December 31, 2017
Gifted 2 Serve – Week 13 – Faith Based Resolutions
Gifted 2 Serve – Week 13 – Faith Based Resolutions
Today is New Year’s Eve. There is a fascinating thing that happens every year about this time. People make New Year’s resolutions.
How many of you have ever made a New Years resolution? How many of you have ever kept one for the whole year?
Some of you committed last year to read through the Bible in 1 yr. How many of you did that?
Many people are making, and will make, NYRs. That is, they will promise themselves that they will lose weight, stop smoking, go to church or something of that nature. Webster defines a resolution as: “a) a resolving, or determining; deciding b) the thing determined upon; decision as to future action; resolve.” Now, this sounds good, but..
45% of Americans make NYRs, 8% of People Achieve Their NYRs.
The average person makes the same NYR 10 separate times without success
25% of people abandon NYRs after 1 week – 60% after 6 months
Only 1 out of 7 change their lifestyle after a heart attack.
95% will regain weight lost
All those statistics can be very depressing and lead us to the idea that it is hopeless to set goals and set new years resolutions. In fact I have know people that have set only 1 resolution and that was to never make a resolution.
From a Biblical sense I have have even heard some argue that resolutions are unbiblical. Is it even appropriate to make resolutions? After all, shouldn’t we at all times and all seasons seek to live wisely, obediently, and biblically? The truth is yes we should live all of our lives that way but I do believe that resolutions are Biblical. In fact we say many times in scripture that Godly people come to a point in their lives that they take a stand and make a commitment to do something for the purpose of honoring God.
One example is found in the book of Daniel. In Daniel 1:8-9 we see Daniel resolve to not eat the meat set before Him by the King in order to honor God.
But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. 9 And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
I believe one of the reasons so many people (especially Christians) fail in thier resolutions is because we make the wrong commitments, the wrong way, with the wrong motives, and ultimately with the wrong power.
Today I want us to look at what scripture says about resolutions and how we can do them right. Finally I want to suggest some resolutions that are biblical that we can commit to making part of our lives this year.
Let’s start by looking at 2 Thessalonians 1
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring…
11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling
Whenever Paul prays in Scripture he is asking God to do whatever comes next. It is not our work It is his work in and through us. This is the crux of the Gospel message.
The same idea (living worthy of the calling) shows up in 1 Thessalonians 2:12
We exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Paul is asking that God cause them to walk in a way that is worthy. But notice in verse 12 it is…
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ
Being worthy of a call that originates in “grace” means we do not deserved it or earn it. Walking worthy means trusting in the finished work of Christ in our lives.
and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
A resolve (at least here) is a desire for God to do something in and through us. But here is the paradox. We partner with Christ in His work. It is your resolve and your work, but it is done by “faith” that is, in reliance upon God. We trust Him to empower us to do what He calls us to do. Here is the problem if we try and do this in our own strength we will fail. This is one of the reasons we so often don’t succeed in New Years Resolutions. We try and do it in our own strength try to push through in our own power and might.
so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him,
The result of this kind of resolve and this kind of work is that Jesus is glorified, because Jesus purchased the “power” for our resolves. Jesus will be glorified when his power is shown as your resolves become good works, and you will be glorified (“and you in him”).
The process of Resolutions for the Christian Life
The Grace of God in Jesus ⇒ Blood-Bought Power ⇒ (Moving Through) Our Faith ⇒ God Fulfills Our Resolutions ⇒ Blood-Bought Power ⇒ The Glory of God (or Christ) ⇒ And Our Glory (in Him)
3 marks of a Biblical resolution
- By God’s grace.
- Through faith in God’s power.
- For God’s glory.
The nineteen-year-old Jonathan Edwards knew his weaknesses and was aware of the destructive nature of his sin, so he resolved to make and keep certain resolutions in his effort to live for God’s glory. He helped pave the way for us all as he prefaced his seventy resolutions with these words:
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. Aug. 17, 1723
These simple, introductory words of Edwards not only provide us with a glimpse into his mind, they provide us with insight into the heart of a young man whose heart had been humbled and mastered by the Lord God Almighty.
Instead I would like to focus on the four principles he gives for his resolutions.
“Being sensible,” Edwards begins his preface—we must be sensible, reasonable, in making resolutions. If we go out hastily making resolutions as the result of our pipe dreams of sinless perfection, it is likely that we will not only fail in our attempt to keep such resolutions, we will likely be discouraged from any further resolutions. We must make resolutions with prayer and study of God’s Word. Our resolutions must be in line with the Word of God; therefore, any resolution we make must help us fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives. We must consider the implications of our resolutions and be careful to make resolutions with others in mind, even if it means implementing new resolutions incrementally over time.
“I am unable to do anything without God’s help,” Edwards admits. We must realize the simple truth that every resolution must be made in dependence on God. And while every Christian would respond by saying, “Well, of course we must depend on God for all things,” most Christians have been sold the world’s bill of goods. They think that once they become dependent on God, then they will have immediate strength. They mimic the world’s mantra: “Whatever doesn’t kill me will make me stronger.” While the principle is generally true, such thinking can foster an attitude of proud independence. We must understand that in being able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us means that we must depend on His strength continuously in order to do all things and to keep all our resolutions (Eph. 3:16; Col. 1:11). In truth, whatever doesn’t kill us, by God’s conforming grace, makes us weak so that in our weakness we will rely continuously on the strength of our Lord (2 Cor. 12:7–10).
“I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions.” In making resolutions for the glory of God, we cannot come into His presence pounding our chests in as if God must now love and bless us more because we have made certain resolutions to follow Him more. In reality, the Lord in His sovereignty may choose to allow even more trials to enter our lives; in His unchanging fatherly love for us, He may decide to discipline us even more so we begin to hate our sin and delight in Him more. We should approach Him in humble reliance on His grace as we seek not just His blessings but the One who blesses.
Resolving For Christ’s Sake
“So far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ’s sake.” We cannot resolve to do anything with a presumptuous attitude before God. The whole matter of making resolutions is not just goal setting so that we might have happier lives. We are called by God to live according to His will, not our own—for Christ’s sake, not our own—for it is not unto us but unto Him that all glory belongs (Ps. 115:1).
Examples of Godly faith filled resolutions.
I Resolve to…
- Pursue holiness in my life.
- Read and meditate on God’s word
- Become more faithful and fervent with prayer
- Faithfully contribute my time, talent and treasure in the local Church that God has called me to.
- Worship God the good and the bad.
- Share my faith this year, disciplining those around me to follow Jesus more fully.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
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