What did God Work in You in 2020?

Exploring The Question, "How Can We Live For God's Glory?".

George Wright
Dec 27, 2020    17m
Even though the year 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for many of us, the end of the year gives us a chance to examine if God did any works in us during the year. It also allows us to examine the question, "How can we live for God's Glory as we begin a new year?". Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Merry Christmas to you. I hope you and your family had a great Christmas celebration, and I'm sure it was probably a little bit different than normal in the midst of such a strange year that we have been navigating, but we are so grateful that you're taking some time to join us for this service worship at home with Shandon today, this final Sunday of 2020. It really is incredible that 2020 is coming to an end, because I know for so many, this has been a year that felt like it would never end. In some ways the year's flown by, but in some ways it has just dragged on and on.

George Wright: 00:38 So as we find ourselves on this final Sunday of 2020, I want to look to the Word of God in Philippians chapter 2, and I just want to ask this simple question, what has God been revealing to you this year? For certainly, the way 2020 played out was not a part of any of our plans. In fact, if you had told me at the beginning of this year, that in the spring we would go to seventeen straight Sundays, as a church, where we were gathering exclusively online. I would have said, you're crazy, that means the sky is falling and everything has been flipped upside down. And certainly everything was flipped upside down, but the sky did not fall, and God has still been in control. And God has been doing a great work in the lives of many people in the midst of such a strange and unprecedented time.

George Wright: 01:33 So as we've walked through this year, let me just ask you, what is it that God has been revealing to you? What is it that he's shown you, perhaps that you had not seen before, or perhaps that you needed to see? What is it that he's been telling you, even as a family that perhaps you need to focus on, or pay attention to, in ways that you haven't before? That's what we're going to look at today, as we turn our attention to God's Word.

George Wright: 02:01 Philippians chapter 2, let me just read two verses to you from the Word of God. Philippians 2 verses 12 and 13. This is written by the Apostle Paul to a church that he absolutely loved in the city of Philippi. And he says, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." It is my prayer that the Word of God will speak into all of our lives, as we gather today.

George Wright: 02:48 What was the big Christmas present in your home this year? One of the big presents for us was a weight bench. My oldest son Brody got a weight bench with the barbell and all the weight so that he can work out here at home. As a eighth grader, he is trying to build his muscles. As he would say, he wants those big muscle, he wants to get swole and ripped for football and the other things that he's doing, and so now he has the opportunity to work out here at home. And when you think about what takes place in your body when you start to work out, or maybe when someone, you know, works out, maybe that's not your thing. What happens to those muscles? Well, muscles start to grow as we work out. It's not that the muscles are created, it's that the muscles that were below the surface, start to rise to the surface. They stretch, they swell, they grow, through the workout process. And what was hidden underneath, begins to be seen on the surface.

George Wright: 03:54 Isn't it interesting that the Apostle Paul talks about working out in the context of this letter, to this church, that he loves. The Apostle Paul wants to be with this church, but he can't be with this church. Because, in fact, the Apostle Paul was writing this letter from a prison cell. He wanted to be with this church that he loves, he wanted to see the friendship and the fellowship again in person. And yet, he has been held away, he's in isolation. I know for many of you back in the spring and the summer when we were in quarantine, and the stay-at-home orders had come, you probably felt like you were in prison. You probably felt like you were just absolutely stuck, maybe that's how you feel even now. But the Apostle Paul was literally in prison as he writes this letter, and he wants the church to understand that as God works in you, sometimes it's going to cause you to have to stretch, and sometimes it's going to cause you to feel uncomfortable.

George Wright: 05:03 If you've ever gone back to the gym for the first time, after being away for a long time, you know that when those muscles start to work out in a way that they haven't in some time, they start to hurt. The muscles get sore, the muscles get stretched, and many people start to work out and then stop because they don't push through the soreness. And as a result, they don't get to experience the true benefit of working out over an extended period of time. The Apostle Paul is saying, as your faith grows, there are going to be sometimes when you're sore, there are going to be sometimes when you will feel like you are stretching even beyond what you're comfortable with, that's what happens as God works in us. And then we work out the faith, we grow in faith, what God has revealed to us. And it begins to appear on the surface, what God has done inside.

George Wright: 06:10 I love these verses, because we see the true love of the Apostle Paul for this church and Philippi. This was the first church that the Apostle Paul ever established, he was the original church planter, and Philippi was the first church that he helped get off the ground, so this was a church that was near and dear to his heart. And he says in verse 12, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Do you see the love that Paul has for this church? Remember he's far away from them, he's writing from a prison cell. He wants to be with them, but he wants them to know while he's away, while they're apart, how loved they truly are. And he wants them to be encouraged, even in the midst of challenging days.

George Wright: 07:13 As we wrap up this year, this strange, unprecedented year, Shandon, I just want to say to you as your pastor, how much I love you ad how grateful I am for you. Your prayers and your encouragement for me, for our staff, for our church this year, have been such a tremendous gift. And so many of you I know have grown in significant ways in your faith this year. As we've walked through unprecedented days, as we navigated this season of uncertainty, you have stayed true to the mission, and your love of the Lord has been so clearly displayed, as many of you have continued to serve, and continued to give, and continued to pray, and continued to do whatever it takes to ensure that the mission of God continues, even in the midst of such strange days. I can't thank you enough for what you have done this year to live out your faith, to work out what God has worked in you.

