Why New Year’s Resolutions?

(Preaching Outline)

1)      Why New Year’s Resolutions?

a)      I think the whole idea is aspiring to be better than we are.

i)        This shouldn’t be a negative evaluation – but more like Paul’s pressing forward.

ii)      If this is a negative evaluation, then we are being robbed of the Kingdom.

iii)     I suggest that New Year resolution is not about something “New” but a time to remember our life mission.

b)      Our life mission and the fullest aspiration as Christians is to be “Christian – Christ-like” – more like Jesus every day.

i)        One could argue that anything that is not “Christ-like” is inauthentic even if it is called Christian…unfortunately Christianity is often judged by that which is not authentic.

ii)      The world needs authentic Christianity – and that is what we should be committed to as a Christian church.

iii)     How do we know what Christ-like is?  All of scripture – One example:

c)       Micah 6:8 (NKJV) — 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

d)      How do we become such a person? 

i)        That is a not a question that can be answered in one sermon.  

ii)      We are going to explore what are some interesting angles of answering that question.

2)      The authentic vs. the inauthentic (2 Passages to start):

a)      Matthew 25:34–39 (NKJV) — 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

b)      Matthew 7:21–23 (NKJV) — 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

c)       NOTICE THOSE WHO ARE AUTHENTIC SAY “WHEN DID WE” AND THOSE WHO ARE INAUTHENTIC SAY “LORD DID WE NOT.”

3)      Let’s complicate this idea with something else that is challenging:

a)      Genesis 3:14–15 (NKJV) — 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

b)      This passage raises an interesting question: Who are the seed of women and the seed of the serpent?

i)        Who are the seed of the serpent and the seed of women?

ii)      Let’s read some passages that scratch the surface of this question:

c)       John 8:42–44 (NKJV) — 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

d)      Matthew 7:17–20 (NKJV) — 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

e)      John 15:5–8 (NKJV) — 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

f)        1 Peter 1:22–2:3 (NKJV) — 22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because “All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, 25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you. 1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

4)      The quest for authentic Christianity is also the quest for authentic vs. inauthentic worship. 

a)      Genesis 4:3–5 (NKJV) — 3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. 4 Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, 5 but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.

i)        Are we looking at two trees known by their fruit?

ii)      How do we understand authentic vs. inauthentic worship in this passage?

b)      Imagine the following: you offer someone a gift. Politely, they refuse it. How do you respond? There are two possibilities. You can ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” or you can be angry with the intended recipient. If you respond in the first way, you were genuinely trying to please the other person. If the second, it becomes retrospectively clear that your concern was not with the other but with yourself. You were trying to assert your own dominance by putting the other in your debt: the so-called “gift relationship.”[4] Even among primates, the alpha male exercises power by distributing food, giving gifts. When the refusal of a gift leads to anger, it shows that the initial act was not altruism but a form of egoism: I give, therefore I rule. That is what sacrifices were in the pagan world: attempts to appease, placate, or bribe the gods, thereby coercing or manipulating them into doing one’s will – whether sending rain, victory in battle, or restoring past imperial glories.[1]

5)      Gratitude as a key element of being authentically Christian – thought I would try to bring it down to one practical point, though it is not the only point.

a)      This, therefore, was the [object of the] long-suffering of God, that man, passing through all things, and acquiring the knowledge of moral discipline, then attaining to the resurrection from the dead, and learning by experience what is the source of his deliverance, may always live in a state of gratitude to the Lord, having obtained from Him the gift of incorruptibility, that he might love Him the more;[2]

b)      A person expressing a profound sense of gratitude gives the best he can.[3]

i)        When we feel like we are not giving our best, maybe we have lost a grateful heart.

6)      Why New Year’s Resolutions?

a)      A time to rededicate to our life’s mission.

b)      To put into practice disciplines that will make us more like Jesus.  Today I am going to give 2 extremely powerful, life transforming disciplineS to follow to become more like Jesus:

c)       1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NKJV) — 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

d)      REMEMBERING VS. DOING IS THE KEY TO BEING AND BECOMING

 


 

[1] Sacks, Jonathan. Genesis: The Book of Beginnings (Covenant & Conversation 1) (p. 31). Kindle Edition.

[2] Saint Irenæus. The Writings of Irenæus (Illustrated) (p. 231). Aeterna Press. Kindle Edition.

[3] Fohrman, David. The Beast That Crouches at the Door: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, And Beyond (p. 138). Maggid Books. Kindle Edition.

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