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Required Resolutions

Required Resolutions

How many of you made New Year’s Resolutions? If you did, you have plenty of company. Researchers found that about one third of Americans make resolutions each New Year.

How many of you have already broken a New Year resolution, or fudged a bit on it?

Maybe you are like the man who turned to his friend and asked for a cigarette. The friend responded, “I thought you made a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking". He replied, “Well, right now, I’m in the middle of phase one—I have quit buying cigarettes.”

Unfortunately, most resolutions last about three days to three weeks, and certainly by February, we are right back in the rut we had resolved we’d get out of. It doesn’t take long for reality to extinguish out what little bit of willpower and enthusiasm we might have had. Researchers also found that less than 10% of us succeed in our resolutions.

This has led many to reject resolutions altogether. The thinking goes, “Why attempt something that is doomed to fail? Why pretend that change is possible when I know I will blow it? Then I will just feel worse about myself.”

That is why we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit daily. Our willpower is too weak. Regardless of what resolutions you have made or not made, there are some resolutions and commitments we must make as a Christian and seek the Holy Spirit’s power to accomplish them.

First, resolve and commit yourself to forget your past failures and feats.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

All of us have failed in some way in our lives. For many of us, our failures are painful memories. Maybe it is a memory of how you failed in a relationship. You made wrong decisions. You said and did wrong things, and the relationship ended. Some of you, who are parents, probably know that you failed your children in some way. Some of you children are aware that you have failed your parents. Many of us know that we have failed ourselves in some ways. And all of us should know that in some way we have failed God.

However, what God’s Word is saying is that we don't have to live our lives imprisoned by our past failures. We should learn from them, but not dwell on our past so much that it stops us from moving forward into what God has for us.

So, don’t let past failures define you. When Paul looked back, he saw a lot of things he was ashamed of: He had blasphemed the name of Jesus, persecuted the church, and opposed the Gospel. But, he was no longer that man. He had been born again of the Spirit and was forgiven. He refused to allow his past to define who he was. He was a new creation in Christ and God no longer saw him according to his past. And neither does God see YOU that way.

But past failures are not ALL we need to forget. We need to forget past feats or successes, too. In fact, when you read what Paul says in this chapter, he tells us about all the things he left behind and how he would not allow his past accomplishments prevent him from being all that God wanted him to be NOW. Past victories can lead us to be satisfied, nostalgic, and virtually useless. Dead churches have the tendency of sitting on former accomplishments – self-satisfied without a desire or burden for the work of the Lord today.

M. R. DeHaan, past editor of “Our Daily Bread”, said, “Self-satisfaction is the death of progress. Dissatisfaction with past accomplishments is the mother of invention. Pity the man who is content with his own progress and feels he has arrived. This is all the more true in the Christian life. Nothing is as deadly as self-satisfaction. The most boring people I have ever met are those who take up my time telling me what they have done when they ought to be doing something NOW.”

No one would have found fault with Paul if he had said, “I think I’m going to retire. I’ve worked hard. I’ve served the Lord faithfully all these years. I’ve put myself out there and suffered enough. It’s time to do a little something for me.”

But he didn’t say that. Instead, he said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Paul would not be satisfied until he took his last breath giving his all to Jesus in order to be like Jesus.

Looking at 2017, we are certainly thankful for all the Lord has done. But brothers and sisters, let us not focus on that. God is able to do exceedingly above all that we could ask or think. The Lord can do mighty things through people unwilling to settle for past accomplishments.

The second resolution and commitment is to give up your grudges.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

A grudge is a deep ongoing resentment that we cultivate in our hearts against someone else. A grudge is an evil spirit that leads to unforgiving attitudes and unforgiving actions.

Now, you know what a grudge is, but what you need to know is that grudges are dangerously destructive. Grudges destroy marriages. Grudges break up families. Grudges ruin friendships. Grudges split churches. One of the problems of the Church in general is the grudges that Christians hold against one another.

If you know you are holding a grudge against someone, Jesus has something to say to you.

Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Grudges are also self-destructive. When you hold a grudge against someone, it will hurt your much more than it will hurt the person you are holding it against. If you keep harboring a grudge, not only will your Father not forgive your sins, the grudge will eventually destroy you, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It will make you a bitter person instead of a holy person.

Hebrews 12:14-15 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

According to God’s Word, the way to give up a grudge is to forgive. Notice God isn’t asking you to ignore whatever the person has done to you. He isn’t asking you to trust them. He isn’t asking you to forget it. He isn’t asking you to condone it. And He isn’t asking you to pretend it didn’t matter.

