So, 2 Timothy 4 is where we're going to be at tonight, and it's going to be a little bit of a different message tonight. I pray it will be a blessing to you.
I trust it will. 2 Timothy 4. I just want to read a few verses there as we launch into this tonight. I'm going to be preaching on 12 resolutions for 2023, and we're going to read verse 6 down to verse number 8. The Bible says, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. Paul here is at the end of his life. He's about six months away from being beheaded in Rome, and he says, I have fought a good fight.
I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Father, your word is our joy. We are so thankful for your grace.
We thank you for just the work you've done over this last year. We thank you for the fruit of the ministry, and I pray that this next year would be more fruitful, not only collectively, but as individuals. Lord, help us to be people who are resolved to seek you and to love you with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Help us to learn to love less the things of this world, to hold lightly to all that's not eternal. Help us to finish the course that you have set for us, and may in all things we live for your glory.
We ask it in Christ's name, and God's people said, Man, you may be seated. Well, when you come to the end of the year and the beginning of a new year, it brings some renewed opportunities, I think, and a new outlook on our life. It's a time not only of reflecting upon the past, but also looking toward the future with some rejuvenated energy and sometimes some new resolutions. Each year, about 45% of Americans make resolutions, and so not only is it a time to look ahead, but a time to look back and review how well you did in the previous year, some of the things you feel maybe you could have done better, what you accomplished, what you did not accomplish. And tonight I want to really challenge us as we approach this new chapter in our lives entitled 2023 and really consider how we are living and consider making adjustments where they need to be. And I want to look at what I believe are some right resolutions that we should put into our lives as we come into this year. Now, these are resolutions that I feel are essential to my own personal life, and perhaps you would also take them and apply them in your life and really even expand upon them from what I would do tonight.
The word resolution can be defined as a firm decision, a settled purpose to do or not to do something. Perhaps America's greatest theologian is a man by the name of Jonathan Edwards. He preached the most popular sermon ever preached in history called sinners in the hands of an angry God outside of the preaching Jesus did. God used Edwards to bring revival to the American colonies in the 18th century and what's known as the first great awakening.
If you've never read about these great awakenings, it's really incredible. People would moan and cry out in conviction, overwhelming conviction, and he didn't do energized preaching like today. People get them energized and lathered up and try to stir them up. Edwards would calm them down. He couldn't keep them quiet. They were moaning over their sin. When he preached sinners in the hands of an angry God at one place, that sermon, he wasn't even the guy that was supposed to preach that night. They asked him to come up and preach. The preaching was so intense that people were grabbing the poles, believing they would be brought into very hell. This was a brilliant theologian.
He graduated high school when he was like 12 years old, went into college. He was just a brilliant, brilliant theologian, brilliant man, loving husband. At the ripe old age of 20, Edwards wrote 70 resolutions, which he read over once a week. He said, Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to his will for Christ's sake. I've shared a couple of these with you in the past, and I just want to read through maybe a dozen or so of them tonight just to give you a feel. For what a man at 20 years old was resolved to do, and he ended well because he started well and he continued well.
And these are some of the things that were just centered in his life. It's been said that goals make the difference between the drifter and the doer. Are you a resolved person? Like, are you committed to things in life, or are you just kind of like, well, I'll just, you know, if I can get to it? My desire tonight is that we would look at God and say, I'm resolved in God. I'm resolved in the things of God. World, I may get to those things, but I am resolved when it comes to the spiritual. I am firm about these things.
And these are some of the things that Edwards said. He said, I am resolved that I will do what whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory. Secondly, resolve to live with all my might while I do live. Resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life. This is interesting.
Listen to this. Resolved to act in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I. And as if I had committed the same sins or had the same infirmities or failings as others, and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and miseries to God.
What he's saying is, I'm the chiefest. I need to view myself as the chiefest of sinners. I'm resolved to that. And if I see someone else sin, I don't look down on them.
It just reminds me of how shameful my own sin is, and it would bring me to repentance over myself. I'm resolved at that at 20 years old. Resolved when I feel pain to think of the pain of martyrdom and of hell. Resolved never to do anything out of revenge. Resolved never to speak evil of anyone. Resolved that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
Resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if I expected it would not be above an hour before I should hear the last trump. Resolved to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can with all the power, might and vigor. Resolved whenever I do consumptuously an evil action to trace it back till I come to the original calls and then both carefully and endeavor to do so no more and fight and pray with all my might against the original of it. Resolved to examine carefully and constantly what one thing in me is which causes me in the least to doubt the love of God and to direct all my forces against it. Resolved to study the scripture so steadily and constantly and frequently as that I may find and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same. Resolved never henceforth till I die to act as if I were in any way my own but entirely and altogether God's. I frequently hear persons of old age, he says, say how they would live if they were to live their lives over again. Resolved that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done supposing I lived to an old age, July 8, 1723. Those are just 15 of his 70 resolutions at 20 years old that he sat down and read over once a week. You talk about a man who lived a centered life.
