Rooted Resolutions in 2014
Think for a moment of the more significant things you would like to be able to say of yourself at the end of 2014. Would it be that you became a deeper lover of Jesus? A more faithful spouse or parent? A more productive member of the church? A more effective witness for Christ? A more faithful steward of the gifts He has given you? The list is no doubt as diverse as we are. There is something, however, that unites every resolution on every list; all Christ-honoring, church-edifying, soul-sanctifying resolutions will depend on and grow from our time in Scripture.
Most of us are probably aware by this point that our New Year’s resolutions are really declarations of divine dependence! Christian resolutions are not promises to “try harder” this year. That kind of heart posture is out of step with the gospel detracts from God’s glory either in our inevitable discouragement or occasional accomplishment. Christian resolutions are used to pinpoint areas of our weakness as an invitation for the Lord to magnify His strength just there (I Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor 12:9). But what we may not always remember is that the word of God is the place He has appointed to release this empowering grace into our lives. It is the word of God that is able (Acts 20:32). It is the word of God that has power (I Cor. 1:18; Luke 37, “no word of God lacks power”). It is the word of God that calls us into being, creating in us what it describes for us (Luke 8:11; Acts 12:24). It is the word of God that is living, active, and abiding (Heb 2:12; I Jn 2:14). It only the word of God that is not empty but is our very life (Deut. 32:47). If we stand in need of ability, we stand in need of God’s word.
That is one of the reasons I love all the “through the Bible” helps that emerge at the beginning of a new year! The difference between a “wish” and a “resolution” is that wish has no definite plan of action placed underneath it. A resolution goes beyond just giving voice to a desire. Desires are good, but without roots they will not produces any fruit! Resolutions root desires by laying out action steps that move us toward seeing it accomplished. “I want to regain (and retain!) a healthy body weight” is a wish. “I will work toward that goal by regulating my diet in this way and by staying active these ways” is approaching a resolution. So if the Scripture is the means of grace underneath each and any of our God-honoring resolutions, we each need a plan in place to see ourselves growing in the knowledge of God’s word. Otherwise we are rootless; wishing in the new year wind.
Justin Taylor has put together a very helpful list of just about any kind of Bible reading plan you can imagine. I would encourage you to read through the different options, their rationale, and then pick one – asking God to give you the grace to go after Him in His word this year! It is as we come to see Him as He is (in His word) that we will become like Him in our hearts, our homes, our witness etc.
Or maybe you are like me – having begun a reading program sometime over this past year that you have not yet completed. As much as I love some of the options Justin’s post lays out (and as tempted as I am to jump ship on my current plan because starting new things is always more exciting than finishing old things – or maybe exactly because of that!), I am going to persevere! Part of the way I want to hold myself accountable to be in the word, and to encourage you to do the same, is to pick back up on blogging again. I want to take some of the fruit from my times of study and post it here.
But here is one final and very important piece. My prayer is that these posts will encourage you by their form as much as their content. What I mean is that I want to encourage you to think and reflect and meditate and then write as you read! This is part of the reason I am not finished with my reading plan yet – I do more than read! And I think this is the way to maximize Scripture as the means of grace it is! We don’t know and love and image God better because we checked all the chapter boxes in our plan! We are transformed as we linger long and lovingly over His word – reaching for His mind, feeling for His heart – and allowing our own to be exposed. Writing is a physical picture of sinking spiritual roots.
So I hope this blog serves to encourage you in your resolution to read God’s word over this coming year – and to read it in such a way that you have something to write! Lets ask the God of grace to help us root our resolutions in His Word this year. Sinking those roots into the living water of His Word will prove to be the important, profitable, and pleasurable experience of this new year!