Published February 4, 2011

Paul's Epistle...
"Resolved..."

I'm not really a big fan of making New Year's resolutions. It's an interesting tradition, but I've just never felt that it was necessary. And, quite often, it doesn't seem to help much. I read just the other day, in fact, that a majority of New Year's resolutions remain in effect for only a very short period of time – a matter of weeks, not months.

Nevertheless, there are some resolutions that could be made that would be beneficial. In fact, in my recent interviews with various artists more than the usual number of them have made resolutions for 2011. (You'll hear why on the program in a week or so.)

So – because I like to keep things simple – I've come up with just two resolutions that would be extremely worthwhile for the new year.

#1 - Be thankful!

We hear a lot about being thankful around Thanksgiving time each year. But it really is something that's very important throughout the year. First and foremost, of course, is our thankfulness to God for His many blessings throughout the past year. It doesn't really matter how bad your year seemed, there was still a lot of good in it. You're still here. You're still healthy enough to be reading this. So be thankful!

Being thankful brings us to reflect on the goodness and faithfulness of God – two of His chief attributes. And thankfulness to God results in praising Him. God, of course, is certainly worthy of our praise.

But we should also have a thankful spirit toward others. Thanking others for what they do – and even simply who they are – can, in and of itself, improve relationships and be a much-needed encouragement.

#2 - Love!

Is there anything more important than love? I can't think of any. Neither could the Apostle John: "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love" (1 John 4:8). God defines Himself as "love."  From that love stems everything He has done, does and will do for us – His blessings, His grace, His salvation through Christ ("For God so loved the world..." John 3:16).

So it's only fitting that we should love God. "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). And every day that we live and breathe our love for God should grow as we come to a fuller awareness and understanding of the infinite scope of His love for us.   But because of God's love and our love for Him, we should also love those around us. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11).

So what does God want us to resolve?  As Deut. 12:12-13 asks, "what does the Lord your God require of you?"  The answer is, "to fear  [reverence, worship] the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes..."  And that verse concludes with the reason for doing all this: "...for your good," or, as another translation puts it even more clearly, "for your own well-being" (NRSV). Those verses alone can form the basis of wonderful New Year's resolutions — because, after all, that's what God wants for us.  Christ called it the "greatest commandment" — "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt 22:37).  And He quickly added the second greatest commandment: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (v. 39).

So, we should resolve to love God more and love our neighbors — all those with whom we have any contact — more. We should resolve – through the new year and, in fact, for the rest of our lives – to strive to live for the Lord daily in every possible way, to recognize God's love for us and to let His love flow through us to others. And, of course, He'll help you with that – if you ask Him. And listen to His response.

Remember that old hymn, "Living For Jesus?"

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

And the refrain is our promise — our resolution — to the Lord:

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.

Now, THERE'S a worthwhile New Year's resolution!

- Paul

Comments on this? paul@thegospelgreats.com

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