“It’s always too soon to quit.” Daniel Baker
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18
More than half of Americans (60%) refuse to make New Year’s resolutions…which isn’t a bad thing since 80% of those who do make resolutions won’t keep them. In fact, Jesus said, ‘simply let yes be yes and no be no.’
On the other hand, setting a goal is a slightly different venture. Life is the gift God gives to us; what we do with our life is the gift we return to Him. Instead of setting a resolution, consider goals as the gift you prepare for the King of Kings.
As the New Year zooms in, perhaps this little acrostic can help you outline some plans to ‘be your best for God’s glory’ in the coming days! The goals we set must be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic & with tangible value. As you consider your goals, keep in mind we are triune beings: body, soul (mind), and spirit. Why not prayerfully seek a SMART goal for each area?
Goals must be Spirit-led and specific. Nice ideas are difficult to press toward. Specific plans happen–vague, ‘let’s get together’ plans do not. It is the same for goals.
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11
Specific goals lend themselves to measurements. Celebrating incremental progress helps you stay the course to the destination.
“Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!” Proverbs 14:23
Success inspires success. Goals that are beyond reach bring discouragement quickly. Evaluate your plans and don’t press to the limits of possibilities.
“When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do. Deuteronomy 24:19
Goals need to be more than wishes; you must truly want to invest time and effort–as well as make sacrifices–to achieve goals.
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” Luke 14:28
Goals that do not add to your life will not hold your commitment. Consider how the goal you have set adds value to your life…how it contributes to the priorities God has placed in your heart.
Let’s spur one another on to good works. What will you aim for in the coming year?
God parents each of us perfectly! Growing in grace and knowledge as Jesus did is an individual responsibility. But we all–whether we have children or not–have opportunities to disciple (or spiritually parent) others. This prayer guide is a tool ifor the growing up process–for ourselves and others.
Parenting is a privilege and responsibility that allows us co-laborer closely with the Lord in the soul-building process. He has provided powerful tools to utilize in our work.
The Word of God is our primary tool; it is indeed a living and active tool. It is critical for our lives and our children’s lives. Love for God’s Word…for its necessity and tremendous value in each life…is the key to unlocking and utilizing this vital building block.
This ‘perpetual’ prayer guide has seven focus areas—one for each day of the week. Our prayers matter and keep us in tune with the Lord—for the reality is that all we pray for others must be sought for ourselves as well. May this prayer guide draw you and yours ever closer to Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith!
Prayer Focus: Love of God’s Word
Father in heaven, we praise you for the gift of Your Word. We praise you for the Living Word, Jesus Christ. And we praise you for our privilege of using words to communicate with others. Only humanity was allowed this precious gift. Lord we ask that You help us use words well with our children. Instill in our children a love for Your Word. Help them to understand and help us to live with the scriptures as our guide and not simply a pleasant source of encouragement. Help our children understand that every aspect of life is blessed by wisdom from the Word. Help us model for our children a desire to read, study, remember and apply Your Word moment by moment. We desire your plans and purposes for our children; we long for them to live lives of blessing. May Your Word be a light unto their path for their good and for your glory. We ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 119:9, 72, 72, 140; Jeremiah 15:16; Ephesians 6:17; 1 Peter 1:22
Prayer Focus: Growing Faith
Father, knowing you is the most important thing our children will ever experience. We ask that you meet with them in personal and transforming ways. Grow their spirits into ever greater likeness to Christ. Give us wisdom to point them to you. Grant us a depth of faith in your love for them that we do not interfere with your work. Reveal yourself to our children and draw them to your irresistible glory. Strengthen them in their inner being with your Spirit and be glorified in the lives of our children. In Jesus name, Amen
2 Corinthians 9:10; Ephesians 4:15; Hebrews 6:1; 2 Peter 1:5,6; 3:18; 3 John 1:4
Prayer Focus: Godly Friends
Heavenly Father, thank you for your passion for relationships. We lift our children up to you asking that you will orchestrate their lives that Godly friends will bring beauty and sweetness to their days. We ask for friends that will encourage them to walk closely with you; friends that will look at Your glory with them; friends who will stand in the gap when they are unable to seek You. We praise you for your gift of love that we can love others. Work in our children’s lives and in each of their relationships that they will know You more day by day. In Jesus precious name, Amen
Malachi 3:16; Acts 2:42; Philippians 1:3: James 2:23
Prayer Focus: Thankfulness
Father in Heaven, we rejoice that the key to entering Your presence is PRAISE! Help us guide our children to the joy of thankfulness. Teach us, Lord, to fix our eyes on that which is praiseworthy and life-building…and fill our hearts with joy and awe. We thank you, Lord, that You created all things for us to enjoy and we only have to remember they are from You. We thank you, Lord, that even hard things can become blessings when You are sought. Help us instill that in our children that they will live every day with thanksgiving and rejoicing for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Deuteronomy 8:10; Psalm 100:4; Colossians 1:12; 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Prayer Focus: Values
Father, help us as parents teach your values and live Your values that our children will see Your glory and choose the same values for their lives. Grant our children a vision of the value You place on every individual and the treasure of time. May every choice made–in career, in recreation, in friendships, in money and even thoughts be founded upon Your value system. We ask this for the glory of God and the good of these precious children You have entrusted to us! In Christ’s name, Amen
Joshua 24:15; John 4:34; 17:4; Acts 20:24; Philippians 3:13
Prayer Focus: Health and Safety for Body, Mind and Soul
Heavenly Father, lover of our children’s souls, we ask Your protection of their bodies, minds and spirit. Total well-being is a by-product of a God-ward focus so we ask you to orchestrate their lives so that a desire for Your will and Your glory will be their greatest passion. May our example as parents not derail them in any way; hold us close to You and convict us of disparities in our own walk. Strengthen the children, Lord, to exercise discipline in their physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual pursuits and to submit all to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. May our children’s lives–and our own–have a depth of integrity, an alignment with Your Word of thoughts, words and actions, which will reveal Your glory to all those we come in contact with. We praise You for the gift of the life of Christ which lives within Your children and we ask all this in His name, Amen.
