"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Jesus preaching during His famous Sermon on the Mount
As a child, my cousins and I were quite fascinated by fireworks as any child would be. Obviously, as children (most of us boys), we were excited to deal with "explody" things that lit up the night sky with a loud bang. One of our favorites was the “bottle rocket.” Growing up in the rural area, I’m not even sure what the official name of this mini-rocket was. To us, it was the “bottle rocket.” To use the “bottle rocket,” we would place a glass bottle on the ground (I can still hear the sound of the bottle hitting the gorund), put the rocket in it pointing toward the sky, light it, and try to get away as fast as possible to watch. The “bottle rocket” would shoot high into the sky and then, explode with a loud pop as we all cheered on in awe. Sometimes, we’d tie the fuses of multiple rockets together for an even bigger bang. However, there were times when things did not go as planned and in our rush to light and get away, the bottle would fall over. Suddenly, this “bottle rocket” was a projectile to be dodged instead of observed and enjoyed. Kids everywhere would be diving for cover.
What was the issue here? Why did the rocket not launch off as it was intended to? The bottle holding the rocket was not sitting on a stable, solid surface. In my grandparents’ yard, the yard was not level but was bumpy and hilly. Therefore, the base of the bottle was not on level ground and when the rocket began to launch, the bottle fell over. It could not launch effectively.
Like the bottle rocket, a lot of us will not launch effectively this year because our foundation is not level and stable. On this cold January night, we have already moved onto the journey of a new year, the year of 2017. And as we began to move into this new year, many of us brought with us what society calls, “New Year’s Resolutions.” There is something about a fresh start, a new beginning, per se, that motivates such resolutions. Toward the end of 2016, many of us pulled out our pens and wrote a list of things we wanted to accomplish this year. Some of us aimed to eat right, exercise more, and lose weight. Others committed to being a better person. Others planned to save more money while others aimed to get out of debt. Christians will vow to read the bible more and pray more among other things. We look toward these goals and the new year with determination and resolve.
However, no matter how much resolve we feel at this point, statistics have shown that only 8% will actually accomplish the resolutions they have set before themselves while the other 92% will find themselves crashing and burning into a sea of regret and guilt in about 2-3 months, if that.
As Christians, I feel as if we get started off on the wrong foot. That is, we do not launch toward our goals from a solid and sturdy foundation. NASA will not launch their rockets until the launch pad has been thoroughly inspected. It can be catastrophic to launch from an unstable surface. For us, it can be spiritually catastrophic to launch from an unstable surface. We will launch only for our rocket to fall over, exploding into a mess of self-defeat and discouragement. What solid surface am I talking about? I am talking about the foundation of the right fellowship and relationship with God.
I believe that the main reason that we fail in achieving our goals is because we attempt to accomplish them in our own strength. Clearly, we are weak creatures. The word of God as well as human history reinforces this fact. Our flesh would rather us be slothful, lazy, and wallow in waste, and in essence, is self-defeating. Even though in our minds we aim high, it seems we cannot get any solid momentum because our weak flesh holds us back. Our minds set goals but our flesh cannot accomplish them. This is where a right relationship and fellowship with God can push us on to accomplish what He would have us accomplish.
I believe God is concerned about the success of His children, if the goals are pure and noble. I surely am not preaching a prosperity gospel message or typing a ‘name it and claim it’ type of blog where God is like a genie in a bottle and must bow to our wishes. He is sovereign and not bound to any man. I am simply saying that our Heavenly Father surely cares about our pure and noble goals and would help us achieve them if they bring glory to Himself and are spiritually beneficial to us. I believe that the Lord certainly wants us to take better care of our bodies and get ourselves of debt. It’s simply good stewardship (1 Corinthians 6:19; Proverbs 22:7). I believe the Lord would have us become better people and be the best we possibly can be. The bible is full of great wisdom and advice to be better people and more importantly, godly people. We have no problem setting goals. It is accomplishing them that we have trouble with.
A right relationship with the Father gives us the fuel to push on to accomplish these goals for His glory. Consider this: the majority of the goals we set for ourselves such as saving money, losing weight, etc. are a self-control issue. That is, we have trouble losing weight and keep gaining because we simply do not control our food intake. It has been proven that we normally will eat whatever is placed in front of us, without much restraint. We lack self-control. The reason we find ourselves in debt and not saving money is lack of self-control. We cannot resist walking past that product without buying it. The temptation is strong, we do not resist, and we leave with yet another item we do not need. Also, consider this: of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit in a believer, the last one is self-control ("temperance"- KJV). Conclusion: if we submit to the Holy Spirit who produces the power of self-control among other spiritual fruit in us, He can accomplish these goals through us.
If we are born-again Christians, scripture affirms that we were indwelt by the Holy Spirit as the very Spirit of God comes to live within us (Colossians 1:27) when we believed on Christ. As He takes residence within us, He also begins a “good work in us” that He will continue until death or until Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). I believe that if we submit ourselves unto God in a right relationship and fellowship with Him that the likelihood of achieving our goals will increase. Why? Not because we are strong but because He is strong in us (Philippians 4:13). Not because we able to overcome but because we are overcomers through Him (Romans 8:37). Not because we push ourselves but because He pushes us. Not because we sustain ourselves but because He sustains us (Psalms 54:4).
I must add here that we should not only seek God in order to meet our goals. We should seek God because He is our goal. As we sincerely seek God, we suddenly realize that He is what we really need and want. Through a right relationship with Him, we find out that He is our true desire. As we find our rest in Him, the goals around us will fulfill themselves. When we satisfied in God and His love for us, the uncontrolled consumption of food will lose its hold on us. When we are truly enjoying the presence of God, we will have no desire to overspend because the stuff does not put a dent in the joy that God gives us.
Once we arrive at a place of rest in love and presence of God, the things of this world grow strangely dim. The goals that we once were so concerned about will mean little, for we have found God Himself!
Jesus says it this way: seek God first and all the other little stuff will be added unto it (Matthew 6:33). I believe that if we have the right focus, relationship, and fellowship with God, that our goals will accomplish themselves (He will accomplish them in us). When we are connected to the vine, it’s life flows through us and bears the ingredients needed to actually accomplish noble and godly goals. When we are connected to God, we bear spiritual fruit that gives us the fuel to accomplish those goals to the glory of God.
Our life resolution should be God Himself. Let us pick up our bibles and meditate on God’s Holy Word, which the Holy Spirit uses to set us aflame. Let us spend more time in prayer where the Holy Spirit meets with us and strengthens us. Let us gather with other believers with this Holy Spirit within them in church and receive the encouragement that comes from doing so.
On the foundation and in the presence of God, we will not only accomplish our goals, He will accomplish His.