Resolutions. The word “resolution” is defined by Oxford Dictionary as “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” A resolution is about determination; resolving to do something.
As we look back over the year of 2019, let us consider: how “resolved” were we in our spiritual resolutions? Did we even make resolutions regarding our spiritual growth? Did we resolve to read and study the Bible more, pray more, be more involved in the Lord’s work, study with others, grow in our faith, help others? How did we do this past year?
As with most New Year resolutions, we start out on fire, DETERMINED for the first few weeks, but by about February we get distracted, lose interest, or give up!
Much of the reason that we falter is because we line up in a SPRING mode rather than in MARATHON MODE!
As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9:11, “the race is NOT to the swift.” Jesus said those who would be acceptable are those who were found “striving to enter through the narrow gate” (Luke 13:24). Paul talked about “striving for an imperishable crown” in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The Hebrew writer had similar words in Hebrews 12:1,2. This requires ENDURANCE!
Let us consider not just a New Year’s resolution for 2020, but rather a RESOLUTION FOR LIFE! A resolution that doesn’t fade out into some distant memory of “what could have been,” but RESOLUTIONS of who we are to become in the Lord, FIT FOR THE MASTER’S USE, day by day!
The question is: "How do we do this?"
First, “start with heart.”
If you’ve read the book “Crucial Conversations” then you’re familiar with this phrase. “Start with heart” is about staying focused on the right motives, no matter what happens, even when things get tough. When we fail to start with heart, we may start something, but usually don’t finish it. We hold onto the past and are afraid to step out of our comfort zone, which causes us to only make MINOR superficial adjustments that will only be short-lived.
Daniel is a good example of what it means to “start with heart.” He was ripped away from his comfortable surroundings, taken captive by the Babylonians, given a new name and appointed to serve before the king (Daniel 1). When Daniel and his three companions were to be given the king’s choice food and wine notice Daniel’s response in Daniel 1:8a: “But Daniel PURPOSED IN HIS HEART that he would NOT defile himself.”
That’s where it starts: with HEART. And as you read through the book of Daniel, he continued to PURPOSE IN HIS HEART to NOT defile himself, to NOT compromise on matters that would make him UNFIT or NOT OF USE to HIS MASTER’S CAUSE!
Daniel was CONSISTENT in his life for he knew his cause and his passion was for God. If you look throughout the scriptures, you will find that the Lord has ALWAYS desired for His people to START WITH HEART! (cf. Deut. 6:5-6; 1 Samuel 16:7; Prov. 3:5-6; 23:7; Matthew 6:19-21; Matthew 22:37,38) IF OUR HEART IS INTO IT, we will be more inclined to continue and persevere!
Secondly, we must continue with heart.
As we evaluate our spiritual life over 2019, did we CONTINUOUSLY put in HEART to become closer to the Lord and to His people? Or did we find ourselves rationalizing, “Well, I’ve done good to this point. I’m done.” Did we allow things of this world to take precedence over spiritual things (Matthew 6:31-33; 13:22) Did we eventually LOSE HEART? (cf. Galatians 6:9,10) That’s what happened over time to the church in Sardis… they FLATLINED… they LOST HEART (Revelation 3:1,2).
The scriptures focus on continuing with heart. It’s NOT enough to just begin. I can ENROLL in college, but mere enrollment will NOT make me a scholar!
It takes discipline, just as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9. The scriptures say we need to remain on course … STAY FOCUSED (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58). To do that, we must CONTINUE WITH HEART in what God desires of us!
Finally, we must finish with heart.
We have MANY aspirations and future endeavors in this life, and “checking off” those things may bring temporary pleasure. But if we finish all the physical goals that we have on this earth, but failed to pay attention to our spiritual growth…what then?
How much time last year did we give to the Lord and His cause? Did we FINISH WITH HEART?! As Christians we committed our lives to a LIFETIME of service to the Lord! How are we doing?
In evaluating 2019 and planning 2020 and on, let us remember that we are contending for the faith, RUNNING THE RACE… and it is a course that we must FINISH! We must be INTENTIONAL about it! Paul was goal oriented, PURPOSELY STRIVING to enter the narrow gate. Paul started with heart, continued with heart, & finished with heart! Because of such, a crown of righteousness was laid up for him (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6-8).
When I think of running races, I view those who run races/marathons as an ODDITY! I remember reading of one friend who thought the same way I do, asking his friend why anyone would want to do that to their body?! His friend REPLIED, “THE FINISH LINE”! A simple answer that speaks of his motivation of putting one blistered foot in front of the other. What motivates us today? Do we even remember our purpose?
Let’s resolve and make a FIRM DETERMINATION to tell our Father in Heaven DAILY, that “TODAY, I desire to live for YOU! I resolve to commit to you my passion, my resources, my energy, my time!!! TODAY, I will strive to improve in a way that will make me more like YOU. TODAY, I will strive to eradicate everything in my life that is not pleasing to You. I will strive to be more mindful of You in my life as you are mindful of mine. I will strive to be more appreciative of the blessings I receive from You, and I will search for opportunities to demonstrate Your love in the way I deal with people and in the way I react to circumstances I face.”
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