One thing I love to do toward the end of the year, usually the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, is to pull out a few old journals and smile at all the good things God has done, shake my head at my on unbelief at times, and revel in His amazingness. I like to revisit the past and see His hand at work, to read requests that I made in the dark, and see His answers which are always beyond what I could’ve imagined.
Reading those requests in the present (now that I’ve seen how He’s answered them), is a huge faith builder for me. I can walk in the wonder of His answer!
For those of you who are considering joining me in tackling a specific focus for the year, I thought I’d tear out a page from an old journal and share it here (well, not literally, actually I’m digitally copying it for you).
Below is my journal entry from January 01, 2011:
My Goals, Prayers, and Perspective for 2011
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of KINDNESS is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:25–26)
“You are not your own . . . For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God . . . whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.” (1 Peter 4:10–11)
Spiritual Growth Focus: Kindness
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love KINDNESS, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of . . . KINDNESS” (Col. 3:12).
“Now, for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence . . . and in your godliness – brotherly KINDNESS” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
“Let it be my concern to devote myself and all to thee. Make me more fruitful and more spiritual, for barrenness is my daily affliction and load. How precious is time, and how painful to see it fly with little done to good purpose! I need thy help: O may my soul sensibly depend upon thee for all sanctification, and every accomplishment of thy purposes for me, for the world, and for thy kingdom.” (Valley of Vision)
Below are a few personal notes I have on the page:
I’m excited about my Bible reading plan for this year. Normally I read through the Bible yearly, following McCheyne’s schedule, but this year I’m going to spend the entire month on one book – thoroughly studying, reading, following cross-references, and memorizing portions of that book.
This plan will only take me through 12 books in a year rather than the entire Bible, but I think it will serve to give me a deeper understanding and knowledge of those 12 books. I plan to mix it up with Old and New Testament, and if I tackle a hefty book like Isaiah, I may divide it over 2 months.
I’m beginning with Philippians.
“Fill me with an over-flowing ocean of compassion, the reign of love my motive, the law of love my rule.” (Valley of Vision)
Well, that was just a bit from my 2011 journal. I have a few more personal scribbles there as well, but I think that gives you the idea of how I typically begin a new year. Now, don’t misunderstand, just because I took the year to focus on that particular fruit of the Spirit doesn’t mean I have kindness down pat . . .
Not. At. All! But I think I’m further along in understanding it, and recognizing my need to ask for God’s grace to specifically apply it, than I was in 2010.
In 2011 I started off in Philippians, this year I’m in the middle of an in-depth study of Matthew that will undergird this year’s focus on Jesus, our Savior.
Most years I follow Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s reading plan which takes me through the Bible in a year, covering four different sections of Scripture a day.
If you’d like to read more about this hero of mine who was known as the “saintly M’Cheyne” and died at the young age of twenty-nine, click here.
For more thoughts on tackling a yearly reading plan, click here.
If you’d like to follow M’Cheyne’s reading plan this year, click here.
What about you?
I would love to hear from you. What are your spiritual goals and plans for this new year? Care to share a journal entry?