Happy New Year to the many readers of this blog! And it is a certainly a Happy New Year if you support the England cricket team after they managed to retain the Ashes. Their victory is all the more impressive when you consider that last time they were in Australia they lost 5-0 and looked beaten right from the start. What has made the difference? It seems to be that this time they have a winning mentality. Their planning and their preparation has been meticulous. And in play they have stuck to their plans and carried them out.
I was thinking about the cricket team as I started to sketch out my New Year’s message. We often talk about New Year’s resolutions, but if we’re honest, they tend to be a bit of joke. It tends to be a matter of days before we’re back on the chocolate, or our Bible-reading notes once again gather dust on the shelf. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. But maybe again our resolutions fail because unlike the current England team we don’t plan thoroughly and stick then to the decisions we made.
This is one reason why here at St Michael’s and St Barnabas we are kicking off the New Year with the 10 questions you can find on the website home page. The questions may look rather daunting, but then again we are playing for something even more serious than the Ashes. If we’re focused on living day by day for Christ then we sometimes have to put in some spadework to work out exactly how we do this. But we are part of a team, and you may well find it easier to work through them with a friend from church or in part of a small group. And keep them somewhere safe – you may well want to look at them later, say in a few months or a year’s time to see if your answers have changed.
Finally, don’t forget that if we are serious about serving God, then He will give us the resolution to carry out His plans and purposes. Following Jesus isn’t making big promises and then trying really hard to keep them up. It’s about making big promises and looking to the Holy Spirit to strengthen and equip us to do our Father’s will. That’s what Paul is talking about in Philippians 2:12-13(NIV) when he says: Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
May the coming year be one when we prayerfully work out our salvation, and experience more and more of God at work in us. The Lord richly bless you all.