10 New Year's Resolutions From the Bible


“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness 
and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I’ve always loved those two verses from Isaiah. They remind me that no matter what happened yesterday, God gives me hope for today!


This is the week when we make resolutions. We resolve to put the events of this year in the past and move forward into the new year with a fresh start.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2011? Will you resolve to shed weight? Squash a bad habit? Work out at the gym? Spend more time with your family?

As you make your list of resolutions, consider these

10 New Year's Resolutions From the Bible:

I will try not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

Instead of depending on my own wisdom, I will seek the wisdom of the Lord. I will respect Him and refuse to do wrong. (Proverbs 3:7)

If someone mistreats me, I will not mistreat that person in return. Instead, I will try to earn the respect of others, and I will do my best to live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)

I will remember not to judge people, because in the same way that I judge them, they might judge me. (Matthew 7:1-2)

I will never let love and faithfulness leave me. I will remember them every day and keep them in my heart. (Proverbs 3:3)

I will honor the Lord with whatever I earn and by doing the best that I can. (Proverbs 3:9)

I will study my Bible and be careful to follow only those teachers who are true messengers of God. (Matthew 7:15)

With all my heart, I will trust in the Lord and not in my own judgment. I will always let Him lead me and make clear to me the road I should follow. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I will love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Finally, I will fix my thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely and admirable. I will concentrate on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)



As we enter 2011, I wish all of you a year filled with faith, hope, love,
and resolutions fulfilled through blessings from God.



Approaching That Silent Night

A RE-POST FROM LAST YEAR

Have you known a night so dark that you couldn't see your hand in front of your face? Have you experienced a night so silent that you heard your own heart beat? Nights like these were common in the fields near Bethlehem. It was an ancient time before electricity and technology brought a surplus of light and noise into the world.


Imagine shepherds in the fields on such a dark night. Suddenly, the sky tears open and a bright light shines down upon them. The shepherds are terrified. Where is the light coming from? Are they about to die? Then an angel emerges from the radiant glow and proclaims, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:10-14 KJV). The black, silent night had become the Holy Night -- the night that the Savior, the Messiah, the Holy One came into the world!

This was the night that Father Joseph Mohr imagined when, in 1816, he wrote the lyrics to "Silent Night" in the form of a poem. It is believed that Mohr was living in Mariapfarr in the Alpine Lungau region of Salzburg, Austria, when he wrote it. Two years later, he was called to serve the parish of St. Nicola in Oberndorf. There he became acquainted with the church organist Franz Xaver Gruber.


The legend goes that the church organ was broken on Christmas Eve 1818. Mohr presented Gruber with his "Silent Night" poem, and the two of them quickly composed a tune for two solo voices and the choir to be accompanied by a guitar. The song was performed for the first time that Christmas Eve in St. Nicola Church in Oberndorf. The rest, as they say, is history.


Several years ago, I came across an amazing web site, StilleNach.info. Its aim is to educate about the origin of the famous carol. Here, you will find links to information about Mohr and Gruber, the original sheet music, the Silent Night Museum, and much more.

The most interesting link on the site is the Silent Night Chapel, a small memorial chapel built on the place where St. Nicola church once stood. Each year, thousands of tourists visit the chapel, and each year on Christmas Eve there is a short service that ends with the singing of the beloved carol as it was originally composed. The web site features a live web cam. Best of all, the Christmas Eve service is broadcast live each year. Try not to miss it this December 24th. It will leave you wanting to travel to Austria for next year's celebration.


Christmas Eve is near – that night, that silent, holy night when the Light of the World swept the darkness away. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV) Let us rejoice and be glad!


Dear Father: We thank you for the Holy Night when you sent your Son into the world to save us from our sins. As we rejoice and celebrate, fill our hearts with love for our Savior. In His name we pray. Amen

Sometimes, It’s More Blessed to Receive

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

I’ve lived with the Grinch. His name was Dad, and while my father didn't hate Christmas, he wasn't a fan of the gifting part. He didn't mind giving presents, but he loathed receiving them.

"Don't get me anything," he'd warn. “I don’t want to see anything under the tree with my name on it.”

On Christmas morning when it was time to open the presents, Dad made every excuse not to open his. Finally, after we insisted, he'd reluctantly unwrap his gifts complaining all the way. “I don’t deserve this,” he’d say, holding up a new fishing reel, or shirt, or pair of cuff links. “Thanks, but I don’t deserve it.”


Dad’s reaction took all the fun out of giving. We disliked shopping for him, because we always assumed that whatever we chose wouldn’t be good enough. Even more, we were hurt by his reaction to our presents.

Now that I’m much older, I understand. Dad didn’t feel worthy. At any occasion when he received a gift, he did so with guilt, and he accepted what he got not with a sense of joy, but with shame.

I’ve learned that I have a similar relationship with Jesus Christ. In my prayer life, I have no trouble asking for things for family members, friends and even strangers, but when it comes to gifts for myself, I don’t feel deserving or worthy. I never boldly approach God’s throne of grace, as the Bible instructs in Hebrews 4:16. Instead, I shamble there, embarrassed and reluctant to ask God for what I want.

Recently, I thought about how the Lord must feel when He gives me the desires of my heart, and instead of being open to receive them with joy, I accept His blessings with a shamed and guilt-ridden spirit.

Jesus, I’m sorry. I resolve to change. With each coming day, like a child at Christmas, I’ll await your gifts with eager anticipation. And when they arrive, I’ll tear off the wrapping paper and delight in what you’ve given me. No more guilt. No more shame. I’ll accept your gifts earnestly with a joyful and grateful heart.

