The end of June marks the half-way point of 2016. Six months in the books, six months yet to go. It hardly seems 182 days ago that we set some spiritual goals for the year, and now provides us a great opportunity to check where we stand with those goals. The half-way point gives us a reference from which to gauge our progress with still enough time to make the necessary adjustments to get us back on course.
Today, I want to suggest some simple diagnostic questions you can ask yourself at this half-way point and some encouragement to keep us moving along a path that draws us closer to Jesus. Take the time to consider the questions honestly, and ask God what adjustments He wants to make in your life.
Am I closer to God than I was six months ago?
By “closer” I mean, am I more sensitive to His voice, more obedient to His Word, and more Christlike in my actions. Do I sense His presence and respond to life’s circumstances in a way that reflects the Holy Spirit is guiding my emotions, thoughts, and actions?
If I am not closer to God, I must remember that He hasn’t moved, so I must have drifted.
Is there a sin (or sins) with which I do not deal, but allow it to continue unchecked in my life?
Often, the devil knows our vulnerabilities and launches an all-out assault on those facets of our lives. Sin spoils our appetite for the things of God, especially for time in His Word and prayer. If I do not confess my sin to God and agree with Him that I was wrong, I create such a noisy spiritual static in my heart that I cannot hear Him speak to me.
I need to keep short accounts with my sin. When I do sin, I need to stop, pray, admit to God that I have sinned, and claim the forgiveness the cross has already provided me. As I pray about the sin, I ask God to help me see temptation coming and avoid it.
Am I consistently making the time to be in God’s Word?
Jesus taught us in John 15 that we can do nothing of spiritual value unless we abide Him and His Word and allow His Word to abide in us. Most Christians who admit to struggling in their walk with the Lord also indicate they are inconsistent in their Bible intake. As I feed on God’s Word, it has the supernatural effect of changing my heart, mind, and will. There is no other way to spiritual growth without feeding regularly on God’s Word.
If I am not reading and meditating on God’s Word every day, I need to make it a priority by adjusting my schedule and habits to give myself quality time in the Bible each day.
Are my prayers routine and rote or do I have a fresh, vibrant conversation with God regularly?
One of the dangers of scheduling a prayer time is that I can often view it as just another one of my “chores” to cross off of my to-do list. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to rattle off a rehearsed prayer that I have prayed many times in the past and then arise to feel good about myself for taking the time to pray. Prayer time with God can be so much more intimate than I allow it be sometimes.
I need to engage not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually when I have my prayer time if I want to connect with God. May I daily bring a fresh encounter to God.
How have I stretched and challenged my faith so far this year?
In James 2, James teaches us that just saying we have faith proves nothing. I demonstrate my faith by my actions. I can say repeatedly I believe God and I trust God, but they stand as empty words until I find myself in a situation where I cannot serve myself and only God can deliver me. If all I ever do is what I have always done, I will never experience God in new ways.
I need to move out of comfort zones and areas of familiarity and serve God in new and challenging ways so that my I stretch, challenge, and strengthen my faith.