Sermon: Spiritual Resolutions-Time to Renew in '22 (1.9.22)
2 Chronicles 34:29-32
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We’re into January, and, like many people, you may have made resolutions for things you want to accomplish in 2022. An estimated 74% of our population, or around 189 million people, according to www.finder.com, make New Year’s resolutions. You know the typical categories: weight loss, exercise more, new job, using time differently, etc.
Like many fellow citizens, a week or so into the new year, you may be behind the curve in following through with your resolutions, or perhaps you’ve tossed them aside already even though they aren’t a month old. Of those who make resolutions, research indicates that 12% think that their resolutions are out of reach and 13% see their achievement as “iffy.” This data seems to indicate that approximately 25% of the people who make resolutions are not convinced they will be achieved. It’s worth a look into what’s going on with resolutions—are they realistic goals? Are they only minimally important? Is motivation missing?
When you miss or defer a New Year’s resolution, usually there aren’t too severe penalties for giving up. You may have to pay a health club if you can’t get out of your membership dues, for example. Many resolutions get pushed down the road to another time or even another year. Most of the tradeoffs we face for giving up on our resolutions are harder to evaluate. What’s the cost to our health for not exercising enough? We know it’s good for us to be more active, but some of our resolutions fall into a category that I heard a motivational speaker named Chip Eichelberger define years ago. Eichelberger called it the category of “things that are easy to do are also easy NOT to do.” In other words, it’s easy to get up 10 minutes earlier and do a bit of stretching to help get moving, but it’s also just as easy to push the snooze button and catch 10 more minutes of sleep.
When you look at lists of common resolutions, you see many physical/lifestyle goals. One thing seems to be missing: renewing ourselves spiritually. I reviewed lists of common New Year’s resolutions and I didn’t find goals like spending more time alone with God in prayer or meditation or spending more time volunteering to improve the lives of others. I think that’s a big miss for us all.
The concept of renewing ourselves is found throughout the Bible. One of the better documented examples is found after the completion of the new temple in Jerusalem. This event brought all the people together to not just celebrate the major achievement of building a magnificent new temple, but also renewing the people’s commitment to their covenant with the Lord. You can read about it in 2 Chronicles 34 verses 29-33. While re-building the temple was a physical achievement—the renewal of the covenant was a much more important spiritual achievement. In verse 33 we read that after doing this, and for as long as the “righteous” King Josiah lived (about 30 years), the people did not fail to follow the Lord. King Josiah instituted a series of reforms which removed everything not connected with the covenant and the law of the Lord and returned the people to their traditional celebrations--like Passover. They were blessed for focusing on their faith and acknowledging their Creator and His grace and blessings.
Two New Testament verses in Romans (verses 1 and 2), tell us to “not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” These benefits are even more clear and desirable. They are very personal to each individual, too. By following this guidance, “you will be able to test and approve God’s will—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We make resolutions as a plan for our futures. Spiritual resolutions and spiritual renewal include listening to God’s plan for you and me. It’s great to lose weight and to exercise more, but don’t forget to exercise the spiritual mind and heart the Lord has given you. Then your goals will be in alignment with God’s plan for you, and the benefits of following and acting upon God’s will for your life will be fruitfully multiplied.
What are your spiritual resolutions for 2022? Do they include gifts you want to offer the Lord just as the three wise men offered the infant Messiah? He doesn’t want much from us…just an acknowledgement that he is God, and that we commit ourselves to making this earthly kingdom a better place for all.