That Forbidden Word — “Christ"

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11 (KJV)


Today it’s rare to hear merchants wish customers a Merry Christmas. Some even forbid their employees to say it. We don’t want to utter that word. You know the one: “Christ.” It might offend someone.

I’m old enough to remember when Christmas was Christmas. When I was little, everyone went downtown to shop. No malls for us. Most people had never even heard of a shopping mall. In December, stores stayed open late on Friday nights, and only on Friday nights. Waiting until after supper meant you risked not finding a parking spot. Christmas lights stretched across Main Street from light post to light post. If you’re much younger than I am, you’ve probably only seen this kind street decoration in “A Christmas Story.” You know, the movie about the kid wanting a Red Rider BB gun? Our downtown was a lot like that. Hard to imagine when looking at Main Street today with its empty storefronts. No one goes downtown anymore. And elaborate Christmas lights? They’re too expensive to install and maintain. Some fake green garland wrapped around a light post with a wreath atop and a banner that says “Happy Holidays.” That's all.

When I was a kid, The Salvation Army Band played Christmas carols on downtown street corners, and school and church choirs performed in the town square. And yes, they sang about Christ. A tall Christmas tree stood in the center of the square strung with big, multicolored light bulbs, the kind where the whole string goes dark when one light burns out. Sometimes, the fire department willingly sent a crew in a ladder truck to help change a bulb on an upper branch. No problem. No charge. An empty stable with an empty manger stood in front of the tree, and the week before Christmas, folks from the local churches put on a living nativity complete with real animals, a real Baby Jesus and a chorus of angels. The angels sang “Away in a Manger,” and when they sang about Jesus, no one protested. Not so in the town square today. When a Christian church wanted to set up a small nativity display, it caused a public debate. They finally got permission. Then, the Unitarian church worried that not all world religions were represented, so they put up a “peace obelisk.” No problem until a question was raised about whether or not the nativity scene and the obelisk were erected in the right spots according to proper city procedures. (Read about it here.) Atheist groups chimed in that Christmas doesn’t need Christ or God anyhow. (Here’s some of what they had to say.) And Jesus, the One they call “Christ?” He’s staying out of it — for now.

Today, when someone wishes me “Happy Holidays,” I reply with a hearty “Merry Christmas!” I do it because I remember downtown, and the Salvation Army Band, and choirs and the merry spirit that dwelt within us then, the spirit of CHRIST. There, I’ve said it – that offensive word. And I’ll say it again and again: ”Merry, Merry Christmas!”


Christmas Lights

And God said: Let there be light: and there was light. Genesis 1:3

“Turn off the lights first! Daddy, tell them to shut off the lights.”

I heard the plea of a little boy, last Sunday, at our zoo’s annual Christmas lighting ceremony. The Kiwana’s Club decorates the zoo grounds with a generous light display, and Sunday, the boy in a crowd of two thousand waited with eager anticipation.

“Turn off the lights! Daddy, tell them to shut off the lights.” He pointed first to the security lights on the monkey house and then to those on the lions’ cage.

The father put his hands on his son’s shoulders, bent down and gently asked him to be quiet.

“But no, Daddy!” he protested. Then, remembering another tradition, he said, “It’s like the birthday cake. It has to be dark first.”

Maybe they heard him, I don’t know, but the lights went out and the crowd grew still. Then, in a split second, the grounds and the sky exploded into a symphony of light. A train made of multicolored lights chugged around the beaver pond while a cascade of white lights spilled into the water. The little boy watched as an amber ape family swung from a fence almost within reach of the real giraffes. Green lights lit even the tallest trees, and everywhere you looked, there were lights.

“It’s Christmas!” he shouted, jumping up and down. “The lights came on! The lights came on!”

It was like that on the night that Christ was born. A heavenly angel waited with anticipation until the coal-black darkness descended on the field where shepherds watched their sheep. Then, as if someone flipped a switch, she appeared in a burst of light so powerful that the shepherds shielded their eyes.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord!”

She might as well have shouted, “The lights came on! The lights came on!” because it was the night when Light conquered Darkness, a light so pure and bright, a light everlasting.


When we decorate, inside and out, with Christmas lights, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Light of the World. This holiday season, take time to look at the lights. Notice how they bring a sense of safety to the once dark street corners and watch how they add warmth to your home. Then thank God. Thank Him for sending the Baby Jesus who grew up to lead our souls out of darkness and into the Light – forever and evermore.

The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:5 NLT


And the little boy sang:


NEW FROM THOMAS NELSON

CLICK ON THE BOOK TO PREVIEW. VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER BELOW.
FROM BARBOUR BOOKS
I'm proud to be a contributing author to the following series of humorous devotionals.
And check out my "Kid's Bible Dictionary" and pre-teen mysteries, also from Barbour.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.

See all the books in the Camp Club Girls series.
Click on the picture.
I am the author of these books, but I have not been compensated for mentioning them on this blog or linking them to the seller's website. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

By Max Lucado, Published by Thomas Nelson
Max Lucado has a unique way with words, and his children's book Hermie A Common Caterpillar is no exception. With simple text and bright, watercolor illustrations, the story of Hermie unfolds.

Hermie wonders why he looks and feels so common. Whenever he asks God why, God simply answers, "I'm not finished with you yet." Then, one day, Hermie feels very tired. He gets into his cozy, leafy bed, and he sleeps. And while Hermie sleeps a transformation takes place. When he wakes up, Hermie discovers that God has done something grand. You can guess what it is. Every caterpillar that lives to adulthood knows the end of the story.

Parents, please share this book and its powerful message with your children. We are all special because God loves us, and He has a unique purpose for our lives. Whenever we slump into feeling ordinary, we know that we have hope because . . .God isn't finished with us yet!


*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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