New Year’s Resolutions :: by Matt Ward

When my wife became pregnant with our first child my attitude changed. I had always been someone who trained (lifted weights) regularly but this took on a different level of commitment during the pregnancy. This was because I was aware that at some point in the very near future, during the next nine months, things were going to change irrevocably.

I had goals that I wanted to accomplish. I had always lifted weights since my teenage years, partly because I played rugby and also because I enjoyed lifting weights. But I had a specific goal. I wanted to bench those dumbbells—the biggest ones in the gym, the ones I had seen only one other guy lift and I wanted to comfortably lift three sets of ten before the end of the nine months.

So I applied myself and focused, changing my lifestyle and my diet. Prioritizing my chest and the bench press whenever it had recovered enough to be retrained. And I saw huge results. Training hard had never been an issue, but diet was. The trade off in my own mind was, “I train so hard so I can eat whatever I like in whatever quantities I want!” But when I was mindful of what I ate the progress went into overdrive and toward the end of the pregnancy my work-out results were even better than I anticipated.

Our Christian lives in 2015 should be like that, especially now that we are reaching the point when even non-believers can sense that something is coming, and soon. Each one of us who hold to a biblical, literal interpretation of Scripture should recognize that at some point in the very near future we are all going to stand before Jesus Christ:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The Bema Seat Judgment of believers. A judgment not for salvation but a judgment of fruit produced during this life. Each and every one of us will stand before this judgment seat. Every  born-again Christian. As this age comes to a conclusion and the signs of the end of the age show increasing convergence, we should be setting our sights on the soon return of Jesus, ensuring that we are about His work,

“Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. … That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded” (Matthew 24:46).

None of us know when the Lord will return:

“Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming”(Matthew 24:42).

I have at times agonized over the Bema Seat Judgment because I know that day will come. As sure as the sun rising tomorrow morning, I know that one day I will stand before Jesus and my life will be opened up before Him. Every single act will be weighed and measured for its eternal value. Every single “good work” will be judged for its worth.

Jesus won’t be judging as a human being does though, simply on the basis of the accomplished work or fruit, but on the basis of the motivation behind it:

“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Proverbs 21:2).

I know that many of the things I have done in the past will be burned “as chaff” (1 Corinthians 3:13). I know that other things may survive the flame and perhaps be turned into precious jewels, gold or silver.

I hope.

Perhaps I hope that more of my “good works” will be accepted than actually will be, but I know one thing, from now until the return of my Lord, I will try every day to consistently be about His business. I know that there is little time left but I am determined to make each day count (in some way), and not because I want to prove myself to Jesus, but because I do not want to be empty handed before Him. I don’t want to stand before Jesus on that day and accept his wonderful gift of salvation and have nothing to give back to him into eternity.

We are told of a group of believers in Revelation who will fall before the throne and throw their crowns before Him (Revelation 4:20). I want to be amongst that number. I want to have something to give back to Jesus.Amongst me will be believers who are saved by the blood of Jesus who will be inheritors of eternal life too, who have absolutely nothing to show for their time on Earth.

The thought that I might be numbered as a part of this group terrifies me.

So I am determined to move forward, to put the things of the past away and focus upon the here and now, and the future. To make the most of the time that is left. This begins with discipline, with training ourselves every daythrough Bible study and regular prayer time. Through committing your day and your motivations to Jesus, through asking Him to keep in your mind the fact that one day, soon, all those who are truly saved will be standing before Him.

Oftentimes when I have spoken with individuals about this they are left feeling powerless, unsure of what they can do and my response is always the same. We can’t all be pastors, we can’t all be great evangelists or teachers. We can’t all heal the sick, we can’t all edify the church. When we feel that there really is nothing we can do, we can be stewards of our own lives and with our own families.

We can be sure that we are living in a way that would please the One who bought us with His very own blood. We can be sure that we are spending time in His Word every day and seeking after Him. We can use our resources responsibly for the church, for our brothers and sisters in need or in any way that benefits our Lord’s kingdom.

And when ultimately we feel that there is nothing at all we can do to contribute to the Lord’s kingdom, we can then do the greater work. We can pray, and pray and pray.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We are never more powerful than when we are humbly on our knees, speaking to the God of all creation. We are never more empowered. Pray for your family, pray for your friends, pray for our national leaders. Pray for the man who lives alone next door, pray for those who abuse and abase you, pray for the sick and the needy. Pray!

Pray for yourselves, your desires and motivations. Pray for opportunities to witness and the courage to step out in faith when an opportunity presents itself. Pray for the people, the masses, who are ambling through life on their way to destruction. Pray that the light of the gospel comes into their lives.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Pray for Israel.

Break down strongholds and principalities. Take your stand in prayer and be committed to it. Become a prayer warrior.

Take command of your life and the way you live. Love everybody and love them deeply, even if they despise you in return.

I want Jesus to not just tell me to enter his rest. I want Jesus to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

I know that many people reading this do too. So start today, and make every day count because there are not many days ahead left.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27).