I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s Resolution for awhile, and I’ve had three different goals in mind. Today, the words “Upwards, Inwards, Outwards” came to mind – and when we think about New Years Resolutions, I think it’s important that we consider these three different aspects of becoming more like Jesus. Upwards – our relationship with God, Inwards – our health and taking care of ourselves, and Outwards – how we show others the love of Christ.
Here are my three New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Upwards – I will have a more consistent, devoted quiet time with Jesus every day.
It’s been up and down for me in making this a consistent habit. At times I have combined this with other things like eating breakfast, but breakfast can turn into doing dishes, talking with roommates, etc. and then I realize the hour is up and I haven’t really connected with God. I’ve also had the tendency to skip days, or push the alarm clock too many times and say a prayer as I’m commuting to a meeting. But I sense that God is desiring me to go deeper, and the one thing Jesus desires most for us is to be with him and listen to His voice. It is in Jesus’ presence we are changed and empowered (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). My goal is to spend at least an hour in devoted prayer and worship with Christ on a daily basis. Our relationship with God is the foundation of everything we are as children of God, as kingdom warriors, and so out of 23 hours in a day, spending an hour with Jesus every day seems to be the least I can do.
One of the things I really want to emphasize in my quiet times is memorizing more scripture. The bible is the sword of the spirit, the main tool that God has given us to conquer the evil schemes of the enemy (See Ephesians 6:17, Matthew 4:1-11). The bible is also the word of life – When God’s words are written in our hearts, it will permeate our whole being, influencing our thoughts, words and actions. Right now I know many verses in the bible, but they are fuzzy and I have a hard time remembering where they came from. I will grow in this in 2012.
2. Inwards – I will honor the Sabbath and keep it holy by taking one entire day off a week from working
I have to be honest – this is really hard for me. In the busy chaos of athletics and school and work that has consumed my life in the past, I have become ultra goal-driven and task-oriented to the max. This can be good at times, but also makes it hard to rest – I feel like any time I spend not doing something is wasted time. I have to remind myself that even God took a day to rest after He created the universe. How much more should I?
Keeping the Sabbath is also one of the 10 Commandments: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates” (Ex 20:8-10).
I’ve met way too many burned-out ministry workers to ignore this and I know that, left to my own schedule I will go and go and go until I crash. However, if we don’t take care of ourselves and our bodies, we won’t be able to do what the Lord has called us to do and we are of no use to anyone. The Hebrew word Sabbath means literally “to cease.” It doesn’t mean that you have to sleep the whole day, but it’s a day to push the reset button and do things that are restful to you. A Sabbath is a reminder that no matter what we do, God is in control. Since I work on Saturdays at Trader Joe’s, and Sunday mornings feel more like a day of work than a day of rest due to the many tasks of our worship gathering, I’m going to take my sabbath on Fridays. Fridays will be my day to relax, recover, refresh and rejuvenate. I’m planning to spend a time reading, cooking, and being active outdoors on my Sabbaths.
In 2012, I will take a Sabbath day of rest every week.
3. Outwards – I will take greater steps to preach and demonstrate the kingdom of God wherever I go.
In my spirit, I sense that God is telling me, “I will move according to the measure you step out in faith to display my kingdom.”
God is waiting for us to step out. It’s not that He’s not ready for revival, it’s that we’re not. In the New Testament, signs and wonders followed the apostles, but they had to be the ones to step out in faith. Hebrews 10:38-39 says: “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
What is the opposite of shrinking back? Stepping out. When the Holy Spirit speaks to me to pray for someone, I will not hesitate or second guess. I will not try to find a better time that fits my schedule or that will be more comfortable for me. I will not fear man or ridicule. I will be confident that the Spirit of the Living God is inside of me, the greatest power in the universe is carried in my heart, and I will believe that healing and miracles will follow those who believe (Mark 16:18). I will step out in boldness at my workplace, at the grocery store, in the subway, to not only talk about going to church or inviting people to a service but to tangibly demonstrate the incredible love and power of Jesus Christ.
In 2012, I will take bigger steps of boldness to pray for the sick and demonstrate the kingdom of God. As Pastor Larry Ward said today at the Cambridge Unity Service, the world is watching…
And my prayer for you, in 2012 – “I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
What are your New Year’s Resolutions? What will you do this year to become more like Jesus?