Sunday, January 01, 2012

Great Start to the New Year

Last night our church gathered at the home of one of our members to eat and play games and welcome in the new year with a brief message from the Bible and communion. John Anderson, the man of the house, brought the message from Matthew 24-25 and his main point--because it was Jesus' main point--was to be ready for the second coming of Jesus. Although the Lord has longed delayed his appearance, at least from our point of view, he will indeed return like a thief in the night and we need to be prepared.

This message was particularly touching to me because I spent all week preparing a message from 1 Peter 1:13-25 for our church service last night. One of the things Peter instructs us to do there is to "set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v 13). In other words, he wants us to die to all earthly dreams and fix our eyes on the day when Jesus returns, a day that will not only define human history but all eternity as well. Then, having fixed our eyes on that day, he urges us to pursue the holiness of God rather than the passions of this world. He wants us to be ready for the day when Jesus comes.

Peter is calling on us to take action in these verses, that's for sure. But this call to action flows from his understanding of what God has done for us in Christ. According to vv 3-12, God himself caused us to be born again to a living hope in Christ that can never perish or spoil or fade because it's being kept for us in heaven by the God who saved us. He's storing up an inheritance of grace for everyone who has believed, and until the day we receive it he's guarding us as well. That is to say, God is responsible for our salvation, he's responsible for our destiny, and he's responsible for ensuring that we will come into the fullness of that destiny. God, by his astonishing grace in Christ, has done it all for us and all we have to do is receive.

On this basis, Peter issues his call to action. So today, the first day of 2012, let us receive the astonishing grace of God in Christ and put the Lord first in everything we do. Let us love him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength, and let us love one another as an overflow and expression of his love. And as we give ourselves fully to the person and purposes of our Father, may he glorify his name in us and through us, and may he fill us with joy inexpressible!

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