2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (NIV)
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Oh, it’s about time to get this party started. Seriously, the New Year is just around the corner and oh Lord am I ready! What about you? Glad the holidays are over? Ready to take down the tree? Shed those extra pounds? Clean out the post-Christmas clutter? Or maybe you don’t see the point in such a celebration. Will you welcome the New Year as you did the one before? No preparation. Just some collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread with maybe a sip of champagne. What’s the big deal anyway? It will just be like every other year, right? Struggling to get ahead, but only falling farther behind. Time keeps passing, but nothing is changing. The check is definitely not in the mail but another stack of bills. Can’t go anywhere without worrying that somebody might lose their mind and start shooting up the place. Am I the only one that feels hope rising with the New Year coming? I hope not.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. Why am I a Christian but nothing ever changes? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not experiencing the Blessings of God and Benefits of His Covenant in my life? Well, if I may be so candid and not to offend, but do you believe? Do you believe that the old is gone, and the new is here? I have been saved for a very long time. I even thought I believed until I realized that there is a difference between saying I believe and living like I do. Our new life in Christ is not like a job title. For example, I go by many titles in life. I am a daughter, I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a friend. I am an employee. I am a church leader. I am a woman. I am many things in the world that I live. But notice I did not add the word “Christian” or “believer” to the list? That is because to be a true Follower of Jesus Christ and His Disciple impacts every other title that I have. It is not what I do but who I am. It is in the separation that we become frustrated. It is in our conviction that Christ died for us and set us free that we become compelled to change beginning by our love for others born of our love for Jesus.
John 15:5-8 (NIV)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Our connection to Christ must be maintained to embrace our new existence in the Lord. Hope is what we cling to as the anchor of our soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Hope is not what we can see, do or attain on our own but solely and significantly found in Christ. When we put our faith in the Lord to attain naturally occurring and humanly possible things only – we limit our new life and new thing potential. God created the universe and everything in it. All things are possible for those who believe. We access God’s Power in our life through His Son, Jesus. When we become engrafted, it is not just to make this life a little better, easier or more fulfilling but rather we are building a future. We are constructing a Kingdom by filling it with souls that will live forever in perfection with God. But what about now? I need God’s Help now. I am barely making it now. I am suffering now. I am sick now. I am dying in my soul, what will God do for me today in this moment and in this place? I hear you. I feel you. I have been right where you are and wondered if I would be able to survive the process that produces those fruits we need and so strongly desire.
John 12:24-25 (NIV)
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
To grow every seed must die in the ground. Our hopes, dreams and aspirations must give way to godly expectation and trust. We must be willing to lay our life down to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. I know that I will never convince anyone in and of myself without His Spirit cultivating their heart, but the moment that you decide to lay your life down, become buried in His Presence, and give up your very existence to the capable cause of Christ – everything does become new. New is not comfortable. It demands total weakness to discover God’s Strength. It means humbling every facet of our being implying a terrible risk. For those who desire a new life and to have that new thing, it is a requirement.
Isaiah 42:5-9 (NIV)
This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.
I will testify that our family came through the furnace of refinement over the last few years, but it was not without change. We were doing pretty well right before devastation struck our family. I think of Job. Business was good. Family was thriving. Our life was better than we had dreamed it would ever be. We were comfortable. Oh boy! When our son was diagnosed with cancer, everything fell apart. The only thing holding us together was our faith. When our heart is truly broken, the contents is revealed. Thank you Jesus – He was there. Now on the other side of the ordeal, I expected life to go back to normal. That probably would have worked but through the fire of testing something changed. It was me. I was broken. I was weary. I was traumatized. I needed Jesus. He found me and restored my soul again. Now new things are happening, at first it was scary and I was ready to run.
