As 2018 gets underway we've all, in some form or fashion, come up with a way that we are going to live for the year. I'm going to exercise more, I'm going to read more and watch less TV, I'm going to fast from social media, I'm going to read the entire Bible, or I'm going to ______________.
These are all great, but let's stop and think about something before you get too far into your "I'm going to ___________ for 2018."
If your resolution is set and you ready to go on it, or have already started, let's take a look at Marks of The True Christian in Romans 12:9-21 ESV.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The NIV Study Bible tells us that, "Paul goes into detail to show that Jesus Christ is to be Lord of EVERY (emphasis added) area of life. God demands our action as well as our believing and thinking. Faith expresses itself in obedience."
Not to wreck your "I'm going to ___________ in 2018." But we want to encourage all of us to make sure our goals don't get in the way of the what should be our ultimate goal - to bring Him the glory and further His kingdom in every area of our life.
In his book Missions - How the local church goes global, Andy Johnson reminds us:
"The church should labor to fulfill its unique mission to guard the gospel, proclaim the gospel, and disciple those who respond in repentance and faith to the gospel. If our churches fail at that mission, no matter what other good things we do, we will have failed in the unique mandate that Christ has given us as churches. It is good to do other good things, and our churches may make different decisions about engaging in good works and social action. But it is the stewardship of the gospel that remains utterly unique to the Christian church. We must keep first things first. That is the priority of Christian missions."
Remember... A church is a body of believers that come together. That's you and I (Matthew 18:20). This unique mandate that Christ has given to churches lands in our laps.
Ok! Back to it!
We couldn't have put it any better. Andy nails it and reinforces the point that NIV Study Bible is making about what Paul says in Romans that first things first - we must be about proclaiming the gospel, guarding the gospel, and discipling those who respond in repentance and faith to the gospel in every area of our lives. All else does not matter. We can set amazing goals in 2018, but if they don't bring Him the glory and further His kingdom, then all we're doing is helping ourselves feel better, patting ourselves on the back, or pulling the attention off Christ and back on us.
Now don't take this as FPAM telling you can't train for a marathon, or read more and watch less TV. Not true. We're just asking that before you officially get started (or get too far down the road) on your 2018 goals to go to God first. Seek his guidance. Follow Him towards the things and people he wants you to bring the gospel to in every area of your life: work, school, training, neighborhoods, volunteering, etc.
The planning of our New Year's Resolution should always start with God. The training, watching less TV, or saving more money comes second to His unique mandate placed on us - spreading the gospel!
And remember Romans 12:9-21. A roadmap to navigating the things He directs you towards - Marks by which to exemplify a True Christian as you venture out into the world to carry out His plans for your life. We are His ambassadors to the people we interact with.
We also encourage you to study up on Biblical Foundation. A correct understanding of God's word is crucial to understanding all that you will study about Him. If you want to start anywhere on carrying out His plan, start with Biblical Foundation training. Without a solid foundation, you're set to fail (Matthew 7:24-27 ESV).
If you're interested in this and want a copy of Fully Packed Adventure Ministries Biblical Foundation, please contact us today. We will mail you a copy - FOR FREE - and would love to go through it with you to answer any questions, thoughts, or concerns.
Don't worry! We're not going to end it here! We wouldn't say all that and not follow up with a biblical approach to the most common New Year's Resolution:
Fast From Social Media
First, consider not deleting your account.
We know! The new trend nowadays is to fast from social media, and we're telling you to go against that.
Disconnecting yourself from social media disconnects you from people to reach. It's an avenue or resource for connecting with people.
Look at it this way - A person that wants to go into full-time ministry quits their job to spread the gospel. Hold your horses there! You can do full-time ministry and keep a 40 hour work week. Your place of work is your place to evangelize and spread the gospel. You remove yourself from the cubicles highway, and you remove yourself from people that are hurting, people that are struggling, people that are lost.
We're not saying everyone in offices across the world is a wreck, but you have to look at it as a means by which you get to exemplify Christ to people, and you don't even have to chase them down. They have to come to this place of work, and they're there from 8am-5pm!
Back to social media... social media is the same. Disconnect from this, and you disconnect yourself from people to exemplify Christ to.
Social media is a great way to find out what's happening in peoples lives. Ask God how can I use social media for your Glory? How can I use social media to further your kingdom?
How do I use social media? I use it as a window into peoples lives. No, I'm not all over it commenting, posting like crazy, and reacting to everyone's posts. I use it as a way to reach out to people. Send them a text or call them and see how things are going. Social media is the open door to exemplifying Christ to others.
But remember... don't let it be all about you. In all things - Social Media especially - we must give Him the glory!
If social media is altering your mood, consider filtering. Unfollow things or people that are toxic that don't help keep you focused on bringing Him the glory (Proverbs 12:26; 13:20; 17:17; 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Look at social media not as a corrupt tool, but as a tool to be used for His glory.
A final reminder. Set limits! You don't have to be checking social media every hour of every day. Trust me that post from you know who about you know what will still be there tomorrow! God first above all else.
Getting healthy is an excellent resolution, but don't make this your idol. It's easy to get wrapped up in training, exercising, and dieting. So much that it becomes our "golden calf" and all other things begin to suffer.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us these our temples of God, and we should thus take care of our temples.
1 Timothy 4:8 reminds us that while exercising is of some value, godliness has value for all things.
Eat right, exercise, and get outdoors to enjoy His creation. But don't let this distract you from the overall goal of spreading the gospel!
Another excellent resolution! Organization is essential, and the last thing we want to end up doing is chasing things down rabbit holes throughout 2018. Not only that, but life will just get busier as you walk down life's road.
Relationships, families, work, volunteer work, etc. All of these only add to the list of To Do. Instead of organizing the chaos why don't we start with asking God what His plan is for our lives. Our priorities need to be in this order:
4. Church or people we should be discipling
First thing first - God. Then, your spouse, your family, and finally others. God is essential to keeping this organized. If this out of order our priorities get out of control and next thing you know you're chasing things and people down rabbit holes.
Spend Less, Save More
God is the creator of all things. We came into this world with nothing, and that's how we'll depart this world - with nothing. Our money, whether it be a little or a lot is His money.
Obviously, we should plan for the future, but we should be diligent about the present too. Our money needs to be spent for the His glory and to further His kingdom. We must stop looking at money as ours and start looking at money as means to advance His mission - Godly stewards of the resources we have.
Instead of looking at it as spending less to save more... look at it as spending less to support your church, missions, ministries, help a neighbor, open your house up for dinners
Questions to dive deeper:
1. Is God in every area of your life? If not, why? What's getting in your way?
2. Do you struggle to bless those who persecute you? Remember Romans 19:19 - "Vengeance is mine, I will repay."
3. In what ways do you exemplify God in your life? Identify the areas that you struggle with and give them to God. Let Him guide you towards ways of working on maximizing this.
4. God demands our action, what is keeping you from defending the gospel, spreading the gospel, and disciple those who respond in repentance and faith to the gospel?
5. How can you reorganize your life to free up your life to spread the gospel? Prioritize your daily moves and family schedules. Start by removing or delegating items to open up your schedule and your families schedule for maximum effectiveness to spread the gospel.
6. What's fueling your life? Is it God or is it personal pursuits? Vengeance? If He's not your fuel, all else will suffer. It's as if your life is running on diesel when you need to be running on gasoline.
Live for His glory... Succeed for His kingdom!