With 2014 knocking at our front door, I highly recommend a little “God-exercise” that Prince Philip and I have followed since our early married years. With the beginning of each New Year, we do two things. First, we spend some intentional time talking about what God has done in our lives in the previous year and thanking Him for His goodness. Now this need not be lengthy, complicated, or elaborate – usually we do it at a breakfast out on New Year’s morning! It’s a beautiful way to make sure that we have our sights trained not on ourselves or our achievements, but on God and His action in our lives.
And the second thing we do is equally important. We ask God what He has planned for us in the New Year! We look at what He has done in the previous year and as we recognize His movement, we prayerfully anticipate His direction and desire for us in the New Year. Again, this is to make sure we have our sights trained not on our own plans, but on God’s plans.
Usually this “God-exercise” results in making a few commitments or resolutions for the New Year. No, not the “lose weight, stop smoking and drinking and eating chocolate” kind of resolution, but the kind of resolution that forms and shapes us over time more into the image of our Savior Jesus Christ.
So from our years of following this “God-exercise”, let me offer what I believe to be the 10 Best New Year’s Resolutions for Christians! They are not in any particular order or priority. I hope you will read them and then adopt one or more or ALL!
- Resolve to stay faithful to Jesus no matter what. No compromise, no matter the pressure from family, job, peer group, or culture. Remaining faithful to Jesus in both big and little ways and everything in between is what life is all about.
- Resolve to make what matters to God’s heart matter to yours. Consider what makes God happy and what breaks His heart and make those things matter to you also. Does He care about the poor, the widow, the fatherless, those in prison? Then care about them also. Does it matter to Him how you speak to your family? Then let it matter to you also.
- Resolve to take seriously the Sabbath. When we allow anything to get in the way of weekly worship in God’s House with God’s people, we are breaking the 4th Great Commandment of “keeping the Sabbath day holy”. Weekly worship is the most basic and one of the most important of Christian commitments.
- Resolve to pray like you’ve never prayed before. Follow the example of Jesus who rose early each morning to spend time with His Father. If Jesus needed and desired time in prayer, so do and so should we. Start simply with just 15 minutes in God’s presence when you tell Him how grateful you are for all His blessings to you and let prayer grow from there.
- Resolve to not allow anything – possessions, people, hobby, career, sports – become an object of worship. In Exodus 10, God said, “I am the Lord your God. You must not have any other god but me. Make no idols.” Let’s not kid ourselves – God is not pleased when the devotion which belongs to Him is shared with anyone or anything else!
- Resolve to tell one person each week something about Jesus. So many need to hear a good word about what God has done for you or how you have come to know Jesus or how God loves them. Don’t be fancy or complicated! Just share a word about Jesus from your life with them. Leave the results to Him – who knows what God might do?
- Resolve to step out in service once each month. It’s possible for a whole year to go by without a Christian stepping out in service to others – and that’s tantamount to “Christian crime”! We need to put feet to our faith and to move out to serve others! Look for places to serve – proactively seek them out. Don’t just wait for opportunities to come to you.
- Resolve to watch your language and eliminate destructive talk. If you use the Lord’s name in vain, stop. If you criticize or condemn or gossip, if you speak in anger or blame or self-pity, give your tongue to God and pray every day that He would give you words that bless, not hurt, and words that build up, not tear down, others.
- Resolve to grow in your love of God’s Word. And there is no way to grow in your love of anyone or anything without getting to know them more deeply! Read and learn and enjoy God’s Word daily. Use the New Living Translation Chronological Bible this year. For an online version, go to www.oneyearbibleonline.com and click on “Chronological Readings”. Set your default to “NLT New Living Translation” and then just click on the day’s reading! For a softbound copy, purchase at www.Christianbooks.com and input “NLT One Year Chronological Bible”.
- Resolve to tame “Mr. More”. Our culture tempts us every day to find fulfillment in possessions, experiences and entertainment. “Mr. More” tell us the more we acquire, the happier we will be. Yet our hearts are hungrier than ever! True joy, fulfillment and satisfaction will happen only when we fill our hungry hearts with God and deep relationship with Him. Want God more and things less this year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Friends and Family — with love from the Youngs!
After more than 25 years in parish ministry, Rev. Cathie retired in early 2018 to pursue a quieter life with her husband Philip in the mountains of Central Oregon. Although no longer a leader in congregational life, she continues to follow her calling and passion to minister to those who suffer, especially those with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.