Thefreedictionary. com states that res-o-lu-tion means:
1. The state or quality of being resolute, firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of actions determined or decided on.
If you look at these definitions, then when we make these resolutions, we need to approach them with firm determination. We cannot and will not give up at the first sign of resistance or discouragement.
Years ago, when I pastored in Virginia, I was an active member of a large gym. Every year, in January, the place was packed with newcomers seeking to follow up on their New Year’s resolutions by shedding a few pounds. By the end of the month, the newcomers were seldom seen. They had gotten discouraged and quit. As a Christian, here are some general goals for 2014:
1. Desire to draw closer to the Lord this year. Make this a priority in your life. It is much easier to say, “I will attend church more, or give more, etc. than it is to truly desire to know God, the creator of all. How does one draw closer to God?
a. Prayer - Develop a strong prayer life. Begin and end each day praying. Begin by finding a quiet place and spend time with God in prayer. Share with Him your praises, your thanks, your desires and requests
b. Scripture - God has given you a wonderful gift in His Word, the Bible. Begin to read His Word daily. Find a plan to read through the Bible in a year. Each day, pray that the Holy Spirit will illuminate His Word for you so that you can learn the deep spiritual meanings that He has for you in the Bible.
c. Meditation - Spend time in God’s Word and meditate on the meaning of the Scripture that you have read. Sometimes, we are too busy trying to get through the verses and move on to our next task, that we forget to think through what these verses say to us.
2. Worship the Lord this year. When you attend worship services, come prepared to worship. This should start the day before you worship. Begin to think about the Lord on Saturday and pray to Him expecting Him to speak to you through the spoken Word (the sermon), the reading of Scripture, and the singing of songs. God truly uses all three to help challenge us, encourage us, grow us, and prepare us to go out in the world and to be a witness. I find that many believers have forgotten why they go to church in the first place. Don’t miss out on the blessing.
Come to worship having prayed that God would speak to you and expect just that.
3. Small group bible studies - Get your family involved in a small group Bible study. We, at First Baptist, call this Sunday School and provide classes for all ages. Why is this important? It is one thing to worship corporately; it is another to study the Scriptures with other believers. Sunday School is a wonderful place for Bible study and fellowship. Our church has two services on Sunday morning and can be rather impersonal if all you do is come to worship. It is hard to get to know someone just through worship. I find that the best way to grow is through Sunday School. There, you can discuss with other believers the meaning of Scripture and ask questions. Or, you can just sit back and listen.
4. Serve - Get active in serving others. Sign up to do ministry here in Walker County or across the world. You can teach small groups, do short term mission trips, work in our soup kitchen and minister to others. Join in our outstanding music ministry or youth/children’s ministries. This all takes place in the local church. It is easy to find a place of service. Come ready to put feet to your faith.
5. Commit - Make a commitment to wherever you worship and serve. Why not make a commitment to God and His family, the church? What does that commitment entail? It means:
a. Join. Make a commitment to your local church family.
b. Give. Learn the biblical concept of tithing (10 percent is a start).
c. Attend. Be there every chance you get.
What difference will this make? When you commit, you are telling God and your family that this is important to you. You are saying to your spouse that your religious faith is very important to you; you are saying to your children that your faith is not “one more thing in your life,” but “the most important thing in your life.”
Surprise your family, your friends and your pastor this year with a serious, renewed commitment to serve God in 2014 and beyond. It will be the best New Year’s resolution you ever made!
Dr. Dennis R. Culbreth is the Senior Pastor of Jasper’s First Baptist Church www.jaspersfbc.org