Christianity 201

June 29, 2022

Second-Half-of-the-Year’s Resolutions

June 30th marks the end of the first half of 2022. With half the year to go, what are your half-year’s resolutions? We mined the archives of Christianity 201 to locate some thoughts that might direct us in the second half.

Keeping Up the Energy

It’s a known fact that many sports team lose their momentum in the second half of the game. It’s easy to get tired, weary and discouraged. The Bible doesn’t use the term energy for this, as much as it talks about zeal. Spiritual zeal and spiritual passion simply keeps going, even in the face of challenges.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…
Ecclesiastes 9:10a

In May, 2015, Michael Donohoe reminded us that the particulars of your passion — especially in areas of mission and service — might be different than that of your church friends and colleagues in ministry.

The only trouble I see with passion is that it can sometimes become an obsession with the ones involved, and they can begin to expect everyone to have the same passion they have for the same thing. This is where we have to realize that God designed each of us with different gifts, abilities and passions, and they are displayed differently in each of us.

I think each of us has a passion for what God designed us to be. We may not be as outspoken or even act the same way as others with passion, but God works through us in a way that is effective according to the personality and gifts with which he designed us. We may not even realize the passion that shows through us to others, but rest assured, God will work through us to touch others with his love.

We are all designed differently, and we all act and respond in our uniqueness. I think it wrong to think we are not useful to God because we do not act like someone else. God works in us and through us based on the way he created us, each unique temples of the Holy Spirit, each making an impact on those we have contact with, through the power and love of God within us.

In August, 2020, we continued this theme:

The writer of Ecclesiastes offers this (9:10)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

BibleHub.com notes that Paul echoes this,

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters – Colossians 3:23

Make Good Use of the Days You’ve Got

When I was just in my teens (or perhaps even pre-teens) I first heard the scripture verse below expressed in an original song for choir and orchestra and it stuck with me for life.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
– Eph 5:16 KJV, NLT

The words of that song began, “Redeem the time, the night is drawing fast…”  A Google Translate iteration of Ephesians 5:16 from Dios Habla Hoy, a Spanish Bible (below) could also be “this decisive moment.”

Well seize this critical moment, because the days are evil.

We looked at this verse in August, 2016 and wrote the following:

…As Christians, the stewardship of our time is important. In the old KJV rendering of Ephesians 5:16, they used the phrase, Redeeming the time…” More recent translators went with:

  • Make every minute count. (CEV, NASB, and others)
  • Make the best use of your time. (J. B. Phillips)
  • Don’t waste your time on useless work. (Eugene Peterson)
  • Make the most of every living and breathing moment. (The Voice)

Other verses come to mind, such as Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (ESV)

Other translations render this;

  • Teach us how short our lives are so that we can become wise.  (ERV)
  • Teach us to use wisely all the time we have. (CEV)

Some verses remind us of the brevity of life, such as James 4:13-15

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” (ESV; some translations use vapor instead of mist.)

and Proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow,
    for you do not know what a day may bring.  (NIV)

Don’t Let the Past Dictate the Present

In January, 2017, Valarie Dunn reminded us of Abraham and Sarah.

I am reminded of the story of Abraham, who was told that his ninety-year-old wife Sarah would have a son.

Genesis 18:13-14 – Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (NIV)

Indeed, nothing is too hard for the Lord. We are not too old, too young, too inadequate, if it is the Lord’s idea. The Lord knows what gifts we have to offer, and like the wise men, He will direct us to the place where we need to give them.

You’re Not On Your Own

Living our lives in partnership with the Holy Spirit means we’re not abandoned and having to operate by ourselves. Furthermore, coming up with plans isn’t a solo project either. In December, 2013, Enoch Anti from Ghana wrote:

Plans are good. Strategies are needed. Clear cut smart (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals are very necessary. But human wisdom, skill and talent is not enough to live a victorious life: “…This is the word of the LORD … Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6). On top of our plans and strategies, we also need the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit.

By Spirit-controlled living, I mean a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. He leads and we follow. We cannot live a Spirit-controlled life and still have control over our lives so to speak. There must be a place for the leading of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of every child of God, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the [children] of God.“ (Romans 8:14).

In January, 2014, Clay Smith echoed this idea:

There is a different way. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Another translation would be, “Put God in charge and follow His way of thinking, and He will take care of everything else.”


For our Canadian readers, we wish you a Happy Canada Day on Friday, and for our U.S. readers, we wish you a Happy Independence Day on Monday. We hope you found this “½-New-Year’s” devotional helpful.


Our regular Thursday columnist, Clarke Dixon is a few weeks into a 14-week sabbatical, but just days in he announced the completion of a book. You can read more about what’s inside Beautiful and Believable: The Reason for My Hope, by clicking this link.

January 1, 2014

Your Best Year, Spiritually

This is from Clay Smith at the website of Alice Drive Baptist Church in Sumter, South Carolina and appeared there as This Could Be Your Best Year Ever, If…:

blank calendarHow will you make [this] your best year ever?

Maybe you will make an impressive list of resolutions, detailing plans for self improvement in finances, health, and relationships. Reality check: how did those resolutions work for you last year? The truth is about 92% of those resolutions won’t be kept. Why?

We don’t keep resolutions because we assume we have enough will-power to overcome our problems. We think if we just try harder we can do it. We make our problems harder because we try to tackle all our troubles at once. By the second week of January (sometimes the second day) our will power is overloaded. In a moment of stress we make an exception. That exception becomes a breach in the dike of resolve. We’re back to the same old patterns with the same old results in a matter of days – or hours.

There is a different way. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Another translation would be, “Put God in charge and follow His way of thinking, and He will take care of everything else.”

