Event of the Year

Event of the Year

I’m sure you’ve noticed that each year almost all the major news organizations and magazines put out a program or an issue recalling people and events that made news during the year. Some magazines, to boost sales, will make bold predictions about the coming year. To those of us who have lived several decades, the world is becoming a more evil place, but I don’t see any magazines publishing about this. There are ominous signs of the Last Days, that should be news events, but if it were not for the Bible, we would be unaware of them.

I used to wonder how the events prophesied in the Bible could come to pass since It openly forewarns us. Since we know the consequences of wrong choices, can’t we prevent these things from happening, now that we know about them? I understand today how it is possible. People reject the Word and ignore it; thereby, fulfilling It's prophesies through rebellion and ignorance.

So now I wonder, how many of those prophesies will come to pass in 2014? Furthermore, if we are in the Last Days, are we looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?

Regardless of the days, there is a passage of Scripture that can help us face 2014. If we will do what it says, we need not dread the future. And if we are still here a year from now, we can look back and be thankful for the events of the year.

1 Pet 4:1-11

1  Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

This verse speaks of suffering, a word that inspires dread. However, we need not react that way. If we are going to be followers of Jesus, arm yourself with the same attitude of Christ—humility, servant hood, and total submission to the Father. Since Christ suffered in His body, we, as the Body of Christ, can anticipate suffering and prepare ourselves for it.

Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.

Suffering for the sake of Christ is an honor. Our willingness to suffer for doing right is evidence of the fact that we are no longer interested in living a life of sin.  God will take us through a multitude of experiences that are not consequences of wrong behavior, but training. They are meant to make us useful in His hands, and to enable us to understand what transpires in other souls so that we will be prepared to minister to them.

2  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

The will of God is for us to walk by His Spirit; no longer by our evil human desires. If we have renounced all self-rule and made Jesus our Lord, our life will be joyful, even during suffering.

Gal 5:16-18 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

There is a conflict between our sinful nature and the Holy Spirit. Are we willing for God to destroy our individual plans and to spend our life following the Holy Spirit? If so, we will not know exactly why God is taking us the way He is taking us. Later we will realize and say—‘Now I see what God was doing!’

The conception which God had from the beginning of Creation was that mankind might be one with Him. This is one reason we go through the things God is taking us through; to conform us to the image of Christ and make us one with Him.

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

None of us are fully conformed to the image of Christ as yet, we are in the process, and our value to God in His Kingdom depends on our development and growth. Therefore, we can anticipate more changes in our character during 2014.

3  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-- living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.

There is a difference between being saved and sanctified by the sheer sovereign grace of God and choosing to spend your life as God’s servant. We all have a life. We all have a choice.  The unbelievers choose to sin, to please themselves.  We can choose to follow Jesus and embrace the suffering that choice will bring us. The intimacy, joy, and peace with Jesus will be worth it.

The average view of Christianity--that we only need to join a church--is a stumbling block. Christianity is choosing to spend every ounce of energy we have, every bit of mental, moral and spiritual life for Jesus Christ, wherever we are. That is the meaning of a servant in God’s sense. That is the meaning of loving Jesus Christ with all our heart and following Him.

4  They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

People think we are strange because we don’t do what they do, we don’t have the same interests they have, and we don’t fit in. Keep in mind why we are here--to be His ambassadors and that makes us different from others. We are in a foreign land.  This is not our home.

Will we endure abuse for the sake of Jesus? Are we willing to be broken bread and poured out wine for Him, as He was for us? If we are willing, then the idea of suffering does not give us fear. Jim Elliott said, “A man is no fool to give up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

5  But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

Not only will the unbelievers have to give an account for their choices, but we will have to give an account for what we choose now. The past is forgiven, we have been given a new life. What will we do with our life in 2014?  How will we spend the time we are given? Everyone will give an accounting someday, so spend wisely.

6  For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

Rom 14:7-12  For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'"  So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The reason we are still here is to preach the Gospel by everything we do and say, because a Day of Judgment is coming! Has it ever dawned on you that we are responsible for other souls spiritually before God?

Ez 33:7-9, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself.

Furthermore, if I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body is affected.  If I sin with my eyes, my whole body and attitude are affected, and that affects my family and the Body of Christ. When once we allow fleshly indulgences, everyone in our sphere of influence suffers.

7  The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

To remain clear minded and self-controlled during these evil days, focus on Christ and things above. Pray continuously and walk by the Spirit. As the end gets closer, the worse things will become. Fear will overcome us if we are looking at the storm instead of Jesus.

