Resolutions for a New Year

 

Resolutions for a New Year

Important counsel to make your life fruitful with the blessing of God

Your Year is Before You

Richard Hollerman

Too often we go through life without a plan or purpose, without an awareness of how brief life is and the fact that we will live only one single time on this fallen earth—for all eternity! What’s the answer to this blindness, to this utter carelessness about something that should shake us out of our complacency and look at life with the kind of seriousness and soberness that reality demands?

We must come to look at life the way God looks at it. Surely we don’t want God to call us a “fool” for failing to recognize the importance of life on earth and the need to make decisions right now in light of eternity (Luke 12:19-21). Rather, we want to have the same attitude as Paul the apostle who was willing to “spend and be expended” for the souls of others (2 Corinthians 12:15). Further, surely we want to use our life with due regard for our own spiritual growth and service for the Lord. Shockingly, Jesus declared, “He who loves His life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (John 12:25-26). Do we live life with this in mind?

Resolutions

We know that January is the traditional month for personal “New Year’s Resolutions.” Whether people follow through with their commitments or not, at least it is traditional to make decisions and purpose to fulfill them during the new year. Actually, if you are reading these words at any time during the year, you may resolve to live differently in the future than you have in the past! The choice is yours!

Have you made any resolutions for this year? If so, what are they? Are they realistic or unrealistic? Are they worthy or unworthy? Are they ones that you will stay with or will you allow them to defeat you in a week, a month, or later in the year?

Resolution may be defined as “the state or quality of being resolute; determination. . . . A resolving to do something. . . . A course of action resolved on.” Have you made a determination, a resolve, a course of action that you would like to commit to during this new year?

The Scriptures know nothing about our calendar and our New Year commitments. Thus, we can’t go to the Bible to learn how to make or carry out such resolutions. But God’s Word does offer many commands, principles, and ideas that will help us to commit ourselves to a course of action. What are some of these?

        1.    Read the Bible more this new year.

Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). The Word of God is “food” for the soul. You need a daily input of that Word if you are to be “nourished on the words of the truth, and of the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6). You need the “pure milk of the word” so that you might “grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Determine now to take time to read the Word regularly and systematically through the present year.  If you read just three chapters a day, Monday through Saturday, and five chapters on Sunday, you can read the entire Bible in a year. You may profit from reading slowly or reading quickly (for an overview). Either way, read God’s Word regularly.

        2.    Study the Bible as never before.

We need not only to read the Bible but also study the Bible if we expect to learn something beyond the ordinary. The Bereans received, with great eagerness, the word spoken by Paul, and were “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). James says that we need to look “intently” at the truth of Scripture so that we might be an “effectual doer” of the Word (James 1:25). Now is the time to commit yourself to read the Bible daily—and actually study it carefully, systematically, and seriously. Look up words of interest, using an English dictionary as well as a Greek dictionary. Use the Bible dictionary frequently. Make friends with a Bible concordance. Really examine God’s Word and aim for understanding—and application.

        3.    Pray to God more this year.

If we only read and study God’s Word, we are receiving His thoughts and will revealed to us. But we must go beyond this. Suppose you were in the presence of a friend and only listened to him or her. This wouldn’t be full communication, would it? No, you also need to speak to your friend in reply. Likewise, God wants us to receive from Him and also communicate with Him. This is called Prayer.  Paul writes, “With all prayer and petition pray  at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:3; Philippians 4:6-7). Your Heavenly Father wants you to speak to Him, thank Him, make requests of Him, and confess to Him.

        4.    Worship the Lord our God more.

Worship is the soul or spirit reaching out to God, the Creator of all, the Sustainer of all, and the eternal Redeemer.  God your Father wants you to extol Him and praise Him for His glorious attributes, His wondrous person, His matchless qualities, His powerful works, and His blessed salvation. Jesus said, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only” (Matthew 4:10). We are to “worship in the Spirit of God” (Philippians 3:3). In your prayers, be sure that you lift God up and bless Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do!

