Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (NLT)
“Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.”
A resolution is a formal declaration of one’s resolve. To resolve is to decide or determine firmly which leads to some form of action. Many people will make New Year’s resolutions again this year and by the end of January forget all about such a declaration as things get back to normal. Over the holiday season, many people take time off of work to spend time with family, travel and escape the rat race long enough to celebrate. It is clear that the world does not agree in what or who they are celebrating. Nevertheless, it is a break in routine and schedule that allows time for us to contemplate the passing year and embrace the New Year that is coming. Some face this calendar turn determined to have a better year than the one before as hope rises inside while others dread another year of disappointment. Heavily breathing and sweating like a plow horse on the elliptical at the gym yesterday, I noticed a high volume of traffic at the front counter of the gym. Usually, I am in the zone and do not notice the comings and goings of other people as I try to survive the assault of exercise on my body. However, there were many people coming in to take a tour of the gym and then sign up for a new membership. It occurred to me that they were making New Year’s Resolutions. The gym will be crowded next month with many people who are trying to make better choices regarding their health. I applaud them. However, by February, there may be a few new faces but the majority of patrons will be the same people who have already been coming. Commitment is a problem with people even believers. Many believers will resolve to spend more time with the Lord in the coming year and forget when they go back to work, school or regular life. They will promise to read through the Bible for the first time this year and never get to the end of Genesis. Too many times, we place unrealistic human expectations on ourselves without understanding the requirement. To go to the gym sporadically and try radical diets will never lead to a healthy lifestyle – it will take turning away from the wrong food and choosing the right food consistently. To go to church and read the Bible without knowing God, receiving Jesus and being guided by His Spirit is a useless endeavor. Our human nature is to give up when things get tough or we become disinterested. Discipline is required to make the necessary changes in our life and stick to them. Who wants to be disciplined? Anyone who is serious about making a new commitment and keeping it in the coming year!
This is my resolution: “I must love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength! I must commit wholeheartedly to His Commands every day of the coming year!” I have made countless commitments on New Year’s Day year after year after year as I have seen over four decades. They are seldom kept. In the last few months, God has been pressing mind, soul and body into my thoughts. You have to love me with your mind, soul and body. You must be committed to me with your mind, soul and body. It all is about my life existing in total agreement with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit – every day all day. It must be a constant effort. Every breath I take in should be committed to knowing Him more and giving the Lord more and more access to my life. My sinful nature will always battle for control. The enemy will continue to hurl lies at me. There will be constant opposition to my full service and whole hearted commitment to God as my nature is hostile to submission required to receive His Love, Mercy and Grace. But I am committed and fully resolved – this is my resolution!
Psalm 63:1-3 (NLT)
“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
There is nothing more valuable than our soul. (Mark 8:37) Our body is born dying, but our soul is eternal. Jesus said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26) This world relies solely on that which can be seen and very little on the unseen. Our soul is what steps out of the dying flesh and into Heaven to stand before God. For those who truly believe that this is true, faith makes hope the realm of opportunity that we exist in. Many boast of having faith in God but do not recognize the potential of hope choosing to remain in and of this world which is only a temporary dwelling place. Very few “believers” earnestly search for God! Does my soul thirst for God? Does my whole body long for Him in this parched and weary land? Unfortunately, most of the time people must exhaust all earthly options before experiencing heavenly outcomes. Hardship, heart break and total devastation mark the pathways to righteousness even though it doesn’t have to. God has become our final option rather than our first priority. I am just as guilty as the next person. My faith has flourished since our son developed cancer for the first time. Hope has been revived and renewed with each recurrence following by the Healing Hand of God. But what about before that? What was the problem? I had not determined that His Unfailing Love is better than life!
What does God require of me to benefit my soul in the coming year? “He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13) Why? God has good things in store for me that can only be found when I make a wholehearted, soulful commitment to earnestly seeking Him out. When I do this, God promises that everything I do will be successful as He delights in me. I make God happy by simply choosing to seek Him out day after day and doing whatever it takes to be with Him where He is! (Deuteronomy 30:9-10) No other part of me can reach God but my soul! His Word revives my soul. (Psalm 19:7) It is the taste test of God where I discover that He is good! (Psalm 34:8) This year rather than begging God to meet me where I am, I must seek Him out where He is coming boldly into His Presence. (Hebrews 4:16) We want the Lord to come fix our situations and produce the outcome that we want, but this year I will strive to live in His Presence waiting on His Goodness to fulfill His Plan not my own. I must use common sense and discernment found in the Word and by His Spirit. (Proverbs 3:21-23) The Truth (God’s Word) refreshes my soul. So when I am at a loss for answers rather than asking everybody, I will ask the Lord. Wisdom is sweetness for my soul. (Proverbs 24:13-14) I must stop carrying burdens that do not belong to me and remain yoked to Jesus Christ. (Matthew 11:28-30) My soul will rest in Him by faith as confident hope anchors my belief (Hebrews 6:19) that He is able to do more than I could ever think or ask (Ephesians 3:20). I must choose to rest in this place beginning with a soul that is secure. Jesus Christ is the Guardian of my soul, not me. (I Peter 2:24-25) I must release the sin, shame, guilt and regret by choosing to live in His Grace every day, all day! His Word alone has the power to cut the soul ties that are holding me back whether to other people or even if it is to my problems. (Hebrews 4:12) Prosperity begins in my soul. This year my soul will thirst for you alone God. When it cries out, I will run only to you. For as my soul prospers, so will the rest of me. (3 John 1:2)
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
