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New Year’s Resolutions: Changing the Inward or the Outward?

By Watchman | December 31, 2013

Much has been said recently about the crumbling infrastructures in the US and other developed or developing nations.  For too many years the emphasis has been on sealing cracks or renewing facades in the hope that serious flaws would remain unnoticed or that what we do not see cannot hurt us.  As we have found, that hope was futile. Without changing and renewing the basic framework of what man has built and let fall into disrepair, destruction will come in time.  Sadly, many of us have allowed the same thing to happen to ourselves and our lives.  Today millions of people are considering what we call our “New Year’s resolutions”:  what we will do to make ourselves better, richer, stronger, prettier, smarter or powerful in the coming year.  Unfortunately, most of these resolutions equal cosmetic surgery and not a true and meaningful decision to rid ourselves of what is bad in our lives and surround ourselves instead with what is good.  The outward facade may be changed for the better, but the “infrastructure” of the spirit will remain untouched.

Understand that I still stand by what I have said before: there is no spiritual virtue in not looking our best or in not being the best we can be.  There is no particular reason why Christian women shouldn’t buy pretty clothes, wear make-up or lose a few pounds when they feel they need to; and there is no reason why men shouldn’t work out or buy Armani suits if they can afford to do so.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with hoping for a better paying or more fulfilling  job.  The problem with deciding to address these issues before taking care of the inside person is that all we are doing is trying to seal the cracks.  The facade may be smoke-free, thinner, better-dressed and better-housed, but the infrastructure is still in danger of crumbling.  There will never be enough pounds lost or stuff acquired to provide us with what it takes to fill the voids in our spiritual lives…and, more importantly, it will never be enough to make us pleasing to God.

For those who want to make and carry out New Year’s resolutions, maybe this would be a really good time to consider all the endless possibilities open to us as believers in the Most High God:

1.      An astonishing amount of Christians have admitted that they read Scripture only rarely; some have admitted to never reading it at all.  How about deciding to read the Bible on a regular basis?  Read a chapter or two of the Old Testament, a chapter of the New Testament and one Psalm each day, praying as you read that the Holy Spirit will lead you to an understanding of the nature and character of God.  If you do not read the Bible, you cannot truly know the heart of God nor can you follow His commandments if you do not know that they exist.

2.     A recent Pew study revealed that most pastors spend an average of ten minutes a day in prayer, and the average layperson about five minutes or less.  Resolve to set aside some real and significant time for communion with God.  Don’t wait until someone is ill or you’re in serious financial trouble; take all your cares, all your love for Him and all your praise to Him regularly.  Make a prayer list and see that you pray for each person on it daily; pray for the infirm, the lonely, the persecuted and the lost.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as God through David (Psalm 122:6) has so taught us.

3.     Resolve that this will be the year in which you will forgive all old wounds and resentments, and pray that the Lord will help you to do so.  Forgiveness does not come easily to most of us, but Jesus commands us to love our enemies and to do good to those who use us ill.  (Luke 6: 27-28)  1 John 4: 20 tells us that if someone says “I love God” but hates his brother, he is a liar.  By the way, an aside here:  telling everyone you know about how much a person has hurt you and prefacing your rant with “I’ve forgiven him/her since I’m a Christian, but…” doesn’t count.  Sorry, but there is no such thing as forgiving someone as a Christian but.   If anger and resentment against others are serious obstacles to your relationship to the Father, seek His help. (Also see the posts “Forgiving the Unforgivable” and “As We Forgive Our Debtors” under the category Anger and Forgiveness of the Watchman on the Wall.)

4.     Resolve to walk in love.  “If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1 John 4: 12-13) This is getting harder and harder by the day as we near the end of what has been called the church age.  Many of us, seeing the rights of Christians being so subordinated to the rights of pagans, humanists and followers of false gods have learned to fight, but we often do not fight with love for the lost in our hearts.  The evil must be fought, but it must be fought with the Gospel of Christ.

5.  Commit to speaking the Gospel of Christ to those whom we know to be living in darkness.  Time is running short, and our friends and families need to be given the chance to meet Jesus before it is too late.

6.    If none of the above suggestions apply/appeal to you, read Ephesians 4, 5 and 6 for other ideas for New Year’s resolutions.  I guarantee that there are NONE of us who couldn’t benefit from applying at least a few of Paul’s ideas to our lives.

7.    Last of all (but certainly not least), if you have not made that decision to repent of your sins and ask Jesus to take His rightful place as Lord of your life, do so now!  Ask His forgiveness, and He will be faithful and just to forgive you all your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7)

Renew and refresh yourself in our Lord Jesus Christ!

Have a blessed New Year!

Maranatha!

 

Topics: A Special Word for Today, Just A Thought, Kingdom Living, Salvation | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “New Year’s Resolutions: Changing the Inward or the Outward?”

  1. Shirley Says:
    December 31st, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    How timely; full of wisdom truth and light. This gives a perfect outline for examining one’s heart. Thank you, Watchman.

  2. Susan Says:
    January 1st, 2014 at 10:06 am

    You have done it again Melissa! Beautifully written and strikes right at the heart of the matter!

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