Bible School
Now that we have entered in a new year, you can be sure that thousands have made resolutions to do better in their lives. Given how few resolutions succeed, it seemed appropriate to repost this article from last year. It's the perfect addition to those finishing up Rocket Goals...

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new year, a new month, a new week, and a new day for that matter--and as such it held all the potential of a blank slate. Any it's true: anything is possible in the coming year.

Many choose to fill that slate with Resolutions.

People have been making resolutions to mark the new year for centuries, going back at least as far as the Romans. And people have been failing their resolutions for just as long.

According to statistics, somewhere between 50% and 60% of Americans make New Years resolutions, and of those, more than half make multiple resolutions. And yet, few keep them successfully. According to one recent study, as many as 80% of those who make New Years resolutions fail to keep them. Half of those give up within one week!

Still resolutions can be helpful. Research suggests people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who don't make a commitment. And even if our first attempt fails, we may learn something in the process that strengthens us for next time. Of those who do succeed, only 40% do so on their first try. A full 20% don't succeed until their fifth or sixth try!

Improving Our Odds
What can we do to "improve our odds"? Here's five suggestions.

1. Be clear and specific about your resolutions. "I plan on losing 20 lbs by June 1st" is better than "I plan on losing weight." And writing things down can help. Writing forces us to be precise, and documents our resolution. One study showed this simple act can increase our chance of success by more than 40%.

2. Focus on the process, rather than the outcome. If your goal is losing weight, for example, identify one or more specific lifestyle changes that will help, and keep your focus there: walking 3 times a week, cutting-out some fattening food you like, eliminating midnight snacks, etc. Without a change in habits, any progress you make is unlikely to last.

3. Stay focused. Trying to make more than 2 or 3 changes at a time can be counterproductive. And you will have the best success if the resolutions you work on are related. That is, 2-3 resolutions connected with weight loss, are better than one resolution on health, one on marriage, and one on finances. Research suggests connected resolutions help reinforce each other.

4. Monitor your progress. Having an objective measure of success that you track over time and record consistently (daily or weekly) can help in a number of ways. It forces you to review your resolutions regularly. You get feedback on what works and what doesn't. And early success is a powerful motivator, giving encouragement and building momentum.

5. Make a solid commitment. One dictionary defines the word resolutions this way: "a firm decision to do or not to do something". But all too often, there is nothing "firm" about it. Rather than seeing it as a fun but trivial exercise, take your resolutions more seriously. Choose them carefully, and determine to follow through. Solomon put it this way: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.). Similarly, Paul wrote: "whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;).

“Take your resolutions seriously. Choose them carefully, and determine to follow through.”

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The real secret to keeping our resolutions however has nothing to do with us. It revolves around another similar word: promises. And I'm not talking about turning our resolutions into promises. I'm talking about the promises of God.

Regardless of the strategies we employ to be successful in keeping our resolutions--apart from God, our best commitments are often like ropes of sands. Human nature is just too weak.

“Apart from God, our best commitments are often like ropes of sands.”

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But the Bible is full of amazing promises. And these promises are sure: "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?). Learning to tap into these promises gives us access to power that goes beyond our human nature. We are given "exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.).

It is this combination of our "resolutions" with God's "promises" that leads to success. It's the blending of works and faith. Human effort and divine power. Combined, you can pursue the change you seek with every confidence of success!

"Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass" (Psalms 37:5Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.).


Do you make New Years resolutions? If so, how successful have you been at keeping them? What can you do to "improve your odds"? Share a thought in the comments below...

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Posted by Dan Vis on 01/03/24 - Coach
Thanks Robert! Happy New Years to you too. :) Rocket goals is a great class to do once each year right around this time. Enjoy!
Posted by Laurie Wissink on 01/03/24 - Coach
Great Robert. You will find many good tips in Rocket Goals for all your resolutions, task management and goal setting. To tag someone, click on their picture and it will provide a little code in the comment box that will turn into a highlighted link once posted. This alerts them that they have a message.

Dan, note from Robert below.
Posted by Robert Gonzales on 01/01/24
Happy New Year pastor Dan! I do make resolutions. I want to sign up with Rocket Goals to improve my odds at keeping my goals 😃
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/02/23 - Coach
Posted by Doranita Tyler on 01/02/23
Dan, I’ve signed up for Rocket Goals and ready to go!!
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/02/23 - Coach
One nice thing about a class like Rocket Goals is that you spread out your goals through the whole year, and you have a process in place to keep revisiting those goals as your progress through the year. I think that's the real secret to follow through--establishing the process, not just setting a goal. Appreciate your post Doranita!
Posted by Doranita Tyler on 01/02/23
I can be an overachiever in goal setting and what can come with that is great discouragement at times. I appreciate the concept of narrowing my focus based on the 5 points shared. And also understanding that it takes time to change, and I need to be patient and persistent with the process.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/09/20 - Coach
You are very welcome Patricia! I wish you all the best success in whatever you set your hand to do. :)
Posted by Patricia K. Rogers on 01/08/20
I am trusting Gd this year for all the goals and plans I have. Thank you Dan for this post that will help me to focus on Gd and my plans. And I rather trust his plan for me too, Jeremiah 29:11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end., for they are good and will give me an expected end.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/06/20 - Coach
Well said Blaine! You summed this article up quite nicely! And yes, definitely looking forward to coming. Can't wait to meet your church family!
Posted by Blaine Fults on 01/06/20
Dan, Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to having you in our church this coming Sabbath.
Steps to Christ says "our promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand." Rather than making promises to God, we should make a firm decision while claiming the thousands of promises God makes to us in His Word!
Posted by Dan Vis on 12/31/19 - Coach
I got a real kick out of your resolution to not make more resolutions Nicole! That's funny. :)

