Now — Next —Never

Now Next Never

As a new year begins it is a good time to have a look at life 

Your life – the life of Christ that you are experiencing – the life of the Church and the Kingdom of God here on earth

To look at how things are right now – an honest look at yourself as a disciple of Jesus

To think about what is next in your life and how you should prepare for the steps the Spirit is guiding you to take

To even look back and see the things that you have done in the past year which should never be repeated in the new year

Now — Next —Never

As I have been reading God’s Word there have been a number of verses that have stood out to me – spoken to me

Micah 4:12 NET “But they do not know what the LORD is planning; they do not understand his strategy.”

We can know what the Lord is doing and what He is planning next

We need to take the time and make the effort to listen to the Spirit for His direction and guidance

Our own personal life — the life of the Church — the changes in the Kingdom

All of that can be known to us as we move forward in the year 2022

Lamentations 3:40 NET “Let us carefully examine our ways, and let us return to the LORD.”

Examine what we are doing and how we are doing it … and what the results are

See if we have wandered or drifted from the center of the road and ended up in a ditch somewhere 

Hebrews 2:1 NET “Therefore we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

1 Corinthians 11:28a NET “A person should examine himself first …”

Need to have an honest look at our current spiritual life … is there life?

Are we simply going through the motions without the emotions?

Have we reached a point where our spiritual practices are no longer giving us new life every day and may even be preventing us from experiencing life?

2 Corinthians 13:5a ESV “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves …”

As the Holy Spirit gently and graciously led me to and then through these verses and a few others I came to the place where I realized He wanted me to carefully examine my walk with Jesus and thus the way I was living my life as a believer …

      • How did 2021 go and what did I learn?
      • What is it that I see that needs some adjustment or tweaking in my life?
      • Am I really experiencing life and doing so abundantly? (John 10:10b)
      • Have I fallen into any ruts without realizing it?
      • If I continue to do what I am currently doing will it get me to where I want to be – need to be – where He wants me to be?
      • What lessons did I learn in 2021 that need to be considered as I look at the year 2022?
      • Am I satisfied with my spiritual journey and, if not, why not?

So, it is a time to examine 2021 and the current state of affairs in my life

And then to plan whatever changes are needed to bring things back to where they should be or I would like them to be … and to move forward to:

A place where I am experiencing and enjoying a daily encounter with the Lord 

A place where my spiritual life really has life

A place where my life in general can once again be honouring to the Lord and a witness to others

Being somewhat practical in my approach to life … daily life and my spiritual life … I broke things down into three categories so as not to be overwhelmed as I examined and planned

Now — Next — Never

NOW:

What is my reality today – right now?

Where are things at in my life currently?

            • Emotional health
            • Physical health
            • Relational health (relationships)
            • Financial health
            • Spiritual health
            • Mental health

I specifically look at things like:

            • Boundaries
            • Margin or lack of it
            • Relationships and ways I relate to others
            • Time – Am I wasting, spending, or investing?
            • Forgiveness – Unforgiveness
            • Sin in my life – intentional or unintentional
            • Entertainment (spare time activities)
            • Education – reading, learning, growing

NEXT:

What do I sense the Spirit of God is doing and what will 2022 hold for me within this context of the current move of the Holy Spirit?

Is there something I need to be doing to prepare for the changes that are coming

          • In society
          • In my own life as I relate to the world
          • In the Church
          • In the Kingdom

What will my next biggest challenge be?

What opportunities do I see coming my way and what must I do to be prepared for them?

What needs to change for me to be in line with God’s plan for the year and what He is asking me to do or do differently in this new year

What is God speaking specifically to me for the year 2022?

In other words, what is next in my life?

As a disciple of Jesus nothing will remain the same as God is always moving us forward and upward…

NEVER:

What do you see that needs to change – things you should never do again or never allow to happen another time

          • Too much clutter in your life?
          • Moving too fast and not taking regular times to reflect?
          • Not stepping out in faith?
          • Not connecting at a real life-giving level with another human being?
          • Passive spiritually? (Private and public – at home and in assemblies)?
          • Too much attention to details that are not important?
          • Bogged down in mundane and unimportant things?
          • Missing the big picture?
          • Failing to build meaningful relationships (living life on the surface)?