George Wright: 08:27 As we continue in the scripture then, and as we look forward to perhaps what God wants to show us in the new year, let's listen to what is said in verse 13, "For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." God has been working in our lives this year to our strengthen our faith, and when our faith is strengthened, it is often through the challenging, difficult struggles of life. When those faith muscles are stretched, when those faith muscles get sore, God is working in us what he wants us to see so that the world can then see his work in us, as the faith muscle is revealed. It is God who works in us, and we work out our faith to reveal what he has done in us. For our lives to be lived for his glory, he has to work in us. He has to show us things that perhaps we haven't seen. He has to tell us things that perhaps we have not been able to hear. For the reality is, you and I, your family, your life, you were created to bring glory to God, that's what you were created to do. And to bring glory to God means that your life is being used to point others to the glory that God deserves. The way we bring glory to God, is we demonstrate what God has done in us, what God has done for us, what God has given to us, through the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord. And the Apostle Paul is reminding us here, that when we live for the glory God, we are revealing the pleasure of God, and we are experiencing the pleasure of God as our life is used for his glory. There really is no greater joy than to know that your life is being used for the glory of God. There really is nothing more fulfilling than to recognize that God is at work in your life to demonstrate his love to others, that God is really using you for his glory. That's what it means to live out, to work out, what God has worked in us. It's God who does the most important work, and the scripture encourages us to live out of what God has done for us in the beautiful, good news, of the Gospel. Work out what God has worked in.

George Wright: 11:32 So here's the two questions that I would just ask you to consider, as you gather with family today, or friends, or whoever it may be that you're watching this service with, or maybe if you're watching it on your own, these are just some questions that you can think about and reflect upon two very simple questions to consider.

George Wright: 11:54 The first one is this, what is it that God has been showing you this year? What is it that God has been working in you? What has God been telling you that perhaps you needed to hear, or allowing you to see that perhaps you needed to see in a new way? What are the lessons of 2020, as it relates to your faith? For certainly there have been plenty of challenges this year, but there have also been plenty of highlights, or blessings, or moments, where you can see God do things in a beautiful way. So what have those been for you? What has God revealed? What are some of the gifts that you've experienced that have come out of such an unprecedented time? What is it that God has worked in you in 2020? Maybe take a few moments at the conclusion of this time, and just ask that question of your family. What have we seen in a new way? What are some of the blessings of this year? What are some of the things that God's showed us, that really have become a gift?

George Wright: 13:11 And then the second question to consider as we wrap up our time this morning is simply this, what are you going to do in 2021, to work out what God has worked in you? What will be the fruits in 2021 of what God has done in 2020, specifically as it relates to your life, or your family? How can you work out what God has been working in? How can you live in light of what God has revealed, so that the work in you comes to the surface for others to see the same way muscles start to come to the surface when we work out in the gym? How can you focus on working out what God has worked in as we approach a new year? Take a moment, discuss that as a family, discuss that with whoever you are joining into this service with right now, and ask that very simple question. Maybe you can start some kind of specific prayer focus, or devotional focus, going into the new year where you say, we're going to set aside this time and we're going to focus on what the Lord has been showing us, and we're going to pray this specific prayer, and we're going to ask God to continue to show us what he wants us to see. Maybe you make some kind of commitment to serve in a way that you've never served as a family or as an individual. And maybe this is the time where you decide you're going to give in a way that you've never given, because you want to honor the Lord with your resources, and you want to see God do exceedingly and abundantly more as you trust him through generosity. Maybe there is something that you need to do for a neighbor, or something that's been on your heart to serve the city. Or maybe this is the year, as things begin to open back up, where you go on a mission trip for the first time. What is it that God is revealing to you that can invite you to work out what he has worked into your heart in 2020? Let's flex our faith muscles. Let's see this incredible opportunity, coming out of an unprecedented year, to live by faith, perhaps in ways that we never have before. Let's work out what God has worked in. Take a few moments, pray as a family, discuss some of the highlights, discuss some of the challenges of 2020. And ask the question, what can we do going into a new year to work out what God has worked in?

George Wright: 16:15 I want to thank you again for joining us for this special service on this final Sunday of 2020. It is strangely appropriate that we join together for online worship at Shandon on this final Sunday, in light of the year that we have just walked through together. I want to ask you to be praying for us going into a new year. There are still so many things that we're trying to understand, so many decisions to be made as we continue to gather together as a church. And we are so excited, believing in faith, that God has great things in store for 21. As we work out, as we live out, our faith in light of what he has revealed through this year.

George Wright: 17:05 God Bless you. Merry Christmas. Happy new year. I look forward to seeing you again next year in 2021, as we kick off a brand new series asking how can we pay attention to what God has revealed to us? May we live by faith as we seek to live the mission, and bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God bless you. We'll see you real soon.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206