Godly Goal Setting

Goal setting… No matter what context, we seem to be regularly encouraged to set goals. You’ll likely be asked more than once in your life, “What’s your 5-year plan?” It seems a good idea to set goals.  To give yourself something to strive for. Sometimes my goal can be as simple as getting my house clean before Monday. 

As with everything in the life of the Christian, it is vital to have a Biblical approach to goal setting. To be sure that whatever it is you’ve purposed for your day, your week, your life will be honoring to God. And that the plans you make to reach your goals will be directed by God. As the Bible says, “We can make our plans, but The Lord determines our steps.” (Proverbs 9:16)

Certainly the most important goal outlined in the Bible is the goal of eternal life. There is only one plan for that goal – and that is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ alone. So before you sit down and outline any other goals, be sure you know you’ve gotten that one taken care of. Be sure that you’ve acknowledged your need for a Savior and that you’ve asked Jesus to come into your life and rescue you from the path to destruction. 

Once you’ve got that settled… It seems responsible to set other goals. So how can we make sure we’re goal setting with a Biblical perspective? The Bible does have some general guidelines about goals that are helpful. They can be the basis for your own personal goals, whether short term or long term. 

First of all we need to ask ourself if our goal pleases the Lord? (2 Corinthians 5:9)  Sometimes the answer to this is obvious. If you’re goal is to share the gospel with as many people as possible (which, by the way, should be one of your goals) you can say pretty definitively that it is pleasing to the Lord. Other times it might not be as obvious. Like my goal to have my house clean by Monday. Based on what I know about the Bible and about being a Godly woman (Proverbs 31), I can determine that this is a Biblical goal. (As long as I don’t forget to love the people that live here while I’m busy cleaning.)

The same can be said about goals related to success or financial security. If your success is obtained honestly by using the gifts and talents God has given you, and not by undermining other people’s success, then the Lord will be pleased. Just don’t forget to allow him to be in charge of the plans and to praise him for the ups and the downs that come along the way. And don’t forget about the people that God places in your path as you go. Your family. Your neighbors. Your co-workers. You might be thinking about the trip up the ladder of success but Jesus is thinking about the souls you can impact for him as you climb. 

The Bible also talks about the importance of making your own living and not needing to depend on others for your needs, so if your goal is related to responsible financial planning then the Lord will be pleased. But be sure to remember to tithe to your church and give to those in need. And don’t let yourself fall in love with the money. The Bible clearly warns us about loving money:  “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:10‬)

There are a couple of other passages in the Bible that can be good litmus tests to use when we’re setting goals.

Most importantly, “Let love be your highest goal.” (1 Corinthians 14:1) Never let any goal that you set overshadow your love for God or for the people in your life. 

And here’s a helpful guide. Kind of like a goal summary. 

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others. (‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4:11-12‬)

As with anything we do in life, if we use the Word of God as our guide we can be assured that we’re on the right path. 

Conduct yourselves…

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. – Philippians‬ ‭1:27

‬‬… This verse says a lot!

Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Philippi while he was imprisoned. He started off explaining to them that even though he was locked up, the gospel was still being spread. He was rejoicing because he knew that God had it all figured out. He knew that whether he remained in prison or was set free… that whether he lived or died… Christ would be exalted. He believed that by the power of the Holy Spirit he would have the courage he needed to face his circumstances.

So as he goes on to exhort the believers, he wants them to understand that they have a job to do. And that it might not always be easy.

Whatever happens… Every day things happen. Some good. Some not so good. Some awful. But we have to remember that if we’ve decided to let Jesus be the Lord of our life – he’s Lord of all of it. And even if the things that are happening to us or around us seem completely out of whack – he is still in control. One of the easiest verses to memorize and to call to mind in every situation is Psalm 46:10 — “Be still and know that I am God.”  I think if God had chosen to write the Bible in today’s vernacular he might have said it like this:  “Chill out! I’ve got this!”

Conduct yourselves… Not a whole lot of explanation needed here. This is all about how we are behaving as we go about our busy life. Are we paying attention to how we are conducting ourselves?

In a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… As believers that have been reconciled to God, we are Christ’s ambassadors. The Bible says that it is “as though God were making his appeal to the world through us.”  (2 Corinthians 5:20) That’s something to think about!  And with that in mind, we should be paying close attention to the things we say and the things we do.  Are we behaving like someone that God is making his appeal to a lost world through? Are we acting like someone that has the amazing good news about Jesus the Savior?  Does the fact that we’ve been saved by Jesus make us stand out?  In a good way?

