Every January, millions of people begin their year with New Year’s resolutions. Losing weight, getting organized, exercising more, eating healthier, and managing finances better are just some of the most common resolutions. But what about making spiritual New Year’s resolutions?
We make commitments and tell our friends and family on January 1st, only to give it all up by January 3rd. But as humans, our struggle for consistency goes way beyond resolutions. Making commitments we can’t keep runs all through society, back to Biblical times. In the Bible, James spoke of some people who can teach us a valuable lesson about great intentions that aren’t aligned with God’s will:
“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lordʼs will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesnʼt do it, it is sin for them.” (James 4:13-17).
Our plans may or may not be God’s plans. If we want to be successful with any New Year’s resolution, we must seek God’s will. By His strength we might lose weight, eat better, or become better stewards of our finances. But what does God really want for our lives? When He convicts, He also equips us to follow through with the plan. When we know we are following God’s plan, then we have more strength to stick to it, allowing Him to work well beyond our normal January 3rd quitting date …..
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lordʼs coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lordʼs coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
The farmer waits patiently for the Lord to bring the growth, but it doesn’t mean he sits on his porch doing nothing. The farmer works hard work, watering and weeding, repairing equipment, and completing all of the daily chores. When a farmer does what a farmer is supposed to do, God is able to do the things that only He can do. It’s not easy being patient …..
Would the Lord be honored if our bodies (the temple of the Holy Spirit) were in better shape? Would He be blessed if our financial affairs were in order? Is it possible that He would use us mightily if we serve in a ministry, or shared our faith? The answer to each of these questions is the same. Certainly the Lord can be in these things. However, committing to lose weight does not mean sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching the Biggest Loser. Like the farmer, we must to do what we need to do, so that God can do what only He can do to produce results in our lives …..
“So then, those who suffer according to Godʼs will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19). But, why is it that we only make resolutions about weight, exercise, and money? What about prayer, fasting, tithing, loving, forgiving more?
God would be honored more if we made spiritual resolutions ….
More reading of the Bible, study and meditation on His Word, get involved in ministry at church, share our faith with friends, make a step of faith that is so big that only God can make it happen. Resolve to represent Him no matter what the cost, what the sacrifice ….
“Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace He bore.” (Hebrews 13:13).
We need to seek God and His wonderful plan for our lives first and foremost, united in our determination to fulfill our destiny. A strong will, a settled purpose, and an invincible determination can accomplish almost anything.
“Now I commit you to God and to the Word of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
Accomplish “anything” …. what an empowering statement. So often we think we are forging our path alone. We live as though life is completely up to us. Yet, if we are “in Christ” we are part of a team. We would have no inheritance or reward if not for Him …
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when He held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for He was looking ahead and including them in what He would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate His righteousness, for He Himself is fair and just, and He declares sinners to be right in His sight when they believe in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26)
Life is not always easy. Following through on simple commitments can even be difficult when bombarded by every day affairs. In addition, the attacks of the evil one will challenge us at every turn. Especially with lusts and pleasures of the world. It is easy to become complacent. Because of this we must remain consistent in prayer and fasting continually seeking God’s will in all that we do in the New Year ahead …..
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong that you have done. For God has no favorites.” (Colossians 3:23-25).
Let us pray ~
Thank You Lord for the beginning of a new year ahead and as we step out into the unknown future, Lord we pray that You would be with each of us, leading and guiding, teaching and drawing us ever closer to each other and to You. Thank You for Your steadfast love that never ceases and I thank You that Your mercies are new each morning for those who seek You. Great is Your faithfulness my Lord.
Father, we know that these times in which we live are becoming fraught with difficulties and increasingly stressful, and yet, Father our hope is in You for You are our faithful God who never changes. You have promised to never leave us nor forsake us and in this we can rest no matter how difficult the journey ahead. Father, as we stand at the threshold of a new year, with its inevitable problems and pain, I place my hand into Yours Lord, and I will trust You to lead me along the right path and in the way that I should go, for I know Father that there is no safer place to be than walking in fellowship with You. As we step out into the unknown future, Lord I offer my life as a living sacrifice to You. May I be used for Your praise and Your glory alone, and all this I pray in Your beloved Son’s name of Jesus, Amen …..
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9)