No doubt we all have some changes in mind for 2011. It’s a healthy exercise to take stock of the good and bad in the year closing out, and make goals for the New Year. I like Jonathan Edward’s use of the word resolve: he was resolved to glorify Christ in every aspect of his life. Here are some considerations for the New Year: see which ones resonate with you and add them to your goals for 2011. Think big! God is a big God and loves when people choose to trust Him and believe Him for who He is. Remember the angel’s declaration to Mary: “with God, nothing shall be impossible!”
1) Resolve to follow God with abandon. Christ lived among us and died for us - how will His suffering and love for you compel you to live in 2011? When we live for the here and now instead of the glories to come, we will never sense fulfillment. Nothing and nobody will satisfy that noble cause for which Christ died: “that we might live for righteousness.”
2) Give like you’ve never given before. Jesus spoke so much about money because what we do with our possessions reveal our heart’s affections. It is good to enjoy the fruit of our labor, but it’s not OK to neglect the Lord’s work or turn a blind eye to those in need. Be faithful to give to God’s work, starting with your home church. Ask God to open your eyes to the needs around you: the poor, the widows and orphans, missionaries, church ministries, etc. Watch God bathe your soul in contentment as you look to bless others rather than looking out for #1.
3) Resolve to mortify sin. Mortify is the old King James rendering of “put to death”. Romans chapter 6 is all about putting to death that which has no rights in your life and no power over you. Resolve to not give in and to not compromise. Yield to temptation and it will soon master you; give an inch to our adversary and he will take you to the cleaners. Be vigilant and be serious about this, it is the most practical way to glorify God on a daily basis. Pick a stubborn sin that you’ve yielded to and bury it.
4) Resolve to forgive and love others unconditionally. Remember the cross and forgive freely, refusing to give in to bitterness or resentment. Learn to get along with others, even when it’s hard. Agape love is the distinguishing mark of Christianity, and forgiveness is often the conduit to realizing that reality. Become a student of how to invest in your marriage, the most intimate of all human relationships. Love your wife unconditionally and tenderly, in the little and big things. Make time for her and cherish her. Respect and love your husband even when he fails you; show your admiration for him…no matter how deep you have to dig to find something good about him. :-) Christian love will speak loudest to outsiders and will serve your children well within your home.
5) Resolve to get serious about the Great Commission. The entire mission of the church of Jesus Christ is summed up in Jesus’ statement that “you shall be witnesses unto me.” Think about it – why else does He have us stick around, save to be a witness? Begin in your own world: maintain your integrity and pray for opportunities to share Christ in your home, community and work place. And do not neglect the other side of Jesus’ charge: the ends of the earth. Some ways to join in God’s work on a global scale include: go on a short-term missions trip, pray regularly for missionaries, write missionaries, financially support a missionary, and adopt a people group and pray for them regularly. Don’t neglect the church’s great commission and look for ways to share your faith and support those who are faithfully doing so.
6) Resolve to dig deep into God’s Word. Don’t just glance it over and skim it like you do the headlines. Pick it apart. Ask penetrating questions. Let it set in deep. Chew on it. As you settle your mind on His truth, you will be blown away at His peace and presence. You will not want to settle for anything less again. One author likened it to a dog with a bone – total preoccupation with this delight, and, if you get too close he will growl at you. Do you feel that way when people or things compete for your time alone with God? When my grandfather was elderly, he would note that God was constantly teaching him new truths for living, even after walking with Him for many decades. We can never exhaust the riches of God’s truth or find it to be stale when walking with Him!
These are just a handful to get you started. Set the bar high and don’t settle for anything less than seeing God’s fingerprints all over your life! I pray you prosper in every way in 2011, all for HIS glory!
- Pastor Colin