In response to the question what verse or word have you chosen for 2020, I started trying on words. In the past I have chosen focus words. Two of them still grace my wall as a reminder to continue on. When I tried on words for 2020 none of the words fit well. Just like when nothing fits well during a clothes shopping trip, I chose to walk away instead of forcing an uncomfortable choice that I would leave unused.
I left the word store empty handed, knowing I would not leave God's word empty minded. I have never chosen a focus verse for a year. There are too many and God teaches me through them all as I need. I had no plans or desire to choose just one verse. But then as I went about my days, a verse I memorized years ago began to inhabit my thoughts. "For I have not given you a spirit of fear but of..." Accompanied by this verse I tried on a new word: courage. There are many ways this word can and will be an encouragement and motivation for me this year. Among other things it builds on my most recent previous word: faith; since faith drives out fear. The NIV uses timidity in place of fear in this verse. Boldness fits just as well as courage when I try it on.
I continued to meditate on this verse before settling on my word for 2020. Since context is important I added the whole of 2 Timothy to my reading and meditation, though not memorization. Between my digging into this short letter to Timothy and the ladies Bible study I am part of, the second half of the verse came into focus "...but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control." Some versions, including the NIV, use self-discipline instead of self-control. These two descriptors can seem impossible when changing long standing habits. Yet I find promise in this verse. I have been given God's power through the Holy Spirit because of His love, therefore self-discipline and habit change are no longer impossible. I know this to be true since I have seen it played out repeatedly through the years.
Bruce and I pray regularly not only for eyes to see the opportunities God has prepared in advance for us and ears to hear His voice, but also courage to act. We know this is a prayer God will answer if we are sincere. Now I am adding to it that I will have the boldness that comes through His Spirit to use the gifts He has given me to encourage and build up those around me. I also pray this for those around me because power guided by love will accomplish amazing things for God's glory.
To start 2020 my verse is 2 Timothy 1:7 "For I have not given you a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control (self-discipline)."