Happy New Year!
We are back from our 10 day Christmas break, refreshed, renewed, refocused and ready to resume our work for 2018.
Hopefully, most of you have been able to experience some downtime. Relax with family and friends and enjoy some of the festivities of the holiday season.
This is traditionally a time for us to make New Year’s resolutions. This year I’m approaching my resolutions and goals a bit differently.
The top resolutions for most people in 2017 include things like diet, exercise and losing weight. Get organized, save money and read more was also at the top of the list. And, of course, there is that perpetual resolution “to be a better person.”
As a Christian, you may have set some goals to read the Bible daily. Spend more time in prayer. Get involved in the ministry of your local church. Or to finally kick a bad habit that’s been “a thorn in your flesh.”
“Most resolutions we make,” observes writer and preacher Leonard Sweet, “are self-directed: get thinner, work smarter, be stronger, take control of your life. We want to make changes that will help us, improve us, and bring us good feelings about ourselves.“
Sweet suggests that instead of making resolutions “that makes us feel good about ourselves, that brings ourselves pleasure, what if we resolve to live a life that brings pleasure to God?” He challenges us with this question: “What if we were to forget the little resolutions and resolve something big?” Something, he says, “that brings God pleasure.”
This reminds me of these three passages from the Psalmist who penned, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” (Ps 147:1)
“Let the Lord be magnified, Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.” (Ps 35:27)
“For the Lord takes pleasure in His people.” (Ps 149:4)
Remember how much we enjoyed the approval of our parents when we were children? Their smile. A pat on the back. A hug. Their encouraging words, “I’m so proud of you.” It made us feel good. Accepted. Secure. And loved.
Our Heavenly Father desires to find pleasure in our lives. And, if we really care about pleasing Him, it will bring to our lives a great sense of gratification, knowing that we are living a life pleasing to God.
That certainly provides a new paradigm regarding goal setting and New Year’s resolutions.
The Bible tells us that God chose us in Christ, “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Furthermore, He adopted us “as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:4-6).
God sent His Son to earth to provide for us the perfect example that we should follow in His footsteps (1 Pet. 2:21-23). He wants us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). And to have the attitude of Christ (Phil 2:5).
Jesus Himself challenged, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23)
This year my overriding focus, goal, and resolution is to become more like Christ. I know that will give God pleasure. It will give my short-term goals for the year purpose and divine direction. And it will direct my actions, shape my attitudes and help me grow in the spiritual attributes that not only please God but ultimately provides true personal satisfaction.
I am beginning by studying the life of Christ and reading the gospel accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the rest of the New Testament.
2018 is going to be a year of tremendous change for us, but also one of great opportunity. As we venture into new areas, make new friends, and engage in a broader national and international ministry, we pray that God will be glorified. And that our efforts can effect Divine pleasure.
Join me as we make 2018 the best year ever.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman