By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Did you set New Year’s resolutions? It’s five weeks into the New Year. Have you blown them already?
New Year’s resolutions are really nothing more than goals to live a better life. They’re always intended improvements about something in our character, nature or behavior that we recognize needs to be changed.
Studies reveal that 25% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January,(1) [it’s February 7th, how’s your New Year’s resolution working for you?] and the likelihood of keeping a resolution throughout the year is very bleak. It’s estimated that 88 percent of New Year’s resolutions will have been broken by the year’s end. (2)
The Bible tells us that real and lasting change comes about in a very different way than what the world would have us think. God says that changing our behavior is only made possible when we change our hearts — meaning, we must change our desires and affections.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:24) (3)
All too often our efforts to improve are focused on our performance….on altering or adapting our behavior rather than on adjusting our hearts. It’s only by adjusting our hearts that we can change our thoughts, words and deeds.
So how do we adjust our hearts? By rightly remembering Jesus, and focusing our minds on Him and His Word — remembering who He is, what He has done for us, and who we are in Him. Rightly remembering Jesus turns us from ourselves, and from the world, and puts our focus on Him. It creates in us an awe of the great gift we have been given and the awesome God who loves us. It establishes our hearts, anchors our souls, and renews our minds in Christ and through the power of His Spirit. Rightly remembering springs from knowing Jesus better and that comes from knowing His Word better.
Reading the Bible transforms transform our thoughts, words and deeds — all of which is our reasonable service to our gracious God who has saved us.
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
That transformation that comes from the renewing our minds by God through His Word and prayer deepens our faith.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Set a New Resolution
If your New Year’s resolution did not include a daily Bible reading plan, start one NOW. Just pick up your Bible and start with, “In the beginning, God…”
If you read 3 chapters a day, you’ll read through the whole Bible in 400 days (read 4 and you’ll finish in less than a year).
Another method to motivate daily reading is to find a Bible reading plan online. It’ll guide you in a systematic way to read sections of the Bible and most plans will cover the entire Bible in one year.
Or just take your time, diving deeply into the water of the Word, and soaking in all it has to say about our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Whatever Bible reading plan you use, commit to reading daily. Let that be the one resolution to which you hold fast, for it is guaranteed to bring results. God has promised that His Word will not return voide (Isaiah 55:11). If you’ll make daily Bible reading a life habit your heart will change and your thoughts, words and deeds will be directed by the power of His Spirit fueling you in godly living.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:24
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(1) Tom Connellan, “The 1 Percent Solution: How to Make Your Next 30 Days the Best Ever”Peak Performance Press, 2011
(3) Shari S. Abbott, Why the Butterfly? A Book About Remembering, Psalm 267 Publishing, 2012, pg. 56 [available at www.reasonsforhopeJesus.com/store]