by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Philippians 3:7-14

I.         The old year is behind us and a whole new year lies before us

            A.        What does this year hold for you?

                        1.         What would you like to do?

                        2.         What will you actually do?

            B.        Each day is unique

                        1.         “Today is the first day of the rest of your life”

                        2.         Today is an opportunity to leave behind your mistakes of the past

                        3.         Today is a chance to start with a clean slate, a fresh page

                        4.         Philippians 3:13-14 - It is the future that matters, not the past

            C.        The time you have, this year we are embarking on, is God’s gift to you

                        1.         Psalm 31:15 - Our time is in God’s hand

                        2.         Psalm 90:12 - Teach us to number our days

                        3.         We need to use what we were given wisely - Ephesians 5:15-17

II.        But without a plan, things slip through our fingers

            A.        We cannot stop time. We cannot roll it backwards to try again.

                        1.         “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder”

                        2.         We need to act with knowledge - Proverbs 13:16

                        3.         Plans are common sense - Luke 14:28-30

            B.        “If you aim at nothing, you usually will hit it.”

                        1.         Life cannot go according to plan if you have none.

                        2.         A generous man gains his reputation by his plans - Isaiah 32:8

                        3.         God does all things for a reason - Ezekiel 14:23

            C.        Yet, without a firm resolve, plans will not be carried out

                        1.         T. T. Munger: “There is no road to success but through a clear strong purpose. Nothing can take its place. A purpose underlies character, culture, position, attainment of every sort.”

                        2.         Asa was encouraged to be strong - II Chronicles 15:7

                        3.         The praise of the Thessalonians - I Thessalonians 1:2-4

            D.        Many wonder why they never seem to make progress in their spiritual lives.

                        1.         They have no plan to progress

                        2.         They lack a purpose to reach for something greater than themselves

                        3.         Thus there is no progress and no attainment

            E.        Without resolve, there will not be anything to carry us through adversity - Proverbs 24:10

                        1.         Barnabas encouraged Christians to cleave to the Lord - Acts 11:23

                        2.         Daniel was resolved not to defile himself - Daniel 1:8

III.       How to be successful in your resolutions

            A.        Access where you are

                        1.         Before you can change, you need know what you have done right and what you have done wrong.

                                    a.         Else you will change things that ought not to be changed and leave things that need changing

                        2.         Examine yourself - II Corinthians 13:5

                        3.         Examine your own work - Galatians 6:4

            B.        Make specific, reachable goals

                        1.         Write them down, so you won’t forget

                        2.         More fail by making unreasonable, unreachable goals

                                    a.         “I’ll never sin again!”

                                    b.         They become discouraged by their failure

                        3.         Goals need to be down-to-earth

                        4.         If you know where you are, and where you would like to be, pick a goal that is a step in the right direction, even if it doesn’t put you fully where you would like to be.

            C.        Do it!

                        1.         The hardest part is being determined to do it.

                        2.         Tyron Edwards: “He that resolves upon a great and good end, has, by that very resolution, scaled the chief barrier to it. He will find such resolution removing difficulties, searching out for making means, giving courage for despondency, and strength for weakness”

                        3.         Do it heartily - Colossians 3:23

                        4.         Sir P. Sidney, “ I will find a way, or I will make one.”

            D.        Note your accomplishments

                        1.         When you reach your goal, write it down

                        2.         There is satisfaction and encouragement when a worthy goal is reached.

                        3.         It breeds eagerness to press further.

                                    a.         Another reason to make resolutions in small steps instead of gigantic leaps.

                        4.         God takes note, and so should you - Hebrews 6:10-12

IV.      Specifics

            A.        Attending Services

                        1.         Access

                                    a.         How was your attendance?

                                    b.         Were you pleased? More important was God pleased?

                                    c.         When you missed, what were your reasons. Where they reasonable or simply excuses to make you feel better about yourself.

                        2.         Your goal

                                    a.         Early disciples continually devoted themselves - Acts 2:42

                                    b.         Without a goal to attend every service, you will never attend as you should.

                                    c.         Many here have set a goal to be present at every service and their growth and strength is obvious to all.

