New Year’s Resolutions

Danish Flags at Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

I only make one single New Year’s Resolution each year. About this time every year, in late December, I select a single verse of the Bible to memorize, and raise up this verse, as though raising a flag on a flag pole, and call this single verse my “Banner Verse” for the year, allowing this sentence, that one verse of the Bible to guide my life and deepen my faith through a full year.

In 2021, I will meditate upon the prophet Micah, specifically the verse found in Micah 6:8. Here it is in the New Living Translation:

O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

This single verse contains the three-fold call of God, summarizing the whole of the Bible:

  1. Do what is right. The Bible is God’s invitation into a way of living, a way that involves doing what is right, what is right in God’s eyes not merely in our own eyes. Doing what is right involves doing justly, seeking justice for people who have faced injustice. Doing what is right involves seeking God’s kingdom here on earth and God’s righteousness deep within our innermost being. Doing what is right is all about allowing God to transform our lives inwardly so that we pursue the ways of God, and not merely our own whims.
  2. Love mercy. The Bible is God’s love story, a history of how God has revealed His heart of love for humans. From the beginning right into our time, God is love, and God calls us to love in the same way God loves us. Jesus tells us we are to love one another with the same love we find in Jesus, with self-sacrificial love witnessed supremely on the cross. We are called to live by God’s covenant love, with mercy that triumphs over judgment. We are called to be lovers, lovers of mercy, lovers of forgiveness, lovers of even our enemies. This kind of love is only possible with the transforming power of God’s love deep at work within us.
  3. Walk humbly with God. The Bible invites us to walk alongside God, to be pilgrims, travelers, to be a people on a journey, step by step, day by day, year by year. In this journey, we are not the trail guide, but we follow the one who is the Trail Guide. We walk humbly with God by choosing to follow Jesus Christ, walking in the Way of Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). There are may ways to walk humbly, but we all need to get “down-to-earth,” to admit we are not in charge of the entire universe, and not even in charge of our own lives. Instead, we profess faith in God who alone is Lord of the universe and of our lives.

In 2021, January through June, the people of Cannon Beach Community Church will all read through the Book of Prophets in the Immerse edition of the Bible.

This volume of the Bible, 444 pages worth, contains three of the four major prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; and all the minor prophets, including Micah. My “Banner Verse,” Micah 6:8 is found on pages 51-52. We will read the Book of Micah during the week of January 11-17, as we follow a 26 week reading plan.

What New Year’s Resolutions have you made that have transformed your life? How often have you made a decision at the beginning of the New Year, a commitment to step into a new way of life, only to become frustrated by the end of January that you’ve given up on the decision.

I invite you to consider a “Banner Verse,” a single sentence from the Bible, even a short phrase from the Bible; one that you will carry with you for a full year, to spend time weekly meditating on that verse, that sentence, that phrase, asking God for help to live what you’ve chosen.

In 2020, my Banner Verse was John 1:14.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I spent a full year meditating upon grace and truth, asking God to fill my life with grace and truth; not one or the other, but a fullness of both, kept in balance, 100% of each soaking every aspect of my life. I have a long ways to go in that journey into a fullness of grace and truth, but I do not regret choosing that phrase as my banner verse for a full year, especially such a year as 2020.

If you decide to pick up this challenge, between now and the end of the year, consider some of your favorite Bible verses of all time. Write them down in a journal and ponder them in your heart. Allow a single sentence of the Bible to surface as the verse you are to focus upon for 2021.

Once you’ve selected your Banner Verse, write it into a journal, or calligraphy it on a nice piece of paper and frame it, then hang it somewhere you look daily to remind yourself of this verse.

Throughout the year of 2021, keep coming back to this verse, to understand these words, this sentence within the original setting. Read the full book in which this verse is found. Ponder the meaning of the verse within the context of the other sayings that surround it.

Seek to live according to the guidance of that verse, making changes in your outlook, your motivation, your way of life, based upon the leading of God’s Spirit of Truth at work within you through God’s Word in this Banner Verse.