This Year, Be Everything God Has Declared You to Be!
O LORD God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier—as we enter this new year, we come before You with humble but hope-filled hearts. You have loved us, claimed us as Your own, and declared us to be kings and priests before You. May we listen carefully this day to Your Word, so that we might better understand and fulfill our roles in Your kingdom. May our praises properly express Your glory, and may our prayers reflect our confidence in Your grace. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Our God is a great God! He created this world and still preserves it. He does not ever get tired. He gives power to the weak and renews the strength of all who place their trust in Him!
Jesus was sent to preach a gospel message of spiritual healing and deliverance. When should a person be prepared to listen? Right now, for this is “the acceptable year of the LORD!”
Text: 1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
In Christ Jesus, whom the Scriptures assure us is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), dear fellow redeemed:
With what attitude are you entering the year 2006? It is with one of great confidence? Things went well in 2005. You are young, you are healthy, you have the world by the tail. If you are entering the New Year with great confidence…in yourself, may I suggest that you consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Jesus Himself warned individuals with big plans that they should always add to their thinking “if the Lord wills.” On the other hand, are you entering 2006 with an attitude of caution and uncertainty, perhaps even with feelings of guilt or failure? Things in 2005 did not go as you planned. Problems arose and your weaknesses and at times sins were evident and damaging. Then I would suggest you consider what Jesus’ words in the Revelation can mean for you. Jesus, who sits on heaven’s throne and rules for our blessing, says, “Behold, I make all things new!” (21:5)
May I suggest an appropriate approach to this New Year? Instead of relying on yourself, which so many people in our world do; instead of looking forward through the dark lenses of past sins and failures; strive to see yourself as God sees you and then try to do what God would have you do. THIS YEAR BE EVERYTHING GOD HAS DECLARED YOU TO BE, for God has defined who you are, and God has defined what you are to do! If you understand who you are by the grace of God and pursue that which God would have you do, then 2006 will indeed be a successful year filled with your Lord’s blessings!
Who are you by the grace of God? The apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, (and) His own special people!” That is absolutely amazing is it not? God does not see you as someone who has failed—someone who has eaten too much, or has gotten angry too often, or has spent too much money, or has failed three algebra tests. No, God has defined who you are, and He has chosen these wonderful words to describe you. You may hesitate to agree. You may wonder whether or not these four descriptive phrases really fit, for you may well be all too conscience of the place from which you have come.
Peter speaks of that place when he says that we were “called out of darkness,” that we were “once were not a people,” and that at one point we “had not obtained mercy.” That place of which Peter speaks is the darkness of sin. That place was the fog of unbelief. My dear friends, you and I may be all too well aware of the places from which we have come. We may well bear the scars of our past addictions, or the abuse we have suffered, or that which we have caused others to suffer. We may be inclined to look back with sorrowing hearts—to hang our heads in shame over our past. But listen to the words of God’s apostle. He says to you who are sorrowing over the sins of your past, who have repented of those sins, and who are seeking assurance from God: you have been “called…out of darkness into His marvelous light.” He declares that you and I who “were (once) not a people…are now the people of God,” and that you and I who “had not obtained mercy…now have obtained mercy!”
How can this possibly be the case? It is the case because of the Christ-Child who was born in Bethlehem. That Child grew into a man…into our Savior. Whereas we must confess that we have often and repeatedly fallen into sin, He did not. He was tempted just as we are, but He never fell into sin. He established a righteousness, which He shares with us and which becomes ours by faith. He then went on as our substitute to take on the burden of our sin and guilt, to pay the penalty we deserved on Calvary’s cross, and so to relieve us of the punishment we justly deserve in view of our sins.
