As we start a new year, a new decade, we gather together, not under an idea. We don’t gather together under a moral example. Jesus to us is much more than a moral example. We gather together under the name of Jesus, our Savior, who is alive, our living hope. He’s our living hope. The Scripture says this in Hebrews 10 about these moments when we gather together.
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus — he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) — and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…”
This is really encouraging that today you can draw near to him. Maybe you’re thinking, “No, because I have so many things that aren’t right in my life. Things are messed up,” or, “It’s been a bad week,” or, “Eric, you don’t even know how messed up my life is. The Scripture says that we gather together and we enter his presence not based on our goodness but based on his goodness. We enter his presence into the presence of our living hope because he’s invited us to. We can draw near to him because of who he is.
Jesus, we have gathered together in your name, and you are making us new, and we’re so grateful. We want to hear from you today as we’re going to open your Scripture. Thanks for letting us gather in your name. In your name, we pray. Amen.
You can go ahead and grab a seat. Welcome to Mariners Church. Happy New Year. Good to see you today. If you are a guest with us, my name is Eric. I’m the senior pastor here at Mariners. It’s the New Year. You’re going to be getting lots of messages about new products. Driving to church this morning, I was hearing commercials for new things on the radio.
How many of you got excited when you saw the advertisement for the new chicken sandwich at Popeyes? Anybody get the new chicken sandwich? And by new, I mean it’s new even though it’s bread and chicken, but it’s new.
Actually, I was excited about it, because I grew up in New Orleans where Popeyes originated. When I was a little kid, Al Copeland was the founder of Popeyes, and my parents used to drive us by the Copeland House every Christmas because they used to put up these big extravagant light displays.
So when the new Popeyes chicken sandwich was announced, I was rooting for them. I’m excited that there’s this new chicken sandwich. I wanted to try it like many of you. I actually went to the Popeyes in Mission Viejo, and it was sold out. Actually had some people with cameras there for the occasion. Take a look.
Eric: We are in Mission Viejo, outside of Popeyes. The chicken sandwich, the famous chicken sandwich that everyone is talking about has sold out again. I’m trying to let people know it’s sold out before they go in, but they’re still going in. Look at this long line of people, and everyone’s here for this new chicken sandwich.
Business analysts say that it has absolutely changed the fast food industry. There’s this whole debate between Chick-fil-A and Popeyes on who has the best chicken sandwich. Deshaun Watson, the quarterback of the Houston Texans credits this chicken sandwich with healing his eye. I haven’t had it yet. I’m trying to get it. I can’t get it, but it’s supposed to be really, really good.
What really is attracting people to this chicken sandwich is it’s new. It’s the new chicken sandwich. There’s something in us that is attracted to new. Where does this instinct come from? This desire that you have, this desire that I have for something that is new is actually a God-given desire. God gives us this longing for new, but he’s the only one who can ultimately fulfill the longing that he’s given us.
When you read the Scripture, you see this rhythm of new. He’s doing a new thing. He makes us his new creation. He gives us a new heart. This new doesn’t ultimately satisfy but the new that God gives us quenches, it lasts forever, and it satisfies. His new is the real new, the best new.
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Over the next several weeks, you’re going to be hearing a lot of commercials for new. There’s a famous psychologist years ago who developed… You’ve seen him before. His name is Abraham Maslow, and he developed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Marketing executives and business leaders often look at this hierarchy of needs when they market a new product. Here it is. We’ll put it on the screen for you.
The lowest part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the physiological needs or basic needs such as food. The new chicken sandwich is that need. Then above that is safety. So after you get that needs according to Abraham Maslow and others, you then want a next need. You want to have safety. This is the advertisement you’ll hear about a new car with a new safety feature.
Then there’s social which is belonging and love and acceptance. This is every jewelry commercial you’ve ever seen. Then there’s esteem which is where you have some status. You have this need to be known and recognized and this need for power. That’s esteem. That is the commercial for Peloton. That is esteem right there.
Then the highest is self-actualization. It’s really, according to Abraham Maslow, what everyone wants. It’s to where you get to the new you. The true you. The best you. The best version of who you are. Why am I bringing this up? Because those who have studied what motivates us have said that we really want to move up the pyramid. What we really want to be is new people.
Several years ago, when I was still in the corporate world, I worked alongside this consultant for a season who, at one point, ran the ad campaign for a major diaper company. He had his own advertising agency, and he ran the campaign for this major diaper company. I won’t tell you the name.