                        3.         Do it!

                                    a.         No second thoughts, no hesitations, no excuses

                                    b.         On Christian said he would wait until time for services to decide whether to go or not.

                                                (1)       Is it a wonder he didn’t always go?

                                                (2)       You only need to make one decision: Decide you will attend faithfully.

                                                (3)       When time for services come, there is no decision to be made, you already decided to go and you will be there.

                        4.         Record

                                    a.         Write down on a calendar when you made it.

                                                (1)       Were you present for the Bible studies and services?

                                                (2)       What about the gospel meetings?

                                    b.         If you were late or missed, write down why

                                                (1)       Was it a lame excuse or a good reason?

                                                (2)       If you were a teacher, would you accept your excuse from a student?

                                                (3)       If you were a boss, would you accept your excuse from an employee?

                                    c.         Figure out what you can change to remove one excuse at a time.

            B.        Daily Prayer

                        1.         Assessment

                                    a.         How much time have your spent in prayer this past year?

                                    b.         Have your prayers been deep and heartfelt or shallow and rushed?

                                    c.         Have your prayers been cut short by distractions or because you fell asleep?

                        2.         Reachable goal

                                    a.         Plan daily time to pray

                                    b.         Choose a time you will be fresh, undisturbed, and undistracted

                                    c.         Choose a place to pray

                                    d.         Choose what you will pray

                        3.         Do it!

                                    a.         The example of Daniel - Daniel 6:10-11

                        4.         Record

                                    a.         Record when you did pray

                                    b.         Record what kept you from praying as you should

                                    c.         Record when a prayer is answered to see that it does accomplish a purpose

            C.        Giving

                        1.         Assessment

                                    a.         Was it your firstfruits or your leftovers?

                                    b.         Was it purposed or incidental?

                                    c.         Was it regular or haphazard?

                                    d.         Was it cheerfully given or a grudging necessity?

                        2.         Reachable goal

                                    a.         As purposed in your heart - II Corinthians 9:7

                                    b.         Giving to the Lord should be at the top of your budget

                        3.         Do it!

                                    a.         If it is in your budget, it is easier to do

                                    b.         If you determined what you will give in advance, there is no last minute second guessing.

                        4.         Record

                                    a.         Make sure you keep your promise to the Lord

            D.        Study

                        1.         Assessment

                                    a.         What did you learn last year?

                                    b.         Did you grow? - II Peter 3:18

                                    c.         Did you show yourself approved of God - II Timothy 2:15

                        2.         Reachable Goal

                                    a.         Ezra’s goal - Ezra 7:10

                                    b.         Decide you are going to learn more

                                                (1)       That means attending

                                                (2)       Preparing lessons in advance

                                                (3)       Participating in class

                        3.         Do it!

                        4.         Record

                                    a.         Take notes of what you learned

                                    b.         Notes help you focus and provides a record of what you learned.

            E.        Tell others the gospel

                        1.         Assessment

                                    a.         How many were converted to Christ last year because of you?

                                    b.         Most would say “none,” but why?

                                    c.         How many have you taught?

                                    d.         If you said none again, there is the reason!

                        2.         Reachable Goal

                                    a.         Keep a list of prospects. It can be just three or four.

                                                (1)       One man keeps a list of 100.

                                                (2)       When one is taught and baptized, he removes him from his list and adds another in his place.

                                                (3)       The list keeps the focus

                                    b.         A determination to teach - I Corinthians 2:2

                                    c.         We cannot convert everyone, but we can teach all we come in contact with.

                                    d.         Just think, if you told the gospel to three people this year, you will be that much closer to seeing someone come to Christ

                        3.         Do it!

                                    a.         Those who accept the gospel bear fruit - Mark 4:20

                                    b.         Luke mentions that it is done with perseverance - Luke 8:15

                                    c.         We lose if we don’t bear fruit - John 15:2

                        4.         Record

                                    a.         Your list is your record.

                                    b.         Write down when you talked with someone and who you talked to.

V.        Be resolved

            A.        J. Hawes: “You may be whatever you resolve to be. Determine to be something in the world, and you will be something. ‘I cannot’ never accomplished anything; ‘I will try’ has wrought wonders.”

            B.        Hold firm - Hebrews 3:14

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