        5.    Relate to other Christians with love and devotion.

We know that Christendom leaves much to be desired.  We look out on the world that contains over two billion professing “Christians,” and we know that the vast majority of them are deceived and unsaved. They don’t know God or Christ—personally—and this saving knowledge is necessary to have eternal life (John 17:3). However, there are true Christians in this world as well, even though their number is few (Matthew 7:13-14). If you have found genuine brothers and sisters in God’s family, rejoice that you have the privilege of relating to them in the many ways outlined in Scripture.  You should be involved in the many “one another” attitudes and activities presented in God’s Word (cf. John 13:34; Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:19; etc.). If you are not in this kind of close fellowship, pray that God will lead you to this blessed experience by revealing genuine brothers and sisters in God’s family.

        6.    Use your time better this year.

As you know, most people waste their time with trivially. They fail to responsibly use the limited time that God graciously gives to them. Paul tells us, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15). We need to realize that our future is all unknown, thus we should use our present time to the greatest advantage (James 4:14-17). This year, be willing to cease using your time for unproductive activities, foolish activities, and sinful activities. Use the precious time God gives to you to the greatest advantage!

        7.    Have a more positive attitude this year.

We have all know people who are “down in the dumps” most of the time. They complain and murmur about their circumstances, about their job and family, about the people they must be around on the job or in the neighborhood. Some people are constantly cynical and negative—and are not at all pleasant to be around. If you have a tendency to be like this, determine that you will be positive about your present and future, with God’s help and blessing. (This is not to deny that we do live in the midst of much tribulation and many unsaved people—John 16:33.) The apostle Paul was a prisoner, chained to a Roman guard, for two years, but he could write, “Rejoice in the Lord aways, again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). He said that he had learned to be content in his present circumstances, whatever that happened to be (vv. 10-14). Be content and remember that God has given you “precious and magnificent promises” (2 Peter 1:4) that can make you look with a positive attitude toward the future.

        8.    Use your money wisely this year.

We know that money is limited for all of us. Many of us barely get by, and only a few seem to have abundance. Regardless of how much money we earn or can use, all of us should realize that this comes from the Lord. Thus, we must use this monetary and material “gift” from God to the greatest advantage. We must lay up treasure in heaven rather than on earth with the use of our financial resources (Matthew 6:19-21). With our money, we are “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18; cf. vv. 17-19). Let’s be wise and careful with every expenditure. Think and even pray before you spend money for your living expenses. Eliminate unnecessary spending so that you will be able to have more to share with the needy and to proclaim the gospel through the spoken or written word.

        9.    Be careful in what you eat.

Some people may agree with much of what we have covered thus far, but they are reluctant to apply Biblical principles to their diet. Actually, we daily need to be careful with what we eat. Paul wrote, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31; cf. 6:19-20). What you eat and what you don’t eat will determine, in part, how healthy you are, how much energy you have, and how long you will live. We won’t detail the particulars at this time, but we leave you with the reminder that eating junk food and unhealthy food will harm your health, but eating nutritious food will enhance your health. Ask God for His wisdom in this important matter and also seek His strength, through the Spirit, in carrying out what you know you should do in this practical area of life.

        10. Make physical exercise a regular part of your life.

Hundreds of studies have been carried out to discover what factors can extend our longevity and virtually all of them conclude that not only our diet but also the extent of our physical activity has much to do with our health. Some suggest that we should aim for about 10,000 steps a day. Others say that we should aim for at least a half hour (or an hour) of exercise five to seven days a week. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise, providing we have no serious health limitations. It is simple, inexpensive, and wholesome. Other forms of exercise may also help (weight training, stretching, etc.). We need to get off the couch and renounce our lethargy, apathy, and sedentary tendencies. Paul said, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27; cf. 1 Timothy 4:8).

