Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is customary to wish someone a “good and sweet new year,” and traditional Rosh Hashanah foods include apples dipped in honey to symbolize the hope for a sweet year ahead. As with any New Year celebration, our thoughts turn to how we can make the coming year better than the previous one – ways to improve ourselves, our relationships, and, as Believers, our experience of God. So, we’ve come up with nine ways to add more sweetness to your life.
1. Give thanks every day
In our ordinary, overly busy lives that include frustrations, challenges, hurt, and even tragedy, our eyes can become dulled to thankfulness. Giving yourself a simple “thanks assignment” each day can help renew your vision. It’s like that television commercial for allergy medicine where the cloudy film is lifted from a scene to reveal bright colors, crisp edges, and vibrant life. Practicing giving thanks each day lifts the fog and gives us fresh vision to what is all around us. Give yourself a daily assignment. It can be as simple as thanking God for one, two, or five things at the end of each day. Pretty soon, you’ll be noticing thanks-worthy things all through the day. You’ll be surprised at how many sweet things you may have been overlooking.
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 TLV).
2. Look for the good, bright, and positive in people
Looking for the good and positive traits in people lifts us up. It lightens the burden of negative feelings and increases our appreciation. When we appreciate something – whether it’s a gorgeous sunset, a piece of art, or a trait in a person – we experience pleasure. It’s a much sweeter experience when we dwell on the good, isn’t it? God even tells us to do so. A song by the well-known musical artist Amy Grant carries the message that whether you’re looking for bad or good in someone, you’ll find it. Follow God’s advice and look for the good in people, and you’ll find that some sweet things will happen in your spirit.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any virtue and if there is anything worthy of praise—dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 TLV).
3. Speak affirmation to people about the good you find in them
Everyone deals with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, some more than others. To whatever degree, it’s always good to hear encouraging words from others about the positive things they see in us. Though sometimes our struggles show up more than our progress does, God has uniquely gifted each person, and His work in each one of us is ongoing. You never know the depth of a person’s fight to believe they’re OK, valuable, and “enough.” Whether to a non-Believer or a Believer, a sincere expression of affirmation can make someone’s day. It’s very likely to make yours, as the giver, too.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up...” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 TLV).
4. Read a psalm every day
The Psalmists poured out their hearts to God. Their words contain the raw emotions of disappointment, fear, anger, and desperate need – circumstances we can all relate to. At the end of their rants, however, the focus shifts from their problems to their God. As we read the Psalms, we learn to turn our attention to our caring, almighty Father and rest our troubles in His care.
“Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8 NASB).
5. Each day, tell God something – or many things – that you love about Him
An interesting thing happens when we praise God: our spirits experience joy. When our hearts are focused on Him, we see His amazing generosity, grace, and mercy toward us. How astounding is it that the God of the universe would stoop down to love us and save us so that we could be with Him forever! Tell Him what you love about Him. What’s standing out to you today? Is it His tenderness to you in your need, His attention to detail, His wild and colorful creativity, His ability to intricately weave circumstances together to accomplish His plans? Tell Him, and you will be blessed as you ponder Him. Not only is it simply fitting that we honor God and praise Him, it sweetens our lives to do so and strengthens the intimacy of our relationship with Him.
“…stand and consider God’s wonders” (Job 37:14 TLV).
6. Reach out
Is there someone new at your place of work? Ask them to lunch or simply stop by their desk and ask them how they’re settling in. You just might find a new friend. Is that call for nursery workers in your congregation’s bulletin again this week? Maybe you could help out after all. Serving and giving come in all shapes and sizes, and we are blessed when we give.
“...but with humility consider others as more important than yourselves, looking out not only for your own interests but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4 TLV).
7. Read the Gospels looking to re-discover Yeshua (Jesus)
Yeshua said when we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen the Father. Ask God to show you things about Yeshua in the Gospels that you may not have noticed before – examples of His gentleness, obedience, holiness, dependence, below-the-surface mercies, etc. How sweet it is to know Him more and more!
“Philip said to Him, ‘Master, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Have I been with you for so long a time, and you haven’t come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father...’” (John 14:8-9 TLV).
8. Determine to believe what the Bible tells you about God’s love and delight in you
Sometimes it’s easier to believe God’s personal and deep love for other people than it is for ourselves. We can believe with our minds the truths revealed in the Word of God, but when it comes to living, breathing, and feeling them as truths about our own lives, that’s a little harder. It’s a big part of our journey on Earth, this learning to truly trust God and His Word through the details of our needy lives. Regardless of the messages from your past that speak differently to you, set yourself on a quest to take the leap and believe that God is absolutely thrilled about you and loves you dearly. It will change your life.
“Since you are precious in My eyes, honored, because I love you...” (Isaiah 43:4a TLV).
9. Pursue the awareness of God’s presence with you
Psalm 16:11 tells us that in God’s presence is “fullness of joy.” Joy is that exquisite emotion that goes beyond happiness and doesn’t depend on pleasant circumstances. Only God can give true and full joy. Ask Him to reveal to you the joy of His presence, and seek it in all your circumstances – whether they are happy and exciting, dull and ordinary, or challenging and painful. He is good, He knows you perfectly, and His love never ends. He is there with you in all things, and His presence is where we find joy.
“...Abundance of joys are in Your presence, eternal pleasures at Your right hand” (Psalm 16:11 TLV).
“...for the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 TLV).