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Friday, December 21, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 10 - The Love of God

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.

John 15:21 There is no greater expression of the love of God than gift of His Son which we celebrate at Christmas.

John tells us that God is love (1 Jn 4:8). I'm sure most of us don't grasp quite what that verse is saying. It is not talking about the God who loves, but the God who is love.

Love is at the core of His nature. He cannot help but love us.

This is not an abstract concept. It is more than something we know about. For those who show their love for the Lord Jesus by being obedient to the terms of the New Covenant, there is a revelation of the experiential love of God.

In John 15:21 Jesus promises to show Himself to us. Since He is God in bodily form (Col 2:9), He is love in bodily form and any revelation of Him will be a revelation of love

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 9 - The Holy Spirit

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever - the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26

The promise of the Holy Spirit to those who are included in the New Covenant is so precious. The Greek term translated advocate above is parakletos meaning he who comes alongside. It can also be translated comforter or helper. Without the Holy Spirit we could not live the Christian life or fulfil our side of the Covenant.

The Ministry Of The Holy Spirit
These verses tell us a lot about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian. Simply meditating on these will bring us great comfort and joy.
  1. Jesus asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit to us. Here is a beautiful example of the Trinity working together for our benefit.
  2. He will help us. Sometimes it may feel that the whole world is against us. But the Holy Spirit is always on our side.
  3. He will be with us forever. He is not some fair-weather friend who only hangs around when we are doing well. Despite our weaknesses and failings He is always there closer even than our own breath.
  4. He is not a stranger to us but a familiar companion.
  5. As the Spirit of truth He will not lie to us or deceive us.
  6. He will be our teacher. We need not worry about being led astray as long as we look to the Holy Spirit to open up the Bible to us and do not rely too heavily on human teachers for He will always speak of Jesus.
  7. He will bring to our minds the words of Jesus as we need them.
The Gift Of The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is given to us as a gift. He is the present who is always present.

In an era where much emphasis has been placed on the other gifts which may accompany the Holy Spirit it is important that we do not make the mistake of valuing those gifts above the giver.

Signs and wonders, or even fruit, which are byproducts of His ministry should not distract us from the wonders of this precious friend in our lives. They are baubles on a Christmas tree compared with Emmanuel, God with us in the person of the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 8 – Whatever You Ask

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:13-14

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24

Some people take these verses to mean that they can have whatever they want. They treat God like a giant vending machine. As long as the prayer goes in the slot they can choose whatever tit-bit takes their fancy. Answered prayer is one of the terms of the New Covenant, but there are conditions attached.

In The Name of Jesus
In John 14 the condition is that we ask in the name of Jesus.

That does not mean simply tacking "in the name of Jesus" to the end of our prayer.

To do something in the name of another is to act on their behalf, such as a police officer acting on behalf of the law or an executor carrying out the requests of a deceased person.

So, to ask in the name of Jesus is to ask according to His will. We need to find out what Jesus wants. When we pray in line with His will, our prayers will be answered.

In Line With The Words of Jesus 
In John 15 the condition is that we remain in Jesus and His words remain in us.

This is how we know what the will of Jesus is - we get as close to Him as we can and we fill ourselves up with His word. In simple terms, we fellowship with Him in prayer and we spend time reading the Bible.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom 12:2

Kingdom First 
In fact, the words of Jesus are very clear:

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matt 6:31-34

Prioritise the extension of the kingdom of God and pursue righteousness. These are the chief things for which Jesus would have us pray.

The purpose of prayer is not to see our desires met, but God's plans fulfilled.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 7 – Greater Works

Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
John 14:11-12

Greater Miracles?
It is perhaps unfortunate that some translations say, "believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." It is true that the underlying Greek word can be used of miracles but it is more generally used for non-miraculous acts.

The problem with introducing the concept of miracles into this passage is that it tends to lead to the assumption that Jesus is suggesting believers will do greater miracles than Him and that is not what we see in our lives or even in the Acts of the Apostles.

We do see some apostles doing some amazing things but nothing can surpass Jesus' raising of Lazarus from the dead after four days.

Some will contend that the word "believe" in this passage provides the context in which greater miracles will be done, but it is hard to see how we can say Paul was lacking in belief. And while he certainly did raise at least one person from the dead (Acts 20:7-12), he cannot be said to have done greater miracles than Jesus.

Greater Works
So, what works have believers done that are greater than those of Jesus?

To start with, Jesus confined His ministry to a very small area approximately the size of the country of Wales (in the UK) or the US state of Massachesetts. In 2000 years the ministry of the church has literally gone global. There are still some places unreached by the gospel, mostly in the Muslim and Communist world. But even these are not beyond the arm of Christian TV and radio (find out about such broadcasts HERE).

