MATTHEW 26:31-35: “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples” (NKJV).
OBSERVATION: What is my New Year’s Resolution? As we look forward to the end of another year, many of us take personal inventory as we think of ways that we can improve our life in the year ahead. I think this is a healthy exercise to do each year. It helps us assess our strengths and weaknesses, and gives us a focal point for our prayer life as we usher in the New Year. However, I think we have to be very careful about how we make our resolutions. As you know from personal experience, New Year’s resolutions usually do not last, or come to pass.
Why is that? I think we make the same mistake that Peter made in his discussion with Jesus in this section of Scripture. Jesus was warning all the disciples of the night ahead and their coming desertion of Jesus in the Garden. However, Peter would have none of this. Peter boldly proclaimed – “…I will never be made to stumble.” And when Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed, Peter doubled down on his resolution – “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
Within Peter’s words there is one word that reveals the weakness in most of our New Year’s resolutions. It is the word “I.” “I am going to get a new job this year!” “I am going to lose weight this year!” “I am going to be more positive this year!” And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on! Just like Peter, we somehow forget that all of life is to be lived by grace through faith. It really has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with Him! Have you ever wondered what might have happened if Peter had said – “Lord, I do not want to deny You! Grant me grace and strength to stand by Your side, for I am too weak to do so by myself!”
Like Peter, New Year’s resolutions are usually focused on what “I” can do. And many times I make the mistake of misquoting and misapplying this familiar Scripture as I make my resolutions.
- “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).
Take a moment to read this verse. First, put the emphasis on the word “I.” Now, read it again by placing the emphasis on the word “through.” It totally changes the meaning of the verse. In reality, “I” cannot do all things. I have personal limitations that are physical, emotional, socioeconomic, and circumstantial. In fact, when I read this verse in context, I see Paul wasn’t talking about his own ability at all. He was talking about the power of God’s grace in his life! Through God’s grace Paul was able to do whatever God called him to do, not whatever he wanted to do!
- “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NKJV).
Paul had discovered the power of living every moment of his life through the grace of God! His only goal was to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul knew that in this knowing he would discover both the will and purpose of God for his life, for each and every moment of his life. In essence, Paul’s New Year’s resolution each and every year was to live through the power of the Cross, through the power of the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Lord, help me to hold lightly every goal, every resolution, and every dream I have in my heart and life for the New Year that is ahead. Let me rather hold tightly to Your Cross. Teach me each day to live in the power and purpose of Your grace in my life. As I daily live by grace through faith, may I both delight in and discover your will and purpose for the New Year that is ahead.
- “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14 NKJV).
- “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:14-16 NKJV).
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
In Jesus Name!