READ: Nehemiah 9-10
THINK: Let’s have a really honest moment here. It shouldn’t be too difficult to do because most of you are sitting alone in front of a computer or smartphone and God already knows the answer. 🙂 How many of you made a resolution for 2014 that you have already broken…a mere 4 days into the year? I did. I vowed to start working out at least 4 days a week. But I’ve spent the better part of the last 3 days hurling into a toilet and shivering with a fever, and I don’t plan on doing anything but laying around and whining a lot tomorrow. I guess, if you count shivering as a workout – it’s gotta be burning some calories right? – then I am already 3 for 3.
But seeing as it’s a new year, I want to turn our thoughts again to the habits that we need to instill and the commitments that we need to make in order for God to continue shaping us into the people he designed and called us to be. My prayer for everyone who follows this blog is that each one of us will look more like Christ at the end of this year than we do now. It won’t be a linear journey of steady progress – we know that – but God is alive and present and he wants to work on our hearts.
In Nehemiah’s day, God’s people got a very powerful look at the love, mercy, faithfulness, and transformative power of God. And that look was juxtaposed against the very real picture of suffering and oppression that they had from their years in exile after being unfaithful to him. So, they made a commitment. A resolution. They said, “ We bind ourselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Yahweh our Lord.” – Nehemiah 10:29
In 1722, Jonathan Edwards, the great puritan theologian, pastor, and revivalist, drew up a list of 70 resolutions, dedicating himself to live in harmony with God and others. The following resolutions give a picture of the serious purpose with which Edwards approached his relationship with God. He resolved:
• To do whatever is most to God’s glory.
• To do my duty, for the good of mankind in general.
• Never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
• To study the Scriptures steadily, constantly, and frequently.
• To ask myself at the end of every day, week, month, and year if I could possibly have done better.
• Until I die, not to act as if I were my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.
Edwards was serious. So were the people of Israel in Nehemiah 10. Today, ask yourself whether you are serious about God. Whether your relationship with him and your continuing transformation into Christ likeness is really the most important thing for you. If your answer is “yes” – hint: if it’s “no” that’s fine, God created us with freedom and will, but prepare to throw another year of your life down the drain – then live like it. What are 2 or 3 – only 2 or 3 big ones because more of them get easier to forget and not keep – resolutions about your relationship with God that you will make for the coming year. Write them down. Live them.
PRAY: Ask God who he wants you to be this year. Ask him how he wants to shape you. Ask him to help you see what commitments you need to make and then to help you keep them.