I believe I have shared with you before where the idea of New Year’s Resolutions came from. “New Years” as a holiday has its origins with the paganism of Rome. Julius Caesar established January 1 as the start of the new year in 46 B.C. The first month of the year was named after the Roman god of doors and gates, Janus. Janus is portrayed as having two faces – one looking forward and the other looking back. Thus, Caesar felt that the name of his god, “January,” would be an appropriate “door” to the new year. Julius then celebrated the very first new year of his new calendar by ordering the violent annihilation of Jewish revolutionary forces in Galilee.
The aforementioned idea of looking “back” to the old year while simultaneously looking “forward” to the new year is what gave birth to the idea of making resolutions for the year ahead. Most all of us have practiced the idea of making resolutions at the start of each new year. The three most common resolutions are denoted by three “F’s”: Fitness, Finances, and Family. These things are certainly worthy of attention, but they reflect a sad fact: God is rarely mentioned when we consider the most important changes we need to make in life.
As we have so recently celebrated the incarnation of our Lord at Christmas, we should endeavor and resolve to improve our lives based upon ultimate reality of Christ rather than the mere start of a new calendar year. After all, it is not the change of dates that gives us a fresh start, it is the saving and regenerating work of Jesus Christ that gives us new life and new hope. To that end, here are some worthy resolutions for the for 2012 that I would like to suggest for you and your family.
(1) Read through the Bible this year with your church family — AND MAKE IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH! We did this together in 2007, and so many of us started well, but not as many of us finished well. God’s Word is the Word of Life. Make yourself accountable to read all the way through the Bible with your church family this year. If you have struggled to keep a consistent devotional time or to have regular family worship, this is the perfect opportunity to build an essential habit.
(2) Commit to share the gospel with at least one unbeliever every month of 2012. Right now, it takes about 50 Southern baptist Church members to lead one person to Christ in one year. We know that God is in charge of saving people, but as a denomination, we must admit that we are better at making excuses than we are at making disciples. Many of us can’t remember the last time we shared the gospel with someone. It could be a waitress, a family member, a co-worker or classmate, or maybe someone else you meet while at a ballgame or shopping. Be intentional. Have a goal. Share Christ!
(3) Resolve to go on a mission trip in 2012. I would love to see every person in our church go on a mission trip within the next 10 years. We currently have three opportunities every year to go and minister the Word of Christ on a foreign field. The church helps with finances and our congregation gives generously. We even help with each other’s families and children when people are gone on mission trips. There are few valid excuses for not going. A short-term mission trip will change your perspective, it will grow you spiritually, and it will glorify Christ. Consider going this year!
(4) Lead your family to minister in the name of Christ in our community in 2012. I know our lives are busy, and I know that many of us regularly suffer from time and/or financial constraints, but we really have been given so much. I was speaking with another pastor today about the fact that there are several hundred homeless people just in downtown Montgomery alone. Take your family and serve a couple times this year at our Ministry Center in Chisholm, feed the hungry at Friendship Mission, serve needy families with Linnie Dixon at Shepherd’s Staff, or get trained to be a foster parent for needy children. Make the resolution to get outside your comfort zone to serve and love and witness in the name of Christ.
(5) Resolve to replace at least one earthly pursuit with a spiritual pursuit in 2012. There is no standing still in our spiritual lives. We are either growing, or we are backsliding. What are you intentionally doing to grow? Maybe you should give up a sport or some television time to read some Christian works that will nourish your soul. Maybe you should exchange a troubling habit for a prayer time. Maybe instead of that hunting trip, you should take a couple vacation days to attend a nourishing Bible conference with your pastors. Crisis and intentional decision making are the only two things that will change your schedule and your habits. Doing the same old things and expecting different results is insanity. Resolve to pursue Christ in a new and different way this year. I love you all dearly!