Monday, December 30, 2019

New Year

Wed. = New Year's Day - question:  Who's making a "Resolution"?

Some statistics and facts:
Stats vary, but 40 - 50% of Americans make New Year's Resolutions.  People recognize the need for self-improvement!!!
Approximately 50% are health related. Of those, the top two are (1) exercise more and (2) lose weight.

Success rates??   Polls and studies vary widely!  Success rate by polls = 46%, 12%, 4%

There is Evidence that this was practiced by ancient Babylonians & Romans!  (And practiced widely throughout the world today)    Point = common to mankind!

AND success rate is much higher among those who (resolve and) begin on Jan. 1st.  (rather than a random starting date)

Question:  What does the Bible say about New Years' Resolutions??

On one hand, it says nothing.
However, says a lot about....
    (1)  Resolutions -  "choose, decide, determine" - make a resolute decision
   (2)  New Beginnings
         New Birth - Jesus  "born again" - John 1 & 3
         New Creation - Paul - 2 Cor. 5:17
         New Man - Paul - Eph. 4:24
         New heart  - Ezekiel 11:19 & new Spirit!!
         New Song - David - Psm. 40:3   Rev. 14:3
         New Name - Rev. 2:17  examples:  Jacob renamed Israel, Simon renamed Peter
         New family = church
         New outlook, perspective, direction, purpose,
Therefore, New Walk - lifestyle

Obviously, all this involves change for the better!
But the Biblical perspective calls for something more than change, and something Better than change.
ie:  "Growth" - Difference???

Differences in Change and Growth -

1) deals with actions, habits,  what you DO             
2)  deals with external, (not exclusively, but primarily)                        
3)  tends to be event oriented  -  "this happened and I changed!"
4)  can be temporary - can change back  to old behavior              
5)  Something you can manage on your own  (self-improvement)                          

  1)  includes attitude, heart, who you are
  2)  deals with internal (heart) also.  Rom. 12:2  don't be conformed, be transformed
  3)  process oriented - many things contribute over time 
  4)  is permanent - you don't un-grow.
  5)  Requires God's assistance  (example:  garden.  if God is not active, no growth)

On one hand, some things need to change without waiting for growth - examples:  abusing spouse, kids - stealing from employer.  Bible is very clear the some things NEED to change.
However, God's ultimate method of change (in this life) seems to be ...... growth!!!

A parallel concept = "Maturity"

Luke 8:11-15 - Parable of Sower and seeds.
1st. three groups didn't mature - Luke 8:14
4th. group "grows up" - develops - produces

Eph. 4:11-15 - God gave the church gifted servants (Eph. 4:13) and leaders SO people could "grow up", become "mature".

Phil. 3:15 - speaking of growing up, and continuing on, Paul says "all who are mature will share this view"

Heb. 6:1 - "therefore let us go on to maturity" - (grow up)

James 1:4 - perseverance must finish its work, so you may become Mature and Complete!
God wants to see more than just change of behavior.

Again:  not saying we should wait for growth to change, But, ultimately, finally GROWTH is what God is looking for in us.  (a better plan!)


#1.  (this kind of) Growth requires God's assistance.  Created in His image, damaged in the fall, now reshaping!!
This  character development  (not comfort)  God is willing to sacrifice our comfort in order to develop our character.
Point:  This is more than self improvement, therefore we want Him involved!!!
Have you accepted Christ?  Are you an active follower?  (vs. occasional worshiper)

#2.  Growth begins with a recognition of need.
Luke 18:9-14 - (Publican and the Pharisee)  Rev. 3:15-18 - (Laodecia)
Point = examine yourself in light of God's Word!!  (mirror)

#3.  Growth also requires your efforts.
2 Pet. 1:3, 5-8  - "increasing measure" = growth
Compare:  gardening:  you create a "growth environment
You (A)  add in  (fertilizer, water, light) - Bible Study, Quiet Time, prayer, fellowship, church attendance
       (B)  remove (weeds, insects) - Heb. 12:1
Church is a place where you grow.  Even those things that are not necessarily sin, but will hinder us from growth.

#4.  Growth is intended to be ongoing - as long as we're in this life.
Gen. 22:1-2 - example:  Abraham - "Father of the faith, friend of God, @114 years!! Still in school!!
This is NOT a 1 year self-improvement program.
lifelong process of becoming!!

Short list of needs:
    Resolution - decide, determine, choose!!
    Action - "want to" is not enough.  Action, followup
    Nurture - add in, take out
    Consistency - occasional attention will not get the best tomatoes!j
    Time - a Process  (But = a process with results!!)

Nothing wrong with New Year's Resolutions, immediate changes, self-improvement
BUT, as you pursue those .... remember God's plan and design is more than that!!
God's plan = grow, mature, develop, Become - what he created us to be.  Is a constant process!

Closing scripture:  Phil. 3:12-16

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