He would work some days 12 hours a day on the farm, he pastored and just took care of a bunch of kids, was a good husband, just solid. Friend, what are you resolved to do in your life? What are you determined and purposed to have set forth in your life? I pray that God would stir us up tonight with some purpose to be directed by God to do some things with all of our might that God would want us to do.
Let me give you a motivation for making strong resolutions. Second Corinthians 5 10 says for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he had done whether it be good or bad. The Bible tells us there's going to be a day when we stand before God and give an account of our lives.
The good and the word bad there doesn't mean morally bad, it means something that's worthless. It's worthy works and worthless works. One day we're going to stand before God and be judged were the spiritual works that we done worthy of God or were they unworthy works.
David Jeremiah said that this is called the beam of seat judgment, the word beam of being the Greek word, but it's a judgment seat of Christ. He says that the beam of seat of Christ earthly wreaths and trophies and newspaper clippings and Super Bowl rings will be long forgotten. They'll be no more important than brushing your teeth or buying a newspaper at the corner store. But what we do now for eternity, even the smallest of deeds will count forever. Dr. Vernon ground said whenever we are faced with a major decision, we have to ask yourself what difference will this make in 10,000 years?
Most of the things we worry about don't matter within three weeks, three months or three years. We focus on the trivial and forget to pursue the eternal. Let me give you some resolutions that I think should be in our lives. First of all, I think we should be resolved to not have anything or anyone in our life that we love more than Jesus Christ.
I am resolved for this and let it be something that we are firm in. Jesus said in Matthew 22 36 when they came and said, Master, what's the greatest commandment in the law? He said to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might. This is the first and greatest commandment.
How can you make a resolution before that? That needs to be a primary for us. In Deuteronomy 6 verse 5 and 6, the Jewish Shema, which was their Jewish confession of faith, and a faithful Jew would pray this twice a day, even today in their 18 prayers. The shaman Ezra, their 18 prayers that they pray. Deuteronomy 6 is in the forefront of this and it tells us in verse number 5, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart. For something to be in your heart, you have to memorize them, right?
You've got to have them constantly on your head, in your head. And the challenge of this is 1 John 2 15 through 17. John says, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that's in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away. It's so fleeting and the luster of it.
But he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. I was asking somebody before service tonight, I said, Did you see the ball drop Saturday? And they said, No, but we saw the ball fly left. You know, and I went to bed at halftime. If you weren't aware, the Buckeyes played Saturday night better than you went to bed.
But I went to bed right after they scored before half. I was a happy man. I was a happy man.
I was able to sleep good. But you know what? Anytime I see a team that I enjoy watching win, if they lose, I'm always thinking in my mind, I'm so thankful that there's things I value that are so much more of a priority than this. I'm glad my joy isn't determined by that. Now, I may be happy or sad to see a team I enjoy play win or lose, but my joy comes from God. And we've got to learn to love worldly things in a much lesser fashion.
Love speaks of that which we delight in, something we sacrifice for. Let me ask you this. Do you find yourself delighting in the Lord? One of the things I greatly appreciate about John Piper that I don't subscribe to all of his theology, is men like him and Tozer and others have such a loving passion for God, such a joy in God. And I think sometimes we can come to reading the Bible in the morning to get it over with, to get on with the things we really want to do. And to do such is almost a blasphemy, isn't it? Because we're saying, God, well, I got my reading and now I get to go run off and do what I really wanted to do.
Let me ask you this. When your routine gets changed, does God get removed? It's good to have routines. I'm all for routines, but sometimes when people go on vacation, they never read their Bibles. They never pray, they never seek the Lord, but they get back into it. You see, when given the option to when God is removed from when you have freedom, I should say, does God, the joy of God come into the freedom area or is he just, well, I can get in a routine and sometimes routines can create ruts as well, right?
They can be blessings, but they can also sometimes create a shallowness. When Jesus took the disciples onto the Sea of Galilee and they were out fishing and he brought them to shore because they didn't catch anything. And when he said throw on the other side, they caught enough fish.
