Resolutions in the Realm of Grace

January 31, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

A few weeks ago, sermons all across America– and perhaps the world– focused on New Year’s Resolutions. That makes a lot of sense because it’s timely, relevant, and topical. We often use the turn of the year to look back on where we’ve been and look forward to the future. We ask questions like: Where did I fail? Where did I succeed? What needs to change? How can I change it? What should I start doing that I should do? What should I stop doing what that I shouldn’t do? We analyze every aspect of life– relationships, health and fitness, diet, finances, spiritual life, vocation, dreams. We take an inventory and draw up a plan of action. We get all “fired up” and vow that this year will be the year and we head into January with a renewed vigor and hope, and things change radically…

Until January 5th. Maybe for you the date is different. You guys with discipline may hang on a little longer (the 8th… even February?).

Am I right? Let me ask you this: How many of this year’s resolutions were the same as last year’s (or the year before… or the year before)? Here’s the problem with New Year’s resolutions: They usually express a determination to better myself. Here’s the problem with that: on your own, you can’t better yourself. You can try and you can fool yourself into thinking that whatever you’re doing is working, but, in the end, you’ll fail (Here’s how I fool myself… I have a favorite mirror in my house. It look fines, but it’s a little like one of those fun hopuse mirrors that makes things look skinny. When I’ve eaten a big meal [or I want ot eat a big meal… which just about covers every moment of every day], I look at myself in that mirror– and I look OKAY! In fact, I kinda look svelt [I have to hang black fabric over all the other mirrors in the house]… Do you have a mirror like that? A favorite mirror?)

Part of understanding God’s grace is understanding that you can’t do anything on your own. God does it all. This is a gift. All that he requires is that we trust him.

With this in mind, I wanted to pass on some New Year’s Resolutions from Pastor Steve McVey. He has a ministry called Grace Walk and I got these from the Grace Walk newsletter from January 2007. I recommnd the Grace Walk web site (www.gracewalk.org). Check it out. If you do go there you can see his blogs and view some shows he did in Canada that are excellent studies in what grace is all about.

So here are his resolutions and I want to make them mine as well:

I resolve that during 2007 I won’t try to change anything about myself. As I become aware of the deficiencies in myself (real or imagined), I will lay them at the feet of my Father and trust Him to do as He will with them. I will submit myself to Him in those areas and do whatever He leads me to do regarding them, but I will not sign myself up for another self-improvement program of my own making.

I resolve that during 2007 I will commit those things that concern me and mine into the hands of the Father. I will not attempt to seize control of my circumstances, but will yield every situation of life to Him and will choose to beleive that His sovereignty and love will faithfully dictate the outcome of those situations.

I resolve that during 2007 I will open my heart and mind to experience my Father’s love in deeper ways. I will meditate on his goodness and grace in my life in order to better know the height and depth and breadth of His love for me, knowing that by growing in an understanding of His love for me, I will grow in my love for Him.

I resolve that during 2007 I will trust Christ to express love toward others through me. I will depend on Him to teach me to more effectively show love to those I already value and to love those who have nothing to offer me in return.

I resolve that during 2007 I will be open to God working in me to bring about new ways of seeing things or doing things. I will submit myself to Him to experience growth and correction concerning the plausibilty structure within which I now live.

These things I will do, not by self determination, but by His power which works in me mightily through the union I share with Him.

There is a common theme in all of these reolutions: The focus is on God and not me.

I think that’s a pretty good thing… And I know that it is hard. It means we have to release control, set aside our agendas, and forget the lists we love to make and check off because we feel like we are accomplishing something. We have to radically trust God.

As I write this, I’m think of so many of those in our house church and the circumstances you (we) are facing. Ponder these resolutions. Read over them. And beleive God.

Sometimes that can be the greatest challenge. It’s easier to rely on myself, my discipline, my effort. It seems so right. I mean, God helps those who help themselves, right?!? (Actually “wrong”… God helps the helpless) If you are wrestling with these questions, let me ask you something: How is that working out for you so far?

Here’s the point… If you are trying to improve yourself, you will not succeed. Sure, you may make some cosmetic changes that make you look goodto others, but it will not be the kind of transformation you really long for. Only God can do that.

And here’s the good news. Jesus already did it for you. If you beleive in Jesus and receive the gift of His grace, he lives in you and promises to guide and direct you. You are already transformed. You just have to beleive that, stop trying to live the “right” way and just… well, just live… by trusting in God.

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One Response to “Resolutions in the Realm of Grace”
  1. Jim Browning says:

    I would say that many at GFF (including you Dug) have gotten a great start to Steve’s resolutions! You guys have definitely shown me (and Dale) love during this difficult time, and surrounded me in prayers.

    Please continue to pray for us, as my situation is a process. I cannot, however, express to you how much peace I feel knowing God is at the helm – and not me.

    PS – I do miss the footnotes 🙂

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