Hello and Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas season was blessed with love and joy and that your New Year is off to a great start.
Did you make any New Years’ resolutions this year? Lots of people do. Some of the most common ones are to lose weight, be a better person, make better financial decisions, etc. Maybe you even made some nice church-y sounding resolutions like “grow closer to Jesus” or “follow Him better”. However, research shows that most resolutions are abandoned about two weeks into the new year! Why do you think that is?
Well, I think that it’s because resolutions encourage us to “do better” by “trying harder”. Trying harder in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but I know that for me it just doesn’t work unless I treat my resolution as a goal and make a plan for how to get there.
For example, I know that I want to lose 12 pounds by the end of March. Breaking that down, it means that I need to average about a one pound per week weight loss, which is a healthy and sustainable pattern. In order to lose a pound a week, I know that I will have to watch my caloric intake (bye-bye, ice cream) and increase my physical activity (not hard since I’m fairly sedentary). It means that I will have to go to the gym when I would rather just sit on the couch and read. I will have to consistently make good food choices. If I do those things, my goal becomes something that I can reach, whereas with a resolution without a plan, I would probably get to the end of the year without having lost the weight.
One of my financial goals for the year is to save an additional sum of money. I divided the additional amount I want to save by 52 weeks so that I know how much more I need to put into my savings account to help me reach that goal. Then I went to my budget and figured out what cuts I could make that would add up to that amount per week. I am confident that, with the plan I have in place, I will see my savings grow this year.
One of my spiritual growth goals for this year is read through the entire Bible. I have done this before, and I read it from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation. To do that, I calculated that I needed to read about four chapters each day and I purposed to do it. This year, I’m reading the One Year Bible which has a daily selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. The plan is mapped out for me and I’m finding it quite an interesting way to see and read the Bible.
Do you know where else the plan is already mapped out for me? It’s in God’s plan of redemption. This is one place where trying harder to do better will get me NOWHERE. As soon as Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, humanity had a sin problem that we as humans could do nothing about. The Lord knew that He would send Jesus to us as a human baby to live a blameless (sinless) life and to die on the cross for us. He took the punishment that should have been given to me and to you and in doing so He broke the chains of sin. This made it possible for you and I to live in eternity with our Heavenly Father, who is unable to be in the presence of sin. What an incredible gift! A gift is what it is, one that we can freely receive or one that we can reject. I strongly urge you to receive it! Have you done that yet? If not, let me know, and I’ll be glad to lead you through a simple prayer to receive it. You can be washed clean today. What a great way to start out the New Year!