Wednesday, December 30, 2015

3 Commitments Every Christian Should Make in 2016

Don't like the idea of new year's resolutions? You're not alone. There is, however, great benefit in using the turning of the calendar as motivation to make commitments that need to be made. If you're a Christian, you might want to consider a commitment to these three concepts starting now.

1. Make a commitment to your church.

God thinks very highly of the local church. It's where He puts His people together to get things done, meaning that Christians need to show up and be a part of the team. Every believer is an essential part of his or her church and the body isn't complete when one of the members is missing.

Many Christians don't understand just how much they're needed in the church. They feel as though they aren't able to contribute much and that other people look down on them. In spite of the fact that the latter may be true in some churches, the former certainly isn't. 

First Peter 4:10 says, "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms," (NIV). God has given you special gifts in Christ -- use them to serve your brothers and sisters in the local church. Living out your role as one of the members of Christ's body will lead you into more solid relationships with God and all the others with whom you'll be spending eternity. 

2. Make a commitment to discipleship and accountability.

Once you've committed to showing up and serving in your local church, the next step comes naturally -- really! As we serve shoulder-to-shoulder with God's people, relationships are started and quickly deepen. In those biblical, Christ-centered relationships we find a blessed bond that generates wisdom and holiness.

When Jesus walked the earth He called twelve men to follow Him and named them His disciples (Luke 6:13-16). Outside of that dozen, there were many more who followed Him, whom He also called disciples (v. 17). The noun form of the word "disciple" (Gr. mathetos) conveys the idea of a learner. The verb form puts forth the concept of training another person to mature in learning.

God has called all of His people to be in a discipleship relationship where they are being spiritually sharpened by other believers. The mature believer is called to seek out less mature believers and offer them discipleship. And in those relationships followers of Christ find the accountability they need to grow. 

Consider these words that Paul wrote to Pastor Timothy: "These things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also," (2 Timothy 2:2, NASB).     

3. Make a commitment to praying for the people God has placed in your life.

Most Christians will admit to lacking a commitment in the area of prayer. I'm certainly no exception to that. Because of this weakness, one of the easiest-to-memorize verses in the Bible often brings about immediate conviction: "Pray without ceasing," (1 Thessalonians 5:17). 

What does it mean to pray without ceasing, anyway? It certainly doesn't mean to stop all communication except for prayer. It does, however, imply that the lifestyle of the believer should be filled with communication to God about all things big and small. Imagine how rich the Christian life would be if it was saturated with prayer!

No believer will be able to turn his or her prayer life around on a dime. So when it comes to making a commitment to prayer, a great place to start is to pray for the people God has put in your areas of influence. There are family members and friends (Christian or not), as well as brothers and sisters in the local church (the one you committed to in the first commitment) who need prayer. Praying for people is a biblical practice (cf. Colossians 4:3, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, etc.), a noble and worthwhile effort, and a process that will draw you closer to others.

As we all plunge into 2016, let us consider how God would have us to commit more of our time, talent, and treasure for His own purposes!

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