New Years Day is a day I pause to self-evaluate, review the past year, and set resolutions and a theme for the new year. This year is no exception. But I am also pausing to contemplate resolution making generally. Is it wise? Is it realistic? Will I persevere and take my own resolves seriously? What is God really asking of me? One of my favorite bloggers makes the same resolve annually and no others — simply to love and know God more. That does cover a lot of ground. But I find I need more specifics to help me pray for and meditate on changing in Christ. Many of my friends and a lot of people online select only one word to meditate on all year. This is helpful, but for me personally I find the need to zero in on goals and resolves that take up a lot more detail to articulate. Where do Christians even get the idea to make resolves? Is it in the Bible? I wonder, did Abraham, Joseph, David, Daniel, Habakkuk, John, Peter, Paul, and other great people of the Bible make resolves? Did Mary and Joseph makes resolves in how they would handle raising the Lord Jesus Christ? Perhaps I will study about this in the coming year. Off the top of my head, Habakkuk’s excellent statement in Habakkuk 3:17-19 strikes me as one of the greatest resolves of all time. “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength. And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NASB 1977). A short version paraphrase of this verse for me today is, “Though [fill in the blank of whatever terrible thing might happen to me or whatever disappointment, test, trial or persecution has happened to me], I will rejoice in God and I will trust Him. God will help me persevere. God is my strength.” I believe the great example people of the Bible did make resolves to know, love, and obey God. Then there is the incredible example and resolves of theologian and revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards who lived 1703-1758. I found this list easily online. I want to study his resolves in my study time this year. https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/resources/resolutions-jonathan-edwards/
I makes resolves all year long. I’ve started journaling them better over the past several years. I meditate on them and I pray from them. I have never succeeded yet in carrying them out perfectly. When life teaches me an important lesson, as trials and tests so often do, even as I learn through my failures, I benefit from recording it into my resolves list. Some of my friends have accused me of being too hard on myself and too introspective by my focus on studying about and persevering in my pursuit of personal holiness. One beloved friend and mentor has even called me a hypocrite recently, because I cannot carry out my resolves with perfection. All I know is, if I am going to err, I would rather err on the side of self-examination, perseverance, and focusing on walking more worthy of Christ than on the side of just believing I am justified (saved and forgiven by the grace of Jesus) and I can do whatever I want with no regard for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. So here are the thoughts God has put on my heart after a review of the year 2022 and succumbing to anger and depression over the imperfections of Christmas season once again. By the way, I was shocked by my review of 2022 by how much good work I was able to do for the Lord by His grace and strength despite my illnesses and laziness and failures.
I attended two beloved churches today and it was so wonderful having New Years Day fall on a Sunday this year. Both pastors’ sermons were home runs hit out of the park, and both were affirming and instructive in the resolves I was contemplating. My pastor did a “vision casting” sermon by simply looking at the passage in the Bible he had normally come to in his sermon series through Hebrews. He concluded we need to be hopeful Christians, turning to the Word daily to find strength and grace for enduring whatever tests and trials God has in store for us in 2023. The second sermon was more topical in nature with a newly installed pastor casting a vision for the shepherding of his new church family. The verses selected and the points of instruction were likewise affirming and just what I needed to hear. It never ceases to amaze me how clearly God will speak to His people through faithful pastoral teaching, if only we have hearts to hear and listen. Both pastors affirmed my most important resolution theme for 2023.
Keep focused on Triune God alone. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 12:1-3; Hebrews 6:13-20.)
If I had to choose only one Word for focusing on in 2023, it would either be a Name — “Jesus Christ” or my great need “Persevere.”
Besides the long list of previous resolves I have the privilege and responsibility of persevering in, this is my focus and theme for 2023:
- Keep focused on Triune God alone. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 12:1-3; Hebrews 6:13-20.)
- Relinquish/surrender all my disappointments in my life to God. (The specific details are too personal to share publicly here.) Continue practicing acceptance and contentment, which was last year’s theme.
- Focus more time and energy on my church family and friends.
- Witness by example, by persevering in my personal holiness, leaving all outcomes to God.
- Prioritize my marriage, helping and loving my husband unconditionally no matter what.
- Meditate and pray on these resolves and all my lifetime resolves every morning by candlelight. Jesus Christ is my Light. I can let my light shine.
And then God has given me this meditation to give myself pep talks when my failures and disappointments get me down.
I am a redeemed, justified sinner.
I will persevere against my sins.
God will complete His good work in me.
I will progress in sanctification and overcoming sin, but I will never reach perfection in this life.
On resurrection day, I will be glorified and freed from my sin forever.
I do believe Lord Jesus, please help my unbelief. Though I am still a sinner, I am justified and redeemed. I am not a hypocrite because by Your grace You are keeping me humble and repentant.
And then I made a list of some of my sins that I must persevere against which are highly personal but which I confess to my few close sisters and brothers in fellowship with me.
Please pray for me to persevere and keep my focus on Triune God. Jesus Christ is my only Way, my only Truth, and my only hope for strength to keep living this present life and to receive my eternal reward God has promised me. Yes pastors, I want to be a hopeful Christian and I want the church families I love to bring glory, honor and praise to God in 2023. God help us. Let it begin with me.
Are you a resolve maker? I care. Be in touch if desired.