Now is the time we focus on our New Year’s Resolutions. Many of resolutions do not survive the week and only a few stretch past the first month. Will power alone does not yield spiritual strength. We need the Spirit of God to effect real change. Still I would like to offer you a prescription for Spiritual health in the coming year.
First, pray. Pray like you mean it. Pray like you need help. Prayer is not an afterthought for your spare time. Prayer is a spiritual necessity. We are completely dependent on God and our prayer life ought to reflect that truth.
Second, make the Lord’s Day and worship a priority. Clear your schedule so that you can give yourself wholly to the Lord on His day. This day is our Spiritual exercise facility. Here we stretch our spiritual muscles in worship and service. And I don’t mean simply show up and fall asleep in the pews. Be all there. Get some rest the night before. Dress your souls for worship. Do some prayerful preparation. Pray for your pastor. He is in way over his head! Fellowship with God’s people. Encourage someone. This is the day that God meets with His people. Sing His praise and serve His people. Also, this is the whole day not simply the hour of worship. Give yourself to worship and service the whole day. Open your heart and home to others. Delight your soul in the Lord on His day. The Sabbath was made for the benefit of man.
Third, schedule a regular soul nurturing meeting during the week. Meet with a small group and open up and be vulnerable. Find a place or even a person where you can be the real you, warts and all. Be that someone for someone else. We must get past the thin religious veneer of ‘I am fine, how are you?’ We are all a travelers with a long journey toward Christlikeness before us; carry someone’s backpack burden for a while. Find a soul companion and be gracious to them. Point them to Christ and remind them of the grace and wisdom of God. This can be a Bible study, a Christian book study, or a chat over coffee. Disciple someone, and be discipled. We cannot go a whole week without spiritual food.
Fourth, keep watch over yourselves. We are what we are when we are alone with God and nothing more. Regarding our spiritual health, we can fool some of the people some of the time but we can never fool God. The secret to spiritual health is what we do in secret. Read the Bible. Pray in the morning. Calm your souls before the life giving kindness of your God. If you are too busy for this there is something wrong with your priorities. Rethink them. Go through the Bible in a year. Keep a list of prayer requests, and answers to prayer. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Warm and warn your soul before the fire of God’s presence. There really is no substitute for this. It is the bread and butter of the Christian life.
Fifth, read something. Today we have more soul stirring resources at our fingertips than at any time in Church history. Tolle, lege. If you do not know what that means, google it! Read good Christian books. If you do not know what to read (there is a good deal of spiritual junk food out there) ask your pastor. You can hardly encourage him more than to ask for a good book to read. Turn off your portable electronic devices for an hour and read!
Finally, find a ministry and fulfill it. We are saved to serve. We are servants of the living God. We are each given gifts to form into a ministry. It doesn’t have to be something public and flashy. Write a note, say a pray, drive someone to church. Or, be a deacon or elder. Find a ministry that you are gifted and fitted for, something that you love, and do it with all your heart.
I don’t really want this to be your New’s Years resolution. I would prefer it to be your renewed soul’s response to the great kindness of God. Preach the gospel to yourself everyday. Then go and show someone the gospel by the way you life. If this doesn’t work, read two puritan paperbacks and call be in the morning.