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GODLY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS COLOSSIANS 3 Here we are nearing the end of the most unusual, unexpected, frustrating, and fearful year we have ever experienced. And, we might say, with anticipated relief, that we are ready for it to end. We are ready to step out of 2020 and into 2021 with the hope of putting the frustration and fear behind us and return to "normal life" as we knew it a year ago. With the coming of a new year many people make New Year's Resolutions. Most of those resolutions are made with the expectation of a better life in the new year. Lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, eat healthier, save money, be kinder to others, read the Bible more. Our resolutions go on and on, varying from one person to another. All are made in all seriousness and intention to reach fruition. But, is that the case? At the end of the year as we look back over our resolutions for the year can we boast of how we kept all of them completely and my life is so much better, as I planned it would be? My guess is, rarely are we pleased with our performance in regard to our resolutions. More often, by the end of January of the new year they have fallen on hard times and have been abandoned. If you are considering what resolutions you might make for the year 2021, might I suggest that you need look no further than the writing of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Colossae. Colossians chapter 3 is filled with resolutions every Christian should make and keep throughout each year. And, if we make these resolutions and keep them, those personal resolutions we make will also be successfully accomplished as well. It really is a matter of focus and power. As Christians we already have power our relationship with Jesus Christ gives us. Then, it becomes a matter of what we will focus on in the new year. Who will our lives be lived for? Ourselves? Family? Friends? How about living our lives for and through Jesus Christ? It is all about where is our focus. Again, looking at Colossians 3, we find that the list of resolutions is not focused on self. They are focused entirely on serving Christ and others. Verses 1-3 says this: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God." Do you see the resolutions in that passage? Set your hearts on things above. Set your minds on things above. Beginning with verse 5 Paul begins to list resolution after resolution he wants us to consider in our walk with Christ in 2021. First, he provides a listing of things we need to "put to death." These are whatever belongs to our earthly nature. Clearly, Paul is appealing to our spiritual nature here, guiding us away from our frail and often harmful natural instincts. Consider Paul's listing: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (idolatry). In addition to putting these things to death, Paul says we must "rid ourselves" of some things as well. Verse 8 lists these things: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. Now, after we have made God's New Year's Resolutions, what then? As we would expect, the Word of God does not leave us without guidance. When we remove something from our lives, our behavior and our actions, that must be replaced with something else. After we have put to death and have rid ourselves of all that is harmful to us, we must fill our lives with something much better, more beneficial, more lasting. Look at Colossians 3 again, beginning at verse 12. Here the Apostle brings us further instruction. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Now that is quite a list of resolutions for a new year. Let's look at each one. First, we are told to put on new clothes. Those clothes include: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Then, we are to bear with others; forgive one another, not just a casual "I forgive you", but a forgiveness which is the forgiveness that the Lord gave you. Once we have changed our clothes and learned to forgive, we are to cover those resolutions with love, which Paul says is the binder over all these virtues and brings about perfect unity. Second, after we have resolved changes in our relationship with others, beginning in verse 15, Paul carries us deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul encourages us to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, in view of the fact that as one body we are to be peaceful and thankful. We are called to resolve to admonish one another, through wisdom which comes from God through the Holy Spirit. Paul closes the listings of resolutions by saying: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. So, back to the kinds of New Year's resolutions we make. They are, for the most part, focused on self-improvement. The resolutions Paul encourages us to adopt are focused on serving Christ and on our relationship with others. As we consider these Godly resolutions, we need to pray for God's help to live as a new creation in this new year. Resolve to live, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:15, for the one who died for you and was raised again. Seek God''s help to make this new year less about serving ourselves, and fully devoted to serving Him.

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