Resolutions for You TODAY
January 08, 2011
Resolutions and broken resolutions abound in most people's lives. This is all the more apparent at this time of year. As we begin the New Year, people all around the world are making one resolution after another, most of which will be forgotten or abandoned before a week or two is passed. These broken resolutions cannot but add to people's disappointments both in themselves and in life in general.
As we approach yet another New Year, we can learn from the shortest New Year's resolution ever. This was a resolution that did not even last the night it was made! We can learn from this bold, yet broken, resolution so that our commitments and resolutions this year, and perhaps even for the rest of our lives, will bear fruit and produce lives which will honor Jesus Christ.
This shortest lasting New Year's resolution ever is recorded for us in the Bible. What makes it even more interesting than the short amount of time it lasted, is that this resolution was made by the man universally considered to be the strongest Apostle of the Christian Church – the Apostle Peter – and it was made to, and for, and in, the presence of the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here is the situation: It is Passover night, which the Bible teaches is the "first of months" (Exodus 12:2). Thus, it is New Year's Eve. Furthermore, it is not just any Passover; it is the Passover at which Jesus has ushered in the New Covenant. Jesus has just declared that one of His apostles will betray him. Jesus has also just predicted not only that He will die, but also that His remaining 11 Apostles will all turn away from Him. The heaviness in Jesus' soul must have been over-whelming as He considered this, and His sorrow gets even worse the moment that Peter responds to Him with an absolutely firm and unshakable resolution. Peter declares, "Even if all the rest fall away, I never will" (Matthew 26:33-35) and then he adds, "Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You" (Luke 22:33). (All the other disciples right away resolve the same thing.)
Immediately after Peter says this, Jesus points out that before this night, this Passover night, this New Year's Eve, is over, Peter's bold, confident New Year's resolution will have amounted to absolutely nothing! Even worse, it will have been torn to shreds as Peter will have denied Jesus not once but 3 times, with the last denial seeing Peter taking a solemn self-maladictory oath before God in which he says, "May the curse of God be upon me if I know that Man," and saying this while looking Jesus looking straight in His face.
Peter's resolution and denial all took place within a couple hours after he and the others had with Jesus taken the first Passover of the New Covenant – what we call "the Lord's Supper" – and less than an hour after Jesus was arrested.
There is no doubt that when we look objectively at this account it is bleak and extremely disturbing. Is there any redeeming feature to be found in it other than a warning of our own infidelity? Is there anything to help us and direct us as we consider resolutions for the New Year? In fact, there is much to be learned from this, and there is much in this to deeply bless us, including seven resolutions for us for the New Year.
7 resolutions for us for the New Year:
- We resolve TO ACKNOWLEDGE that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13). At the moment of Peter's failure and broken resolution, done in the sight and hearing of Jesus, there is not a word of judgment, there is not a harsh or mean word at all from Jesus to him. There is only a look from Jesus to Peter, and after Jesus' resurrection there is only this: "Do you love Me?" (John 21:15-17). This is mercy triumphing over judgment! This was how we began in Christ – with mercy triumphing over judgment. Our terrible sin and hatred and blasphemy of God was overpowered by the blood of Christ. Jesus washed away our sins and granted us new life – not according to anything we had done, but because of His own mercy and love. Many of us can attest to the power of God in causing us to be born-again, but we all, like Peter, find ourselves at different times in sin that seems to flood over our soul, and we forget that the very same mercy that redeemed us and started us on our way in new life in Christ is there to avail us now if only we would repent of our sin. We need to always be energized by the awareness of the ever-present incredible mercy of God.
- We resolve TO HEED the warning of Christ that "he who thinks he stands should take heed lest he fall" (1Corinthians 10:12). Peter thought that it was impossible for him to crumble under ANY pressure, that he had been tested and found to be absolutely true, but he was wrong. It is vital to know that even in redeemed men and women the pull to evil still exists and, like Peter, if we think ourselves above sin we shall hurtle headlong into it.
