By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Do you have a plan for growing spiritually in the next 12 months? Many people wonder how they can begin getting closer to God or getting closer to His plan for their life.
I had to start writing out 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 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 ask "How will I grow more in love with you this year?" By being intentional about setting goals to prioritize my relationship with God, I've found the result is growing in my relationships with my family and friends, as well. Setting some spiritual goals for the next year also helps me ensure that there is fruit developing from my life each year 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 to those you love -- by the time next January rolls around:
5 Ways To Grow and Get Closer to God:
1. Meet with God before anyone else and make Him a priority.
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. It's also a way of making sure you're at your best, emotionally, by the time you start interacting with your family.
My 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.
2. Get into God's Word every day to get closer to Him.
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. 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. Find a small group study in your local church or be the catalyst to start one among friends or neighbors or even co-workers during your lunch hour.
4. Record your blessings and answered prayers to get closer to His presence.
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 become a person who is able to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 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 one more verse of Scripture. 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 next December, you'll be not only another year older in your body, but another year older in your faith and walk with Christ.
How will you grow in your faith and closer in your walk with God this next year?
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, mom, Bible teacher, and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationships with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including the best-selling When Women Walk Alone (more than 140,000 copies sold), When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts,When God Sees Your Tears, and When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For more on her speaking ministry, coaching services, or books and resources to help you grow in your relationship with God, your marriage or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.