He, with others, sat and looked at Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and they decided, “How can we position diapers as high up the hierarchy as possible because we don’t want it to be just a basic need. We want it to be high because what people really want is to go high up the hierarchy. So they did tons of research. They brought in psychologists and researchers. They went into homes of parents and interviewed them as they would change the diaper of a child.
What they concluded is the moment that every mother or father was longing for after they changed the diaper of the child was when the child would look at the parent and smile after the diaper was changed. That was belonging or esteem and not just a physiological need. Here’s my point. They so badly were trying to come up with an advertising campaign that would go high up the hierarchy. What they recognized is what all of us want is to be new. We want to be new people. That’s what we really want. We want to be the best version of ourselves.
It’s really an exhausting way to live to try and climb the pyramid yourself. It’s an exhausting way to live with the pressure of having to work your way up. In fact, Abraham Maslow said few people actually get to the top. Few people get to the pinnacle. What if there’s a better way?
The Christian faith actually offers us a different way to live, a better alternative. Not a way where you climb a pyramid to get to your true self, to get to be this new person. But what if there’s a better way?
The Christian faith offers us this. The Christian faith is this glorious story, not of God standing at the top of a pyramid and yelling for you to work your way up. It’s the story of God coming down. He comes all the way down, and he makes us new people. He offers us a new identity. He offers us new. So for the next four weeks, we’re going to look at these different passages throughout Scripture. We’re going to see this rhythm in Scripture of God making us new.
I want us to see today the story in Genesis 32, where God makes a guy named Jacob brand new. Now, if you’re not yet a Christian or your curious about the Christian faith and you’re here, we’re so glad you’re here. You’re always welcome here. This story, I think, is going to help you understand why the Christian faith articulates that God makes us new. It’s going to give you a picture of that.
If you’re here, and you’ve been a Christian for a long time, this, I hope for you, is a reminder of the grace of God, that he makes us new people. In this story, I think you’ll see some things maybe you haven’t seen before. I absolutely love this story.
The story is of an encounter with a man named Jacob. I have to give some background for you to understand this story. We learned at Christmas time that in the Old Testament, to name someone is a big deal because the name is the person’s essence`, their character. Do you remember that from Christmas?
The name Jacob actually means striver. So his parents named him striver. Why would they name him Jacob? Why would they name him striver? When Jacob was born, he was the twin of Esau. Esau and Jacob are born as twins. Esau’s coming out of the womb first, so he’s going to be oldest. Jacob reaching in to grab the heel of Esau as if to say, “You get back in. I’m coming out first,” and his mom named him Jacob because he was grabbing the heel. He was striving. So he’s a striver.
We’ll see in this passage that he has spent his life striving, striving to get to the top. Maybe some of you feel like that. Because of all his striving, things never quite worked out the way he wanted them to work out. He kept getting fooled. He kept being deceived from other people. So all of his striving didn’t really bring him where he wanted to be, but he was always the striver.
In Hebrew, though, Jacob actually has a double meaning. It actually also means deceiver. So he is a striver and a deceiver. I’ve been dreading this part of the sermon because I know there are people in here named Jacob. I even rehearsed (I never rehearse) how I’d say this.
I lead a life group of freshman guys, and two of them are named Jacob. They are awesome, and their families are awesome. So if you’re name is Jacob, I don’t want you texting your mom now upset that she named you Jacob. Because in Hebrew, Jacob means deceiver and striver, but in English, do you know what Jacob means? It means Jacob. Okay? It means Jacob. So if your name is Jacob, it’s fine. It’s fine. Your mom didn’t name you Judas or anything like that. Everything is fine.
But in Hebrew, Jacob means both striver and deceiver, and he lived up to his name. His older brother, Esau, who came out of the womb first, was the one who’s going to get the blessing. In that culture, the oldest son usually gets the blessing.
One day, Jacob dresses up as Esau and goes into his father’s room as his father’s about to pass away and even puts smell stuff on to smell like his brother, so he could steal the blessing from Esau. So he deceived. He’s a striver. He striving to get the top, and he deceives to get to the top. Esau is livid, so Esau says, “I’m going to kill you.”
At this point, Jacob leaves. He leaves for 20 years. He works for a man in a different area named Laban, and Laban becomes his father-in-law twice (crazy story). We don’t have time to talk about that. Then he decides he’s going to come back home.
As he comes back home, he knows he’s going to have to see Esau again, the one he stole the blessing from, the one who says he wants to kill him. So he sends gifts ahead to where Esau is, basically trying to win his approval or buy his favor. Esau, in response, sends 400 soldiers back. Jacob thinks, “For sure he’s going to kill me. I am going to die.”
