Andrew Fountain - How to Make New Year's Resolutions

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Sermon notes - How to Make New Year’s Resolutions

  • What are the most common New Year’s Resolutions?
    • Here is a selection of the most popular

Top New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Read more books
  2. Less time on Facebook
  3. Save more money
  4. Lose weight
  5. Go travelling
  6. Sell old unwanted stuff on eBay
  7. Organise photos
  8. Less TV time
  9. Socialise more in real life rather than Facebook
  10. Drink less alcohol
  • Almost always fail —more on this in a moment
  • What kind of resolutions do Christians make?

Top Christian Resolutions

  • Pray more
  • Read through my Bible this year
  • Love people more
  • Evangelize more
  • Be more unselfish
  • Be a better employee
  • stop [xxx] sin
  • Problem with focussing on Sin
    • I won’t eat ice cream, chocolate ice-cream... Particularly not Haagen Daas
    • The more you fix your eyes on sin, the harder your struggle will be
  • It’s up to you if you make resolutions, but I’m going to take a different approach this morning
    • But before I do, I did find something a bit better

Improved Resolutions

  1. Recognize that apart from Jesus I can do nothing (John 15:5 - “I am the vine; you are the branches”)
  2. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5) for what resolutions, if any, God would have you make
  3. Pray for wisdom how to fulfill God’s goals for you
  4. Rely on God’s strength to help you
  5. Find an accountability partner to encourage you
  6. Don’t become discouraged by failures
  7. Don’t become proud or vain of success
  • What do you think of these?
    • Not bad—I particularly like the first one.
  • Searched for relevant references in the Bible
    • Not a direct equivalent word
    • Even so, we are virtually never told to resolve to do something
    • A couple of times a similar expression is used for plans:
      • Jesus “set his face” to go to Jerusalem (where he would die)
      • Paul “resolved in the Spirit” to visit Jerusalem and then go to Rome (Some kind of revelation involved)

Why do resolutions usually fail?

  1. It is about changing habits, which is extremely hard to do, especially by brute force effort.
    • However, there are some quite effective ways, and maybe I’ll preach on this sometime.
  2. Much of our behaviour flows out of our identity—how we define ourselves
    • e.g how it is that vegetarians can be so consistent?
    • I don’t eat that: I’m a vegetarian
    • 100 times more effective than I’ll not have that chocolate because I’m trying to lose weight
    • There is a lot in the Bible about our behaviour flowing out of our identity
    • Story of taking History at high-school

Identity → Change

  • The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. [Rom 13:12]
    • Because our identity is people of the day, not the night
  • I therefore… urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, [Eph 4:1]

Identity → Change

  • Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [Php 3:12]
  • Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. [1 Ti 6:12]
  • Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [1 Jn 4:7]

But I did make a very interesting discovery, searching the Bible for resolutions

2 Thessalonians 1

  1. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power,
  2. so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Who is making the resolution here?
    • God makes resolutions about us
    • Are they going to fail?

Ephesians 1

  1. even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
  2. he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the resolve of his will,
  3. making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose [resolution], which he set forth in Christ
  • What makes us change is God’s resolution towards us, and our change flows out of that
  • The most important resolution you can make is to fix your eyes on God’s love and destiny for you!

Adopted at 17

Earlier this year, I legally became an Esparza, five years after they took me in. It took five years for me to realize that these people were serious about being my parents; five years of doubting their love, but yearning for what they claimed to offer.

We had to go to court and wear dresses and ties — it was kind of like a marriage. When I entered the building my body immediately tensed up, and my mom put her hand on the small of my back. We walked into the courtroom where the judge said she was grateful to be administering something positive for once.

The lawyer asked my parents if they understood that this bound them to me legally, something about provision for me, and they said “Yes” in unison, very straight-faced.

Then he turned to me and said my name, smiling, “Do you understand that from this day forward your legal name will be Lyric Alexis Gabriella Esparza?”

“Yes,” I heard myself say, anxiety now tearing through my chest. I felt both my parents’ hands rest on either of my shoulders.

“And you understand that from this day forward, Toni and Juan Esparza are your legal parents, and your biological parents’ names will be replaced on your birth certificate?”

“Yes.” I looked straight ahead.

“Then it’s settled.” The lawyer said, beaming, and I jumped at the crack of the judge’s gavel.

Afterwards there was a moment when I hugged my mom, and all my siblings came around me and wrapped their slinky little arms around legs or purses or whatever they could get to. My dad even bumbled in on it, and he’s not one to get very emotional. I was shaking and I couldn’t let go of my mom — memories of the things they had done to fight for me over the years shot through me like fire. I closed my eyes and rested on her shoulder. I had found my way home. These people had always been my family.

based on ESV & NET Bibles with some changes by amf


Suggested Resolutions

  1. Think more about how much God loves me and promises to care for me
  2. Remember who I am now
  3. Depend on his strength to change me in 2016
    ”for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” [Phil 2:13]

Updated on 2016-01-03 by Andrew Fountain

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