They couldn't hardly get him into shore. In John 21, he got Peter to shore and he says, Peter, do you love me more than these? John 21, 15 through 17.
He asked him three times. Now, I think he could have been asking him because Peter said, I would never deny you, Christ. Basically, I love you more than these other disciples.
And that could be very much true. But it also could be true, as many theologians believe, that he says, when do you love me more than these? He was saying, do you love me more than these fish?
Because Peter went out. He said, I go fishing and all the disciples followed him because he was a leader. And in either case, the question is posed, you love these other things, but you love me more than them. And I think it's important for us to say there's nothing that we should love more than Christ.
I'm not talking about just stating it. I'm talking about delighting in it. Delighting in God more than you would delight in your team. Delighting in God more than you would delight in going out hunting or shopping or whatever kind of hobbies or things that you enjoy doing. Delighting in, you say, should I really love God more than my family?
Absolutely. If there's one group you should love God more than it would be your family. Because you love your family, you should love God more. Because I love my wife, I want to love God more. Matthew 10, 37, Jesus says, he that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.
He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. I've had people say this. I'll say, you know, God needs to be number one. We need to love God more than anything else.
And I've had people say this to me many times throughout the years. You know, I really struggle with that because my kids are number one to me. My kids are number one.
I'm like, really? So you think by committing idolatry that's going to benefit your kids? Do you think it benefits your kids by making them idols and moving God off the throne of your heart?
Do you think that's going to bless them? I can tell you that's a curse to them. It's a curse to your spouse if you idolize them. If you love your spouse more than God, you are cursing your spouse. Because you're setting them up to fail.
Because you think they can take the place of God? You think a kid who becomes an idol of their parents heart is a child that can take advantage of their parents and their parents can become those who become slaves to their kids? Every whim and they become enablers and that kid becomes very spoiled and they are in the place of God. They will ruin that relationship. The greatest thing I can do for my spouse, the greatest thing I can do for my children is to love God most.
You can do nothing better for them. When I had a young man come to me and say, Can I have your daughter's hand? I said, I'm going to ask you a question before I answer that. Can you commit to me that you'll love God more than her the rest of her life? Can you commit to that? You see, that is the greatest way you can love.
Nothing higher. You want to be a good husband or wife? Fall in love with Jesus Christ. Secondly, resolve not to allow the world to define me, but God to define me. You think we're living in a world today that wants to define you? Romans 12 to be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
You may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. God's called us to be thermostats and not thermometers. The difference is this. A thermometer conforms to its surroundings. It changes temperature to match the temperature around it. Where a thermostat, on the other hand, sets the temperature no matter its surroundings. It remains at its setting. It is an influencer. A thermostat changes the temperature to its setting. Ask yourself, which one am I, a thermometer or a thermostat?
Do you conform to your surroundings or do you let God define your setting and you remain at that setting no matter your environment? I can't help but to think of Daniel and his three friends, right? Babylon. They changed their diet. They changed their names.
They changed their education. But Daniel and his three friends responded in verse eight. But Daniel resolved, if you would. He purposed. He was set firm in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank. Therefore, he requested the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Daniel was a man of resolve. He was a man committed.
Daniel would not be conformed to this world because he was transformed by his mind being renewed by God. We live in a world that is seeking to conform us, that wants to normalize sin. I can never pull up the news.
I always like to see what the news, just an overview of things, maybe once a day, just a quick rundown. And I just get sickened by all the sexual immorality. They never stop, do they?
Never stop. Re-education, re-indoctrinating what is right and wrong. The Bible is outdated, not for today.
It's what gets thrown constantly out. Jesus said in Matthew 24, 11, many false prophets shall rise and deceive many. There's so much deception in the world today. 1 Timothy 4, 1, now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter time, some shall depart from the faith. There's going to be the falling away, the apostasy of the church, and the world will follow. Thirdly, resolve to start every day with time in prayer and in the Word. Resolve to start every day with time in prayer and in the Word. Many Christians say, I want to grow as a Christian this year, but how do you do that? One way I would say is to make time every morning for God in His Word and in prayer.
Paul said in 1 Timothy 4, 13, he told young Timothy, till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 2 Timothy 2, 15, study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Can I share something that I have found to be a great blessing?
I don't say this to be, and it should never come across this way, but to be any type of lifting myself. This is something I found to be a blessing, I just want to share it. I love reading the Scriptures every morning, and that's something I do, and it's just ingrained in my soul to do that. So I read several chapters, but I begin to listen to the Bible.
