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Sermon 1/13/08
Psalm 54:4 - Resolution Support

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Resolution Support

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul” (Psalm 54:4)

We receive emails at the end of the year that encourage us in one way or another. In December, 2007, my health care provider sent one entitled, “Resolution Support, All Year Long.” They encouraged me to eat healthy foods during 2008 and promised to be there to support me all during the year! Included in the email was a little test, asking several questions about which foods to eat in order to have better health. It was interesting that when I found the correct answer, applause would come from the speakers attached to my computer. I felt – encouraged. Perhaps with their help I can make resolutions about food that I can keep. It’s worth a try.

My wife and I are interested in resolutions right now, and at the first of the year we discussed a different kind of “Resolution Support, All Year Long,” making a list for 2008. In this case, however, the “Support” we would receive would not be from our medical provider; it will be from the Lord God, Maker of heaven and of earth. He will help us.

That’s important because of the many failures associated with keeping “resolutions.” My failure to keep them is one of my earliest memories. When I was little, it was the New Year and my mother asked, “Ronnie, what resolutions are you going to make?” I was surprised at her question and couldn’t think of anything. She made three suggestions, which I adopted immediately because I couldn’t think of anything else. I liked her suggested resolutions for another reason - they sounded easy to keep. But they weren’t so easy after all. It was only a few days or a couple of weeks before I had broken all three. I was discouraged, but also determined that next year would be different. Next year did come, but there was no difference – I couldn’t keep those resolutions either. I needed help, didn’t know where to get it, and gave up.

If you can’t keep resolutions either, you’re in good company. The Apostle Paul was right there with us in failing. Nations and religions have contained millions of people through the centuries who resolved and failed to keep the Law of God. Paul, who was referred to as “Saul” during his early years, made many fervent resolutions. And this sincere man was very surprised when it didn’t work out for him. He said, “…For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…” (Romans 7:15). He continued with these words: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

Fortunately for Paul and for you and me, God has given us the answer to our need and His name is Jesus Christ. God through Paul revealed the problem – We can mean well, but not DO very well. And here is a glimpse of the answer: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). God IN us can do what we cannot do and that is the great purpose of Jesus. His work on the Cross resulted in our forgiveness, which makes us fit in the sight of God to receive His Holy Spirit, who will be our Helper.

Jesus helps us greatly, and He, whose prayers are always answered, said this to His disciples (and He also is telling it to you and me): “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” (John 14:16-17). You are not alone in your hope for a better life. God Himself is with you, and He has pledged to enter your very being, helping you in everything.

My wife and I have shared “devotional” books with one another since before our marriage. It’s our resolve to read a chapter out loud to each other every day. Right now we are reading “Conquering the Kill-Joys” by Bill Weber. It was a gift at Christmas from Aunt Emily and it is interesting. The author included a couple of paragraphs on Captain George Barondise, the “skipper of a beautiful luxury liner.” The man “vacationed on another ship bound for New York, where he planned to visit friends.” This was in World War II, and the ship he was on received word that “Rotterdam had been bombed by the Germans. A third of the city (was) destroyed, including Captain Barondise’s beloved ship.

He immediately thought of his wife and son, but had no way of finding out if they were safe. Yet he still prayed this prayer: ‘God, no matter what happens, help me not to hate. Please guide the thoughts, words, and actions of those who rule over these countries at war. May Your will be done, and Your kingdom come.’ Then Captain Barondise slowly added this plea: ‘God, watch over my wife and son. Before my wife was mine, she belonged to You. Before my little boy came to me, he was Yours. They are in Your hands, Father. I trust You.’ He paused, and then prayed, 'And Lord, help me not to hate Hitler,'” the leader of Germany at that time. He added: “Help me to mean that, O God.

Do you see the beauty and the necessity of the last words of his prayer? It is humanly impossible to NOT hate the one responsible for the destruction of your spouse, child, livelihood, home and career. Have you noticed that many resolve something and pray that it will happen, but it does not. Maybe that happens to you. I think, this year, that we must learn to add the last words of Captain Barondise’s prayer to our own: “Help me to MEAN that, O God.

You can want to do something, resolve to do it, pray for it to happen, and it does not because down inside you really don’t WANT what you have asked. Or you may doubt that God cares.  We know that we should really MEAN what we resolve, what we pray; but part of us simply doesn't want to. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in prayer, BELIEVING you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). Not wanting what you think you ought to pray is just the same as doubting and not believing.

This year, my wife and I resolve that our devotional times will be more consistent and that our times of personal Bible study will grow. We want to fill our home with music from CDs that glorifies the Lord, especially songs filled with words from Scripture. We will make a list of our prayers, answers and blessings. We have a prayer ministry through the internet, but we also want to pray more with local couples on a regular basis. Some of our resolutions may be right for you. Pray, ask for help, and MEAN what you pray.  You will say, “God is my helper... the sustainer of my soul” (Psalm 54:4).

Lord, You are my Helper and my Sustainer. Let my resolutions become prayers, and help me to want, to mean, to BELIEVE what I ask of You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
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Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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