A Note from Michael Gossett
New Year, New ________?
How would you fill in this blank for 2024? It is that time of year again that everyone begins writing their resolutions with the greatest of imaginations and intentions. If you are like me, resolutions have never really stuck all that well. I cannot figure out how to maintain the drive throughout the year to complete the commitment I was once overly zealous for. This seems to be the case for many people. Most often, people make the same mistake for the wanted and needed changes in their life. Every new year, with the greatest ambition, many people want to make significant change that can drastically improve their life, their family, their church, their work, and on and on and on.
A great deal of research has gone into New Year’s resolutions and why they do and don’t work. I know you have heard this before, but if you want to be successful in your New Year’s resolutions, then begin with small habits that will create big results over time. Here is part of the problem: we say, “New year, New me.” This is a great slogan, and it has big ambition, big intentions, but often has very little results. Why? Resolutions need to address a problem by resolving toward the solution. Instead, identify what needs the “newness” of “me.”
For instance, if you want to lose weight, then identify how you can lose weight and make that your resolution. No one has ever lost weight or created a healthy lifestyle by saying, “I want to lose weight.” Instead, we can resolve by saying “This year, I am going to limit myself to one sugary treat per week.” Or “This year, I am going to limit myself to one soda per week.” Identify the habit that will create momentum over the course of the year. Then next year add another habit. The year after that, add another habit. In five years, you will have created 5 new habits that will lock you into whatever goal you want. I started doing this several years ago and it has proven to be helpful. Our greatest ambition should be forming our spiritual life as well.
If you are looking at your spiritual life and have determined that you desire greater intimacy with the Lord, where should you begin? Some of you have been reading through the Bible for years, while others struggle to have that daily, intentional, unhurried time with the Lord. Start by understanding the gift of true intimacy with the Lord. A book that you may want to add to your reading list (and I highly recommend) is Pursuit of God by: AW Tozer. This is a starting point to give a theological and biblical understanding of why intimacy with the Lord is a necessary endeavor for every follower of Jesus.
First, identify what needs to change for you. If you are finding yourself not getting into God’s word every day, then begin there. Make it your resolution to read one chapter out of God’s Word daily. If you recognize you need to spend more time in prayer, then set a time and place every morning that you are going to spend unhurried prayer time with the Lord. Start small and grow incrementally. I have found in my life, that when you start small (15 minutes in prayer), the Lord will be gracious and grow a desire to spend more and more time with Him. As you read God’s Word, and pray without being rushed, you will long for more time naturally. Remember, spiritual habits are called disciplines for a reason. They require personal discipline. There will be some days that you don’t want to get up, and some days that other tasks will look more important. It will require discipline on your part to maintain this resolution.
Another resolution that you may recognize as needed in your life is to simply be more faithful in your church attendance. How can you make this an attainable resolution? Stop giving yourself excuses to miss church. Resolve: I am only going to miss church if I am physically unable or out of town. Church attendance is not popular among Americans today. Throughout history (since the first century), gathering with God’s people has always been a priority among the followers of Jesus. It is more than a choice; it is a mandate from God Himself.
Even in the middle of great persecution, early Christians always found themselves gathering together. The Lord’s Day (Sunday) has become less of a discipline and more of a convenient option at our leisure. This is not God’s design for you. Gathering to worship was never meant to be a convenience for you. In fact, it is often inconvenient for His people. “Convenient commitment’ is an oxymoron. You can go to many different parts of the world and find God’s people fighting against the inconvenience of their culture so they can gather together. Do not underestimate the value of assembling with God’s people in your spiritual life. You do not have to go to church to be a Christian: but certainly if you are a Christian you will go to church. This is not legalism; it is simple obedience that some have become accustomed to leaving out of their lives. We don’t choose church attendance when it is convenient; instead, we choose church attendance so you do not neglect the gathering. This is an important resolution for your spiritual well-being.
As followers of Jesus, New Year’s resolutions are not required. However, the beginning of the year is a great time for believers to evaluate their own personal priorities. Above all else, consider what must change so that you can become a more faithful follower of Jesus.
- RESOLVE: I am going to read at least one chapter in the Bible daily and yearn to create more margin to read more as God allows.
- RESOLVE: I am going to spend an unhurried amount of time of at least 15 minutes every day praying with a growing desire to expand my prayer time.
- RESOLVE: I am going to only miss church if I am physically unable to attend with a growing desire to be with God’s people.
If you are new to spiritual disciplines, give yourself grace. Never think that the Lord is upset or disappointed in you if you happen to miss a day. We should strive for intimacy with God, but there is nothing that you can do to gain a greater love from God or greater approval from God. God’s approval of you is based on the work of Christ and Christ alone. God’s love for you is because of the work of Christ and Christ alone. God demonstrated His love for you by sending Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins. Spiritual disciplines are not to gain anything from the Lord’s hand: they are only to gain intimacy with the Lord’s heart.
New Sermon Series THIS SUNDAY!
This week we are beginning our journey through the book of Hebrews. I am excited to walk through this book verse by verse with you. You may be wondering, “Why Hebrews?” First, the book of Hebrews provides an in depth understanding for the person of Christ. Hebrews (like all of Scripture) is unapologetically Christ-centered. He is God’s son, He is eternal, He is the radiance and image of the invisible God and He is the unchanging creator of all things. Second, Hebrews also gives us an in depth understanding of the work of Christ. Jesus who is above all things and Creator and Sustainer of all things was superior to angels so that He would be crowned with glory and honor. In the middle of the book, we see why Christ was and is necessary as the final atonement for all sins. Third, we see in Hebrews the importance of persistence in Christ. It is Christ who enables and sustains our endurance while here on earth.
This Sunday, we will only be looking at the first three verses that set the tone of who Christ is. Jesus is our prophet, our King, and our Priest. This understanding is necessary for our walk in Christ. Make sure you start off 2024 right and gather with His people for worship. You can join us at the Tyler Campus at 9:30 or 11:00 for worship, 8:00, 9:30, or 11:00 Connect Groups, our Flint Campus at 9:30 and 11:00 for worship and Connect Groups and our Español Campus at 9:30 for Connect Groups and 11:00 for worship in CrossWalk.
Starting this Sunday evening, and continuing throughout the week, we are thrilled to launch an array of engaging activities and insightful Bible studies designed for all ages. For more detailed information about schedules, topics, and locations, visit www.gabc.org/mdwk.
Cannot wait to see you this Sunday!
You are loved and prayed for!