“2016” Phil. 3:12-14
INTRO – Well, it’s New Year’s resolution time. All of us here have made & broken resolutions – maybe already this year! Someone once said that a New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year & out the other!
We all have those areas where we can do better. Read a prayer that Missy Biggs prayed recently. Goes like this:
“Dear God, so far today – I’m doing all right. I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I haven’t whined, cussed, complained, or eaten any chocolate. I haven’t charged anything on my credit card.
But, I’m going to be getting out of bed in about a minute, & I think I’m really gonna need your help then!”
This morning, I’m not going to guilt-trip you w/ all the resolutions that we need to try & make & grit out teeth as we try to keep them. There’s certainly nothing wrong w/ making resolutions. In fact, there’s a lot that’s right about making them. Jonathan Edwards was an 18th century theologian who is well-known for his 70 resolutions that he strived to live by. Here are a few of them:
- Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
- I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.
- Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.
- Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
- Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life. (This is probably his most famous resolution)
Today, I want to simply take the number 2016 & use it to give us some important spiritual ideas to consider was we launch into this new year:
2 ESSENTIAL SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES – Bible intake & prayer – What are spiritual disciplines? They are those activities & behaviors that we utilize that enhance & develop our relationship w/ Jesus Christ. They aren’t burdensome & stressful, but are delightful as they move us closer to our Lord. Certainly, there is the aspect of hard work, just as in anything that’s worthwhile. A concert pianist didn’t just walk out on a stage, sit down at a piano, & begin playing one of Beethoven’s sonatas. It took hours & hours of practice & hard work, but the beautiful results are worth it. It’s the same w/ spiritual disciplines, except that the results are not only worthwhile; they have eternal implications. We are becoming more Christlike! Rom. 8:29 – “Those whom [God] foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” That’s the goal for every Christian’s life – to become more like Jesus! And spiritual disciplines help us move in that direction.
There are a lot of spiritual disciplines that are good & beneficial to our spiritual growth – things like fasting, Scripture memory, solitude, witnessing, journaling. All of these are important & really can help you grow in your walk w/ Christ. But this AM, I want to encourage you to focus primarily on these 2 essential spiritual disciplines, as every other spiritual discipline is impacted positively or negatively by your practice of these disciplines:
Bible Intake – The reason that I’m using this terminology is b/c I believe that our intake of the Word of God needs to go beyond just reading the Bible. Bible intake definitely includes reading it, & also hearing the Word (weekly sermon), studying it, memorizing it, & meditating on it. Bible intake is as critical to our spiritual lives as oxygen intake is to our physical lives – You simply cannot expect to live & grow in your spiritual life without it b/c it is the primary way that God speaks to us!
- Spurgeon – “The more you read the Bible, & the more you meditate on it, the more you will be astonished by it.”
- 1:1-2 – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight [pleasure; desire] is in the law of the Lord, & on His law he meditates day & night.”
Prayer – As we hear from God through the intake of His Word, we respond to Him in prayer. He speaks to us as we take His Word in; we speak to Him as we pray. These 2 go hand in hand. That’s why we are implementing the READ-PRAY-OBEY plan for 2016.
0 TOLERANCE FOR SIN – Want to be clear here! Not saying that we have zero tolerance for sinners. If that was true, we wouldn’t be able to tolerate each other! Not sitting in condemnation of sinners. Neither am I saying that we will never sin, or struggle mightily w/ temptation, or that we will ever reach a point where we will no longer deal w/ sin in this life.
But, as Christ-followers, we need to develop a deep, white-hot hatred for sin in our lives. It’s easy to hate sin that we see in others, or sins that we see in our society & world. We hate racism, abortion, pornography, child abuse, divorce, gay marriage, & other sins that we see in our world.
When we do give in to temptation & sin, we need to quickly confess, repent, & run back into the safety of our Father’s arms.
1 DIRECTION TO GO – Forward in faith
- The apostles – Great Commission
- The early church
- Every movement of God in history
- Every person that has been truly used by God
- Every church that has made an impact for the Kdom of God
6 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS:
- Am I saved?
- Am I serving the Lord through my church FAMILY?
- Am I supporting my church w/ my tithes & offerings?
- Am I speaking life into others’ lives?
- Am I sharing the Gospel w/ my words & actions?
- AM I STUCK???