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Religion of Saturday, 18 January 2014

Source: ude Hama / The Mirror

How do you plan to grow spiritually this year?

“How do you plan to grow spiritually in the next 12 months?” I had to start asking myself this question every January to ensure that 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 two years or five years can pass without having memorised one more 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 thrilled you and caused you to live differently.

I guess what I’m saying is that spiritual complacency isn’t ever intentional, but too often it can creep into our lives unnoticed –a tragic consequences of failing to be intentional in our spiritual growth.

The following are some examples of spiritual goals that I’ve set through the years, many of which repeatedly stay on my list from year to year, because they are that important for my total well-being each year.

Try a couple of these, and may be even come up with some of your own, so that you are one year closer to Christ – and more effective for His kingdom—by the time next January comes around:

Read through the Bible in a year.

There are several good resources available to help you do this. If you’ve already done it, do it again, but in a different translation of the Bible.

Even better, team up with a friend to do this with you and hold each other accountable. Isn’t it lovely to read through the entire bible? Have you done that? You can!

Choose a book of the Bible to study.

The next step after simply reading the Bible is to study it, go beneath the surface and uncover the truths, principles and insights in scriptures.

You may want to study one book of the Bible each quarter… or one for the entire year. Try picking up a new Inductive Study Bible which actually teaches you how to study the Bible on your own or Life Application Study Bible or Serendipity Bible or use Bible Study Guides. Make sure you regularly share with others what you are learning.

Study a topic that will help you grow. Ask yourself where you want to be in your relationship with God by the end of this year and set tangible goals for getting there. For instance, if you want to know Him better, consider a study of His names in the Old Testament and the Jesus’ “I am” statements in the Gospel of John.

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).

Participate in a weekly small bible study group or lead one among your friends, neighbours or co-workers. We can grow at a faster rate in a small group, cell group or House group because we are able to share our experiences with one another and hold each other accountable.

Read books to deepen your devotional life.

Set goals to read every month or whatever is realistic for you. Also consider reading books that will challenge and convict you—that’s where the growth comes.

Start a weekly prayer group with others who share similar concerns on your heart. (For example, pray with other mums for your children, pray with other wives for unsaved spouses, pray during your lunch hour with co-workers or pray with friends or church members for a specific burden

God has placed on your heart.

Pray for key political and traditional leaders and key public servants, pray for communities where the Gospel has not yet reached, pray for evangelism or missions workers in your own culture and those serving in other cultures around the world. Pray for friends and relatives you want to see become truly committed Christians.

Keep a journal to record your growth. Make special effort to write down your thoughts as you read God’s Word. How did a certain passage compel you to pray? What changes are you asking God to make in your life?

What discoveries have you made about His character or His Word? Date each page. By the end of the year, you’ll have a record of where God took you and what He has shown you through the past 12 months.

Record your blessings and answered prayers.

Keep a notebook or “blessing” book in which you record every blessing that comes your way throughout the year, adding a prayer of thanks or praise. It is important to 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 be able to see your progress in becoming one who does everything without complaining or arguing (Philippians 2:14) and a person who gives thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). In addition, you are someone who yearns to “let the Beauty of Jesus be seen in me”....everywhere, every time.

Disciple a young believer.

We learn the most when we teach it to others. And seeing them grasp truth for the first time gives it a fresh impact on our lives as well.

Pick up the one-to-one Discipleship Manual from Multiplication Ministries or a practical book on Disciple Making from your local bookstores and take a young believer through the adventure of living the Christ-directed life.

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 memorised that verse. And that’s one more verse in the Word of God that you will have memorised during your lifetime.

Choose from Psalm 90:12; 119:32; 119:133, Galatians 5:16, Phil 1:27, 4:6-7, Proverbs 3:5-6; 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 2014, you’ll not only be another year old in your body, but another year older in your faith and walk with Christ. That’s my goal for the year. How about you?

Now carefully look at the above 10 points, plan and write out your own personal plan for spiritual growth this year and act on it. Or you may adopt this plan and act on it. May we grow more Christ like this year!

(The author is a former General Director / CEO of Scripture Union Ghana, a Leadership Development and Cross-cultural Ministries Consultant and an International Conference

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