Psalm 26:3; Psalm 86:11; 2 John 4; Isaiah 32:18
Prayer Focus: Passion for a Pure Heart
Father in Heaven, we long to see You and to have our children see You. Your glory is our source of hope and confidence in a world of challenges. Lord, work in our children’s hearts and open their eyes to see You…to see Your amazing love, Your righteousness and Your open arms. Instill in the hearts of our children–and in our hearts–an ever-increasing desire to walk in Your presence and behold Your glory. Might the greatest desire of our hearts be to please You with every choice we make in thought, word and deed and might that same desire be in the hearts of our children. We praise You for who You are and how You work and for the purifying, perfect work of Jesus Christ. In His name, we ask this…Amen.
Malachi 3:3; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 1 John 1:7
Eyes that see beauty are a gift from God! We live in an image-crazed world longing to see beauty, to find substance. The selfie craze cries out of hearts trying to find something.
But real beauty is a buried treasure one must dig deep to see and enjoy. The Prophet Isaiah spoke of this Truth as he described the coming Messiah.
My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. Isaiah 53:2
Jesus’ body suffered tremendously as He walked the ‘way of suffering’ to open the way for us to enter into eternal life and union with the Father. Neither His beaten body nor the path He trod appeals to us in our natural mind. It has no beauty on the surface.
Likewise, the Church, the Body of Christ on earth today often fails to draw gasps of awe as one looks at it. We are often bruised by the ungodly attitudes we allow to mar our image but in the eyes of God, He sees something different.
The lyrics below will give you a glimpse of His view…if you click the link, the song will play as you read on.
How beautiful the radiant Bride
who waits for her Groom
with His light in her eyes.
How beautiful when humble hearts give
the fruit of pure lives
so that others may live.
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
How beautiful the feet that bring
the sound of good news
and the love of the King.
How beautiful the hands that serve
the wine and the bread
and the sons of the earth.
how beautiful is the body of Christ.
Christ’s love for the Bride compels me to look for beauty everywhere. He sees beauty when I cannot. My frequent prayer is to more consistently see with His eyes. That is a prayer He loves to answer.
God is creative in His answers and chose to let me look with Him at my aqua-cize class. Working in water with a noodle offers some unique challenges–and a fair amount of laughter. Standing on a floating device tends to create some chaos. Noodles pop off from under people and whack others in the side of the head. People tip over and legs can get stuck up in the air as a noodle gives buoyancy muscles can’t counter.
Each person in the class brings a different set of strengths and weaknesses to the pool. The uniting goal is improved health but the individual realities impact the outcome. Physical injuries, limited muscle strength, lack of coordination, past experience with water, self-consciousness, feelings of inferiority…they all play into the experience.
The beauty is that progress is made simply by staying the course. Falling off the noodle and getting back on gives as much benefit to the weaker participant as completing the exercise gives the stronger participant. In the aqua-cize class, encouragement to one another is frequent. The success of one is hope for another.
Do you see the parallels for the Church? We share a common purpose: that the world may know our great and glorious God. We share the very gift of God dwelling within us and the power of the Holy Spirit compelling us. Like the individuals in the class, though, we have weaknesses and self-absorption that sometimes hinders us. We tip over; sometimes we ‘slap’ others (figuratively only one hopes); and at times, we feel like failures. But as we press on for the joy set before us, God accomplishes His purpose…in us and in the world!
We can only begin where we are…whether in an aqua-cize class or as a disciple of Christ. Fixing our eyes on the goal brings forth beauty otherwise hidden. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that for the joy set before Him, Christ endured the Cross. As Jesus prayed for you and I before He went to the Cross, His plea was for the unity of believers. That unity does not come by fixing our eyes on differences, pointing out failures and critically assessing one another (or even ourselves). Beautiful unity comes as we fix our eyes on Christ and determine to know only Him.
Do you need a word of encouragement? Be humble, let someone know!
Do you see someone struggling? Look for the beauty of effort and speak life!