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Setting spiritual goals that reflect God's will in our lives

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As we head into the New Year people look forward to a fresh start and make New Year resolutions in hopes of bringing about positive change. A December 16 article of the Huffington Post points out how resolutions are broken and suggests instead that we should set life goals. In this country, 77 percent of the people claim to be Christians and most say religion is important in everyday life. With that in mind, the New Year is a good time to consider spiritual goals that reflect God's will in our lives.

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"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23 HCSB).

Living a sanctified life

Our overarching goal should be to live a sanctified life. In 1 Thess. 5:23 the word "sanctify" is a verb – an action word. It means "to separate" to set apart from. This reflects that sanctification is a process and that believers are a work in progress as they are set apart from sin to holiness. In the first part of the verse, the word "may" in the Greek is a verb that voices a wish or prayer. It was the apostle Paul's desire for the Thessalonian believers and all believers to be sanctified.

"And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you. May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Amen" (1 Thess. 3: 12-13).

Set goals that challenge spirit, soul, and body

With this in mind, as we approach the New Year or a new day, our spiritual goals should challenge our spirit, soul, and body to follow the path of sanctification which moves us away from sin and toward the holiness God desires. This includes all aspects of our life. For instance instead of dieting to lose weight, turn to God's word where we are reminded "whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Set a goal to honor God with your eating. You may use a diet to help accomplish this, but the goal is not losing weight but honoring God and in so doing your body will be transformed along with your heart.

"He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself" (Phil. 3:21).

As you set spiritual goals, write them down. Pray about them and seek God's will in the matter through his Word. Ask the Lord to guide; to touch your heart as you read verses that challenge you to be more of what God wants you to be. Set one goal at a time. Don't make an entire list and try to change everything at once. Such an approach tends to rely on the flesh for change rather than the Holy Spirit. Instead, allow God's Word to change you from the inside out; this is sanctification.

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