Christians are not called to specifically make new year resolutions as a mandatory exercise. However, we tend to practice it nevertheless, due to cultural norm. But Christians are to approach this as a spiritual discipline primarily, and not just for physical wellbeing.
Blaise Pascal once said – “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” In this passage, we learn how to find our satisfaction and fulfillment only in God.
“Not only does the Lord through forgiveness of sins receive and adopt us once for all into the church, but through the same means he preserves and protects us there. For what would be the point of providing a pardon for us that was destined to be of no use? . . . We must firmly believe that by God’s generosity, mediated by Christ’s merit, through the sanctification of the Spirit, sins have been and are daily pardoned to us who have been received and engrafted into the body of the church.”
These are the words by John Calvin, a much needed reminder on God’s protection over His bride, the Church.
Too often in our Christian community the resurrection of Christ is seen as of secondary importance. It is neglected and overlooked until Easter comes around each year. The same disregard for the resurrection is seen in the failure to apply this beautiful doctrine in our own personal lives, apart from merely providing arguments for it in our discussions. In these passages, we learn what power the truth about resurrection produces and transforms those who embrace it as the integral part of their walk with Christ.
The unity of the church refers to the union of the people of God, bound to Him and to one another by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s that One blood which saves God’s people, and this same truth produces unity that transcends race, culture, age, and social status. Gospel, when truly embraced, will transform us and pursuing unity among the saints becomes an inevitable reality. In this passage, we learn how pursuing unity in the Kingdom of God is part of gospel witness, and also necessary to experience joy in Christian life.
Our culture is obsessed with the concept of productivity and fruitfulness, so much so that we now have apps on our phones to suggest us of what’s best next, and it is most often focused on the use of time that results in monetary benefit or up-skilling ourselves. It is a kind of “precious” commodity that is meant to satisfy us and bring a sense of joy and fulfillment. But the Bible has a very different approach to the use of time, one that produces spiritual growth, maturity, and see the need to ultimately glorify God and find our true joy in Him. In this passage, we learn what it means to live wisely for God during these times, and see what kind of fruitfulness He calls us to live.
We live in a culture that speaks to us and influences our lives through songs, movies and other cultural entertainment. This kind of exposure is inevitable which often shapes our thinking and lifestyle in subtle ways. But Christian life is not designed to be lived under the influence of this world. In this passage, we learn what kind of pattern the Lord has set for us as Christians, and how we are called to live in accordance with His word, so that our lives are shaped by His counsel, and not by the culture.
We usually express gratitude through praise when someone helps us at a time of helplessness. We also bestow honor and praise to someone who is very prominent in the society. So our praise of someone is often dependent on what they have done for us, or who they are as a person. What if the God of the Bible is both generous or kind towards us at every situation in our lives and also the Greatest in this entire universe? In this passage, we learn how we need to praise God and the importance of doing it.
Right beliefs lead to right living. Our behavior indicates what we actually believe deep down in our hearts. In Christianity, a person needs to know, believe and trust that Jesus Christ died as a substitute for his/her sins, only then that person is saved and accepted by God. However, Christian life is not just about believing in Jesus, but also showing forth good works (right living) as a result of knowing and trusting in Jesus (right belief). In this sermon, we learn that right belief and right living are interconnected in christian life because that’s exactly what the Bible principally teaches.
The Bible is authentic because it is ultimately an autobiography of God. It is the Lord God Himself who wrote this book. He has used human agents and inspired them through the Holy Spirit to pen down his thoughts, but it was ultimately His guidance and his hands (figurative sense) that completed all 66 books of the Bible. What does this mean for us today? Listen to the sermon to find out.