I probably go to the opposite extreme and plan out all kinds of goals for the whole year. In fact, I work out plans for every aspect of my life. I find it extremely helpful. Like they say, he who aims at nothing is sure to hit it! Did you try our Rocket Goals class yet? Free enrollment ends today...
Posted by Nicole Wall on 12/30/19
I've made a few in the past. Then one year I made a resolution to not make any more resolutions. 😉 I kept that one for several years. A few years ago I made a resolution to lose weight but I believe I made it too broad. I did manage to lose around 10 pounds but I lost focus due to some health issues my husband was going thru. I've decided to try again this year and focus on one "big" resolution with two related "small" resolutions to go with it.
Posted by Dan Vis on 12/30/19 - Coach
Putting things in writing definitely helps. And love your focus on what's truly important. Good post Carole!
Posted by Carole Bliss on 12/30/19
What works for me is making a list
This is something that is thought through, and realistic. Growing closer to Jesus is always the most important goal. What would HE want me to do?
Not to waste the time HE is giving me.
Happy new year.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/15/19 - Coach
Good word Nena, and you are right: it is part of Christian character to have a more prudent, serious attitude and contrary to it to have sloppy, unconsidered, and ultimately failed goals. Actually, a lot of important words in there! :)
Posted by Nena on 01/15/19
“Take your resolutions seriously. Choose them carefully, and determine to follow through.”
This reminds me of attitude, seriousness and prudence. I find it easy to fail at sloppy, unconsidered goals. Thank you for your wonderful article, our determination and god's promise! This year my word is: determination, determination to bring faith into my work and family relationships
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/19 - Coach
Excellent point John. Every aspect of our life needs to be fully optimized to the glory of God.

I am actually going to hit on this much more fully in ROCKET this year, with an all new study on day 7 (and other days). I think you are going to love it!
Posted by John Gilmore on 01/01/19
Having read this memo earlier, I had noticed point #2 under Improving Our Odds. Today, reading through the book, The Desire of Ages, I thought the following paragraph fit well:

John was to go forth as Jehovah’s messenger, to bring to men the light of God. He must give a new direction to their thoughts. He must impress them with the holiness of God’s requirements, and their need of His perfect righteousness. Such a messenger must be holy. He must be a temple for the indwelling Spirit of God. In order to fulfill his mission, he must have a sound physical constitution, and mental and spiritual strength. Therefore it would be necessary for him to control the appetites and passions. He must be able so to control all his powers that he could stand among men as unmoved by surrounding circumstances as the rocks and mountains of the wilderness. {page 100, paragraph 4}

On the next page I find a similar thought:

As a prophet, John was “to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” In preparing the way for Christ’s first advent, he was a representative of those who are to prepare a people for our Lord’s second coming. The world is given to self-indulgence. Errors and fables abound. Satan’s snares for destroying souls are multiplied. All who would perfect holiness in the fear of God must learn the lessons of temperance and self-control. The appetites and passions must be held in subjection to the higher powers of the mind. This self-discipline is essential to that mental strength and spiritual insight which will enable us to understand and to practice the sacred truths of God’s word. For this reason temperance finds its place in the work of preparation for Christ’s second coming. {page 101, paragraph 2}

