It’s a new year and many are looking for an improvement over last year. We change when we resolve internally and decide externally to change. Here's what I mean. A new year's resolution often fails because a resolution by itself doesn't change anyone. It must be accompanied by steps for attaining the resolution. For example, you might say, "I'm going to lose 10 pounds in the first three months of 2023 BY going to the gym and doing increasingly difficult cardio exercises until I reach my goal." Do you see with this example that you must have an action that can potentially give you success? So reaching a goal is not just resolving internally, it is also deciding a path of doing. When you decide to change you are not alone. Change begins on the inside and we do this with God's help because we are His workmanship (see Eph 2:10). The Bible tells us, "for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Php 2:13). Paul wrote to a struggling church saying, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work" (2 Co 9:8). We work as God works. That's how we change by the power of His Spirit.
The picture of Susan and I titled "33 Years of Looking Up" means exactly that! The picture was taken in an elevator, with a mirrored ceiling, on our way up to celebrate our engagement anniversary. It's a metaphor for our marriage. Susan and I just celebrated being together for thirty-three years and we've never stopped looking up toward our heavenly Father. Our marriage hasn't always been easy, but He's good (ref. Narnia, Mr. Beaver speaking about Aslan). I recently read from John 17, where Jesus is praying to His Father. He prayed, "I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn 17:26). I am struck by the words, "that the love with which you have loved me may be in them..." This means that Jesus prayed for the same love of the Father toward Him, to be the same love that is in us! God's love is in us so that we might make much of the Father's name. This is Christ working in us! Colossians 1:27 tells us, "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
I say all this to introduce you to a Sunday School class we will begin on January 8th. It is called "The Art of Marriage." I don't need to cite statistics to remind you that marriages are failing at an alarming rate--even within the church. Most of us struggle with friendships and we're not very good at relationships. This class will help us become better at not just our marriages but every relationship that we have. Please resolve internally and decide externally to attend this class if you want to have better relationships and show the Father's love in 2023.