It's a new year and new decade. Metaphorically, there are blank pages before us. With the start of every year, we are given 365 blank page days—use them to the fullest!
2019 was a good year, but if we have faith to believe it, 2020 can be a great year! In fact, a great decade.
Think of all that will transpire in our lives over the next 10 years! Some of you will have children graduate high school and college, get married, you may buy a house, make some wonderful trips, land a new job, get promoted, perhaps start a business and do awesome things for the Lord, to name a few!
At the beginning of every new year, a good exhortation to be reminded of is to draw near to God. James 4:8a says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you." God is always inviting us to come closer, to abide in His presence.
When Samuel, who was to become a great prophet in Israel, first began to hear God's voice, he was "in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was" (1 Sam. 3:3b). He was as close to the presence of God as a person could be before Jesus came. Close to God, in His presence, is where fresh revelation and inspiration flows. To revive your dreams and promises, stay close to His presence.
Sometimes dreams need to be rekindled. Hope is foundational to rekindling vision and believing for dreams to come to pass. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) renews hope for past promises and future dreams, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
During the beginning of this new year, I encourage you to review previous words and promises God has made to you. Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe new life on them and begin to pray in faith over them once again. God is faithful to complete that which He begins!
Paul shared some words to the Corinthians that underscore how faithful God is to us. Let's examine 2 Cor. 1:18-22 closely to discover more about God's faithfulness.
"But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."
In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul was addressing concerns he had within their church fellowship. In this particular passage of the letter, Paul defended his change of plans from visiting Macedonia first to visiting Corinth first (vv. 15-16).
Paul wasn't randomly changing plans or planning from a human or fleshly perspective (vv. 17-18). He wasn't wavering between a yes and no; his travel plans changed, but his ministry was consistent (v. 19). Paul was always a yes to God and a yes to those he ministered to.
As a follower of Jesus, you and I are called as His ministers, His ambassadors. We must ask ourselves, "Am I a yes to God in season and out of season?" As we enter this new year, determine, like Paul, to preach and proclaim Jesus consistently to others—be a yes always!
In and through Jesus, all of God's promises are a yes!
Paul now transitions to how consistent and faithful God is. In Christ, God is always consistent (yes) and never changes.
"For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us" (2 Cor. 1:20, NASB).
Think about the sheer number of God's promises for a moment. Now think about God's faithfulness to fulfill those promises. If you have any doubts about God's faithfulness, simply look to Jesus!
Jesus is the fulfillment and the fulfiller of God's promises because He is their sum and substance. Christians, through Jesus, can say Amen (or "Yes, so be it") in response to God. Jesus is the agent and agency for our Amen!
The AMPC translates 2 Corinthians 1:20, "For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His Person and by His agency] to the glory of God."
Notice that God's promises always find their yes (answer) in Jesus!
God does not lie or change His mind. Humans at times lie and change their minds, but not God! Balaam's second prophecy to the Moabite King Balak, affirms this truth,
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it: (Num. 23:19-20, NKJV).
Notice, how God determined to bless the nation of Israel? The prophet Balaam, despite Balak's attempts, can't curse whom God has already blessed!
In Christ, you are blessed, not cursed! Jesus is your yes; He is your amen always! His promise to you is solid, because you are standing on Christ the solid rock!
God is faithful to watch over His word to perform it. Ezekiel 12:24-25 declares:
"For no more shall there be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I am the Lord. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass; it will no more be postponed; for in your days, O rebellious house, I will say the word and perform it," says the Lord God."
God's promises are backed by His character—He never changes or is inconsistent. This is Paul's point as he uses his own faithfulness to the Corinthians as a segue into God's faithfulness.
Paul explains in Galatians 6 how God watches over the seed you sow, the righteous and unrighteous seed. Paul encourages us to steadfastness because God is faithful to bring righteous seed to harvest in the proper time.
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal. 6:9).
The exhortation is, "Don't lose heart, harvest is certain, there is a due season, wait for it!" There is seedtime and harvest, but God is always yes and amen! He is consistent!
We are sealed and anointed with the Holy Spirit.
"Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
God's faithfulness has marked us as His possession, He has sealed us in Christ. The Greek word from which we translate seal (ed) in this verse is sphragizō, which means "to use a seal to close or to make something secure—'to seal, to put a seal on, to make secure.'"
Further, the Holy Spirit is also given as a guarantee of the seal and faithfulness of God in Christ. The Greek word from which we translate guarantee in this verse is arrabōn which means "the first or initial payment of money or assets, as a guarantee for the completion of a transaction or pledge (in the NT ἀρραβών is used only figuratively in referring to the Holy Spirit as the pledge or guarantee of the blessings promised by God)—'first installment, down payment, pledge, guarantee.'" Arrabōn is also used also in Ephesians 1:13-14.
What's also interesting about this word arrabōn is that if the transaction is not completed, the deposit is forfeited. However, know that with God, the transaction (your redemption, your resurrection) will be finished!
Let this sink in for a moment. You have been marked by God, sealed securely by Him in Christ, who is always your yes. Further, the Holy Spirit has been given as a deposit, down payment money, a first installment, which guarantees full inheritance when the whole is paid latter!
First, the Holy Spirit is partial payment or pledge of our future joys and bliss in heaven! The Holy Spirit gives a foretaste or guarantee of things to come.
Secondly, the Holy Spirit's presence is also a deposit on God's promises to us. You can have assurance of the dreams and promises God has made because we are sealed in Christ and have the Holy Spirit as a deposit.
Delays occur, seasons can seem long, and we can grow weary (Gal. 6:9), but our Yes is in Christ and confirmed by the Holy Spirit—our guarantee of the inheritance to come and of what is available now!
The Holy Spirit Guarantee Provides:
- A kingdom perspective. Isaiah 9:7 (MEV), says, "Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end." When world events are troubling, maintain a kingdom perspective. Remember, of the increase of His rule and peace there is no end! Allow the Lord's presence and peace to sustain you.
As we start this new year, there is unrest in the Middle East, largely due to the Iranian regime. However, keep in mind that last year it was reported the church in Iran is the fastest-growing in the world!
Two factors are involved: Disillusion with the regime has led many Iranians to question their beliefs. Secondly, Iranian Christians have faithfully continued to tell others about Jesus in the face of persecution.
As a result, more Iranians have become Christians in the last 20 years than in the previous 13 centuries combined since Islam came to Iran. In 1979, there were an estimated 500 Christians from a Muslim background in Iran. Today, some estimate that there are nearly 1 million Christians in Iran!
- Confidence in kingdom promises. For example, there are promises of God's provision:
"So, don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need" (Matt. 6:31-33, NLT).
- Promises of answered prayer. Consider the following words that Jesus spoke regarding prayer:
"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it" (John 14:14, MEV).
Finally, "Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24b).
- Promises of healing. "These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won't hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed" (Mark 16:17-18, NLT).
- An eternal view of God's kingdom. The Holy Spirit, the guarantee or deposit on what now is and what is to come, points us to eternity with Christ. He is our blessed hope, the fulfillment of all future hope! Jesus is the resurrection and the life, and He has promised that we too shall one day be resurrected with a glorified body forever to be with Him in God's kingdom. Now that's hope!
What has God promised you that you are still waiting on? Draw near to Him and rekindle those dreams and promises again. Commit your life afresh to Him at the start of this year. Determine to spend time with God in His Word, prayer, service and outreach to others. Believe for harvest!!
Church, God invites us into another outpouring of His Spirit. Don't lose hope or grow weary, but press on to see the fullness of God's promises to us. He will pour water on a dry and weary land when God's people seek Him!
Bob Sawvelle is the founding and senior leader of Passion Church in Tucson, Arizona. Passion Church is a vibrant, kingdom-minded church in the heart of Tucson that values God's love and presence. He is a Doctor of Ministry doctoral mentor for the Randy Clark Scholars cohort at United Theological Seminary (UTS), an adjunct professor teaching master's-level classes in evangelism, discipleship and church planting with the Global Awakening Theological Seminary (GATS) and an online course facilitator for Global Awakening's Christian Healing Certification Program (CHCP) and Christian Prophetic Certification Program (CPCP).
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