Monthly Archives: August 2007

Weekly Devotional for August 30, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Party hats, noise makers, confetti and streamers – and New Year’s resolutions ready? You only have until next Tuesday, September 4, to get ready! At least, that’s when Charles Osgood wants you to be ready for New Year’s Day.
Several years ago, I heard the wry and poetic commentator and news anchor, Charles Osgood, the Tuesday after Labor Day on CBS This Morning. Tuesday after Labor Day, he said, is the real New Year’s Day. And, he said, this is the time for making New Year’s resolutions. Osgood contends that resolutions and new beginnings make more sense now, rather than in the warm afterglow of Christmas. Even though school has been in session for awhile, after Labor Day, most of us finally accept that familiar routines of life have closed in upon us. For many people, whatever we have put off during the heat and vacation time of summer now demands attention. Commitments and responsibilities of school and work and family life face us with new urgency after Labor Day. “This year I’ll do better,” we tell ourselves. “This year will be different.” And we take up our tools and books to meet the challenges of this new cycle of life. If Osgood is right, what New Year’s resolutions will you make next week?
Any point of new beginnings is a good time to resolve to walk in closer step with Jesus. In one of the earliest letters Paul wrote to the churches he had planted, he encourages the believers in Thessalonica: ” we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, {12} so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 NRSV) Notice that Paul does not counsel the early Christians to launch some self-improvement program. He does not say that they can do anything they convince themselves they can do. He locates for them the true source of power to accomplish what they resolve. Their resolutions made in keeping with God’s purposes in Christ Jesus will be accomplished by God’s power at work within them. Often our New Year’s resolutions falter before the college football bowl games are over, because they center on our desires and our strength alone. Maybe New Year’s resolutions made now, at this time of new beginning, can escape the egocentric habits of January 1 resolutions to focus on making renewed commitments to serve God and others in the name of Christ.
You will know the resolutions that make the most sense for your life, and correspond most closely to God’s urging as you follow Jesus. Here are some all-purpose resolutions any of us would do well to make for the after-Labor Day New Year:
• You were missed by your community of faith when you were traveling, on vacation, or taking a weekend off. Resolve to maintain at least a 75% average attendance in Bible study/Sunday School and worship services for the year. Mark your calendar, write in down in your journal, or keep some other actual personal record of your participation to see how well you can meet that challenge.
• Your spiritual gifts_- the God-given ability to meet someone’s need in a way that only you can – are needed for the body of Christ to be fully functional. Resolve to identify your spiritual gifts more clearly and to employ them through the numerous, varied ministries of your church, other group of Christians, or community service organization – so long as “if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15b NLT)
• The traditional holiday season_(Thanksgiving-Advent-Christmas-New Year) will arrive in the blink of an eye, and people all around will yearn for a spiritual home in which to celebrate. Resolve to invest yourself in genuine relationship with someone, invite them to accompany you in fellowship for Bible study and worship, and introduce them to Jesus and his family of followers. No other time of year offers more culturally conditioned opportunities for feeding people who are spiritually hungering than the remaining months of 2007.
• God takes care of our needs, abundantly and graciously. Resolve to show your gratitude to God by giving generously to support the spread of the gospel in your community and around the world. If you are a tither, resolve to give special support to ministries that are dear to your heart. If you have not tithed, resolve to increase your giving by 1/2% this year and each year until you reach the biblical guideline of 10%.
• Jesus’ summons to you is unchanging, and always marks a new beginning. Resolve to follow Jesus more closely, consciously practicing awareness of Jesus in everyday life. I have a recommendation for a Labor Day New Year’s Day hymn to express renewed resolve to follow Christ, the old standard, “I Am Resolved:

I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to Thee.

I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.

I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay,
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.

(I Am Resolved, Palmer Hartsough, 1896,verses 2,3,5)

So, HAPPY NEW YEAR next Tuesday! Better get started making those New Year’s resolutions.

J. Edward Culpepper, Ph.D.