Stovall Weems expresses it like this: “This can be your best year ever if it is your best year spiritually.”

Decide to make this your best year spiritually. Talk to God about what this year could look like. Ask God for His input.

God might tell you to read the Bible through in a year – it’s a doable challenge. God might tell you go on an adventure – it may be a mission trip or it might to lead the group next door. God might tell you to experience true generosity for the first time – giving not out of guilt but out of joy!

Here’s the challenge to you and to me: Let’s make 2012 our best year spiritually – and it will be our best year ever.

Grace and Happy New Year

Go deeper with an article by Jack Wellman at Christian Crier, 5 Christian New Year’s Resolutions for 2014. The article will encourage you to:

  1. Set the Alarm Clock 10 Minutes Earlier
  2. Memorize One Bible Verse per Week
  3. Create a Prayer Journal
  4. Share the Gospel Daily With at Least One Person
  5. End Each Day with Prayer and Bible Reading

December 30, 2013

Four Things to Add to Your New Year’s Resolutions

spiritual resolutionsThe Christian blogosphere is somewhat dominated by American writers, so I’m really excited to mix things up today and introduce you to Enoch Anti from Ghana. His blog is called Truth Publication and to bless him with some blog traffic, you should click here to read at source.

The Glory of God

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelations 4:11).

To God Be The Glory. That phrase should be our marching orders for 2014. The glory of God should be top priority on our list of resolutions. All things—including you and I ―are and were created for God’s pleasure . We are on earth on His assignment. We are here on His errand. His glory. His joy. His purposes. His agenda. His plans. Everything in the end is to His glory. We are here to give glory to his name: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.“ (Isaiah 60:1-2).

This life is more than us. It is more than our dreams and visions. It’s more than the things we want to achieve for ourselves. There’s a bigger agenda, and that agenda is the glory of God. Romans 8:29 gives us very clear insight into God’s agenda for our lives: it makes us understand that conforming us to the image of Christ (character and virtues) is that agenda. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son…“ Life is for “His name sake“: …he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake“ (Psalms 23:3). As we enter 2014, let‘s seek to put the glory of God ahead of everything we seek to achieve. “He must increase. [we] must decrease“ (John 3:30).

Now, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.“ (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Spirit-Controlled Living

Plans are good. Strategies are needed. Clear cut smart (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals are very necessary. But human wisdom, skill and talent is not enough to live a victorious life: “…This is the word of the LORD … Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  (Zechariah 4:6). On top of our plans and strategies, we also need the direction and leading of the Holy Spirit.

By Spirit-controlled living, I mean a life that is controlled by the Holy Spirit. He leads and we follow. We cannot live a Spirit-controlled life and still have control over our lives so to speak. There must be a place for the leading of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of every child of God, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the [children] of God.“ (Romans 8:14).

Speaking about the Holy Spirit, I am not only speaking about church meetings, prayers, reading our bibles, living a holy life(very important), speaking in tongues, anointing, prophesy, unction and all our other repertoire of “spiritual“ cliches. I am speaking about the totality of our lives. Every other area of our lives—career, marriage, family life, finances, education, entertainment, etc ―matters to God.

A few days away, we will be walking into a new year with its uncertainties and unknown territories. But we have a guarantee of God’s guidance and direction if we will heed to His voice. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left“ (Isaiah 30:21).

Using Your Gifts

“…he gave…to every[one] according to [their] several ability…“ (Matthew 25:14-15).

Everyone is gifted. There are no exceptions. God has endowed everyone with what they need to live a fulfilled life. However, just like the parable of the talents, it’s not enough to be gifted. It’s not enough to be talented. It’s not enough to have dreams and visions. No matter how gifted you’re, you have to step out there and get started. The only time a difference is made is when people step out to use what they have. If you read Matthew 25 further down, you will realize those who made a difference are those who stepped out to use what they received.

The problem with many of us is that we sit in the stands “spectatoring“ and cheering people who are using their gifts on without doing anything with ours. I am in no way saying it’s wrong to cheer gifted people on. We all need encouragement and a push, but while you are cheering people on, be encouraged with what others are doing and get to work with your gifts. You can also make a difference if you start using what you have.

There are I believe a number of reasons people don’t use their gifts. Top on the list will be: (i)Fear (ii) Self-doubt (iii) Waiting for the right time (iv) Waiting for inspiration from others to start. You see, it is ok to have fears and self-doubts. But those who step out despite their fears are the ones who make the difference. You have a gift—no doubts about, but step out and get things done.

Impacting your World

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life (Genesis 45:5)

Life is not about us only. There are destinies tied up to our lives (beyond blood relatives). Sometimes the routines of life can get you wondering. Is this all there is to life? But life gets interesting if looked at from the perspective of assignment. In this life, we are on an assignment: A God given assignment. An assignment to fulfil God’s will in on earth, an assignment to impact other lives.For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption (Acts 13:36)” Read Genesis 45: 5 above again and note: “for God did send me before (ahead) of you to preserve life“. In other words, whatever evil was done Joseph was part of God‘s agenda to save lives. The nations Israel and Egypt would have been destroyed by famine if Joseph had jumped into bed with Potiphar (taken a shortcut route to his destiny).

Life is that simple. Every life is a life on purpose and assignment. We are on a God sent errand. Life  is a string of interdependence. Like a food chain, we all contribute to the survival of each other. For the sake of all the lives intertwined with our destinies, let’s look beyond ourselves. Our pains, temptations and challenges (I still love the old word problems) are part of God‘s grand design to change other lives. All things indeed work together for good for those who love God. Look beyond yourself, it’s not all about you. Step out into the New Year and impact your world.