Ecclesiastes 12:9-14The Message
The Final Word
9-10 Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words and write the plain truth.
11 The words of the wise prod us to live well.
They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.
They are given by God, the one Shepherd.
12-13 But regarding anything beyond this, dear friend, go easy. There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else. The last and final word is this:
Do what he tells you.
14 And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023 TO ONE, TO ALL!
Last year at this time, most of us were making promises to ourselves saying;
“This year, things are going to be different!
“I do not know what needs too change, but I’m definitely going to change it!”
I’m going to be a better spouse.
I’m going to be a better Parent or Grand Parent.
I’m going to spend more time with my family.
I’m going to be a better neighbor.
I’m going to spend more time reading my Bible.
More time loving God.
More time praying to God.
More time loving others besides myself.
More time serving others besides myself.
More money in my tithing.
This is the year I get my ducks in a row!”
Just by a simple show of hands, (remember we are operating on an honor system – God is watching!) who has stuck to their new years resolutions?
You know what they say about New Year’s resolutions?
They usually go in like a lion the new year and out like a lamb on the other!
Here is a link to a recent article of the most popular Resolutions for Year 2023:
How do your own personal 2023 resolutions stack up against the articles?
Surprised or Nor Surprised?
On your highest honor as a Baptized Christian ….
Remember – God is watching you and is right now definitely reading your soul!
A new year gives us an opportunity to start fresh and better ourselves.
Come the middle of January (or sooner) we somehow forget our resolutions and go marching straight as an arrow right back into our old barely flexible ways.
It is so easy to forget the commitments and resolutions we make at New Year’s.
This is quite literally the the very first day – the 1st Sunday of the New Year.
We’re going to begin by hitting the ground with both feet in perpetual motion.
January 1st of any year is a popular time for humanity to reset habits and goals.
It’s important for us to align our New Year’s resolutions with the Bible, but for us mommas, or you daddy’s we often use this as a time to think about all of the things we want to change about our self image, our parenting, our marriage.
We then take this list of our self-style discontents and make goals to fix them.
After all, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are all about – bettering ourselves, our short and long term circumstances and our short and long term situations.
Your list might include some version of the following:
- I want to be healthier and more active, maybe go to the beach more often this summer so I’ll set a weekly routine where I go to the gym three times a week.
- I want to be skinnier and lose 20 pounds, so I’ll stop eating desserts every day.
- I want to be little more patient with myself, my spouse my kids, my co-workers, my boss or supervisor at my job so I’m going to work on effective communication skills.
- I want a more family household income, so I’m going to work towards a promotion or find a new client or find a way to become self-employed and to work from home.
To be clear, there is nothing wrong with setting goals and wanting to better yourself and move your family forward.
But as women and men who are striving to center ourselves around the gospel, we need to tread cautiously.
It’s important to know how to align our New Year’s resolutions with the Bible.
- Are your goals aligned with God’s Word?
- Are your motivations coming from a heart focused on things above or set on worldly things?
- Are you focused too much on the one or two areas that YOU think need improvement while ignoring what God is trying to show or teach you?
- What do your New Year’s resolutions directly or indirectly teach your children?
HOW TO ALIGN YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WITH THE BIBLE
As you sit down to write your New Year’s Resolutions this year, consider these 6 questions and scriptures to align your goals with God’s Word.
1. DO YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS GIVE GOD THE GLORY?
Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory because of your faithful love, because of your truth. Psalm 115:1 (CSB)
Everything we do first and foremost needs to give God every ounce of glory.
Every decision. Every action. Every breath.
Can you continue to give God glory while working towards your New Year’s resolution?
Will the result of achieving your goals give God glory, or take away from it?
2. DOES YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION HONOR YOUR BODY, A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
I’m going to dive a little deeper into this one because men and women tend to put a lot of downward pressure on themselves with this particular topic.
If you have a New Year’s resolution that is about your body, whether it’s losing weight or dressing yourself in a new wardrobe, quitting smoking, or dying your hair, looking like an Olympic weight lifter -ask self – is it giving God glory?
Bottom line: It’s God-honoring to want your body to be healthy.
It’s worldly to want our bodies to look a certain way just because someone else says it should. Set resolutions that produce a healthy body and a content heart.
