Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . The best New Year's resolution ever

. The best New Year's resolution ever

THE BEST NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION EVER

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (ESV)11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Introduction.

 

This is the time of the year we all make New Year’s resolutions. It would have been interesting to work through the congregation this morning and to listen to every person’s resolve for 2018. Of greater importance though is what the purpose is of our New Year’s Resolutions. So often it lacks depth, and it lacks Christ and His glory. Too often when we make New Year’s Resolutions as Christians Christ is alongside our New Year’s Resolutions instead of ‘in’ our New Year’s Resolutions. I believe that if Christ was IN our New Year’s Resolutions more of us will tend to keep them faithfully throughout the year. We all know that New Year’s Resolutions Fade. For example, I can resolve to me more faithful in worship, and a few weeks from now it becomes a matter on the wayside. Maybe, just maybe it is because Christ was not at the centre and in the centre of that resolution. Why did we make that resolution in the first place, was it simply because we know we failed last year? But why did we fail last year. Is it not because it was all about us, and not all about Christ. Turn with me this morning and let’s look at a few lessons from Scripture that can benefit us greatly.

 

Point 1. The role of your leaders in your resolutions.

 

You might want to give me permission to whip you every time you step out of line as far as your resolutions are concerned. Paul has a different take on this. He says in verse 11: 11 To this end we always pray for you….” Paul understood that one of his priorities was to pray for the members of the churches always. In so doing he reaches into the throne room of God for them for God’s power, resources and purposes. Paul never prayed the shallow prayers we hear so much of today. He did not simply pray the ‘Lord gimmy’ or the ‘Lord be with’, or ‘Lord do this and that’ and that so that we can be spiritual spoilt brats.

 

Paul’s prayer always had substance. In Ephesians 1 he prays that our spiritual eyes will be opened that we will understand the length and breadth and depth of God’s Love for us. His prayers were never aimless and cushioned in meaningless words and generalities. He did not suffer of verbal diarrhoea when he prayed. His prayers were deep, to the point and meaningful. It always had a purpose, that is why he can say: “to this end I pray.”

Why pray? Paul prayed for the people because he realized that everything we have and everything we do, and everything we know comes only through God’s sovereign grace, even though it is not separated from human obedience. Prayer simply aligns the heart with the sovereign will of God. That is what made Paul’s prayers unique. Nowadays Christians in their style of prayer seek to align the will of God with my will. So, my job as pastor is to pray for you towards an end, and in fact we should all be praying for one another towards an end.

So, what does Paul pray for the believers that is of value early in this year. Three things that he prayed for. Firstly, he prayed for worthiness, secondly for fulfilment in their resolutions or resolve and thirdly for power. Let’s unpack that.

 

Point 2. The contents of the prayers of the leaders.

2.1 Worthiness.

 

“that our God may make you worthy of his calling”

 

The first thing that Paul prays for is that God will make them worthy of His calling. If there is one thing we should all desire for 2018 it is just that – that we will be worthy of His calling. We so often fall far short. The question this morning is not whether you are happy with your walk based on your calling, but is God happy. God is the source of your calling, and therefore He makes the rules. We cannot serve Him in a whimsical manner. We must serve Him according to our calling. God makes worthy those whom He counts worthy.

Church family, God called us with a Holy calling, and now we desire for Him to make us worthy of that calling. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:9 (ESV) that it is God 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,” He takes those worthy of death and imputes Christ’s righteousness on us and makes us worthy of life eternal. It is simply another way of saying that we become deserving of the name we bear.

The story is told of Alexander the great putting a young man on trial for fleeing before the enemy. As he tried him, he softened towards him because he was so young and vulnerable. He asked him in kindness what his name was, to which the young man replied that his name was Alexander. Alexander the Great shouted, ‘what is your name’. The young man who was now relaxed said, ‘Alexander sir’. He shouted again: ‘what is your name’ to which the young man responder ‘Alexander my Lord’. Alexander the great grabbed him by his garment, threw him on the ground and said: “change your name or change your conduct.” Now, whether this story is true or not, is this not maybe what God is shouting to all of us, ‘change your name, or change your conduct’. What is your name? Christian! What is your name? Christian my Jesus! What is your name? Christian my Lord! “Change your name or change your conduct. May God make us worthy of His calling.