“See the former things have taken place and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” Oh, the former things of life. Some people are hindered by their past afraid that God will not use them because of it. Others are stuck in the past celebrating what God has done unsure if He can top it or do it again. There are also people like me afraid to fully trust the Lord again because I feel as though I barely made it through the fire last time. I don’t want to jump in it again. Where are you today? Just before a New Year would be the perfect time to decide. Before you make a resolution or set some kind of goal to decide where God and Jesus fit in your new plan for the New Year. If you decide that the Lord is what you desire more than anything else, it will require releasing your past and the former things to fully embrace the new thing that the Lord is doing. He will share His Secrets with those who are listening.
Isaiah 48:5-8 (NIV)
“Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My images brought them about; my wooden image and metal god ordained them.’ You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, ‘Yes, I knew of them.’ You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ears have not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.”
Oh Lord, I feel this burning in my spirit today. The Lord is constantly speaking to His People. It is up to us to listen. God has placed dreams and ideas in us according to His Plan. First, He gives us eternity in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I believe every other plan, purpose and idea in our life will point back to that original thought. He promises that there is plan in place for our life with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) He invites us to seek Him wholeheartedly to have it. (Jeremiah 29:13) We miss that part sometimes. Every day recorded before we are born (Psalm 139:16), backs up His Promise that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) It doesn’t matter how this year ends, but the promise of a new thing always remains as long as we are breathing. Jesus is our hope. (Isaiah 4:1-4) He makes this all possible as we connect our heart and join our life with the Vine. Now we are worthy of fruit, dying to our ways and our desires to give way to His Spirit who makes all things new. Isaiah 4:9 acknowledges that God is fully aware of the “former” things and still ready to begin the “new things” in our life. Before they come, the Lord announces them. Do we want them?
Isaiah 43:18-21 (NIV)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”
I am a firm believe that God changes our wastelands into waterfalls. I do not believe that I would be where I am ready for something new had God not allowed our whole life to be upended. He doesn’t always change our surroundings or conditions but for those willing to be changed – Jesus gives us a new heart and new mind with desires and dreams that align with His Will and Perfect Plan. It defies what we see or how the world does things and even may require a venture or two in the wilderness to find our way. To have a new thing, one must be willing to do new things. It sounds so simple yet everyday people defy the Lord but expect Him to fill their life with His Goodness and Grace. Friend, the Lord is doing just that 24 hours a day. It is our stubborn heart, closed mind, covered ears and blinded eyes that are keeping us from it. We keep hold of former things. We live in the past. We do not see, hear, or feel what God is doing and fail to respond when He calls. We are His People who He chose and are precious to God. The only thing comparable is our love for our human children. I would die for my child but would not let my child die for you. See God allowed His Child, His Only Son and Perfect One to not just die but suffer tremendously for you and me. Humbly, I stand on the verge of the coming year yielding every expectation and hope that I have to honor God’s Sacrifice and invite this new thing into my life.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 (NIV)
“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
I do not believe that the world will get any better. In fact, I believe that the conditions of this planet called earth will become significantly worse in the coming days. I also believe that the church is doing something new in the midst of the famine. There are plenty of resources to sustain people but the evil condition of human souls is starving the nations. God is reviving the hearts of His People. The modern day church will soon suffer great loss as men and women intent on building the Kingdom and saving souls will gather to become the remnant of Christ. The mega church will become empty and those tiny buildings with a handful of people fasting, praying and hungry for God will become the safe house of sinners who want a Savior and will choose to make Him their Lord.
It begins not with a preacher or even a place to worship. It begins in us. You. Me. We must decide if the Kingdom is for us or here is where we want to be. We must decide if the “new thing” that God is doing is what we desire, or venture off for personal gain and prosperity outside of the Cross. This new thing is not about us but all about Jesus. I want the new thing. I want a new heart. I want a new spirit. I want to build the Kingdom of God and fill it with the souls in need of salvation and freedom. I am asking God to prepare my heart, mind, soul and body for the New Year that I will be ready for the new thing that He is doing. How about you?
Isaiah 65:17-19 (NIV)
“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.”