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A Resolution Worth Considering

Welcome to 2020! Most of us, on only the second day of a new year, can relate to the popular Michael Bublé song lyrics,  “It's a new dawn, It's a new day, It's a new life for me, And I'm feeling good.” But how can we make the hope and resolve we feel at the start of a new year last beyond today, or tomorrow, or next week?

How many of you have already made, and broken a new year’s resolution? Maya Angelou once wrote, “When we know better, we do better.” I would only add…hopefully, but not always. The Apostle Paul seemed to have a bit of this problem as well: “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18b-19). Did Paul know better? Yes, indeed. He was a pretty smart, redeemed and faithful fellow. But he still struggled with his sinful nature, as do we all.

Now, I generally agree with Angelou’s declaration. We tend to do better when we know better. When we understand the issues behind our family’s (and our own) dysfunction, we can then do something about it. Knowledge is the first step in self-awareness, which can lead to behavior change and attitude adjustments. Hosea 4:6 tells us, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” So, knowing better can lead to doing better.

However, good information doesn’t always lead to sustained transformation. We need something else. We need something that empowers information, something that transfers information into action leading to transformation. Information is like the engine, but without any fuel, the engine can’t go.

Our culture is certainly not lacking information; we lack the fuel to make the engine go. Most people want to do the right thing, at least most of the time. They want to be good husbands or wives, good parents, good employees, good people. The problem is not in the want to or with the knowledge of what is right or wrong. The problem is the how-to. How do we overcome our struggle with sin? How do we do the right thing? How do we change our lives? It requires something different altogether. The Apostle Paul rightly acknowledged, “I don’t have the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18).

The first two steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are to admit you are powerless, and you need a Power greater than yourself to bring restoration. Romans 7 and 8 affirm both steps. We are powerless (Romans 7), and there is a Power able to bring restoration and healing (Romans 8). In Romans 8, Paul identifies this Power as the Holy Spirit who is the source of our strength and the ability to help us in our inability.

The SPIRIT has set you free (Romans 8:1). We are to walk according to the SPIRIT (v. 4). We set our minds on the SPIRIT (v. 5). We are to be in the SPIRIT (v. 9). We have life through Christ’s SPIRIT who dwells in us (v. 11). By the SPIRIT we put to death the deeds of the body (v. 13). We are to be led by the SPIRIT (v. 14). The SPIRIT bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (v. 16). The SPIRIT helps us in our weakness (v. 26). The SPIRIT intercedes for us (v. 26).

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is not just the fuel that makes the engine go, He is the Person with whom we connect who helps us fight the good fight and overcome our weakness, sin and dysfunction. Now that’s the kind of information we need to activate and sustain our resolve to be and do better.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

This Christmas

Two days to Christmas. If you have little children, isn’t it great how they just love Christmas? They can’t wait for the presents, going to grandma’s house, sitting on Santa’s lap, putting up the Christmas tree. Christmas for a kid is generally the best time of the year. Unfortunately, as we grow through life, we oftentimes experience some of the pain that life can deal us. And for some, Christmas goes from being the high time of the year to a very difficult time.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “You know, I just tolerate the holidays.” Some say, “I just hope to survive the holidays.” Maybe you’ve experienced some Christmas pain—maybe you’re experiencing it right now.

Let’s be honest. Christmas time often forces us to face relationship challenges we otherwise try and avoid. It’s amazing that those we love the most can often hurt us the most, and we can them as well. Many of us, if we were to deal face-to-face with some family issues, we could do nothing but just weep loudly. But the sad thing is this: It is easy to slip into a cycle of continuing the hurt.

What if you have the ability to break the cycle? It is a choice. We’re not talking about feelings. When someone hurts you, chances are you are not going to wake up one day and say, “O, man, I’ve been hurt most of my life. I just feel like loving today.” The choice is to do what God’s Word tells us even when we don’t feel like it.

When we’ve been hurt, we can choose to PRAY. We are going to choose to pray for those who’ve hurt us. Your prayers may or may not affect the person who hurt you, but your prayers will affect you. You cannot pray for someone else without God doing a work in your heart. Praying for those who have hurt you—this is what Jesus said. He said, “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:28). This doesn’t mean they are let off the hook and don’t face any consequences, but it does mean you are releasing them over to God, and you are being set free.

The second thing is going to be even more difficult, but it flows right out of the first biblical choice: When we’ve been hurt, we choose to FORGIVE. Why is this so important? This is what Jesus said: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). Wow! Is that a sobering verse or what?

Free yourself! Go! Get it done! Now! And why is this so important? Because nothing else matters like relationships. Nothing. Do your part and trust God to do the rest. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

What’s on the other side of forgiveness? The miracle of grace. The miracle of healing. The miracle of freedom. I pray that for this Christmas, there will be a true Christmas miracle that comes to your heart to pray for and forgive those you need to forgive. We’ve been forgiven through Jesus Christ, and it’s because of that He grants us the power to forgive.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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