By / Feb 21

I, ­­­___________________, hereby resolve, by the power of the Holy Spirit working within me, to seek to

Act like a man in watchfulness and strength, fulfilling my duties to my God, to my church, to my family, to my employer, to my neighbor, to my nation, and to all nations, governed by the precepts of Scripture and guided by integrity of heart (Job 38:3; 40:7; Prov. 11:3; Jer. 29:4-7; Matt. 25:14-46; 28:19-20; Luke 10:25-37; Acts 1:8; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-17);

Bless the God and Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten me again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for me, kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3-5);

Confess my sins to the Lord and to others forthrightly, striving to keep a clear conscience before God and man, knowing that if I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear my prayer and that he who covers his sins will not prosper (Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:13; Acts 24:16; James 5:16; 1 John 1:9);

Delight myself in the Lord, trusting in Him thoroughly, serving Him unswervingly, committing my way to Him unreservedly, and waiting on Him expectantly, thereby positioning myself properly to see Him act powerfully, granting my heart’s desires accordingly, to the glory of His name (Ps. 37:3-7);

Encourage every soul God brings across my path, building up rather than tearing down, blessing rather than cursing, letting no corrupt communication proceed out of my mouth but that which is good for edification that it may minister grace to the hearers (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27-28; Rom. 12:14; Eph. 4:29; 1 Thess. 5:11);

Forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven me, a helpless sinner, covering my sins through His atoning sacrifice, carrying them from me as far as the east is from the west, and casting them into the depths of a crimson sea, never to be charged against me (Ps. 103:12; Is. 1:18; 43:25; Micah 7:19; Eph. 4:32);

Give unto the Lord the firstfruits of my labor, bringing all the tithe of my increase into the storehouse, along with offerings as I’ve purposed in my heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but gratefully, for God loves a cheerful giver (Prov. 3:9; Mal. 3:10; 2 Cor. 9:7);

Humble myself in the sight of the Lord, who then will lift me up, for whoever exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted, as God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Matt. 19:30; 23:12; Mark 10:31; Luke 1:52; 14:11; 18:14; James 4:6, 10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6);

Invest in the lives of others as a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, evangelizing the lost, discipling the found, and uplifting the cast down, developing and using my spiritual gifts and natural talents for the expansion of the Kingdom and the building up of the saints (Matt. 25:14-46; 28:19-20; Luke 10:25-37; 1 Cor. 12:1-31; 2 Tim. 2:2; James 1:22);

Join the great cloud of witnesses who have gone before me walking by faith, not by sight, refusing to sell God’s blessings for a pot of porridge to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, but instead esteeming the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of this world, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Gen. 25:29-34; Heb. 11:1-40; 12:1-2);

Keep my heart with all diligence, walking by the Spirit with integrity of heart within my home, setting no unclean thing before my eyes and covenanting with my eyes that I will not look upon a woman lustfully, mindful that a young man cleanses his way by taking heed according to God’s Word (Job 31:1; Ps. 101:2-3; 119:9; Prov. 4:23; Gal. 5:16);

Love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself, being kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another and esteeming others better than myself, looking ever and always to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, who demonstrated the highest form of love by humbling Himself and becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-39; Luke 10:27; Rom. 12:10; Phil. 2:3-8; Heb. 12:2);

Make every effort to add to my faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly affection; and to brotherly affection, love, for if I have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:5-7);

Navigate the billowing seas of life guided by the compass of Scripture, with my eyes fixed not on my storm but on my Savior, the Captain of my salvation and Commander of my soul, the omnipotent Lord who reigns supreme over wind and wave and can immediately steady my feet, still my storm, and station me on dry land (Matt. 14:22-34; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21; Heb. 2:10);

Open my mouth for the voiceless, rescuing those who are being drawn toward death and imploring a confused and deceived culture to choose life, not death, for every human life is an image-bearer of the Creator (Gen. 1:26-27; Deut. 30:19; Ps. 82:3-4; 139:13-16; Prov. 24:11; 31:8-9);

Preach good tidings to the poor; to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God; and to comfort all who mourn, giving them beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Is. 61:1-4);

Quiet my soul daily before the Lord, drinking deeply from His Word and sitting silently in His presence, seeking to know Him and to hear from Him, ascribing to Him the glory due His name and worshipping Him in the beauty of holiness, for great is the Lord and greatly to be praised (Ps. 29:2; 46:10; 62:1, 5; 145:3; Phil. 3:10; 1 Pet. 2:2-3);

Remember the tender mercies of the Lord, recounting His magnificent workings in my life, from the biggest of breakthroughs to the smallest of details, meditating on all His work and talking of all His deeds that His name will be remembered in all generations (Ps. 45:17; 77:10-12);

Study to show myself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth and ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in me, with gentleness and respect (2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15);

Trust in the providential timing of Almighty God—the Sovereign Lord who can do all things and carries out His plans in the fullness of time—not limiting the Holy One of Israel or charging Him with wrongdoing for trials that brew and temptations that ensue during seasons of wilderness and wait, but keeping my eye on the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, my Deliverer who leads His people like a flock (Gen. 18:14; Ex. 13:21-22; Job 1:22; Ps. 77:20; 78:41; Jer. 32:17, 27; Luke 1:37; Gal. 4:4; James 1:12-15);

