Day by Day

What New Year’s resolutions have you made this year? Do you remember what your resolutions were for 2010? What happened to them? What difference did they make to your life? If they are to be successful, any resolutions need to be so worthwhile and so important that you actually stuck to them.
This morning I am going to suggest 10 possible New Year’s resolutions for 2011 we could all adopt. I wouldn’t expect anybody to choose all 10! But you may like to choose two or three of the things I am going to suggest this morning. Even any one of them could really change your life!
But in case you are worried that this is about to be a 10 point sermon, all 10 ideas are wrapped up in one short prayer: a prayer you may well be familiar with, and a prayer which you may like to make your own and use as your prayer for every day of 2011. It’s a prayer attributed to Richard of Chichester in the 12th Century,
Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the benefits thou hast given me,
for all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may I know thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly, day by day.
Amen.
You probably know the prayer in the more familiar form made popular in 1970s in the musical Godspell.
Day by day, dear Lord I pray:
To see you more clearly;
Love you more dearly;
Follow you more nearly
Day by Day

TO SEE YOU MORE CLEARLY

Peter ends his second letter like this.
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen!
Hebrews 5:12-6:2 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

There is so much to find out about God we only know the tiniest fraction and understand even less. Somebody once said, “If God is real and Christians are really God’s children, what are you doing with your Bible shut?”

1. Give more attention to Bible Reading every day.Many Christians spend more time reading their newspapers than reading their Bibles. Most spend more time watching television than reading their Bibles. Many younger Christians spend more time on Facebook or surfing the internet than reading their Bibles.

2. Read at least one Christian book a month.

Books that help us understand the Bible, or understand the world around, or share our faith. Biographies that inspire us and help us to serve God and each other. Christian stories like the works of CS Lewis which are so much more wholesome than most non-Christian fiction.

3. Look for an extra way of learning which is new to you.

If you only come to our morning services, try our evening services. If you don’t already belong to a Home Group, join one of our Home Groups. Consider going to Spring Harvest, or one of the different Baptist Training Days. If you want some more ideas of what might be just right for you, come and have a chat.
All these are ways of seeing God more clearly. It was Thomas Aquinas who said, “to love God is much greater than to know Him.”

LOVE YOU MORE DEARLY

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Eph 3 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

If we measure how much we love somebody by how much we enjoy being in their presence, or how much time we spend with them, or how much we want to talk to them, it would appear that many Christians do not love God very much.
Sometimes we forget just how much God loves us! When we realise just how much God loves us, we will want to know Him better and to love Him more.
The key to loving God more and to deepening our relationship with God is of course PRAYER. Our sermon series over the next six weeks will focus on learning to pray and our Homegroups will explore prayer in more depth. But knowing about prayer is really less important than actually praying. So how about these New Year Resolutions for loving God more dearly.

4. Give more time to prayer each day.

There is something wrong when Christians spend more time talking to strangers on their mobiles or on Facebook than they do talking to God in prayer. It was that great evangelist Alan Redpath who talked about Blanket Victory in our Christian lives – the victory we need over the blankets in the morning or last thing at night when we end up sleeping instead of praying.

5. Make more opportunities to pray with other Christians

We have our church prayer meetings. I will talk another time about the great value of praying in 2s and 3s with other Christians, prayer partnerships and prayer triplets. Find a friend you would be happy praying with, suggest a time, and start praying!
In your praying either by yourself or with others, make sure that your prayers are not just a shopping list. Make sure to spend time in worship and praise and thanksgiving and adoration too.
Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

We need to learn what it means to delight ourselves in the Lord! And that takes time in prayer!

6. Set aside a long time for prayer retreats or quiet days

Not just an hour but a whole morning, or a whole day for silence and solitude, prayer and reflection and meditation. Getting to know somebody else and building a relationship takes time – so give it time! Tell an engaged couple that they can spend a whole day together and they will be delighted! Why are so many Christians scared of spending a whole day just with God?
The Christian mystic St John of the Cross said, “Seek in reading and you will find in meditation. Knock in prayer and it shall be opened to you in contemplation.”
It’s a new year! We all have new diaries with lots of empty pages. Take the opportunity to block in some days to spend with God NOW – before other less important things crowd God out!
Here are some valuable steps to loving God more dearly. But then

TO FOLLOW YOU MORE NEARLY

To become more like Christ. In what ways would you like to grow to be more like Jesus in 2011?
Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
We need to discover in our everyday experience more of what it means to “grow up into Christ”

7. Rely on God more in battles against temptation – don’t give in without a fight!

1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

8. Seek to discover and develop your spiritual gifts in serving Christ in the church and in the world

Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

We all have gifts – we all have a part to play

16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

As Baptists we believe in the priesthood of ALL believers – all of us share in the work of ministry. All of us have our part to play. And we need each and every part to do its work! By the way, for some folk this would be a good time to think about being baptised as a believer – for others, to think about becoming a member of North Springfield Baptist Church.

9. Work hard at bringing others to faith in Jesus Christ

“The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”! I will be suggesting ways we can do this in weeks to come.
So here are 10 New Year’s Resolutions which could change our lives and change our church. Which will you choose to make for 2011, starting today?
SEE YOU MORE CLEARLY
1. Give more attention to Bible Reading every day
2. Read at least one Christian book a month.
3. Look for an extra way of learning which is new to you.
LOVE YOU MORE DEARLY
4. Give more time to prayer each day.
5. Make more opportunities to pray with other Christians
6. Set aside a long time for prayer retreats or quiet days
TO FOLLOW YOU MORE NEARLY
7. Rely on God more in battles against temptation – don’t give in without a fight!
8. Seek to discover and develop your gift in serving Christ in the church and in the world
9. Work hard at bringing others to faith in Jesus Christ
But now for the 10th resolution which underlies all the others.

10. Press on to discover more of the love and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Following Jesus is not about turning over a new leaf but about living a new life, not in our own strength but by God’s grace with God’s power.
Day by day, dear Lord I pray:
To see you more clearly;
Love you more dearly;
Follow you more nearly
Day by Day

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