January 2023 Words from the Pastor

Toby 1

From the Pastor – January 2023

Every January, people around the world set New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight. Read more. Learn a new skill. Etc., etc. While these are admirable goals, they aren’t specifically New Year’s resolutions for Christians. This year, how can you set faith-based intentions that you will actually follow?

While the bible doesn’t explicitly say anything about New Year’s resolutions, it does offer clear guidance for Christians. Consider the two greatest commandments:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

Do you follow these commandments, every single minute of every single day?

I know that I fail daily to live up to these commandments, but I also resolve daily to do better. When I fail, I ask God for forgiveness. Then I pray that God will equip me to do better.

New Year’s resolutions for Christians are similar to this daily prayer practice, but for the entire year.

New Year’s resolutions date back to both the ancient Babylonians and the Romans, both of whom made promises to their gods.

New Year’s resolutions for Christians, however, have their own history. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, established the Covenant Renewal Service in 1755. This is an opportunity for Christians to recommit themselves to God.

While the first service was held on August 11, 1755, the Covenant Service is now typically held early in January.

Today, people make New Year’s resolutions for all sorts of reasons, religious and otherwise. While every day is a good day to form new habits, I find it easier to start something new in a season of newness. A new week, a new month–and especially a new year–encourage me to become a better version of myself.

This year, I would encourage you to make a resolution that will bring glory to God.  For example: Consider the common resolution to lose weight.

Do you struggle with the sins of gluttony and sloth? Do you want to improve your physical health in order to honor the body God gave you?

Or is your motivation based on vanity, the desire to look a certain way?

Maybe you already live an active, healthy lifestyle, but you’re tempted by the insidious lie that you must be thin to have value.

Three reasons to resolve to lose weight. The first honors God, with the intrinsic motivation to better serve God. The second still stems from intrinsic motivation, but the motivation is selfish. The third is based on external pressure.

How about simply resolving to begin and end each day with prayer…

Ask God for guidance. Ask God to reveal His will for your life. Prayerfully consider how you can better serve God in the new year.And consider praying the following…

Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart
give it all to your pleasure and disposal.

Two of the greatest commandments…that should be our goal every year and every day.

May your New Year be full of blessings and may you be a blessing to others.

God loves you, and I love you – and there is nothing you can do about it.

Toby

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Pastor Toby Guill219-850-3768 (cell)

Toby.guill@inumc.org

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