What is Your Resolution?

New Year's Sermon  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Before we hear the reading and the preaching of God’s Holy Word, let us go to Him for a blessing over it. Let us pray.

Now hear the infallible, inerrant, preserved Word of God.
Proverbs 16:1-3;7-9(NKJV) 1 The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits. 3 Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established… 7 When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. 8 Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice. 9 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. — This is the Word of the LORD. Thanks be to God.
Jonathan Edwards is regarded as the greatest theologian America has ever produce… I will add thus far. He wrote plenty of theological and philosophical works that are still thought provoking as when they were first penned..... [speak about the resolutions…]
Thesis: “Let us begin our New Year with the greatest resolution ever: living in the light of God’s glory and enjoying it.” From our passage, I want us to be driven by three things. First is our dedication of our plans. Second, who do we dedicate our work to? Third and final, is to remember that God is sovereign over all.

Point 1. What are you planning this year? (V.1-2)

A common teaching method in Jewish literature is using a chiastic structure to make a point. A chiasm are words or ideas mentioned and repeated in the reverse. The idea is to stress a theme for the reader. For example, our Lord did this in the Gospels.
Mark 2:27 is in a form of a chiasm: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” We see the Lord begins with the Sabbath and end.
Proverbs 16:1–2 “The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits.”
Proverbs is the most chiastic structure book in the entire Bible. Look with me at the first half verse 1 & 2. What does it say? Proverbs 16:1 (NKJV) sL The preparations of the heart belong to man… V2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes sL We see in the first half of both verse 1 & 2 repeating an idea of plans or ways. That is very explanatory from these two verses. Which if I were to go around this room and ask everyone what are their plans this upcoming year, I bet I would get some amazing answers. I don’t think there is even one person in here that would say, “I don’t have any plans this year.” Matter of fact, I am willing to bet that there isn’t one person in here that would want 2024 to be exactly the same as 2023. Believe me, I know I don’t. Nonetheless, our first verse in CH. 16 shows us where our plans come from. What does it say? Our preparations or plans derives within our hearts.
Remember, the Jewish idea of the soul, which produced reason, emotions, & desires came from within the heart. Notice what the writer, whom I take it to be Solomon here, is saying. Our plans come from this central origin, the heart. Check this out, our plans reflect the desires of our hearts. Just like when we look at a calm pool and see our reflection, so too our plans are the reflections of our heart. Why? Because in our plans it show us & others what we desires for.
Notice first part of verse two: All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes. All of our plans seem right. Whatever we think and want to achieve, from our vantage point, seems to be good. I think we can hear the voice of our generation in verse 2, — that is, man is the arbiter of truth and he determines his own good. That is evident when we turn on the nightly news and hear a new scandal in politics or whatever. Those who are caught red handed doing something they ought not to do end up defending their actions and excusing themselves of wrong.
Second half of V. 1 & 2: But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.... V. 2 But the Lord weighs the spirits.
Even though we make our plans or think our ways are right, it is the LORD who allows the plans to come to fruition or evaluates our intentions. We hear all the time the phase “good initiative, bad judgement.” Well this is Solomon version to us: you might think your ways are right, but God will judge them. You may think your thoughts are pure, but the Lord will test them.
I think this leads us to a natural question that we must ask ourselves:
When we make our plans, do we consider God’s will? When we reflect on our decisions and weigh out our intentions, do we think about what God would say?

Point 2. Who are you dedicating your work to? (V. 3 & 8)

Moving pass the preparations and thoughts, Solomon focuses on our actions. Look at verse 3 with me. Proverbs 16:3 sLCommit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.” Solomon is teaching his children, presumably Rehoboam, who to commit his work to. The word for commit here is hard to translate into the English though. In the literally sense, it means a stone rolling. In the figurative sense, it means “act in a manner that is earnest and eager to a principle or person.”
What Solomon is teaching that we must commit our to the Lord with great earnest and eagerness, just like a large stone when it begins to roll it doesn’t stop until it finishes its course.
If you are anything like me, I like to look at others in history for insight for decision making. I already mentioned Jonathan Edwards and his resolutions, but how many here has read his resolutions? No worries if you haven’t read his resolutions, Bo may love if we all did but there are no extra brownie points. There are about 70 entries that Edwards penned before He was 20 years old, I promise that I am not going to read all 70. But here are some resolutions that reflects that He was a man who was truly committed to the Lord.
“1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration...”
“3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.”
“9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”
“17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”
“25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.”
Edwards focused on how he might work with all his might to glorify God. His entire life was planned to do everything, with every energy possible, towards God’s glory. He wanted every moment that he had working towards God’s glory. Edwards truly lived out Philippians 3:14 of pressing “toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Before moving on, we need to see the verse that mirrors verse 3. It is one of the most famous “Better-than” Proverbs. Verse 8: “Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice.” One of my first Seminary professors said this about this verse which I can’t help but to share: “Proverbs consistently insists that righteousness outweighs wealth, and wickedness renders wealth worthless. Wealth which may appear as a blessing of the Creator is not intrinsically and invariably good. That depends upon whether wealth is subordinate to righteousness, justice, and wisdom.” Isn’t that so true for us today? We have so many people in the world who chase after wealth by any means possible. At the end, where does it lead them with?
Beloved, are you committed to the LORD? Not in word, but in deed? Do we mediate on Christ’s words from Luke 9:62 when he said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Let us, therefore, keep our work committed to the LORD, especially for 2024.

Point 3. God’s sovereignty over your life (V. 7,9).

Look at Proverbs 16:7When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” What Solomon is saying should give everyone in this room peace. Why? Because it shows that even our enemies are under God’s control. Let me say that again, no one can do anything to you without God’s sovereign permission. And when our ways reflect God’s will, as Solomon is saying here, then we have confidence that peace is possible with our enemies. I like how King David, Solomon’s dad, puts it: Psalm 23:5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
Beloved, I think that is something we need reassurance on today.
I love how the Heidelberg catechism question & answer 1:
Christian, what is you only hope in life and death?” Answer: “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation.”
Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.”
Isaiah 32:17 “The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”
sL A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

That there is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God for all their good. And, 2dly, That God hereby is exalted and glorified in the work of redemption.

Conclusion.

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