Thursday, January 1, 2015

When It's Not About New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Day 2015--and I would greatly benefit from a number of changes in my life. It would be great if I could drop a few pounds, get in better shape, organize my closets and storage, be a better mom and wife. If only I swept the kitchen floor more diligently or got rid of out-dated clothes, I would feel better about myself. And that's what a New Year's resolution does--it gives me a tool to feel better about who I am and where I'm headed. But what if it's not about me?

This morning I discovered a different tack. My morning Bible reading had me in 2 Chronicles 31. I started but realized I'd missed something important--and had to back up to chapter 29. If you haven't read that recently (and who has-? really?), I would highly recommend it. Blow off the dust and read that ancient story because it could change your world.

Life changed for a nation--life changed for the better--and people got excited. In fact they spent a lot of time rejoicing. And in the middle of the joy and celebration came destruction of old practices, evil lifestyle patterns and establishments. Isn't that what we're looking for? A way to cut the apron-strings to those things that hold us back, that set us up for destruction, that cause pain and misery? How does that happen?

In the life of Hezekiah it didn't happen because he woke up one morning with a new set of resolutions for the coming year. He began by opening the doors of the house of the Lord and repairing them (2 Chronicles 29:3). Here's the point: you and I will never leave behind or turn our back on those things we hold dear until we find something (or Someone) who means more.

Hezekiah treasured the Lord more than his reputation. He valued the Lord more than his relationships. He sought the Lord over and above personal comfort and acceptance. He wanted God more than anything else. He loved God more than he loved himself. So he set his heart to serve the Lord--and revival took place. It wasn't because he was such a great guy (though we remember him that way). It was because his heart was set on the Lord over and above all else.

"Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the Lord his God. Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered."(2 Chronicles 31:20-21)

New Year's Resolutions will come and go--much too quickly--but those who turn and seek the Lord will find they've not only turned their backs on things that used to haunt them but they've found the greatest treasure of all. As we love God more than ourselves, more than our go-to saviors, our world will change in ways we never thought possible and our hearts will be full of worship, praise and joy.

PS--it's not possible without Jesus. There's no way to be right with God, to seek Him, to be diligent and steadfast with humbling ourselves and asking for God's forgiveness through Jesus. We can't do it on our own (haven't you tried and failed enough times to figure that one out?). We need the Holy Spirit's help. We need cleansing, forgiveness, and a new day--each day. We need, must have, are desperate for, Jesus.

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works." (Psalm 73:25-28)

Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." (John 15:1-11)

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