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Join Me for the Distance?

I’ve shared with you before how each year the Lord graciously leads me to adopt a Scripture passage and focus for the year. In case you missed the post where I shared with you what this year’s focus and Scripture passage is, today I’m reposting that below because I want to re-issue the challenge.

We’ve just finished off the first quarter of our year . . . and long about now the excitement of the “New Year’s resolutions” are only a distant and groggy memory.

For those of you who are still applying yourself to your January commitments—let us hear how it’s going and what the key is to persevering! 

Maybe you’ve only recently started reading the blog and you’ve never heard of having a spiritual focus for an entire year . . . read on and leave a comment below letting me know if you think making this commitment might be helpful for you!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that the Holy Spirit was my focus of study last year. You can check out a couple of posts about that here and here.

Recently, I shared with you some thoughts from last year’s Scripture focus. I talked about how I started each day with a prayer from Psalm 143. You can read the four posts on that by clicking here, here, here and here.

Typically my yearly study topic has been on things like: prayer, purity of heart, kindness, trust, or humility. I’ve never devoted an entire year to focusing on a member of the godhead, until last year’s study of the Holy Spirit. It was rich. So, I was really pumped when my study focus was confirmed this year, and I found out that I’d be studying the second person of the Trinity!

Jesus is my focus for this year! 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Whenever we focus on a topic or portion of Scripture, Jesus should always be in the forefront. We can discover Him on every page of Scripture, in every book, He is the primary character, sometimes He’s a bit hidden under a metaphor or disguised in a “Christ-type” individual, but He’s there.

What I mean by “Jesus being my focus” is that I’m going to look at Him more closely. I’m going to study Him and His role in my life in-depth. I’m going to come up close and “learn from Him” (Matt. 11:28–30). I’m going to watch Him intently in the gospel of Matthew.

I’m going to sit at His feet early and long, seek to continually abide in Him, and above all live to glorify Him as I “learn of Him.”

Last fall I started an in-depth study in the book of Matthew and today I’m in chapter 25, so this year’s focus on Jesus is dovetailing perfectly with that. In fact, it was while I was studying Matthew in December that the Lord confirmed 2014’s study focus with this passage:

[box]Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30)[/box]

I love it!

Jesus clearly and graciously invites us to come up close and personal. To come close and learn . . . not platitudes or rigorous lists . . . but to learn from Him. To learn what He has for us individually and corporately. To learn Him, to know Him in a more intimate and personal level.

I’m excited, can you tell?

I’ve gathered a few books to work through this year that will enhance the study:

Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God by Timothy Keller

Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray

The Suffering Savior by F. W. Krummacher (This is a perennial favorite of mine, I often use it for devotional meditations in the weeks before Easter)

Jesus on Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament by David Murray

Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom and John Piper

Encounters with Jesus: Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions by Timothy Keller

So, that’s what I’ll be focusing on this year. I hope to share some with you from the overflow of what He’s teaching me. Tomorrow, I want to share with you how He’s using that one phrase, “Come to Me” to initiate sweet moments of worship.

What about you?

What will be your focus of study this year?

8 Comments

  • Nicole

    Hi Kimberly,

    I have been going through the Old Testament this year and have been praying for God to help me see my own heart in light of the way Israel was and have been looking to see Jesus everywhere in the O.T.
    I love your focus for this year and Jesus is what I want to focus on also. I am looking forward to all what God will show us through you blog. I love this Scripture in Matthew 11 and is just perfect for me this year again with everything I am going through in my life.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Nicole ~

    I’m so glad you’re joining me! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. I’ll be sharing more from Matthew 11:28, such a precious passage! I hope you’ll let us hear what God is teaching you!

    Blessings ~

  • Kimberly Wagner

    So good to hear from you! You’re right, Jesus is the most beautiful One to hold our focus (Heb. 12:1-4).

