What do you want to achieve this year? While you’re thinking about that why not consider what you want to achieve in your spiritual life in 2007. Did you grow in your faith in 2006? Or did you tread water – or worse – did you lose some spiritual ground? Here are seven commitments that will see you move forward in your faith in 2007.
1. I will meet for worship weekly
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29 NIV)
In a world where it is quite easy to be shaken/worried/anxious, it’s necessary for you to get centered on God by regularly focusing on him – regularly worshipping the One who sustains the universe.
When a church meets together to worship together – the Lord is there in a special way. Do you remember that Jesus was given the name “Immanuel” which means “God with us.”
… they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us" (Matthew 1:23b NIV)
For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6a NIV)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14 NIV)
In other words, God blesses his people when they unite to worship. When your personal and individual world is shaken by …
• untruth – truth is found in united worship.
• uncertainty – certainty is found in united worship.
• terror – peace is found in united worship.
• hostility – loving fellowship is found in united worship.
2. I will share my faith with a friend.
Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it (Hebrews 13:1-2 NIV).
People, friendly churches do not grow! Don’t misunderstand me. It’s good and right for us to be friendly people – most churches are full of polite, friendly people. And most churches in Australia are dying! You see, what’s needed is more than friendliness – what’s needed is real friendship. There is an enormous difference.
Make space in your life in 2007 for a new friend who needs to hear the gospel.
3. I will find my place of service
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering (Hebrews 13:3 NIV).
When the writer of Hebrews says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners” the implication is that you have to move out of the security of the four walls of your house – get out of your comfort zone – for the benefit and service of others. A prisoner can’t come to you; you have to go to them. There are many people in prison around you …
• The prison of spiritual blindness and ignorance
• The prison of addiction
• The prison of poverty
• The prison of aimless living
The list goes on. There are a lot of places where your service would be helpful. Make a commitment in 2007 to find your place of service.
4. I will build my marriage
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral (Hebrews 13:4 NIV).
There is a principle at work in our world and it’s this … if anything is left unattended it will rust and decay. Marriage is not exempt. Your marriage (or any relationship) needs regular maintenance.
So my challenge to you this year is to build your marriage. It’s not that difficult. Perhaps you could make the commitment to have lunch out or at least a coffee together once a week without the kids. Is that manageable for you? Make a commitment to build your marriage.
5. I will give generously
You don’t need to give generously because the CHURCH has a need. You should give generously because YOU have a need.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
In other words, generous giving frees you from bondage to materialism (the love of money); it breeds contentment in your life; and it builds your faith.
And the Lord gives you this promise, he will, “never leave you nor forsake you.” What he’s saying is that he wants you to trust him to look after your needs – so don’t be afraid to give generously.
6. I will support my spiritual leaders
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:7-8 NIV).
The writer says, “remember your leaders.” Or more specifically, remember everything about them that points to Christ – who never changes.
Sadly, “shock horror,” none of the leaders in your church are perfect. So you can support your leaders by remembering that they are only human. Remember and imitate their faith in Jesus Christ – and forget everything else graciously.
Unfortunately some Christians have a “take it or leave it” attitude towards leadership and authority in the church. I want to make it clear to you today that your leaders do not have a “take it or leave it” attitude towards you.
I have worked alongside them for three years now. I have been there when they prayed for you, when they celebrated because of you, when they have agonized over you, when they have cried for you, and when they have sacrificed themselves for you.
Your leaders do not have a “take it or leave it” attitude towards you. They love you deeply. So make their job a joy this year – make the commitment to support your spiritual leaders.
7. I will study the Bible in community
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them (Hebrews 13:9 NIV).
The reference to “ceremonial foods” is a warning not to seek your spiritual sustenance elsewhere. Jesus said,
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 NIV).
That’s quite a promise.
Sign up to study the Bible in a small home group community if you haven’t already. If you are in a small group already, I want to raise the bar. Come to your small group prepared. This is not just a courtesy to your host and leader who has often sweated through their own preparation for your benefit – it really is doing yourself a favor.
Don’t be in the same shape spiritually in January 2008. Make the commitment to grow in your faith this year – to become like Christ.
Jesus has shown his commitment to you on the cross. Deepen your commitment to him in 2007.