Jesus healed many people during His three years of ministry, but His followers have reached millions with healthcare needs. For example, blindness caused by leprosy can easily prevented by an operation costing just £35 (to find out more go HERE).

Jesus gave 5,000 people a meal using one child's packed lunch. The cost of one family's pizza delivery could pay for vocational training for a Christian woman in a Muslim country so she can gain an ongoing income to provide her family with food for years to come (more HERE).

What we do doesn't have to be spectacular in order to be great. God has blessed us with the ability to touch the world in amazing ways and our belief in Jesus is our motivator.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Terms of The New Covenant Part 6 – Jesus’ Return

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3

So far we have looked at the 5 terms of the New Covenant which are our responsibility: to love one another; to come to the Father through Jesus; to love Jesus; to remain (abide) in Jesus; and to tell others about Jesus.

Though these may not always be easy, they are not complicated. They are simple enough for a child to understand. It is beautiful that the Christian faith is not about keeping a specific set of rules and regulations which are onerous or burdensome. They will all flow from love for Him.

So now we come to the first thing Jesus says He will do for us.

Coming Back
Much of the New Testament makes reference to Jesus coming again for His church and that is surely past of what He is referring to in this passage from John's Gospel. Whereas followers of other religions are not offered the certainty of heaven by their faith, Christians have the promise of Jesus, not only that we will be with Him in heaven, but also that He is preparing it for us.

I find it staggering that almighty God should accommodate His home to suit us. That is love.

Tender Care
But this love is also extended to us at our greatest point of weakness - the time of our death. These words of Jesus don't simply speak of a time, possibly long distant, when He rends the heavens and comes down. They also declare that as we leave this life He will come to us to escort us Home.

We need not fear the moment of death because we will not be making the journey alone. Jesus Himself will come to us personally and take us to be with Him and the Father forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Terms Of The New Covenant Part 5 - Tell Others About Jesus

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
Jn 15:26-27

Jesus expected, indeed required, that His followers tell others about Him. Part of being in a New Covenant relationship with God is getting other people in on the plan. The business world calls this network marketing. It is the most efficient form of advertising because satisfied customers are the best advocates for a product or service - they are naturally enthusiastic and their friends and family trust their judgement.

But sharing the Good News of salvation from eternal death is so much more than network marketing.

The morning after a became a Christian I was telling everyone. Most people simply gave me one of those skeptical looks - the suggestion that their thoughts were, "ok, she's finally flipped." My father took me out for coffee to try to establish whether I'd become a Mormon or a Moonie.

As far as I can tell, the words I said in those first few weeks had no positive impact at all.

Over the years, and not being a gifted evangelist, I have found less embarrassing ways to tell others about Jesus, While my husband has done sketchboard evangelism on street corners I have written, blogged and spoken in ladies' meetings. I have endeavoured to teach my children to pray. I have tried to offer practical help to those in need. And when the opportunity has come and I have been asked why I do the things I do, I have explained (1 Pet 3:15).

My favourite quote from St Francis of Assisi is:

Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.

I don't believe God expects all of us to be street preachers. In fact there have been times when I've wondered if God would rather some of us shut up occasionally - like the man in the pedestrian precinct I heard declaring loudly, "there is a difference between regenerate and unregenerate." Really? What on earth did that mean to the ordinary people of a small market town in South West England?

We are all uniquly made in the image of God and just as the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus, so must we ... but in our own unique way. So I debate with Atheists, Jehovah's Witnesses and Muslims on Facebook while others in our church distribute newspapers, visit homes for the disabled, or speak to strangers on buses.

In our own ways each of us bears witness and God can use our abilities to reach different people and bring more into Covenant Relationship with Him.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Terms Of The New Covenant Part 4 - Abiding In Jesus

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (cleans) so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean (pruned) because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:1-4)

It sometimes baffles me why translators make the decisions they do about precisely what words to use to express the original Greek or Hebrew text of our Bibles. This passage is a case in point.

As you may guess from my use of the words in brackets above the word translated as both prunes and clean have the same root. The underlying Greek word is katharos from which we get our English word cathartic, meaning cleansing or healing.

As participants in the New Covenant we have already been grafted in to Jesus the vine because He has cleansed us. Our job is simply to remain in Jesus or, as other versions put it, to abide in Him.

The obvious question which follows is, what do I have to do to abide in Jesus? The wonderful answer is that, like an engrafted branch we simply have to rest where He has placed us, allowing the sap of the Holy Spirit to flow through us, producing leaves and fruit.

Remember what Jesus said earlier:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30)

We find this idea of resting and abiding foreign to us. We think we have to do something to validate our salvation. But the gospel is that Jesus has done everything we need.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Pet 1:3)

We don’t have to try to abide in Jesus or do good things. It becomes our nature to bear fruit:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:8-10)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Terms Of The New Covenant Part 3 – Love Jesus

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (Jn 14:15)
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. (Jn 14:21)
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. (Jn 14:23)

When Jesus says something three times in nine verses you'd better believe He means it!

