May the grace of God be with you all in the year 2017.
2016 is now a memory. 2017 is upon us! We would have been blessed if we remember to count our blessings and learn from trials that came our way. God had been in all of them for you.
I would like to invite you to walk into 2017 with the apostle Paul’s injunction: “Pray without ceasing”. On this, Joseph Exell & others in the Preacher’s Complete Homiletical say, “He who prays the most lives the best.”
In Paul’s thinking, prayer is linked with rejoicing. He further affirms, “the peace of God” is the result of rejoicing and praying about everything.
To live this way, I encourage you to adopt for yourself two biblical resolutions: 1) Abide in Christ, and 2) Live and walk in the Spirit
(1) To abide in Christ
Jesus refers to himself as the “true vine” and invites us to abide in him. In the O. T., Israel is spoken of as the vine which God loved and tended. But repeatedly, waywardness and corruption made her barren.
Now it is Jesus who is the true vine. His Father owns the vineyard and cares for it. And as with any responsible vineyard owner, His one primary purpose in growing a vineyard is that it will bear fruit.
But be warned. He will prune the branches that do bear fruit. Pruning is the process (most times painful) that will enable the branches to stay healthy and be more fruitful.
The fruitless branches will be cut off; they’ll dry up, and eventually be cast off.
Why not just abide in him?
(2) To live and walk in the Spirit
As always, this is perhaps the biggest struggle we will have. Our sinful nature stands in opposition to the holy nature of God. When we became Christ’s, he gave us the Spirit of God. We become His temple. To live and walk in the Spirit is to submit our whole nature to the Spirit’s influence, and to God’s very nature itself.
To live and walk in the Spirit is simply an exhortation to obedience—that means we are to give in to the rule and line of the word of God in all we say and do—a rewarding challenge to pursue.
Rejoice and be thankful for Jesus will be there with you in every moment of 2017.
Pastor Robert Chew