Monday, July 4, 2016

The Bible and New Year’s Resolutions .......... Parables 453

December 27, 1994

As 1994 draws to a close, we look back and remember. Was it a good year? Or was it a year you would rather forget? Maybe this was a year for inheriting money or winning a lottery. Maybe 1994 was the year for marriage, or divorce, or having a first child or becoming a grandparent. Perhaps a series of financial setbacks put a blight on this year, or relationships did not turn out as hoped. Whatever 1994 held, the memories are important.

The Bible uses the word “remember” many times. Some of these passages suggest positive advice for ending the year and some suggest resolutions for next year. Here are a few examples from the New Testament about remembering.

Matthew 5:23 talks about being at worship and remembering that another person has something against you. It says go to that person and seek their forgiveness, then return and give worship. Patching up broken relationships is never easy. Anger and bitterness can be deeply rooted. Yet God knows these words are powerful: “I am sorry, I was wrong... please forgive me.” When we remember hurts we have inflicted on others and do something about it, we not only restore a relationship and remove tension, we also bring peace to ourselves and to the other person. This is a good way to end a year and start a new one.

Clearing up a botched relationship also applies to ourselves and God. Whenever we remember something we have done against Him, we can confess it, remove the load of guilt, enjoy restored fellowship with Him and a renewed sense of personal peace.

Remembering and confessing sin can be painful, but because Jesus died for our sin and rose again, we have access to God. As the angel told some women at His tomb, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how He told you...!” Remembering that Jesus died for us takes the sting out of any memories of moral and spiritual failure.

Perhaps 1994 brings memories of godly living. If it does, then it may also bring to mind ridicule or mistreatment. In this regard, Jesus said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

Jesus was rejected because His holy life stabbed the conscience of anyone who did not want to repent. Christians who live for Him need to remember what He said about this and not be surprised if others prefer sin and reject us and our message. Jesus also said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We can remember that and be thankful for His grace that enables us to live in a godly way.

If this year’s profit was financial, here is another truth to think on: Remember this: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6). If you were generous and God rewarded your generosity, thank God for the principle of seeding and harvest!

Tied into the idea of being generous is hospitality. The Bible tells us, “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” It also gives us pleasure to remember those times of sharing with our friends.

However, God also reminds us “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Being kind to everyone brings happy thoughts and if that has not been a large part of 1994, it is a good resolution for 1995.

At the close of the year, we can also remember others in prayer. Throughout Paul’s epistles, he says, “I constantly remember you in my prayers.”

Prayer for others is a wonderful way to sum up a day, a week, or a year. It takes our focus off ourselves and gives us opportunity to be part of God’s blessing for others.

Hebrews 13 gives a specific target for our prayers: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” This probably refers to persecuted believers in countries where Christianity is illegal. Thank God we are free to worship Him, but remember not everyone enjoys the same luxury.

Another target for prayer is in the same passage: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.” Christian leaders in pastoral ministry or other vocations need our prayers now and all year long! The verse adds a good resolution for 1995: “Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

This small sampling demonstrates how the Bible can help us wrap up 1994 and look ahead with hope and specific plans for 1995. As you use God’s Word to guide you in remembering and planning, may He richly bless you.

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