by Sandra Kay Chambers
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 NIV
Many people make New Year’s Resolutions, hoping to change their lives for the better in the coming year. However, according to research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans make resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. The problem? Success or failure usually rests on self-will and self-discipline, which do not tend to get us very far.
In ancient times, New Year’s resolutions were about pleasing the gods. The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions some 4,000 years ago. A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome where people made sacrifices to the deity Janus, with promises of good conduct for the coming year.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became an occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing, and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. *
Whatever our perspective is on making New Year’s Resolutions, there’s really only one path to guarantee success in the coming year, and that is found in God’s Word. Joshua 1:8 outlines three commands toward that end.
Keep God’s Law on your lips. God’s Word is our daily food, and like the manna God provided for His people in the desert, it needs to be consumed daily. Whatever we speak or write needs to be grounded in God’s Truth, for only His Truth will minister to others and grant us success in the ministry He has entrusted to us. “I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12 NIV).
Meditate day and night on God’s Word. God’s Word is alive and active and breathes life into us each and every time we read and ponder it. As we come to God’s Word daily, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us, encourage us, correct us, and guide us. “But His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law. He meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2 ESV).
Be careful to do everything that is written in it. Most of God’s promises in the Old Testament were conditional—if His people obeyed and did what He asked, then they received what was promised. This was a part of the covenant He had with them. As a nation, they were assured blessing when they were faithful to Him. “…Because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers…You shall be blessed above all peoples…” (Deuteronomy 7:12, 14 NASB).
As individuals, keeping our hearts and minds centered on the Lord and His Word will enable us to ask within His will and in turn receive great blessing. Only through continual reliance upon the Holy Spirit —and not in our own determination and self-will—can we succeed in being faithful in the coming year. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7 NASB
*Info on the history of New Year’s resolutions by Sarah Pruitt, History in the Headlines (2015).
This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of prayer, and teaches an online class at https://BeADisciple.com based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life), available at Amazon athttps://a.co/iEkd8s0. You can follow Sandra on her author website at https://SandraKayChambers.com and her prayer blog at https://PrayWaves.com.
Join the conversation: How important is God’s Word in your life?