The new year is upon us. What are your plans? Do you plan on making a resolution, or several? Trouble with New Year’s resolutions is, they’re entirely dependent upon you to keep. A resolution is essentially a promise you make to yourself.
I will quit smoking.
I will lose 25 pounds.
I will read my Bible every day.
How much willpower do you have, honestly? How likely are you to keep a promise to yourself?
Beyond the potential weakness of your own will, what of God? Do your resolutions take God and His will into consideration? If so, how are you discovering what God wants? Will you attempt to do what you think the Almighty wants on your own? Seems rather foolish to me. That’s why I decided some time ago to dispense with making religious resolutions. You know the type: I’ll read my Bible more, pray more, witness more, and so forth. If I make a promise to God, I’m the one responsible for keeping it.
Making promises to God is not what God wants from us. He has made the promises and he will reward you and I for trusting him and believing that He will do what He said.
“And Abraham trusted God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)
“Those who come to God must believe he exists and he rewards those who diligently seek after him” (Hebrews 11:6).
“And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (2 Peter 1:4 NLT)
“Until now you have asked for nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that you joy may be complete.” (John 16:24)
The New Year is a good time for evaluation, reflection, and goal setting. A goal is different than a resolution. A goal is a target that you permit yourself time to hit. Thus, you could set a goal to quit smoking or lose 25 pounds, then give yourself time to achieve it. Moreover, you can recruit God’s help to achieve a goal, when it is something He wants for your life. Don’t get the wrong idea, the Lord will not achieve it for you. He will strengthen you, inspire you, comfort you and assure you.
Step one in making a New Year’s goal is: pray. Ask God what He wants for you this year.
Step two is keep listening for God to speak and be sensitive to His leadership. The primary place you seek and verify God’s will is in the Bible. God’s will is not discerned by feelings. A feeling of peace is not necessarily validation; Scripture clearly teaching about an issue is.
Step three is write down what you believe God is leading you to do; be specific and be clear.
Step four is, just do it, and keep it up.
What if you fail in spite of attempts to rely on the Lord? That’s what grace is for. God doesn’t accept you based upon your performance or personal goodness. God loves you because He chooses to do so and proved it when Jesus died on the cross. Your acceptability is based upon the cross, and that doesn’t change based upon what you do or fail to do. Keep believing. When you fall, get up and continue on toward the goal.
To start 2015 I’ll be encouraging Lifewell Church to engage in 21 days of prayer and fasting to determine God’s will. When we discover God’s will, we must change in order to align ourselves with Him. Those may be big or small changes, but I want us to do what God wants, not what I want, or what a church conference decides.
In the book of Acts the Apostles decided to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot with a man named Matthias. After chapter one we never hear another thing about the replacement. However, most of the book of Acts is about the ministry of God’s replacement, the Apostle Paul, Indeed, Paul is the human tool God used to author the majority of the New Testament.
In Acts 13 we read the following:
“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” (Acts 13:2-3 NIV)
Lifewell Church needs a similar message from the Lord. What are we supposed to be doing to reach people? What does each individual, and each family, need to do to align with God’s will in 2015? In addition to fasting, I am going to ask us to pray and read the Scripture daily. There is a 21 day plan at bible.com for this. The mobile app YouVersion will work on smart phones and tablets. The plan is called simply 21 Day Fast. For those who don’t read this in time, you can start even after January 1.
The fast I am encouraging comes from Daniel 10 and is not the complete avoidance of food. Not many of us could accomplish something like that. Here’s what Daniel did.
“I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” (Daniel 10:3 NIV) So, this is about doing the opposite of what you probably did over the holidays.
No expensive meals.
No perfume, cologne or personal pampering. Be clean. Use deodorant!
So, what is your response? I hope you will join me an praying for God’s will, then in agreeing with Him to accomplish what He leads us to do.