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I Am Resolved

James 4:17 

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin." (NASB)

Have you made your New Year's Resolutions yet? Though he is only four years old, Cole Robbins is getting in the spirit of New Year's Resolutions. He said that putting away toys "is a good idea because you don't want to step on something sharp." Further, he thinks it is important to wash your hands "because you don't want to spread germs," but when the reporter from The Southern Illinoisan asked him "if he'd commit to the resolutions himself," he changed the subject.

(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

It is much easier to envision good resolutions than to make them. Like most people little Cole has a good understanding of the right thing to do. His problem isn't with knowing what the right thing to do is, but in deciding to do it. 

Setting a goal or making a resolution is one thing, sticking to it is another. MyGoals.com list four key ingredients for accomplishing your goals:

1. Choose the Right New Year Resolution(s) 

2. Create a Plan 

3. Stay on Track 

4. Remain Flexible and Keep on Going

As MyGoals.com points out, the decision to act doesn't insure success. Think of it like this, if there is more to doing right than knowing the right thing to do, then there is also more to it than deciding to do the right thing. But if you never determine to make a change, you never will. The starting point is to make the resolution in the first place.

In an editorial for the Montreal Gazette on December 29, 2003 Freda Lewkowicz wrote, "I surrender. I've looked behind me and seen the ghost of past New Year's resolutions boogying in my recycling bin. This year, I admit defeat before even beginning the process of writing lists. I vow never to write resolutions for myself and to forfeit permanently my Resolution Breaker crown. I've entered the Bah Humbug Zone when it comes to resolutions."

(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

To have the energy to make resolutions today, we have to avoid surrendering to a defeatist attitude. Past failures don't have to translate into a apathy, instead we can learn from our past mistakes and develop a plan for future successes. Philip. 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (KJV) In Christ, all things are possible, if are goals are in the center of God's will for our lives.

So, knowing that the first step in any permanent change is to set the goal or make the resolution, we begin the New Year ready to make our resolutions. Instead of picking a "one size fits all goal" we should make a resolution that is tailor made for us-or to put it another way, one that is God's will for our lives. And after we discover God's will, then we can create the plan, stay on track and keep going, but we will never be able to do that until we discover God's will for our lives.

James 4:13-15 says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' [14] Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. [15] Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.'" (NASB)

Finding God's will is a necessary ingredient for personal change, as it is for corporate advancement. Today, as a church body, we stand on the cusp of a great opportunity. We are in a unique position right now. Building upon a rich sixty-year heritage, in recent years we've worked together to make some important changes to prepare our church for a bright future. Some of those changes are overt and visible. Like the remodeling we've done to make our plant multi-purpose and divert the need to build in the near future. Or the deferred maintenance, we've caught up with, like replacing our aging roof, to put our buildings in prime shape for ministry. I am particularly pleased with the changes we've made in the way we care for our property so that our buildings are always clean and our lawns are well groomed. Over the coming months we'll finish our "face lift" with new gutters and fresh paint on the exterior of the buildings. Those who went before us had the foresight to purchase this land and to build these buildings, and today we reap the benefit of their sacrifice and minister from a plant with an estimated worth of 10.5 million dollars. The money we spend maintaining these facilities is minuscule in comparison to the value of the property and the ultimate value they hold as a base for ministry.

But really, these visible changes are just the part of the iceberg you can see, beneath the surface we've made changes in attitude, approach and methodology that are far greater and have a greater impact on positioning ourselves for the future than the things that are visible. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit we've worked together, in a spirit of unity, and we've worked hard. And we've done if for a reason. Because we believed God was preparing us for better days.

Those better days have arrived.

Today we stand at the starting line of a New Year-a year I'm dubbing "The Year of Opportunity." Because we've laid the groundwork for success and possess the necessary tools for success, and because we will have 12 months of unprecedented stability in our church ahead of us, I believe this year could represent the greatest year of opportunity in the recent history of the church.

So today, I ask you to resolve with me to seize this opportunity-to resist the temptation to hold back, make excuses or to give less than your very best. Just like little Cole Robbins, most of us know the right thing to do. Just like he knows he should pick up his toys and wash his hands because he knows that failure to do so can result in "stepping on something sharp" and spreading germs," we know there are some things we need to be doing to help our church reach its potential.

We know that we need to be people of prayer. I don't mean the ceremonial prayer that is a part of most churches, I mean the kind of desperate prayer that seeks the will of God. I don't mean a patronizing prayer. You know the kind of prayer that presumes to tell God what we think is best for one another. But a "soul pouring" prayer where we empty ourselves and see the heart of God for one another. I've been on this journey with you for only a short time, but I can see clearly in my rear view mirror that the times we've been most effective for the cause of Christ were the times that we, as a congregation, were "pouring out our souls to the Lord." I'm not saying we need to begin praying so that we will be more successful and get God's blessings on our plans. Rather, I'm saying that success and God's blessings are encompassed in the very act of prayer. It is our destiny. Shall we do more than know that we need to be people of prayer? Shall we pray?

We also know that we need to be generous people. I believe this church has all the money it needs to accomplish its mission. We've just got to figure out how to get it out of the pockets of our people. After consulting with our deacons, I'm declaring next Sunday "Prove the Tithe" Day and am asking every member and regular attender in our church to bring at least a tenth of that week's income and put it in the offering plate. Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (KJV) Next Sunday, I'm asking you, in the spirit of this verse to prove the tithe. 

We also know that we need to be witnessing people. How many people have we baptized that you personally lead to the Lord? Are you a witness? Are you sharing your faith?

Time does not permit us to talk about other things like worship, studying, serving and other important things that we all know we need to be doing. But really, I think you get the point. Will you resolve with me to do everything you can to help your church make the most of the opportunities we have before us? Will you do everything you can to turn "the year of opportunity" into the "year of great advancement?" 

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