It’s that time of the year. Many of us watched the ball drop as December transitioned into January and made resolutions to ourselves about how 2017 is going to be different… be better.
Now it is January 4th and I would love to say that the gyms and fitness centers are full, the cookie jars emptied out, the homes clean, and checkbooks balanced. But… we know that probably isn’t the case. Many of us “resolve” to do things in a New Year and sometimes we develop a new habit and come through for ourselves… but typically our good intentions fall short and remain just as “good intentions.”
If you are like me you don’t set out to deceive yourself or to drop the ball… life just happens right?
I want this year to be different, so below I have listed my Christian resolutions for 2017 as a commitment and reminder that I can come back and reread and recommit to as needed.
Let’s think and commit together.
- To worship like David.
As a Worship Pastor this might seem like an obvious one… but it really applies to all of us. Too many of us allow our worship to be dictated by something or someone other than ourselves and our response to God.
Has God ever been good to you? Then you have a reason to Worship.
God desires our worship and we should worship with abandon. I resolve this year to worship like David. Many of us are familiar with David as the young man who struck down Goliath with just a sling and a stone. But David also was the young man who had to live many years of his life on the run from King Saul who, out of jealousy of his appointed successor, put a price on his head. In many of David’s writings we can see that the theme of his life was perseverance and trust in God in the midst of unrelenting trial and obstacles.
In fact, many of David’s writings are seen today in the book of Psalm. David didn’t just suffer and persevere in silence! He trusted and sang about his faith in the Lord to be his deliver, shelter, refuge, and hiding place.
Isn’t it a wonderful goal and resolution to sing out about our faith joyfully in the midst of good times and bad?
We can see David’s faith displayed in Psalm 32:3-7. It says,
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ — and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
We can also see it in Psalm 30:11,
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.
David definitely wasn’t a perfect leader or a perfect man, but his faith is something to be admired. King David passionately pursued the Lord and His holiness with no care as to what others might think or say. David truly worshipped with abandon! Let’s look together at how David worshipped and instructed us to worship.
This year my praise will be loud and full of joy. Psalm 47:1 says,
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
In 2017 I will play new songs and practice in order that I may play skillfully like we are instructed in Psalm 33:3,
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.
Psalm 81:1-2 says to shout and play a song. It says,
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.
I will lift my hands in worship. Psalm 134:2,
Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!
This year I will worship Him because He is God, and in response to all He has done for His people. I will use whatever resources I have to praise the Lord. Psalm 150:1-6 says,
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
I will bow down. Psalm 95:6 says,
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
The best part about this resolution is that it can be accomplished daily and when we run out of ideas there are plenty more to be found throughout Scripture (particularly in the Psalms).
For those of you who are influential in your congregations or even a Pastor like myself… let me encourage you to lead worship in these ways. In fact, I looked up the word “leader” in the dictionary and you know what it means? “A person or thing that leads.” So as a leader set the example!
How are you teaching others about worship? How are you encouraging them to participate? How are you pushing them to go deeper and engage in worship beyond what they think they can do?
- To have the faith of Job.
In this past year many of us have endured things we wouldn’t have wished on anyone… even our worst enemies! Some of us have experienced a loss of a job, a relationship, or even a loved one. Some of us may be struggling mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. As Christians who hold fast to the Word of God, and believe what it says, we know that these events aren’t meaningless and we aren’t suffering for no reason. It is hard to not ask “why” these things happen… but instead I think we should think of this one truth:
Our suffering only reminds us of the reprobate nature of this life. Everything around us is ultimately dying.
No matter how bad we think our situation is we should never think that God has left us or does not care. God works in mysterious ways and all things work according to His ultimate will and purposes.
Job seemed to understand this idea in the midst of his hardships… unlike myself typically. Job understood that his suffering wasn’t meaningless or for God’s entertainment… and that instead God was using it for His purposes. We may never understand God’s purposes… or He may eventually bless us with understanding. But, either way we must trust. Job 23:8-10 shows this understanding when he says,
But if I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him. But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
From God’s point of view everything makes sense and is according to His plan, but from ours everything can seem messed up. We must remember that the world isn’t always how we perceive it to be.
We know that the world isn’t flat, but from our point of view it looks to be that way. Trust God.
Don’t doubt in darkness what God has proven to be true in the light.
What is God showing us through our trials? What is He teaching us in our suffering?
In this upcoming year I hope to have the faith of Job, more specifically I hope to remain steadfast in times of trial and to hold on to Jesus at all cost.
When Job had lost it all he still didn’t fail to recognize God’s faithfulness. Job 1:20-21 says,
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
This year I wish to have the faith of Job throughout suffering and trial and to take the advice of King David as found in Psalm 27:14,
Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!
- To pray like Jabez
Jabez may be a name that many of us aren’t real familiar with. In fact, it is only mentioned in a few verses of scripture right in the middle of the genealogies in 1 Chronicles (probably not your favorite verses to read and memorize). Some of us may recognize the name Jabez… but the only thing we know about the man is that he prayed a popular prayer that God heard and granted.
In Biblical times, a person’s name was very important. A name often defined a person’s future- or shaped what they would become or the expectations for their life. The name Jabez translate to “he causes pain,” so from the beginning the expectations for Jabez were pretty bleak.
It seems as if Jabez defied his hopeless name and dysfunctional beginning to become a man who believed fervently in the power of God. He prayed with urgency and vulnerability. He cried out to the Lord with boldness! I desire to do that in this upcoming year!
Jabez was honored because of his relationship with God. In fact, 1 Chronicles 4:9 says,
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…
The record of the genealogy of Judah was interrupted to bring us these details about Jabez. His relationship with God must have been exceptionally noteworthy to cause the author of Chronicles to stop and elaborate on this one man’s life.
Jabez is known for his famous “Prayer of Jabez” mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:10,
Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
It is a simple prayer prayed in faith and serves as a powerful example of answered prayer and receiving blessing from the Lord.
Jabez understood the power of fervent dedicated prayer and was blessed because of it. I desire to pray like Jabez.
- To have the obedience of Noah
In a world taken over by evil, violence and corruption, Noah was a righteous man. However, Noah wasn’t just a righteous man; the Bible says he was blameless among the people of his time. It also says that he walked with God.
Noah lived in a society saturated with sin and rebellion against God where right suddenly became wrong and wrong suddenly became right… sound familiar? But yet Noah remained faithful and was the only man alive that pleased God. It’s hard to imagine such unwavering faithfulness in the midst of total godlessness. Over and over again, in the account of Noah’s life, we read, “Noah did everything just as God commanded.” His life of 950 years, exemplified obedience.
During Noah’s lifetime, the wickedness of man had covered the earth like a flood, so God decided to start over with Noah and his family. Giving very specific instructions, the Lord told Noah to build an ark in preparation for a massive flood that would destroy everything on earth. God was going to clean the slate and start over. The ark-building project that God gave to Noah actually took longer than the average lifespan today, yet Noah diligently accepted his calling and never wavered from it, even as the laughing stock of the area.
I resolve to pursue the Lord in obedience even when those around don’t understand or poke fun at me.
How can we as a church resolve to exemplify the Gospel better?