And Sunday, I'd listen through Matthew and Mark, Monday I would listen through Luke and John, just through the day, just as I was doing other things. And just going through all four Gospels, and my goal is to really go through the entire New Testament every month, reading and listening through, and it probably could be even much more than that. And what you'll find is you can listen to great portions of Scripture as you get through the day. If you listen to eight chapters a day, outside of your reading, you'll go through the entire New Testament in a month. You can listen to eight chapters within like probably 30 minutes.
I mean, if you have a 30-minute drive, just think of what that'll do to enhance your life. There's something about training your mind to listen and learn and just hearing all the Gospel records. You begin to capture the big scene of it. If you've never done that, I'm telling you, get a Bible app and begin to listen to the Bible. It'll change your life. It'll enhance your spiritual life.
And it's very easy. You just get up in the morning and right when you get up, you just start listening to the Bible. Don't turn the news on, don't turn anything else on.
Just hit that. And as you get ready, you'll be like, okay, it took me 30, 40 minutes to get ready and everything I did, and I just went through 20 chapters of the Bible. Just the enhancement of your spiritual life, of learning the Word of God. What else are we going to listen to?
Nothing or something much less? So nothing wrong with some of these other things you could do, but I'm just telling you that has been a wonderful blessing I've been doing now for quite a while, and I just thought I would share that. But reading scripture memorization, Psalm 119 verse 11 says, Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee. Learn to memorize scriptures in the morning. I think one great way to do this, find passages of the Bible to pray through. Pray it repeatedly until you've memorized it. Own that. There are things I pray through the scriptures that are just so entrenched into my heart.
In prayer, 1 Thessalonians 5 17 says, Pray without ceasing. Don't tell me, but I'm not a morning person. And I'm like, well, good. That makes it even better. I always think that's fantastic. That's all the more reason to get up early.
If you're not a morning person, fantastic. Then God will know you really want to make him a priority because it's going to be even more of a sacrifice for you. Good. I love when people say, Oh, preacher, I would get baptized, but boy, I'm so nervous to get up in front of people. I'm like, fantastic. Love that. Good, because you won't do it for anybody else, but you would do it for God, right?
And they're like, well, yeah. Then praise God. Do it for God. Get all nervous. When's the last time your hands were sweaty for Jesus?
You were nervous for the game, right? Let's get nervous for Christ for once in a while. Praise God for that kind of a spirit that you can get nervous about and say, God, I'm going to be willing to... Do we just want to serve God comfortably? Does God have to be microwavable for us, a drive through Jesus?
I mean, is this what we've turned him into? Praise God for missionaries that are willing to go out of the country and make themselves extremely uncomfortable in so many ways. I mean, spend time with your family at Christmas, then you go away, you don't see them for long periods of time. You know, Eric Woodworth is over in Honduras.
He didn't get to come home and spend Christmas with his family because he's with his new family over in Honduras. That's a sacrifice, isn't it? And so those are the kind of things that we get so comfortable. But why in the morning? Let me ask this question. How can we put God first place through the day if he doesn't get first place in the morning? If he doesn't get the first part of the day, how could he get the second and third part of the day?
Doesn't he ask for the first portions of everything? Make it your goal to give God no less than like 20 minutes in the morning to spend time praying and reading. Let me just... Let me give you some Bible to back this up because I know some of you guys are Bible people, right?
We've trained you this way. Give me some scripture, preacher. I'm gonna need some verses on this.
Well, y'all gonna get it because I could preach like a whole week just on this. So Abraham rose up early to meet the Lord in Genesis 19, 27. Isaac rose up early, and it all says early in the morning, early to meet the Lord in Genesis 20 and 18. Gideon rose up early in the morning in Judges 6, 38. The Israelites rose up early to meet the Lord, Judges 21, 4. It came to pass on the morrow that the people rose early, built there an altar.
Job rose early in the morning in Job 1, 5. Hannah and her husband rose up early to worship the Lord in 1 Samuel 1, 19. David said in Psalms 5, 3, My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. O Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer and will look up. Isaiah rose up to seek the Lord early. Isaiah 26, 21. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. The earth also shall to close her blood. It's a wrong verse.
Yeah. There is a verse. I'm trying to remember it, but it's not going to come back to me. But Isaiah rose up early, and Jesus rose up early in the morning. Mark 1, 35. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed John 8, 2. And early in the morning, he came again to the temple, and all the people came unto him, and he sat down and taught them. Jesus taught them early.
