Here are a few thoughts to help guide you if you are thinking of undertaking some resolutions and some areas that the Lord has been emphasizing to me in which I need to grow.
Don’t be hasty in promising God you’re going to do something in 2012 – “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7).
We are always good at coming up with things we should do, but never very good at finishing what we’ve started. If we promise God we are going to do something, we need to realize that He takes it seriously and so should we. As you make up your list of things to accomplish, keep it short and be careful about what you set out to accomplish.
The Lord is the One who is transforming us into the image of Christ – “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
We are to work and labor through faith in Christ and obedience to His Word. However, ultimately it is the Lord who is at work in us and unless the Lord builds and His blessing is on the work, all we do is in vain. We must hold onto this perspective as we plan for the New Year. The apostle Paul described it to the Philippians in this way: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
For me personally…
Fasting – “And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast’” (Matt. 9:15).
I’ve fasted only occasionally in the past, but I really sense the need now to do more of this. If fasting is new to you and you’d like to learn more, I would recommend Don Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (I found a summary of this at https://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2230822302&topic=2505).
Dealing with Practical Atheism – “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will he do ill’” (Zephaniah 1:12 ESV).
Practical atheism is something that every believer wrestles with at different points in his life (see December 8 blog). It is very disturbing to me to see myself give in to temptation with thoughts of: “The Lord understands and won’t hold me accountable—I’ve had a rough week” or “There’s no use in hoping for anything better in this situation, the Lord’s not concerned with this.” All such thoughts portray an attitude of “I’m operating at the moment as if there is no God.” My goal is to seek Christ and His glory more intently during these times.
Praying for Revival
Growing up, it seems all we did was pray for revival. And though our understanding at the time was not quite what it should be on the subject, we were still concerned that as a church, we were not what we should be and desired for God to do a great work among us. This is no longer the case in many of our churches. I don’t know if it is because we are content with the way things are, thinking we’re getting along fairly well, or if it is a case of such an idea isn’t even on our radar. True revival is a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in which He brings about an intense and widespread (in a church or group of churches) deep conviction of sin, increased affection for our Savior, and more complete trust and obedience to His Word for a divinely appointed period of time. The only way the Lord blesses us with such an outporuing is through the clear preaching and teaching of His Word and prayer. As I move forward into 2012, I am again seeking the Lord for revival. Won’t you join me?