What do you see that needs to change – things you should never do again or allow to happen another time

Now — Next — Never… a simple way to take a look at who you are and where you might be heading and how to not repeat mistakes of the past…

Let me remind you of several of the Scriptures that led me to this self-examination:

Lamentations 3:40 NET “Let us carefully examine our ways, and let us return to the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 11:28a NET “A person should examine himself first …”

2 Corinthians 13:5a ESV “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves …”

Now, in my life I like to approach things like this in a very practical and down-to-earth way…

So, over the years I have designed a simple but practical and effective way to examine my personal way of life 

AND, to see whether opportunities are present to open myself further to what God has for me…

Again three things

A page, A person, A plan

A PAGE:

Our soul (mind, will, emotions) increases in health as we embrace reflection and become more self-aware of where we are at and what needs to change 

The Now – The Next – The Never

The best way to work through this life process is to have a journal in which you record your thoughts and feelings

Journalling provides a non-judgmental invitation to examine your life…

Journalling — writing your thoughts and your feelings on a page — allows you:

            • To express yourself in a very non-judgmental way
            • To write down your prayer requests and note the answers to prayer
            • Record and think about questions you are asking God
            • Think more concretely about your own life and questions you may be asking yourself

There is a powerful benefit to physically writing in a journal

It slows your mind down and makes you think in more practical, concrete terms

It allows you to stop thinking in circles and thus actually grasp and understand what you are thinking and feeling

It actually harnesses several dimensions of the brain that are only engaged when

you are writing – journalling

A PERSON:

Relationships are the number one way to achieve personal change and transformation

Real, in-depth, personal relationships validate who we are and where God is taking us on our journey with Jesus

A real-life, human relationship where we can be fully honest, seen, known, supported and encouraged in our life journey

This can be someone who is discipling you

This can be someone who is mentoring you

This can be a counsellor

This can be:

            • A life coach
            • A spiritual director
            • A close personal friend

This can be someone you meet with in person or virtually … On-line

This person must be someone you can be gut-level honest about:

          • Your struggles and challenges
          • Your doubts and fears
          • Your joys and hopes
          • Your aspirations and dreams

A PLAN:

Spiritual growth and formation ALWAYS takes a plan

So, having examined Now – Next – Never we must allow what we have discovered and uncovered to influence and determine a plan for the new year

A plan is “a way of life” for the current year

A personal “Rule of Life” for 2022

A structure of intentionality to support growth and change

Like a garden trellis

The structure itself has no ability to impart life 

But a plant seeking to grow needs a structure to have healthy and continuous growth 

Something to hang onto

Something to share the weight

Something to increase exposure to light and air

Something that ultimately increases the fruit that is borne

Many people adopt a Bible Reading plan … a structure that enables and guides

A (Life) PLAN

Gives your findings about Now — Next — Never an opportunity to bring fresh, new growth in your life and journey with Jesus.

A page — A person — A plan

And in the center of all of this … 

Now – Next – Never

Page – Person – Plan

In the center of all this must be the Word of God…

Jesus said:

John 6:63 “The Spirit is the one who gives life …The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life”

In 2022 we must have God’s Word at the center of our life — at the center of our plans — so that we can experience His life and have abundant life as He promised

John 10:10b “I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

Let’s experience and celebrate that “abundant life” in 2022…

Personal note:

I know many people hate journalling or find it less than helpful

I know many men have tried it and have not continued with the discipline of journaling 

But I also know the deep and tremendous benefit of journalling

So, to encourage you to journal …

To help you journal better with life-changing results….

On-line I have posted four articles:

1> 10 Tips for beginners

2> 6 Journaling ideas

3> 58 Questions to help you journal

4> Journalling prompts