Getting Back on Track – The Spiritual Life ((part 2 – A Spiritual Goal for this year?))

Do you have a spiritual direction from the Lord for your 2012 yet?  Did you set any goals for your spiritual life?  Did you ask God to give you direction in this area for the coming year?  If not, would you like to?

For lack of a better word, I’ll call this a “Spiritual Resolution”.

Regular resolutions are great to make, but are easily broken. Mostly because they are selfishly driven: looking better, having more, gaining less, achieving something, etc… and when it gets hard on the “self” to continue – the “self” screams out to stop, and usually we choose to gratify “self” and the resolution falls by the wayside.  

Spiritual resolutions are investments in today, tomorrow, and eternity. When these committed actions become hard to do and we “fall off the wagon,” we are not alone. Because of God’s mercy and faithfulness and strength, we have something more than “self” to motivate us to press on.  We can seek forgiveness, call out for the mercy of our Lord – which is new every morning (Lam. 3:23), and start over.  Fresh. Every day.  Every hour.  Every minute that we choose to genuinely seek the Lord for a new start.

Instead of asking yourself what you want to be or do in 2012, try asking Jesus.  When you do ask Jesus about this, you have these three promises to cling to:

He will tell you (James 1:5) “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” NLT
He will help you (Phil. 2:13) “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” NLT
He will complete you (Phil 1:6) “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” NLT

So, do you know what God your Daddy, Jesus your Savior and Friend, and the Holy Spirit your Companion wants for you this year? Whatever it is, you can rest assured that it is for your best!

Somethings in our lives need reform.  These are areas that we are working on already, that can still use some improvement.  Some things in our lives need to be flat-out transformed.  Changed completely.  I did the following exercise with the ladies in my Sunday School class this past Sunday and used Ephesians 4-5 as our focal passage.

If you’d like to find out what God is speaking to you about your 2012 life, download and work through this worksheet on Ephesians 4-5.  The directions are on the worksheet.  ***I’m so sorry, the link isn’t working right now.  Don’t understand why.  I have to leave the house for a while and when I’m home I’ll work again on it.  For now, I’ll just copy and past the info from the worksheet pages at the bottom of this post.  They won’t be in pretty form, but at least you can see what the questions are. 

I worked through this passage and worksheet last week and the Lord gave me a list of transformations He wants to make in my life this year. None of it was a shock… and I’m glad to be working on some of the things that are recurring strongholds in my life. 

{I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but feel led by the Lord to be transparent in this issue – so here is a picture of my journal of the things from Eph. 4-5 that need Reforming and Transforming in my life.} 

Once the lists were made, I noticed that there were basically 5 categories these instructions addressed: time, selfishness, words, love of others, and spiritual warfare.  I went through the list and highlighted each  instruction according to the category in which they best fit.  Now, when I’m reminded of the need to work on my tongue, I can flip back to these pages and look at specific instructions that need to be either reformed or transformed.  Eventually, I will focus on one category at a time, asking the Lord to work out of me and into me what He desires and what pleases Him in these areas.  Make sense?

As I prayed through the list of things that needed transformed, the Lord really highlighted and summed them up using the verses from Eph. 5:14-16, NLT

 “Awake, O sleeper,
      rise up from the dead,
      and Christ will give you light.”
 So be careful how you live. 
Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
Eph. 5:14-16
The two words to remind me of God’s instructions for my 2012 are “Awake and Arise.”  And I’m seeing them everywhere!  I used BibleGateway.com to find every verse that contains those two words and am now studying through those verses to find additional instruction. 

What I’ve learned so far:

Awake – early in the morning to spend my time with Him, and also Awake – to what is going on around me in the lives of others and in the spiritual realm. 

Arise – out of bed once I’m awake – and also Arise – take a stand, not only knowing about something, but actively fighting for righteousness and justice. 

As I was studying through the word, Awake, this passage seemed to put everything into perspective, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so it has become my “Verse for 2012”.