At this point, he is left alone. He sends his family on in front of him, and he is wrestling, trying to figure out how he’s going to make this work, wrestling with, “What should I say to my brother? What should I send to my brother? How can I fix this?” This moment of him being alone, this moment of him striving and wrestling really is just a picture of his life.
He’s always wrestled. He’s always been striving. He wrestled against his brother. He wrestled against his father. He wrestled against his father-in-law, Laban. He was always striving and always wrestling, and it left him alone this night. Maybe that’s how you feel. Maybe you feel like things haven’t worked out the way you’ve wanted them to work out. This is how Jacob feels.
With all his wrestling, he’s about to have a wrestling match that’s going to change everything about him. It’s even going to change his name. His name is about to be changed. He’s going to have an encounter that makes him new. A new name in this culture is a new everything. He’s about to become completely new. Let’s read this story. Genesis 32. God’s Word says this to us.
“Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he could not defeat him, he [touched] Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.” The word there for touch in the original Hebrew means to lightly tap. “Then he said to Jacob, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
‘What is your name?’ the man asked.
‘Jacob,’ he replied.
‘Your name will no longer be Jacob,’ he said. ‘It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.’ Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’
But he answered, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ And he blessed him there.
Jacob then named the place Peniel, ‘For I have seen God face to face,’ he said, ‘yet my life has been spared.’ The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel — limping because of his hip. That is why, still today, the Israelites don’t eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because he struck Jacob’s hip socket at the thigh muscle.”
This is an unbelievable encounter because, in this moment, his name is changed from deceiver to the name of the entire nation of God’s people. This is a big deal. He goes from being the striver and the deceiver to having the name of the entire nation of God’s people. He goes from being a deceiver to being named Israel, which also means one who fights with God or one God fights for.
He goes from being one who’s fighting with everybody else and striving with everybody else and constantly working and deceiving and trying to get to the top, and he goes to being one who is named, “That’s the one who God fights for.” What an unbelievable transition. What an unbelievable moment just here in this one passage.
There are three things that we see that Jacob does. Three things that lead him to become this new person. We all want to be new. We want that. I want to encourage you to look at the three things that Jacob does, and what would it mean for you to do these three things yourself? Here are three things that Jacob did.
- Meet with God. Jacob met with God. This encounter that Jacob has is an encounter that changes everything about him. Scholars debate who is the man that Jacob met with. I’m going to lead you to the conclusion of who it is. So here it is. Who is the one who is so powerful that just with a slight touch to the hip socket can completely dislocate the hip? Who can do that?
Tua, the star quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide who dislocated his hips just a couple of weeks ago, dislocated his hip when a large defensive lineman from the opposing team landed on him. He fell awkwardly onto the turf.
This is not what goes down in this wrestling match. In this wrestling match, whoever it is that Jacob is wrestling with is so powerful that all he has to do is slightly touch his hip, and Jacob’s hip is dislocated. Who has that power? God has that power.
There was the first clue. The second clue that it’s God is that as the man or as the person is wrestling with Jacob, the person says to Jacob, “You have to let me go before daybreak.” Why is that important? Because in the Old Testament, there’s one person you can’t look at. If you look at this person, you will die. That is God, so God is saying to Jacob, “You have to let me go before daybreak because if you see my face, you will die. No one sees my face and lives.”
The third thing is Jacob knows it’s God because Jacob renames the place, “This is where I saw God face to face.” God renamed me from Jacob to Israel, and I’m renaming this place. Jacob met with God. This is what I want you to understand about meeting with God. Jacob went into this night of wrestling with God, and his desire was for the circumstance in his life to change.
He’s about to meet with Esau. He does not want this encounter to happen with Esau. He’s about to figure out how much money or how many gifts or what can he say to make things right with Esau. He wants this circumstance to change. So he wrestles with God in prayer. He meets with God in that moment. In that moment, what he wants, what Jacob wants more than anything else, is for the circumstance to change. But what God wants is to change Jacob.
Often times in our lives, we want the circumstances in our lives to change. Even times, we’ll go to God in prayer, and we want the circumstance to change. Sometimes, God will change the circumstance on our behalf, but always what he wants to do is to change us. Ultimately, what he’s after is to change you.
When you meet with him, he sometimes changes the circumstance, but he always will change you. He’ll change you. He’ll constantly work on your heart. He’ll constantly form you more into the real you, the new you, the you that he’s designed you to be. He constantly changes his people.
