logo Living Water Christian Fellowship logo
Home Recent Sermon Multimedia Sermons News & Events Our Vision Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

“Got Godly Grit? Putting Resolve in Your Resolutions”

Dec.31 2017 Huron Chapel – Luke 9:51-62


It’s December 31; time to bring out those New Year’s Resolutions from last year we didn’t quite get around to fulfilling, dust them off, and take a good look at whether they should get another go-round.

             CrossWalk, a Christian ministry, a few years back published a humorous piece called “Bible Characters Tweet their New Year’s Resolutions.” Here’s a small sampling that MAY test your Bible knowledge level a bit...

ADAM: “Seems like everyone’s all about high fiber. Me, I plan to eat LESS fruit next year.”

NOAH: “Patent those inventions of necessity I came up with at sea: pooper-scooper & earplugs.”

ESAU: “Hereby resolve to draft Fair Trade Act and enforce it! #saynotostew”

RAHAB: “Debauchery & deception are SO last year.Heart is ready for 12 mos.reinvention & restoration!”

RUTH: “Turning over a new sheaf.Done with multi-faith online dating.Ready for good old-fashioned matchmaking.”

HAMAN: “More hangin’ with the king in the New Year! #Isn’tItIronic”

BALAAM: “For starters, booting all Dr.Doolittle movies from my Netflix queue. #beentheredonethat”

HOSEA: “I’ll get her to love me yet.This is the year.I can feel it!”

(And, some New Testament ones...)

WISE MEN: “This year we’re inventing MapQuest; no more asking a burning ball of astro gas for directions.”

AUTHOROFHEBREWS: “Gotta remember to sign my name on these letters. Last one got out by mistake. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll know who it’s from.”

(And, lastly, from)

JAMES: “No matter what happens this year, count it all joy.Yes, I’m serious.No, I’m not joking.Why R U looking at me like that?”

             Statistically, while about 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 9% feel they were successful in achieving their resolution. What are some of the most common ones? “Lose weight / healthier eating” 21%, “Life/self improvements” 12%, and “Better financial decisions” 8.5%. 1 in 12 – That last group should really sign up for Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” seminar coming January 9, shouldn’t they?

             Did you know Jesus had ‘resolutions’ as well? Luke 9:51 in the NIV tells us of a RESOLUTION on the part of Jesus... “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” The NRSV more closely reflects the Greek text: “He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” The verb here literally means “to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix.” Resolutions take resolve, determination, a steadfast willingness to persevere despite challenges and opposition. Right away we see Jesus encountering a roadblock: Vv52-53 “And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.” Prejudice at play! Samaritans despised Jews, and vice versa. Jesus was forced to change His plans, and still reached His goal, without calling down fire from heaven to destroy them as two of His disciples a little too quickly suggested.

             We’re told that some 42% of people NEVER succeed and fail on their resolution each year. How can we become more “resolute” like Jesus? What is it that godly heroes from the Bible do that enable them to overcome obstacles?


In Exodus 5, Moses and Aaron announce to Pharaoh God is telling him, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh’s response? Ex 5:2 “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

             But the suggestion that the Israelites want to go hold a festival to their God prompts Pharaoh to stop supplying straw by which the Hebrew slaves can make their bricks. Now they have to try to find their own straw and still make their quota, the required number of bricks per day. The Israelite foremen are beaten and realize they are in serious trouble. They go back to Moses and Aaron and complain. It seems that, instead of deliverance, Moses has only brought increased hardship upon his own people. How does he respond? Does he recoil and shrivel into a shadow?

             Exodus 5:22 tells us what Moses does: “Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?” In other words, Moses doesn’t pout or throw up his hands in DESPAIR: he throws up his hands in PRAYER. He makes an important discovery: behind God’s resolution (His determination to rescue the Hebrews from Egyptian tyranny) are God’s RESOURCES. Ex 6:2f “God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.” YHWH the Hebrew name for God relates to the verb “to be” and by extension, to cause to come into being, God is the One ultimately capable of making things happen. So challenges provide the OPPORTUNITY for God to display His glory, show His amazing power, and thus become better known by humanity.


We’ve just finished at the end of November a series on 1Samuel, so we won’t spend long here, but do you remember the severe bullying and taunting childless Hannah was enduring from her husband’s second wife? 1Sam 1:7 “Her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat.” What was Hannah’s response – to just chuck it all and throw in the towel? V10 “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.” She vowed if God gave her a son, she would give him back to the Lord all his life. How did that turn out? V20 “So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."” The text note says “Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for heard of God.” Are you one of those people who suppose God’s part deaf, He needs hearing aids? God made the human ear, does He not hear?! (Ps 94:9) Moses discovered God’s resources are available, just waiting to be displayed; Hannah discovered God’s hearing is directed toward His servants, He delights to receive the prayer of the righteous and answer their prayer. Proverbs 15:8 “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”


You may have heard a recent disagreement between the North Huron council and its fire department resulted in the volunteer firemen resigning for a brief period of time – though citizens were not in fact left without protection from neighbouring fire services, and the volunteers actually made some emergency responses regardless, until the disagreement was resolved. But how do you feel when there is NO fire department – and everything you had is destroyed, your dreams have gone up in smoke?

