As we enter a new year, it is customary to list our new hopes and priorities, sometimes described as ‘resolutions’. Apparently the majority of New Year Resolutions made last January (according to a YouGov poll for The Times) centred on exercise, weight and health. Although ‘New Year Resolutions’ tend to receive bad press in our culture, I found this dictionary definition surprisingly helpful, especially for those of us who are following Jesus and trying to live as his disciples:
res·o·lu·tion noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\
: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc.
: the act of resolving something
: an answer or solution to something
: the ability of a device to show an image clearly and with a lot of detail
Inevitably there are countless things we wish will be different this year compared to the past year. The inherent tension of making any resolutions is in actually keeping them. Another survey, in The Independent, concluded that 24 days into January is the day when the UK’s collective willpower is most likely to be broken, which in 2014 was consequently dubbed as “Fail Friday”.
Let’s transfer those insights to personal Christian experience. Presumably, most of us could immediately construct a list of resolutions which aim to break the patterns of the past, to end conflicts, and to progress us in our knowledge of Christ and God’s plan for our lives. How about this list for starters:
- To walk closer to Jesus in everyday life
- To read more of the Bible and understand its message
- To pray more and spend quality time with God enjoying His presence
- To have greater boldness as witnesses for Jesus
- To discern God’s plan for what He has next for us
- To know more of God’s power at work in us and through us, enabling us to overcome situations
That list could continue, but it presents the very normal experience of every Christian. We want MORE of God in our lives, because we need MORE of Christ in us. The brilliant news is we are not abandoned by Day 24 of such resolutions. Rather the thirst and desire we have for the things of God are actually the pre-requisite for knowing Him deeper and more fully as He supplies the need. Billy Graham observed:
‘Everywhere I go I find that God’s people lack something. They are hungry for something. Their Christian experience is not all that they expected and they often have recurring defeat in their lives. Christians today are hungry for spiritual fulfilment. The most desperate need of the nation today is that men and women who profess Jesus be filled with the Holy Spirit.’
My personal experience at Cambray (and at every church I have ever belonged to) echoes that observation. Consequently, our Sunday preaching programme this term will look at ‘Life in the Spirit’ in Matthew’s gospel (morning services), and some essential teaching about the Person and Work of God the Holy Spirit (evening services). Realising that some do not attend church twice on Sundays (which I accept), may I urge you to consider being there for as much of this series as you can, or at least listening online.
If the Spirit of God is the only One who provides the power for us all to know Jesus and live the life Jesus has secured for us through his death and resurrection, then surely we should prioritise certain things for the coming year: To be worshipping God together with His people; to read His Word the Bible; to confess sin that contaminates our life; to rely on the blood of Jesus for full forgiveness and restoration; to get to prayer times with others; to take steps of faith where God may be calling you to action; to check your giving to Christ and His work; to intentionally witness for Jesus each day; etc. etc.
The arrival of High Definition TV screens at Cambray has brought quality colour and sharper ‘resolution’ to the images we project. My prayer for 2015 is that Cambray will increasingly know MORE of the love of Christ with greater clarity, to go DEEPER in the things of Christ with enhanced focus, so that we are no longer living under condemnation as ‘Fail Friday’ people. Rather, as those who have discovered the power of the Cross of Christ as ‘Good Friday’ people… and who know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings (Philippians 3.10) we may then display vibrant ‘High Definition’ resolution as followers of Jesus!
My daily resolution for 2015, by God’s grace, is to ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’. Please join me, and let’s ‘live by the Spirit’ together.
Your friend and pastor,