So how do you meet with God? How do you meet with God? Do I go walking tonight late at night and hope he bombards me and hope he dislocates my hip? How do I meet with God? In this culture, in this time, the way that you meet with God is a beautiful gift. You can meet with God at any moment as you read his Word to you, as you read his Scripture.
I love this tradition that Mariners has and will continue. Every year, we choose a devotional book or a Bible reading plan that helps us spend time with God in his Word, that helps us meet with God. This year it’s called New Morning Mercies. If you’re new to the Christian faith, it’s so accessible. It’s one page and then some Scripture to read.
I started it on January 1. I am loving it. I know some of you are going through it as well. You can pick up a copy in the bookstore. You can it on Amazon, but Amazon doesn’t give the proceeds to our outreach, so I encourage you to get it at the bookstore instead. So, you get the New Morning Mercies. It helps you spend time with the Lord, and when you meet with him, he will change you.
In my former life, I was senior vice president at a Christian resource company. We did tons of research projects on how regular people grow. How do we become our new selves? Every single research project, every single one we did, the number one predictor of your spiritual growth is time in the Scripture. Every single one. For kids, it’s time in the Scripture.
Parents, check this out. One time, we did a study with people who are now 20 to 30, and they’re walking with Jesus. We asked the 20 to 30 year-olds who are walking with Jesus what their parents did that made an impact when they were little that now they walking with the Lord. We asked the parents what happened in their home that causes their kids to now, after they graduate high school, walk with the Lord.
The number one factor? They saw mom and dad spending time in the Scripture. That was the number one factor. The number one factor for men, for women, for couples we interviewed of their spiritual growth, was time in the Word. Pick it up. Spend five minutes. Meet with God. Meet with God. All right? Meet with God.
- Lose to God. Jacob was changed from Jacob to Israel when he lost to God. The confusing part of this passage, and what causes people to say, “Is that really God that Jacob wrestled with?” is this. The Scripture says the person who was wrestling with Jacob saw that he could not defeat Jacob. “How could it be God, if he couldn’t defeat Jacob because wouldn’t God be able to defeat Jacob? That can’t be God because it says the man can’t defeat Jacob.” That’s a good question. That’s a fair question.
When I wrestle with my kids, I often make myself weak, so I can wrestle with them. I could hurt them in my power, but I could never hurt them in my love. I put myself in a weak position, a vulnerable position, so I can wrestle with them. This is what God is doing in this scene with Jacob.
He’s making himself weak to win Jacob to himself. He’s emptying himself in this moment of the fullness of his divine power. It only takes a tap to dislocate Jacob’s hip. He’s emptying himself of the fullness of his divine power in that moment to win Jacob to himself and change Jacob’s name to Israel.
It’s not the only time in Scripture that we see God make himself weak, is it? Where else have we seen God make himself weak? The cross, the crucifixion. We just celebrated Christmas, when he took on human flesh and was born in a stable on the backside of nowhere and placed in a manger. He put himself on the cross in our place. He made himself weak to win us to himself. He has treated you the same way he treated Jacob. He did not destroy you in his power. He won you with his love. He made himself weak for you. He won you by making himself weak.
Jacob also won by losing. Jesus won you to himself by losing his life, giving his life on the cross. Jacob wins a new name by losing. He won by losing. He walks away, and he can barely walk. He’s limping. “The way for you to find your life,” Jesus said, “is to lose your life.” The way for you to get a new life is not to insist on your way and your life but is actually to lose.
The way to receive a new life is to quit striving and surrender. If you constantly strive for a new life, you will miss the new life that God has for you. But if you surrender and you tap out to this great God, you will enjoy the new life that God has for you. The way to find your life is to lose to him and surrender to him and tap out. Losing to God brings joy. Taping out and surrendering to him brings joy. Losing to others is painful, but losing to God brings joy.
Several years ago, there was a mixed martial artist, the top women’s MMA fighter in the world. Her name is Ronda Rousey. She was dominant in the sport. She was crushing all of her opponents. She had this meteoric rise to fame, and she had fame and money and fortune. She had it all, and then she lost. She lost a match, which is going to happen. You’re not going to forever win every single match. She lost.
Then she got on The Ellen Show, and she said something that was extremely profound. She was honest, and I respect her honesty because what she’s saying on The Ellen Show is, “I wasn’t just fighting my opponent in the ring. I was fighting for my identity. I wasn’t just striving and wrestling against an opponent. I was striving and wrestling for my worth,” just like Jacob was, just like we are. We’ve all been like Jacob. We’ve all been like Ronda Rousey was. Striving and wrestling. Here’s what she said after she lost.