I think he's trying to show us something as well. So learn, be resolved to seek God first early in the morning. I'm telling you, friends, many of you do this and you know the benefit of it, but if you're not, you are missing something in your life. You must make him first early.
I don't care if you're not. I wasn't an early person. I was forced to become an early person because life demanded it for me.
I would be the guy that would stay up late at night till midnight and get up at like, when I was in college, man, I could do that. But as I went through life, life taught me. And the other thing I learned from both the Bible and from successful people in life, they go to bed early and get up early. They don't squander their mornings. When you get up early, a lot of times it's like, you can accomplish so much more in the first three, four hours of the day than people could do in the first eight hours of the day.
Take advantage of that. Number four, be resolved to be faithful when trials and temptations come. Be resolved to be faithful when trials and temptations come, when they come. James 1 speaks about trials and temptations. It uses a Greek word, parasmos, and I've taught you this before, but in verse 1 through 12, it speaks about, the word parasmos can be translated two different ways. It can be translated as trials and can be translated as temptations. The context determines the meaning.
It has two meanings to that word. And it's the same word translated in James 1, verse 1 through 12 as trials, and it transitions over to temptations in verse 13 through 15. And the difference is this, trials are tests that God brings in our life for the purpose of growing us, building our faith, like weight-resistant bands for an athlete. So it builds endurance, and James 1 through 4 says, we need to count it a blessing and a joy when those diverse temptations, and the word could be translated as trials, it's that idea, knowing the trying of your faith works patience.
That builds you up. Temptations, on the other hand, are solicitations by Satan to get us to sin and to bring us down. Temptations are enticements to sin to destroy our life. And the important truth is this, trials can turn into temptations. Temptations are external solicitations that Satan brings against us, and he'll try to internalize that temptation, which will cause us to doubt God, not have faith, complain against God, question his love for us.
We must be resolved to trust God. You see, God brought external, allowed external temptations and trials to come against the Israelites, and those trials turned into solicitations to sin because what you need to understand is trials and temptations are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes people say, I don't know if Satan's tempting me or I don't know if God's testing me, and the answer is both. God will test you to grow you. Satan will use that same test to try to tempt you into sin, and what you do with that will determine whether it glorifies God or it glorifies sin and will bring you down.
Deuteronomy 8, verse 2 and 3, speak of this very clearly. Also remember that your temptations are not unique. God will not allow you to be tempted above what you're able to handle with God's grace. 1 Corinthians 10, 13 tells us that no temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, that God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you're able, but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you will be able to bear it.
Do you think that has to do with addictions as well? Do you think God can give us victory over all? He can, but I can tell you what. Listen, people say God won't give you more than you can handle.
Really. He'll give you more than you can handle but not more than you can handle when you're trusting in Him. I can do all things through Christ. Was the walking on water more than Peter could handle?
Right? It was more than he could handle. But it wasn't more than he could handle with Christ.
So understand that reality. The reason people fall and the reason we fall when we do is because it's not that God didn't give us grace to work through that. It's because we took our eyes off Him and became unfaithful at some level. So be faithful when sin calls you to be unfaithful. Be resolved.
Wouldn't it be good to read these every week? Number five, resolve to have no unconfessed or unrepentant sin in your life. Psalms 32 one through five says, Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity and whose spirit there is no guile. Paul said, or David said, When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day, for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me.
My moistures turned into the drought of summer, say love. And then he says, I acknowledged my sin unto thee. My iniquity have I not hid.
I said, I will confess my transgression of the Lord, and thou forgaveth the iniquity of my sin. Such a powerful passage. This is reflecting David's sin with Bathsheba.
When God brought great conviction upon his life, he finally repented, got right with God. Listen to what he says in verse nine. He tells us, Be ye not as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bid and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Isn't that a great verse?
God, don't let me be like a stupid animal, a dumb animal, a foolish animal, that you have to jerk my head around because I can't get it. Verse 10, Many sorrows shall be to the wicked, but he that trust in the Lord mercy shall come pass them about. Be glad in the Lord. Rejoice, ye righteous. Shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. And so have no unconfessed sin.
Psalm 139, 23, and four needs to be our daily prayers. Search me, O God. Know my heart.
Try me. Know my thoughts. Is there any wicked way in me? Lead me in the way everlasting. Proverbs 4, 27 says, Remove thy foot from evil. Romans 12, 9 says, Abore that which is evil.
