As one of the Psalms of King David, Psalm 51 relates how David confessed his sins to God and found that God is gracious. Rev Russ Grinter reminds us in this message that this grace transforms a sinner into a saint (a believer in Jesus Christ) through repentance and faith. This grace also enables those who are saints to continue to repent and believe – which is just what God wants from us in the New Year, a life of repentance and faith.
On Christmas Day, Rev Russ Grinter asked, “Who do you worship?” Who or what is worthy to give yourself to? We all worship but worshipping people, stuff or self leaves us incomplete. In Matthew 2:1-12 we read about the Wise Guys who came to worship Jesus, the Wrong Guys who didn’t and see that Wise Guys today worship and have the joy of Jesus.
What we pray for indicates our priorities. John 17:13-19 continues Jesus’ prayer. After praying for God’s glory, he prays for his disciples and gives insight into his priorities. He wants his followers to have joy, even in the face of trials – not just happiness in good circumstances. He wants his followers to be kept safe, from the evil one and their own hearts. He wants them to be set apart from the world, yet sent into the world to continue his work. Do we share the same priorities as Jesus?
Russ Grinter brings our attention to the day they brought a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus with the intent on having her stoned to death. This put Jesus into a trap. Releasing her without judgement would mean he was soft on sin. However to condemn her would have been inconsistent with his purpose. Instead, Jesus chose to forgive her and pay for her sins himself and told her to ‘sin no more’. Where the Law demands our judgement, Jesus gives grace that completely covers the sins of the guilty.
Russ Grinter asked us to consider what is noteworthy about the new year. More than wishing “happy new year” and resolving to seek happiness ourselves, in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 we read that Jesus makes us really new. From now on, our identity should be in Christ – not what we do or how the world sees us. We should not depend on our effort but on what Jesus has done as our substitute. By faith, God looks at us and sees Jesus’ righteousness. Jesus makes us really new.
Russ Grinter’s message on Luke 18 concerns the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector. Jesus told this parable to warn those who trusted in themselves and looked down upon others, or in other words, the self-righteous. Because ‘God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble’, it was the tax-collector and not the Pharisee who received the grace that saves. Even within our increasingly secular Australia, self-righteousness still remains and it is still a barrier to receiving the salvation that God offers.
Russ Grinter spoke from Matthew 9:35-38 and asked us about our prayers. Our prayers can be self-centred but our growth in the gospel – the good news that Jesus is Lord – ought to change that. Jesus says many are ready to hear this good news but few are ready to proclaim it. He tells us to pray that God would raise up workers for this harvest and equip us for this work. Sharing God’s concern for the lost changes our priorities and our prayers.