January 3 - Message Update

Reflections on 2020 – Pastor Eric

God never wastes anything, but He uses all things for His glory and our good

 

Happy New Year!  We are all very excited to have made it through an unprecedented and challenging year and move forward into 2021, but there is the temptation to dump 2020 into the garbage can and hit the reset button.  However, it would be a grave mistake to move too fast and not find value in the past year.  Why? Because God never wastes anything.

 

The imperative truth is that God never wastes anything, but He uses all things for His glory and our good. In fact, many times the biggest life lessons and the greatest developments for us as a Christian come from trial and tribulation. Sometimes God does His best work in the middle of traumatic events in order to wake us up to the reality of who God is and our need for Him.  So, it is essential for us to reflect upon and learn from this past year.

 

Lesson #1 - Redeem the time for the Lord, don’t waste it.  Hopefully, we have learned to value the extra time that we’ve had at home and shelter in place. Yes, it’s been hard and lonely at moments; however, God has been there, and in some cases, we’ve done things that we would have never done or always wanted to do. (Ephesians 5:15-18)

 

In Ephesians, Paul has already given the church a grace saturated theology from the first half of the book. Now, Paul exhorts Christians to not waste the grace of God, but to live out the grace of God. Christians are to be methodical and systematic about how they live their lives. Christians are to redeem the time with purpose and productivity. There are no lazy bones for grace filled Christians, because laziness leads to sinfulness. The great temptation of the day is to cope with an overindulgence of the world, whether it is in unhealthy relationships, the overconsumption of media and food, and drunkenness.

 

God’s wise medicine for the soul is simply a healthy and productive lifestyle. Being productive keeps us off Satan’s path and on God’s path.  A spirit filled life is not just sitting around doing “spiritual” things all day long, but living a fruitful life for His glory.

 

Lesson #2 - Cry out to God and lament for others. Bring God your heartaches, worries, and fears. Give God your hurts and sorrows, and in return do the same for others. (Psalm 4:1-5, 8)

 

The Psalmist has a quiet confidence in God’s righteousness character. He knows that God is trustworthy and will right the wrongs done in his life. The Psalmist laments with honesty to say that things are not right in his life and in the world, and he knows God loves him even in strife.

 

For God never fails to persist in love for us no matter what is happening around us, even though it might not feel like He is loving us.  We exist in the context of a loving relationship with our Creator, so that we can bring Him any care and concern upon our hearts.

 

Lesson #3 - Commit to your essential need for a gospel community. The Christian can’t live without the church and the family of God. The Christian life can never be lived in isolation. We must see the necessity of the body of Christ both on Sundays and everyday. (Acts 2:42-46)

 

The early church anchored itself in the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The Church’s devotion and commitment was first and foremost to the Bible, and God did amazing things in the early church through fellowship, giving, praying, and evangelism.

 

Dr. John Hutchinson, wrote this commentary about the early church in Talbot’s latest magazine, “The church is not a commodity that exists to meet the needs of the individual believer but rather a society of siblings who have decided that the relational health and public testimony of the family of God are more important than anyone’s personal spiritual pilgrimage. For the early Christians “family” was more than an empty metaphor and “brothers” was more than a punctuation mark…”

 

Yes, the church is about the family of God, and you can’t live without a spiritual family. We all need our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray, feed, teach, provide, care, rebuke (yes, rebuke), and love another one. There is no other way to live than with God’s people, so make a commitment to the church today.

 

Lesson #4 - Long for your Heavenly home, not an earthly one. Desire the glories of Heaven, the perfect place of peace and joy. Christian hope assures every believer a future with no more suffering, no more tears, and no more sorrows. (Philippians 1:21-23) 

    

These are the words of the Apostle Paul, who understood shelter in place living as he writes from prison. Paul debates over life and death. For many of us, this is not a struggle, because we want to live as long as we can on this earth, but Paul was emphatic that Heaven was far better than anything on this earth and he couldn’t wait. 

 

However, Paul finds that in his personal wrestling with Christ and Heaven a God-glorifying purpose on earth to further the kingdom of God and preach the gospel, so that Heaven can wait.

 

Ask yourself, has my desire for Heaven increased or not during this past time? If it has, praise the Lord!  But if it hasn’t, then why not?  Do you still long more for this earth more than Heaven?  Do you really know where you will be after this life: Heaven, Hell, or somewhere else? Have you truly trusted in Jesus Christ to save you from your sin?

 

If not, turn away from your sin today and embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10). Repent and believe in Jesus!   I pray that 2020 has grown our affections for the great hope in the Christian faith, Jesus forever!

 

Lesson #5 - Draw near to Christ for soul satisfying rest.  Come to Jesus and find rest for your weary soul. Approach the throne of grace to receive healing for your brokenness, loneliness, and sorrow. (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

Jesus offers His personal invitation to come to Him. Jesus’ offering of rest has two parts with the first being greater than the second.  First, Jesus is using the yoke as a symbol of salvation and freedom from the burden of the Law, and He will save souls from the burden of religion and sin. So, the greater truth is the salvation of mankind was completed by Jesus’ work on the cross, nothing that man can do.

 

The lesser is the application of salvation, that if Jesus can save your soul from the burden of Hell, then Jesus will heal you from the burden of suffering. For God can redeem people from the suffering of an eternity, then God can certainly care for people’s momentary sufferings. Our God is able to uplift our tired and broken hearts from a year of tremendous pain and suffering.

 

There have been many traumatic moments in 2020, but God has been triumphant every step of the way to show Himself to be faithful and victorious no matter the circumstance. Brother and sister, remember we believe in a powerful, faithful, sovereign and heavyweight God, who is able to gently care for our every need and to hear every cry.  For our God never wastes anything, but He uses all things even 2020 for His glory and our good.

 

Praise Songs:

How Great Thou Art, Mighty to Save, Christ Our Hope in Life and Death, Living Hope, Doxology