Cleave to that which is good. Proverbs 1 is the parent telling his child, Stay far away from evil. Proverbs 1, 10 says, My son of sinners, entice thee, consent thou not. I think about Psalms 1, verse 1.
What's that start out as? Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Blessed is the guy that stays away from sinful stuff, verse 2.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, right? Get your people, places, things right. Get around the right spiritual environments.
If you see yourself fall into sin through thoughts, words, actions, attitudes, et cetera, be committed, be resolved to quickly repent, remove it from your life. Don't stay there. Some people are like this. They're all in or all out. Stop doing that. Well, you know, I'm all in, man.
I'm all in this year. They mess up one time. They're like, I'm done.
I knew I was such a failure. I might as well throw in the tap. I can't be that committed all the time that I'm just going to stop that. One of the statements that I made this statement for a few months, and somebody even made a shirt at our church and kind of passed some of them out, but it's just fail falling forward. If you're going to fail, just fail moving in the right direction and then get up and keep moving. And if you fall, then repent and get back up and just keep moving.
There is no retreat for us, right? You just keep pressing. You just keep moving.
You just keep going. Number six, resolve to trust in God's sovereignty in the midst of my frail humanity. I preached on the sovereignty of God a few weeks ago, and I could probably do six months of preaching on God's sovereignty. Just for my own soul's sake, it brings me such peace. I love both the sovereignty of God and the providence of God. I love that He has all the power and the right, and I love that He has all the control. I love that. I love that He's in the driver's seat. I love that when I look at the world and I say, I can look to heaven and say, yes.
So much in life would swallow us up, wouldn't it? DeMar Hamlin. Praise God for a nation that values life enough to cancel a football game. They said the coach for the Bills said, I can't. Coach said, I need to be at the hospital. Good. Good for valuing. What would have been sad is if they said, get him off.
We need to get the game going. That kind of a mindset. I wish they valued all life like that. We prayed. Our family, we prayed for him when we saw that, and we as a church family should pray for him. It was pretty neat to see someone who was sharing with me, and I pulled it up, I think a guy on ESPN or one of the sports channels was, he said, you know what, people talk about praying. A lot of times people say, you know, pray for, but he's like, I'm going to pray right now, and he prayed, and I was like, praise the Lord, that's good.
You know, John knows this being in battle. Not a lot of atheists and foxholes are they? You know, atheism can get you comfortable in your sin, but atheism is uncomfortable when the consequences begin to crush you and when your humanity is revealed. I tell you the peace. I just was talking to one of the dads of our church today, and there was a miracle of God that just happened down the road from us yesterday. One of the precious girls in our church was driving, and a vehicle hit her, and I saw the picture of the vehicle, and they should be dead by the grace of God. And she said, when I was turning, she said, I knew my life was over.
It was done. She said, I felt like a piece, like it's going to be okay. And after the accident, she's like, I'm alive, like by the grace of God. You know, there's times in life where I've seen where people, like how do you keep breathing if there wasn't a God there? And there's going to be seasons of our life when we don't have the answers, but we can say, God, thank you that you do. Romans 828 is vitally important, isn't it? That all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.
Thank God for Romans 828. You know, Mary and Martha didn't understand it, did they? They were like, Jesus, if you had been here, my brother had not died. We don't understand what was holding you up. We know where the town was you were baptizing, and we know where that area is. It's 18 miles away.
Why did you not come? You're three days ago, you're four days late. He's already been dead. Jesus said, your brother will rise again.
Martha said, I know he'll rise again at the resurrection, and Jesus says, you're looking at the resurrection. You're about to see power put on display. Glory is about to expose itself here. I have bigger plans for your brother than just living.
I'm going to show my glory in him. There are things in life we don't always understand, but praise God, we have a God we can trust, can't we? You know, even in evangelism, I think trusting God for the outcome of the soul being saved is so important. I can plant and water, but I cannot save. I can tell you, early in my Christianity, I struggled with that because I was probably more like an Arminian.
I mean, it was like all me. I didn't know it was the only thing I would have ever been taught, and I didn't understand like 1 Corinthians 3, 5 through 7 that some plant, some water, but God brings increase, that if they get saved, God did all that saving. And so you ever share the gospel, and you're like, man, I failed. I'm so miserable at this, and you know, thought somebody else could have talked to them. They definitely would have got saved, you know, and you just feel like such a failure, but when you realize, you know what? God's the one who's going to save them.
