, and get ready to receive more of His blessings for your life.