January 26, 2017 | by: 0 Comments|
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Every year someone asks me about New Year’s resolutions, and I generally have the same reply. I normally say something like, “Personally, I don’t really make resolutions.” Looking back on the last several years, I’m starting to come to the conclusion that actually I kind of do make resolutions. I mean, I wrote 16 resolutions for our congregation last year, and there were things that I personally purposed to accomplish over the course of last year. Some of them I did accomplish and some I didn’t (and by the way, that’s okay). Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for 2017. As you ponder resolutions for this coming year can I offer a few suggestions?
1. Read your Bible more, and read more of your Bible – As a pastor, sometimes I am personally happy if believers are opening their Bibles and reading just a verse a day, but frankly, I want more. It is obviously better if we’re not just reading a verse or two a day, but reading a chapter or two a day. We should all want more spiritual food from God’s Word. And, let me say this, you’ll never regret the time you spend humbly receiving the food of God’s Word. J.C. Ryle’s firm but true words about Bible reading to young men come to mind, and I think they apply to men and women, young and old alike. Ryle writes, “Determine that you will not only have a Bible, but also make time to read it too…It is the book from which King David got wisdom and understanding. It is the book which young Timothy knew from his childhood. Never be ashamed of reading it. Do not ‘despise the Word’ (Proverbs 13:13)…Read it with prayer…read it reverently…and read it regularly.”
2. Pray – Too often in 2016 I found myself relying upon my own strength. I was/am ashamed that I did not begin more of the tasks that the Lord set before me with prayer. When I hit a wall, I felt so foolish that I did not pray for strength, energy, grace, wisdom, patience, and love. I need to pray more, my guess is you probably do too. So, together, let’s resolve to pray more. I heartily commend to you Don Whitney’s superb little book Praying the Bible. You can pick up a copy on the book nook. The men of the church are reading through it during our Men’s Breakfasts, and you can too. The chapters are short, but the principles will help your prayer life for a long, long time.
3. Read a book on the Protestant Reformation – This year on October 31st Protestants around the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the recovery of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the authority of the Bible. If you don’t know what the Reformation is all about, then please consider reading a book on the subject. You can go about it through different angles. One would be to read a biography, like Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther. Or you could read a book with a broader sweep (which really covers the reformations that took place during the Reformation era) like Michael Reeves wonderful little book The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation. Both books are available on the book nook.
4. Learn some Systematic Theology – Let me be frank, I am concerned about the state of theology in the church writ large. Too often over the last year I have heard professing believers make simple and devastating errors when confessing the faith. Many of the errors come as a result of not knowing what we believe or why we believe it. Systematic Theology will help alleviate some doctrinal error, and there is a really simple way to learn useful and brief systematic categories and terms. No, you don’t have to read a very large and expensive volume, instead you can memorize a short and free children’s catechism. I am personally fond of the Baptist Catechism of 1813 as published by the Charleston Association. You can even get it set to music! Maybe you don’t want to memorize all 114 questions, fine. But what if you memorized 1 a week? Then you’d have memorized 52 questions and answers! What if you missed a few weeks and you were only able to memorize 43 questions? In memorizing those first 43 questions in the Baptist Catechism you will have memorized questions and answers on the doctrine of God, Scripture, Christ, Creation, Providence, Man, Hamartiology, Redemption, and Eschatology.
Resolutions are simply an expression of good and godly purposes. Maybe some of these resolutions have encouraged and stimulated you to think of how you can serve the Lord in 2017. I hope and pray so.
Warmly in Christ,
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