I'm bringing them the light. I'm bringing them the truth, the gospel, and Jesus saves them, and he can save them even when my frail offering of my evangelism can be so weak and thin. Number seven, resolve to strive toward Christ-likeness in everything that I am. 1 Thessalonians 4-3 says, this is the will of God, even your sanctification. Romans 8-29, for whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.
God's plan for us is that we would look like Christ. Romans 13-14, put on the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be sanctified through the Word of God, John 17-17.
Like, I know the Bible tells us that it's the Word of God that sets us apart. It's the will of God that I would be sanctified. That's why I want to read it.
I want to listen to it. I want to teach it, preach it, study it, memorize it, 2 Timothy 3-16 and 17. I want to mimic Christ in forgiving.
Ephesians 4-32 says, forgive even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven. I want to mimic God in how we love. Ephesians 5-2 says, and walk in love as Christ also loved us. I want to mimic God in how I walk. The Bible says in 1 John 2-6, he that abides in him ought to walk even as he walked. I want to mimic God in humility.
Philippians 2-5, let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery be equal with God, goes in to talk about the kenosis and the self-emptying of Christ and his humility. Be resolved to be like Christ. Number eight, be resolved to have no one in my life I'm close to that I haven't shared the gospel with or am aware of their salvation. Be resolved, friends, to have no one in your life that you're close to that you have not shared the gospel with or you're unaware of their salvation. Like, is your spouse saved? Are your children saved? Are your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbors, co-workers? 1 Corinthians 15-34, I've always called this an alarm clock to the soul.
It says, Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this, he says, to your what? Write a list of all the people in your life. I challenge you to do this.
I challenge you to do this. Write a list of all the people in your life you're unsure of that are close to you. That list may be five names, 10 names, 50 names that you're unsure of their salvation, and you need to write them down, begin to pray for them by name, then systematically go to them throughout the entire year 2023 and say, I'm resolved not to let this year end until I've talked to all of them. I can honestly say I don't know anyone in my family in my life that, at some level, I have not talked to them, shared the gospel.
I've gone to my uncle's house, friend's house, neighbor's houses, co-workers. Thankfully, the co-workers here better be safe. But before I was in the ministry, I mean, I was just, I witnessed all those guys, and I'm not trying to lift myself up. I was just, I was concerned for them. Like, I wanted to know, you do the same thing. Like, be concerned.
Don't live in a neighborhood and not know if your neighbors are safe. So if you say, I don't know how to share the gospel, then learn. We have a Share Jesus Without Fear class going on tonight, and you need to be a part of those classes.
Be resolved. Number nine, resolve to invest in the spiritual growth of others. Think about who has helped you grow spiritually. Consider where you would be at tonight if they didn't invest in you spiritually. Get involved in helping others grow.
Get into a D group, a life group. Do you think it's selfish not to help others grow spiritually? Do you know this will happen? If you're growing spiritually, it will spill over to help others grow spiritually.
Like, you can't hold it in. Nothing's wasted for God. Like, if you're, like, zealous and seeking God, learning, growing. Do you know the Matthew Henry Bible commentary? Who reads Matthew Henry?
Raise your hand. Isn't it great? You ever read The Complete? You're like, yeah, it'd be, like, five years of reading that one book. Spurgeon, it was his favorite commentary. The concise commentaries were a lot of... But, you know, he didn't write that to be a commentary. Those were just his personal notes at home. After he died, his wife's like, you know, he did all this.
They compile it, and now it's one of the most worldwide, most impactful commentary ever. What he did in secret has been made incredibly abundant. It's been said like this in Hebrews 11, he that's dead yet speaketh. He's still teaching while in the grave to millions. We have one plus one discipleship books.
There's all kinds of things. You know, ministry is organic, isn't it? You minister.
That's why come early to church, leave later. Just minister to people. How you doing? You know, how you doing?
Go up here. Ask folks how they're doing. Number 10, resolve to spend more intentional time with my loved ones.
I want to be resolved to spend more intentional time with my loved ones. You know, James 4.14, the older I get. I was talking to a young man today, 20 years old. He's an intern.
He's sitting directly to my right. I think I heard him. I won't name him out loud.
Mr. McFarland, first name. He was talking to a high school kid, and they were talking about lifting, and he's like, you know, back in my day, back in the day, this is what he kept saying. He said back in the day like half a dozen times.
I was like, I'm going to have to stop you. What do you mean back in the day? He said, are you 21 yet?