3. CAN YOU COMPLETE YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION AND KEEP GOD FIRST IN YOUR LIFE?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31-33 (NIV)
It’s good to be diligent about reaching our goals, but nothing should ever take priority over our relationship and obedience to God.
Don’t push God to the back burner while you’re working on your New Year’s resolutions.
Achieving your New Year’s resolutions will never fulfill you like God will.
4. IS YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION BUILDING ETERNAL VALUE?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:19-24 (NIV)
Making money isn’t a bad thing.
Striving to “store up treasures on earth” instead of treasures in heaven is the issue.
Verse 21 is key here. It’s easy to figure out where your heart is – the things you hold most dear point straight to it.
Is money (or something that money can buy) taking a hold on your heart?
Is your New Year’s Resolution revealing a heart issue or building eternal value in Christ’s kingdom?
5. IS YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION GOING TO BE A SOURCE OF ANXIETY FOR YOU?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
If you are going to be worrying about your progress and obsessing over your past history of successes or failures in achieving any previous resolutions, it’s probably not a very good or very realistic goal for you.
God calls us to put our anxieties on him, through prayer, not squarely upon us, we can resolve to live square in His peace which transcends all understanding.
Why would we want to put anything unrealistic between us, that kind of peace?
6. HAVE YOU PRAYED ABOUT YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?
Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (CSB)
Prayer is God’s way of communicating directly to us.
Pray before, during, and after writing your New Year’s Resolutions asking God to reveal to you any issues with your goals.
Before tackling them, pray about the best way to work towards them.
Ground yourself in the Word of God in fervent prayer.
Then get started!
Ecclesiastes 12:9-11New Living Translation
9 Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them. 10 The Teacher sought to find just the right words to express truths clearly.[a]
11 The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd[b] drives the sheep.
True resolutions are supposed to point the way home to God.
But some choose to believe that getting lost in their self-image is the aim of spirituality: forget that you exist, that the world exists, that good and evil exist.
Just shed these illusions, immerse your self image into the image of God which God gifted exclusive to you as He knitted and weaved you together before birth.
dissolve yourself in the divine ocean like a grain of salt.
Many people today want to either “get high” on God, or “get high” on self, in a big noisy “in” crowd, with big lights and music, in an experience as popular, as mesmerizing as, the effects of an injection of a powerful psychedelics’ drug.
God calls us to be devoted to his Word and to follow the example of Jesus, taking up the cross of kingdom service.
Being resolved to Being found in Savior Jesus Christ is what perfects human life.
When we are found in Christ, we come to terms with his death as well as our own. Christ’s wisdom grounds us like embedded nails, helping us to make peace with our frailties even when we are young and we feel immortal.
In Christ, we also find life to the fullest— with freedom from fear, shame, and soul-crushing perplexities.
Life becomes a meaningful adventure, a race, a journey filled with awareness of God’s love for us all.
Citizens of Heaven or Denizens of the World
Philippians 3:20-21The Message
20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
C.S. Lewis observed that if you aim to be successful only on earth, you may never get to heaven even as the things of earth slip away.
But if you aim for the things of heaven, not only will the Lord graciously bring you there; Jehovah will also make your life on earth something wonderful.
So if you aim only for the self-images born of life on this earth, you get nothing.
But if you aim for heaven, you get everything—Abundant life to the Maximum.
This is Paul’s point too as he rounds out Philippians 3.
We all are citizens of one country or another here on earth.
But believers in Christ have a far more important status as citizens of heaven.
God Resolved: All of our identity falls into line under our heavenly citizenship.
Paul pointed this out for the Philippians because then—and now—there are all kinds of influences distracting us from giving God’s kingdom first place in our New Years Resolutions and in sum total, our hearts, our souls and our lives.
We receive messages like this every day: live for the moment, go for the gusto, do whatever feels right, look out for number one – that being our self-image.
All this, Paul claims, makes people enemies of the cross.
It all amounts to self-centered living and reflects none of Christ’s selflessness.
But if we live “created in the image of God” as Christ’s people, then one day we will be made like Jesus, arrayed in all the glory and majesty of God’s kingdom!
ULTIMATE RESOLUTION FOR THE YEAR 2023 – FULLY RELY UPON GOD, THE FATHER, AND GOD THE SON AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
Your ONLY Resolution for This Coming New Year
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17 NLT
Would you or I resolve to totally depend upon Jesus Christ?
I mean totally depend upon Him?