             In 1Samuel 30, David has been surviving for years as a refugee on the run from King Saul. A band of warriors has gathered around him and subsisted by raiding Israel’s enemies. David and his men have just returned from a fruitless offer to aid their sheltering hosts the Philistines in war, being rebuffed. They find their town, Ziklag, ravaged by some raiding Amalekites. 1Sam 30:3f,6a: “When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep...David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.”

             Have you ever been there? Weeping until you just can’t weep any more? Bitter in spirit? Worse yet, the very friends you’ve been depending on for help and support, that you’ve grown so close to over years of trials, are talking of killing you? Isn’t that a terrible place in which to find yourself – grief, compounded by potential betrayal?

             What does David do? How does his GODLY GRIT come to the fore? V6b “But David found strength in the LORD his God.” We’re not told how – I suspect prayer played a big part in it. He who wrote so many psalms could quite likely sing his pain out, amidst the sobs. Perhaps he recalled verses from the Torah he had carved on his heart as a youth. But somehow, David “found strength in the Lord his God.” And promptly called for the ephod, the priestly tool by which God’s direction was sought, to know what to do next. God rewarded David’s steadfastness, His resolute determination, by allowing him to get all his family and goods back. (30:19)


Jesus is a model for us when it comes to keeping godly GRIT, staying on track when pressures mount and temptations target. One of the most stressful crises in our Lord’s life was just before He was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Soon He would be beaten, whipped, shackled, and crucified. These were His precious last few moments of freedom, right after they went out from the Last Supper. The text tells us how wrought-up He was: Mk 14:33f “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled."My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them."Stay here and keep watch."” DEEPLY distressed and troubled, overwhelmed, to the point of death – today we might say, “This is KILLING me!”

             How does Jesus stay on track and not crack despite such tension? He turns to God, like Moses, Hannah, and David. V32 Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” Then vv35f “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you.Take this cup from me.Yet not what I will, but what you will."”

             WANTING WHAT GOD WANTS is key: not what I will, but what YOU will; NLT renders it, “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Are you willing to put first God’s plan, God’s priorities, even if that means inconvenience and hardship or even death for you? People make New Year’s resolutions because they WANT something to be different about their life – to look different, to have more spending power, to feel better about themselves, etc. But do they really want GOD’S PRIORITIES? Are they putting Him first? Mt 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Do we really want God and HIS goals, or just the add-ons He supplies?

             The other interesting thing here is that Jesus turns to His companions for support in addition to turning to God. He is the miracle-working Son of God, the eternal second member of the Trinity – yet He wants His closest friends to be close by for Him to “lean on” as it were. He didn’t have to have ANYONE there in the Garden where He’d be praying! But v33 tells us, “He took Peter, James, and John with him...” V37 “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?"” NLT “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?”

             God plants us into a church so we can BE THERE for one another, supporting each other, caring for and calling one another, standing by each other. Just knowing another person cares what you’re going through makes SUCH a difference!


David’s men talked of stoning him; but Paul’s opponents actually did it, they stoned him – a punishment designed to be fatal. At Lystra, at first Paul and Barnabas are received enthusiastically after Paul heals a man with crippled feet, who’d been that way from birth. The people seem ready to even sacrifice to them, and would have had the apostles not stopped them.

             But the enthusiasm was not to last. Acts 14:19 “Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over.They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.” He could well have been dead – that’s what stoning was designed to do. But what happened next? V20 “But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”

             Amazing! Seems there was just no stopping this man – at least when he had his support circle around him.

             Later on in Paul’s life, just before his martyrdom, we find him at another low point, in prison, probably chained in a dungeon – now THERE’S a depressing place to be! But Godly GRIT takes the form of putting faith in God, that He knows what He’s doing. 2Tim 1:12 “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”

             Though in a dingy dungeon, still Paul doesn’t complain much about his restrictive physical conditions. What’s he mention to the younger man Timothy he’s mentoring? 2Tim 1:15 “You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.” However others have stepped into their place; Vv16-17 “May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.” This one man, Onesiphorus, searched painstakingly for Paul and repeatedly - “often” refreshed Paul.

             Whom do you have refreshing you, standing by you in your “dungeon” deepest darkest moments? And whom are YOU refreshing? Godly companions inspire us to stand resolute, to have Godly Grit and keep on even when the prospects are not bright.


You are an Evangelical MISSIONARY church. The world is your mission field. When you’re on mission, when you arrive as a missionary in a foreign context, you have to be adaptable. Often your expectations are forced to change the minute you set foot out of the airplane.

             Right now Carly is experiencing a taste of the mission field. She’s finding out she can’t just carry on as she normally would: Uganda is not Southern Ontario! She can’t just go into town whenever she likes by herself. She can’t just cross the street expecting cars to slow down for her and obey traffic rules as they would here.

