Today’s reading: Titus 1-3, Proverbs 27
Titus 2:11-12 –
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.
This time of year is a common time for reflection and refocusing on priorities that did not receive adequate attention from us over the past twelve months. At least it has become a habit of mine. First, I celebrate all the victories of the past year. Then I begin to seek God about what He is calling me to do in the coming year.
For years I would take the things I felt God was leading me to do in the next year and make a “New Year’s Resolution” commitment regarding it. Then you know what happened next. The same thing that happened to every other “New Year’s Resolution” I had made in the past: within three months my resolution had no resolve left to it.
Can you relate? Why is this so common – even with Christians who make these types of commitments they feel the Lord led them to make? Because we cannot fulfill what began in the Spirit by the strength of the flesh. And most “New Year’s Resolutions” are made and attempted to be kept with the strength of our will rather than the power of the Spirit.
Though God may have initiated that direction or new commitment in your life, He will not help your flesh fulfill it. It is a vain thing to try to accomplish what God asked you to do in the strength of your will. That always ends in failure because we are not trusting God while depending on our flesh.
I have good news for you. Grace can do for you and me what a New Year’s Resolution cannot do! This passage of Scripture in Titus 2 tells us the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and to live soberly and righteously. It is not a New Year’s resolution that helps us live this way. It is grace! God’s enabling power He freely gives us when we trust in Him will help us overcome bad habits, sins, and carnal behavior.
God’s grace will also help us live in such a way that we manifest Jesus to those around us. It is not the power of a New Year’s resolution that will transform us. It is grace and grace alone!
Let me tell you how I respond now to something I sense the Lord is leading me to do or some change He is directing me to make. My first response is to agree with Him by simply yielding to Him and saying, “Yes, Lord.” I go on to tell Him, “I will do that by depending on You in me – by drawing on your grace in me because I cannot do it on my own – depending on my strength or will.”
Then I do just that. I walk out my commitment to Him by depending on Him daily and looking to Him. Do I ever fail? Yes, many times. Am I always successful at everything He asks me to do? No, but neither do I allow myself to get stuck on my weaknesses, shortcomings, and failures. To do that is to place my focus on myself rather than on Him.
So, no more New Year’s resolutions for me. I hope not for you either. I just say “Yes” to whatever change or direction I believe the Lord has for my life and then I yield to Him, trust in Him, and remain dependent upon Him as I walk that change or direction out in my life. This type of “grace living” and grace commitments work for me. I am confident it will work for you too!