New Year Twenty Twenty-one greetings to each and to everyone at Bethel Youth Ministry!
This last Lord's Day Pastor Daniel frankly acknowledged that none of us can know what is to come in 2021 despite our misgivings from 2020. But he affirmed to us that so long as we are FAITHFUL we are covered for our number-one goal, eternal salvation, come what may. Pastor Daniel then spent time illustrating for us just why this is so.
He first read to us from Proverbs 21 verses 30 and 31 “there is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. The horse is made ready for battle.” This is by way of affirming that whatever the whiles and schemes of Satan, still our God is superior.
Then Pastor Daniel got right down to it: “Did Covid-ridden 2020 cause you to fall from faith?”
It is a good question to ask, because the common assumption among human beings is that a good God should not cause bad things to happen, or even to allow them to happen. Yes, He does not cause bad things to happen, but from Romans 8:28 (“and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”) that He does allow good and bad things in life to happen together to bring about His purpose, which if we are His children, must be for our ultimate good, though we may not see it.
So, do we trust our God? Many, especially adults who believe that their own estimate of the good in life must also be the way God sees it, will lose faith, if they ever had it, when life does not go according to their own script. Hopefully in BYM we each have not become so old and forgetful that we have forgotten the love of a wise and loving parent and the trust that the mom or dad, who after all is just a human being, still inspires in us.
So then, do we trust our God?
Pastor Daniel read to us from Romans 8:35-39: “ Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: 'For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
By now we all understand that among the consequences of a fleshly body and its moral imperfection is that sin draws us to the opposite of truth. So then, how many times have we asked ourselves: “is God is really with me?” But consider that if He sacrificed is Son on the cross that we each might be redeemed from the imperfection and slavery of sin, how can He not be with us? As Pastor Daniel urged upon us: don't mix up Satan's doings with God.
Inescapably but truly, if we have doubts about God and His purposes it is because we believe in ourselves and our own intellectual and physical powers. This is something that the world all around us strongly encourages in us from our earliest consciousness. We are each to be our own little gods in the playbook of the powers that be in this world. This attitude makes us amenable to their Satanic purposes, glittering though they be.
Again from Proverbs 21:31 “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the Lord.” This is another way of saying “man proposes, but God disposes”. Teacher Rand from many decades of experience will sheepishly confirm that when he has thought of himself as most discerning and clever is when Our Lord has shown him to be most mistaken!
So, Pastor Daniel asked us, the survivors of 2020: are we sick and tired of living in defeat? He urged us two-fold:
Firstly, that we pray continually. Prayer is what connects us to God.
Again: PRAYER IS WHAT CONNECTS US TO GOD. Pastor Daniel wasn't talking about some self-help meditation, but about humble, submissive prayer to our Lord and Maker.
Secondly, that we walk by the Spirit. Pastor Daniel read to us Romans 8-1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. This means that we, each of us, must follow His lead, rather than “living MY life.” By way of example, Pastor Daniel brought up Israelite King David, who was a sinner like the rest of us, except that being in a position of power, he could commit bigger sins than we can, and more readily. Remember the story of Uriah the Hittite's wife Bathsheba and how King David basically murdered Uriah as well as committed adultery with his wife? (read 2 Samuel chapter 11) But what ultimately matters is that for his many large sins King David was also very painfully and humbly repentant before God. That is key. Pastor Daniel illustrated King David's true heart by reading from Psalm 51 verses 10-11: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.” That is what our God wants to see in each of us. As victorious Chrstians we are not even remotely perfect but through the inevitable ups and downs of life in this world we are repentant and submissive – daily!
Hopefully by now we get the message, and we know that our fears from 2020 going into the new year 2021 can be mastered and overridden. We read from Romans 6:14: “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” and we read from 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we imperfect creatures have victory through Christ over sin, then for sure the rest of it – whatever transpires in 2021 – is really just anticlimax.
In true faith we can breathe easily – the victory is already ours!