January 1, 2017

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

It’s interesting that I was so sure we had used this verse as the verse for the year not that long ago, but we can find no record of that having been the case. It may be because it comes out so long in Japanese that I had avoided it, choosing shorter verses instead. I am of course preaching on this verse this morning, but there is so much here it looks like a series to me. The focus for this morning’s message is on the fact that we are chosen. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” (John 15:16) We may question His wisdom in choosing us, but it’s not up to us. Paul wrote at length about God’s choosing in Romans 9, but in the end it remains rather a mystery to us because of our being in the flow of time and God being outside of it, having created time in the first place (since time can’t exist without matter). Because God sees everything at once, He knows who chooses to follow Him and who chooses either to ignore or to rebel against Him, but that doesn’t mean He forces us into those choices. That’s what predestination and free will are all about. We get caught in traps of human logic when we try to think about that too deeply, because this also touches on the whole area of prayer, and why it makes any difference to pray. We have to come back down out of the clouds of philosophy into the “real world” of our experience, simply because we are not outside of time, and so have no real vocabulary even to think about it clearly. We tend to think about God’s choosing as a matter of discarding the ones not chosen, but those have eliminated themselves from God’s choice by their own choices. That’s not to say they have deliberately chosen against God, but rather that they have chosen all sorts of things instead of God. Jesus’ statement and Peter’s statement do not eliminate human responsibility and accountability.

I see that I’m faced with quite a challenge in communicating this clearly and simply this morning! I need to focus on what Peter and Jesus said was the purpose of God’s choosing: that we may declare His praises and so bear much fruit. As a pastor I am involved in far more than just my own choosing/being chosen, but I’ve got to remember that it is ultimately not up to me, it is up to God. I can do spiritual warfare on behalf of people so that they may have a clear path to escape the devil’s traps, but it is up to them as to whether they take that path. I am to provide nourishment for the flock, (John 21:15-17) but I cannot force them to eat and drink. God knows how they will respond, which is part of His choosing. I am not to write people off, but I am to yield them to God. I am not to be proud of having been chosen, but I am to urge others to allow themselves to be in that category as well.

Father, thank You for this Word, for today and for this year. I can see that I really need Your wisdom and guidance as to what to say and how to say it in the message this morning, or I will leave people terribly confused. May I speak Your words in the power of Your Spirit to that Your will may be accomplished, in individual lives, in this church, in this city, in this nation, on earth as it is in heaven, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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