For centuries, January 1st has marked more than the beginning
of the Gregorian calendar year. This date holds an almost spiritual
sense of completion (of the previous year) and expectation (of
the coming year). There is a natural awareness of change at this
time of year. Even those tradtional symbols of year end -- the
old man with the long beard, and the baby in diapers -- spell
newness and impending change. But how does this relate to the
believer? Can we anticipate change just because of the new calendar
year? Is God motivated by our calendar observances?
"For I am the Lord, I do not change" (Malachi 3:6, NKJV). We
take great comfort in knowing that the Ancient of Days never changes.
The Alpha and the Omega has no beginning and no end. We rejoice
in the revelation that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today
and forever" (Hebrews 12:8). Changelessness is part of the very
nature of God. But change IS part of the nature of man. God has
created us to change, and His revealed will for mankind changes,
not because of a character flaw on His part, but because our nature
requires and thrives on change.
Consider God's revelation to Jeremiah (29:11):
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a
Imagine God thinking about our future! He desires us to have
hope -- a confident expectation of blessing and provision in the
days ahead. Hope causes us to walk forward into our future with
faith and anticipation, even though we don't know every detail
concerning our future.
once said that if God showed us every detail of our lives, all
at one time, we would sit down at that point and refuse to face
another day! We were not created to contain omniscience (the quality
of knowing everything) like God. So, He reveals our future to
us in portions we can digest -- like a loving parent feeding their
child only the texture and amount of food that their child can
sustain. God wisely only reveals what we can understand, perceive,
and apply at that time.
God Does New Things
Knowing this, I am intrigued by the scriptures that speak of
God declaring and doing "new" things:
- "Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new
things I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them"
- "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the
things of old. Behold, I do a new thing, now it shall spring
forth; shall you not know it?" (Isaiah 43:18-19).
- "Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and
there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring
the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that
are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will
do all My pleasure' ... indeed I have spoken it; I will also
bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it" (Isaiah
Careful and thoughtful study of these scriptures show us that
God is not intending to do something capricious or whimsical.
He is deliberately leading each of us to specific moments of destiny
with which He is already completely familiar!
Discern God's Vision for You
Several years ago, I listened intently to a Christian teacher
ministering from Habakkuk 2:1-4 concerning living by vision, and
learning to establish God-centered goals for our lives. This teacher
very passionately taught that we must first discern the vision
of God for our lives by taking time to hear God's voice in prayer.
From that point, as Habakkuk records, we should "write the vision
and make it plain..." so that "...he may run who reads it." The
teacher taught that God's vision is His will for our lives, and
that we should write on paper what we perceive His will and destiny
for us to be. We must also be careful to note that:
"the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will
speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because
it will surely come, it will not tarry (forever)."
From this place of perceiving God's will, the Christian teacher
suggested that we should all begin to establish God-centered goals
from His perceived will as a means of ensuring accountability
and productivity. I began then to see that setting goals wasn't
about what I wanted to do, but what I believed God could do through
We must understand that God is sovereignly in control of our
today and our tomorrow! So then, He enables us by grace to point
ourselves toward the target of His perceived will for our life.
With His will in mind, we can make a measurable impact in His
Kingdom and significantly change our world by making goals that
agree with God. What about Providence, you ask? All the time that
we pursue our goals, we remain mindful that He has ultimate say
in our destiny. His destiny for us doesn't change each day. But
our destiny is a journey, and our perception may become clouded
by sin, doubt or ungodly assumptions. These areas must be corrected
-- minor course changes along the journey.
The Apostle James taught us to make plans with the qualifier
"if the Lord wills" (James 4:13-17). Surely we've heard that response
from someone asked about their plans: "Well, Lord willing, and
if the creek don't rise!" We must understandably make sufficient
room in our goals and objectives for God's course changes and
adjustments. But the sovereignty of God is no excuse for human
inactivity, procrastination, or irresponsibility. God is much
bigger and mightier than our missteps. Wouldn't we all rather
be pursuing a spiritual goal that might need adjustment, than
to be doing nothing for the Kingdom out of fear that we might
miss His will?
Will this year be full of spiritual milestones and accomplishments,
or another year of "shoulda-coulda-woulda?" Someone once
said that "Goals are the rudder of our lives, and God's wisdom
is the wind filling the sails." I suggest that our year will be
more fulfilling if we are able to recognize significant Kingdom
exploits (Daniel 11:32) made by setting godly goals! If we will
challenge our hearts to trust in what we perceive God's will to
be for our lives, and write down several motivating thoughts concerning
His will, in January we will sense His peace and pleasure.
Make Your God-Centered Goals
Below is a suggested format for areas to set goals
in our Christian life. I encourage you to print this portion,
or copy to another document for your careful and prayerful consideration.
We are not just spiritual or just physical beings. Our goals should
encompass many areas of our life: spiritual, physical, mental,
social relationships, and stewardship. Now, formulate one or two
goal statements for each area and write them in the spaces provided.
Remember to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. -- Specific
(not just lose weight, but instead "lose 35 pounds"); Measurable
(can you tangibly show you met the goal?); Attainable ("bring
about world peace" is WAY too lofty!); Realistic ("never
eat chocolate again" -- gallant thought, but better to say limit
it to one day a week!); and Timely (set a date -- not too
soon, and not too late -- but time constraints are helpful to
bring about change).
Ready to set a goal focus for this year? Make this faith declaration
"In agreement with God's Word that says God intends to give me
'a future and a hope,' I offer these goals and plans to Him as
a gift from my heart. I challenge myself to see exploits done
for His Kingdom through my life. I will 'redeem the time' during
this next year. I fully understand that all goals are subject
to change and to the perfect will of God. By His help these dreams
of my heart shall become reality!"
Use these suggestions as a guidline for
setting Christ-Centered goals.
SET TWO SPIRITUAL GOALS
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).
SET TWO PHYSICAL GOALS
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies
of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice...which
is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1).
SET TWO MENTAL GOALS
"And do not be conformed to this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind..." (Romans 12:2).
SET TWO SOCIAL GOALS
"Be kindly affectionate to one another with
brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another"
SET TWO STEWARDSHIP GOALS
"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure,
pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured
into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured
to you." (Luke 6:38)
Kevin Nuber is a pastor and a graduate
of the Center for Leadership Studies at Regent University. He is a contributor to CBN.com.
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