        11. Get enough sleep—but not too much.

Some people claim that they can get by with only four or five hours of sleep each night. Others say that they need eight, nine, or more hours each night. While the Bible doesn’t give precise direction in this, it does say that we shouldn’t be lazy or be a sluggard (Proverbs). Paul says that we are not to be “lagging behind in diligence,” but are to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). Most people will find that six to eight hours would be the optimal amount of sleep for the benefit of their body, depending on their condition. Too much sleep will make one lethargic and unhealthy (and will waste time) and too little will make one constantly sleepy and even endanger health. Too much and too little will harm the heart and other organs. And remember that repeatedly people of God arose “early in the morning” to accomplish their tasks (cf. Genesis 19:27; 21:14; 22:3; 1 Samuel 17:20). This would be a good practice for you and me. Ben Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise, make a man health, wealthy, and wise.” Regardless of the wealth, we would encourage this for our health and wisdom!

        12. Make your marriage and family pleasing to the Lord.

This is a huge subject, but an important one. God’s Word gives us much direction on how to order our family in a way that would please Him. Husbands and wives are to commit themselves to each other for life (Matthew 19:4-6). The husband is to love and sacrifice for his wife (Ephesians 5:25-33) and not be unkind to her (Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7). The wife is to respect, submit to, and accept her husband as head of the marriage and family (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6). The father (and mother) is to bring the children up in the nurture and discipline of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21; Deuteronomy 6:5-9). Children are to honor and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20; Proverbs 1:8). Look for many other directives from the Lord as you read through His holy Word.

        13. Seek closer relationships with people.

There is much loneliness in this world. Sadly, many people conclude that they don’t have one single close friend. While women may think that they have more friends than men do, neither seem to have intimate or close (or spiritual) friendships. Jesus suggests that a friend is one whom we can share our inmost thoughts, desires, convictions, and plans (cf. John 15:15). We are willing to sacrifice or lay down our life in love for a true friend (v. 13; cf. 1 John 3:18). We can’t just seek a friend without personal involvement; this would be selfishness. If we are blessed by being a part of a Biblical, close, intimate, and devoted fellowship of believers, we can find true friendships in this context.

Whatever our situation in life, having a few close friends should be a goal. In this way, we can share ourselves with significant men and women and depend on them in times of trouble. We can rejoice and weep with a genuine friend (Romans 12:15). Paul must have found Timothy a true friend. He wrote of him in these words, “I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:20-21). True friendships will come from others who are of a “kindred spirit” and seek the interests of Christ Jesus.

        14. Seek personal character growth in Christ’s likeness.

All of the New Testament presupposes an earnest desire to grow spiritually into a likeness of God. Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). Our transformation into Christlikeness involves renouncing worldliness and embracing new spiritual characteristics. Peter explains, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:14-15). This involves adding spiritual qualities to our lives (2 Peter 1:5-11) which the Holy Spirit works in our heart as His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Make a special effort this year to “put off” the evil and “put on” the good (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10) through the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16).

        15. Pay special attention to fulfill Christ’s great commission.

Before he left this earth after His resurrection and just before His ascension, Jesus gave what has been called the Great Commission. This directive continues today: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Do we consciously seek to implement these significant words? Our Lord commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16; cf. Luke 24:46-49).

What can we do to carry out these words to share the gospel to all people and make them disciples (followers of Christ) through baptism (prompted by faith and repentance) and subsequent teaching? We may share with them the spoken word of mouth (to our family, our relatives, our fellow-workers, our friends, and others). We may share tracts and other literature that explains the gospel and the will of God. We may reinforce all of this with our loving service. Let’s do this work during this year!

Make Your Resolutions Now

You and I know that our time on earth is limited (James 4:14-15). We are living for eternity and not for this utterly-brief period of time (2 Corinthians 4:18). While we dwell on earth, during our limited lifetime, we are to seek the things above and set our mind on the things above (Colossians 3:1-4). This is what makes this project so crucial.

Let’s make our “resolutions” with great care and with sober commitment. Resolve today to make this year significant for your life—and for God’s glory. We have only a short time on this earth to make an impact. We only have this life to live for Jesus and prepare for eternity in His presence. Let’s take this fact seriously and commit ourselves to the foregoing fifteen resolutions. Do so without delay!

 

 

 

 

 

   

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