On January 1st my thoughts went something like this: "so far this year I've done really well- I haven't gossiped, I haven't lost my temper, I haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm very thankful for that. But in a few minutes I'm going to get out of bed...!!!"
Well we have begun the New Year and traditionally at the beginning of the New Year, people make a list of one or more New Year's Resolutions.
And what is a resolution? The Oxford dictionary defines “resolution” as:
1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.
2. The quality of being determined or resolute.
Some common New Year Resolutions might include:
Going to the gym more often,
Reading more books,
Watching less TV
Eating fewer biscuits,
Spending more time practising an instrument.
As well as the more spiritual ones:
Reading the bible more
Giving more to missions etc
Maybe some of these sound familiar and we have probably all made one or more of these resolutions in the past. These are all good things and it is good to set goals and to train ourselves to be disciplined but as we know simply making resolutions and being determined to stick to them doesn’t mean we actually achieve any of them!
Why is that?
Well when something depends on our own human decision or effort, it can’t always be relied upon. We are fickle and a firm decision one day may not be so firm the next day, or even the next minute when the chocolate biscuit is right in front of us!
But God’s promises are completely different to our human resolution! The promises of God can be completely trusted and relied upon. He is faithful and His word is sure!
He remembers his covenant forever,
the promise he made, for a thousand generations,
Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
So rather than making a list of resolutions at the beginning of this 2016, I want to make some declarations of God’s promises. These depend only on God, on His word and His faithfulness to us through Jesus and I encourage you to speak the “Amen” to the glory of God, as written in 2 Corinthians 1:20 and establish these promises over yourself this year.
1. 2016 is the year of the Lord’s favour
18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19to proclaim the year (eniautos) of the Lord’s favour.”
The Greek word which is translated “year” in Luke 4:19 is “eniautos” which can mean a cycle of time, or a year. The “year” of God’s favour, which Jesus announced when He read from Isaiah 61, was not confined only to the year He read the passage but still persists today. Today we live in the age of the Lord’s favour, which began at the birth of Jesus, as the company of the heavenly host announced to the shepherds when Jesus was born:
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace (eirḗnē) to those on whom his favour (eudokia) rests."
The Greek word “eirḗnē” which is translated “peace” in Luke 2:14 comes from the root “eirō” meaning "to join, tie together into a whole"– wholeness, i.e. when all essential parts are joined together; peace (God's gift of wholeness).
And the noun “eudokia” which is translated “favour” in Luke 2:14 means "good pleasure, good-will or favour". It comes from the verb "eudokeó" which means “to be well-pleased, to think it good”. This is the word God the Father spoke over Jesus in Matthew 3:17, in Mark 1:11 and in Luke 3:22 when the Father said "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased."
So at the birth of Jesus the angels were announcing over us wholeness and the Father’s favour or good pleasure over us! 2016 is the year of wholeness and favour!
2. 2016 will be a year of superabundance!
2016 is going to be a Matthew 13:12 year: a year of BEING in abundance
10And the disciples having approached, said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”
11And answering He said to them, “Because it has been granted to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of the heavens, but to them it has not been granted. 12For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will BE in abundance (perisseúō). And whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
The phrase “be in abundance” in Matthew 13:12 is a translation of the Greek verb “perisseuthēsetai”. It comes from the verb “perisseúō”, which is derived from “perí” meaning "all-around" indicating abundance or surplus – it means to exceed, to go beyond the expected measure, i.e. above and beyond ("more than . . . "); "what goes further (more), surpasses" (J. Thayer). So in Matthew 13:10-12, Jesus is saying to us today that it has been granted to us to know mysteries of the kingdom and to “be” in a state of abundance.
Furthermore 2016 is going to be a John 10:10 year:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (perisson).
perissós (an adjective, derived from perí, "all-around, excess") – meaning all-around, "more than" ("abundantly"); beyond what is anticipated, exceeding expectation; "more abundant," going past the expected limit ("more than enough . . . "). (See perisseuō above).
But to walk in superabundance this year, we need to receive it (or aggressively accept) it:
Romans 5:17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive (lambánō) God's abundant (perisseía) provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
Perisseía: abundance, superfluity; a feminine noun from perí, "comprehensively all-around" – an abundance, i.e. what exceeds normal expectations (See perisseuō above).
The word translated "receive" in Romans 5:17 is the Greek word "lambánō" meaning "to actively lay hold of, to take or receive," to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available (offered).
Lambánō ("accept with initiative") emphasizes the volition (assertiveness) of the receiver.
2016 is also going to be an Ephesians 3:20 year:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly (hyperekperissou) above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Now let’s say “Amen” to these promises of God and thank Him for His favour over us and His promise that we will “be in abundance”!
3. 2016 will be a year of healing
But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
1Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits--
3who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story--
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.....
.....19Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
From the Psalm 103:1-3 and Psalm 107 we can see that praise and giving thanks are key to receiving healing. So we should praise and give thanks to the Lord even before we have experienced full healing.
Now let’s say “Amen” to these promises of God and praise and give thanks to Him for the healing that we will receive in 2016!
4. 2016 will be a year of being overshadowed by the Spirit: we will conceive and give birth to new things this year!
This declaration is based on this verse:
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow (episkiázō) you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
The word “overshadow” in Luke 1:35 is the Greek word “episkiázō”. It is used in the New Testament (NT) of God's over-shadowing presence – which always brings His plan to pass in our physical circumstances.
This word “episkiázō” is used in 4 other verses in the NT:
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered (episkiázō) them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
Then a cloud appeared and covered (episkiázō) them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered (episkiázō) them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35.A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
So that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow (episkiázō) some of them.
Three of the above verses: Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:34 are from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration. In each of the accounts a cloud overshadowed them and God the Father spoke. Each time He said “Listen to Him”. When we are overshadowed, God speaks and wants us to listen or take heed of what He is saying. Notice that when the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit, he also said in Luke 1:37
For no word (rhema) from God will ever fail.”
And Mary answered him:
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word (rhema) to me be fulfilled.”
Then when Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth exclaimed:
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!”
So Mary listened to the word from the Lord, received it and believed it and the greatest miracle on earth- the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, came to pass!
Therefore let us pray and say “Amen” to the Lord’s overshadowing power over us to empower us to “conceive” his plans for us this year.
5. Finally 2016 will be a year of moving in the incomparably great power of the Spirit
18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
How can we obtain this power to move in the gifts of the Spirit? By eagerly desiring and earnestly seeking!
1 Corinthians 12:31
Now eagerly desire (zēlóō) the greater gifts.
1 Corinthians 14:1
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire (zēlóō) gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
Zēlóō is an onomatopoetic word, imitating the sound of boiling water – it means to bubble over because so hot (boiling); (figuratively) "to burn with zeal" (J. Thayer); "to be deeply committed to something, with the implication of accompanying desire – 'to be earnest, to set one's heart on, to be completely intent upon' "
And similarly it says in:
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek (ekzētéō) him.
Ekzētéō is from ek, "out from and to" and zētéō, "seek"– it means to seek out, emphasizing the personal intent of the seeker, i.e. the outcome intensely and personally desired by the seeker.
Therefore by “eagerly desiring” as we are encouraged to do in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 and by “earnestly seeking”, as the writer of Hebrews encourages, we will be rewarded!
So together let us say “Amen” and establish over us the declaration to move in incomparably great power this 2016!