Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Our New Year's Resolutions

Listen online or download Sunday messages, and here! This message was from Colossians 3:12-17, on Sunday December 30, shared by Blanca Baker.

Opening: Psalm 19:14 Oh Mighty God, May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer?” In Christ’s name, Amen.

What really is a New Year’s Resolution?

A New Year's Resolution is a commitment that a person like YOU or Me makes to complete a project or we recognize a need for us to change a habit or in many cases, we need to make a lifestyle change. Colossians 3:12 to be read from the Bible.

New Year’s Resolutions are made at this time of the year and typically they are broken by the end of February. Why should we even be bothering with them? Today’s scripture describes the character qualities of disciples of Jesus Christ.

Are we disciples of Jesus? Can we see ourselves in these descriptions, “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience”??  We do not always meet these descriptions, but these are the qualities that God is forming in our lives.

Earlier, in Colossians 3:2, Paul tells us to concentrate on “things from above”, not on worldly things, because our lives are “hidden with Christ in God”. Paul invites each one of us, as God’s chosen people, to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and become more and more like Jesus.

Paul tells the Colossians that we have, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the knowledge of His divine power and divine glory. It is this power and glory that energizes us in our transformation to become more and more like Jesus. And Paul provides us, here in our focus passage; several practices that shape our souls and make us open to the Spirit of God and the glory of Jesus Christ.

So, I invite you to make a specific New Year’s Resolution for your relationship with God, using one or more of these practices in your daily life. The practices in this passage are: Give Thanks, Love, Unity, and Prayer and study the Scriptures.

Give Thanks. Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Verse 16, “with gratitude in your hearts”. Verse 17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

First and foremost, I want to emphasize my gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ for this past 2012 year. In all honesty, this was not my best year, but I am grateful to God that I am in good health, able to stand here and share his precious word with all of you, and I’m also thankful that God gave me another precious granddaughter, Gabriella Elise.  


I am also thankful for having the opportunity to get to know and spend time with Marie Snyder, Curvin's Mother; she was a woman who was full of wisdom. Whenever I had the opportunity to visit her, I walked out of her room feeling grateful for being there because of the welcoming atmosphere that Marie and her roommate, Eleanor, always provided. But there is something I want to share with you about Marie Snyder, her grandson David told me that Marie shared with him the prayers that I prayed for her when I visited her.

I thank God and the Holy Spirit, that I was able to touch her spiritually with my little prayers. It shows her gratitude toward life and her gratitude toward God. Being grateful to God for every little thing is part of recognizing the love that God has for us and is a sign that we truly know and love Him.  

2. Love and Unity. Colossians 3:12, Paul tells we are “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly love”.

Indeed, as Christians, we are "God's chosen people, holy and beloved " by Him, willing and open to receive His grace and love as a perfect link to the unity through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

My New Year’s resolution is to keep striving to live my life being faithful to God and to add virtue to my faith for a better understanding of His precious word.

I pray for the ability to be more attentive to family unity and to display self-control in order to improve my loving and everlasting relationship with God and our families, because family is important and…… God does not want to see our families torn apart. Jesus’ teachings depict family unity as he speaks of His Father in heaven.

I know our lives are very busy, but in order to have a strong relationship with God we must be in a good relationship with our families and neighbors.

I want to emphasize that the little things we do for our church families who we visit in nursing homes, hospitals or at their homes, shows the love and unity that we have here at Bethany. As we continue to visit people like Marie Snyder and all the other members who are physically unable to attend Bethany church, we promoting unity within our church family as we all are one family in Jesus Christ. 

Paul also talks about loving and forgiving one another without reservation and to clothe ourselves with patience, humility, kindness and friendliness, before we can come to God.

So if there is something we need to reconcile with a loved one or a friend, this should be a New Year’s resolution for us to forgive one another as God has forgiven our sins through our faith in Jesus.

As we read the Apostle Paul’s letters, we may think that he is asking for a great deal, but as Matthew 19:26 states, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Indeed, in Christ everything is possible.

3. Prayer and Scripture. Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with wisdom, and as you sing Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God.”

Another idea for a New Year’s Resolution is to create a group of two or three people to pray together or to be in prayer for them each week. Please consider using a few minutes of your day to sing a hymn or say a prayer in order for you to feel the spirit of God coming closer to you.

I am personally touched by God when I sing a hymn to God or simply tuning into a Christian radio station’s gospel music will inspire you. Pastor JP will be happy to recommend some more ideas for you personally. 

One other area of emphasis is to pray to God that we will be more diligent in our prayers for this nation and that He will help to lead our nation to become more faithful to Him. I pray that God will continue to bless us with direction to seek to Him to depend on Him and that every idea, every decision and any concerns that we may have, are placed in the cupped hands of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We must pray that God is in our hearts so He transforms our thoughts, changes our attitudes about everything and everyone with whom we share our lives and whom we face every day challenges.  As Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and  a future.”

As we are God’s chosen people, we must not lose our focus on including God in our promises for this coming year. It is imperative that we nurture and guard our Christian faith so that our relationships with the Creator are not harmed or spoiled by only focusing on un-godly or material possessions.

God promises us great things through the scriptures and we need to find those promises that will enrich us spiritually each day. Pray without ceasing as Colossians 4:2 tells us, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” so that we can live our lives in hope so we can achieve His kingdom as we are coheirs with the Lord Jesus.

Conclusion:

I invite you to strongly consider making a promise for the New Year’s resolution to become more obedient to God. We are the anointed people of God and we need to ask Him to grant us the ability to best understand His word as we continue searching the Scriptures each day.

Whatever it is that you choose to be your New Year’s resolution let it be God-centered so that we may remain in unity with each other and in our love of the Lord Jesus Christ!! 

As the power of God does not teach us simply to feel bad about our wrong doings, or the resolutions we have broken. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In fact, God’s power brings positive transformation to our lives and helps us recognize the mistakes we made prior to the time when we have come to understand the teachings of Jesus.

While most people know about Jesus, they may not necessarily understand his teachings.

Based on this, I refer to my own experiences in my young life; I knew that Jesus was love, but I did not understand that I would incur the wrath of God as a result of being disobedient. I did not understand that His wisdom frees us from our sins. At the same time, He gives us hope and frees us from continuing to make the same mistakes and He never asks where we have been. He simply receives us with open arms and He says come in my son or my daughter, you are welcome.

So my New Year’s resolution for the coming year, 2013, is to have my best relationship ever with God, with families and with friends. I will center my New Year’s Resolution promises on God; otherwise they will be broken by the end of February.

I trust you all will agree that I will have a better chance of keeping all my promises or Resolutions for the New Year if they are centered on the Almighty God.

Our responsibility is to be faithful to God, sharing His love, His words and His prayers with one another. If we trust in Him, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, He will do the rest and the love of Christ will abundantly bless us in the New Year and always.

Prayer to close the sermon:
Almighty and powerful God, please grant us a vision that shows us the way to see your wisdom and your peace.

Help us to continue to be faithful to you so that we may live our lives aiming for your perfection here and now and that we may live each day in peace and in your love with one another.

Oh God, please bless us so that we may continue seeking to find the true joy, true love, and peace in You.  In Christ Name, Amen.
 
Benediction:
Now go forward in peace and with the love of God in your hearts, and I pray that the Almighty God be with you at all times and to give you spiritual prosperity as well as prosperity in all areas of your life in the coming New Year!!

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!! 

Happy New Year!!!!

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