Do you know where New Year’s resolutions come from?
From Janus, the ancient Roman god believed to govern time, transitions, and new beginnings. When the Roman Senate and Julius Caesar reworked the calendar to start the year on Janu-ary 1st (the month named after their god), they decided to mark the transition with new resolutions and noble beginnings.
Two thousand years later, I’m promising my wife I’ll cut back my Taco Bell stops to twice a week . . .
I don’t know about you, but I love resolutions. God wired me to love goal setting and box checking (a competitor’s dream!). But I realize you might not get as geeked out about goals as I do. You might be tempted to settle, to accept the status quo, and to go through another year without pushing yourself.
I think that’s a mistake, because God is calling every Christian to higher levels of faith, hope, and love. He wants spiritual growth that overflows into real blessings for the real people he has put in our lives.
That’s why I’d like to build on Ben Sadler’s recent blog about resolutions and help you keep your fire for spiritual growth with three great reasons for every Christian to make regular resolutions.
They come from St. Peter’s words: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith” (2 Peter 1:3-5).
1. God’s divine power—Notice what comes way before Peter’s intense resolution “make every effort to add to your faith.” Divine power. God’s dynamite might. God’s bursting-out-of-a-XXL-T-shirt strength. That spiritual power is at work in your heart, Christian, giving you everything you need for a godly life.
In other words, you are not left to the puny arms of personal willpower. You don’t have to start your day with some Stuart Smalley self-talk, convincing yourself that you are strong enough and smart enough to do better this year. Instead, you can rely on the universe-sustaining power of God.
What barrier or obstacle or sin or demon could stand in the way of that kind of power? Answer—not a single one.
2. God’s very great and precious promises—Peter could have just said, “God’s promises,” but he didn’t. Instead, he mashed up some superlative sauce and gave us the greatest recipe for personal change—God’s very great and precious promises!
As you enter a new year, think of those promises. God has promised to be with you, to never leave you, even if your husband has left you. He has promised to entirely forgive you, even if you feel absolutely unforgivable. He has promised to fight for you, even if your pain suggests God has turned against you. He has promised to turn everything that seems so bad into something shockingly good. Those are his promises. And they are beyond precious.
So, with promises like that, what guilt or shame couldn’t you escape? What challenge couldn’t you face? Answer—not a single one.
3. You participate in the divine nature—That tricky-to-interpret phrase means that you share in the holiness of God through the promise of forgiveness. Or it could mean that you have the power to imitate God as the Holy Spirit guides you to holy decisions each day. Either way, your connection to the very nature of God might work better than an accountability partner or a fancy tracking app on your phone.
As a holy, beloved, forgiven, cleansed, rescued, redeemed child of the Most High God, what spiritual battle couldn’t you fight today? If Christ’s love compels you and fills you, what fight couldn’t you win? Answer—not a single one.
So, if you are making an effort to control yourself in the face of food, spending, venting, addiction, tough-to-love people or tough-to-resist temptation, remember where Peter begins. Not with what you do, but with what God did. Not with what you can give up, but what your Father is giving. Not with something for you to start, but with the salvation that Jesus finished.
So, resolve away. And rest in the promises that your eternity is safe because of Jesus.
Pastor Mike Novotny has served God’s people in full-time ministry since 2007 in Madison and, most recently, at The CORE in Appleton, Wisconsin. He will also serve as the new lead speaker for Time of Grace after Easter 2019, where he will share the good news about Jesus through television, print, and online platforms. Mike loves seeing people grasp the depth of God’s amazing grace and unstoppable mercy. His wife continues to love him (despite plenty of reasons not to), and his two daughters open his eyes to the love of God for every Christian. When not talking about Jesus or dating his wife/girls, Mike loves playing soccer, running, and reading.
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