As the new year approaches, it’s customary to reflect on your life and look to the future, setting goals about how you want to live the next year. I don’t know about you, but each year setting goals only gets me so far. I have great ideas about what I want to accomplish, but in...
Is GOD in Your Goals? As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt. These are...
As the new year approaches, it’s customary to reflect on your life and look to the future, setting goals about how you want to live the next year. I don’t know about you, but each year setting goals only gets me so far. I have great ideas about what I want to accomplish, but in application, I fall way short. I eventually give up, and then I’m right back where I started with very little to show for it.
I’m tired of empty wishes and goals that obviously don’t really matter to me. I’m tired of living a passive life, waiting for something to happen or scared of what might or might not happen. I’m ready to do meaningful things that make a difference not only for me, but for the Kingdom.
Solomon in the book of Proverbs writes, “A person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) I would rather have the Lord direct my steps than meet any goal that I set without him.
John, while he is writing about love in the book of 1 John notes, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)
Do you see the end of that sentence, “…that we might LIVE through him.” I’m betting when we let ourselves live through Jesus that we will really understand what living is.
In reading further in 1 John 4, he tells us what truly living is; “ Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)
It seems to me that the secret to living through Jesus is love. Loving God, loving yourself, and loving your neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40)
So this year as you set goals or resolutions or make plans for the coming year, instead of making empty promises to yourself and others, let the Lord direct your steps. Let yourself live through him by loving.
Make the coming year more meaningful by setting your goals around love.
- Show love to God by spending time daily with him in prayer and reading the Bible. Listen to what he wants you to do, and fulfill the purpose he has given you. Meet together with other Jesus followers in small groups and at church on Sundays. Make what God wants also what you want.
- Show love to yourself by eating well, stretching and exercising, and speaking kindly to yourself.
- Show love to others by helping anyone you see has a need. Trust that God will put people in your path daily who need to know his love and are looking to you to show it. Love others in big and small ways…your family, your neighbors, the people you work with, they all need an encouraging word, help with a problem, or a loving gesture that shows there is still some love in this world. Be love to the world.
When you put living through Jesus in love first in your life, you will truly understand that God lives in you and his love is made complete in you (1 John 4:12). This is surely a good way to live in the coming year.
It’s definitely the way I want to live.
Is GOD in Your Goals?
As the new year begins, many of us dust off our goals for last year with the intent of revisiting them next year. Typically, we think of taking care of ourselves: eating better, exercising, being a better person, learning a new language and reigning in debt.
These are admirable goals, however, as Jesus followers, we are asked to be different from the world, to be in the world, but not of the world (John 15:19). Romans 12:2 tells us how, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) This probably explains why we set goals every year and then are never quite able to meet them – we think we are strong enough to do things our way. As believers, we are strong in God and should seek his will before starting any new project, New Year’s Resolutions included.
The Bible contains stories of ordinary people who set goals to be used by God and who accomplished extraordinary things. David v. Goliath, Moses v. the Red Sea, Daniel v. the Lion, and Noah v. the Flood. God can do anything you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! (Ephesians 3:20)
So, for the new year, let’s change things up a bit. Let us seek to align our goals with God’s purpose for us. Let us also seek his wisdom and guidance for our personal goals that his will be done.
It might help to focus on what Jesus said were the two greatest commands: Love God with all your being, and love others as yourself. Here's what it could look like:
Put Him first. He has forgiven you and he has sent his son to be a sacrifice for you, so you could be closer to him. Love him with everything thing you have; your mind, your heart, your soul. Think of him constantly, meditate on his word, and talk with him daily.
Be the light of God to them. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. That is an ongoing goal. As a young man in high school, I ministered to others in my class and recently spoke to one of my classmates. Thirty years later he contacted me and thanked me for sharing the gospel with him. He is now a believer. It may not take 30 years for your love to impact someone like that, it could be 30 minutes or 30 days, the point is that we need to love on others as Christ loved us.
Some people struggle with loving themselves--their thoughts are filled with self-loathing or extreme self-criticism. This year, Remember who you are...or more importantly, whose you are! If you have a relationship with Jesus, you are a child of God. A prince or princess of the Most High King who was pursued passionately. You are forgiven, you are healed, and you are set free. You are loved. Don’t beat up on yourself if you make a mistake, ask God for forgiveness and move on.
Forgive Yourself (Romans 8:1)
Grow in grace. Feed your spirit self. In the physical world we tend to want to eat healthy. The same needs to happen in the spiritual world. I have personally turned off the news because I only see division, I see separation, which I think is the opposite of what God wants. What you read, what you watch, what you listen to, and who you spend time with affects you.
We have a natural tendency to lean towards negative thoughts and words, however, I have seen significant improvement in my personal life just by speaking positively and reminding myself that: I am a child of God. I am a friend of God, I am created in His image, and I am blessed and highly favored. I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.
Part of loving God and others is to pray for them daily. We should pray for our leaders that they will seek God’s wisdom as well. Pray for missionaries and their families who are under threat in the Middle East and other areas. Pray for folks without heat or shelter this winter, ask God how you can help them. Pray for police officers and protestors, school administrators, children in need, missing children, people with dementia. There are so many needs; we need to address them.
It is important to set goals that align with what God wants. As you set goals for yourself in the new year, ask God for his guidance, and thank him for the outcome in advance.
Here's how you could focus on these principles each week of each month:
Week 1 Focus on Loving God:
- Give him praise, give him thanks, honor Him daily
- Seek his will in the word
- Pray daily
- Give tithes and offerings for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Week 2 Focus on Loving Others
- Be a light to pre-Christians
- Be a friend to others
- Share God's love with others
- Encourage other believers
- Smile – it’s contagious
- Serve where ever God shows you a need
Week 3 Focus on Loving Yourself
- Be a friend to yourself – take care of you
- Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Slow down and take time to do the things that make you happy and bring you closer to God
Week 4 Speak Life Every Day
- Speak these verses:
- I am a friend of God (James 2:23)
- Praise him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)
- Feed your spirit self (2 Peter 3:18)
- Find other verses to say and memorize
- Speak kindly to the people around you
- Share an encouragement with someone
- Tell the people you love how much you love them