We’re eleven days into November, and we’ve only had one morning cool enough for a small fire in our fireplace. It’s been the warmest fall I can remember. This is my favorite time of year, I love fall. But I haven’t really experienced it yet this year.
I’ve missed the crisp air, the cool temps, the gorgeous colors. We took a drive through the Boston Mountains (of Northwest Arkansas) last weekend and normally the hills are ablaze with brilliant color this time of year, but instead it looked like a paintbrush had smudged a muddy watercolor across the landscape. The leaves are dry and brown; fall seems lifeless this year in this area of the country.
Even though I’m missing all of those things, I’m determined that I won’t miss my favorite fall activity.
The Marigolds on my porch remind me that yes, it really is autumn. It really is time for harvest parties with bonfires, roasted marshmallows, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa. The cool is coming (surely), and I’ll welcome that old friend with open arms! While I’m waiting for fall’s frosty mornings to return, I’ll be spending the early mornings the same way I spend every fall.
I was born in the “Giving-Thanks” month, so for me, this season is always a time of reflecting and anticipating what’s ahead. I take stock of the past year and prepare for the next by asking God to confirm what spiritual focus He wants me to have for the coming year.
Every year, God lays on my heart the topic that He knows I’ll need to dive into for that year. (I love that He’s not only omniscient, but He’s also a gracious teacher!)
In 2005 my focus was cultivating “purity of heart” (Matt. 5:8), and believe me I realized how much I needed a purified heart because that year was filled with refining! As I prepared for 2008 God made it clear “trust” was to be my study focus and that it would be a year of taking faith to a deeper level. That certainly held to be true—I faced the threat of cancer three times that year.
2012 was rich. I loved the study on “Knowing God.” The verse God used to confirm that as my topic of study for the year was Hosea 6:3:
[box]“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”[/box]
That year I enjoyed slowly re-reading J.I. Packer’s classic, looking up the Scripture references, and really soaking up the content. Any yearly study focus should ultimately result in knowing God more: digging into His Word, studying His character, thinking about the ways He’s revealed Himself to us, recognizing the ways He’s worked in the past and is now working.
My study of knowing God led me to a study of the Trinity.
I loved working my way through Delighting in the Trinity, by Michael Reeves. Tim Challies has a helpful book review here. (I’ve returned to “Delighting” often since my initial reading and highly recommend it.) The book served as my bridge from 2012 to 2013’s new spiritual focus. I slowly read the book, mulled over each Scripture reference, and jotted down thoughts in my journal.
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share the focus I’ve had during 2016.
Today, I’m inviting you to join me in a season of seeking God about what area of spiritual focus He has for you in 2017.
We only have seven weeks left in this year (Yikes!), so it’s not too soon to start asking.
A few questions you might consider as you seek God for confirmation:
♥ Is there a passage or book in Scripture that He keeps bringing to mind?
♥ Is there a fruit of the Spirit that you are recognizing you’re in desperate NEED of cultivating?
♥ Is there a topic that keeps surfacing in conversation with others or in your reading that He might be putting before you for study?
♥ Is there a character trait of God that you’re curious or drawn to know more about?
Here are a few suggestions of what you could study:
♥ The life of Jesus through a parallel study of the gospels
♥ A Book Study (Maybe do a New Testament book followed by an Old Testament book)
♥ The ministry of the Holy Spirit
♥ Spiritual Adoption
♥ The Atonement
♥ The Gospel
The list of topics is endless really because there is no “bottom” when you start plumbing the depths of Scripture!
[box]Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33–36)[/box]
When you know what you’ll be diving into, I hope you’ll leave a comment and share with me what your focus of study for 2017 will be!
Will you join me?
Image courtesy of Maxim Weise at www.freedigitalphotos.net