Thursday, January 1, 2015

High Resolution Life

I hope that you had a great time welcoming 2015 last night.  Joe, our friend Akash, and I went to our landlord's party (right next door!) like we did last year, and it was a lot of fun!
So much so that this was the scene in our house around 11:30 this morning:
Even Tequila got in on the action, although she did NOT like the fireworks.  Poor girl!

Ok, let's get on with today's post...

With the coming of the new year, many people decide to make New Year's resolutions.  While I don't make resolutions each year, I do plan to set specific goals for 2015 because I feel that I'm more likely to stick to them (you'll find out with they are tomorrow!).

On Sunday, the sermon at church focused around setting New Year's resolutions.  The pastor listed many popular resolutions: to lose weight, quit smoking, get fit/work out, go on a diet, save money, etc.
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She pointed out that all of these deal with something that we do or a way that we live our lives.  She went on to say that the best thing that we can do is to resolve to live for God.  The Scripture for the day shows a great example that Jesus gave of how we all should resolve to live our lives for God day-to-day and year-to-year.

In Luke 2:41-52, Jesus's family goes to Jerusalem for Passover.  Afterward, Jesus's mom and dad realize a few days later that Jesus was not with them as they traveled home.  They went back to Jerusalem and found him in the temple with the teachers learning from them.  After telling his parents that they should know he would be in his Father's house, he goes back to Nazareth with them.  The very last verse of that passage says:

"And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."
Luke 2:52 (NIV)

These four things are what we should resolve to do as we strive to live for God.  Here's how we do those things:
  1. Grow in Wisdom-the pastor talked about how wisdom isn't just learning about God, but it's also using what we know to act wisely.  This requires us to know the Word of God, but also to act accordingly.  James 1:22 says "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."
  2. Grow in Stature-this could mean physically, but it can also mean in maturity.  We can do this by maturing spiritually in many ways--going to church, praying, studying the Bible, participating in community with other Christian believers, etc.  The big thing here is that it requires work on our part.  Growing in spiritual stature isn't just going to happen on its own.
  3. Grow in favor with God-in order to do so, we must be obedient to Him.  In order to do that, when we pray, we also need to listen for Him and what He might be saying to us.  I believe that God does speak to us through a variety of means, but we have to actually be obedient to Him, as well.
  4. Grow in favor with man-we talked about how this can be a slippery slope.  We don't want to be people pleasers, but we do this by gaining people's respect.  
This may seem very hard to do, especially because the example that was set for us was by Jesus, who is also divine.  But, the same wording of Luke 2:52 is also used in reference to someone in the Bible who was fully human:

"And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people"
1 Samuel 2:26

Samuel was a prophet of Israel and a Hebrew judge.  So, if Samuel can grow in the same way that Jesus did, we can, too!

So, as you make your New Year's resolutions, consider resolving to live for God this year.  While that is a very broad resolution, focusing on growing in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and people can give some "action steps" to work toward to make that happen.

Question for you: Do you set New Year's resolutions?  If so, what is your resolution for this year?

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