Facing 2021 with Faith
Pastor Oliver exhorts us to face 2021 with faith in Jesus Christ, who loves us and saves us.
I had butterflies in my stomach. I was in my first year of my theological studies and had to take exams. I had a fluttering in my stomach, and I broke into a cold sweat. I was, might I say it, fearful as I took my first exams in a classroom in more than 10 years. Isn't it ironic that a student of theology, or the study of God, was mastered by fear when my study's subject calls for a response of faith?
But fear appears to be the response for some of us even as we face 2021. We had a year of Covid-19 pandemic. And many projections, even with the vaccines now available, put us at end 2021 to control the virus. The resultant economic fall-out from the pandemic is wide-spread and prolonged, and many predictions put recovery only from 2022. To top it off, many countries outside of Singapore face a new wave of Coivd-19 infections. At the time of this writing, the United Kingdom has just gone into lockdown.
I admit I also felt some anxiety. I subscribed to a blog page which providentially dropped an email linking a post ("A Good Word from Charles Spurgeon on the New Year") to my mailbox. It had the Baptist Preacher and Pastor Charles Spurgeon writing, as he welcomed in the new year 1884,
The New Year is upon us, and we would fain look into it if we could, but even the short length of 1884 is further than our eyes can carry us. What then? Would we lift the veil? No, it is woven in mercy, and placed before us in love...
If this New Year shall be full of unbelief, it will be sure to be dark and dreary. If it be baptized into faith, it will be saturated with benediction. If we will believe our God as he deserves to be believed, our way will run along the still waters, and our rest will be in green pastures. Trusting in the Lord, we shall be prepared for trials, and shall even welcome them as black ships laden with bright treasures. Relying upon the faithful promise, we shall be on the watch for the expected blessing, and walk the sea-beach of confidence, casting wistful glances over the waters of time for the swift ships which bring the favours of the Eternal. Calm dependence upon our God will make us strong for labour, and willing for waiting, submissive to suffering, and superior to circumstances.
Spurgeon writes that we should welcome trials, even as we are prepared for them, all the while trusting in the Lord. He encourages us to "calm dependence" on God. What a wonderful exhortation as we, Grace Baptist Church, face 2021. We can face 2021 with faith because we know God's character and have seen God's faithfulness in Scripture and at the cross, to fulfil His promise to rescue a people for Himself. Even if the situation before us seems uncertain, and we face anxieties, we can trust God's character. We can have faith that God will be faithful to keep His promises.
The plaque on the supporting pillar in our church calls us to this trust and faith.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore, I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Our God is a God of steadfast love and endless mercies. He is faithful to His character: which means God is obligated by His character to love us. Let me say that again. God, because He is a God of love, will love us. But He is not obligated to bless us in the way we expect Him to. So, might it be that the trials and difficulties we will face in 2021 are an expression of God's love for us? It can be God's way of shaking loose the hold of idols in our lives, deepening and strengthening our trust, and a drawing of ourselves closer to God in intimacy and dependence. This, my friends, is what we can hope in because this is who our God is.
And God's faithfulness culminates at the cross, where His son, our Lord and Saviour, died in our place for our sins so that in Him we might inherit God's salvation blessings. All of God's promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ: "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (2 Cor1:20) God has been faithful to keep his promises: they are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So, as believers, who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ, we can be confident that God has and will keep His promises. We will receive forgiveness of sins and inherit eternal salvation, blessings forever! This is true despite how 2021 may turn out. And our response? To steward this good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and herald it to a world that needs to hear it, especially in 2021.
Grace Baptist Church, as we face 2021, let us face it with faith in Jesus Christ, who loves us and saves us, and may we go with the benediction by St Paul in Romans 15:13:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope."
1. At GBC, it is crucial to us that newcomers understand clearly what manner of church to which God has led them. If you are interested in becoming a covenant member of Grace Baptist Church, we strongly encourage you to join Church Matters to discover who we are, what we believe, and why we exist. Our next Church Matters class will be held in person from 11am-1230pm on January 17, 24, and 31 in Rm 516-519. Register here.
2. We are continuing in our sermon series in the Gospel of Luke. As part of this series, we are covering a mini-series on "Living by Faith" from Luke 17-18. Do join us for our Saturday 5pm (from 16 January 2021) and Sunday 9am services in person, or our livestream service via YouTube on 9am on Sunday.
3. We need volunteers for the second service in the following areas:
- Worship Leaders;
- Sound Team; and
- AV (projectionists)
- Ushers; and
- Covid-19 safety volunteers
- Volunteers to steward the offerings
If you are interested in serving in any of the above areas, please drop Pastor Ollie at email at firstname.lastname@example.org.