If you haven’t yet accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and you’re reading this and thinking — “I still have a lot of work to do.  I need to clean myself up a little before I turn to Jesus.” — you’ve got it all backwards.  The Bible says that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”.  (Romans 5:8) You can’t clean yourself up.  None of us can.  That is the whole point of the gospel of Christ.

You’re lost.  There’s no where to go from here.  Jesus is the only one that can give you the answers that you can’t find anywhere else.  Don’t wait until it’s too late. You can have the assurance of salvation and the peace that passes understanding right now.  All you have to do is tell Jesus you need him!  The emptiness in your heart that you could never quite figure out how to fill can only be filled by him.  When God created you — he put that hole in your heart and has been waiting for you to fill it with his love and his grace and his forgiveness.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Acts 2:21

 

Dear Oprah

You seem to have made it your mission to convince the world that whatever they believe (or don’t believe) is okay. That we’re all going to be just fine no matter what. That there are “many ways” to God. I was wondering who’s work you think your doing. Do you think when God blessed you with the opportunity to reach millions that this was the message he wanted you to proclaim? 

I once read that you went to church as a young girl and were good at reciting Bible verses and you repeatedly claim to be Christian, but you seem to miss the most foundational message of the Christian faith – the gospel! Do you remember the story of how Jesus was tortured, mocked, spit at? Do you remember that he was nailed to a cross and hoisted up to hang and die an agonizing death? Don’t you remember why he did that? Don’t you remember that he did that for you? For me? That he did that to pay the only sufficient price for our sins? If it were true that there are “many ways” to God – then please explain why in the world Jesus had to suffer and die?!? 

And do you remember that he rose from the dead? Conquering death and sealing the victory for all of us that choose to give our life to him. Remember that he said he was going to prepare a place for those that believe in him and that one day he would return for us? For those of us that choose to rely on his atoning death as our only means of salvation?

Does any of this ring a bell? Did you ever believe it? Doesn’t the fact that you are now making it your mission to convince millions that they don’t need Jesus scare you? Even just a little? When was the last time you read the Bible?

Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”- ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭KJV‬‬

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. – Ephesians‬ ‭2:2, 8-9‬ ‭KJV‬‬

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” – Matthew‬ ‭7:13-15‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Are you really that sure that you’re right? Think long and hard about it. If I’m wrong about Jesus then we both have nothing to lose. But if you’re wrong then you have eternity to lose! 

The Real Enemy

No need to look far to be able to come to the conclusion that Christians in America are under attack. The persecution that has always existed in other societies has made its way to our shores. To be a Bible believing Christian in America is looked upon with contempt by so many. When we stand up for Biblical values, we are getting in the way of the “freedom” they are convinced they want. A country that once valued Biblical precepts now abhors them. Schools that once started each day with prayer are moving quickly from removing classroom prayers to in many cases attempting to stop even private prayers. Government buildings that once based their laws and judgements on the Ten Commandments are now removing any sign of God’s Law from the public square. A country that once acknowledged the basic truth that life is sacred now picks and chooses when that concept is true, leaving millions of innocent babies as the victims of “choice”.  A country that was built on the foundation of the Biblical family structure has determined that family can mean whatever we choose for it to mean. 

And in the midst of all this “freedom” is an ugly uprising of hatred and violence. Racial lines seem to be getting drawn bolder and bolder as the words and actions of a few are attributed to the whole. Evil people that have armed themselves storm schools and brutally murder innocent people. Police officers are literally under attack by criminals lying in wait to slaughter them simply because of their profession. Yet in the midst of all of this horror – few seem to be able to call it what it is. Sin! And in a godless society, the wiles of sin will be much more rampant. 

As Christians, we must remember something that the Bible told us about these battles we face. We must remember that although it seems like we are defenseless against a rising number of human enemies, we are fighting a spiritual battle. The devil knows his days are numbered. His aim is misery and by infesting America with his lies he is accomplishing two of his goals. One – keep as many people as he can from coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And, two – destroy as many of God’s children as he can. But he knows as well as we do that he has no real power over us. That whatever he may think he’s accomplished in our lives here on earth is far outdone by the eternal victory we have in Christ. 

