Setting your spiritual goals for 2017
It’s a New Year and with it has come several resolutions to do better and be better. This is the first of a few quick posts on how to set and realize some spiritual goals for this year. I’d like to begin with the concept of grace, and explore it in three areas: grace from God, grace unto self, and grace unto others.
The Grace of God- To grant grace to ourselves and to others, we must understand the grace of God. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t fully appreciate the grace of God. While I sorta kinda understand that God loves me fully and Has sent His son Jesus to die for me and forgive all my sins, I don’t always think and act in this knowledge. If I did, I’d be much kinder to myself, I’d never feel guilt over things that happened to me several years ago, and I’d never look down on myself and question my identity in God’s kingdom.
The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8 that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
There are three very important parts of this scripture that immediately jump at me. The first is that we have been saved by grace. We have been saved from our past addictions to alcohol, pornography, masturbation, stealing, fornication, lying, gossiping, adultery, and everything else we're not proud of.
Have you slandered your friends and family members in the past? Jesus has saved you by grace.
Have you been assaulted and insulted in life? Have you been falsely accused by others and your worth questioned? The Grace of God has saved you.
Have you ever felt worthless, hopeless, and useless? The Lord who can produce honey from a rock will give you the grace to beautify your life.
Whether you have been, abused, maligned, or ostracized, the God of grace has saved you already. Do not be afraid, walk into the deep sea, there is nothing too difficult for the Lord of all flesh. The God of all grace has saved you, walk in your salvation!
The second point from the scripture is that we are not saved by ourselves. We are saved by the grace of God. It may seem like we would instantly save ourselves if we could. But if you think a little deeper, you shouldn't be surprised to find that if we really could save ourselves, we would never want to. We would see our filth and never even deserve grace, even from our very own selves.
Zechariah 4:6 says “So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
If I could see what my soul looked like, given all the horrible things I’ve done in the past, I wouldn’t forgive myself. I struggle to forgive people who do minor things to me, so how much more when I commit sins against myself and my God.
With the little glimpse that the Lord gives me into the consequences of my own disobedience, I am utterly consumed by guilt and shame that is only wiped by His unmerited grace. So how much more if I ever saw the full extent of my sin that nailed Jess to the cross of calvary!
When the Lord allows me a little insight on where I would be if not for His grace and kindness towards me, I am consumed with awe. I couldn’t have done all of this for myself.
You and I truly are not saved by ourselves, we are saved by grace.
Finally, the gift of grace is a free gift. You have not done anything to be granted the grace of God. You are not saved because you are a spectacular child, or because you’re something other than ordinary. In fact, the very essence of grace is that in our ordinary state, the Lord gave us this free gift. It is because of this free gift that we have been made spectacular and other than ordinary.
A gift is unwarranted, granted without compulsion, and permanent. A gift is given once and for all. What a gift our salvation is! We wouldn’t struggle in life if we only understood the gift of grace that the Lord has so kindly bestowed upon us. We would soar with wings like eagles if we knew just how special we are to the Lord.
Before we get into our spiritual goal setting exercise for this year, I want us all to take a moment and think about the free gift of grace that the Lord has given to us. When you understand grace, you can ask boldly, you can walk confidently, and then you can soar.
Take some time to appreciate the gift of God upon your life. Take some time to understand that there’s nothing that can take away the grace of God in your life, if you receive Him into your heart. There’s nothing that can separate you from the grace of God that has given you salvation. Salvation is the most important gift ever granted, and it is only possible by grace. So you can imagine just how foundational the gift of grace is.
Walk in God’s grace today, and even your spiritual goals for 2017 will come from a new dimension.
As you can see, this post has become very long. I’ll deal with grace towards self and grace towards others in subsequent posts.
Please think about God's grace towards you. Never, never, never take it for granted.