Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. - 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
There is always a lot of talk on social media feeds and around New Year's dinner tables on the topic of resolutions. Most posts and conversations center around whether one should have resolutions or not, the benefit and drawbacks of making them, and humorous stories of resolutions past...gone south. The argument is irrelevant but makes for good conversation.
Whether you make resolutions or not is not the topic of this post. What is, is the encouragement a new year brings and the reminder it holds for us, as believers, concerning our relationship with the Lord.
May I encourage you, as you reflect back on 2018 and forward to the new year, to consider your relationship with the Lord. How much of your time and energy, in the last year, was spent in service to the Lord? How much time was committed to your daily walk with Him? How much time was spent sharing Christ with others? How much time was spent reading, praying, and fellowshipping with others?
A relationship with the Lord requires commitment. A commitment to put your faith and trust in something other than yourself and a commitment to know the Lord more each day. This is the greatest resolution, the greatest resolve we can make as we enter into a new year. To put our trust in Him and to know Him more each day.
A new year brings new possibilities. For some a fresh start. For others a continuation of the successes of the past. Whatever your goals for the new year, put Christ at the bottom and top of your plans. Allow all other goals, projects, and decisions to flow from the Father. Give Him your hopes, your dreams, your greatest desires. Share with Him your hurts, your feelings of hopelessness and despair, the secret moments you think only you know. Share it all with Him! He desires a relationship with you! He loves you!
Resolve to a new start and a continuation of love from the Father. Resolve to commit to the Lord.
A few suggestions and considerations for the new year...
1. Resolve to know the Lord more. We know the Lord and His will by reading the Bible, daily. Start a new reading plan...commit to read the Bible in a year. There are many plans, websites, and resources available that can help you accomplish your goal to know the Lord more. Make a commitment to know the Lord more.
2. Resolve to pray more. Prayer is communication with the Father. It requires a two-way connection. We must be willing to commit time and energy to talk to the Father and then listen through His Word and our quiet time with Him. When is the last time you got real with the Father and shared time with Him through prayer? Schedule a daily time with Him in prayer. Mark the time in your phone, write it in your planner, and be willing to share it with others. Make a commitment to talk to the Lord more.
3. Be actively involved in a place of worship with other believers. The holidays are a busy time of the year. Unfortunately, many allow their holiday schedules to interfere with church services and the fellowship of believers. Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to not neglect meeting together, as some have, but encourage one another as we see the day of the Lord drawing near. May I encourage you, not as a pastor, but as a fellow believer, make a commitment to go to church. Make it a top priority in your week (look forward to with excited anticipation) and schedule other events around the top priority of being with the Lord. Make the date and time sacred.
Don't take breaks! Come to the Lord. Imagine the Lord saying to you, "I'm going to take a break for a while...good luck!" Talk about feeling hopeless. I am glad our God is a faithful God. We need the Lord, our spirits desire His companionship. Additionally, our spirits are encouraged as we gather together with others for worship and study. When's the last time you've been to church? Make a commitment to get back into a spiritual habit of worship.
4. Recognize your weaknesses, sins, and/or insufficiency and be willing to make them right before the Lord. I included this point of application last as it may require the inclusion of points 1-3. Time with God will point out areas in your life that need to be made right. You may not understand or lack the confidence to address these issues head on. That's where prayer comes in. It may be an issue with someone at your church that has kept you from attending. If so, be willing to sit down with that individual and seek restoration. The Lord will give you the strength, if you ask Him. If it's something in your marriage, a family issue, or something work related, go to the Father and ask Him to show you the next steps. That may begin by giving up your control and turning over control to the Father. That can be difficult when, for a whole year or more you have been holding onto the reigns of your own self denial, destruction, or negative behavior. Commit to living for the Lord and not for yourself.
These are just beginning steps but I promise you, if you are willing to commit to knowing the Lord, to talk to the Lord, if you are willing to share your joys and burdens with other believers who love you and care for you (first going to the Lord and then others), and if you ask the Lord for the courage to help you through your struggles...He will show up and respond! Trust Him...not me...trust the Father!
I am praying for you as you begin a New Year! The possibilities are endless! Whatever the goal, whatever the plan...put the Father first. Make him the foundation of your plan and the goal at the finish line. Let's make 2019 different...let's make it more! Let's make it AMAZING! Let's commit to come back to this place next year, same day (new year) but not to resolve to start anew or again, but to reflect on ALL the Lord did in one year. He will do it too, if you commit to Him!
Here's to a GREAT 2019! Many blessings to you, your family, your health, and your future in service to the Lord. Love God, Love others, Love yourself!