There’s just over a week left of 2015 so you might be thinking about 2016 and any New Years resolutions that you might make. Perhaps you’re thinking of getting fit, running a marathon (or a half, start easy!). Maybe you’re thinking of starting a new challenge, being your own boss, starting Uni? Maybe you want to have a closer walk with God, pray more and read your Bible better?
They’re all good resolutions. But I would like to add some advice. Whenever I have made resolutions, they are often just to benefit me. Even the super holy ones of reading my Bible and praying more were actually just for me. Getting fit is great, eating healthily is great, but in the words of Paul, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
As we attempt our resolutions let’s keep in mind our creator. As we run that half marathon, remember that we can glorify God in the way we go about it. When we run our own business, we can glorify God in the way we conduct ourselves. When we read the Bible it is glorifying God, and not just making ourselves look good.
And if you’re struggling to think of a resolution, then how about 70? Jonathan Edwards, a great American preacher in the 1700’s wrote 70 resolutions for himself. 70 might seem like a lot, especially when we often fail to do just one of ours, but his opening to them is this:
“Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ’s sake.”
He then resolved to read them through each week. If you want to read all 70, then you can find them here. But let me highlight three for you.
- 1) Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
If we just manage one this year, this is a great one isn’t it? Whatever we do, do it for God’s glory.
- 28) Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
Even Jonathan Edwards resolved to read his Bible frequently.
- 13) Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality
There seems to be so much wrong in our world, if each of us tried to find a way to help those around us, then we would go a long way in showing the world God’s love for it.
But what about those age old resolutions of reading the bible and praying? The ones that we start off well doing but pretty much always stop when we get too busy, or when we forget? There’s no easy answer to that, other than to say there is a reason why they are called spiritual disciplines. They take work, but they have the great benefit of helping our love for God to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.
There are many tools out there than can help us do these. There are three that I want to particulalry point to:
Prayermate is a free app available on both Android and iOS which helps to organise our prayer life, to help us to remember those things that we say that we are going to pray for.
Explore is a free Bible reading app from the Good Book Company. With the app you get a free 28 day starter pack and a free set of notes on Titus, but then you can buy further Bible study notes and books from many trusted authors like Tim Keller and Graham Beynon.
Bible In One Year is another free Bible reading app, this time from Nicky and Pippa Gumble (The Vicar of HTB in London, and the Alpha guy). The app does what it says, it takes you throuigh the whole of the Bible in one year, each day giving you a reading from the Psalms or Proverbs, The New Testament and the Old Testament and then adding some helpful notes on each passage. The notes are day specific, but it is easy enough to read previous notes that you have missed. (I have to do this as I’m almost always trying to play catch up)
There are many more out there, but these are three that I have found useful. Set yourself some time aside, even if it is waking up 15 minutes earlier, and looking at the app on your phone before you get to Facebook or Candy Crush. But remember, whatever you resolve, or not to do this year, do it all for the glory of God.