Tired of the same old routines? Hungry for change? Would you like to receive a clean slate and fresh start?
Great, because this morning, we’re going to take a look at how the Lord enables us and even calls us into new beginnings!
18 Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 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.
Many times in our lives, we get overwhelmed and blinded by our circumstances and miss out on what God is doing.
We need to be cautious not to allow our past or present to blind us from the future that God is leading us into. Just as we’re told here, to forget the former things and not to dwell on the past, but to perceive and see the new thing that God is doing. Even in the midst of our circumstances, even when they look to be a vast wilderness of confusion or wasteland, God is able to make a way! He is able and willing to give us the new beginning that we’re longing for!
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
We find a few aspects here on finding a new beginning in life. The first is to remain future and forward-minded. Paul said that he does this one thing, he forgets the past and presses ahead. We need to learn to stop looking at the past waiting for it to change; it never will! What is done is done and there isn’t anything that we can do to change it. The only thing within our power to change is our future. It’s up to us not to allow the past and our regrets to define our future!
While driving, if we are speeding forward while looking backward, we’ll certainly crash and perhaps never reach our destination. It’s up to us to put our hand to the wheel and stay the course that God has set for us; not getting distracted or losing heart.
Scripture gives us this awesome promise to give us proper perspective of who we are and how real this new beginning is to be for us as we let go of the past!
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Like a butterfly – completely transformed. (Larva to Pupa to Butterfly)
1. New beginnings start by realizing the need for change
This need for change can be brought to our attention by:
a. Reading the word of God
The most obvious, but most neglected way for us to realize our need for change is simply by staying in the word of God. In making changes to align our lives with His word, we can never go wrong and God will always honor it. Don’t allow fear, guilt, or shame to keep you out of His word!
b. Conviction of the Holy Spirit
It’s important for us to keep in step with the Spirit and sensitive to His leading. There’s no greater teacher, counselor, or encourager than that of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. He knows our hearts, motives, and thoughts, and will lead us toward His will in every area of our lives. He can speak to us many ways, but if you are feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction, begin praying and asking the Lord if there are any changes that He’s directing you to make.
c. Forced by circumstances
Sometimes, we are simply forced to change. Whether planned or not, it’s during these seasons that we need to keep our heads up and seek the Lord’s direction on what new opportunities our new circumstances have opened for us to get a new beginning and what He wants to do through them.
d. Spoken by others
Sometimes the biggest and most significant changes can occur by having nothing change at all, but by getting a different perspective on things.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
As we allow God to renew our minds, we are transformed and receive His perspective on things. Nothing may change, but at the same time, everything will change as this occurs.
We also find that we received the bulk of the New Testament due to the changes brought to the church’s attention via letter by the apostles; primarily the apostle Paul. Just as God spoke through these apostles to the church then, God still uses others, and especially church leaders, to speak to us today. Let’s take a look at a response written by Paul to his first letter to the Corinthian church.
2 Corinthians 7:8-11
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.
It’s easy when God uses others to point out changes in our lives that need to be made to react in anger and to reject the people and their advice because we are hurt by them. It’s important that we remain teachable and humble and to realize that the Lord may actually be using them to speak to us.
10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.
The natural response when we realize that there are things in our lives that need to change is sorrow. It’s up to us in whether we will have worldly sorrow where we feel sorry for ourselves, but to stay the same and pity ourselves or to have godly sorrow where we feel sorry, but repent and make the changes necessary. We see that in the case of the Corinthian church, they chose godly sorrow which resulted in positive change.
We need to be honest about areas of our lives that need changed. It’s easy for us to ignore and excuse the elephant in our living room. Instead of admitting to the true problem and addressing it, we tend to instead remove good things that should be in our lives like our couch our coffee table in order to accommodate the elephant. This isn’t the new beginning that the Lord wants to do in our lives and usually results in us turning from God instead of to God.
2. New beginnings see the potential and let go of the past
Things do not have to remain as they are. As we seek after God’s heart for us in prayer and listen for His voice, we begin to see prophetically and receive a revelation of the potential in our circumstances. In Him, no matter how far we’ve missed it, no matter how far we’ve ran from Him, no matter what we’ve done wrong in our lives; that we have available to us complete forgiveness. Romans 8 promises us that there is nothing that we can do to separate ourselves from the love of God. Jesus promised us in Matthew 7 that if we ask, it will be given to us. If we knock, the door will be opened for us. If we seek, we will find Him. There is nothing that can stand in the way of us and God’s will that God will not deal with Himself. We can let go of our past and have a future filled with hope and can cast off all despair and oppression if we so choose to do so.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
This requires that we have faith and place our trust fully in Him and do not allow our current circumstances or our weaknesses to hold back what God can do by our doubt.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Faith hopes in God despite what our current circumstances are. We can be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Through faith, we please God and will see His will come to pass in our lives. God told the apostle Paul that it was in our weaknesses that He is strong. It’s in our weaknesses that we must fully rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us!
All through scripture, we see God giving new beginnings to individuals and even a nation. However, there probably isn’t a greater example of a new beginning than that of the apostle Paul. He went from persecuting and killing those following Christ to one who gave His life for the sake of spreading the good news of Christ’s salvation!
3. New beginnings are begun by turning to the Lord
If we truly want a new beginning, a fresh slate, if we truly desire blessings and life to its full, we must begin by making a choice to turn to the Lord. We must repent. The greek word for repent (metanoeō – me-tä-no-e’-ō) literally means ‘to change our minds for the better’. We must turn away from doing things our own way and do things His way – trusting that He cares for us and knows what is best for us.
It’s awesome to know that God is completely faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him!
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
God gave Israel this charge that still applies to us today. This charge is a promise that if we turn to Him, He’ll be faithful to fully restore us to him and bless us no matter where we’ve ran to. It’s a promise as well, however, that as we turn away from God that we turn away from His blessings and into a cursed life… This charge gives us a similar picture of the parable of the prodigal son given to us by Jesus. As the prodigal ran from his father, he found himself broken and in desperate need. When he ran back home to his father, his father welcomed him with open arms and restored him completely and provided for his every need.
1 When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, 2 and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. 4 Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. 5 He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. 6 The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. 7 The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. 8 You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. 9 Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, 10 if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.
This morning, I encourage everyone to take full advantage of the opportunity that the Lord gives us to have a new beginning in life, to get a clean slate and a fresh start. Don’t let your past hold you back, simply turn to the Lord and He is faithful to fully forgive us and to restore us to His plans and purposes for us. Nothing is too difficult for God to overcome in our lives and it’s His desire to give us hope and a future!