It is impossible for a saint, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not spend time with God. A Christian must keep the sense of God’s call and Presence always before him. Spend plenty of time with God; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him.

We are here to be workers with God, ambassadors through whom He can do His work.  Form relationships with people so they can see Christ in you. However, if we are going to be of any use to Jesus Christ, we must first spend a great deal of time with Him, then He can reveal Himself through us to others. Christianity is not being spent in the service of men, but being poured out in the service of our Lord.

God created us to know Him and to have fellowship with Him. God accepts us as we are; however, He desires to transform us and give us victories in our life. We are in a very real struggle with our flesh, Satan, the world, and many other influences that want our attention.

Paul described the struggle in Rom 7:18-19 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing.

The solution to this struggle is found in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Therefore, the only way that we can have victory is by abiding in Christ, spending our time with Him and living according to the Holy Spirit. Only then are we fruitful. Only then are we experiencing victory. The goal is to walk in close communion with our Lord, to spend time with Him, and then to reflect Him to a lost and dying world.

God wants us to know His ways, purposes, and plan for our life. Here are some ways we can experience intimacy with God in 2014.

1. Understand that spending time with God is something that God desires of us and commit ourselves to make that sacrifice. A million things will creep in to try to steal away our time with God. Choose to make your time with God a priority. Set aside a time and place. It doesn’t matter when. Just do it.

2. Pray expectantly. Read with anticipation. Pray before you read that God will reveal something to you in His Word. Think about how you’re going to apply what you read. Read it with a pen and paper nearby so you can jot any thoughts down. Meditate on what you read and think about what it means to you.

3. Share yourself completely with God. We are coming before the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. There is no point in trying to be fake. If you’re sinning, tell God. If you’re filled with joy, doubt, hurt, or fear, share that with God. He is our friend because Jesus provided the way to the Father. He will redirect our thoughts and attitudes to conform them with Christ.

The rest of our text in 1 Peter shows us how we should spend our time with each other in 2014.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

God is love, and it was His love that atoned for our sins. Love is a characteristic of the Holy Spirit in us. Live the life of God that is in you.  When we love each other deeply, like God loves us, that love in us will cover and forgive a multitude of sins that we commit against one another.

9  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Hospitality is hard work and it can be costly to have guests in our home. The fleshly nature grumbles about the work, the cost, and time spent serving others. However, the Spirit of God in us will gladly offer hospitality, because that is part of acting out God’s love toward others.

10  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

This describes God’s Church, operating as the Body of Christ in unity. When you are not here, we don’t have everything we need. We need each other.

1Cor 12:4-7, There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

11  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

In other words, we are to spend our time on this earth for God. In matters of speech and action, we are to live for the glory of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matt 10:39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

We have to realize that our personal life is meant for Jesus Christ. Whenever the call is given to spend our life for Jesus Christ, people say it is fanatical and weird. The counterfeit of total commitment is that misleading phrase “Christian service.” People will do anything, in service, except the one thing Jesus asks us to do—lose your life, give up your right to yourself to Me.

“But surely Christian service is a right thing?” we think.  Immediately we begin to say that, we are off track. Christianity is about the right Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, not the right thing: don’t stop short of the Lord Himself—“whoever loses his life for My sake,” He said. Let’s give ourselves totally to Jesus and let Him choose how we spend our life and time in 2014.

After all, Jesus purchased our lives with His own Blood on the Cross. Whatever we are holding back from Him is part of that ALL we pledged to give to Him when we were baptized. When we received the Holy Spirit, we received a real intimate oneness with Him. This means giving up not only bad things, but things which are right and good, that are not about HIM.  If we have to calculate what we are willing to give up for Jesus Christ, we cannot say that we love Him with our whole heart. Jesus Christ asks us to give everything we have for Him and that includes our right to ourselves. Self-realization must be renounced in order that Jesus Christ may realize Himself in us.

What could Jesus do with a group of people, like us, who are totally committed to Him in 2014? Well, look at what He did with 12 totally committed disciples. We can only imagine and devote ourselves to Him this coming year. The results will be amazing.

Have you given your life to Jesus? When He comes again, how will you be judged? We invite you to confess Jesus as the Son of God, repent, and die to your old life through baptism. Jesus Christ is the only One who has the authority and power to give you a new life, because He is the Resurrection and the Life. Jesus will resurrect you from the watery grave and give you His Life, the Holy Spirit. Come and give your life to Jesus this last Sunday of 2013. This will be the event of the year for you. Then you can begin 2014 with no fear or dread.