Sermon:  Resolutions


Summary:  When we need to make changes in our lives, we often make a New Years resolution.  The Bible tells us that all plans, resolutions and such need to be according to God's will, that we should make a simple commitment and keep to our word, and that we should not delay in doing way.  As long as it is called today, we should do the Lord's will.


Know:  When there is something we know God wants us to do, we should do prayerfully and promptly


Feel:  Devotion to do as God desires


Do:  Reflect on why we make new years resolutions and what it reveals about human nature.  What other forms of special resolutions and promises do we make?  Discuss the biblical principles we have for making decisions and the reasons behind them and how they contrast with ungodly decision making.  List and discuss ways our decisions can be pleasing to God and identify the decisions and plans God is calling you to make.


Text:  Various


Scripture Reading:  Heb 4:7



1.  This is the time of year when many make resolutions.  What is it?

            a.  Definition:  The Decision or determination to do something

            b.  Synonyms:  Determination, will, firmness, courage, boldness,

                 perseverance, to decide, to devote oneself to

            c.  Antonyms:  Weak, wavering, unsteady, indecision

2.  So, to make a resolution is to make a firm decision, or even a promise

            a.  And we make these decisions this time of year

            b.  Lose weight, spend more time with family, stop smoking, out of debt,

                 get more organized, etc.

            c.  Most resolutions are commendable

3.  Q:  Why do we wait till the New Year to make these resolutions?

            a.  Is it because it feels like a fresh start?

            b.  Is it because it feels like a second chance?

                        - In reality, every day is a second chance

                        - Every hour, every minute is a second chance

            c.  If you break them, not have to say, "Oh well, I'll try again next year"

4.  Q: Does the Bible have anything to say about resolutions?

            a.  I don't think our English Bibles have "resolution" in them

            b.  But the idea is there in verses that talk about making plans,

                 commitments, and even promises


I.  We should make plans according to God's will (Jas 4:13-17)

            A.  In any decision, God's will needs to be the first consideration

            B.  The text gives us reasons why

                        1.  Life is uncertain - Life is a vapor

                                    a.  Hear for indeterminate amount of time, then fade away

                                    b.  Get wrapped up in our own pursuits - but it is vapor

                                    c.  What does it all mean?  All our activity under the sun?

                                                - Ecclesiastes says it is all meaningless

                                                - The word "meaningless" is "vapor" in Hebrew

                                    d.  Soon, all you do will be long forgotten

                                                - My grandmother used to say, "Who is going to care

                                                 100 years from now?"

                                                - All that is left of your accomplishments, a name on a


                        2.  Instead, we need to say, "If the Lord wills, we will do. . ."

                                    a.  We need to be in harmony with God's plans

                                    b.  His plans will come about and never pass away

                                    c.  My pursuits need to be God's pursuits

                        3.  If I do not consider God's will, text says it is arrogance

                                    a.  "I" will do such and such

                                    b.  It is self-absorbed, proud

                                    c.  Jas 4:6 - God is opposed to the proud, grace to humble

                        4.  Judges 11 - Example of what we are talking about - Jepthah

                                    a.  Ammonites made war, they asked Jepthah to lead them

                                    b.  Jepthah took control of the situation - If I do this, then I

                                         am going to be your ruler when this is over

                                    c.  They agreed then Jepthah went to work

                                                - Inquired of the Ammonites

                                                - Ammonites accused Israel of stealing land

                                                - Jephthah's response

                                                            = We were attacked and responded

                                                            = We fought back, and won, meaning the land

                                                               conquered is rightfully ours

                                                            = The Lord was with us, and therefore granted

                                                                us the land.  Wouldn't you take land your

                                                                god granted you?

                                                            = This was 300 year ago, why didn't you try to

                                                                take the land back before this?

                                                - They didn't listen, so Jephthah prepared for war

                                    d.  (Jud 11: 29-30) Spirit filled Jepthah, he responded wrong

                                                - He didn't inquire of the Lord

                                                - He took control of situation as he always did

                                                            = Instead of inquiring, took control

                                                            = Instead of having faith, he made a bargain

                                                - He wound up regretting his actions - daughter came

                                                  out of his house

                                                - There never seemed to be a concern with "If the

                                                   Lord wills in his dealings

                        C.  ILL:  Hudson Taylor, an early missionary, had some definite

                              convictions about how the work of the Lord should be done

                                    1.  Make the best plans, then carry them out in your strength

                                    2.  Make careful plans, then ask God to bless them

                                    3.  Begin with God, ask his plans, humbly offer yourself to

                                         him to carry out his purposes

                                    4.  This is what James is talking about

                        D.  All resolutions should begin with God

                                    1.  Quest to ask - "What is your will O God?"

                                    2.  Then be prepared to listen and be submissive

                                    3.  **Don't wait to make a resolution, just do it. . .


II.  Keep It Simple

            A.  When you make promises, resolutions, oaths, potential for


            B.  Text that tells us to keep it simple (Mt 5:33-37)

                        1.  I know a resolution is not as strong as a vow

                                    a.  A vow is much stronger than a yes or no

                                    b.  But a resolution is also stronger than a yes or no

                                    c.  Should it be a resolution, a vow, or just a yes?

