I will return back to the classroom in a few days after the Christmas break and this will be the very first devotion I want to do with my students. I will ask them:
How many of you have made New Year’s Resolutions this year?
How many of you have already broken your New Year’s Resolutions…be honest.
I’ll be honest, usually within one week into the New Year I’ve already broken all my resolutions. In fact I can’t even say I broke them…I can’t say I’ve even started on them! The New Year will come and go and despite all my good intentions I will have failed before I’ve even started!
A dog will probably do better with his New Year’s resolutions than me. A dog’s resolutions might be something like these:
- I will not play tug-of-war with my human’s underwear when he’s on the toilet.
- I do not need to suddenly stand straight up when I’m lying under the coffee table.
- I will not roll my toys behind the fridge.
- I will not throw up in the car.
- I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc.
- I will not lick my human’s face after eating “Kitty Litter Box Crunchies”
- I will remember that the diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
- I will not chew my human’s toothbrush and not tell them.
- I will not bark each time I hear a door bell on T.V.
- I will not chew crayons or pens, especially not the red ones, or my people will think I am hemorrhaging.
- I will remember that my head does not belong in the refrigerator.
- I will not bite the officer’s hand when he reaches in for my human’s driver’s license and car registration.
Being equal opportunity how about a cat’s resolutions for the New Year:
- If my human will never let me eat her pet hamster, I am at peace with that.
- I will not slurp fish food from the surface of the aquarium.
- I will not eat large numbers of assorted bugs, then come home and puke them up so the humans can see that I’m getting plenty of roughage.
- I will not lean way over to drink out of the tub, fall in, and then pelt right for the box of clumping cat litter. (It took FOREVER to get the stuff out of my fur.)
- I will not use the bathtub to store live mice for late-night snacks.
- I will not perch on my human’s chest in the middle of the night and stare into her eyes until she wakes up.
- I will try to remember that I cannot leap through closed windows to catch birds outside. If I forget this and bonk my head on the window and fall behind the couch in my attempt, I will not get up and do the same thing again.
- I will not assume the patio door is open when I race outside to chase leaves.
- I will not stick my paw into any container to see if there is something in it. If I do, I will not hiss and scratch when my human has to shave me to get the rubber cement out of my fur.
- I will remember that if I bite the cactus, it will bite back.
- I will not play “dead cat on the stairs” while people are trying to bring in groceries or laundry, or else one of these days, it will really come true.
- I will not swat my human’s head repeatedly when she’s on the family room floor trying to do sit ups.
- When the humans play darts, I will not leap into the air and attempt to catch them.
Did you know that 40 – 45 % of adults make one or more resolutions a year?
Any idea what kind of resolutions top out the lists?
1. Lose weight
2. Exercise more
3. Stop Smoking
Here are the stats for how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:
– past the first week (75%)
– past 2 weeks (71%)
– after one month (64%)
– after 6 months (46%) That means less than half of the people who make resolutions actually follow through with them a half a year later…
And then they make the SAME resolution the next year, only this time because the person knew it would be tough to follow through they change it slightly to make it easier to keep:
I read this recently from someone who was trying to lose weight:
In 2007 their New Year’s Resolution was: I will get my weight down below 180.
2008: I will watch my calories until I get below 190.
2009: I will follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200.
2010: I will try to develop a realistic attitude about my weight.
2011: I will work out 5 days a week.
2012: I will work out 3 days a week.
2013: I will try to drive past a gym at least once a week.
So why do we even bother to make resolutions?
While a lot of people who make resolutions do break them, research shows that making a resolution is useful.
For thousands of years, in many civilizations from the Sumerians to the Romans, people have wanted to start the New Year off on the right foot. Symbolically speaking, January 1st is a powerful time to ask important questions about one’s life and in particular if you’re happy with the direction it’s going.
One desires change. When the struggle to keep the resolution becomes a challenge, one needs to remember why one made this promise in the first place.
The reason is that we want to see ourselves in a different place at the end of the year (and beyond!) than we were at the beginning.
There is actually a guy online who has made up a foolproof worksheet on how to pick New Year’s resolutions that you will actually keep.
First you list 5 – 10 resolutions
Then you cross off the ones you’ve tried before, but ditched before Jan. 15.
Then you cross of the ones you’re doing for your friends/Mom or Dad (you know what I’m talking about, things like I will keep my room neat or else my Mom will ground me…) Peer pressure stuff.
Next you cross off the ones that the T.V. commercials have guilted you into doing. (I will buy face wash stuff to fight my zits because Adam Levine uses it and he’s dreamy….)