To live in total agreement with the Lord in the coming year, I cannot only commit my soul into His Care but also my mind. In fact, to be transformed requires a renewal of my mind. Conformity and compromise has not only overtaken the world but somehow found its way into the church of today. It stops with me. I must choose the good, acceptable and perfect Will of God and determine to settle for nothing less. God does not change His Mind…ever. He does not lie. (Numbers 23:19) So if anyone is going to give in and submit, it will be me. You don’t have to like it. It does not change the truth about God’s Stance on His Word and His Promises. Thank God for never changing. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.” (Romans 1:20-22) Forget the President’s State of the Union Address, no disrespect intended. This is God’s State of our union to Him. The problem in the world including the church is that men and women have not made up their mind about God, Jesus Christ or His Spirit. The Word of God to them is negotiable. Taking human wisdom and diluting His Word makes it useless. We try to dictate how we will worship based on our level of comfort and willingness to give. The mandate for my life is well-said by David when addressing his son, Solomon. “And Solomon, my son, (or Lori my daughter) learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” (I Chronicles 28:9-10) Giving Jesus my heart is not enough, if my mind is not willing to worship and serve Him as well. My mind must be willing to give up what I think is right to pursue righteousness at all cost. A willing mind is cheerful and deliberate. It means to mindfully take deliberate action in yielding to God not saying one thing and doing another. God gives us intuition for our heart which is the direction to and perception of truth. He also gives instinct to our mind which is innate patterns of activity directly connected to our purpose. (Job 38:36) What does this mean? You have the inclination to do what pleases God and fulfill His Plan and Purpose for your life, as well as the instinct to do it. Are you willing to do what it takes to fulfill God’s Plan rests solely on our willingness which is a mindset? I must decide (set my mind) to make the pilgrimage into His Presence and wait there. (Psalm 84:5-6) He will do the rest. I must stop making mindless choices and become an intentional believer. (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3) His Word will open my mind to rightly evaluate my choices to remain in alignment with His Perfect rather than permissible plan. (Luke 24:45) His Spirit tells us His Secrets. The Holy Spirit gives me peace of mind when I remain willing. (John 14:26-27) I have been given the Mind of Christ now I must use it. (I Corinthians 2:15-16) There is no doubt a battle for control of my mind. (Romans 7:22-25) I am going to win it by the Power of God inside me. Satan wants to steal my thoughts with his lies. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The world wants to close my mind to the Truth. (Ephesians 4:17-19) I must have an alert mind fixed on the Lord at all times never allowing it to wander but remaining willing and humble before Him. My resolution is this – I will not “worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you (I) need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you (I) will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we (I) can understand. His peace will guard your (my) hearts and minds as you (I) live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your (my) thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:6-8)
I Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
I have come to realize that discipline and commitment begin with our body. It is a matter of flesh control seriously. Fasting works wonders on commitment and dedication to God. For twenty-one days each January for many years now, we make a commitment to fast before the Lord. In the beginning, it is a fight against food literally as the body fully rebels against it. Severe headaches from withdrawal and hunger pangs that are overwhelming is the body’s assault against its owner for such a violation. But once we discipline our bodies, I find that it benefits our soul and mind. You and I are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. I believe that God does not only desire dedication of our soul and mind but also our body. You cannot abuse your body and glorify God. God paid a high price for you – all of you! You must honor God with your body. Some of you may be thinking right now, I do not abuse my body. I am not promiscuous. I do not do drugs. I am not an alcoholic. I do not smoke. All of this is admirable but not acceptable. Your body is a living sacrifice to the Lord. If you do not take care of your health and well-being, then your Temple needs to be repaired. Obesity is usually the result of an underlying problem that has nothing to do with food. Sin adversely affects the body. (Psalm 32:2-4) Therefore sins that we hold on to harm us physically. Turning from evil will heal and strengthen our body so we must run from it. (Proverbs 3:7-8) Our heart must remain at peace and in agreement with God to benefit our body. (Proverbs 14:30) It says that jealousy is like cancer. I hate cancer. I have also discovered that cancer is not directly connected to one isolated event but can come from a number of contributors including food we eat and viruses that we catch. To remain healthy and strong is good stewardship of our Temple requires immediate and daily attention to it. We must refuse to worry and stress as that is bad for us, too. (Ecclesiastes 11:10) Therefore in the coming year, I must discipline my body to be an acceptable dwelling place for the Lord. Sickness and disease are not welcome here. I must strengthen my immune system by eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest. Although it is not the top priority with my soul and mind coming first, my body should not be overlooked or neglected. Healing comes from the Lord so if I do encounter an illness or setback I should immediate resolution from My Healer – Jesus Christ even when I do need to consult a physician. My goal this year is to live a life pleasing to God which includes my body. (2 Corinthians 5:9-10) Complete holiness to God is a fasted lifestyle consecrating all that we are to God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) When Daniel and the other Hebrews fasted, their overall health was so improved that they continued to live that way. (Daniel 1:12-16) Each year as we fast and pray, I find that this is true in my life as well. Some practices from the fast carryover and continue to be part of my commitment to God! I am committed this year to live a life dedicated to Christ including my body. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Psalm 84:1-2 (NLT)
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the LORD. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.
This year my resolution is to make a total commitment to the Lord – soul, mind and body. Each day I will focus on these three areas of my life with dedication to surrendering all of me to Him. With my whole being, body and soul – I will serve the Lord in the coming year. No more divided interests, what ifs or just in case…but all of me for all of Him. Less of me…more of Jesus! This is my resolution!
John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.