Did you make some New Year's resolutions this year? Maybe you're one of those people who are anti-resolution. Or maybe you always make resolutions, but never carry them out. It's probably the rare person in our circles who actually sets new resolutions and succeeds in them. Personally, my resolutions began a bit earlier than the new year. God began convicting me quite awhile ago about my saggy prayer life. While I was praying, it was disorganized, sporadic and distracted. I was dissatisfied with my prayer life and wanted to see more of God's hand at work. In these desires that God gave me, He also gave me the push this past November (by way of J.C. Ryle's Holiness) to build up my personal spiritual discipline of prayer.
As with most things in my life that are undisciplined, it takes some effort to bring about some structure and strength. Whether it be physical exercise, prayer, Bible reading, waking up at a reasonable hour...none of these things come easy to my flesh. I need to set about a plan, rally up troops to encourage me to follow through, and then do it. What I've found encouraging in these past few months is God's kindness. He sends me cheerleaders, examples, sermons, and even movies that spur me on in the right direction. I'm reminded that God is rooting for me along with the saints who have gone on before me. (Hebrews 12:1)
Sometimes we think we should stop a resolution if we don't feel like doing it. This is particularly popular with building up spiritual disciplines. I've had people tell me that I shouldn't read the Bible unless my heart is really in it. But, I want to tell you: that is nonsense. Stop reading the Word and you will soon fall into every lie, accusation, and condemnation that the enemy of our souls flings at you. Just because you don't feel like fighting the battle doesn't mean the enemy has given up. If anything you've just welcomed him into your private quarters and he will soon destroy and devour you.
In this new year, go ahead and create resolutions if you want. Whether you do or don't, what I want to put out there as a challenge to us is this: Be Resolute. Remember Daniel in the Bible? Daniel was a young man who was taken from his homeland and brought into a new place, given a new name, offered new foods, taught a new language and thrust under a new king.
But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Daniel 1: 8
Daniel was resolute in his actions. He didn't take a little bit of the foreign delicacies one day, but then stand firm the next. He didn't imbibe a bit at lunch then take the opposite stance in the evening. What Daniel believed, he lived. What he purposed, he did.
The only way that we will stand strong on the Word of God is to read it consistently and to pray to our Father without ceasing.
I'm amazed that I think I can live as a Believer and be so pathetic in my spiritual disciplines. Do I honestly think that I will be strong enough to resist possible dangers in our world if I am half-hearted in my training? It's nothing but romantic notions to think that I would be able to stand firm against dreadful things like ISIS or other madmen if I'm too ashamed to speak of Jesus with my family or friends!
May I resolve to diligently train my heart and mind with the Word of God so that I may stand firm in the physical battles that may lie ahead of me and in the spiritual battles that await me every single day. I pray that 2016 may be just the start of your resolute following of Jesus Christ.