Now you cross off the ones that your heart is not really into.
And lastly you cross off any others that are variable on your mood, hormones, or the amount of energy drinks you’ve consumed…
Now, if everything on your list is crossed out, perhaps this is a good indicator you shouldn’t make resolutions without asking for some guidance. My guess is, if your resolutions were more about honouring God and becoming more like HIM, you wouldn’t be crossing off those kinds of resolutions!
For the Christian, the New Year’s celebration should include reflection on how to improve one’s personal relationship with God. Do you know what the top resolutions are for a Christian?:
Your resolutions might be something like:
1. I will read my Bible every day
2. I will pray every day.
3. I will attend church every Sunday.
(For the first week, you’ve been diligent, you’ve prayed, read your Bible and you were in church. Whoo Hoo! But then you started school and your Language Arts teacher just assigned a novel study. All of a sudden you’re too busy reading a Shakespearean novel to read your Bible. Your friends invited you to go skiing last Sunday, so you missed church. You woke up late, hardly had time to eat breakfast before you rushed out the door to school, and then your math teacher assigned you twenty-three pages of math for homework and by the time you got it all done that night you were just too tired to do anything else but go to bed. No bedtime prayers that night.
See how easily we can become distracted…we have all good intentions but it is so hard to follow through when we rely solely on OUR strength.
Many Christians make New Year’s resolutions to pray more, to read the Bible every day, and to attend church more regularly. These are fantastic goals. However, these New Year’s resolutions fail just as often as the non-spiritual resolutions, because there is no power in a New Year’s resolution. Resolving to start or stop doing a certain activity has no value unless you have the proper motivation for stopping or starting that activity. For example, why do you want to read the Bible every day? Is it to honor God and grow spiritually, or is it because you have just heard that it is a good thing to do?
Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to honor God with your body, or is it for vanity, to honor yourself?
Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” John 15:5 declares, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
If God is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has chance for success, depending on your commitment to it. If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will enable you to fulfill it. If a resolution is not God honoring and/or is not in agreement in God’s Word, we will not receive God’s help in fulfilling the resolution.
So, what sort of New Year’s resolution should a Christian make? Here are some suggestions: (1) Pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) in regards to what resolutions, if any, He would have you make; (2) Pray for wisdom as to how to fulfill the goals God gives you; (3) Rely on God’s strength to help you; (4) Find an accountability partner who will help you and encourage you; (5) Don’t become discouraged with occasional failures; instead allow them to motivate you further; (6) Don’t become proud or vain, but give God the glory. Psalm 37:5-6, “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”
The youth at our church are challenged yearly on how they can become “legendary for Christ.”
There is a huge difference in what makes a person legendary in the world’s eyes than what makes a person legendary in God’s eyes.
The world looks at sportstars, actresses and actors, and singers as legendary perhaps. They have celebrity status and influence and money. I suppose according to the world’s standards they are pretty legendary. However, God does not look at the same things the world does when He determines what is legendary.
God looks at the heart of a person. God looks at how someone thinks more highly of others than he does himself. God looks at someone who is obedient and willing to do whatever God asks of him.
God looks at someone as legendary if they forgive someone who has wronged them. God isn’t looking for perfect people, He is looking for people who willingly submit to Him and try to do their best in every circumstance so that they don’t get the glory but so God does.
Do you want to be legendary this year? May I suggest the following resolutions for you to consider?
1. I will put God first in all areas of my life.
2. I will not worship idols.
3. I will not use the Lord’s name unless it brings Him glory and honor.
4. I will set Sundays apart as a special day.
5. I will treat my Father and Mother with respect.
6. I will not commit murder. (That seems pretty obvious, but this is not just “murder” physically but “murder” psychologically…it means not gossiping, or bullying, or doing anything that tears another person down. Believe it or not, there are kids that are taking their own lives because they have been so traumatized by bullying. If you bully…you may be an accessory to murder.)
7. I will not cheat on my spouse by having an affair. (Ok, that applies to your teachers…but I’m going to shorten this one for you…DO NOT CHEAT…it will be exam time in a few weeks, the devil waves a temptation in front of you every time you write a test…”to cheat or not to cheat”. Don’t listen to the devil.)
8. I will not take anything that belongs to someone else.
9. I will keep my tongue bridled and tell no lies. (Spreading lies and gossip is wrong. Don’t do it.)
10. I will not harbor desire for the things other people have. (It means you won’t be envious or jealous of someone else. It implies you are thankful and content with what you have.)
You’ve probably guessed that these resolutions are directly from scripture: The 10 Commandments.
Great Resolutions to ensure a great year ahead!