Friday, January 02, 2015

Realistic resolutions

List with one item checked off
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 147:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In this who hope in His mercy." Psalm 147:10-11

If we're resolution-makers we are in our glory right about now, composing hopeful lists of what to do more and less of this year. The beginning of a new year is, typically, a time to take stock, evaluate where we are in achieving the plans we made in previous years, and set new targets for the year ahead.

To keep us from getting too caught up in our self-made ways, too confident that we can direct the course of life, today's focus verses add a pinch of realism to the resolution-making process.

The "strength of the horse…legs of a man" that God doesn't delight in suggest not only personal self-determination but national. The psalmist may well have introduced these images to plant the idea of an army and war (compare Psalm 33:16,17). He is saying that the outcomes of even nations are not self-determined.

So what, or who, determines success—personal or national? Psalm 147:11 tells us that God is the basis of it all. His mercy, not our cunning and intelligence and strength, foundation successful hopes and plans for the future.

Does that mean we shouldn't plan ahead, make goals, write down what we plan to do more of and less of in the days ahead?

I don't think so. Jesus recommended "counting the cost" of building a tower, going to war, and discipleship (Luke 14:26-33). In His parable of the minas, the man who refused to think ahead to when His master would return but buried His investment capital in the ground as if there would never be a day of reckoning, was punished for not being a good steward of what he had been given (Luke 19:20-26).

However, I believe we need to make our plans in pencil, acknowledging that we are not, finally, the masters of our fate. It is all His mercy, not our strong horses and well-toned selves.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your mercy that underlies all predictable life. I give my plans for 2015 to You, acknowledging that Your providence and will determine their ultimate achievement, and not me at all. Amen.

MORE: Are we in danger of worshiping our work?

"Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on Him. A great many Christian workers worship their work. The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God and this will mean that all the other margins of life, mental, moral and spiritual, are free with the freedom of a child, a worshiping child, not a wayward child" - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest  (April 23rd reading).

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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