Under the New Covenant our love and obedience are inseparably intertwined. Our obedience to the New Covenant is evidence of our love for Jesus while our love for Him prompts our obedience.

In Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, there are four different words for love.

The Four Loves 
Storge is natural affection, the kind of love that a parent has for a child. This is not the word Jesus uses in this passage.

Eros, a word we're more familiar with, means passionate love and applies to intimate relationships. Again, this word is not the one Jesus uses here.

Philia, the root of the name of the American city Philadelphia, means friendship or fraternal love.

The word Jesus actually uses in these verses above is agape. It means sacrificial love and was specifically adopted by early Christians to refer to the love of God.

Love and Obedience
It's not hard to see that agape love and obedience are tied up together. In Gethsemane and on Golgotha we see Jesus' love for the Father and for us bringing about the obedience that took Him to the cross despite His plea, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).

Jesus is asking for that same kind of love from us if we are to participate in the New Covenant.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Matt 16:24

Today, there are people around the world who literally take up their cross for Jesus. Arthur Blessitt was possibly the first but others have done something similar. While this is undoubtedly a productive ministry it wasn't what Jesus' first hearers would have imagined. In the first century the only place someone was going if they were carrying a cross was ... to death. No-one listening to Jesus would have had any doubt that Jesus was demanding a level of commitment that requires the willingness to pay the ultimate price. As Paul put it:

You are not your own; you were bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19-20).

The New Covenant was sealed in the blood of Jesus. That was the cost of our salvation. Why should we feel anything but a desire to give our all for Him? In the words of Don Francisco:

Love is not a feeling it's an act of your will.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Terms Of The New Covenant Part 2 – Jesus, The Way To God

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
(Jn 14:6)

As we study the terms of the New Covenant in the blood of Jesus we find that the second term to which we must adhere is to come to the Father through Jesus. There is no New Covenant apart from Jesus and no way to the Father without Him.

There are three aspects to this coming to the Father through Jesus.

Jesus The Way
The early disciples were known as the followers of the Way (Acts 22:4). The most significant difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity is not a list of rules but a relationship with a person. For example, while Islam requires the following of the five pillars and Sikhism has the 5 k's, Christians are simply required to follow Jesus and to come to God through Him.

On the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached his sermon, 3,000 people responded to his call:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Because the Lord Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for our sin we can follow Him through His death in baptsim and rise again with Him to eternal life (Rom 6:1-4).

Jesus The Truth
Pilate famously asked, "what is truth?" (Jn 18:38). This seems to be the question of our age. Most people behave, even if they would not admit it, as though there are no moral absolutes. Even for Christians decisions are often made on the basis of whether we can get away with it rather than on white is right and what is true.

But if Jesus is the way and the truth, then truth is required to enter in to eternity. Primarily this is admitting the truth about our sinful nature. Our sin needs to be confessed and repented of.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn 1:9)

Jesus The Life
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Jn 3:16)

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (Jn 17:3)

It really is very simple. There is no eternal life outside of Jesus. The New Covenant is only for those who come through Christ.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Terms Of The New Covenant Part 1 - Love One Another

We are now going to begin considering the actual terms of the New Covenant as John recorded them in his gospel.

We have seen that in Jn 13:30 Judas left to betray Jesus to the authorities. The following few words are Jesus' introductory remarks and the terms of the New Covenant begin at Jn 13:34 with the following words:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Notice how the very first words of the Covenant, the first obligation laid upon us, is to love our brothers and sisters in the faith. I find it fascinating that John and Peter, who were both present, emphasised this love for one another in their epistles and used the presence of such love as evidence of whether or not we are true disciples of Jesus.

Peter's Perspective

Peter, for example says:

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Pet 1:22)

This is not a soppy, mushy kind of love because as he goes on to say later in chapter 4 verse 8:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Loving our brothers like this is worked out practically in forgiveness. Remember the earlier words of Jesus when Peter asked him about this as recorded in Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times."

Loving one another means complete forgiveness. But it also means protecting the sinner. When we cover the sins of another, we do not broadcast them to the world but rather seek to protect them, to nurture them and to bring them back to wholeness. The aim should always be to restore the sinner.

John's Judgement

John's epistles frequently bring out the concept that our love for one another is evidence of our love for God or, conversely, that we cannot claim to love God if we do not love our brother.

