The Christmas rush is over, the holiday meal is behind, and you “go-getters” have probably already relegated the lights and decorations to storage. Things should be slowing down a bit, so now is the perfect time to evaluate and plan. Many people view the start of a new year as the opportunity to begin an exercise and weight loss program, start new habits, or annihilate poor ones. This year, why not consider taking a spiritual approach to 2010’s entrance and make plans for tackling a new spiritual discipline or focus of study?
Consider a new level of spiritual maturity as your primary goal for 2010:
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you (Phil. 3:13–15).
When fall approaches, I start asking the Lord to place on my heart what I need to have as my spiritual focus for the next year. In 2005 it was cultivating “purity of heart” (Matt. 5:8), and the year was filled with refining! He made it clear that 2007 would be the year of taking trust to a deeper level and that certainly held to be true. I faced the threat of cancer three times that year. Last year’s focus was on prayer, and it has been a rich learning experience for me.
After spending time seeking the Lord about an area of spiritual growth for the year, I develop a plan. Here are a few suggestions if you’d like to join me in this activity:
- Take some time each day to look up several Scriptures pertaining to the particular topic. A good way to accomplish this is by using a concordance. Simply look up a few references at a time, jotting down notes as you go and cross referencing related passages.
- Record passages that are particularly meaningful or thought provoking on 3x5 cards or a journal for memorization and use for further meditation.
- Research, purchase, and read good books on the particular topic. A good commentary is quite helpful as a study tool. Use resources as you would a school textbook. Don’t just read, but thoroughly study the subject.
- Ask questions about the topic you’re studying. Be inquisitive in order to learn. Ask questions as you read Scripture, as you are in conversation with others, as you go through your day in prayer.
- Go online to research the topic. Visit good websites which offer recorded messages like www.ReviveOurHearts.com, www.desiringgod.org, or www.gty.org/Resources/.
- Humbly approach the topic of study, recognizing that although you may have some knowledge, there is still much to learn and apply to your life. Ask God for grace to grow in this area and to use your growth for His glory.
- Share with others what God is teaching you. Allow your transparency and admission of need in this area to be an example and inspiration for others to follow in pursuing spiritual maturity.
Would any of you like to join me in this endeavor? If so, would you share the area of growth you believe God is leading you to cultivate this year? We can pray for each other as we enter this journey together!