by Sarah Lee Bryant
“The path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Where are you headed?
Do you know? Do you have a plan? In one year from now, where do you want to be in your walk with Jesus? Do you want to be right where you are today, where you were a few years ago—or do you want to experience a completely new ground-breaking level in your personal and spiritual walk with the Lord?
The truth is, today you and I are making a hundred little choices that are determining where we will be in one year from now. Although we may not consciously think about this as we go about the day, each choice is setting the trajectory for our life.
As believers, it is important that we are always purposefully reaching forward, by God’s grace. The apostle Paul passionately wrote of his greatest desire and goal:
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The apostle knew where he was headed. He purposed with all of his heart and strength to press forward for the prize of the high calling he had in Jesus Christ. Sisters, this same purpose and goal should drive us as well:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Are you seeking His righteousness?
Or are you complacent with your walk with the Lord? There is no middle ground! If we are not purposefully sowing the right things in our hearts and passionately seeking the Lord, a stronger walk with Him will not “just happen”! That’s why it’s important to take a step back and evaluate what really is going into our hearts, and where we are spending the majority of our time.
What are you eating mentally? What is going into your heart? Will it bring forth everlasting life, or selfishness and worldliness? Will it challenge and advance you, or leave you more dulled to learning and growing in wisdom?
Ask yourself about…
- The things you watch…
- The music you listen to…
- The social media you use…
- The time you spend on the internet…
- The people you like to spend time around…
- The texts you send and receive…
- The “comfortable place” that your thoughts resort to…
- The books you read…
…all of these things, and many, many more, are either deepening or weakening your spiritual walk with Jesus. In this day and age, it is especially easy to fall into the trap of using media purposelessly, and I believe this is a great distraction to our walks with the Lord. We should ask, Is this helping me in my goal to grow in the Lord and to show His love to others?
Whatever is not deepening our relationship with the Lord should be not only avoided, but also replaced with far richer things: time spent with the Lord, prayer, learning, and serving others! Each day we are given is a gift to be invested for the Lord (Romans 7). Let us not take it for granted!
What we sow this year—TODAY—we will reap in the years to come.
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked:
for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
What an encouraging promise—we can trust the Lord to bless the spiritual seeds that we sow each day, in His perfect timing and way!
As we enter a new year, it is a wonderful time to stop and refocus on what really matters.
You might even want to dedicate the first new week of this year to seek the Lord and gain a fresh purposeful perspective on how to grow in your walk with Him. As you do this, here are some thoughts to keep in mind.
1. Spend time before the Lord in prayer.
Open the Word of God on your knees, asking the Lord to show you areas that you need to grow in Him or begin serving Him more. Pray—set aside time to really seek the heart of God and humbly receive His direction.
2. Have a humble, surrendered heart.
As you spend time with the Lord, be humble and willing to surrender your own will—things that He shows you that are hindering a close and wholehearted walk with Him. Lay aside any areas or habits that are weighing you down spiritually (Hebrews 12:1).
Write down what the Lord shows you, verses that speak to or convict you, thoughts or desires that come to mind, and ideas on how you can more purposefully seek the Lord in the new year. Writing often helps us process and clarify what the Lord is teaching us.
4. Make specific goals.
Seek the Lord as to how you can more actively deepen your walk with Him. Where do you want to be spiritually in one year from now? What steps do you need to take to work toward that goal? (As my dad says, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there…it’s important to have a plan!)
For example, if you need to grow in your prayer life, begin by confessing to the Lord your failure to prioritize this more highly in your life. Ask Him for strength to grow in this area, perseverance to develop it even when it’s difficult and you fail, and for a desire to spend more time at His feet. Then you could set a time each day that you will spend a certain length of time in prayer, and make a prayer list for each day. (Starting out with specific goals and guidelines like this is helpful, but as you grow in this area, you may find them less necessary as the Holy Spirit lays things on your heart during prayer!) Read books on prayer and biographies about incredible prayer warriors from history (George Mueller and Amy Carmichael for a start). Seek wisdom and advice on this topic from older godly women, and ask someone to keep you accountable.
While the specific area(s) for growth that the Lord impresses on your heart may vary, there are key steps to take: pray, ask the Lord for strength, make specific practical goals, find examples and encouragement, and ask for accountability.
As I personally look back over 2017…
I am grateful for the many deep lessons God has taught me. One year ago, I heard a sermon that the Lord used to convict me of areas that I needed to give over to Him and to live deeper surrender and service to Him. While no one else pointed these areas out to me—the Lord impressed on my heart that if I wanted to grow in my walk with Him, then these were the steps I must take. The road to growth would require obedience and faith, and He enabled me to walk that path. I can now see how those steps of faith at the beginning of 2017 were a crucial foundation in which greater lessons of trust and growth were planted throughout the year. I can gratefully testify that His ways bring steadfast joy and security even when the outcome is unseen and unknown. Sisters, growing in your walk with Jesus may require sacrifice on your part. As you spend time before Him, He may convict you of many things, calling you to higher ground. Be obedient, and follow Him. What He has in store to teach you will be worth it. He is a good Shepherd, a faithful Father, and He has great rewards in store for those who trust in and follow Him (Psalm 37).
Today, as you stand on the threshold of a new year—will you purpose to grow and to follow Jesus upward, or are you content with a mediocre Christian walk?
In a year from now, will you look back and be disappointed with the lack of growth in your life? Will you wonder what might have been if you would have more seriously sought His face?
Do you hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit—the Lord calling you closer to Himself, through surrender and obedience? If this is the case, I challenge you to get away with the Lord on your knees. Maybe it is being more diligent in Bible study, or confessing a bad attitude or habit, or separating from an unhealthy friendship, or serving others more… Whatever it may be, may neither you nor I be content to aimlessly walk through this new year without giving Jesus Christ full control over our lives—so that we can experience the joys of what He wants to do in and through it.
So…where are you headed this new year?
May it be into a deeper walk with the Lord, always advancing, growing, learning, and serving in His Kingdom! Don’t waste this wonderful gift of 2018!
“My Today” by Amy Carmichael
Is in shadow, passes from me;
No more can I sow in it;
No more can I grow in it
Anything of joy or sorrow;
It has passed away, away.
Lies before me my Tomorrow.
As my field recedes in shadow:
“What seed didst thou sow in it?
What plants didst thou grow in it?
Will it bring forth joy or sorrow?”
O the field of my Today,
How wilt thou appear Tomorrow?
Cries aloud to Thee for pardon;
Take my new field, sow in it
What Thou wilt should grow in it;
Let me not sow seeds of sorrow.
Holy Husbandman, I pray
Keep the field of my Today.
“And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”
P.S. I challenge you to memorize Proverbs 2:1-8 this month. Some other passages to study and memorize include Deuteronomy 13:4, Proverbs 1:5, Galatians 5:16, 25, Ephesians 5:2, Colossians 1:10, and I John 1:7.
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