Friday, January 2, 2015

First Things First: Resolution #1

Happy New Year!

So, New Year’s Resolutions, huh? Have you made your Top Ten list of resolutions and checked it twice? What's number one on your list? Have you successfully kept them so far (I hope soit’s only Day 2 sista!)? Or have you neglected to even make a list this year because of the sadly typical trend that happens every January fifteenth-ish when the resolutions are already broken? Making New Year’s Resolutions used to be my favorite thing to do after Christmas and before returning to school. I (sometimes) love to be organized. I love to make lists, lists, and more lists, so in that way, I like to be mentally organized. However, judging by the usual state of things in my house, someone looking inside would not see much organization happening! All that to say, I like lists, thus New Year’s Resolutions are fun for me to plan. However, keeping them until December 31st is much less fun that planning them. Surprisingly, my lists look almost identical from year to year. Read my Bible daily. Read the Bible through in a year. Eat healthy. Exercise (hah!). Spend more time in prayer. Use money wisely. Find ways to serve at church. Save money. Does that list look anything like yours??

Well, this year, I haven’t made my list yet. To someone who’s a perfectionist, it already stresses me out that it’s Day Two of the New Year and my list is not complete yet. That means I’m already behind. Instant panic! How can I catch up for two whole days?? Does this mean I’ve already failed?? No need to panic because January 1st is not a magical day. Resolutions can still be made on January 2nd or 3rd! Thank the Lord for fresh starts, even if they’re a few days later than the prescribed date of January 1st! When I started contemplating resolutions this year, Hebrews 1:1-4 immediately came to my mind. Last year, I studied Hebrews, and the Lord brought this powerful passage to my attention this evening.

Let’s read it together.

Hebrews 1:1-4
1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days, He has spoke to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world. 3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. After making purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”

Within this passage lies the key to every New Year’s Resolution list. Before we start mapping out our own goals, plans, and ideas, we need to think of “first things first”. And what (or WHO) is first? THE LORD MOST HIGH. Whether we choose to acknowledge Him as first or not, He is! Therefore, EVERY plan, goal, or idea YOU have in mind for this year should be submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider this passage. I promise it has something to do with New Year’s Resolutions.

FIRST: Wow! God has chosen to communicate with us. How humbling! Why would the God of the universe deem it profitable or even enjoyable to communicate with us? Why would He take the time and effort? Look at verses 1-2. Long ago, God communicated to His people through the prophets. But at the coming of Christ, God spoke to us personally through Christ! Now, we have direct communication with the Lord Most High through His Word and through prayer, if we are willing spend time with Him.  

SECOND: So who is this Jesus Christ with whom we can communicate?
God’s Son.
The Heir of ALL Things.
The Radiance of the Glory of God.
The Exact Imprint of His Nature.
The Upholder of the Universe.
Superior to the angels.

THIRD: What does Jesus have to do with me? To the person who is either hostile to or just plainly uninterested in Christianity, it may seem that we have no use for Jesus. Why do I need Him? Why should I take the time to pursue a relationship with Him? Well, knowing our severely sinful and rebellious nature, instead of asking “What does Jesus have to with me?”, we should ask “Why does Jesus want to have anything to do with me?” He came to the world as God’s Son, which means that was born into the image of a lowly man even though He is equal to God (Philippians 2:1-12). He lived a sin-free life (Hebrews 4:15). It is usually said so causally that Jesus never sinned, but have you ever gone even a day without sinning?! He lived his entire life without sinning, even though He was not spared from being tempted everyday. He died a horrific and shameful death on a cross for sins that He did not commit to satisfy the wrath of a holy God. The sins and punishment were ours. And He has returned ALIVE to his rightful place in Heaven with His Father (Hebrews 10:12-14). The Jesus that was described in Hebrews 1:1-4 is the same one who humbled Himself out of obedience to the Father and love for YOU! And the same Jesus that humbled Himself is the One and only One who can be your Savior and Lord. Why would Jesus want to have anything to do with us? (And who are we? We are sinners who have rebelled against God and chosen sin over and over again. We have rejected truth, and ultimately, we are completely dead without Christ.) He wants to have something to do with us for this purpose At the end of our lives, we really will have nothing to say for ourselves other than “Guilty of all charges”. The beautiful and glorious news is that for the person who has trusted in Jesus Christ and submitted to His Lordship over their lives, at the end when we stand before God with nothing to offer but filthy rags because we are unworthy, JESUS CHRIST will step in for us and say “Her sins are covered by my blood. She is MINE! She belongs with us1”

THAT is what Jesus has to do with us! He loves us, covers our sins, and speaks up on our behalf. How beautiful and mind-blowing!!

So, what does Jesus have to with us? Everything.

Now, back to our resolutions, when we make a resolution, we “resolve” to do something.

Resolve (v): To decide firmly on a course of action

Let’s decide firmly on our course of action for this year. No matter what is actually #1 on the list, let’s be sure that the motive behind each task on the list is TO EXALT JESUS CHRIST. Are you going to have anything to do with Christ? Is He the priority above all other things in your life? Is everything else that you may want or have planned submitted to His will?

Exalting Christ is what I have learned from Hebrews 1:1-4. God has been so kind to us as He communicated the truth that we needed to know in order to have life. Jesus Christ loved us enough to experience pain and shame so that we may have life. And now that we begin a new year of this life, remember that in everything, Christ should be exalted in your life. He can be exalted in the way you spend money, work at your job, study, love your spouse, parent your children, serve the church, serve the needy, share with the lost, etc.

EXALTING CHRIST is the goal of any goal, plan, or idea you could come up with. How can you live your life in such a way that Christ is exalted in everything?!

Pray that the Lord will make the following verse true of your life this year. How can your live in such a way? I pray that you will start this year afresh as you seek to exalt Christ in every though, word, action, idea, plan, and goal! 

Philippians 1:27 “Live in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”

Always, Jacquelyn