So far this week, everyone is probably doing really well with their New Year’s Resolutions. Come on, it’s only day 3 right? But let me ask you, how many of this year’s resolutions are similar – if not the same – as last year’s? Why is that? Paul had a similar predicament in which I think he was able to relate. Look what he said while writing to the Roman church.
What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. (Romans 7:15-20, MSG)
They say that doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is insanity. Sounds like what Paul was describing right? Carey Nieuwhof from Connexus Church says it very simply, “If you don’t like the results you get, change the pattern that you’ve set.” When dealing with our plans and goals for 2018 the question that we should be considering is, what can I do differently this year when it comes to addressing my resolutions? What pattern do I need to change? It’s not enough to just stop a negative or resistive pattern. We need to replace it with one that will help us to move forward. Here is one that I’m working on today.
Change Your Atmosphere – Worship
When we speak of atmosphere we are referring to the surrounding ambience or vibe of the moment. Our atmosphere is directly related to our attitude which then drives our actions. So, if you are desiring and anticipating change in 2018, then your attitude and actions will need to change first.
Change Your Attitude – Spiritual Disciplines
Change Your Actions – Heart Change
I have found that when I am intentional about my worship – listening to and singing praise and worship music, reading and studying the Bible, and praying – that not only does my attitude improve, my actions follow suit. If we want the vibe of our moments, our KAIROS (Greek word for ‘time’), to be different than the past, more meaningful than ever, then we need to be intentional about creating space for God to meet with us. (See also Pastor Mark and Laura’s message “Show Up For Christmas“.)
How can you be more intentional this year about your time focused on the spiritual disciplines of worship, Bible study and prayer? Have you ever actually tried scheduling your time with Jesus like an appointment with a client or other tasks? What areas of heart change are you targeting? Which spiritual discipline do you think will be most beneficial to help you with it? If you truly want things to BE different this year, you need to DO things differently. As Bob Beaudine puts it in his book 2 Chairs, “If you want something that you’ve never had, you’re going to have to do some things that you’ve never done.” Why wait for day 4? Start today.