Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Resolution Time Again

In preparing for my girls class on Sunday morning, I wanted to do something special that dealt with resolutions. As I was researching, I found a list of the top 10 New Years resolutions, and I thought it would be neat to turn them into something with a spiritual application. And so, if you don't mind, I'm going share that with you today, because I feel it's beneficial for all of us.

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions

1: Spend more time with family. As Christians, we are a part of a spiritual family (Rom. 8:16-17, 28-30). Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching." It is good for Christians, brethren, to be together and to encourage one another. It would do every Christian well to resolve to spend more time with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely, after a year of spending more time with holy people, we ourselves would be holier.

2: Get fit. Paul wrote to Timothy that bodily exercise profits little, but that godliness is profitable to all (1 Tim. 4:7-9). To the Corinthians, Paul would write, "And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it unto subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:25-27)" In no way do I think Paul is undermining the need for a healthy body (as it is the vehicle for us as we 'go into all the world'), but is instead focusing on that which is of more importance, and that is our spiritual workout. We must discipline ourselves spiritually so that when we teach others, we are not being hypocrites.

I think this can also fall into the priority argument, too. Sometimes we get so consumed with our physical bodies that we neglect our spiritual selves. We don't get the proper spiritual diet or the appropriate (and regular) spiritual work out. In 2013, let us all aspire to get our spiritual self fit.

3: Lose weight. The author of the book of Hebrews said in chapter 12:1-2, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Sin is quite cumbersome. When we have sin, it holds us back; it weighs us down. It keeps us from running with endurance and winning the prize. To be a faithful child of God, we must all lay down the weight that entangles us; however, like shedding physical pounds, it won't be easy. Letting go of the sins we have held on to for so long will be difficult, but it is not impossible. Not if we'll do as the writer told us: look to Jesus.

4: Quit smoking. Our bodies are the temples of God (1 Cor. 6:19) and are not our own. So, we must take care of them. So while you may not struggle with putting nicotine into your body and irreversibly damaging your lungs and throat, there may be other things that you could stand to quit. Let us all strive to quit harming our physical bodies -- be it by alcohol, drugs, excessive sun exposure, self-inflicted wounds, or participating in sexual immorality.

5: Get out of debt. The reason that Jesus came to earth and suffered all that He did was so that we could all go to heaven and be with Him one day. He came to lift the burden of sin -- to free us from the debt of sin (Mt. 18:21-35). Take advantage of Jesus' gracious offer this year. If you are not in a relationship with Him, do as He has commanded and become a child of God by being immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). If you are a Christian, it is still possible to accumulate debts of sin. Do as John commanded in 1 John 1 and confess your sins so that God will forgive you of them.

6: Enjoy life more. So many people are searching for happiness and the 'best life possible'. Jesus came to give us that way. "I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10)."If you are one of those people who are looking to get more out of life, look no further! Though His sacrifice, Jesus has given us all that we could possibly ever need: salvation! BUT, on top of that, God showers blessings upon His children (James 1:17). Truly being a Christian IS living the best life possible!

7: Quit drinking. Since we've already talked about harming our bodies, let's take this one as a 'quit drinking the Kool-Aid". Our world would have us believe that homosexuality is cool, that partying and drugs are awesome, and that profanity and taking the Lord's name in vain are harmless. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid! If you put impurity in...guess what your heart looks like? Spoiler alert: it's impure! Jesus said that only the pure in heart would see God (Matt. 5:8), which explains why Paul urged the Philippians to think on pure, lovely, true, honorable, virtuous things (Phil. 4:8). The more impurity we put in, the less we look like Christ. Stop trying to look like/sound like/dress like the world and start trying to imitate Jesus.

8: Learn something new. Why not use the time that God gives you to learn more about Him? Challenge yourself to learn something new about the Scripture--and truly there are always new gems to uncover! Perhaps you don't know all of the books of the Bible, or have a hard time finding them during class -- challenge yourself to learn them. Memory work is always a valuable thing to embark on. In whatever way you want to challenge yourself to do this, learn something new about God in 2013. And not just something, somethings.

9: Help others. The great commission applies to each and every one of us when it says, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)". Use this year to bring at least one soul closer to Jesus. While helping others physically is needed and beneficial, helping someone spiritually matters the most. The soul is the most important feature of a person, and if you truly want to help them, teach them how they can inherit eternal life!

10: Get organized. Matthew 6:31-34 says, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?" or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." There are so many things that can occupy our time. Instead of getting consumed by physical things, use 2013 to re-organize -- re-prioritize -- your life. When we seek God first, above all else, He adds the rest to us.

We have the power to make 2013 the best yet. If we will choose to put God first, the rest of our year will be well spent. Let us all purpose to be good stewards of the time that God affords us.

From my heart, I hope you have a wonderful holiday and a blessed rest of the year.

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