As 2011 nears completion and 2012 looms on the horizon, our thoughts begin to focus on how we can experience next year with grace and strength. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Most people do. Losing weight, getting out of debt, exercising, watching less TV, getting better organized, and planning ahead are our most popular resolutions. So, how about you? Are you going to pause, evaluate 2011 and look forward to 2012 with a purpose and a plan?
One of my life verses is Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (ESV). Paul’s life revealed his commitment to love the Lord with all his heart and live for him more fully. How about you? Will your faith grow in 2012? Consider with me how we can plan for such growth.
Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (ESV). This verse provides a model for setting goals that will genuinely enrich your life. You can even use this verse to help your children grow in all the important aspects of their lives.
Let’s start with the fact that Jesus grew in wisdom. Jesus learned and kept learning as He was growing up. Do you enjoy learning? Do you enjoy discovering new information and then using what you’ve learned? Wisdom is defined as knowledge of what is true and right and the judgment to follow through with action. How can we grow in wisdom? God’s Word has to be our first source. Make 2012 a year of commitment to deeper study and application of God’s Word. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, hang it on your walls, attend a church where the Bible is clearly taught and applied, study it, attend a weekly Bible Study, share it with others, pray it, live it, obey it and cherish it.
Jesus also grew in stature. This is His physical growth. As you look over the pages of your calendar for this new year, make plans now for how you will care for and encourage good health in yourself and your family. Do you enjoy and participate in daily physical activity? Get up, get out, and get moving. Anything is better than nothing regarding exercise. Make it a family priority. Do you encourage healthy eating? As moms, wives, and women we often plan our family’s menus. Consider eating more vegetables, less sugar, drinking more water, and learning to cook with less fat and salt. Make eating healthy a habit not a diet. It should be our lifestyle. Write down one goal that you can measure and accomplish regarding your physical health and growth.
Luke goes on to say that Jesus grew in favor with God. God loves you fully and completely. You cannot earn His love; we could never measure up to His goodness nor earn His love. We can, however, learn more of what pleases Him. This year make this verse your goal. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30, ESV) Ask God to show how to love Him with your whole heart as you desire to learn more of what honors and pleases Him. Seek to learn and apply His Word to your daily life. We cannot compartmentalize our faith. It must be lived out consistently Sunday through Saturday to be real. What can you do Monday through Friday to demonstrate your faith? Who can you share your testimony with this year? What would God have you do with your resources of time and finances? Reflect on how He would purpose that you grow in favor with Him in 2012. Write it down, date it, and look back on this goal each month in the new year.
Finally, the Word says that Jesus grew in favor with man. We need each other. We were made with a desire and heart for others. What relationships do you have that need work? Are you living out the fruit of the Spirit in front of your family and friends? Do you set aside time to celebrate life with your husband, parent, child, grandparent, friend, or co-worker? Life gets very busy and hectic, unless we make this a priority it probably just won’t happen. Consider making a lunch date once each month with a friend. Meet your child in the school cafeteria for lunch each month. Plan a date night with your husband. Call your mother. Space won’t allow all the options available to share your life with other people, but plan and consider how you will grow in favor with people this year.
The Bible says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21, ESV) Pray about what God wants you to learn and experience this year. Be ready to respond in obedience to Him.
Take the time to write down what God is leading you to work on this year. Keep it handy to refer to often. Resolutions and goals selected with love for God and done thoughtfully in prayer can be encouraging and enriching. Look up, look forward, and expect God to work and move in your heart this year. Happy New Year!
(Marcia Newkirk has been blessed to be married to her best friend (Pastor Dennis Newkirk) for the past 41 years. They have 3 grown sons each with a precious wife, and 4 perfect grandchildren! She loves to study God’s Word, read, work in the garden, walk/run, and loves sharing her time with her church family. She enjoys hospital visits, homebound visits, and any encouragement she can give to others. She is an R.N. who seeks to use her gifts and passion to encourage and bless her church family. Marcia teaches the Personal Spiritual Growth Skill Session in the updated Keepers DVD set.)
Be watching for more articles on spiritual growth this month along with some great ideas for getting organized!
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