5 Ways to Grow Spiritually in the New Year
I had to start making a plan every January to ensure I didn’t end the year in the same place, spiritually, as I was when the year started. Year by year, we might not notice a lack of spiritual growth in our lives. But you’d be surprised how quickly ten years can pass without having memorized one more verse of scripture, without confronting a habitual sin in your life, without having shared the gospel with an unbeliever, without having experienced a point in your walk with God that lit a fire under you and caused you to live differently.
Instead of making “new year’s resolutions” each year, I sit down with God and set some spiritual goals for the next year to ensure that during the time I am aging another year, physically, I will also be aging another year, spiritually. I want to make sure, also, that there is fruit developing from my life instead of being a sponge that continues to soak it all in, but gives little out.
Here are some examples of a few of the spiritual goals that I’ve set through the years, many of which repeatedly stay on my list from year to year. Try a couple of these, and maybe even come up with some of your own, so that you are one year closer to Christ — and more effective for His kingdom — by the time next January rolls around:
1. Meet with God before anyone else. Do you have a plan, first thing in the morning, to meet with God before anyone else? It’s one way of prioritizing Him above anything and anyone. My new devotional book, God’s Whispers to a Woman’s Heart, is designed to help you meet with God for a few moments every day and get into the Word at the same time. (Read a sample devotional.)
2. Get into God’s Word every day. If you’ve owned a Bible for years but have never read the entire book, this is a great time to start. There are several good resources available to help you read through the Bible in a year. Try it in a different translation than you usually read for a fresh look. Or, ask yourself where you want to be in your relationship with the Lord by the end of the year and then set tangible goals for getting there through study. For instance, if you want to know God better, consider a study of His names in the Old Testament and Jesus’ “I am” statements in the New Testament. If you need to slow down and learn to listen for His voice, study all the Word says about “rest” or “hearing” or His “voice.” If there are character traits you know you need to work on, consider an in-depth study of some or all of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. Participate in a weekly small group Bible study or lead one among your friends, neighbors, or co-workers. We can grow at a faster rate in community because we are able to share our experiences with one another and hold each other accountable. Email me about a group discount if you’d like to use any of my books for small-group studies.
4. Record your blessings and answered prayers. Keep a “blessing book” in which you record every blessing that comes your way throughout the year, adding a prayer of thanks or praise. In addition, write out your prayer requests and record the answers as they come. By writing out these types of things, you will not only be more keenly aware of how God is working in and around your life, but you will be able to see your progress in becoming one who does “everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14) and a person who gives thanks “in all circumstances” (First Thessalonians 5:18).
5. Pick a ‘theme verse’ for the year. Say it aloud every day. I guarantee if you do this, by the end of the year — and probably a lot sooner — you will have memorized that verse. And that’s one more verse in the Word of God that you will have memorized during your lifetime. Choose from Psalm 90:12, Psalm 119:32, Psalm 119:133, Galatians 5:16, Philippians 1:27, Philippians 4:6-7, or find one of your own.
Make some of these action points priority in your life this next year and hopefully, by the end of 2014, you’ll be not only another year older in your body, but another year older in your faith and walk with Christ.
That’s my goal for the year. How about you?