Thought for the Week - 7th JanuaryPastor Gareth Watkins
Hebrews 13: 20-21
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
I think it’s important to start a New Year declaring and affirming our beliefs. We enter a new year amidst principalities and powers, spiritual battles, and the trials of life and the world.
The Anglicans have a prayer, called the Apostle’s Creed, which is very apt for this purpose:
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was cruciﬁed, dead and buried.
He descended to the dead and on the third day he rose again.
He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life. Amen.
This prayer affirms our faith and sets a standard as we move forward. Sometimes having a good year is a matter of choice – a matter of attitude. Is 2018 a year when you go on in God, and into the greater depth of God? Are we going to make excuses, or are we going to say to God that we want to know more of Him, receive more of Him and hear Him more? That choice will be felt… by God, by ourselves, and by the people around us. How we choose to go into 2018 has consequences.
We are in a spiritual battle. It’s good to declare and affirm our beliefs to God, because this is often where the battle rages – in our minds. If we want to be blessed, and in the will of God in 2018, much depends on us. We have responsibilities to walk rightly and circumspectly, so we walk the path He wants us to.
The book of Hebrews (above) was written to Jews who had become Christians. They needed encouragement – they weren’t Jews any longer, but were in a far more blessed situation. The book was written to encourage them in their new found faith – not to waver in their faith, but go on with their walk with God as Christians. They’d walked one way with God as Jews, but their walk with God as Christians was a far greater and deeper way. Paul is encouraging them as Christians, not as Jews.
These verses show that God puts everything necessary for us to live our lives completely, necessary for our blessing, and necessary for our spiritual walk. It talks of all manner of things – God working in you and me, God’s will for you and me, God’s intentions for us.
2018 is here and we have some choices. It can be exciting and a thrill to be in God as we move into this year. When we choose what is pleasing in God’s sight, we can know blessing in our heart, and a loveliness of the Holy Spirit singing praises unto God Himself.
If we look in the book of Hebrews, we see Paul fighting for that place in God. He is fighting as a Christian, not as a Jew. That Christian is you and I moving into 2018. Paul writes many wonderful references throughout the book:
“Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” – Hebrews 12:2
“He is able to save to the uttermost” – Hebrews 7:25
“He lives forever to make intercession for them” – Hebrews 7:25
“Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time” – Hebrews 9:28
“We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” – Hebrews 12:28
Christ has saved to the uttermost! There is no need to worry, no need for grey areas, for there is no sin unforgiven if we have given it to Him. He lives to pray for you and me! The world can do what it likes, but if we stay the course, we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken! Praise God for what He has done and what He is doing!
2018 is coming. Do we allow the strains, complications, illness and worries of the world come in, or we you say we’re following after God as hard and as definite as we possibly can?
The verses in Hebrews above have a sense of completeness of the individual in Christ: He will “make you complete in every good work to do His will”. Do we think in those terms? Do we do His will? Do we think of His will? There are times when we fail. But ultimately, He is making us complete in every good work to do His will. Coming into 2018, we need to be doing His will, and not our own in the selfishness of our own lives. We need to go on in this way if we want the blessing, the completeness and be pleasing in His sight.
Will we let Him make us complete in 2018?
Do you think of Jesus as the author of your faith? Do you see Him as the one who bears your sin? The one who intercedes for you when you let Him down? Do we see Him coming back a second time for us? Do we seek to live a life that is pleasing in His sight? Do we see that there is a kingdom ahead that cannot be shaken?
Christ offers us so much more than the faithless, secular, materialistic world. The narrow road might mean we encounter hostility and opposition, but the blessing and protection and overwhelming sense of God far outweigh the troubles that might come for a time. In amidst all the different things that come in life, we need to stay close to God. Earlier in the book (Hebrews 13: 14) we read:
We are here for a short time. Our city is not of this place. Our city, which God is building, will last forever. This city in which we now live, is only for a season of time. Eternity is forever.
We have a wonderful salvation. We have a glorious, triumphant position in God. It’s up to us to walk on in 2018. I encourage you to walk on with your saviour in 2018. Start by declaring and affirming what you believe as blood-bought Christians, and walk on. Don’t slack your hand in the Saviour’s hand. Hold on tighter and press in to do more.
Feel encouraged! Go on in 2018 unto greater things.
This is a beautiful word to read at the start of a new year.