Here’s the way you can tell—are you resting in Him today?
I reflected much on that vain desire, which had pursued me for so many years, of being in solitude in order to be a Christian. I have now, thought I, solitude enough; but am I therefore the nearer being a Christian? Not if Jesus Christ be the model of Christianity. Reverend John Wesley, Founder of Methodism
You see, when you are totally committed to Jesus Christ, you rest in Him. You realize that for your every need, it is necessary for Him to supply all of it.
Have you ever looked at a branch? It has no other source of life than the vine.
If you asked that branch, “What’s your secret for your healthy leaves and fruit?” the branch would answer, “My secret is that I’m resting in the vine.”
“But what about your needs?” you ask.
“I know I have needs, but that’s not my responsibility.
My resolution, My ONLY Resolution, is to rest in the vine’s ability to provide.
I don’t produce the fruit. I just bear it.”
Are you resting in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today and all tomorrows?
Will you choose to rest in Him for the next 365?
Obey His Commandments?
Remain in His Love?
Be Filled with HIS Joy?
Be Filled to Overflowing?
Love one another as Jesus FIRST loved Us?
Make a Friend?
Be a Friend?
Bring a Friend to Christ?
Choose God, the Father?
Choose God the Son?
Choose God the Holy Spirit?
Choose Ministry and Mission, Mercy and Service unto your neighbors?
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. Reverend John Wesley, Founder of Methodism
John 13:34-35 Amplified Bible
34 I am giving you a new commandment, that you [a]love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”
I remembered that there’s an old song with the words ….
“Do you know, O Christian, You Are A Sermon in Shoes?”
These words have stuck with me as a powerful illustration for life.
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Do you know, Oh Christian, you’re a sermon in shoes?
Jesus calls upon you, to spread the gospel news,
(1) So walk it, and talk it, a sermon in shoes.
(2) Live it, and give it, a sermon in shoes.
(3) Teach it, and preach it, a sermon in shoes.
(4) Know it, and show it, a sermon shoes.
(Ruth Harms Calkin)
The children’s song is a reminder that where ever a Christian walks, or talks he or she is expected to share the Gospel news to others.
Whether it be by one’s actions, attitudes, or personal testimony, by their own Baptism, Life in Christ, every single Christian is always “a sermon in shoes.”
It goes along with something that American evangelist Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) once said:
“Unquestionably, The preaching that this world needs the most is the sermons in shoes that are walking with Savior Jesus Christ.”
Throughout my years as a pastor, I worked diligently to deliver sermons that help people hear God’s Word, but what about showing myself to be a sermon?
Through my longer years trying to be a “good Christian” I have often been told that I may be the ONLY Gospel anyone ever reads or tries to model their life by.
That is an enormous responsibility to be 100% accountable to God for!
When Jesus taught, “I am the true vine,” he made clear that all the work of fruit bearing was to the glory of God, his Father.
As Jesus’ followers, we are called to bear fruit for God’s glory also.
This means showing that we are Jesus’ followers, connected to him by the promised Holy Spirit.
And by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we will “bear much fruit.”
This fruit bearing takes shape in a variety of ways.
However, it is always motivated by our friendship and our love for our Lord.
Be it, therefore, Resolved – My Only Resolution for the Year of Our Lord 2023;
To Fully Rely on God who is always and forever will be: NUMBER ONE!
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
For healing…prepare us for surprises.
For strength…prepare us for surprises.
For vision…prepare us for surprises.
For transformation…prepare us for surprises.
For messengers and messenges…prepare us for surprises.
For community…prepare us for surprises.
For acceptance – of ourselves and others…prepare us for surprises.
For making room at our tables…prepare us for surprises.
For Truth-seeking…prepare us for surprises.
For support…prepare us for surprises.
For Common Ground…prepare us for surprises.
Be it therefore Resolved ….
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be ….
In our Homes, Families, Neighbors, Neighborhoods, our Work across the Globe ….
Upon the Oceans and the Seas, Upon Continents, in Worlds Without End ….
Walk beside us, O Holy One,
as we question and welcome,
as we challenge and invite,
as we discover and understand,
as we see, touch, taste, smell, and listen for the Newness awaiting us in 2023.
May we, Your Beloved Children, Your Body, walk forward together side by side.
Glory Be to The Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit ….
Adeste Fidelis, Venite Adoremus! Dominum
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.