As I want to and aim to faithfully "prepare the way of the Lord", my personal habits of self-control will prepare the way for His Spirit to work through me. May God help us all to be faithful in the little things.
Posted by Dan Vis on 12/31/18 - Coach
Carole, sounds like you are geared up and ready for ROCKET! :)
Posted by Carole Bliss on 12/31/18
I feel moved to make changes. I believe God is leading. As I begin each day with Him. I want to know Him more, so this is my prayer, and my need for this coming year.
When I write down goals, we are more likely to follow through,as long as this is His plan. He will provide what we need
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/07/18 - Coach
Thanks for sharing Patricia. So relevant, isn't it? :)
Posted by Patricia Jones on 01/06/18
Part of a message on resolutions by Pastor O'Ffill: "Today I was thinking about what to focus on this year, besides the usual. I have come to the conclusion that the best kind of resolution would be something that would not just benefit me my family as well. Now I’ll get to the point. By God’s grace this year, I especially want to be kind. Ephesians 4:3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I am going to put that text on the refrigerator like my wife puts pictures of the grandchildren. This kind of resolution will not happen as result of shear will power but can only really succeed as I let the Holy Spirit in His own miraculous way in an on-going way, change my heart. When the Bible speaks of my ‘heart’ I believe it means the real me."
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/03/18 - Coach
Glad it was helpful Gayle! God is good...
Posted by Gayle Zacharia on 01/02/18
Wow I agree I have never realised before the truth behind the combination of our effort being tied to the promises already given to give us the power needed to perform and carry through on what we promise ourselves to do.Thanjs for the insight.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/02/18 - Coach
Hi Keith! You are welcome. And I love your focus on integrity. That's what keeping our resolutions is all about isn't it? Integrity?
Posted by Lindsay Keith Hanson on 01/02/18
Thank you all for your posts. For the encouragement to use bible promises to help guide our lives. I have chosen the word integrity. In the NLT bible Psalms 119:1Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. states "joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord." I desire to be a man of integrity, one who follows God's instructions. In Proverbs 2:7He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. "He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity"
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/18 - Coach
Amen Elizabeth! Another great verse, isn't it? Promises, promises...
Posted by Elizabeth on 01/01/18
Thank you everyone lets not forget that we can do all things thru Christ ph Philipians 4v13
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/18 - Coach
Glad you found this helpful, Nathaniel! It's better to get stronger than to quit, isn't it? God is good...

Qing, great verses and great words. :) My tendency has often been to be too focused, and not balanced enough. But I love the word "intentional"! I don't think we can be too intentional...
Posted by Qing Ling on 01/01/18 - Coach
Great post, Dan!
I like your application of II Peter 1:4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. with claiming God's promises. And Isaiah 55:11So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. has always been my go to verse for having confidence in claiming/praying God's Word back to Him. I have been doing the One Word 'resolution' for a few years now, and each year I have attached a key bible verse to it. My Word this year is FOCUS: Matthew 6:33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. - although I have a second verse this year that I may still change to /use, but am going to see what I learn from God through the Rocket class process these next 10 days... 2018 is going to be my most intentional year yet!
Posted by Nathaniel C Nwazue on 01/01/18
Thank you for the post. As I look back, making resolution is a big problem for me. Often, I will start but often slack in the middle of the way. However, since I began to trust God and His promises, I can track some progress I have made. I believe that this program will help me.
Posted by Dan Vis on 01/01/18 - Coach
Great posts everyone. We can have confidence God will guide us (Deanna), God does help us to experience success (Ann), claiming His promises does give us consistency and security (Dan), it is so helpful to put our resolutions in our prayer journal (Suzi), and armed with divine power, we are indeed invincible (John).

Thanks for sharing your experience too Gonza! One reason we fail in our resolutions is we don't really have a good strategy for implementation. If you haven't signed up yet for ROCKET 2018, it's still open. We'll be talking about how to do that exactly!
Posted by Gonza on 01/01/18
What a great encouragement this has been for me. In the past I used to set myself New Year's Resolutions, only to find myself forgetting them within the first month of the year, all because there was "nothing firm about them." This would cause discouragement and not desiring to set anymore resolutions or goals.

But the thought that God is more than willing to work with us in carrying out and adjusting the resolutions accordingly is very encouraging. "It is not wise to look to ourselves and study our emotions...We are to look away from self to Jesus." {MH 249.4}
Posted by John Gilmore on 01/01/18
I appreciate the combination of our resolution with God's promise. If God wants something to happen in our lives and we want it, too, nothing can stop it from happening! Romans 8:37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. and 4.
Posted by Suzi Woods on 01/01/18
Thank you Dan for the reminder of the power in Gods Word and for the suggestion to choose promises to correlate with our resolutions. I have done this in my prayer journal and know it is much more effective! Some promises I have chosen to claim that go with my resolutions are. Romans 12:1-21 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God., Hebrews 12:1-31 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds., Psalms 119:11Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee., Deuteronomy 17:19And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:, Psalms 5:3My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up., Psalms 143:8Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.
Posted by Dan Pratt on 01/01/18
Thanks for this post! Another thing God's promises and our resolutions give us is consistency. We may find ourselves in a situation or in a place where we never imagined we'd be one year, or even a few weeks ago, but doing the same things and knowing God is right there with us gives us a real sense of security and peace. Isaiah 26:3Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Posted by Ann Lavenburg on 01/01/18
I look back into my written goals and I can see progress! It is not perfect but definite progress has been made and that is encouraging.
Posted by Deanna Dekle on 01/01/18
Psalms 32:8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.. Definitely a great promise. Yes asking God to be our guide in our choices, we can with confidence claim His promises for success.

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