    I hope you’ll join us, friend ~

  • Vicki

    Hi Kim,

    My focus for this year has been on prayer, and I can’t begin to tell you what God is doing in my heart in this area. We attend a church that we consider to be strong in God’s Word, but I tell you, we’ve missed the boat in the area of prayer! It’s been almost explained away as something that we do because God tells us to and that it’s more to change us than anything else. We have so reacted to the “name it and claim it” teaching that we have no faith that God actually responds to our crying out to Him. I know we’ve spent far more time doing, doing, doing than we have praying, and as someone who has been involved in leading Bible studies, etc., I believe I need to ask forgiveness from God and people for my lack of prayer. It’s not that I purposely didn’t pray. It’s just that I actually prayed so little, so haphazard, and so “surface.” God is changing me to the point where I have no desire to do ANYTHING apart from prayer and Holy Spirit leading. Even to the point where if “all” God has for me the rest of my life is to be a behind-the-scenes prayer warrior, I will be not only content, but honored.

    I think I’m getting too wordy for a comment, but my heart is so full of what God is doing. I love Him so much!! Right now I’m down in St. Augustine, Florida with my parents. My mom is very ill – came on very fast – and we’re trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on. She has been put on a lot of medication over the past few months, and we’re trying to sort through what is actual illness and what is side effects of the meds. I would ask for prayer for wisdom and direction as we seek help. We are pursuing the area of nutrition, and our first apoointment is this afternoon. Our trust is not in man, but we also recognize that our Jehovah Rapha often uses man to accomplish His work.

    Thank you, Kim, for your love for The Lord and your desire to see women live fully in that love! You are truly an encouragement and a kindred spirit!!! 🙂

    Love,
    Vicki
    Psalm 115:1, John 3:30

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Vicki ~

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing! I was so blessed reading what God has been teaching you this year! The work He’s doing in you can affect those around you as your passion for prayer is infectious.

    Also, thank you for letting us know how to pray for you and your family right now, Vicki. May you sense His sovereign care for all of you, may He fill you with wisdom and clearly confirm the steps you need to take in this process.

    Please give us an update here when you can. We’re joining you in prayer!

    Much love to you, friend ~

  • kathy

    Hi Kim,
    I love the idea of having a particular focus for the year. I can imagine that one would really have a much greater love and understanding for the topic when the year is up. I would love to join you for the distance and study Jesus. These last few weeks I have been studying John 15 and reading “abide with me” by Andrew Murray. It has been a “wow” two weeks for me. I have to confess that before this I haven’t really been abiding in Christ like I should. It is so easy for me to get caught up in the do’s and don’ts about being a Christian and forget that it is not about that, it is about a relationship and allowing Christ life to be lived out in and through me. There is no substitute for Jesus and time spent with Him. It is the only command given in these verses and the only way to produce His fruit.
    Can I be honest with you though, Kim, the enemy seems to continually plague me with doubts about my faith. It’s an off and on thing, but it has been so crippling in my walk with the Lord. I have not told anyone about this. I am a Pastor’s wife, and feel so ashamed that these thoughts come into my head at all. I have read countless apologetic books, and it doesn’t take long to get it settled again in my heart, but then a little while later thoughts creep back in. I have had to keep going back to the scriptures and to what I know to be true and to rest in God’s promises. Is this normal? Is it just me? I hate that this happens. I want sooooo much to be close to the Lord and to love Him and know Him better, but it seems like I can’t escape these patterns of doubts. I read an article you wrote a few months back on how you made a commitment to the Lord….I had to do the same. It was the only way I could be consistent and not allow other things to crowd out my time alone with God. I guess I am praying that if I submit to the Lord, the devil will flee and if I have a more consistent time with the Lord the thoughts will flee also. I am sorry I rambled a little bit, but count me in. I do want to learn, grow and love Jesus more.

    Thanks for reading

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello Kathy ~

    Thanks so much for sharing your heart so honestly. I’m so glad you are joining us in focusing on Jesus!

    Short answer to your question: yes, I think doubts are a common occurrence for many people. Some people say they never struggle with doubts, but I’ve known godly individuals that have recurring battles in this area. Go to God with your doubts. Just lay it all out to Him, even if the enemy is screaming in your head, or lying to you and telling you God isn’t even real. Ignore his rants, and go to God, pour out your heart to Him and ask Him to provide tangible evidences of His grace. Ask Him to deepen and grow your faith. Read the Word aloud, and talk to God about what you are reading, thanking Him for the specific ways you’ve seen Him at work in your life.

    Stay in touch and let me know how it’s going. Pausing to pray for you now!