Have you ever made a deal with the Lord? If you do this for me, Lord, I promise to do that. Please heal me, and I will read my Bible three times every day forever and never miss church again. Or, please pay my cable bill, and I will only watch TV one hour a day…and no sports for the whole football season. Perhaps a new financial goal is set for the new year, or a harmful habit is finally confronted, and a plan is devised to end it. Our hearts are sincere as the words leave our lips, but it all goes south after that.
A popular poll reported that, on average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February. This far into the year, how are your 2022 resolutions going? Strong, I hope, but most of us falter in establishing new habits and disciplines. Often Christians start a new year with great enthusiasm and determination to follow a Bible reading and prayer plan. Inevitably we skip a day, another day, a week, and who can wade through Exodus or Leviticus rapidly after that to catch up? All our good intentions fade away, and we fail to do what we set out to do. We become deal-breakers with God and ourselves, and it happens so quickly!
The Apostle Paul understood deal-breakers. So does God, and He’s made a way for us. In Romans 7:18-25 (NLT), Paul says, "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin."
So there it is. Big, fat, ugly, old sin living in us prevents us from doing right. But notice the turn-around portion in Paul’s writing: "Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? THANK GOD! THE ANSWER IS IN JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD."
Christ IN you, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27 says. Jesus Christ is not a deal-breaker. When He lives within us, He will empower us with His strength and ability to conquer the least or the greatest challenges and disciplines we encounter. If your New Year’s resolution was good and right and pleasing to the Lord, He can help you achieve it with success. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) says. Again in 2 Corinthians 13:3-4 (NLT), Paul reminds us that Christ is not weak when He deals with you; He is powerful among you. Although He was crucified in weakness, He now lives by the power of God. We, too, are weak, just as Christ was, but when we deal with you, we will be alive with Him and will have God's power.
Father God appreciates a good deal. He never backs down from His part of a deal. Simply by acknowledging Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father, God promises us the deal of a lifetime—an eternal lifetime with Him, specifically. When we surrender entirely to the Lord, He makes extraordinary deals with us, just as He has in times past when His people have called on Him.
Exodus 23:20-27 (MSG) gives a remarkable account of a deal God offered the Israelites: "Now get yourselves ready. I'm sending my Angel ahead of you to guard you in your travels, to lead you to the place that I've prepared. Pay close attention to him. Obey him. Don't go against him. He won't put up with your rebellions because he's acting on my authority. But if you obey him and do everything I tell you, I'll be an enemy to your enemies; I'll fight those who fight you. When my Angel goes ahead of you and leads you to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I'll clear the country of them. So don't worship or serve their gods; don't do anything they do because I'm going to wipe them right off the face of the Earth and smash their sacred phallic pillars to bits. But you — you serve your God, and He'll bless your food and your water. I'll get rid of the sickness among you; there won't be any miscarriages nor barren women in your land. I'll make sure you live full and complete lives. I'll send my Terror on ahead of you and throw those peoples you're approaching into a panic. All you'll see of your enemies is the backs of their necks.” Notice all the emboldened promises. His Presence is with us just as strongly today! His power hasn’t diminished.
That’s our Deal-Making God! If you’re struggling to accomplish a New Year’s resolution or experiencing defeat at breaking harmful habits, ask the Deal-Maker to become stronger in you than the deal-breaker power of sin. But deal well with me, O Sovereign Lord, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good, Psalm 109:21 (NLT).
© 2022, Chris Werre