Uphold the high vision God has given me of marriage—a picture of Christ and His Bride, the Church—loving my wife even before I know her and preparing to lead her in all godliness and to lay down my life for her just as Christ laid down His life for the Church, meanwhile praying that my bride-in-waiting, a precious jewel to be found, would cultivate virtue through a deepening walk with God, that we would not arouse or awaken love until it pleases, and that in covenant marriage the Giver of life would bless us with fruit of the womb whom we may teach faithfully to know and to love Christ, for he who finds a wife finds a good thing, obtaining favor from the Lord, and children are a heritage from the Lord (Gen. 1:28; 2:24; Deut. 6:4-9; Ps. 127:3-5; 128:1-6; Prov. 18:22; 31:10; Song 2:7; 3:5; 8:4; Jer. 31:3; Hab. 2:2-3; John 15:13; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:7);

Value every moment as a gift from God, redeeming the time because the days are evil and asking God to teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom to know and to carry out His will, for He who began a good work in me will carry it out until the day of Jesus Christ (Ps. 90:12; Eph. 5:15-16; Phil. 1:6);

Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all might according to His glorious power, with all patience and longsuffering with joy (Col. 1:10-12);

X-ray my innermost being, inviting God to search me and know my heart, to try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24; 1 Cor. 11:28);

Yield my will to God just as Christ yielded His will to the Father all the way to the cross, drinking the cup He prepares for me, all the while trusting Him to show me the path of life, for in His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11; Matt. 26:38-42); and

Zero in on God’s all-encompassing purpose for my life: to know Him and to make Him known, testifying with both my life and my lips that Jesus Christ—the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the crucified Lamb and the coming King—is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-11; 3:10; Rev. 1:8, 11, 17; 22:12-13, 20).

So help me God. Amen.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

By / Feb 21

A new year signals a new beginning. With the simple turn of the calendar from one year to the next, millions of Americans resolve to turn over a new leaf, to make a fresh start. And that often entails New Year’s resolutions, many of which have already been abandoned and forgotten in 2014. It’s February, after all.

As creatures of habit (and of failure), many of us return to the same resolutions year after year. Among common commitments toward change: exercise more and lose weight, save more and spend less.

Such goals are commendable, to be sure, even as motivations to get one’s physical and fiscal house in order vary widely. But what about the spiritual dimensions?

For believers, we all ought to strive to care for our bodies and to steward well the financial resources God has entrusted us. After all, Scripture instructs us that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” and that we should “glorify God” in them (1 Cor. 6:19-20). The Bible is replete with financial counsel, too, warning that “the borrower is the slave of the lender” (Prov. 22:7). To devote proper attention to these areas of life is to walk in wisdom.

But annual ambitions toward a “new you” ought not to end here. How many of us resolve, seriously, toward growing in godliness?

The apostle Paul reminds us that “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Paul’s purpose here is not to dismiss care for our human bodies—he even says it has “some value.” He is, though, pointing us to the weightier matters of life, things that will carry into the next life and yield “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

The devoted Christ-follower—a “new creation” in very identity (2 Cor. 5:17)—pursues these things, and earnestly so. Yet, this righteous course we seek to travel often becomes a fog. We stumble and fall. We easily lose our way. One reason for seemingly perpetual distraction and disorientation may well be that our sincere desire to maintain clear vision and sure footing is cast merely with single spoken breath, rather than captured intently with pen and paper and set always before our eyes.

Popular advice to anyone charting a new course—or simply returning to an old, tried and true one—is to write it down. Scripture advises this too. Consider God’s instruction to His people Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9 ESV).

This call to “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” led me to consider the placement of God’s Word in my own home. Shortly after moving into a different apartment last year, I determined to permeate my humble abode with the fragrance of Christ. One of the most life-enhancing things I could do, I thought, would be to keep the Word of God always before me. Not simply an open Bible on the table, though that’s a good start, but something more.

That “something more” turned into a 26-point Scripture-saturated statement I titled “The 830 Resolution”—830 is my apartment number—each action point beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, A to Z. Far from exhaustive in scope, the resolution, now framed and hanging, serves as an ever-present reminder of God’s all-encompassing purpose for my life: to know him and to make him known, to testify with both my life and my lips that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. It is, in short, a resolution toward godliness.

While the 830 Resolution originates from the perspective of a single male, most of it applies to any believer, in any season of life. I share it here—imperfect as it may be and impossible as it will be for this broken man to always follow—in the hope that it might be of help to someone else, a fellow traveler.

So feel free to make it your own. Re-title it. Pull out sections and replace them with different ones. Or, better yet, start afresh and prayerfully write your own, from A to Z. After all, the source material God provides—the Bible—is vast. His story therein of love and redemption through Christ for fallen and sinful man is a call both to enter into his grace and to shine forth his glory. Make it your story.

And revisit it often. Tuck your resolution in your Bible, stick it to your refrigerator, hang it on a wall. Place it somewhere you’ll see it often, and be reminded of why you’re here and what this life is all about anyway.

As for next year, if by God’s grace another turn of the calendar comes around for me, perhaps I’ll write a new resolution. But maybe not. Quite possibly, no doubt having stumbled and fallen many times along my journey, I’ll just keep these same words hanging on my “830” doorposts for yet another year. Praise God we can always begin again.