By Christine Darg
Why don’t New Year Resolutions ever seem to work and change us for the better?
New Year resolutions are all about what we think we ought to do– stop a bad habit …. start exercising… eat a healthy diet. These all sound great, but typically a resolution is based on what we think we should do, rather than what we really want to do deep down inside.
A resolve must come not from our mind but from our spirit.
An article in Psychology Today said the reason that New Year resolutions don’t work is that people have unconscious resolutions NOT to change.
For every voiced resolution to lose weight, to stop smoking or drinking, to save money, to call your Mom more often, to control your temper, to finish a project, there are unconscious commitments to maintain the status quo!
So what does the Bible teach to enjoy a good year?
At the beginning of a New Year, I’m increasingly reminded how fast time is racing and that we’re closer to the Lord’s return. The Second Coming of Jesus is a set time in God’s economy. On that day people will appear before the Lord, and He’ll have only two things to say:
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
Or, tragically, the other possibility is, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Since we’re now one year closer, when everybody’s final destiny will be revealed and sealed, my goal is to encourage us to make better use of the time we have remaining, and to prepare us for the day of reckoning that awaits everybody.
Rather than resolutions per se I’d like to suggest 10 biblical activities that will help us to succeed in the New Year.
The first key, and this one is really urgent, is to be sure that you have a saving knowledge of the Lord, that you have been born again so that you’ll be ready to meet the Lord at a moment’s notice. If you’re not a believer, or if you’re a child of God who’s strayed from the Lord, you need to make the best use of the time that’s remaining… 2 Corinthians 6: 2 says: “ Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Don’t put off your decision to follow Jthe Lord and to seek first his kingdom. The first key for the New Year is to be sure you’re in right relationship with the Lord, a child of God, and that you’re determined not to waste precious time but as the Psalmist admonishes, to number our days so that we may acquire a heart of wisdom! In the past year, it’s likely that all of us have fallen short of perfection in many ways, and it’s no use beating ourselves up over the matter. Rather, let’s be wise and apply the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers, one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
With this attitude of pressing forward, let me suggest some more keys –and again I don’t want to use the phrase New Year resolutions—I’m talking about adopting important habits. Why? habits like learning to say NO to unecessary and time-wasting activities– will bring us the satisfaction of simplifying our lives. We’ll do less but achieve more!
The second key, it’s so very important that on a daily basis we draw near to the Lord by engaging with him in daily devotional time in the mornings. . .praying and meditating, honoring God first in our day. I have a Bible that divides readings into 365 days, feeding me chapters each day from both the Old and New Testaments. These daily portions also include a Psalm of the day and one or two verses from the Book of Proverbs, giving me a daily dose, like a vitamin, of wisdom. All of these Bible verses are time-released capsules that go into our spirits and rise up out of our spirits whenever we need strength and guidance. The prophet Daniel had a custom of praying three times daily–his habit is mentioned in Daniel 6:10. Paul on the other hand exhorts us in the New Testament to pray continually. However, the example of Daniel is a disciplined prayer life, and I believe we need both—the discipline of communing regularly with God and also the joy of talking spontaneously to the Lord at any time. Keeping up with the Torah portion read each week in synagogues around the world is another way to stay in tune with God and his prophetic agenda. Because the Word of God is living and active, the Torah portion is always relevant to the news! Each week the Jerusalem Channel publishes prayer alerts along with the weekly Torah portion.
Key number 3: Learn to demonstrate the power of honor and respect. We’re living in an age of disrespect–disrespect toward authorities, religious leaders, parents, husbands and wives, children. A rabbi called his son into his office; the son thought he was going to be reprimanded for interrupting his teacher but the rabbi said, “I wanted to tell you I love you. I don’t say it enough. I called you in here to tell you that you’re the most amazing son, and you give me endless pride. That no matter what you do, I will always love you …. And, by the way, don’t interrupt your teacher in class!” Isn’t that beautiful? We also need to tell our spouses how wonderful they are to make them feel valued and appreciated by pouring out affection upon them. Also don’t forget to honor and visit your parents. Call them on the phone. Listen to them even when you’d rather be doing other things. Love and treasure your parents. The fifth commandment to honor your mother and your father is the only commandment with a promise that guarantees longevity. Have you ever thought about that?
Key number 4: practice GOD’S insurance policy to bless the Jews. This principle is found in Genesis 12: 3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Tragically, many in the mainline denominational churches still haven’t learned this great Bible truth and many are unbelievably, defiantly boycotting the Jewish state that God himself has recreated after the horrors of the Holocaust. Winston Churchill once said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Nearly a generation ago, the Jewish people were under attack not just in Germany but in many nations. Now history is repeating itself with fools praising Hitler, Nazis and Islamo-fascists. And what’s so alarming is that the largest and most violent demonstrations against the Jews have taken place in Europe, the largest Jewish graveyard in the world. God told me decades ago in a dream to stand with Israel and the Jewish people when all the world turns against the People of the Book. Standing with Israel and the Jews is a key to success in God’s eyes.