“Honestly, my thought in the medical room…” She lost pretty severely. In MMA fighting, you often do. “…I was sitting in the corner and was like, ‘What am I anymore if I’m not this?’ Literally, sitting there thinking about killing myself. In that exact second, I’m like, ‘I’m nothing.’ No one cares about me anymore without this.”
Do you understand the exhaustion of having to fight and defend and strive for your worth and your identity? God says, “I care. I think about you. I’m not asking you to fight for your identity. I’m asking you to tap out and surrender. When you do, I give you a glorious identity. I give you a glorious new name. Not one that you earn, but one that I give and you simply receive.
Have you surrendered? Have ought tapped out? Tapping out, surrendering to him, isn’t just this one time surrender. It’s constant. It’s this constant surrender. So how do you know if you’re surrendering, if you are tapping out?
If we just look back a couple of chapters earlier, you’ll see what surrendering doesn’t look like. Here’s what Jacob prayed before he surrendered. You’ll see this. This prayer will maybe remind you of some of your prayers. It reminds me of some of mine. This is what a non-surrendered prayer looks like. Does it make sense? This is what a non-tap out prayer looks like. I want you to see all the times the word if is underlined.
“Then Jacob made a vow: ‘If God will be with me and watch over me during this journey I’m making, if he provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s family, then the Lord will be my God.'”
“If… If… If… Then I will surrender.” That’s not really surrender, is it? I’ve prayed prayers like this too. In this moment, Jacob does not view God as his treasure. Jacob views God as a tool to get some other treasure. Jacob does not view God as beautiful. Jacob views God as useful.
Augustine, an early church father, said this is idolatry. This is what idolatry is for us today. It’s when we take what should be worshiped, and we make it something we use. It’s when we use what should be worshiped. Idolatry is instead of worshiping him as beautiful, we treat him as a tool that is useful to get something else. Is God your treasure or some tool to get you something else, a relationship, a raise, a promotion, higher up the hierarchy. Is God a treasure to you, or he is a tool?
We find when we look at the story of Jacob and God that God is not a God to be bargained with. He is a God to bow before. When we bow before him, we receive this incredible new identity that he gives us.
- Hold onto God. Jacob kept holding on. He kept holding onto God. In the wrestling match, the keeps holding on. God wasn’t frustrated that Jacob kept holding on. God loved that Jacob kept holding on. Jacob kept holding on. “I’m holding on until you bless me. I’m holding on until there’s a blessing on the other side of the holding.”
While this is a historic5 account and a real wrestling match, it’s also a picture of us holding onto God in the middle of our struggles, in the middle of our trials, in the middle of our doubts. You hold onto God. You hold onto God in prayer.
When the circumstance is not what you want it to be, you hold onto God. When there’s confusion, and you don’t understand, you hold onto God. When there are doubts in your faith, you hold onto him. Here’s why. On the other side of the holding, that’s when the blessing comes. The blessing is on the other side of the holding.
What’s fascinating about this story is that God had already said that it would be Jacob, who would be the Father of the people. It’d be Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That’s the family. Yet, God releases the blessing to Jacob after he holds onto God. So God has a promise for Jacob, but the promise is released after he holds on. God has promises for you and promises for me, and those promises are released on the other side of our holding. The blessing is on the other side of the holding. Does this make sense?
Every Christmas, there are billions of dollars in America that’s given in gift cards. A lot of Macaroni Grill and Chili’s gift cards are given at Christmas. Economists say that every single year, $1 billion goes unclaimed. There’s $1 billion in unclaimed gift cards sitting in wallets (some of you could go out to lunch and enjoy today), in purses, and in junk drawers in homes. One billion dollars. The promise was given, and the reward is here, but $1 billion goes unclaimed.
There are some unclaimed blessings in your life because you’ve stopped holding onto God in prayer, and you hold on, and you hold on, and on the side of the holding, that’s when the blessing comes.
I know this in my own life because there’ve been times that I’ve struggled with doubt, times I’ve wrestled with God. I’m struggling with why I teach and preach.
Even as a pastor, I struggle at times. “I teach and preach this, but this thing happened, and you didn’t stop it.” Or, “Why is someone in our church who I love so much going through such a difficult time? God, why are you not intervening? I’ve held on. I’m going to believe. I believe. Help my unbelief. I believe. Help my unbelief. I’m going to hold on, God. I’m going to hold onto you.”