- We resolve TO REMEMBER the Word of God. When Peter forgot the word of Jesus, he denied his Lord with oaths and curses to His face. When Peter remembered the word of Jesus, "he wept." What had Peter forgotten? Very simply, he had forgotten the Word of God. We ought to pay heed to the Word of God. Even as it reaches deep into our hearts and tears our brash confidence and presumptions about ourselves apart, do not put it aside; do not say "it doesn't matter"; do not think "I am OK since there are worse sinners than me." Peter should have realized that he could not live by his zeal or by his hopes or even by his convictions and resolutions, but only as Jesus Himself lived, which was, "by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). We can know with a certainty that God's Word will never fail, as Jesus said, "heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of God will endure forever" (Luke 21:33). Friends, let the Word of God speak to you and change you. Don't harden yourself to it. Remember it, or soon you will be just looking for ways to reject it.
- We resolve TO RESPOND. When Peter remembered the Word of God "he broke down and wept." This was the right response. Peter was confronted with the Word of God which had been stored in his heart, and when he saw his sin, he responded with tears and brokenness. Have you ever responded with tears over your sins? Have you ever been broken by your sins? One reason I think there is so little concern for holiness is because there is so little concern for sin. Your tears and brokenness will not destroy you or weaken you, but will drive you to God to strengthen you – and that is the only strength you need.
- We resolve TO LOOK to Christ at all times. Luke tells that when Jesus turned, Peter and Jesus looked at each other. Hebrews 12:2 goes even further by urging us not to wait for terrible times to look to Christ, but rather, with an ever present immediacy, to "look to Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame... Consider Him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." We need to look to Christ, because when we do, in His gaze we will receive what is necessary.
- We resolve TO LIVE WITH CONFIDENCE. It was God's Word which told in perfect detail the exact nature of Peter's sin. Friends, since this is true, let your heart be strengthened with confidence because every word of God is true. All that He has said of believers, all that He says of the wicked, it is all true; it will all come to pass. What about you? Are you convinced that every Word of God is true? When it speaks against you, will you be broken? If right now it speaks of your judgment and lostness, will you repent, turn to Him, and be saved? Trust in Christ is the road to life, to l'chaim, the full life that Jesus came to give, and it is Christ to whom I call you in this New Year for life and peace. There is nothing and no one more important to whom I can call you.
- We resolve TO ENDURANCE IN CHRIST. Peter had everything, including the closest possible relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but Peter lacked endurance. "You need to endure so that WHEN you have done the will of God, you will receive what was promised... For we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved" (Hebrews 10:36&39). We need to persevere in Him who "loves us and gave Himself for us" (Ephesians 5:2); we need to persevere in Him who is "the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8); that is, we need to persevere in the Lord Jesus Christ. If people can resolve to endure and never touch cigarettes, or alcohol, or drugs, or someone else's wife or husband, and really for their entire life stand firm in that commitment – and people do – then you can resolve to endure and know that by God's grace He will see you through this coming year, and every year of your life, until He receives you in His heaven to the massed cheers of a great cloud of witnesses.
My friends, all of your circumstances are up for grabs this year. After all, who really knows what will happen? But God, in the midst of the constant change that is all around us, will never change, as He says "I am the Lord. I do not change" (Malachi 3:6).
Since God's commitment to you is through the end, your commitment to Him should be likewise. Indeed God Himself calls us to this, telling us that even when we have taken up the full armour of God and have done everything, one thing remains that we are to do... we are to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13).
May all of you resolve with that manner of steadfastness, which, by God's grace, will see you through all manner of trials and adversity. May our mighty God empower you when the trials come your way, that in the face of them you would not flinch from obedience to Christ; indeed that you would say "Surely I KNOW this man, for He is the Son of God, MY Saviour and MY Lord." This is the way to resolve your life in the New Year and in this still new millennium, and indeed forever. Resolve it, and may God bless you in it.