“So my dear friends, listen carefully; 

those who embrace these my ways are most blessed.
Mark a life of discipline and live wisely;
don’t squander your precious life.
Blessed the man, blessed the woman, 
who listens to me,
awake and ready for me each morning,
alert and responsive as I start my day’s work.
When you find me, you find life, real life,
to say nothing of God’s good pleasure.
But if you wrong me, you damage your very soul;
when you reject me, you’re flirting with death.”

Prov. 8:32-36  Msg

I can’t help but wonder what the Lord will bring my way this year as He has me awake and arise… It’s kind of exciting!

It was energizing for the ladies in our class to have a personal spiritual goal for their 2012 from the Lord.  And it is a tremendous relief to know that He will speak it, empower us as we do it, and complete whatever it is in our lives. 

What is God saying to you about your spiritual self for 2012?   🙂

Worksheet begins below

Prayerfully read through the Scriptures below. The verses contain blanks. When you reach a blank, ask the Lord to show you if you are complete in what you just read, or whether you need to be reformed or transformed. If the scripture speaks on an area that you have already mastered, with no more temptation toward sin in that particular sphere, write “complete” in the blank – and praise God for the work He has completed in your life. If the scripture speaks on an area that you are working on, having seen some progress, but still need to grow into completion in that part, write “reform” in the blank. Also write anything else the Lord specifically shows you about that subject area in your life. If the verses convict you of something that needs to be changed in your life (thoughts, actions, reactions, desires, etc.), then write the word “transform” in the blank, and record what God is showing you about your need to change.

Further instructions will be given after you’ve worked through the Scriptures.

Ephesians 4:17-5:20

Living as Children of Light

With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18
Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

17

New Living Translation (NLT)

But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth
that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust
and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to
be like God—truly righteous and holy.

20

25

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.

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And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger
gives a foothold to the devil.

26

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28

If you are a thief, quit stealing. ______________________________________________________________

Instead, use your hands for good hard work, ______________________________________________________

and then give generously to others in need. _______________________________________________________

29

Don’t use foul or abusive language. ___________________________________________________________

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear
them. ____________________________________________________________________________________

30

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his
own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. ___________________________________

Jennifer Walker © 2012 www.SmellingCoffee.com

31

Get rid of all bitterness, ____________________________________________________________________

rage, _____________________________________________________________________________________

anger, ____________________________________________________________________________________

harsh words, ______________________________________________________________________________

and slander, _______________________________________________________________________________

as well as all types of evil behavior. ____________________________________________________________

32

Instead, be kind to each other, _______________________________________________________________

tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

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Ephesians 5

Living in the Light

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.

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Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for
us, a pleasing aroma to God.

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Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s
people.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. ________________________________________________________

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Walker © 2012 www.SmellingCoffee.com

Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light
from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and
true.

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10

Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. ____________________________________________________

11

Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be
exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

12

“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Living by the Spirit’s Power

15

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

16

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

17

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

18

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. _________________________________________

Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and
making music to the Lord in your hearts.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

20

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Jennifer Walker © 2012 www.SmellingCoffee.com

Look back over all you have marked. In the columns below, list the areas of your life that need to be “reformed” and the
areas that need to be “transformed.”

God wants to Reform me in these areas:

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God wants to Transform me in these areas:

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Jennifer Walker © 2012 www.SmellingCoffee.com

Look over your lists. Pay close attention the the areas God wants transformed in your life. Are there things that
can be grouped together? Prayerfully consider your areas of needed transformation and write a general
summary of those areas here. Use 1-3 sentences, or even a verse or two. Ask God to make His desires for you
clear. This is what God is speaking to you about your 2012. This is what He wants to do in your life this year.

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What do you need to say back to God? Respond to Him below.

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Signed __________________________________________ Date _______________________

About SmellingCoffee

I'm a Jesus-loving, husband-loving, family-loving minister's wife and mom to two college kids, making our home and serving our Lord in the Mississippi Delta. I study, teach, speak, and write for the greatest Boss in the universe. "Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and Living Life brewed in the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ in every place": That's what you'll find at SmellingCoffee.com