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My New New Year’s Resolutions




by Omar Miranda

What do you think they are, and will you join me in keeping them?

Whew! I’m tired! Are you? I love Christmas and New Year’s. My tree and all my other holiday decorations are still up. To be honest, I’d love to leave the tree up year-round and just change its trimmings to match the different seasons!

After all the presents have been opened (and some of them returned) and all the fruitcake has been eaten—OK, OK, I gave the fruitcake away—but after all that’s been done, it’s time to write the dreaded New Year’s resolutions.

This year, I’m being realistic and basic. I’m focusing on relationships!

Several years ago, I heard an incredible song by the Christian group 4Him. The song was called “The Center of the Mark.” I think the lyrics most simply illustrate the focus of my resolutions this year (and for the rest of my life). I hope you’ll consider taking on my resolutions too! Here are the lyrics of the chorus and the bridge:

Chorus: “Draw back your bow, let love go. Shoot straight for the heart. With all of your might, set your sight. Take aim from the start to love God, love people. That’s the center of the mark.”

Bridge: “For the world is the target and the arrow is the cross. As we set out on this journey, let’s obey the call from the heart of God. Let us love at any cost!”
Did you get the message? Loving God and loving people are the center of the mark!

So I have two New Year’s resolutions: (1) love God and (2) love people.

Keeping it simple

Jesus was all about keeping it simple. That’s one of the things I love about Him. He didn’t let anyone or anything sway Him from His vision.

Jesus expressed it most clearly in a conversation He had with somebody who didn’t like Him and was trying to trick Him into saying something that would get Him in trouble, possibly thrown in jail, or even killed! But He spoke to the guy anyway, because that’s what Jesus was all about: trying to build bridges—relationships—with people who were against Him. (By the way, what an awesome example for us to follow!)

Here’s what happened: “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor [everyone] as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:34-40, NIV).*

Whoa! Jesus just gave us the bottom line. The best thing that you and I can do—the thing that most pleases God and most clearly shows others what He’s really about—is to love God supremely and to love everyone else also.

God’s ten commandments were originally given to the Israelites when they were out in the wilderness. The Israelites were a ragtag bunch of ex-slaves who had just escaped from the Egyptians. They were confused, dirty, and tired, but most of all, they were brainwashed from all their years in Egypt. God had to reprogram them spiritually and morally. The Ten Commandments were His first reprogramming instructions and were given to help the people live long, wise, happy lives in harmony with Him.

What Jesus meant

The first four commandments dealt with how they were to relate to God, and the last six dealt with how they were to relate to their fellow human beings. You can read them all in Exodus 20:1-17.

With the benefit of these background facts about  the Ten Commandments, let’s unpack the meaning of what Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40. He said that all the other commandments and laws were based on the two commandments to love God and to love others as ourselves. Because if we love God, we’re naturally going to follow the first four commandments; and if we love others, we’re naturally going to follow the last six commandments. But how did Jesus say to love God? “With all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And how did He say to love everyone else? “As yourself.”

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Now Jesus Himself is asking you and me to take on those two New Year’s resolutions I mentioned earlier—to love God and to love other people.

Jesus came to earth to show us how to do both of those things perfectly and completely. In accomplishing that, He changed the course of human history and also won the universe-wide great controversy between God and Satan. He provided a way for us to be best friends with Him in this life and to receive the gift of eternal life at His second coming.

Jesus wants us to pass on the great news about all of this to everyone we meet (see Matthew 28:18-20). He wants us to share with the world the same love and acceptance that we daily receive from Him.

Doing all of this isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile. The rest of the month of January, we’ll be focusing on what the Bible says about this topic. Next week we’ll talk about how we can hook up with God and invite His Holy Spirit to live in us. Until then, think about the paradox of a dead man walking.

Happy New Year!

Remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912
*Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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