Jesus: More than Just a New Year’s Resolution

Welcome to the New Year!  It’s January again and we all know what that means.  It’s resolution time!
If you are a natural dreamer and goal setter, you likely have a vision for a better you in 2017.  So it’s easy for you to think up some resolutions and go after it.  For example, maybe you want to get healthier this year, so you decided you’re not only going to work out five times a week and ride your bike to work, but also give up sugar and eat a diet of mostly grass.

But maybe you are not a natural dreamer and goal setter.  Maybe you are more of a realist.  You laugh to yourself as the dreamers make unrealistic resolutions every year at this time.  You know that gym memberships maysky rocket in January, but will plummet in February.  You know that fad diets don’t work.  You know that as a culture, we may be good at setting resolutions, but we’re not all that good at keeping them.  So perhaps this year, your only resolution is to not make a resolution.

Well, regardless of whether you are a dreamer or a realist and regardless of whether you like to set resolutions or not, there is one thing we can all agree on: Jesus has a vision for a better you in 2017.  He wants to see you grow in your love for Him and your love for the people He has placed in your life (Matt. 22:37-40).  He wants to see you reflect his character in all that you do (Romans 8:29).  And he wants to see you love and honor your spouse (Ephesians 5:22, 25) and lead your children well (Proverbs 22:16).

But the question is how do we do that?  How do we get there?  What steps should we take to prioritize those things in our lives?

Well, setting resolutions like having a daily quiet time, joining a small group or scheduling a daily family devotion time are all great places to start.  Those are disciplines we should all try to turn into habits.   But, unfortunately, just like those January workout warriors discover come February, it can be hard to find the time to keep up with everything we want to do.  It can hard to keep God at the center when life is so busy and distracted.

As we look back into the Old Testament, we see Moses give the children of Israel an important talk before they entered the Promised Land.  For the past 40 years, they had been wandering in the desert.  Every day, they had tangible, visible reminders of God’s goodness and provision.  But that was about to change.  They were about to enter a new reality and Moses knew that there would be distractions in their new land.  They would grow prosperous.  They would get comfortable.  Life would get busier and it would be easy to get distracted.  It would be easy to drift away from what mattered most.

So Moses does something very wise.  He leans into the daily patterns and rhythms of life and encourages parents to use them to help both them and their children remember the goodness of God and grow in their love for him.  He says this:

You must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:6-9)

Moses encouraged the children of Israel to make God part of the rhythm of their everyday lives.  He did not want God to be put on a shelf and brought out on certain days of the week or year.  And he did not want God to be reduced to an item on a checklist.  He wanted God to be infused into the daily patterns of life.

What if we did that in 2017?

  • What if we let our kids hear us talking to God about the things weighing on everyone’s heart before we all head out the door in the morning?
  • What if we turned off the radio in the car – and asked our kids to take out their headphones – and used that time to really get to know our kids and help them apply biblical wisdom to the things they are facing?
  • What if we made the dinner table a technology free zone and had some open ended discussion about what we are learning in our walks with God?
  • What if we ended each day by speaking words of affirmation into the lives of our spouse and kids?
  • What if we identified a few families in our season of life and became intentional about living in community and doing life with them this year?

Part of the reason why we are not all that good at keeping our commitments is because we overcomplicate things.  But we don’t have to do that when it comes to the things that Jesus desires for us.  Deuteronomy 6 shows us that it is actually pretty simple.  Just find a rhythm and be intentional about using it for the things that matter most.

Jeremy Rader
Middle School Pastor
Thomas Road Baptist Church