Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions or Regrets?

     It is that time of year again when we reflect on the last twelve months and consider our gains and our losses.  Many of us will consider some resolutions for the new year ahead.  Unfortunately, many of these pledges we make fall short before the end of the first month or two of the year.  Lets face it.  We may start out with good intentions, but in our own strength, we just cannot do it.  So this New Year's Eve, I am calling upon the only One who can finish the work He has begun in me.  I am calling on God, and my sincere prayer is that I might "hunger and thirst after righteousness" in every area of my life.
     In our Sunday School class, we have been studying "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.  It is an examination of chapters 5-7 in the book of Matthew as given in sermons by Dr. Lloyd-Jones.  These sermons were then transcribed into a marvelous work which I highly recommend.  We think we have heard the Beatitudes and know this famous sermon of our Lord, but I, for one, have had my eyes opened in the short time we have been studying.  Each of the Beatitudes builds upon the one that came before it, so it is progressive in nature.  Once we know and acknowledge that we are poor in spirit (having no good within us), we can then mourn over our sins.  This, in turn, leads to a sincere humility of heart or meekness knowing that our only source of salvation and righteousness is in Christ.
     When we come to the fourth Beatitude, we read:  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matt. 5:6).  This Beatitude comes with a promise...that we will be satisfied when we seek to live a holy life before the face of God.  So how do we hunger and thirst after righteousness?  What steps can we take that will help us along this path?
     Dr. Lloyd-Jones has a number of suggestions to assist us.  There is nothing new in what he says, but it bears repeating.  If we are truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness, we need to make this the prayer of our daily life.  It is not a one time request, but a heart cry to God as we begin each day.  Living in this world with all its secular temptations is like walking through a mine field without a map.  Therefore, we need God's daily guidance and strength to stay focussed.  Prayer is the first important step.
     Secondly, we need to read the Bible with regularity making certain to study it not just read it.  Anyone can read a book and say they have completed the task, but God's Word is meant for study and meditation.  As we allow His Words to live in us, we will be changed.  Memorize the Word and get a plan for reading which will take you through the Bible.  Ligonier Ministries has several Bible reading plans for the year at their website and on Facebook.  They are free and offer an opportunity to help you organize your study time.
     Finally, we need to take a daily moral inventory.  We are all familiar with the trucks on the highway that have a sign on the back asking "How's my driving?"  In the same way, we need to think back over the day and ask ourselves questions about our walk with the Lord that day.  Are we seeking for His righteousness in our lives?  Did we step out of bounds at work or within the family?  We should begin as David did when he asked God:  "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me, and know my anxious thoughts" (Psalm 139:23).  Our Lord will reveal to us areas where we have transgressed, and we have only to repent and confess them.  By His strength, we can walk in the righteousness of Christ, but if we never take a moral inventory, how will we know?
     Jesus told us to "seek first the kingdom of God".  This is what I see in this Beatitude.  When we seek Him above all else, He will add what we have need of in our lives.  This is why it is my prayer resolution for this new year ahead.  I want to hunger and thirst for righteousness in Christ because the satisfaction He gives surpasses all else this world has to offer. It is the only resolution with a promise that comes from the highest authority, and He will even help us to reach this goal.  That beats any list of resolutions I have ever made and failed to fulfill.  Won't you join me in this New Year and make it your prayer as well?  God will bless us when we seek Him first and walk in His righteousness.  Selah!
One of the Cathedrals we visited in England had statues of godly men and women who had gone before.
It served as a reminder of how we are to live before Him.

No comments: