Emmanuel—”God with us”.
We are now at the beginning of a New Year. What a great opportunity to reflect on the old and the new. What did we learn in the last year! How did we grow? How was God present with us? What are we hoping for in the New Year ahead?
Socrates wrote that,
“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Socrates quotes (Ancient Greek Philosopher, 470 BC-399 BC)
I would suggest that an unexamined life misses opportunities to see God and experience His blessings to the fullest. In Psalm 139:23-24, the Psalmist writes,
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
There is a spiritual discipline called “The Examen Prayer” where we ask the Holy Spirit to help us see where God has been present and where we have missed him.
We can ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in looking back over the past year to see ourselves and God. And we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us set goals for 2014 that are God’s will for us.
Here is a little exercise that I have used personally and shared with my congregation to help in this process. I hope you find it helpful. If it is helpful, I would love to hear from you.
Many Blessings for 2014
360 Degree Perspective
1. Looking Back (past)–What happened in 2013?
- What are 3-5 significant events or experiences in 2013? The World? Personally? Church? Family?
- How has God blessed you? What are you thankful for?
- What do you regret? What has been painful?
- Did you achieve your goals in 2013? What did you hope for?
2. Looking inward (character)–Who are you?
- Have you grown since last year? In what ways?
- Are you more of the person you want to be this year then you were last year?
- What do you celebrate? What do you want to change?
3. Looking Downward–What is the source of your Life?
- Where are you rooted? What do you depend on?
- What gives you life? What steals your life?
4. Looking upward (God)–How do you see God?
- How has God been present in your life in 2013?
- What is your relationship with God today?
- In what new ways do you need to get to know God? Allow him into your life?
- How is God calling you? What is he calling you to?
- How will you grow your relationship with God in 2014?
5. Looking outward (Mission)–What is your mission?
- How have you blessed or served others in 2014?
- How is God calling you to bless others in 2014?
- Who does God want you to bless in 2014?
6. Looking forward (Purpose)–What is your purpose?
- What is your purpose in life? What meaning do you want your life to have?
- What goals does God want you to set for 2014? Pray & write them down.
Spiritual goals Personal goals
Work/ministry goals Learning goals
Health goals Financial goals
- What steps and changes do you need to make to achieve your goals?
- Who will you share your goals with and ask to be your goal encourager?