If you are like most of us, you have prayerfully considered some things you would like to be different about 2015 compared to last year. This may have led you down “The Road of Resolve.” Perhaps you resolve to. . .
– get in better shape
– earn better grades
– spend more wisely
– be more organized
– be more patient
– serve more
– save more
– give more
– forgive quickly
– love unconditionally
– pray unceasingly
Did I miss one of your resolutions?
The Scriptures make it crystal clear that the redeemed of God are right to resolve. Noah resolved to build the ark that God called him to build (Genesis 6). Abraham resolved to follow wherever God was leading him (Genesis 12). Joseph resolved to trust God, even when he couldn’t understand being sold into slavery and taken down into Egypt (Genesis 39-50). Daniel resolved in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food (Daniel 1). Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego resolved not to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol (Daniel 3). Mary resolved to respond by faith to the news she received from the angel Gabriel concerning the virgin birth of the Son of God (Luke 1). John the Baptist resolved to be a voice crying out in the wilderness to prepare the way for Jesus (Matthew 3). After his encounter with Jesus, Zacchaeus, the tax collector, resolved to repay anyone he had cheated four times the original amount (Luke 19).
Rooted in relationship
Resolve is right and good, but Christian, keep in mind that our resolve must be rooted in our relationship with our Redeemer. To resolve to do anything, big or small, apart from the strength of the Almighty is to set ourselves up for discouragement and defeat. You see, even when we resolve to accomplish something — and even if we actually do accomplish it in our own strength — it is merely a work of the flesh done for the glory of the flesh.
Jesus told [His disciples], “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. (Matthew 26:31-35)
Notice the problem with Peter’s resolve: it was rooted in a single word . . . “I” . . . which is the shortest distance between resolve and retreat! And that is exactly what happened to Peter on that terrible night. He was thrown into humiliating retreat by a servant girl and denied Jesus three times, just as the Lord had said. Peter’s self-confident “I” turned into a bitter cry of utter retreat. Peter had built his resolve on the first part of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things,” but he missed the most important part of that verse, “through Christ who strengthens me.” And that, beloved, is the key that will return multiple rewards from every resolve you make this New Year.
More than we imagine
To be sure, your resolve may not turn out just as you had hoped it would! Your picture of accomplishment may not be the picture of accomplishment the Almighty has planned for you. But when your resolve is rooted in the strength of your Savior, you can be confident that you will reap a harvest of rewards you never expected in ways you never imagined.
I speak from personal experience. I can’t tell you how many times I resolved to do something, bathed it in prayer, believed it by faith and built it in His strength. Yet the finished product was nothing like I had pictured at the outset. And every single time what God had planned for me was always much better than what I had planned. Isn’t that just like our God? He is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Christian believer, prayerfully consider each and every resolve you believe God is calling you to make; just keep them rooted in your Redeemer. The psalmist prayed, “Deal bountifully with your servant” (Psalm 119:17 ESV). He was expecting blessings from God because he was a servant of God who was working in the strength of God for the glory of God. It is right to expect God’s blessings when our resolve is rooted in our Redeemer.
As you ready yourself for another New Year and feel new resolve, remain rooted and built up in your Redeemer, being confident that you can do all the things God desires you to do this year through Christ who strengthens you.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that . . . Amen.
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.