It was the eve of the New Year, 2018, and Faith Oasis Church was about to have an early New Year celebration.
At 7:30pm, Pastor Jack started the event with praise and worship songs. What better way to end the year of 2017, than with giving praise unto the Lord.
Next it was time for testimonies. Members of the church were given to opportunity to share how God had been so good to them throughout the recent year. Many came up with encouraging testimonies about how their loved ones came to accept the Lord, or how God had rescued them from danger.
It was also a time of intercessory prayer, whereby the members came together to pray for the church, the missions, as well as take time for individual prayers. All this was to take into account the goodness of God throughout the year 2017.
But the real highlight of the event was hearing the message that was preached by Rev Dr Sam Kurian Thomas.
His message was a message to bring all present back to the basics of the faith, which was to keep on Looking Unto Jesus In the Year 2018.
As a Christian it may sound easy to do but it is indeed a challenge to put into practice. In fact the times of reflection before and during the sermon would attest to this. As Paul explained in Scripture it is like running a race to the finish line.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This race of life is not an easy one. We must not be too overconfident in ourselves. In fact we may never complete this race without a key component which is faith.
What determines your success in this race depends on you. Not God, Satan, or anybody. We have to make the choice. If you don’t you won’t make it.
So we all have to make the choice.
15″See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity.
Blessings or curses.
It’s our choice.
So we must study scripture to prepare ourselves to run the race. Why is this so?
Rev Sam explains that the Scripture does not conceal the truth that Christians will face hatred, sufferings, tribulations, or persecutions along the Christian race for the sake of Christ (John 15:18-19).
In fact the Scripture plainly states, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim. 3:12).
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).
“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21).
So this is not an easy race if it were not for Jesus.
Rev Sam notes that the Scripture offers Christians the hope, comfort, and strength that Christ will help us run this race, and give us the strength to finish.
If we turn our eyes from Jesus, our hearts will become fearful and afraid, and we will begin to sink. But if we trust Jesus and keep looking to Him we will not sink.
But one thing to be an overcomer is through the faith we have. But a lot of people get by because we compromise with the world. We don’t have faith to follow. The Bible says if we don’t live by faith we cannot please God. If we cannot please God we cannot get anything from Him. We must exercise that faith, to get from the supernatural to the natural.
Anything done without faith is sin. We want to see, and sense what is in our senses.
Rev Sam also warned how many people chased after prophets in order to know their futures, hoping to get a good word from them.
But here is the catch. None of these prophecies, even from the greatest prophets in the world will come to pass if we do not keep our eyes focus on Him alone. If we don’t, every year will be the same.
Take your eyes off the world and focus on Jesus. We need to exercise our faith.
You must always press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12-14).
The Scripture presents explicitly the testimonies of the victorious saints who have gone ahead of us in this race. As they have finished we can learn from them, and learn to run well, keeping Jesus as our prize.
There is a prize we need to attain, which is not money, property, or honour but Jesus Himself. We must desire Jesus more than anything else.
If we do not focus on Jesus we will get lost, and run in another direction.
The Scripture commands every believer in the Christian race to be “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2).
This is the only way to finish the race successfully. We therefore must take away our eyes from any other thing that may distract us on the race, and focus on Christ alone.
But how do we do so? Rev Sam gives us the simple yet profound pointers that we often forget.
“It simply means to constantly, consistently and continuously seek to see, to perceive, to know and experience Jesus Christ more deeply, intimately, and increasingly, and to take heed to or listen to His voice, words, commands or instructions as you run the Christian race.
Spend time daily to commune privately and intimately with the Lord Jesus. Delight in the teachings of Christ and diligently meditate in and obey His words. Also, deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow in the footsteps of Christ”
The gist of Rev Sam’s points are that we are to develop an intimacy with God, as real as a husband and wife.
Because it will be a worthwhile run. Scripture gives us an encouraging ending, whereby at the end of the race, in front of God, and His Holy Angels, as well as saints, the Lord Jesus will reward you with an imperishable crown saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matt. 25:21).
So as we run the race for 2018, it is of utmost importance to be intimate with Jesus, in order to focus on Him.
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