The new year has been traditionally associated with resolutions. You see, resolutions or decisions determine our attitude and our attitudes, in turn, determine our approach to any situation. And our approach to any situation determines the outcome. The way you approach this new year will ultimately determine the outcome of this new year in your life. And your approach depends ultimately on your decisions, on your resolutions. So your resolutions at this time of year are important.
The epistle to the Hebrews provides us with twelve pattern resolutions, each introduced by the phrase “Let us”. It is never “Let me,” or “I will,” but it is always “Let us.” The new year confronts us with a need for resolution and decision, but that resolution is not just an individualistic resolution for each one of us alone, but it’s a resolution that all of us as believers have to take together if we are going to attain to God’s goal for us.
Let us fear, while a promise remains of entering [God’s] rest, any of you should seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1 NAS)
We need to be fearful that we do not make the same mistake as the Israelites made in the wilderness. In what did that generation fail? There was one basic failure—they did not hear God’s voice. They were content to get things second-hand through Moses.
I want to urge upon you today the importance of learning to hear the Lord’s voice. Jesus didn’t say, “My sheep read the Bible.” It’s a good thing to read the Bible if you hear the Lord’s voice, but, believe me, many, many people read the Bible but don’t hear the Lord’s voice. It’s the attitude of reverent respect for God and His requirements. It’s not slavish fear; God has not given us that spirit of slavish fear. But it’s an attitude of reverence and respect for God, and it’s the opposite of self-confidence and presumptuousness.
Let’s lay aside all self-confidence and presumptuousness. The essential thing is that you hear the Lord’s voice. I want to promise you this: that if you will make this your first step in this new year, you will be a better person by the end of it.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)
“Let us fear” leads to “let us be diligent.” We not only need to be diligent, but we need to be diligent to the very end. The opposite of diligence is there stated in plain words. It’s to become lazy. Not primarily physically lazy, but spiritually lazy. To be static in the Christian life is to backslide.
We’re not presumptuous, we’re not self-confident, we’re not negligent, we take things seriously; as it were, we roll up our spiritual sleeves and we go to work. To be static in the Christian life is to backslide.
Proverbs 10 says, “The blessing of the Lord maketh rich.” Another verb in Proverb says, however, “The hand of the diligent maketh rich.”
We’ve got to put those two together to get the blessing of the Lord. It’s His blessing on one hand, but on the other hand, it’s our diligence that receives His blessing.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14 NAS)
The word confession is derived from a word in the original Greek of the New Testament which means “to say the same as.” It means that we say the same as God says, that we make the words of our mouth agree with God’s Word and we say it out boldly.
It’s our confession that relates us to Jesus as our High Priest. We have to say the right thing with our mouths. We have to make the words of our mouth agree with God’s written word; and every time we make the right confession, we say it out boldly in faith, and every time we make the right confession Jesus has obligated Himself to ensure that that confession is made good in our experience. He’s the High Priest of our confession. We make it and then we have to hold it fast.
Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
God never gives us an invitation that He doesn’t stand behind. If God invites us in His word to come and says that there’s mercy and grace waiting for us, then I believe we can count on mercy and grace. If we come as God’s children, we don’t come as beggars; we’re invited. It’s very important that we come with confidence. It’s faith that won’t be denied. It’s faith that takes God at His word and believes that God is as good as His word. It’s faith in God’s faithfulness.
Secondly, come for grace. Don’t limit God to what He can do on your behalf. And don’t be put off by the fact that your situation is desperate. That’s just the time to come.
Finally, remember you’re coming to a throne. And on that throne is a king. And the King you are coming to is the King of the universe. All authority and power, in heaven and on earth, is in His hands and may find grace to help in time of need. He wants to help us, but we’ve got to be humble and acknowledge our need for help. We’re told to come for mercy and for grace, not for justice, not for a due reward for our merits, but because we need Him, because He’s faithful, because He invites us.
Therefore we can come with confidence, even in the time of need, even when the situation’s desperate. Even when we think there is no source of help, there is help if we come to that throne of grace.
Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity. (Hebrews 6:1)
I pointed out that there is no room for remaining static in the Christian life. The Christian life is not a seat, it’s a path. “The path of the just is as the light of dawn which shines more and more till the full day.” So, if we’re in that way of righteousness and of faith, we’ve got to be moving on, and our goal is maturity. It’s to be fully grown up. It’s to become complete men and women in Christ.
There are two main requirements.
First, we must come under the discipline of the God-given ministries that Paul has just listed: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Without that discipline, without that oversight, and without that instruction, I don’t see how God’s people can ever attain to maturity. I don’t believe Jesus Christ ever made a provision that wasn’t important, and I believe this provision is essential.
Secondly, we must be part of a growing body, not just isolated individuals. So let’s press on together.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain [that is, his body] and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–22)
We are invited to draw near to God – not to seek His mercy, but to be with God in the most holy place. We are, in fact, invited to take our place with Christ on the throne. You see, once we see our identification with Jesus, we’re invited to follow Him all the way.
