Monday, 4 January 2016


According to an article on the website Statistic Brain, these were the top ten New Year's resolutions for 2015:
Lose weight
Get organized
Spend less, save more
Enjoy life to the fullest
Stay fit and healthy
Learn something new and exciting
Quit smoking
Help someone else achieve their dreams
Fall in love
Spend more time with family
But the most striking thing about the list was the statistics that followed it:  
Only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions.
It's yet another reminder that while good intentions are good, they are not sufficient to bring the lasting and permanent change we crave because they lack the power that's needed!

And the same is true in the spiritual realm.

We can have all sorts of good intentions to read our Bibles more, pray more, serve more joyfully, witness more consistently. But without God's help - we're doomed to fail.

In 1738, the literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote in his diary: '
Oh Lord, enable me to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.' 
Nineteen years later, he wrote,
'Oh mighty God, enable me to shake off sloth and redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin by diligent application of the days yet remaining.'
He wrote some variation of this prayer every year after that.

Finally, in 1775, 38 years after his first resolution, he wrote, 
'When I look back upon resolution of improvement and amendments which have, year after year, been made and broken, why do I yet try and resolve again? I try because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal.'
Good intentions are good, but what we need is God's help to turn short-term good intentions into long-term godliness of character.

And God's help comes as his Spirit applies his Word into our lives - renewing us in his image, reshaping the way we think, repairing wrong habits, desires and attitudes.

The Apostle Paul wrote: 
'All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.' (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If you want to be thoroughly equipped to put into practice your good spiritual intentions for 2016 the solution is not rocket science: read God's Word every day and submit to God's Spirit as he uses it to expose your sin and mould you to be more like Jesus.

And over time, the result will be growing godliness of character, rather than a recycle bin full of failed good intentions.