What is a Christian? Have you asked yourself that question lately? A Christian is not a person who believes in a set of doctrines or prays to God or has a particular way of seeing the world. A Christian is someone who has been drawn into a relationship with their Father in heaven through Jesus Christ and his work on our behalf in the power of the Holy Spirit and knows and lives in that place. God desires the whole world to be Christian. To be Christian first, before we are good or Godly or do Christian things like share the gospel. If we are truly Christian then these things will follow. Jesus is the one who shares and leads us into the place of intimacy and power because only He knows what it is like. We need to set our eyes on him. That's what I think God wants for all of us in 2019. To be a people focused on Jesus.
After his baptism and temptation Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God for God’s task. This task was prophesied by Isaiah centuries before and Jesus knows that it is fulfilled in him. That task is to proclaim good new to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed and the present time of God’s favour and grace to the world. He proclaims it. It’s an announcement, not an instruction. It’s no longer even a promise. That’s why it is good news. It’s not fake news or an empty promise. It’s a promise fulfilled and a promise that continues to change the world.
We’ve more than likely all had times in our lives when we’ve felt like God is at a distance, and a quick read through the scriptures reveals that many of our heroes of the faith felt the same. In Psalm 13 we read David’s words of lament, when he felt as though God was distant, and we also see his reassurance that God is faithful despite our feelings. I hope today that you will walk away feeling encouraged by the abundant grace of God, which demonstrates God’s faithfulness to us, whether we feel it or not!
The life and ministry of Jesus was, and still is, governed by four things that happened one after the other: his baptism, his anointing in the Holy Spirit, his temptation in the desert, and his ministry in the power and authority of Holy Spirit. These four things have the same place and significance in the life of a Christian. We are baptised into Jesus Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit, tested by evil forces, and then share in Jesus’ ministry today. There is no neutral place, but we can be victorious by his grace.
Psalm 16 concludes with the words “You make known to me the paths of Life; in your presence is fullness of Joy; at your right hand are pleasures for ever more”. The beginning of a the year is always a good time re-evaluate what is important to us. There is no greater peace, no greater guidance, no greater encouragement than the presence of Jesus. How easy it is for us to live in Jesus presence without stopping to shelter in it. Our lives might be challenging and chaotic but the presence of Jesus will always be the anchor that keeps us safe in the storm.
The end of 2018 is nearly upon us and a new year beckons with all its opportunities, its challenges and promises. People in Christ will always have a hopeful trajectory when we are a people focused on Jesus. As we know, this is not a promise of an easy life but it is a promise of a blessed life. Jesus himself leads the way. And it is not always what we expect.
We have been designed by God to live our lives in relationship with him, experiencing his peace, hope, joy and love. Oftentimes, life seems a far cry from this and we find ourselves succumbing to fear, worry and stress. God loves us so much that he decided to do something about this once and for all – he came to be with us and to show us how to live life to the full – even in the midst of our mess.
Trust can be a rare commodity these days. Some people think the only thing they can really trust is themselves and even that is unstable ground. Our happiness is dependant upon being able to trust, but who and what can we trust? The answer is clear when we come into relationship with God through Jesus. Amid all the false promises and noise of this world we need to be reminded that we can trust Jesus. It’s a reminder we need daily if not for our heads then especially for our hearts.