Let’s count down to the new year together! The last week of every year is a great opportunity to reflect on what we’ve done the past year and plan for what we want to do in the new year. So, how do we as Christians phrase that question? I suggest this: “What does God want us to do for Him in 2010?
Jesus made the issue of what God wants from us every year very clear in what He told His followers just before He ascended back into Heaven after His resurrection.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)
“Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to risefrom the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49)
“So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” (Acts 1:6-9)
Jesus told His disciples what God wanted them to do each year of their lives:
- go into all the world, preach the Gospel (repentance and remission of sins) in the name of Jesus to every creature and make disciples of all nations
- be witnesses for Christ to the ends of the earth
- baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
- teach the disciples to obey everything Jesus had commanded them
The apostles did what Jesus told them to do. They waited in Jerusalem to receive power from the Holy Spirit, then began to witness to everyone around them. They started in Jerusalem, then into all Judea and Samaria. They preached repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul, saved many years later, took the Gospel of God’s love beyond Israel into the Gentile world. He taught the Gentiles to preach the Gospel of God’s Grace in their ministry of reconciliation and to represent Christ as ambassadors to the world.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
For the next four days, as we count down to the new year, let’s look at four specific areas of our life that God wants us to use for Him. We’ll call it the Holy Resolutions For The New Year.
Holy Resolution #1
God created the human race to love and worship Him, so let’s focus on that for our first Holy Resolution. Jesus Christ said that the highest aim of our life should be to love God with every ounce of strength within us.
“‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”
Jesus pointed to four distinct areas of the human life that should be devoted to loving God:
- all your heart
- all your soul
- all your strength
- all your mind
The Greek for “all” is holos and means “the whole” of something or someone. Jesus says our highest goal as His disciples is to love Him with our “whole” heart, soul, strength and mind. These four areas represent every aspect of the human experience:
- “heart” is kardias and was understood by the Greek readers of Luke’s Gospel to mean the entire mental, emotional and moral activity of the human race
- “soul” is psuche and was understood to mean the immaterial, invisible part of a human being that would continue to exist after death of the body (soma)
- “strength” is ischus and was understood to mean the abilities of a person and the strength they had to accomplish the results of those abilities
- “mind” is dianoia and was understood to mean the thinking through, meditating, reflecting part of people
Jesus told His disciples that their goal should be to love God with every part of their mental, emotional and moral activity; the immaterial, invisible part of themselves that would continue after their death; their abilities and the strength God had given them to accomplish the results of their abilities; and the part of their being that thought through, meditated and reflected.
We worship God because He is “worthy” of our praise. We love and worship Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). To worship God is to “revere” Him. The Greek word sebomai is the feeling of deep devotion and awe toward someone. Proskuneo comes from words that mean “to kiss toward” someone in the sense of reverence. Latreuo means to render religious service toward God. Look at how the words are used in the Bible for how we are to worship God. As you read these accounts, put yourself in the shoes of each person who is worshiping. What were they thinking and feeling at the moment they spoke to or about the Lord? Which ones of them were truly loving and worshiping God with their whole heart, soul, strength and mind?
“Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.” Acts 16:14
“And he departed from there and entered the house of a certain man named Justus, one who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue.” Acts 18:7
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him … And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-2, 11
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Matthew 4:10
“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:31-33
“And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” Matthew 28:9
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.” John 9:35-38
“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 14:24-25
“Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:9-11
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12
“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” Acts 24:14
So, what is our first Holy Resolution for the new year? To love and worship God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Christians should, by definition, be lovers and worshipers of God. How do we express worship? God has been teaching the fine art of worship for thousands of years. Here’s some of the lessons He taught the children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt. What do these verses teach us about how to worship God?
“And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.” Exodus 4:30-31
“And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” Exodus 12:26-28
“Now He said to Moses, ‘Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. And Moses alone shall come near the LORD, but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.’ So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” Exodus 24:1-3
“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood atthe door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standingat the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Exodus 33:9-11
“And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I am driving out from before you the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacredpillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods. ‘You shall make no molded gods for yourselves.” Exodus 34:10-17
“Take careful heed to yourselves, for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, lest you act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any figure: the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any animal that is on the earth or the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground or the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth. And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.” Deuteronomy 4:15-20
God looks at worship as a serious and vital part of following Him. He did not tolerate any Israelite worshiping other gods (carved images, idols, etc). It’s interesting that in the context of worship, God revealed that His name is “Jealous.” He is not going to share His people’s worship with anyone. Worship is for God alone.
You will not find God’s attitude toward worship change anywhere in Scripture. Whether He’s dealing with Israel or Christians, God demands the same high standard of love and worship from those who called by His Name. Look at the reasons God’s Word gives us for worshiping Him.
“But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.” Psalm 5:7-8
“All the ends of the world Shall remember and turn to the LORD, And all the families of the nations Shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’s, And He rules over the nations.” Psalm 22:27-28
“Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,Give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:1-2
“Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.’ Selah Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.” Psalm 66:3-5
“Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you! O Israel, if you will listen to Me! There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god. I am the LORD your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:8-10
“The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.” Psalm 95:5-7
“Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns; The world also is firmly established, It shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.” Psalm 96:8-10
“The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy.” Psalm 99:4-5
“You answered them, O LORD our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, Though You took vengeance on their deeds. Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy.” Psalm 99:8-9
“I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:1-3
God shows us in His Word that He wants us to experience worship in three basic ways:
Personal worship is your time alone with God to express your love and praise. Family worship is your time with members of physical your family to express love and praise to God. Congregation worship is your time with members of your church family to express love and praise to God. Each type of worship is important to your spiritual health and growth as well as the health and growth of people in your family and church.
We have so many reasons to worship God! He is worthy of our love and devotion. We should worship Him in the morning when we rise, throughout the day as we work and play, and in the evening when we lie down to sleep. We should worship Him for all He has done for us. God is our Creator and Sustainer. He is the Ruler of the universe. We should worship God for His forgiveness of our sins. We should worship Him for His lovingkindness and truth. We should worship Him for His magnificent Word. He should worship Him because He gives us life and hope. We should give God the glory due His Name!
Think deeply about this first Holy Resolution. May our worship experience in 2010 be greater than in any year we’ve experienced so far as His disciples.
Tomorrow, the second Holy Resolution!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,