The awesome thing about approaching a new year is that there are some areas of our life in which we can start over or start fresh. I’m encouraged through the Scriptures that God takes great pleasure in giving fresh starts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 – If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Lamentations 3:23 – The Lord’s mercies…they are new every morning.
In recent weeks I have been studying Isaiah 43 and found it to be a remarkable passage about new things and fresh starts. God specifically says in verse 18-19 – Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a NEW THING.
Israel had been spiritually unresponsive to God, and because of that God brought judgment and exile upon them. Yet, in the midst of their exile He assures them of His presence and protection by saying I am the Lord, which maketh a way. So, He reminds them briefly about what He had done for them in the past by making a way of deliverance from Egypt, securing their redemption. But here’s the remarkable lesson of the passage: In verse 18 God shifts from reminding them of their past experiences to telling them, in a way, to forget them. Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
He was not saying that we are to ignore past revelations of God that give us faith in the doctrine of who God is and what He can do (see verse 10). However, we cannot allow God’s former works of greatness to undervalue our present situations, as if the former days are better than these. You see, Israel believed their future was bleak because they measured their present situation by their past experiences. In other words, “The Red Sea deliverance was so great how could God ever top that? Those were the days!” Israel was so imprisoned by the ‘good ole days’ that they couldn’t look forward to the new thing (verse 19) that God wanted to do. “So, Israel, stop dwelling on the present crisis and stop yearning for the former days, because I will do a new thing.”
As we approach a new year with thoughts about the new things God would do in our life, let’s remember a few principles from Isaiah 43.
GOD IS NOT CONFINED TO THE PAST
Like Israel, many truly believe that the former days of yesteryear are far greater than today. We hold to the ‘good ole days’ so much that we don’t allow God to do anything new in our life today.
It’s sad that in the church-world anything that may be new is often criticized because it’s not something that we, personally, have experienced in the past. We even use words that restrict Him to only a God of the past identifying Him as “old-fashioned” or “old-time.” The God of heaven is timeless. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever and we miss out on the new things He desires to do in our life today when we confine Him to the past. The same God who worked in mighty, powerful ways decades or centuries before is the SAME God today. He is not confined to the past.
Jeremiah 16:14-15 is a parallel passage to Isaiah 43 and it speaks clarity of God’s lesson here. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
Egypt wasn’t the only thing God had done nor wanted to do. The Lord desired them to be known by this new thing He would bring into their life and nation.
Here’s the lesson: You cannot move forward in a fresh start with new blessings from God if you’re still living in the past. Let God do something NEW in your life.
GOD GIVES NEW BLESSINGS THROUGH UNKNOWN EXPERIENCES.
In these verses we are reminded that regardless of our circumstances God can make a way for new blessings. In the desert of Israel’s difficulties God provided a path for them to walk and a river from which they could drink. Just as God led them out of Egypt through the deliverance of the Red Sea, He would now lead them out of Babylon to the promised land. This was the new thing He would do!
God wants to do new things in your life. Regardless of how old you are or how long you’ve been a Christian, God has something new He wants to do in you. He wants to give you a fresh start in some area, and He may do this new thing through experiences that are unknown.
And that’s the difficulty, isn’t it? We don’t like change. We don’t like new. We don’t relish in the unknown. But in order for God to do something new, we must be willing to let Him take us through unknown experiences.
THE PURPOSE OF THE NEW THING GOD WOULD DO IS FOR HIS PRAISE.
Verse 21 reminds us of this: This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. Our life can experience newness and freshness because we are the subject of His workmanship. Israel was of His forming, the church is of His forming, our lives are of His forming. He molds and shapes us for HIMSELF. Though our lives are material that has been degraded by sin, the power of God can form us into trophies of His grace.
No matter what area of your life needs a fresh start and a new thing, nothing is impossible with God. You are the subject of His workmanship.
But don’t forget for what reason He forms us in the way that He does – they shall shew forth my praise. He forms His people for the manifestation of His glory. Not for our glory, but for His.
I believe in whom God does a new thing there will be a delightful desire to show forth His praise (i.e. 1 Peter 2:9).
What are you hoping for in 2015? What new thing would you like God to do in your life in this new year? Whatever it may be remember…
- Don’t restrict God’s power to something He could only do in the past.
- Allow God to use unknown experiences to bring you the best for your life.
- Determine right now, whatever new thing it may be, God will get the glory.