Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year's Resolutions

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” –Psalm 51:10-11

New Year’s Day marks a time when we reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the coming year. I reflect on God’s mercy to give my family a home to own, to deliver me through a hospital stay, to deliver my dad through a heart attack, to bless our church family with another pastor, and His blessed kindness through many trials we have faced as a church family this past year. 

Looking back at 2017, what pains did you face? How has God been merciful to you even through these pains? What have you to rejoice in the Lord for? When 2018 ends, what improvements do you hope to achieve? Try and make your resolution a theme or a word to remember and recall as the year progresses. 

I see many resolutions based more on the desires of the flesh than the spirit anymore. Many resolve to dismiss negative people from their lives. If Jesus would make such a resolution, He would quickly dismiss me from His fellowship. Praise Him for His wondrous grace that He does not! Rather, the church has been given a ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18). Our Lord does not treat us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10); Christians are instead called to love each other as peacemakers (Matthew 5:9).

What if we made Christ-centered resolutions instead? Do not make commitments based on natural desires (Galatians 5:13); rather, crucify such desires and have a driving passion to have the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:24). Delight in God, and may your driving passion be to invite others to delight in God with you. Do not love only those who love you (Matthew 5:46), or as the modern world says “surround yourself only with positive people.” This comes natural. It is a Christ-less effort. 

Be resolved to treasure Christ this year. Yearn to learn more of Him in Scripture. Long to be with the saints in a local church with an eagerness to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with people there (Ephesians 4:3). Resolve to pray more, to treasure Christ more, and to repent even more of your pride. Resolve to be more loving and kind, a quick listener rather than a lecturer, and to persevere in faithfulness.
Heavenly Father, we need You every hour. As we reflect on Your mercies this past year, give us wisdom and strength to form resolutions that require Your Holy Spirit. Grant us such mercy as to be known by Your love and to be more Christ-like that we may worship You in Spirit and in truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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