New Year's Resolutions – The Truth Be Told
Some of you may find this shocking. A study in 2007 found that out of 3000 people polled, 88% failed to reach their “New Year’s Resolution” goals. I for one, never make any “New Year’s Resolutions” and below I will explain why I don’t. I will only be addressing this issue from a biblical viewpoint, so if you’re not a religious person you may not understand my viewpoint.
On the outside, it seems noble to set new goals for yourself at the beginning of the year (or anytime); everyone wants to improve, including myself. Most take the viewpoint that if they don’t set goals they will never achieve anything… and that is true if you are running your own life without God's direction.
When a person finds God and gives Him full control of their life, “New Year's Resolutions” can become a problem if a person takes back control of their own life. From a biblical standpoint, “turning a new leaf” in your own strength is nothing short of a “self-help” mentality of perfecting one’s self in the flesh. The Apostle Paul even stated it this way…
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3)
The truth be told, you cannot just say to God, this is a new year and I will forget the past… when in fact you will reap in January what you have sown in the past few months. If a person struggles with a sin or other bad habits; saying to yourself, “I am turning over a new leaf”... doesn’t work without God’s help. And that is why people fail at “New Year's Resolutions.”
When a person comes to God, it takes God’s spirit to cleanse them from sin. As much as a person wants to do better, we can’t perfect ourselves using our own flesh and determination. We cannot forget that the Holy Ghost has to sanctify us to help us become a better person. We have to be led of the Spirit in the sanctification process… you can’t just go and fix yourself.
I believe as Paul stated, “that we should leave those things behind and press for the mark.” However, you truly don’t leave some things behind until you repent of them or are healed of the things that make you weak.
So, from a biblical standpoint, trying to “make yourself a better person” through your own strength is what scripture refers to as “self-righteousness”… or in other words… perfecting yourself without the leading of God’s spirit!
As Paul also stated… he had no confidence in the flesh. Therefore, I personally believe that “New Year's Resolutions” can be a problem, and can even setup a person for discouragement and failure. I personally don't do “New Year's Resolutions” and I obtain plenty in my life, because I just look to Jesus; the author and finisher of my faith. Your life doesn't just change because the calendar changed, it can only change when Jesus changes you!
Lost In The Woods
I have heard men of God preach about “the war of attrition” and how the long battle often gets a soldier killed when they become tired. However, sometimes people don’t lose strength, but have what it takes to make it to the end. But, what I also see in today’s battles of life is another kind of plight to a human soul… and that is losing their way in the journey.
A person begins their journey in the kingdom of God and follows the paths their live leads them down. But, as they come to crossroads or detour signs, they often have to make decisions that are not quite that clear. They love God and want to follow God’s path for their lives. But, some decisions are good, bad and some they are not sure about.
What often happens to most people is that, in their exhaustion trying to find the will of God, they end up getting lost in the woods. All they see is large trees, dark horizons and no way to get out of the woods… they get lost trying to find the will of God. Finally after hopelessness and exhaustion, they sit next to a tree and give up trying. They cry out, but no one seems to hear.
I am reminded of Moses. He felt a call of God in his life, tried to make it come to pass in his own strength. Ends up killing a man, and then flees into the wilderness for 40 years. I am sure he felt like a failure. However, even though God was aware of his plight, God used his wilderness to help him for later down the road. God finally showed up in the burning bush and took him out of the wilderness.
Finally after a period of time, Jesus comes into the woods to find us!
A Beautiful Goal In Life
It is said that you will chase the thing you love most. Some desire fame, relationships, money, or just to feel warm-and-fuzzy. But, what I know to be true is that true peace is not found in temporal pleasures, but it's found in pursuing a goal that is more beautiful than life itself... and that is to know the mind of the Lord.
Two of my most favorite passages of scripture are Isaiah 53 and Matthew 26-28. Both passages give you a glimpse into what the mindset of Jesus was really like. One is about the mindset of Jesus, and the other about His death, burial and resurrection.
Some picture Jesus as this warm-and-fuzzy God that just walked around in this angelic euphoria state of mind. But, when I read Isiah 53, you get a real since of what Jesus' mindset was really like. He was despised, rejected, a man of sorrows. He was wounded, bruised, oppressed, afflicted. He did not defend himself when crucified... and he did all this for you and me!
For me, the thing that makes me tick is trying to be more-and-more like Him. There just seems to be such a spiritual depth of love, power and peace whenever I draw close to the way the Lord thinks. In this kind of passionate pursuit, I find myself in a sober state of mind as I try to become like Him. During these times of deep prayer my priorities get straightened out. I just seem to crave the presence of God more-and-more the deeper I get into the beautiful mind of the Lord.
I guess if I could wrap-up my desire in a couple scriptures, my goal would be...
For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Co 2:2)
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Php 3:10)
Where Does Society's Moral Law Come From?
We like to tackle complex issues of our day and read between the lines; it helps bring clarity to a subject. So, we want to look at society's moral law.