1 John 2:6 (ESV) 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

2.2 Fulfilment.

and may fulfill every resolve for good”

Surely all our New Year’s Resolutions should be a resolve for good. The Greek word for ‘fulfill’ can also be translated complete or accomplish. One of the problems with our Spiritual New Year’s Resolutions is that we tire on the road, we don’t complete them, or fulfil them. The word resolve comes from ‘eudokia’ which can also mean longing or desire. Have you got spiritual desires for this year, or are you simply going to coast. The Old Testament teaches us that there is one rule to receive the resolve of our hearts or the desires of our hearts for good. Psalm 37:4 (ESV) 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” You cannot live like you want to and enjoy God fulfilling every desire in our lives for good. But those who make God’s agenda their own can expect God to fulfil their resolve. That is why Jesus can say in John 15:7 (ESV) 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Oh, we love God doing things for us, don’t we? Just listen to the prayers of the saints telling God just what we want Him to do for us. Jesus gives two overriding conditions. Firstly, we must abide in Him, and secondly His word in us. God does not fulfil the resolve that comes with selfish agendas. James says in James 4:3 (ESV) 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” I will show you in a few moments how we can live the opposite of our passions, where Christ is our passion.

2.3 Power.

“That God would fulfil ……………………. and every work of faith by his power,”

Two things that always go hand in hand is the fact that God fulfils the work of faith by His power, but it is not apart from our work. Let me give you an example from the church of Philadelphia. Revelation 3:8-13 (ESV) 8 “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

The church of Philadelphia has kept, and God will make, and God will keep. To often we want to see the hand and blessing of God in a life of shallow spirituality with a lack of faithfulness and involvement. The faith of the Thessalonians was genuine, because it produced works. And because it produced work, God, undergirded it with power.

To our last point. So why does Paul pray for the believers, and what should the greater purpose of their resolve be so that God would fulfil it?

3. The greater purpose of the prayer and our resolve.

“12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

What is the purpose of your spiritual New Year’s Resolutions? Why should I pray for you as a leader? Is your resolution all about you and God having to do what you desire? Is Christ in your resolution or he is a convenient passenger as you seek to achieve your goals? Now Pauls’ prayer was not for them, but that the name of the Lord Jesus may be glorified in them according to His grace. Now, if Paul’s prayer was not for them but that Jesus will be glorified, the question then begs: ‘does my resolve or resolutions glorify me, or the name of Christ’. Whether God will fulfil it in you or not hinges on that motive. Daily we see the prophets and great men, crying for God to intervene in our country, because we are tired of farm murders, we are tired of corruption, we are tired of crime, we are tired of violence, we are tired of a bad economy and we are tired of drought. Daniel had a different outlook to matters. Daniel 9:19 (ESV) 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” For Daniel it was about God’s sake and His Name over His people. To glorify the Name of the Lord is to honour and exalt all that He is. Therefore, we need to exalt His supremacy in all things.

When believers glorify the Lord Jesus in all that they do, they will in the end be glorified in Him. We see this principle in 1 Samuel 2:30 (ESV) 30 … for those who honour me I will honour, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” If we honour the Name of the Lord in our resolve we will be honoured, if we don’t, we will be lightly esteemed. To keep the glory and honour of Christ out of your resolve and commitment, is simply a way to despise Him and to glorify yourself.

As we end this sermon, Paul wants you to know that the ability to glorify God in 2018 is only “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” We are saved by grace, we are kept by grace, we wake up in the morning by grace, we go to work by grace, we achieve by grace, we earn by grace, that is why we give according to the grace we have received. James has a right view of this. He says in James 4:13-17 (ESV)13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

James says that we need to be careful to make bold claims, because it is dependent on the will of God, and I want you to know that the will of God and the grace of God go hand in hand. Nowhere will you ever find the grace of God without it being the will of God. And it is the will of God that whatever you have resolved for 2018 be for the purpose of the glory of Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And He will give you the grace to accomplish that.

Christian your service to God and your worship of God cannot simply be a pastime, something you do when there are no other priorities. It cannot be a pastime, it must be your priority, and your priority must have as its focus, the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Make Him your priority and He will fulfil your purposes, and He will give you the grace.

So, the best New Year’s resolution must have as it’s purpose: 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him...”

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: 21 January 2017