Resolutions God's Way
Today I'd like to talk to you about resolutions. This is the time of year when we set goals and make promises to ourselves. About half of our resolutions have failed by this point of the year, just one week in. Ninety percent of resolutions are dropped and forgotten by the end of January. Most of us don't even set resolutions any more, and that's really a shame.
Because God is a God of New Resolutions! God is the Author of change in our lives! Jesus does not only SAVE us! Jesus comes into our lives to live with us. His Holy Spirit is not content to remain in the cleaned up guest room we have created for Him. He wants to clean up, change up, fix up, resolve up, resolution up every room in the house of our lives!
So resolutions are a good thing. It's just the way we do our resolutions are not the way God does resolutions. We need to change our concept of resolution-making to Resolutions God's Way. I'd like to consider 4 Old Testament stories and learn 4 concepts about Resolutions God's Way.
#1 - God Resolutions Come With God's TIMING.
"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law... There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush." Exodus 3:1-2
We set our resolutions on New Year's Day for the next year. The timing is arbitrary. Yes, it is the first day of the year. The timing may make sense to us. But what about God? Is this God's timing? If we set a New Years resolution just because it's the first day of the year, and not because it is God's perfect timing in our lives, the resolution is sure to fail. God is able AND we should be attentive 365 days a year to what He intends. This is why we call ourselves "Christ-FOLLOWER." This is why we name Him, LORD. Because it is God's timing (not ours) that matters!
Moses is simply out "tending the flock." He is more than willing to accept the life of working for his father-in-law. He's satisfied. He didn't wake up on the morning of the first day of the calendar year and think to himself, I think I'll be the greatest leader in the Old Testament. I think I'll become a profound prophet! My goal for this year is to write the 10 most important rules for successful living! No!
This day was all about God's idea! "The angel of the Lord appeared to him..." in the burning bush. Maybe for you it won't be a burning bush. It could be in a prayer, a walk in nature, a conversation with another Christian, a changing circumstance in your life. For Martin Luther, God inspired a resolution in the midst of a frightening thunderstorm!
Here's an important takeaway from this first point. Allow enough room in your life for God to inspire you into a new direction any day and any time He might wish! Are you too busy, too hurried, too harried to hear God's important resolution today?
#2 - God Resolutions Come With God's PURPOSE.
"Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'the dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do." Genesis 41:25
We establish New Year resolutions for our own purpose. There isn't anything inherently wrong with this. God gives us a brain and a will. It's what separates us as humans. But let's also remember that being a Christ-FOLLOWER is all about God's will and not our own. Not only does God have a will for the world, He has a will for us too!
God had granted Joseph the ability to interpret dreams. His past experience with his own dreams and the cupbearer and the baker led him to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. What did God have in mind? Saving the Egyptian nations from starvation. Saving Joseph's family from starvation. And even bigger and grander: growing the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into the nation (people) of Israel.
None of this was apparent to Joseph at the time. Yet God had a purpose and plan in mind for Joseph and his family. The truth is that God also has a purpose and a plan in mind for you too!
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Somewhere along the way, God is going to move you in the directions of His plans for you. Count on it! You may or may not know the whole picture. Joseph certainly didn't know what would happen 400 years later. But whether we know or don't know, that's God's choice. Our responsibility in the here and now is to be open to God's inspiration and purpose for our lives 365 days a year!
#3 - God Resolutions Come With God's PRINCIPLES.
"The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD's anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is anointed of the LORD." 1 Samuel 24:6
God's creation comes with God's order, God's rules, God's boundaries, and God's ethics. Often when we set our own resolutions and plans, we do so to take advantage of a situation or opportunity. Sometime it may even appear to be a shortcut. Yes, God is a God of miracles, but He is never a God of shortcuts!
David had an opportunity fall right into his lap. While David and his men were hiding from King Saul in the back of a cave, Saul came in by himself to "relieve" himself. In other words Saul chose the cave David was hiding in to go to the bathroom! David's men saw this as their chance! What a lucky break! We can kill our enemy while he is sitting on the can! Some even "godified" it - God surely has handed our enemy over to us. Others justified it. King Saul would surely have killed David if the situation was reversed.
But David wouldn't do it. Why? "For he is the anointed of the Lord." His own conscience shouted to him: "God forbid!"
We need to keep our God consciences soft and responsive to God's idea of what's right and what's wrong, what's good and what's bad. NOT society. NOT culture. NOT the media. NOT the law. NOT what someone else would if they were in our place. What God says. What God thinks.
Would you like to know how to keep your conscience more sensitive to God's principles? Spend more time reading God's Word than watching the news. Spend more time talking to God than you talk to your best friend. Spend for time doing God's chores than doing your own chores. Spend more time celebrating God's victories than your favorite sports teams' victories. (Sadly easy for Browns fans this year.)
TAKEAWAY: God will never inspire you towards a resolution that contradicts the instructions He gives to you in His Word. On the other hand, His Word will inspire new resolutions in your life just about every week!
#4 - God Resolutions Come With God's PEOPLE.
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15
Our resolutions are usually all about US, and all too often individualized. I will lose weight. I will accomplish this goal. I will improve. Yes, God knows each one of us individually. We often think of God through the lens of our own selves. We must also remember that we each are one in the family of God. We are not alone.
When Joshua issued his famous resolution, "As for me... I will serve the Lord," we often forget that in-between phrase, "and my household (or and my family)". Joshua's commitment was not just his own for himself, his resolution was for his family as well. We might also remember that his famous resolution is also known as a famous challenge to others in the Israelite nation: "Choose this day who you (all) will choose!"
We not only have individualized our resolutions, we have also individualized our Christianity. Consider all the "one another" commands in the New Testament.
"Bear one another's burdens." "Encourage one another." "Be at peace with one another." "Accept one another." "Forgive one another."
One hundred times in 94 different Bible verses, we read "one another." Then there are all the Biblical imperatives to "you," which in the original language are mostly plural: "you all!" Most of Jesus' "you's" were really "you alls."
Doesn't it make sense that if God was to inspire a resolution within you with HIS timing, and HIS purpose, and HIS principles, that it might also be to benefit HIS people!
Conclusion. So how should we think about resolutions? Should we just give up on them altogether? Should we never set New Years resolutions? NO! Resolutions are great! I honestly don't know how you could even be a Christian without resolutions. God wants to change you. God WILL change you. He expects your cooperation. Whether formally written down or said prayerfully in the morning and night in your devotions, God wants you to resolve to change to become more like He had in mind when He created you.
Be open to God's timing. Be submissive to God's purpose. Be sensitive to Gods principles. Be welcoming to God's people. May God always have His way in me. May God's will always be accomplished in us. Amen!