Scripture says that ALL MANKIND has sinned and that no one is perfect. And because of that I do not believe in casting stones or condemning those who do not believe in God. Because after all... God (who gives us free choice) doesn't force people to obey Him; so that means people have a right to choose the way they want to live. Therefore each person has to live with the blessings or consequences of their own choices. If a person chooses to believe what the Bible says, then they are obligated to obey the moral laws that God lays out for mankind. If a person chooses not to believe in the Bible, then they must form their beliefs from other places. However, doing so will mean that they have to trust in people who are subject to failure.
What I would like to do in this discussion is to remove the element of God's moral law from this subject for just a moment and look at "moral law" from a human perspective. With the battles raging over moral behavior in our country (and throughout the world) I would like to ask... "Whose moral law does society follow?"
In our society; murder, theft, lying, adultery and cheating are considered wrong. What I would like everyone to consider is, why are those considered wrong; but not hatred, lust, homosexuality, greed or gambling? Who is in charge of deciding what is right or wrong? Is there a committee somewhere that decides these things? So, who is the final authority to sign or veto which "vices" are considered right or wrong?
So, from an objective viewpoint, society is getting their "moral values" from the popular opinions of human beings. However, consider what the consequences could be if society decides what is right or wrong... 1) All Humans are subject to failure. 2) Human nature tends to allow things that make them feel good or to remove the element of conflict. By allowing mankind to decide moral value, if they are wrong, it can lead to confusion, moral decay and corruption... and finally a society that has no rights or wrongs.
Based on human moral laws... back 50+ years; homosexuality, lust and greed used to be just as wrong as murder or theft. So, what has changed? If homosexuality, lust and greed are no longer wrong today... then (using human reasoning); murder or theft is not wrong either. Since human "moral values" are not really governed by a committee, then why is murder considered wrong? Who says it's wrong? We could say that a murderer is born that way and or they have a sickness that causes them to kill. After all, we say that about other mental states or moral vices.
In conclusion, I would like to ask... if the "moral values" of society is based on human beings or popularity, then where does society draw the line? Who has the final say on whether murder is wrong or not? If humans have a right to make their own "moral" decisions... how confident are you that what they say is right? Do you even know the difference between right or wrong? And if so, whose "moral law" can you turn too to say it is really moral and right? Where is the text or document that makes it so? Where can we go to read this document?
Humans are subject to failure and mistakes... there has to be a higher moral value than what humans can come up with. That's why I choose Gods moral laws over mankind’s.... We have to be accountable to someone higher in authority to decide what is best for mankind.
The Importance Of A Good Foundation
1 Cor 3:10-13 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. (11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; (13) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
As I look at this scripture, I recently talked to someone about building a good foundation in God. This foundation will be critical because the storms of life will rain upon that building of God in a person's life. And if this foundation is weak, the house will fall. (Mat 7:24-27)
So, what are the best things that a new baby in the Lord can build as a foundation in the Lord?
Should We Be "Spiritual Vigilantes?"
Recently, I have been seeing a lot of images, videos and posts in the news and social media by "Christians" that are against some political or moral issues that our government and society has been clashing over. These issues range from gun control, abortion, marijuana to transgender and gay rights. And even though a lot of issues are morally against God's law; the thing that I want to ask the Christian community... "Where do we draw the line when protesting or preaching our positions?" I understand that as "American Citizens", we have a right to vote and "free speech"; and we should vote! However, as Ambassadors of Christ, should we be "spiritual vigilantes" to the point that we cross the line into condemnation with our free speech?
As I scan through scripture about protesting societies issues, I don't find scripture where the people of God "protested" against political or moral issues. Jesus didn't protest against the government of Rome, nor did he condemn sinners. Even, though Jesus and the Apostles preached about sin, they didn't actually get involved in protesting against sin. There is a difference between protesting against sinners and teaching about sin to win sinners to God.
The danger with "protesting" against political or moral issues, is that we as "Christians" can come off as "condemning" the sinner. And even though we may say we are not, that isn't how sinners see it in their eyes. Jesus said that he didn't come to condemn the world, but through Him they can have life (salvation). Therefore the goal of the church should be to love and help people find God. So, if protesting is done to just push our agenda and to try and change the world... then we are missing the whole point of the gospel.
There was a "Christian" group who went to a gay rally to protest their sin. There was some contention over the moral issue; and after the rally, nothing was accomplished. However, some people from that rally said... "Those "Christians" didn't love us into the church, but instead condemned us to hell." Even though scripture does teach that homosexuality is sin, I feel very bad for those at that rally because they were right about that "Christian" group condemning them instead of helping them find God.
The truth is, Jesus rebuked the religious more than sinners because they lacked mercy. On another occasion, Jesus said to the adulterous women; "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more." We have to understand that the sin of homosexuality is no different of a sin then adultery or stealing; they are all sin to God! So, why are "Christians" protesting the gay community, but not protesting adultery, or murderers, or bank robbers?
As Ambassadors of Christ, we must not become "spiritual vigilantes" for political or moral issues that take place in the world. Even scriptures says that in the last days it would get worst and worst... so why are we as a church trying to stop that which is prophesied, and has to happen for the end-times to wrap up. Are not we as a church supposed to be "saving" people from the sin? If we would put as much effort into denying self and being used by God to love people into the church; then we will truly be a powerful church instead of trying to reform the world.