He's like, no, I'm 20. I'm like, how do you even refer to back in the day? Back in the day, you were just a, you're still a sparkle in your daddy's eye, big boy. There ain't no back in the day, embryo.
I mean, come on now. Young buck. Now when you're 42, there is such a thing as back in the day.
Skinny leg wasn't so skinny, you know, I could get around a little better. And then they laugh at me because some of you guys are like, there is no such thing as back in the day for a 42-year-old, you young buck. Yeah, but I'm living on daughter years.
I'm like 99 right now. Yes, it's right. It's right. It's a verse in there in Joshua somewhere about that. But you know, James 4.14 gets ever more true the order we get, doesn't it? It says, what is your life?
It's even a vapor that appears for a very little time. Life is precious. Life is precious. So fragile.
We had, I think, five funerals over this last three, four weeks and just the preciousness of life. Learn to take time with the people you love. Learn to turn the games off. Learn to put the phone down. Learn to talk to them.
Ask them, how's your day doing and how are you doing and how's your Bible reading and what are your plans this week and what's your plans this month and what do you, just talk. Take time for your spouse. Invest in your marriage. I love our reengage study.
We'll be starting that back up tomorrow night for all of our married couples that are involved. Don't take your children for granted. Invest in your kids. Have intentional conversations. Take time for people. You know, when somebody comes up and talks to you, take time for them. Take time to talk.
Have a family over to your house for a meal. Come early. Greet people. Talk to people. Don't be the first one out and the last one to come into church. Love people more than that.
Unless you have to do it for work and I understand that, but just take time. I can tell you there's a good chance not all of us will be here next January. You understand? We have a picture up on my wall of our 10 year anniversary just three years ago and out of those hundreds and hundreds of people in that picture, I look through it sometimes and just thank God for the people there and sitting over my desk and there's about a half dozen people in that picture that aren't alive anymore.
It's three years ago. Number 11, two more and we'll be done very quickly. Resolve to avoid bitterness, unforgiveness, and unreconciled relationships. A lot of times people waste time in life because they have bitterness, unforgiveness, and unreconciled relationships. There's a lot of verses I could give for that, but just be resolved to not hold onto any of that.
God will treat our sin like we treat the sins of others according to Christ. And then lastly, resolve by God's grace to finish well. Paul said in 2 Timothy 4, 6, for I am now ready to be offered in the time of my departures at hand. I have fought a good fight.
I've finished my course. I've kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give to me at that day and not to me only, but unto all of them also that love is appearing. Just a couple of verses later, he says, for demons hath forsaken me having loved this present world. I don't ever want that to happen to me or to you, and it could.
You understand that? I want to finish the race God set before me. I want to not only start well, but I want to end well. You know, the end of a person's life can eclipse the whole of their life. Resolve not to have anything or anyone in my life that I love more than Jesus. Resolve to not allow the world to define me, but God did find me resolved to start every day in time with prayer and in the word resolved to be faithful when trials and temptations come, resolved to have no unconfessed or unrepentant sin in my life, resolved to trust in God's sovereignty in the midst of frail humanity, resolved to strive toward Christ's likeness and all that I am resolved to not have anyone that I'm close to that I haven't shared the gospel with resolve to invest in the spiritual growth of others resolved to spend more intentional time with the loved ones in my life resolved to avoid bitterness, unforgiveness, and unreconciled relations and then resolved by God's grace to finish well, it's going to be very short time. We're going to be standing before God and only those things done for Christ or what's going to last. Let's be resolved.
Friends. Amen. Let's all stand this evening. The altar is open. Maybe you just want to come and spend a moment in prayer.
You're welcome to do that at this time. Maybe there's a resolution that you say, I just need to take a moment and pray and commit to whether at your seat or at an altar, you're invited to come. You were to stand before God and you don't know if heaven's your home. You stood before God and he said, why should I let you into heaven?
You don't know what you would say. I'll be down front. We'll have others down front that can talk with you and share with you from the word of God, how you could be safe tonight. You need to make a spiritual decision tonight.
We invite you to come. Father, what a joy it is to be in your presence and how great you are. Thank you for mercy, thank you for grace, thank you for salvation, thank you for being God. May you be the chief joy and chief love of our hearts. May we never love lesser things more than we love you. Forgive us as we are so fickle. Draw us with your Holy Spirit, open our eyes, give us conviction, and may your word sanctify and transform us into your glorious image. Thank you for this sweet body, may you bless this time in Jesus' name, Amen.
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