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Summary: Four practical goals to ensure spiritual growth in the new year.

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Intro:

All of us have made New Year’s resolutions, and all us have broken them too. Many times our resolutions are abandoned before the sun goes down on January first. And I believe that very often we make New Year’s resolutions that have little to do with our spiritual well-being and our walk with God. This morning I have a few proposals for making 20__ a year for spiritual growth. Let’s not call them resolutions, because resolutions seem made to be broken. We’ll call them our spiritual goals for the New Year.

Goal 1: Read at least one chapter from the Bible every day.

I am ashamed to tell you that there have been many weeks when the only time my Bible was opened was at church, or because I was preparing a lesson like this one.

This should not be. I have discovered that when I read the Bible every day, I always find things I hadn’t noticed before. Sometimes instead of answers, if find new questions I had never thought to ask. And this is a good thing, because I find myself motivated to dig even deeper into the scriptures to find the answers--and in the process I find even more questions. But every moment our minds are occupied in this way, God is working on us. And slowly but surely, the changes come. Ephesians 6:17 says that the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. The Bible is our weapon to defeat the lies of the devil. But how can we use it if we don’t know it? How will we know it if we don’t read it? Read at least one chapter from the Bible every day.

Goal 2: Pray for wisdom every day.

A lot of the things we pray for, God says no, because we ask for things that He knows will hurt us. But this is one thing we can be assured that he will say yes to, if we have faith.

James 1:5-7

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord;

Wisdom is the key to so many of the good blessings God wants to give us in the new year.

If we have wisdom, we won’t make bad decisions that get us into trouble.

If we have wisdom, we won’t waste time and energy worrying about things we can’t change. If we have wisdom, we won’t say stupid and hurtful things that cause stress to ourselves and others.

If we have wisdom, we won’t bite off more than we can chew

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Pray for wisdom.

Goal 3: Look for an opportunity to help someone every day.

I truly believe that if we are looking for it, God will constantly send us people we can help. When we help people, we are sharing the love of Christ.

When we help people, we are becoming more like Christ.

When we help people, we are helping to rid ourselves of the selfishness that steals away our joy.

Some people have a saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” I believe the more accurate saying would be, “God helps those who help others.”

And don’t forget the words of our Lord in Matthew 25:40

'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

But I have discovered in this past year that there are also people who want to take advantage of our good will. And this takes us back to the previous goal. We must be wise. There’s a temptation to just stop helping people altogether, because there are so many scam artists. As Christians, we must be willing to help those who are truly in need. We just have to use our heads, and the wisdom that God gives us.

Look for an opportunity to help someone every day.

Goal 4: Say to yourself every morning, “Jesus could be coming back today.”

We always know this in the back of our minds. I propose that every day we force it to the front of our minds.

If we keep this truth before us every day, our priorities will be different. This is what Jesus said:

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.”

(Mark 13:35)

And let us not forget that even if Jesus doesn’t return for another 1000 years, we all have an appointment to meet him much sooner than that.

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