                        2.  Lets look at the problem with oaths - a system to get out of it

                                    a.  Depended on what you swore by (Mt 23:16-22)

                                    b.  Jesus says when you swear by anything, you are no less


                                    c.  There shouldn't be a word that is less valid just because

                                          of how you swore, how you promised

                                    d.  If you say it, do it

                        3.  Jesus says - Just simply say yes or simply say no

                                    a.  Don't make a "resolution" just because it is new year

                                    b.  If going to make resolution, do so because I need change

            C.  ILL:  Don't approach it like a slick lawyer

                        1.  Think of lawyers looking for legal loopholes - some are good at it

                                    a.  This is what Jewish "doctors of the law" did

                                    b.  The scribes, Pharisees, had whole system of loopholes

                        2.  But Jesus said to keep it simple, but forthright, be honest

            D.  Of course, we are not talking about contracts, oaths, or such things

                        1.  We are talking about making simple resolutions

                        2.  If you don't need to make a resolution, THEN DON'T

                        3.  **But if you start with God's will, and need to make a change,

                             then do it now. . .


III.  Don't Procrastinate

            A.  If life is an uncertain vapor, then don't wait till tomorrow

            B.  Bible has a lot to say about procrastination in various ways

                        1.  Consider these proverbs

                                    a.  Prov 27:1 - Don't boast about tomorrow, you do not know

                                         what it will bring

                                    b.  (Prov 6:6-11) - Lessons from the ant

                                                - Does not put it off till tomorrow

                                                - When tomorrow comes, he is prepared

                                                - If you put it off, poverty will mug you, you can't resist

                                    c.  Eccl 12:1 - Remember your creator while you are young

                                                - If not, you will be old and will regret it

                                                - Don't wait till tomorrow

                        2.  Col 3:23 - Whatever you do, do your work heartily (with all your

                              heart) as for the Lord and not for men

                                    a.  Put forth effort you can feel good about

                                    b.  Don't put off till tomorrow what you should do today

                        3.  Look at some verses that show us things not to put off

                                    a.  (Mt 5:23) - Reconciliation with your brother

                                    b.  (Lk 14:16-24) - v.21 - Go quickly - Bringing in outsiders

                                    c.  (Eph 4:26) - Dealing with your anger / attitude

                                    d.  (Heb 3:12-13) - Encouraging one another

            C.  ILL:  In 1984, news story about woman in St Louis

                        1.  Noticed a couple bees flying around her attic

                        2.  Only a couple, so she put off dealing with them

                        3.  After a period of time, ceiling on 2nd floor collapse under weight

                             of 100s of bees and 1000s of pounds of honey

                        4.  All because she procrastinated on dealing with it

            D.  Remember God's message - As long as it is called today, do God's will

                        1.  God says today, Satan says tomorrow.  Who will you listen to?

                        2.  Don't say, someday, "someday" is not a day of the week

                        3.  Don't put it off, today is the day



1.  If begin with God's will, answer with a simple yes, do today - What is God calling you to do today?

2.  Maybe you need to obey the Gospel (inv)

            a.  Don't put it off

            b.  Lk 12:40 - Jesus is coming at a time you do not expect

            c.  Today is the day

3.  If you have done this, maybe it is something else

            a.  Lose weight, be more healthy, because body is temple of God

            b.  Reconciliation, anger problems, attitude

            c.  Read Bible more, pray more, be more godly

            d.  Tell someone about Jesus, serve others as Jesus did, be more

                 compassionate and helpful

4.  Don't wait till a new year to make a resolution - Today is the day


Small Group Notes:  Resolutions


Summary:  When we need to make changes in our lives, we often make a New Years resolution.  The Bible tells us that all plans, resolutions and such need to be according to God's will, that we should make a simple commitment and keep to our word, and that we should not delay in doing way.  As long as it is called today, we should do the Lord's will.



- What are some of the most difficult or memorable resolutions you have made?

- Why do you suppose people make New Years resolutions?




1.  List some of the official promises, oaths, resolutions, etc. that people make in life.  Why do they do this and what does it reveal about human nature?


2.  Read:  Jas 4:13-17; Mt 5:33-37; 23:16-22


            a.  List and discuss the biblical principles for making plans, promises,

                 oaths, and decisions


            b.  How do each of these contrast with the worldly way of making plans,

                 promises, oaths, and decisions?


3.  Do these in any way inform the way we should make New Years resolutions, if we make them at all?


4.  Can you think of any biblical examples of making plans, decisions, or oaths that help to illustrate any of what we are talking about here?  (Some examples may include the Gibeonites in Josh 9:14f; Jepthah in Judges 11:29f; or David bringing the Ark to Jerusalem in 1 Chr 13; 15:13f; or the Bereans in Acts 17:10f) 




5.  When you make plans or decisions, is it more like the worldly way of doing it, or do you consciously follow the biblical principles for doing so?  In what way?


6.  What can you do to specifically ensure that your decisions, plans, and commitments are all ones that are pleasing to God?


7.  Keeping in mind the principles we learned from this study, what are some of the resolutions, plans, and commitments you are making or need to make today?