I Am Resolved … Are You?

New Year's ResolutionsWilliam J. Stewart

As we enter 2015, many will be making resolutions for the New Year. Here are some things I hope all members of the local church will resolve to do throughout the coming year.

Resolve is defined by Merriam-Webster as “…to reach a firm decision about…” (m-w.com). Each year at this time, people resolve to lose weight, to pay off debts, to save money, to read more, too spend more time with family, etc.. There is nothing wrong with any of these goals, but may I suggest some spiritual things to focus on in 2015.

Read the Bible more.
In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote,

…give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. … Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  (1 Timothy 4:13, 15)

How important is it for a Christian spend time in God’s word? The prophet Hosea tells us what happens if the people of God are not diligent students and adherents to His word. He plainly declared,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

We cannot grow as we ought if we do not spend time in the Bible as we ought. We cannot know what we should do in the service of God or our fellow man if we are not students of God’s word. So, let us open our Bibles regularly. If you are not on a daily Bible reading schedule, get one!

Be at the assembly.
If you work, your boss expects you to show up. Not just whenever is convenient for you, not just when you feel like going—you’re expected to be at work every time you have a shift. Shall we give our employers more honour than we give our God? Hear the words of God in Malachi:

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? (Malachi 1:6)

Does our attendance bring honour or disgrace to God? Do we put Him and our responsibility to be with His people as a priority in our lives? If we have little interest or concern for assembling together with God’s people in the here and now, I suggest that we will not be interested in (nor shall we have the opportunity) to be with God’s people in heaven.

Pray without ceasing.
This was Paul’s appeal in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The expectation is not that we pray 24/7, but that we be constant in prayer. Communication is essential to every relationship. How often do we talk to God? As our prayer life goes, so goes our faith.

There’s no shortage of things to pray for: the unity of believers (John 17:20-23), our enemies (Matthew 5:44), wisdom (James 1:5-8), daily provision (Matthew 6:11), boldness (Acts 4:24-31), our rulers (1 Timothy 2:1-4) and so many other things need to be in our prayers.

Share Christ!
If you had the cure for cancer, you would share it with the world, right? As awful as cancer is, there is a far worse disease in the world, a disease with a 100% infection rate. But the good news is, as a child of God, you know the cure. Sin is the disease and Jesus’ blood is the cure. You know a lot of people dying in sin; they are everywhere. Have you shared the gospel with them? If not, why not? Wait! Don’t answer that, there’s no good reason. Go tell folks about Jesus!

Become more like our Father.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul wrote:

…be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)

Jesus made the same plea at the end of the sermon on the mount, calling upon us to be “sons of your Father in heaven,” and again, to be perfect “just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:45, 48). It should be our constant aim to grow closer and closer to the character of God. We acknowledge that biologically, a child will bear the likeness of his father. And so it should be in the spiritual realm also. So, whose likeness do we share? Jesus was very plain in telling the Pharisees that they were like their father, the devil (John 8:44). If He were here and commenting on our lives, what would He say? Would we be commended for walking in the image of God, or would He rebuke us as those who imitate the ways of the devil?

As we enter 2015, may we do so with a mind for spiritual things. Let us not grow stagnant in faith—realize that if we are not growing, we are shrinking. May our faith flourish this year; may it overflow into the lives of all who are around us, to the glory of God.

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve …
as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
(Joshua 24:15)

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