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How to keep a New Year’s resolution

By Marilee Pierce Dunker
Dec 31, 2014
Courtesy Marilee Pierce Dunker
World Vision founder Bob Pierce spoke to World Vision supporters each week on his weekly radio show in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Over the past few weeks I have shared excerpts from my father’s radio Christmas messages from the 1950s. (Click to read the first, second, and third Christmas messages.) I would like to end this nostalgic series with a New Year’s broadcast that aired on the last Sunday of December 1959. 

My dad, World Vision founder Bob Pierce, was an evangelist, and his broadcasts often ended with an invitation for people to receive Christ as their personal Savior. This message about New Year’s resolutions was no exception. And that makes it the perfect message for this year’s final God Space. 

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This is the time of year when it is traditional to make New Year’s resolutions, and for Christians, it is a great time to take stock of our spiritual estate. With that in mind, I would like to give you a verse of Scripture to think about today. It’s from the 116th Psalm (KJV). The psalmist asks this question in verse 12: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”

It seems to me that this guy is having his New Year’s time of introspection. He’s honestly asking himself: After all the goodness and mercy that has followed me all the days of my life, what ought I do to please my Maker — this loving, gracious God?

The answer that comes to his heart follows in verses 13 and 14. “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.”

Many of you listening today know there are changes you need to make in your life this next year if you are to be what you must be before stepping into eternity. But let me remind you that no matter how good your resolutions are about your temper or morals or ungodly ambitions, the only thing that will truly help you change is complete surrender of your life to God. 

To do this we must first “take the cup of salvation” by receiving the gift of salvation God provided through His son, Jesus Christ. Come just as you are, yielding your sinful, needy heart to His cleansing power and Lordship. Then, with a transformed heart, look at the promises you’ve made to God and others so often — promises about the kind of life you have lived and the separate little failures and conceits of life that you want to change. Bring them as gifts of love and surrender to the Lord, and then make your New Year’s resolutions, knowing He can do what you can never do on your own.

Some of you have promised before to live for Christ, but time has slipped by and you never really did it. Perhaps you promised to do something in the church or with missions, but you lost precious years in pursuit of other things and now you do not have those years to give. But there many things you can still give to God, such as your prayers and your praise. Don’t wait another minute! Start now to form habits of living wholly to please the Savior. Pay your “vow unto the Lord,” and do it so that others will notice.

What do I mean by that? There are some things you ought to promise God and then burn every bridge so that you can’t go back on your promise. One of the best ways to do that is to openly proclaim what you are going to do before others. Then if it isn’t done, others will know you didn’t do it and hold you accountable. I tell you this from personal experience.

My last word today is this. With all the promises you are making to God this New Year’s, don’t forget the missionaries and those who are pouring out their lives to reach the suffering millions of our world in Jesus’ name. Keep the gospel going out to the parts of the world where men have never yet heard that Christ died for them. And remember World Vision as one of the arms of the church, carrying help to emergency areas — especially to many of our [local] brothers and sisters in Christ who have so little but give so much.

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As I read these last words I couldn’t help but think of how proud my father would be of the 44,000 World Vision staff around the world— many Christian nationals — who bring spiritual hope and practical help to people in poverty. He would appreciate the sacrifices they make, often living without modern comforts away from their families and working in some of the most dangerous places on earth. He would be proud of their compassionate hearts and unwavering vision for positive change. But most of all he would love their personal passion for Christ. 

My father ended his broadcast with this gentle plea:

We would love to have you write us this week with a small gift. But more importantly, remember as you pray for the new year to ask God what He would have you do for the cause of missions.

Marilee serves World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like him, she travels the world, witnessing and fulfilling God’s mandate to care for the poor. Request Marilee to speak.