What I’ve learned is that peace and joy is on the other side of the holding. What I’ve also learned, is the ultimate blessing isn’t the answer because sometimes he doesn’t given answer. The ultimate blessing is him. When you hold on, you’re holding onto the ultimate blessing, the ultimate joy, because God is the best blessing there is. God himself. So you hold on.
Jacob is in this wrestling match with God, and God says to Jacob, “What is your name?” Jacob, in that moment, probably with a sense of embarrassment, says, “My name is Jacob. I’ve been the deceiver. I’ve been the striver. My whole life I’ve been that. Look where it’s gotten me. I’m alone at night wondering what’s going to happen next with my brother. I have been the deceiver and the striver. That’s who I’ve been.”
God looks at Jacob and says, “That’s not your name anymore. Your name is no longer going to be deceiver and striver. Your name is now going to be Israel. I am changing your name. You can quit striving. You can quit working your way up. What I have for you is better than you could ever imagine for yourself. What I am freely giving you is better than you would ever be able to achieve. Your name is no longer striver and deceiver. You have a new name.”
You may be thinking, “What does that have to do with me?” It has so much to do with you because if you are a Christian, if you have received the forgiveness of God, you have a new name as well. You have been renamed by God.
In fact, as we close, I want you to remember your new name. You can pull this out of your bulletin. This is what God says of you no matter what circumstance you have going on in your life right now, no matter what struggle you’re facing, no matter what you feel about your past or what 2019 felt like. This is what the Scripture says of you.
You are not your past. You are a new creation in Christ. Second Corinthians 5:17. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone. New has come.” You are no longer a slave to sin. You are a child of God. I encourage you to take this home and read these verses. First John 3:1. “How great the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are.” We are his sons. We are his daughters. We are no longer slave to our past. We have a new name.
You are not a mess. You may think, “I’ve blown it. I’ve made so many foolish choices,” and yet God says of you, “You are created in my image, and you are a masterpiece. You are not condemned. You accepted by God. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1.
You are not forgotten. You are chosen by God. You are not forgotten. “Does he wonder? Does he even see what I have going on in my life?” Listen, you are not forgotten. “Does he know? Does he care?” You are not forgotten. You are chosen by God. I’m not in darkness. I’m in the light. You are in the light. You are not alone. You are controlled by God’s Spirit.
If you go home in a couple of moments and you feel alone, you are not believing the truth because you are not alone. God’s Spirit, the Spirit of the living God, the Spirit of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has moved into your life. You are not alone. You are no longer an enemy of God. You are his friend. You’re not defeated. You are more than a conqueror.
You’re not discarded. No matter what is in your past, he has not discarded you. He has not written you off. He has not wrung his hands and wished you away. You are his own possession. You are not ashamed. You’re not standing before him in fear and shame. You have been changed by the power of the gospel, and you are not your old life. You are not your old life. You have been raised with Christ when Christ was raised from the dead. You were raised too to a brand new life. You have a new name. You have a new name.
By his grace, his amazing grace, we have been completely remade and made new and renamed. If there’s anything going on in your life that we can pray for you about, our prayer team would love to pray with you today. To get to our prayer team, they’re right over there by those lights. Just go over there.
If your need today is prayer for healing, we have an elder prayer room, and our elders would pray for you for physical healing, emotional healing. To get to our elder prayer room, you go through the doors in the back, and you take a right.
Before I pray a prayer of blessing over us as we begin this new decade, I want to say real quickly, “Thank you for your generosity, church, in the month of December. Financially, how we operate as a church is that we have a team of volunteers in our church called the executive council. They help set the budget for the year. Then our elders approve that budget. So they set the budget for this year, and December is an important month. By God’s grace, through your generosity, we exceeded what we had hoped to get in December. So thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you for those of you who give. I know many of you give online. Some of you use the offering boxes in the back. Thank you for being generous to your church, so we can advance the ministry and the message of the gospel. Let’s open our hands and let me pray a prayer of blessing over you as we go.
Father, I come to you now on behalf of your sons and daughters with their hands extended before you. I ask that you would bless them. As this new year and this new decade begins, would you cause your face to shine on them? Would you meet all of their needs according to your riches and glory? Would you take care of them and prosper and bless them spiritually?
I pray they would be overwhelmed with your joy and your peace, and this new week in their life. I pray that they would remember who you have declared them to be. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Go in peace. Have a great week.