Day 3! Are you still on target with your resolutions? That seems to be the topic of conversation on radio, among friends, and on the news or talk shows since Monday morning! I didn’t realize it’s such a big deal. Face it, it’s a big deal.
Do you know what the 3 most-resolved options are? 1) To lose weight (probably the other 364 days as well); 2) To sign up with an online dating service, and 3) To get back in church.
Seems rather disjointed, doesn’t it? But not really. If (the world tells us) we’re as thin as a rail, someone will love us for how we look. If we sign up for online dating, maybe we’ll find someone who will love us. And if we get back into church, maybe we’ll find someone who will love to be with us. Ugh. Did you just go wash your hands? The world has us brainwashed.
The truth is, everyone wants to be loved! The truth is, Someone loves YOU! Not only loves you, but loves you with all your idiosyncrasies, extra pounds, unruly hair–or no hair, last year clothes, freckles–and any other symbol that stands out to you as a reason not to be loved. He loves you because He made you. He loves you so much that He took the punishment you deserve for a sinful life style, and paid for it by dying a criminal’s death–even the death on a Cross. Jesus Christ is His name.
A story that bears repeating occasionally concerns one of one of my sons, when he was young. He had said some very harsh words, and in that era, washing out one’s mouth with a slight bit of soap was considered appropriate punishment. As I picked up the bar, he was already in tears. I stopped, and told him that this one time I was going to use the soap to wash MY mouth, rather than his, and take his punishment. He flew into a panic, yelling and screaming. “No, Mommy! You didn’t say those words, I did!” I did wash out my mouth, and then he grabbed for the bar. I had to explain the punishment was already paid, but he was beyond distraught because I would do that, rather than cleaning his, when he deserved it. I spent some time lovingly guiding him through the actions of Jesus, Who took the punishment for our sins so that we could have everlasting life. He got the message.
I have to believe, so many today are like my son: they would rather pay for their own sins (which is impossible), rather than accepting the free gift of life that Jesus so lovingly offers, because then they would owe Him their life. If you could make a resolution that you can stick to for this year, why not resolve to show love to those who reject Jesus, to the unlovely, to the hurting, to the sinful, or to the weak in spirit? Love God, and love your neighbor. Not easy perhaps, but possible. Had it not been, He would not have told us to do it.
This first week of the new year is a great time to get yourself back into a close, intimate relationship with Jesus. In doing so, join with Thomas Road Baptist Church, listening to Jonathan Falwell as he teaches on “Pressing On,” as we strive to know Jesus better, love Him more, and obey Him fully. Get your notebook, and click on the link http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, and select the service that pops up, “Pressing On.” As a new note, this year daily write on your calendar ONE thing each day that you’re thankful for. You’ll find that after just three days, there are already blessings abundant. Our God is so able to do so much more for us that we can even ASK or–even better–THINK! That’s amazing, when you consider it. Don’t you think so?
Pressing On Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Finding a time or circumstance in which to make a fresh start is a great thing. The beginning of a new year always encourages us to make goals that we hope will create a change in our lives! What other times might hold new hope? Write your answers in a notebook if you are alone.
As we at Thomas Road end 2017, we know we answered firmly that Christ is the only reason for the Christmas season. Now we can’t help but hope 2018 might be a year of new beginnings. Perhaps it will be the year we achieve a long dreamed-of goal, or reach a new level of faith. Let’s strive with the apostle Paul toward the goal of knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection better than we ever have before.
Focal Passage: Philippians 3:1-14.
THE PAST SHOULD STAY THERE
Our beliefs about the past
- Read verse 13. Why did Paul give this piece of advice (which he himself followed)? What happens to any living thing if it remains stagnant? Read verses 2-3. Why does Paul warn against holding onto traditions learned as immature believers?
- Read verses 6-7. All the good works in the world can’t save anyone. How did Paul find this out for himself? Read Ephesians 2:8-9. What are some traditions the church is still holding onto today that should be put into the past. What we should believe
- Read verse 8. What is the only thing worthwhile that will help you, keep you, protect you, and save you? What were some of them Paul counted as nothing? (Is there anything you are relying on for salvation, other than the work of Jesus Christ on the cross? Answer in your heart.)
- How can you commit to “knowing Him better” as one of your New Year’s goals—and then keeping a daily journal to see that your progress?
THE GOAL IS CLEAR
- Read verse 10. If you set your goal for 2018 to know Christ better, what could that look like? What would change as you come to know Him more intimately?
- What is the fruit that begins to come as you know Him better? (Gal. 5:22-23.)
- Read verse 12. Paul wanted the church to know he had not “arrived.” What does he say he has to do?
THE GOAL? PURSUIT OF CHRIST AND THE PROMISE OF HEAVEN
- Read verses 13-14. What were the three things Paul disciplined himself to do?
- What are some ways you can take control in these areas? Read Heb. 12:1.
If you’ve ever stood in the sand at a beach as the waves roll in, you know that remaining in one spot will soon pull sand away from your feet, only to cover them higher with each incoming wave. Standing still in the Christian life will destroy your progress, just as surely. Paul knew that he could not let his family, his reputation as a Pharisee, his zeal for God and eventually his torture of Christians, define who he was: he became a child of the King the day Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, and from that point on he had to forget those things which had seemed to matter, to become the person God intended him to be. When you reach(ed) the point at which you surrender(ed) your heart to Christ, from then on you must pursue a life of knowing Him, serving Him, and letting the change in your heart be reflected in your lifestyle. What better time to discipline yourself setting these worthy goals than the beginning of a new year? Keep a journal of your progress, your prayers, and His answers this year, so you can see your growth. In a way, life as a disciplined Christian will never become any more of a habit than a new lifestyle of healthy eating habits. One piece of pie, one bag of chips, and suddenly the control slips. Be honest with yourself: admit the slip, and begin again (Prov. 24:16). Strive for the prize that Jesus Christ has promised! Keep pressing on, and if you stumble, get up, knowing the heavenly reward will be waiting when He calls you.
Key Verses: Phil. 3:14: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (NKJV)
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