Autumn Resolutions

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV). As you are reading these devotionals for the next few days, Mary and I have joined with her sister, Susan, and her husband, Mark, for an extended vacation to Yellowstone National Park. The picture you see here is not one I have taken, but use by permission. I am writing this devotional several days before we actually depart for Wyoming. It is a view from the west area of Yellowstone in September. I am enthusiastically anticipating the things we shall see. However, today, I wanted to begin to write some things surrounding this experience. Today I am thinking about resolutions. God approves of New Year’s resolutions. In fact, God also approves of mid-year, and three-quarters-year, and monthly, and weekly, and daily resolutions. Any and all resolutions for good have God’s approval if we resolve by faith in Jesus. So, as I get ready for autumn in Yellowstone, I would like to encourage you to make some “autumn resolutions.” Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Truthfully, the examined life is not worth living either if the examination produces no resole to change. What examination and experience teach us is that the unplanned life settles into fruitless routine. The drifting, unreflective life tends to be a wasted life. The opposite of this is self-examination. We ought to regularly exam our lives. We should reflect on our regular routine and our priorities each day following each of these exams with resolves for good. Paul encourages this in our reading today.  I find this extremely encouraging. Paul prays for us, “I pray for you even as I write this—that God will fulfill every resolve for good.” This does mean that it is profitable and good to have resolves. God approves of it. It also means that our resolving is important, but that God’s enabling us to “fulfill” the resolves is crucial. Paul wouldn’t pray if God’s help weren’t needed. Solomon knew this well. He wrote, “The heart of man plans [resolves!] his way, but the Lord establishes [fulfills] his steps” (cf. Proverbs 16:9). So, what might be our first “autumn resolution”? For me it is that I would not miss God in every experience of my daily life. Our trip to Yellowstone certainly promises to be much more than routine; however, God is present in every experience of everyday. Missing him in those experiences is a great tragedy. Here, in Texas, during September the Mesquite trees are dropping their “beans.” These trees reproduce easily in Texas. They flower in spring and in late summer they begin to show mature beans on their branches. The birds eat them only to later “deposit” them wrapped in natural fertilizer taking root and growing to repeat the cycle of life. The trees nor the birds need to think about that cycle. God has ordained it. What a wonderful god we have to take such care of His creation. Resolve to notice that care in your part of His creation more each...

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