Every year, after much thought and prayer, I select physical, mental, social and spiritual goals for myself. These goals are different from New Year resolutions. I don’t try to reinvent myself all in the first week of January. My hope is that by the end of the year I will see progress in each of these areas.
For example, in the area of spiritual goals, I choose a general theme for the year. This theme usually reflects an area where I sense God is encouraging me to grow. One year I selected the topic of personal discipline. I then chose a series of related topics (obedience, submission, etc.) that became the basis of individual Bible word studies. I also made a list of Bible characters who displayed (or did NOT display) those qualities. Individuals like Daniel and Joseph became possible topics for future biographical studies. If a single passage or chapter of the Bible seemed to have a lot to say on my theme, I set that portion aside for an intensive passage study.
Once I have chosen a theme and brainstormed for possible Bible study topics, I then tuck that list inside the front of my prayer journal. Then when it is time to have devotions, I look over the list and choose one study that captures my interest. A biographical study or word study might take me two weeks. A book study might require a month to complete. (Isaiah and Jeremiah each took a full year!) If I’ve just done a word study recently, I’ll change things up by doing a biographical study.
The list isn’t my slave master, telling me what I must do. It is a list of options. By the end of the year, I may not even do all the studies on my list, but I will have done eight or ten of them. Did I learn everything about discipline that year I studied that theme? No. But I did learn more about the topic and made progress in that direction.
What about you? I can see obvious changes in my grandchildren. Can God see measurable progress in you from year to year? How are you different in your spiritual walk today from where you were five years ago? The beginning of the new calendar year offers motivation for all of us to grow more like our Savior.