So as long as God determines to keep us here on earth and not bring us home, we must fight the evil schemes of the devil. It may seem like our side is losing some of the battles, but we have already won the war. So arm yourself. For the sake of your family, friends and neighbors that are buying into the lies of the devil and throwing up their hands in defeat. To be the only light shining in the darkness of the day. To be a strong example of faith and hope in a God that saves and an eternity in a far better place. Arm yourself with the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). 

Belt of truth ~ body armor of God’s righteousness ~ shoes of readiness from the gospel ~ shield of faith ~ helmet of salvation

And pray at all times and on every occasion. (Ephesians 6:18)

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Righteousness – Through Christ Alone

Many times in the Bible God makes wonderful promises for those who are “righteous”. Here are a few of my favorites. 

The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. – ‭Proverbs‬ ‭15:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭13:43‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. – ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. – ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

And there are many more.  Sometimes when I read them, I wonder how they could possibly apply to me.  I am not righteous!  No one is … on their own.  We are all sinners.  (Romans 3:10). But amazingly, God made a way for anyone to be called righteous in spite of themself. He made a way for sinners who are eternally separated from him to be grafted into the exceedingly wonderful blessings he has for his children. It is by faith in Jesus, who through his death on the cross provided the only sufficient payment for our sin debt. 

When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. – Isaiah‬ ‭53:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. – Romans‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I am so thankful for my salvation. I know beyond a doubt that without the knowledge of my righteousness in Christ; without my hope for eternity in a much better place; without the blessed assurance that God is in control — the headlines would be looking pretty scary these days.

So how do you go about receiving this righteousness?

Acknowledge you’re a sinner.  (For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. – Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Understand that a holy God cannot allow sin into his presence. (For the wages of sin is death… – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬a NLT‬‬)

But that he made a way for us to be with him through his son, Jesus. (…but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.- ‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Tell God that you know you’re a sinner and that you want Jesus to be your Lord and Savior.  Have faith that your Redeemer conquered the grave. (If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…For Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9,13‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

If you are ready to ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, pray this prayer…

“God, I know I am a sinner. I know that on my own I will never be ‘good enough’ and that I am in need of a Savior. I thank you that you sent your Son to pay the only sufficient price for my sins. Today I am placing my faith in Jesus and am choosing to follow him all the days of my life.”

…and know that if you meant it, you are now a child of God. Once you turn to Jesus as your only salvation, God will begin a sanctifying work in your life and you will never be the same. 

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Beware of Deception

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. – ‭1 Timothy‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Deception. It’s a scary word, especially in a Biblical context. To think that something you are taught to believe could lead you away from eternity with God. And these days, prominent personalities from all walks of life are proclaiming grand ideas. Filling our minds through news channels, talk shows, websites, self-help books, even schools. And not only are they telling us all about their “truth” – they are also telling us how wrong everybody else is. How is a Chriatian supposed to discern the truth in the midst of all the chaos?  How do we avoid being “tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”?  (Ephesians 4:14

We must know the Bible for ourselves.  If we read the whole Bible we will see that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We will see that God’s redemptive plan has been in place since the beginning of time. That God’s Word weaves the magnificent true story of the Creator and his plan for his creation. And that no word penned by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has been proven false. That He has not hidden his plan from his children. Only those that reject him are veiled from the truth.  God’s salvation plan is not a secret. The end of the story has already been written. No plan of God’s can be altered – regardless of whether or not any generation agrees with it or feels it’s fair.  

Read the Bible!  The whole Bible!  There are countless reading plans available to guide you. Study it. Understand the context in which it is written. See the application to your own life. Understand the future of the earth as prophesied. Rest in the promises of God. Allow every God-breathed word to permeate your life and impact everything you do. 

And any teacher that you allow to inspire you must proclaim the most important truth of all.  They must publicly acknowledge that Jesus is the only way to heaven. They must proclaim that we are all sinners in need of a Savior and that God came to earth in the person of his Son Jesus to pay the only price sufficient for our salvation. That it is only by receiving the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus that we have any hope of eternal life. That only when we surrender our life to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within us will we be washed clean of our ugly sin. If they do not proclaim this truth or if they twist it or distort it in any way, they are deceiving you and you must flee their instruction. 

One day we will all stand before God. Whether it is at our own death or on the day Jesus comes back to finally judge the earth. And the most important question we’ve ever had to answer will be before us. – Who is Jesus to you?