Sermon Notes: Better Resolutions

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In looking at New Years resolutions the statistics aren't very promising. A recent New York Times article included the following:

“Most of us think that we can change our lives if we just summon the willpower and try even harder this time around...”

“It’s exceptionally hard to make life changes,” Mr. Deutschman said, “and our efforts are usually doomed to failure when we try to do it on our own.”

“80 percent of people who make resolutions on Jan. 1 fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day”

“more than 70 percent of coronary bypass patients revert to unhealthy habits within two years of their operation.”

“two-thirds of dieters gain back any lost weight within a year.”

“people... often fail because they rely on the same strategies that have failed in the past,”

This past Sunday we shared those stats and then walked through some ways that we could think about having better resolutions.

1. Look back at your past year...
What went well last year? What didn't go well last year?

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV

What do you need to repent of for last year? Where was your thinking off?

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely," Hebrews 12:1 ESV

2. ... and then look back to the cross & behold Jesus
If you are a believer in Jesus, God is pleased with you not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has done. When we understand this the 'do better' list becomes a worshipful response, rather than a list of Christian duties.

  • You don't HAVE to give to your church for ministry, you get to.
  • You don't HAVE to do devotional time, you get to.
  • You don't HAVE to talk to God in prayer, you get to.

"...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1b-2 ESV

3. Look forward to the end of the year & ask what you want to be different...

Choose Quality over Quantity: Work on one major change at a time. Ask where you want to be at the end of the year, and work your way backwards, imagine each quarter, then each month, then each week, then each day. Do what you need to do each day. If you only had one resolution this year, resolving to behold Christ more deeply would be an awesome one. Some people might say make it achievable, I say make it only achievable with God.

Make a Stop List: What do you need to stop doing in order to help you accomplish your goal? You want to get up early, talk to God and learn more about him? STOP going to bed so late.

A few questions about your resolution.

Is it a good resolution?

Ask, is this resolution about loving God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength, loving one another in the church and loving your neighbor as yourself? These are your first priorities. It's about stewarding your affections and life for God, your relationships with brothers and sisters in the church, and your relationship with those outside the church.

Is your resolution about you? Or about stewarding what God has called you to & given you?

Let's take a popular resolution, losing weight. Do you want to lose weight to gain approval from others? To feel better about yourself? Is it for vanities sake? Or is it to steward the body that God has given you? Truth is that it will be a mix of both, but where is the driving motivation? If you want more of God in 2012... it will mean that 2012 is less about you.

Is accomplishing your resolution about how you will do it?

Making it about what 'you're' going to do puts the focus on you, the work on you and the discouragement on you. If you fail, you are discouraged, but in Christ you get approval rather than condemnation. And if you succeed, you get what you think is approval from God and others, but it's fickle in your heart and never enough. And you likely end up with unhealthy pride. The answer is in Jesus, not in you.

"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 ESV

Does your resolution include repentance & faith?

"But, a proper Christian resolution will always be connected to an ongoing spiritual revolution that is fueled by faith in Christ and repentance from sin. Any resolution that lacks repentance will prove to be a vain attempt at self-improvement. Any resolution without dependency on Jesus and an aim at his glory will prove to be little more than a whitewashing of a religious life. And yet, any Christian life without resolutions is sure to be both stale and static." - Pastor Joe Thorn

4. Look back to the cross
There is nothing you can do or don't do in 2012 that will make God love you more. 2012 isn't about what you will do or don't do, but about what Christ has done. 2012 is about promises God has made, not about promises we will make.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. …" Hebrews 10:19-23 ESV

These truths rightly understood and embraced draw our affections to God.

5. Look to your church community
People who love you and will stand with you as you, motivated by grace, seek to follow through with your resolutions.

"... And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

Stories

In Haiti this year there are families & children that didn't have a home, that now have homes. There were children not in school who are now in school. There were families & children that didn't have clean water, that now have clean water.

Next year families that didn't have light at night will have solar lights which helps guard against sexual assaults, improves education and saves them money. Also families that were spending half their food costs on cooking fuel will save money, save trees and have healthier cooking through fuel-efficient stoves.

Many of the people at Soma Austin weren't here one year ago. It is my deep hope that many, many more will find life in Jesus at Soma this year. I can't share them all, but I regularly hear stories of you encouraging one another, loving one another, reminding one another of the gospel. There are beautiful stories of repentance and greater affection to Jesus, His Church and His mission.

The ReWork Project was launched in 2011 and we've met so many men & women on the streets. Robert Burton is housed, Wayne is reconnected with family and living in the Lake Conroe area and Damion just applied with Mobile Loaves & Fishes for housing last week. And our new friend Danny, who had had a stroke and was living under a bridge was reunited with his family after 5 years on the street. All because of Jesus and a community of faith.

We would love to see more stories like this in 2012, and we would love to invite you to join us.

Soma New Years Resolution... Will you resolve to partner with us, with one another...

  • Prayerfully
  • Relationally
  • With your talents & time (website:wordpress/php) (music) (filmmaking, photography, project managers, administrators, as soma group leaders, as discipleship leaders)
  • With your finances

If you would like to partner with us with your talents & time or have any questions email us at .

2 Comments | Login to Post Comments

Anonymous on Jan 4, 2012 11:31am

I thoroughly enjoyed this message. So many times I've recalibrated my "do more" list, and end up failing (of course). I felt very hopeful and motivated to get the focus off of myself and my limited abilities and instead look to the right places for resolution. The Dildines are ready to partner with SOMA.

Jacob Vanhorn on Jan 4, 2012 4:05pm

Super awesome to hear Angela! We love getting to know your family and are encouraged by your presence with us.