Right around New Years and a little afterward is when people commit to making resolutions. Some people make the goal for the year to diet, to work out while others make resolutions to read through the Bible in a year. In this post, I want to challenge you in five specific ways to commit to making resolutions will help you grow in your walk with God, live in community with His people, grow in your marriage with your spouse (if you’re married), get physically and spiritually fit, and serve the Lord at home, in the church, in the world, and in your community. First, let’s consider the need for you to read your Bible.
Read Your Bible
Many Christians this time of year are thinking, “I commit to reading the Bible every year and never do it.” Personally, I spend a great deal of time not only reading the Bible but also listening to the Bible. Apps on your smartphone like YouVersion make it possible for you to listen to the Bible while you drive. This has become one of my favorite things to do. You need regular time in the Bible to grow in your walk with God. I know for me when I don’t have regular time in God’s Word I feel like I’m dry and often become grumpy and unpleasant to be around. By regular reading and feeding on God’s Word, I’m cultivating a daily practice whereby the Lord is renewing me so that I can be an effective instrument of His grace.
If you struggle with reading plans, I encourage you to take your time. Rather than making a resolution to reading the whole Bible in a year commit to reading and listening to the Bible, at least, ten to twenty minutes a day. It will not only help you to grow in your walk with God but help you to learn to deal with life circumstances as a Christian properly. Make a resolution this year to read the Bible for at least five to twenty minutes each day.
Join a Bible-Believing Church
I remember studying at a local coffee shop; a guy came up to me and we struck up a conversation. During the conversation, I asked him where he went to church, and he told me that he had Bible study at the local coffee shop with some people and that was his “church.” The present belief that people can have church anywhere and everywhere is partly true, but it is also wrong. It is true that when we fellowship with God’s people, the Spirit attends to our fellowship. It is also equally true that God commands us to gather together in the context of the local church. J.I. Packer once stated that there is no normal Christian life apart from the church. We gather together on Sunday so we can scatter the rest of the week at our jobs and lives.
This year I encourage you to join a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, gospel-centered church where you can participate in community with God’s people. I want you to not only join a church but find a small group where you can do life together with God’s people. It’s so easy just to go into a church building and seemingly never connect with anyone. Connecting with people requires intentionality. By joining a small group at your local church, you are making that type of commitment to growing with other believers in the study of God’s Word, prayer, and ministering to one another.
Get Physically and Spiritually Fit
One of the reasons I put physically and spiritually fit together is because they go together. ‘Garbage in, garbage out,’ so the saying goes. This year I am making a resolution to get physically fit. I’m going to be using my exercise bike that I bought but never use three times a week to exercise and get in a better shape. Life doesn’t slow down, and I need to do better at taking care of myself. I know well the benefits of physical exercise for most of my life I’ve been very physically fit. The truth is, though; many people will join a gym the first month of January and then give up only weeks later. This is why you need to be in community with God’s people by joining a local church and a small group at that church. You need accountability. Accountability, Burk Parsons, once quipped, is first and foremost an arm around the shoulder not a finger in your face. Be the kind of Christian that loves Jesus and others around them. That will attract questions from non-Christians and also help you to minister the gospel effectively to those who are hurting.
By getting physically and spiritually fit you are committing to caring for the temple of God—which is your physical body. By taking seriously disciplining yourself for the sake of godliness, you will grow in your walk with God while you work out. Perhaps you can even use your work out time for a double purpose—listening to your Bible, a sermon, some godly music, or even a good book. Make good use of your time, and you’ll grow in your walk with God.
Love Your Spouse
Life comes at us a million miles an hour these days. Finding focused time to enjoy our spouse can be hard. The daily rhythms of life can seem to cloud what is most important in our wives. This is especially true of marriage. Men have been commanded five times in Ephesians 5 to love their wives. Every Christian has been commanded by God to love the Lord and one another. In fact, Jesus said this is how the world is to know we love Him: if we love one another (John 13:35).
This year I want to challenge you to find focused time each day to spend with your spouse—to love them. For my wife and I, this means having time when we get home to chat, to tell each other about our day, and unwind. Then we’ll enjoy being around each other in the same room, sometimes watching a movie, reading a book, or just working on a variety of projects while being around each other. It also means committing to the continual pursuit of your spouse. Find some time to go on a walk, go out for dinner, a movie, or a vacation together. The point is, this year, resolve in all things to find time each day to show your spouse that you love and care for him/her.
Serve the Lord in Your Home, Church, Community and World
Lastly, let me challenge you to serve the Lord at home, in the church, in the world, and in your community. This is where you are going to have to think about what gifts, talents, and abilities the Lord has given you. For me, it means serving in a variety of ways at church as a Bible study leader, writer in the church newsletter, and several other areas. The point is to be available and praying that the Lord will provide you with opportunities to minister to people all around you. Commit to making your home a place where people want to come and where they feel at home. Men: love and care for your spouse by doing chores around the house for no other reason than to help your wife. Serve the Lord whether you are at home, at church, in your community, or traveling around the world. There are people all around you who need the gospel.
A Final Challenge
Whether you take up the five challenges I’ve listed for you here in this article or you have other areas that you feel that need work in your own life, let me encourage you to make the resolution to discipline yourself or the sake of godliness. Refuse to be apathetic and instead, grow slow and steady in the grace of God. 2017 will likely have many opportunities, challenges, trials, and hardships for us all. Let us chart the course towards becoming more like Jesus and view this year, and indeed each day, as an opportunity to know and serve our great God and King Jesus Christ in 2017 and beyond, all for His glory!