It is on the basis of that work of Jesus Christ that God now defines you as “a chosen generation.” Jesus once said, “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16). There are six billion people on this planet. You are among those chosen few—called personally and effectively by God to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit within your hearts. The apostle Paul tells us, “God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9). What was God’s purpose in choosing you and me? Peter tells us that we are “a royal priesthood.” What does that mean for you? Kings have power and authority—priests have access to God. In Christ Jesus you have both power and access! Jesus says that by faith we rule with Him. There are days when you probably do not feel too powerful, but we share in His power. Consequently, you and I can properly approach life with the same attitude as the apostle Paul: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The writer to the Hebrews urges us boldly to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” to the throne of God with our petitions and prayers (cf. Hebrews 10:22). God does hear you and will answer your prayers. We come before God not as beggars, but in Christ as heirs! We can approach with such boldness because God has declared us to “a holy nation!” In Christ you and I are holy! That is how God sees us. It is not because we do not still sin. We do sin on a daily basis, but God assures us that the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin (cf. I John 1:7). Using the figurative language of Isaiah, you can rest assured that “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thought they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool!” (Isaiah 1:18). Finally, God defines you as “His own special people”—His own special possession! It is wonderful to be cherished by someone… anyone, but it is that much more special when your Creator God points to you and says, “You are my own special person!” We cannot but share the joy and utter amazement of the Psalmist David who exclaimed, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor!” (Psalm 8:3-5) My dear friends—THIS YEAR BE EVERYTHING GOD HAS DECLARED YOU TO BE! He defines you to be “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, (and) His own special people!”
Now, act upon these facts! How ought you to act? What should you do? God has defined what you are to do! He says simply and broadly that “you are to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light!” Rather than setting up a whole series of New Year’s resolutions—a list of do’s and don’ts which all too often remain unfulfilled—simply remember who you are by the grace of God and act accordingly! Here are some passages upon which to reflect, as you seek to praise the Lord who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
In Psalm 9:1-2 we read, “I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High!” Remember, there is no one more important relationship for you than your relationship with the LORD! He created you; He redeemed you; He is sanctifying you; He has made you His own; He holds you in His hand right now; and He is preparing a place for you to spend eternity. Give your whole heart to Him! Make it a priority to set aside time within your schedule for worship—private worship, family worship, and public worship. You need time to read God’s Word and to meditate upon it. That which you think about becomes important to you! You need to share your praise of God with others, for what you talk about reveals to others what is important in your life and makes an impact upon their lives. When you are outside sledding or making snow angels with your children take the time to comment on the wonders of creation and how great God must be to make all of those snowflakes, none of which is exactly alike! Make public worship a priority this year. I was visiting with an individual this very week who commented on her youth and how her family never missed an opportunity to worship. Even during the winter, their family did not miss church. Her mother would heat stones and her father would place them on the floor of the horse-drawn sleigh to keep their feet warm, but they were determined to sing praises to their LORD!
Secondly, the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” Always consider the needs of others before you consider your own! Most of the troubles that arise within our lives are caused by selfishness. From the moment sin entered the world, individuals have sought to excuse and serve themselves, while blaming and sacrificing the interests of others. As individuals specially chosen by God, empowered and privileged by God, we can entrust ourselves to God and risk considering the needs of others before our own. We had quite a discussion recently in our Friday Men’s Bible Study on this very matter. We discussed why as Christians we can look out for others and place their needs before our own. It is because of who we are by the grace of God. We are individuals who special to God—He will take care of us. He will never forsake us. We are individuals with royal authority and a direct line of communication with the most power Being over this universe. We, therefore, can take the risk of thinking about others, for we know who will be taking care of us!
Finally, the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Strive to place every decision you make according to the will of God expressed in His Word. What movies should you watch? What music should you listen to? What words should you utter? What places should you go? These are among the thousands of decisions you will have to make in the upcoming weeks and months of 2006. As you make those decisions think of these words? Is the movie you am thinking of attending consistent with the values you embrace as one of those chosen by God? Are the lyrics of the songs to which you are listening encouraging a life of holiness consistent with what God has made you? Are the words you are about to speak befitting a king and priest of God and do they reflect your Lord’s love and desire for mankind? Would those around you who observe your overall life recognize that you know that you are someone special to God and are ever so close to Him?
My dear friends—THIS YEAR BE EVERYTHING GOD HAS DECLARED YOU TO BE! You are by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, (and) His own special people!” Proclaim His praises, as you rejoice in His blessings! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting