I am amazed that we now live in times that we used to read about in science fiction (and Christian fiction...end times predictions). Of course, most of what we thought would be true isn't..and we shouldn't be surprised. But here we are.
As we begin the New Year I just want to remind us of a few basics. A few of us make resolutions for the new year, and some mock resolutions knowing they won't last. Well remember, if you don't make a resolution to change, that will last. So I don't think resolutions are so bad. Just make the right ones, and live by them.
Jonathan Edwards made resolutions. I believe his life attests to the value of having the right resolutions, and if we actually resolve to do them. So here are a few thoughts from Edwards [you can read his in entirety at Edwards' 70 Resolutions]...and then a couple of my own thoughts for the new year. I love how Edwards begins:
BEING SENSIBLE THAT I AM UNABLE TO DO ANYTHING WITHOUT GOD' S HELP, I DO HUMBLY ENTREAT HIM BY HIS GRACE TO ENABLE ME TO KEEP THESE RESOLUTIONS, SO FAR AS THEY ARE AGREEABLE TO HIS WILL, FOR CHRIST' S SAKE.
Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.
3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.
18. Resolved, to live so, at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.
25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
43. Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God' s....
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye: and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
Well, those are some great resolutions. Now I want to suggest a couple of foundational resolutions that would be wise to consider today.
First, resolve to read God's word consistently and completely. I was camping with many of the young men and dads in the church this week and asked how many had a plan they were following in reading their Bible. I believe there were two or three that had a plan. I highly recommend that you have a plan. Not so that you can measure how righteous you are if you are doing it, or measure how bad you are if you are not. No, I suggest a plan because the Word of God is important; it is truth needed in our battle against lies; because it is life through Christ to us. God choose to reveal Himself to us, and the Scriptures are the record of that divine self-revelation. A plan will help you stay focused on how you are doing. It keeps us from lying to ourselves about whether or not we are really reading God's word; it keeps us reading all of God's word and not just the parts we drift toward. If we are not familiar with God's word, we won't understand it. So the biggest obstacle to a Christian in understanding their Bible is usually a lack of reading it. A plan can help move that obstacle. There are many good plans. My favorite, the one that has helped me most, can be picked up at church, or obtained on-line: GCCC Bible Reading Plan.
Second, resolve to be devoted to prayer. Plan to pray. Pray knowing that our imperfect prayer lives are wrapped up in Christ's perfect prayer life. Pray knowing that the only things worthwhile we will accomplish in life will be accomplished through God's power. Pray for the advance of the Gospel in our community, through our church, through our lives. Pray that blindness would be removed from the eyes of the lost. Pray that the obstacles that stand in the way of their coming to Christ would be removed and cast into the sea. Pray that we as a church would live and act in such a way as to demonstrate the glorious Gospel of Christ. That we would love the Gospel and live the Gospel.
Third, resolve to share Christ unashamedly with those you know or encounter. I am not talking about obnoxiously cramming it down their faces. But let's be real, most of us have never had that problem. We are most likely to ignore their eternal plight, and not mention Christ. Develop a few introductory questions you can use when talking with folks to bring the Gospel Story into your conversations. Questions like, “Who do you think Jesus Christ is?” Or, “What do you believe about Jesus Christ?” Other questions might be, “Would you consider yourself a religious person? Why or why not?” Share the Story. (Of course, the first suggested resolution above, reading your Bible, will help you accomplish this.)
Fourth, resolve to sacrificially give for the advance of the Gospel. When we are making the advance of the Gospel the first purpose in why we do what we do at work, we will be advancing the Gospel even as we do our jobs. Amazing. You can be advancing the Gospel while you ____________ (fill in the blank with your tasks in your career, or job). And if you live this way, even your studies in school, preparing for future careers are advancing the Gospel. However, if we aren't sacrificially advancing the Gospel with what we earn, then none of these activities are doing that either. (Obviously this does not negate the fact that we should be praying for those we work with, and sharing the Gospel with them. These will also advance the Gospel.)
Well, these are four foundational resolutions which are worthwhile, especially if we endeavor to live them in grace. Refer back to Edwards first few lines.
Enjoying God's grace,