Jesus is the forerunner. He’s gone before us. He is the new and living way. We can be made alive with Him, we can be resurrected with Him, but we don’t need to stop there. We can be enthroned with Him. That’s our destination. We’re entitled to draw near to that holy place, to enter in. The Scripture exhorts us to do it. Let’s make it our resolution this year that we’ll not stop short of the place where God wants us to come.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)
This goes very closely together with the previous one, “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith,” but two very important words are added: “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering.”
Why do you think that “without wavering” is put in? It implies that when we make the right confession, we’re going to encounter negative forces and pressures that will come against us. And even though we’ve made the right confession and we’re holding it fast, there may come a time when the pressures increase, and it seems all the forces of Satan and all the powers of darkness are turned loose against us. What are you going to do then? Are you going to quit? Or are you going to hold fast without wavering?
The temptation is to let go of our confession. But the writer says, “Don’t let go—hold fast—without wavering.” Make up your mind that next time that happens you’ll not be a quitter, but you will hold fast without wavering, for He is faithful who promised. You may not see Him, you may not feel Him, He may seem to be far from the scene, but He’s still there and He’s still faithful. The pressures that God permits to come in our lives determine whether we are trusting our senses or our faith.
Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” (Hebrews 10: 24-26)
The original Greek says: “Let us consider one another, how to stimulate to love and good deeds.” We are to consider one another from the point of view of how we can bring the best out of each other.
So many people today are shut up in the prison of self. Their basic problem is self-centeredness. I have never met a self-centered person who was truly happy and enjoyed true peace. In fact, the more you concentrate on yourself, the more you worry about yourself, the more you seek to please yourself, the more your problems will increase.
Instead, start to consider your fellow believers and through love, serve one another (see also Philippians chapter 2:3–7). So many people today will talk about serving the Lord, but they never serve their fellow believers. Serving is a skill we have to acquire. It doesn’t just happen; it isn’t ours by nature. We have to train it. I think one of the key Scriptures today is in Galatians 6, “By love, serve one another.” Put others first. Be more interested in them. You’ll get a wonderful response from them, and you’ll get a release from your own self-centeredness at the same time.
Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Here and elsewhere in the New Testament, the Christian life is compared to a race. This implies a specific course marked out before us in advance, and success in the Christian life consists in completing the course in accordance with the rules of the competition.
There’s a goal and there’s a prize. But if we’re going to achieve the goal, if we’re going to win the prize, we’ve got to run the race with the right attitude. We’ve got to run it with endurance. We’ve got to hold out. And to do that, we have to go into training.
Christians cannot afford to be quitters. We’ve got to master our weaknesses. Otherwise, every time we’re tested in the area of endurance, some kind of weakness—emotional, psychological, physical—will get us down, and we’ll give up just at the point where we should have been holding on and enduring.
Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12: 28-29)
In the midst of all that’s going on around us, all that’s being shaken, all the threatening and the alarms, and the fears and the inadequate and insufficient remedies that only temporarily stop the gap—in the midst of all this, we have this unshakable kingdom. We have peace, security, purpose.
What’s the appropriate response? There is only one appropriate response—it’s thankfulness. God expects us to appreciate what He does and to express our appreciation verbally.
Therefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Hence, let us go out to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:12–14)
This deals with our attitude and our relationship to this present world. We don’t have any enduring place in this world. The world rejected Jesus. It drove Him out of the city, crucified Him outside the gate. He was rejected, He was put out of society, the world didn’t want Him. And the way the world treated Jesus, sooner or later, in one way or another, is going to be the way the world will treat you and me as believers.
So we’ve got to be willing to go out to Him to the place of crucifixion, the place of rejection, the place of shame, bearing His reproach. Commitment to Jesus requires identification with His cross. We have to go out to Him to the place where He was crucified (see also James 4:4.)
Let me close with a beautiful promise of victory given by Jesus in John 16:33: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, I have overcome the world.” That’s good news, isn’t it? The world is not our friend, it’s our enemy. We’re going to have trouble— but Jesus has overcome the world! And through Him, we too can overcome the world, if we’re willing to go out to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.
Through him [that’s Jesus] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God; that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
We don’t praise God just when things are going right in the world. We don’t praise God just when things are going right with ourselves. But we praise God because He’s worthy to be praised.
You might not see it at first, but there are two hindrances to spontaneous, free-flowing praise in our lives. They are: love of self and love of the world. As long as our affections are centered in ourselves or in the world, we’re not really free to praise God. But the cross removes these two hindrances and sets us free to praise God.
Praise is a sacrifice. And a sacrifice, according to the principles of Scripture, requires a death. Nothing was ever offered to God that hadn’t passed through death. And so, the sacrifice of praise requires, as I’ve already said, the death of the old man. The old man can’t really praise God as God deserves to be praised. There has to be a death. And then again, a sacrifice costs something, and praise is costly. Let me put it this way, “We need to praise God most when we least feel like it.” Praise cannot depend on our feelings. It’s a sacrifice of our spirit.
Are you going to go on doing that all through this year, continually offering up a sacrifice of praise to God? It’s going to make all the difference to what the year holds for you.
Please feel free to request the message from which we took this teaching by Derek Prince: 'Twelve steps to a good year' and draw deeply from this wonderful teaching.
It is yours without charge, just one small way for us to thank you for your prayers and your gifts in support of DPM. We have said it before, but I will say it again: we could not do this work without you!
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