             Yvonne and I served as missionaries in Nigeria for 4 months and People’s Republic of Congo for nearly 2 years. I trained at a rehabilitation farm for blind people. But when I got to Congo, I found much of my time was taken up finding a location for the country’s first National Institute for the Blind – something that wasn’t in my job description, or even in my training. On the mission field, you have to be ADAPTABLE. Changing settings require changing strategies.

             At the end of our Luke 9 Scripture reading, Jesus quickly challenges three would-be followers to greater RESOLUTENESS. There are 3 areas: COMFORT, CONVENTION, and COMMITMENTS.

             First, comfort. Don’t we North Americans LOVE our creature comforts? Our cappuccinos, our “man caves” complete with 77" screens, our spa days... Being a Christian may require you to give up some of those comforts. Lk 9:57f “As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."” Are you prepared to be adaptable? Are you ready to “rough it”, to go without those creature comforts if need be? To put more in the church’s budget for missions even if it means eating fewer buffets?

             Second, Kingdom resoluteness challenges our CONVENTIONS. Culture expects you to behave a certain way, but belonging to Christ may require you to rock the boat. Lk 9:59f “He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."” Commentators note likely Jesus wasn’t forbidding him to bury someone that had already died – if that were the case, he likely wouldn’t even have been there talking to Jesus – but to not get stuck in a wait-for-the-aging-parent-to-die scenario. Some kingdom needs demand you drop what you’re doing and serve now, else the moment of opportunity is missed.

             Thursday an unexpected visitor at the door had an urgent need for an appliance cart, a dolly-on-wheels because they had to move that day and one hadn’t come with the U-Haul. I knew someone who had something like that; I phoned them. What a pleasure to hear him respond by saying, “I’ll bring it over right now.” Made a big difference to the person in urgent need!

             Last, Kingdom resoluteness challenges our COMMITMENTS. Lk 9:61f “Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."” Are our commitments, even our closest family ones, yielded in obedience to the Lord? This is not an easy one to preach on, because in some Christian circles, family becomes almost an idol...But God calls us to sometimes put family commitments second to what He calls us to for the Kingdom. It concerned my parents greatly when we carried off our freshly firstborn 9-month-old baby girl, their first and only grandchild, to deepest darkest Africa. But we were trying to be obedient to the Lord’s leading. Now I get to watch that same daughter, Emily, leave her young family behind in Alberta for a week or two at a time to head off to Uganda or Sierra Leone in order to manage a non-profit that serves young mothers and orphans. It’s not the “safe” thing to do. It’s not something everybody in our culture approves of, it’s unconventional. It’s an extra strain on her commitments, her husband and his parents who are left to deal with 3 children for a period of time (although they are very supportive of her going). But Kingdom work wouldn’t happen unless God’s people “resolutely set their face” to accomplish His goals and purposes.


In closing, a Forbes magazine article suggests that in order for people to be more likely to succeed in keeping their New Year’s Resolution, one secret is to “Keep It Simple”. The article says it's more sensible to set "small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal," according to psychologist Lynn Bufka.

             What SIMPLE step by way of resolution might God be calling you to take as you stand on the brink of 2018?

             [source: Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story]

A minister tells the story of a man who stood up in a midweek prayer service at his church and gave a testimony. "I was at King's Cross in Sydney, Australia," the man said, "waiting for the traffic light to change. As I stood there someone tugged on my jacket, and when I turned, this shabby-looking man looked at me and asked, 'Sir, if you were to die tonight, where would you spend eternity?' That question haunted me for more than three weeks. I could get no rest as it came back to me time and time again. I had to find an answer to it, and I found that answer in Jesus."

             A couple of years later, another man stood in that same church and gave a testimony that had an incredibly familiar ring. He; too, had been at King's Cross in Sydney, when a derelict man pulled on his jacket and asked him the simple question, "If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?" The man giving the testimony went on to say that that question haunted him for several days and eventually drove him to his knees, and motivated him to give his life over to Jesus Christ.

             A couple of years later, the minister himself was in Sydney. He went down to King's Cross on the outside chance that he might find that derelict man. He stood on the corner scanning the faces of the people around him, and he felt someone tug on his jacket. When he turned, there was a man who obviously was poor and ragged. Before the man could say a word, the pastor raised his hand to silence him and said, “I know what you're going to say.You're going to ask, if I was to die tonight, where would I spend eternity?"

The old derelict was amazed and asked how the pastor knew that . The pastor told him about the two men who had given testimonies at his church, and how they had become Christians because of the haunting question that he had raised when they visited his city. The man was reduced to tears and said, “Mister, some eight years ago I was an old drunk. But then I gave my life to Jesus. I'm uneducated. I don’t know how to say much or do much. The only thing I could think of was to go around and ask people this same question over and over again. I’ve been doing it for eight years, mister, and today was the first day I had any idea I was doing any good at all.”

             Jesus doesn’t expect us to be polished, or to possess the best techniques. What He does expect is that we faithfully do what we can to tell people of their need for Christ and His salvation.

             That man RESOLVED to do one thing out of gratitude for Jesus saving him. He kept at it for 8 years without any reinforcement. He kept it VERY simple – but God used it! What simple thing will YOU resolve to do next? Let’s pray.