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                     "RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR"


INTRODUCTION

1. As a New Year begins, I am reminded of the fact that we are one year
   closer to...
   a. The day of our death, or the day the Lord returns
   b. That day when we shall stand before the Lord in judgment
      - 2Co 5:10
   c. That day when He will either say...
      1) "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
         for you from the foundation of the world" - Mt 25:34
      2) "Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire
         prepared for the devil and his angels" - Mt 25:41

2. Since we are one year closer to that day when our final destiny will
   be forever determined, let me use this opportunity...
   a. To provoke your thinking as to how you have used this past year
   b. To suggest some resolutions for the coming year

[My goal is to encourage us to make better use of the time we have
left, and to prepare us for the day of reckoning that awaits us.  Let's
begin, then, by asking...]

I. IN THE PAST YEAR

   A. HAS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AND CHRIST IMPROVED?
      1. Have we drawn nearer to God? - cf. Jm 4:8
      2. Bearing in mind that a close relationship depends upon good
         communication...
         a. Have we been faithful in listening to God through His Word?
            1) Another year has gone by; did we read through the Bible
               this year?
            2) If not, and especially if we never have, can we honestly
               say that we are taking our relationship with God
               seriously?
         b. Have we been steadfast in talking to God through prayer?
            1) Any effective communication requires a two-way street
            2) Therefore fervent Bible study should be joined with
               fervent prayer
            3) Has our degree of prayerfulness increased or decreased
               this year?

   B. HAS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH BRETHREN IMPROVED?
      1. Has our love for one another increased this year? - cf. 1 Th
         4:9-10
      2. Are we any closer to one another than we were a year ago?
         a. E.g., have we been in the homes of brethren?
         b. E.g., have any of them been in our homes?
      3. Do we even know who our brethren are?
         a. Each year brings new members into the family of God
         b. Have we made the effort to know them?  Even by name?

   C. HAS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE IN THE WORLD IMPROVED?
      1. As people of God, we have an important responsibility toward
         those in the world - cf. Mt 5:13-16
         a. To be a positive influence ("You are the salt of the
            earth")
         b. To demonstrate a better way ("You are the light of the
            world")
      2. Have we made progress this year in developing meaningful
         relationships with people in the world?
         a. So the light of Christ can be seen in our lives
         b. So the gospel of Christ can be communicated to them
      3. Or are we like most "neighbors" in this day and age...
         a. Living next to each other, but not really knowing each
            other?
         b. Having forgotten the lost art of "Southern hospitality"?

[The questions I am raising can be summarized in this way:  "Another
year has gone by; have we made good use of the time the Lord has given
us, or have we wasted it?"

It is likely that all of us in some degree have not made good use of
the past year.  But at this point, let's apply the words of Paul:

   "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one
   thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching
   forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal
   for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
                                                    (Php 3:13-14)

With this attitude of pressing forward, let me suggest the following
resolutions...]

II. FOR THE YEAR AHEAD

   A. RESOLVE TO DRAW NEARER TO GOD AND CHRIST...
      1. By having a daily reading program of God's living and abiding
         Word - He 4:12
         a. Read the Old Testament this year - cf. Ro 15:4; 1Co 10:11;
            2Ti 3:14-17
         b. Read the New Testament also - Jm 1:21; 1Pe 2:2
      2. By being diligent in prayer - He 4:14-16
         a. Let's be a thankful people - cf. Col 4:2; 1Th 5:17-18
         b. Perhaps Daniel's custom of praying three times daily would
            be worthy of emulation - Dan 6:10

   B. RESOLVE TO BECOME CLOSER TO THE BRETHREN...
      1. By making it a point to learn every one's name - cf. 3Jn 14
         a. Get a directory
         b. Each week, connect a couple of names and faces until you
            learn them all
      2. By having a different person or family in your home each month
         - cf. 1Pe 4:9
         a. It doesn't have to be a fancy dinner
         b. Just a simple visit to become better acquainted
      3. Or by visiting a different person or family each month
         a. It might not always be convenient to have people in your
            home
         b. But you can arrange to visit them in their home (if you are
            alone, take someone with you)

   C. RESOLVE TO GET TO KNOW NON-CHRISTIANS BETTER...
      1. By having one new neighbor or co-worker in your home each
         month - cf. Ga 6:10
      2. Or by visiting one new neighbor or co-worker each month
         a. It doesn't have to be a fancy meal or formal visit
         b. It is amazing how far simple hospitality and neighborly
            kindness can go...
            1) To build meaningful relationships
            2) In which opportunities can be created to share the
               gospel

CONCLUSION

1. These resolutions may sound simplistic; but if implemented, they go
   a long way...
   a. To producing the kind of lifestyle that is becoming of Christians
   b. To increasing closer relationships with God, our brethren, and
      the lost
      1) That will bless our lives
      2) And be a blessing to the church and our community
   c. To create a clearer conscience next year at this time

2. Time is a precious commodity, given to us by God...
   a. That is truly like a vapor - cf. Jm 4:13-15
   b. That needs to be carefully redeemed - cf. Ep 5:15-16
   -- I hope that these suggestions for resolutions for a new year will
      help you in making better use of it!

3. Finally, let me share with you the following poem...

   "A New Year, A New Beginning"

   The old year ends, a new begins
   With pages clean and new;
   And what is written on each page
   will now depend on you.

   You can't relive the year that's past,
   Erasing every wrong;
   For once a year - or day - is spent,
   It is forever gone.

   But don't give up in dark despair
   If you have failed some test;
   Seek God's forgiveness and resolve
   Henceforth to do your best.

   Resolve each precious day to do
   Things good and kind and pure;
   Though days and years may pass away,
   These things shall still endure.

   You know not where your path may lead
   Nor what's beyond the hill;
   But know that God walks at your side,
   If you will do His will.

   All things are possible with God,
   Though days be bright or dim;
   So do your best and know that you
   Can leave the rest to Him.
   - Author Unknown

If you are not a Christian, or you are a child of God who has strayed
from the Lord, you need to make the best use of the time you have now...

   "We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not
   to receive the grace of God in vain.  For He says: `In an
   acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation
   I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold,
   now is the day of salvation."
                                                  (2Co 6:1-2)
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