Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year's Revolution

Many of us make resolutions when the New Year comes. Some of us keep them a few weeks, some make it through the entire month of January. But very few actually accomplish their annual goals. I found a list of my goals from last year. I reached some, but failed to accomplish most of them, so I just changed the heading from 2013 to 2014. Since then God has been speaking to me about what He wants for me this year.

There's nothing wrong with resolutions per se. Here’s what the apostle Paul had to say about resolve…

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Maybe we make things too hard, too complex. Maybe the goals we set are not realistic, not measurable or not attainable. Maybe we should try to minimize our goals, narrow our focus. This year I have asked the Lord to give me just one thing to focus on and He gave me this one word…follow.

Remember what Jesus said about following Him?

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

We don’t like to deny ourselves. It seems almost un-American. We live in a land of indulgence and instant gratification. When we want something, we get it. We go buy it or charge it. But if we’re going to follow Jesus, He said that we must deny ourselves, and take up the cross daily. Taking up the cross means dying to self. The outer man is broken before Him. Like a kernel of wheat, the shell must break before new life can grow from within. That's what it means to follow Jesus.

Last month I read a book called “Speaking of Jesus” by Carl Madearis. He lived in Beirut, Lebanon for 12 years, serving as a missionary to Muslims. The way he reached Muslims was to talk about Jesus. They don’t want to hear about Christianity, they don’t want to hear about your spiritual convictions and preferences but they will listen to you talk about Jesus. They revere and honor Jesus as a prophet of God. What a novel idea!

It's no wonder Christians are scared to share their faith. We have complicated things and turned evangelism into a formula. There's the Romans Road, Four Spiritual Laws and Evangelism Explosion but why not simply talk about Jesus? But then you have to ask yourself, do you really know Jesus well enough to tell others about Him? If you're going to talk about Jesus, then you need to study His life, what He did, what He said. Here's what Paul had to say about his quest to know Jesus...

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11

The one thing I want to focus on this year is following Jesus. I want to become more like Him. If I’m going to follow Jesus, then I need to get to know Him more. I need to saturate myself in the Word and spend more time with Him. I must learn what He did, what He said, see how He treated people and how He responded to them. I want to represent Him, I want to resemble Him, I want to imitate Him, I want to exemplify Him, I want to smell like Him. Maybe you will resolve to do this with me.

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