Key number 5: Be the bigger person; humble yourself first when disputes arise. Doesn’t the Bible teach that the person who exalts himself will be brought down and humbled, but the person who humbles himself will be exalted?
Key 6: Wait for God’s vindication. One of the most liberating thoughts is to realize that God says, vengeance is mine. He can do a superior job of it—much better than you can imagine!
Key 7: Continually forgive and don’t let the sun go down on your anger. People are sick and afflicted because they’re eaten up with jealousy, anger, resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness. In the forgiveness parable in Matthew 18, Jesus actually taught us, but few have learned the lesson, that unforgiveness opens the door for God to turn you over to the tormentors, to demons of sickness and depression. But forgiveness, on the other hand, is preventative medicine! Unforgiveness is as dangerous as a rattle snake.
Key 8: return the tithe to God, or Satan will exact it from you, one way or another—by things breaking down, theft, medical bills, the curse of continual lack. You may bristle and argue, Christine, tithing was a commandment under the Old Covenant! But concerning tithing Jesus said in the New Covenant, these things you ought to have done—in other words, Jesus took it for granted that tithing is a lifestyle. Tithing actually documents our faith in God and proves that we have conquered greed. Since God owns all the silver, gold and cattle on a thousand hills, he really doesn’t need your money or mine. But what God seeks from us is a sign of faith, and tithing proves that we believe that God exists and that he’s a rewarder. Tithing proves that we honor God with our substance. Giving our first fruits to God is a protocol in the Spirit that shows honor and respect. Nevertheless, tithing is controversial because it touches people at the level of their obedience. Tithing is actually liberating because it relieves our minds from the guilt of robbing God, and it authorizes us to dispose of the remaining 90 percent of our income as we are led—to give offerings, to support our family, to save, or spend, without condemnation. God promises us in Malachi 3 that when we prove his faithfulness by bringing him the tithe, he will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing so great that we won’t be able to contain it all! So the only down side of tithing is having too many blessings to store.
Key 9: Make the Lord your primary physician this year. An acquaintance asked me to pray for her. She’d just been diagnosed with glaucoma, and I noticed panic in her voice and countenance. You don’t have to talk to people very long to hear either the voice of faith or the voice of fear due to unbelief. But faith for healing has to be built and maintained. You can’t go on a starvation diet of unbelief and then expect your spirit to be strong when adversity hits. This present life is a relentless battle, and when you’re ambushed with sickness, you have to fight with the only offensive weapon God’s given in the armor of God—the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. You’ve got to fight with specific Bible verses. And you have to hold up the shield of faith against the symptoms or the doctor’s report, and then you have to cut off the sickness in the name of the Lord with the sword of the spirit. On days of health, you must meditate regularly on the healing aspect of the Gospel, read healing testimonies, listen to healing preaching and meditate on what the Lord accomplished for us in the Atonement so that when a health challenge attacks, you’re not thrown into panic and unbelief. Strong faith is built and maintained by knowing and practicing the Word of God.
Key 10: Do not fear adversity. I read about a study called “Cradles of Eminence” in which the home lives and backgrounds of 300 highly successful people were analyzed. The study included people like
· Winston Churchill,
· Franklin D. Roosevelt
· Helen Keller
They all had childhood adversity in common; they had endured poverty, or broken homes, or they were raised by parents who rejected them, or who were overly possessive, or domineering. Many of these great people suffered from physical handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs. Nearly all the famous writers in the study came from homes where they’d experienced tense psychological drama. Their parents didn’t get along and screamed at each other abusively.
And, of course, the Bible is a book about adversity. Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, overcame similar problems. Joseph’s family was dysfunctional. Today Jacob’s family would be called a “blended” family because he had 12 sons and a daughter by four wives, and the brothers were always quarrelling and jockeying for position. Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave and he ended up in Egypt, where he was falsely accused and thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. In Genesis 39 – we find Joseph as a teenage slave with no rights. BUT, and never forget this, Joseph had an advantage that no slave—not even the king of Egypt had—Joseph had God. The record said God was with him. We pray continually for the wellbeing and release of Christians who’re held in Islamic prisons for no other crime than they’re a Christian! What their tormentors don’t know is that God is with them in those vile prisons, and God will vindicate all of them, either in this life or in the world to come. Hallelu-Yah!
“The LORD was with him” is mentioned several times in Genesis 39. And if you’re washed by the Blood of the Lamb, Yeshua, the Lord will also be with you throughout this New Year. Just as God made Joseph successful in everything he did, the Lord will be with you in adversity. The sages taught that an olive releases its oil only when it’s pressed in the olive press. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus gives us three cheers in the Gospel—to be of good cheer that our sins have been forgiven, our diseases healed and the promise of his presence delivering us from fear!
Blessings at the head of the civil New Year from The Jerusalem Channel!