Happy New Year, friends! (Is it too late to say that? 😉 )
While many people scribbled down a list of resolutions for 2017, I decided to try something different this year.
At the beginning of 2016, I’d only set 2 physical goals. Outward aspirations took the back burner, and instead, I wrote a list of things I wanted God to accomplish in my year. (My goodness, did He go beyond my expectations!) So, 2017 is a refined version of last year’s approach: One word. One goal. Several steps to achieve that goal.
For months, I racked my brain to find one New Year goal. One word to center my goal around. And I finally settled on these:
- Spiritual growth.
“Some of us work harder to look good than we do to look like God.” -Jonathan Pokluda
Now, I’m all for self-improvement and trying new things. But, as Christians, we must ensure that we don’t let physical aspirations consume us. Our ultimate priority must be growth in Christ. When we set Him at the top of our list, everything else falls into place–and we’re well on our way to incredible self improvement 🙂
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV).
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).
I don’t wanna stay on the same spiritual level this year as I was on last year. I want a more intimate prayer life. Want a stronger heart and better understanding of the Bible…I want grace to be the center of my life.
And, if I’m able to achieve a few other goals along the way, then great! I hope this year is one of immense progress 🙂
So, what about you?
Are you ready to chase hard after Jesus?
Maybe you have some re-prioritizing to do. Or maybe you’re already burnt out and need a little boost to help you refuel.
Either way, I hope you’ll stick around for 5 ways to boost spiritual growth in 2017…
1) Dig into Scripture daily
Saturate your life with Scripture! Listen to it, read it, write it, illustrate it–just dig in.
I love reading blogs and devotionals, but nothing takes the place of pure Scripture.
Think of it like coffee: It’s nice to sip sugary lattes, but sometimes you just need a cup of strong java to get you through the day.
Friends, we need the concentrated truths of the Bible to arm us each day. Don’t let the insanity of life make you settle for a short devotional every day.
Start with Scripture first.
Then add the cream and sugar (devotionals, blogs, books, etc.).
2) Listen to sermons
I love listening to sermons–particularly in podcasts.
You don’t have to limit your preaching intake to Sunday mornings! Turn on a good sermon to listen to while you drive, wash the dishes, or clean the house.
Lately I’ve tried to take in sermons more frequently, and it’s been such a blessing. I love the chance to soak up truth in situations that are otherwise silent. Passionate, biblical pastors are such a treasure. What would we do without their help in bringing clarity to the Bible? Without their fresh perspective?
Let’s take advantage of their sermons so readily-available.
–> Check out this post for podcasts recommendations and sermon resources!
3) Listen to Christian music
This is my favorite way to add joy to each day.
I didn’t used to listen to Christian music very often, but after a lot of research, I found a few artists I just love. My life consists mainly of praise and worship songs now, and I wouldn’t give them up for anything.
It’s so special to worship in the quietness of my own room. To sing when nobody but Jesus hears. To pick songs that fit various seasons of my life, and just listen to them over and over. Music is so powerful, and whether we acknowledge it or not, lyrics do stick in our brain. Why not use your listening time to take in biblical truth? I promise you’ll be encouraged.
–> Stereotypical Christian music gets really boring, really fast. It can be hard to find original artists who are both enjoyable, and substantial. That’s why I’ve provided a list of my favorite Christian singers (download it here) 🙂 Maybe you’ll find some you haven’t heard before! I hope these ideas will freshen up your playlist 🙂
P.S. These artists make for great Pandora stations, too!
4) Read through a devotional book
Devotionals are great help for studying the Bible! Choose a devotional book that appeals to a specific area or goal in your life and chew on it when you have the chance 🙂
This year, I’m reading Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Day by Day and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, and I love them!
If you need a little extra hope fused into your day, I highly suggest looking into a daily Bible study book 🙂 Do keep in mind that the daily snippets aren’t meant to replace Scripture, but to expound on it. I have trouble remembering that sometimes 😉
5) Pray + thank God for His blessings daily
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV).
With chaotic schedules and regular distractions, a strong prayer life is hard to maintain.
I have yet to end a year completely satisfied with my prayer life (which, I’m sure, will never happen). The more we pray, the better! You can never talk to God too much.
The very best way to grow in faith and intimacy with Jesus is to talk to Him daily.
Some days, all you can afford is a few desperate words in prayer. Other days, you might spend an hour or two on your knees. No matter the day–regardless of time constraints–start each morning with talking to Jesus. Pray Scripture over friends and family. Proclaim your trust in His power and commit your troubles to Him. Say whatever is on your mind. He’ll listen. And He will answer.
–> You may want to start a prayer journal to keep track of requests and write down prayers.
–> A blessings journal is also great to keep on hand. Use it to write down specific blessings and thank God for His faithfulness. He is so good! Start each day with a grateful heart!
“I will give thanks to you, oh Lord, with all my heart, I will tell of all your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1, NIV).
A few more ideas:
- Memorize Scripture! (this goes along with the first point)
- Join or start a Bible study
- Find a mentor or accountability partner
- Play worship music + hymns on an instrument
- Be intentional with your quiet time
- Get involved in serving at your church
- Read Christian blogs and literature
Note: These are all general ways to grow spiritually in the new year. Personally, I’ve chosen to study specific sermons, Bible passages, and devotional books centered around grace (my word for 2017). If you’ve also chosen a word, I highly recommend digging into it using the means mentioned in this post 🙂
One last thing:
With “grace” being my word for 2017, I thought it appropriate to integrate that theme into the blog this year 🙂 The very message of God’s Word is GRACE, and I can’t wait to dig into the numerous aspects with you! From recovery of sinful lifestyles, to crushing perfectionism and accepting the grace of Jesus, to embracing forgiveness, I’ll share several ways we can abide in His mercy. I hope you’ll stick around 🙂
That’s all for now!
I hope this post inspires you to grow intentionally this year. Remember that His mercy is new every morning! Keep fighting the good fight ❤