We just began a new year and a new decade. When a year or a decade changes, I think most of us tend to be more contemplative and open to making changes in our lives. Many of us review the year that just went by (the good and the bad, the victories and the defeats, the joys and and sorrows), and we hope to do better next year.
But doing better, accomplishing more, getting in shape, and making more money, though not necessarily bad, should not be the focus of your life in the year ahead. What I hope is that you will begin this year with a focus on trusting God more, knowing God more, relying on his mercy more, and walking by his grace more!
I want you to know your savior more and more, and I want you to be like him more and more each day, even if that means that you have to endure various trials and afflictions. No matter what circumstances come, I want your trust in God to be like an anchor for your soul.
Psalm 25 points us to nine ways we can grow in grace in the new year.
1. Trust God Completely (25:1-3)
The first thing David does in this Psalm is lift up his soul God. This means he directs his desire to God, entrusting his life to the LORD completely. We should begin by entrusting our lives to our savior, turning our eyes from the allurements of this world and waiting on God to satisfy our souls.
2. Know God More (25:4)
We should seek to know God’s ways and paths more each day. We want to follow the course that God has already established. To do this, we need to give ourselves to reading the Bible under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We need to pray that God would let us hear his voice and understand his word.
3. Ask God to Lead You and Teach You (25:5)
We do this by praying and asking the Holy Spirit to guide us: he leads us into all truth and guides us. And through the Holy Spirit, the Father has opened all he has to you (John 16:13-15). We should frequently ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, lead us, and guide us in how to glorify Christ our lives!
4. Rejoice that God is Your Salvation (25:5)
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, the life, the Word, and the one by whom we know the Father! Our only hope in life and death is that we belong to Jesus Christ our Lord, and we should rejoice that our salvation depends on the finished work of Jesus Christ and not on our own ability to save ourselves! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He lived the perfect life we could never lived, he willingly offered himself up on the cross to take the punishment for our sins that we deserved. In that moment, what David pleaded for in this Psalm happened for us. Despite all of our sins, from youth onward, God remembered his mercy and his steadfast love for his people because he is truly good. He remembered his covenant with Abraham and with David, and he fulfilled his unbreakable promises.
Then Jesus was raised to life on the third day for our justification. He now reigns at the right hand of God and has given us the Holy Spirit as the seal of our redemption. In Christ, our salvation is secure, complete, and we have an inheritance in heaven that cannot be lost.We should be filled with unspeakable joy every morning as we realize what a great salvation God has given us (Habakkuk 3:18)!
5. Ask God to Forgive You (25:6-7, 11, 18)
The mercies of the LORD are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We should awake each day with a fresh awareness of God’s mercy. Since God is our salvation and all of our hope is in him, we should come before God to ask for forgiveness for our sins everyday, just as Jesus told us to do in the Lord’s prayer. We know that we could never earn forgiveness, but as this Psalm tells us, God forgives us because of his steadfast love and faithfulness towards those who keep his covenant. It is for his own name’s sake that he pardons our great guilt. Our sins can be forgiven because of the great mercy God showed to us in Christ on the cross. Because of this great mercy, we should be quick to ask God to forgive our sins, we should be quick to forgive the sins of others, and we should strive live with a clean conscience before God and man.
6. Humbly Walk in God’s Mercy and Grace (25:6-10)
God gives grace to the humble, but he opposes the proud (1 Peter 5:5). And this Psalm teaches us that God instructs and leads the humble person. Yes, we are still sinners, and we can be so proud. Yet, in Christ, God forgives our sins, and he instructs humble sinners who fear Him. He leads us in his ways of steadfast love and faithfulness: in short, he gives us grace. This year, you will give glory to God by making Christ your only boast as you humbly rely on the grace of God. As we take this posture of gracious humility before God, we will be transformed into people that extend mercy and grace to other people. Ask God to make you a humble person who is gentle and full love for your family, friends, co-workers, brothers and sisters in Christ, and, yes, your enemies, too.
7. Experience the Friendship of God (25:12-15)
The blessing of the man who’s sins are forgiven is that he has friendship with God.When you are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, he pours out his Spirit on you, and he no longer calls you slave, but he calls you his friend as you submit your life in obedience to his Lordship (John 15:14-15).
There is great blessing for those who fear the LORD, but perhaps the greatest blessing is friendship with God! He reveals his word to us so that we truly know how to please him and obey him. And in this place of obedience, where you experience the friendship of God, you will be satisfied with joy in the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are friends with God. You should walk in this place of friendship each day.
8. Pray to God about Your Struggles (25:16-18)
As sinners saved by grace, we have moved from being enemies of God to friends of God, we should openly and regularly confess our struggles to our merciful and loving Father in prayer. This Psalm mentions several types of struggles: loneliness, afflictions, troubles, and distresses. David’s heart was heavy as he wrote this psalm. But his plea needs to be our plea: we need to ask God to turn to us and be gracious to us. God is merciful and gracious, and as we give him our anxieties and burdens, he will sustain us.
9. Ask God to Guard You and Deliver You (25:19-21)
We face great adversity in this life. We battle the enemy within – our flesh. And we battle the enemy without – the devil, dark spiritual forces, and the world under the influence of the devil. But we have a great redeemer in Christ, and we should ask him daily to guard our souls and deliver us. We should take refuge in him. We should ask him to strengthen our character so that we have nothing to be ashamed of in our lives.
Once again, my hope is that you would begin this year with a renewed focus on trusting God more, knowing God more, relying on his mercy more, and walking by his grace more! If you incorporate these nine habits into your daily walk with God, I believe you will experience the grace and peace of God in increasing measure in the days ahead.
1. Trust God completely
2. Know God more
3. Ask God to lead you and teach you
4. Rejoice that God is your salvation
5. Ask God to forgive you
6. Humbly walk in God’s mercy and grace
7. Experience the friendship of God
8. Pray to God about your struggles
9. Ask God to guard and deliver you
This post was adapted from my sermon given on December 29, 2019 at Living Way Church, which you can listen to by clicking HERE.