This is the narrator’s script for tonight’s Stockade story circle (devotional). It is a free-lanced program, not taken from the standard ministry curriculum so that we could highlight a specific theme.
Have you heard of people making “New Year’s Resolutions?” What does that mean to you? Resolution is pretty big word that comes from the idea of being firmly resolved or pledged by oath to commit to do something.
Have you heard anyone in your family or among your friends make a resolution at New Years? What sorts of things might a typical New Year’s Resolution include? I’ve heard of people resolving to:
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Save money
- Work harder on personal habits (be nice, argue less, spend less time on face-book, etc.)
- Pray more, read the bible more, etc.
What typically happens to these resolutions? Do people start the year and do a good job of sticking to their plan? Do they eventually fail to follow through?
Why do you think people fail to follow through on their resolutions? Studies have actually been done on this issue, and from most common to least common the factors include:
- Setting Unrealistic or Poorly Defined Goals
- Failing to Keep Track of Personal Progress
- Simply Forgetting About it (no partner to hold them accountable)
Is setting a goal for the New Year a good idea or a bad idea? Is it just a joke – something to laugh about, or is it something we should consider as a serious commitment for self-improvement?
What does the Bible say about setting resolutions? Quite a lot, actually.
First of all, we don’t need to resolve to save ourselves from sin and damnation. We can’t do it on our own, and God’s already provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him (we sinned – broke His law – but Jesus paid the penalty for us).
I need two volunteer readers:
- Someone read Ephesians 2:1-10 to the group. Notice how it says in verse five “by grace you have been saved” and in verse eight it says “and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
- Someone read Titus 3:4-8. Please tell me what you hear in these verses – are there two different messages related to each other? In verses 4 thru 7 we’re told that our salvation is clearly an act of God, but the direction or reminder in verse 8 is to do good works once we have believed and been saved. Why do you think Paul wrote this to Titus in this letter?
So if God has saved us from sin and damnation, what would we have left to do? I’m handing out some verses for volunteers to read. Take a moment and read the verse to yourself. Think about what it is suggesting that you take action to do. What is it that we could resolve ourselves to practice consistently throughout the year and throughout our lives? Now let’s take turns – read your verse and tell the group what you think we are called to do by that verse. (Psalm 119:9-16; Titus 3:1-2; Matthew 5:13-16; Colossians 1:10; Micah 6:8; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 John 1:9; Philippians 4:8; Joshua 1:8)
There are many more verses we could study, and that’s why Joshua 1:8 is a great example – a call to dig deeper into the Bible – to learn what it has to say, and to apply the principles and practices it suggests or commands us to do on a daily basis.
New Year’s Resolutions can become pretty silly if we let them, and as a tradition it can become something unhealthy if we spend too much time obsessing over the practice. I think it’s a good reminder that we have commitments that we ought to be reading the Bible, helping other people, and such every day of the year – not just around the start of a new year.
Even more importantly, it’s critical to remember we do these things to show our gratitude for what God has already done for us (not as a way to “earn” salvation), and that it’s a healthy response to what God has done (it’s the next step in our growth as Christians).
If you want to incorporate some of these verses into your daily routine, remember you may have more success if you write down your goal, post it someplace you’ll see it each morning, get someone to help you stay on track, and keep a journal to show your progress, and to help you see that you’re doing well (stay encouraged).