If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. (1 Jn 4:20)

Like Peter, John also gives a practical example of the outworking of this love but rather than focusing on forgiveness of the sinner he looks to the need of the brother:

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 Jn 3:17)

Love in this case is worked out by making sure our fellow believers are not going hungry or are in any other kind of need. Paul made such a radical statement about this in 2 Corinthians 8:13 that I have never heard it preached on:

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.

Equality? I have seen a lot of love and care within the church but never a drive towards equality amongst its members. Why is that?

God's Glory

I want to make one final observation about this command of Jesus. Notice what He doesn't say. He doesn't say, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love others," but "if you love one another."
We get caught in the trap of thinking that the world will recognise we are Christians if we show love to those outside our own community of believers. But that isn't the case. What evidences that we are Christians, and so brings glory to God, is the care we show towards His own people. Again Paul has something to say about this:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal 6:9-10 emph. added)

God is glorified when we place the emphasis on showing love to our brothers and sisters in practical ways.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The New Covenant - Where To Find It

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (Jer 31:31)

Given that the document for the Old Covenant is the book of Deuteronomy, we should expect to be able to find the document which constitutes the New Covenant. Having done so we would then be able to discover its terms and so explain clearly and simply what the New Covenant is all about.

The Institution Of The New Covenant
Most of us probably recognise some of the basics of the New Covenant - the Lord's Supper, Jesus' death on the cross and baptism for example. However, these are simply outward signs and not the terms of the Covenant.

We know that Jesus, at the Last Supper, said:

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:20)

Here he institutes the Covenant and it is clear that it is ratified by his shedding of his own blood on the cross. So we can expect to find the terms of the New Covenant between the Last Supper and the crucifixion. And indeed we do, in John's Gospel. In fact, once we know what we're looking for it is very easy to spot. It begins at John 13:34 when Jesus says:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Notice how he doesn't begin until after Judas the traitor has left. What follows is just for the true disciples and Jesus begins to lay down the terms of the New Covenant beginning with the command to love one another.

As we continue to read, despite the interruptions of various members of the Eleven, we begin to recognise covenant terminology, conditions and promises. These continue through to the end of John 16.

Understanding The New Covenant
If we want to fully understand what it means to be a Christian these few chapters in John's Gospel will repay some consistent study. We will discover what it means to be in a New Covenant relationship with God. We will find out what the Lord regards as our obligations and the blessings which are promised to us. We learn what it truly means to be a Christian.

Next time we will begin to look at the details of the New Covenant.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The New Covenant - The Nature of Blood Covenants

In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor 11:23-26)
Just A Memorial Meal?
We've heard this passage so many times that there may be a tendency to think of the Lord's Supper as simply a solemn celebration to remind us that Jesus died to pay the price for our sins. But we must not gloss over Jesus' statement that the cup was the New Covenant in his blood.
Covenants, especially covenants ratified in blood, are more binding than legal contracts. They bring two parties together in an agreement which lasts forever, possibly even beyond the grave, and which cannot be annulled. The Old Covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants was a blood covenant, sealed with the shedding of blood in circumcision. The New Covenant has been sealed with the blood of Jesus.
All covenants have terms and conditions. The book of Deuteronomy lays out the terms and conditions of the Old Covenant also known as the Law. This is not the place to detail those conditions because as Paul tells the Romans, we are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:15). But knowing something about covenant terms in general will help us to identify the terms of the New Covenant.
Characteristics of Covenants 
These are common characteristics of covenants:
  1. Partners in a covenant are known as Covenant Friends. This is why Abraham was known as a friend of God.
  2. Sometimes names are changed. For example, Abram became Abraham.
  3. There may be an exchange of weapons as was the case when David and Jonathan entered into a covenant friendship.
  4. A sign may be given such as Noah's rainbow.
  5. A meal is invariably part of the covenant. In the Old Covenant this was expressed through the sacrificial system.
Characteristics of the New Covenant
There are equivalent characteristics in the New Covenant:
  1. Jesus  called his disciples friends (Jn 15:13-15).
  2. New names are promised (Rev 2:17).
  3. Spiritual armour given (Eph 6:10-18).
  4. Baptism is the sign (Rom 6:3).
  5. The Lord's Supper is the covenant meal (Matt 26:28)
Covenant Terms
The question then arises, what are the actual terms of the New Covenant? If Deuteronomy is the covenant document for the Old Covenant, where is its equivalent for the New Covenant? What does it say? We will look at this next time.


Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year Resolutions?

This morning I was asked if I would pledge to grow closer to God this year.

It is admirable to have the desire and to endeavour to walk more closely with Jesus. But I think the questionner is beginning with the wrong perspective.

It’s not my promises which matter, but God’s: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ” (2 Cor 1:20). My resolutions will probably fail but, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (2 Tim 1:12). Try as hard as I might, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5).

Let’s simply put our loving trust in Jesus. At the end of the year we can look back and see what He has done with our lives.