“I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I am trying to reach it and make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his….Forgetting the past and straining toward what us ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to life above.” – The apostle Paul in Philippians 3: 12, 13b, 14
Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions this year? I don’t make many New Year’s resolutions, but this year I set a goal even before the New Year, to cut down on sugar in my diet. I want a healthy body. It’s hard, especially during the holidays …but so far I’m still on track. But I also want a healthy spiritual life. So here’s a resolution for my soul…I want to read through the 4 Gospels this year, reflecting on what attitudes, and actions I need to cut out of my life if I’m going to love God with my whole heart.
What about you? As we begin another year, it is a good opportunity to evaluate our lives and set goals for the future. We make goals in many areas of our lives: we set financial goal, we set goals to lose weight, take a trip, or go back to school. This year I challenge you to also make some goals for your spiritual life.
John Wesley the founder of Methodism had three General Rules for his Methodist Societies to help Methodists live as Faithful Followers of Jesus. Those 3 rules simply put were the following:
- Do no harm by avoiding sin
- Do good by being kind and merciful
- Use the means of grace to stay in love with God.
(The means of grace are the spiritual disciplines that can help us grow spiritually like worshipping regularly, searching the Scriptures, public and private prayer, being obedient to Gods word, fasting, & participating in communion)
One way we can set goals for our spiritual growth is to ask ourselves: how we are doing with the 3 General Rules of Methodism? Here are some questions that might help:
What sins do we need to avoid?
Are there particular areas of temptation we struggle with?
Are we asking God’s Spirit to point out sin so we can turn back toward God?
Do we have some sin habits that keep us from growing spiritually or feeling God’s Presence and Fellowship?
Is God calling us to do good, in some new area of ministry or life?
Are we using our spiritual gifts to further God’s Kingdom?
Is there some practical way we can show love or mercy to our neighbor?
Is there a means of grace we need to use more frequently?
Are we attending public worship weekly to hear the Word read and preached?
Are we involved in a small group, a Bible study, or a prayer group or some other activity
to help us grow our spiritual lives?
Are we participating in the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis?
Are we meeting daily with God?
My goal of reading through the Gospels, falls under this last category of using the means of grace. We are called to continue to grow as Disciples of Jesus Christ. Let’s set goals for 2016 that will help us to be people who are becoming more and more “Christlike” in all we think, say and do!
Grace and Peace,
P.S. Want to know more about these General Rules? Check out the little book Three Simple Rules, A Wesleyan Way of Living by Rueben Job from the church library.