What God asks you to do is to forgive the grievance. That means to acknowledge how wrong and painful it was, AND to choose to forgive the person who did the wrong, just as God has forgiven you of all the wrong things you have done. Jesus suffered on the cross because of your sin, AND He has forgiven you. Now, we can relate to God as forgiven people. Likewise, we are to forgive others and relate to them as forgiven people.

Therefore, some of you need to forgive the grievance you have against your parents for what they did or didn’t do. Some of you need to forgive your children for the same reason. Some of you need to forgive a spouse for emotional or physical abuse. Some of you need to give up the grudge you have against someone at work because of the way they have treated you. Some of you need to give up the grudge that stems from an argument you had with someone. Some of you even need to give up grudges you have against other people in this congregation.

God says the deep-seated resentment you have against that person has to go. Now don’t tell God you can’t forgive because what they did was so horrible. What you really mean when you say that is that you won’t forgive. If Christ can forgive you of all your sin, despite the fact that it cost Him the horrible pain of the cross, then surely you can give up the grievance you have with someone else. The question is will you do it?

This introduces the third resolution and commitment which is to restore your relationships.

Romans 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The Lord wants us to do everything we can to restore any relationships that may have gone wrong in our lives. Some relationships might have gone wrong in our lives because other people broke the relationship and they may not want that relationship restored. God recognizes that.

But some of our relationships have gone wrong because of what we have done. When God’s word says “so far as it depends on you”, He is saying if you have caused a rift in a relationship, then you have a responsibility to do everything you can to restore it. That everything includes the one thing we all probably find most difficult—asking for forgiveness. Many relationships are not all they should be or could be simply because we won’t say “I was wrong, I am sorry, will you forgive me.”

Deeds, once done, cannot be undone, but we can admit we were wrong, ask for forgiveness, and make restitution if possible.

Words, once spoken, cannot be taken back. However, we can begin restoration by asking for forgiveness for “harsh words and cutting remarks” that have wounded others over the years.

Certainly, it will be hard to do, but one of the most significant things that you can do for yourself and the Kingdom of God this year is to admit your past errors in relationships and humbly seek forgiveness from the one you have hurt.

The fourth resolution and commitment is to turn your back on your transgressions.

Christ died to set us free. The Holy Spirit has given us the power to be free. But many Christians still choose to obey their old master, sin.

Romans 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

For most of us, when we were saved, we gave up certain sins easily, but there are other things that we know are wrong and we still battle with them. Those are called besetting sins. A besetting sin is a sin that you are prone to do time and time again. Because they are difficult to give up, many of us give into our besetting sins and end up living double lives.

One common besetting sin that men and some women battle with is pornography. It is an addiction, just like drug addiction, but it is easy to hide. Those addicted to pornography are overcome with guilt. They swear they will not do it again, but over time they give in again. Too ashamed to do anything about it, they learn to live with it, but it cripples their spiritual life.

Is your spiritual life crippled because you have learned to live with a besetting sin? Maybe pornography is not your besetting sin, but do you have a quick temper that you constantly give into? Or a tongue that loves to assassinate other people’s characters or wound their feelings? Is your besetting sin listening to gossip and spreading it? Have you learned to live with that critical judgmental attitude you know is wrong?

Whatever it is, God commands us to turn our back on that sin, to stop letting it control the way we live, to stop giving in to it. We must stop making excuses. To break its power over us, we must confess it and expose it. We have tried to overcome it ourselves, but to no avail. Once we confess it, others can join us in prayer for deliverance and healing. When we become accountable to someone, we can turn to that person for prayer during times of temptation.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Jesus’ death broke the power of sin, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to resist sin and rebuke the devil. We have God’s grace through prayer in the Name of Jesus. That means that we don’t have to continue being defeated by the same old sin. We can have victory over it.

God says you are His child, so commit to live like God’s child and not as a slave to sin. If you will confess your sin, ask God for forgiveness and for the power of the Holy Spirit to resist that sin, and become accountable to others, then this year can be a new era in your spiritual life.

It all comes down to this: Will you rise to these commands from God’s word and make these four resolutions and commitments? Will you commit yourself to forget your failures and feats? Will you commit yourself to give up your grudges? Will you commit yourself to restore your relationships? Will you commit yourself to turning your back on your transgressions? I hope so, for God requires us to commit to these resolutions.

Maybe there is one other resolution and commitment you need to make that is more important.  Maybe you need to commit your life to Jesus Christ. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, publicly confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, repent of your sin, and give Jesus your life by dying to your old life in baptism. Your sin will be forgiven and you will be born again with eternal life by the Holy Spirit.