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Intentional 21 - Day 4: Pastor Erick Aguilar




What goals/changes are you praying for this year?


Proverbs 21:5 NLT

Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.


Goals, resolutions, aspirations, new items on the vision board– it’s a new year and we’ve all got them! Among the myriad of ways to please the heart of God, setting and achieving God-centered, healthy goals is certainly one of them. Throughout His entire Word, God our Father challenges and desires for us to grow in self-discipline. As a matter of fact, it oozes out of us as we draw closer and closer to the Holy Spirit.


Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


Whether you’re the type of person who’s already made a trip to Wal-Mart and bought a brand new planner, calendar, and notebook to fill with New Year’s resolutions (Alyssa and I may or may not fall into this camp) or you’ve decided to start this year without the pressure of a bullet point list of goals to tackle, I challenge you to allow God to reveal to you what He wants more and less of in your life. Don’t make the mistake of goal-setting solely for the sake of personal achievement or self-improvement. The happiness you feel from checking boxes off of a list you dreamed up is lackluster when compared to the fulfillment only our Father provides. A fulfillment that comes from understanding what God wants for your life and then making intentional changes to your lifestyle in response to that understanding. Let your heavenly Father guide every decision, and strive to do His will every single day. It can be difficult, but it’s always worth it in the end.


Galatians 6:9 NLT

9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.


This year, make the distinction between what you want and what God wants for you. Sometimes those two things line up, and we can all agree, it’s quite nice when that happens! The rest of the time, it’s our responsibility to leave room for the Holy Spirit to reveal His desires for your life and habits. So, that’s where it gets fun. Identifying the good choice from the bad one is easy, it’s choosing between the good and better that’s the challenge. Reading 1000 books is good, taking intentional steps towards mending a damaged relationship because God is challenging you to do so is better. There’s quite possibly room for both, but that’s for God to reveal to you! So, take some time to dream up some goals for this year, aim to make them God-ordained, and get to work!


Here’s some practical advice: Although determination is a great incentive in setting goals, it is intentional action that leads you to actually seeing results. So here’s three things to consider while trying to make healthy changes to your lifestyle this year.


Engagement:


1) BE SPECIFIC

An unmeasurable goal will always feel unaccomplished! It’s absolutely necessary to be specific and make your resolutions measurable. Think about a time you’ve given up on a goal. Chances are, that goal was way too broad and vague to ever stand a chance. You lost the battle before it even began because you weren’t aiming at anything specifically. You were focused on the giant rather than a small spot on his forehead. Huge life-changes can be overwhelming, which is why we tackle them precise step after precise step.


Jesus had an entire world to reach, it doesn’t get much more overwhelmingly big than that! He did it precise step after precise step. He found two, He then found a couple more, which led to eventually gaining twelve disciples. He unfolded the plan little by little, until He ultimately defeated death the way nobody ever could and changed the course of history for all eternity. Jesus was strategic and specific, it might be a good idea for us to do the same.

What does this mean for you in your goal-setting? Well, it means that instead of “reading the Bible more” you’re maybe reading three chapters per day. One goal is subjective while the other is measurable. It means we’re changing our goal from “be more fit” to “run one mile per week”. Maybe in a month the goal shifts to “one mile per day”, and perhaps it leads to completing an Iron Man race by the end of the year. Here’s one that’s probably on most of our lists: pray more. Take it a step further and make your goal something like, “I’m going to start every day off with five minutes of prayer”. Now that’s something to build off of! Avoid the crippling pressure of taking on a vague, huge goal by making it smaller and specific at the start. Set yourself up for success this year!


2) WRITE IT DOWN

Whatever you are striving for doesn’t mean much unless you bring it out of that mind of yours and onto something you can actually visualize. Put pen to paper, expo to whiteboard, chisel to stone, do whatever you need to do in order for those goals to be highlighted daily. The goal is to avoid allowing the busyness of life to bury those aspirations, and to give yourself an opportunity to move from “hopeful thought” to “detailed plan”. Detailed plans work better when they’re jotted down somewhere other than your subconscious!


Habakkuk 2:2 ESV

2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.


Maybe you’re not being tasked with recording God’s world-shaking message word-for-word like Habakkuk was, but the principle stands: write the vision and make it plain. Those aspirations and challenges God has for you will come to life when you see them written down.


3) CELEBRATE ALONG THE WAY

Whether it’s a relatively small goal or a big one, celebrate every accomplishment. Let this be a reminder for how you celebrate the people around you. If there’s people in your life who have confided in you and have opened up their hearts about their dreams and aspirations, celebrate them. Make note of the small victories, because they are worth being proud of. The journey towards fasting a complete 21 days is much more enjoyable when you take time everyday to thank God for what He’s already done up to that point. Let the momentum of the small victories carry you all the way through.


Here’s another key aspect of this step: celebrate the success, don’t grieve the failure. What does this mean? Well, let’s say your goal is to read the entire Bible in a year, and let’s say you didn’t quite make it through all 66 books. This means that on December 31st, 2024 you should celebrate the 47 books that you did read rather than beat yourself up over the 19 that you didn’t. Every step you take towards achieving the things God has called you to achieve is worth celebrating. Don’t hesitate to do it this year!


Your life can look drastically different half a year from now, and all it takes is some intentionality and lots of hearing from God.


Philippians 4:13 NLT

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.


There is undoubtedly a fresh, heavenly wind being blown into the life of our church family this year. I can feel it, and I’m sure you can too. God is surely speaking to you right now as we are continuing our Intentional 21 days, and I encourage you to lean in. Hear His heart. Yes, make it a goal-filled year, but allow God to direct your steps in a way He never has before. Everything God is doing in our church starts with all of us individually, and the best thing we can do is allow Him to mold us to His liking. Let God come in and shake things around in your life for the better! That’s my prayer for all of us.


-Pastor Erick Aguilar

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