Tag Archives: Trust in God

Throwback Wednesday: Truth: The Divine Perspective

 

Throwback Wednesday: Truth:  The Divine Perspective

For the past few weeks WordBytes has focused on the process of  “returning”.  Return by definition means to come or go back to a place or person or thing.   As a part of speech, it is an action word that demands a personal response to accomplish a desired outcome.

In our series we suggested that to live victoriously, it is critical that we as believers not forget key spiritual virtues.  If we have “drifted”, it begins by returning to our first love, God.  Other areas include fellowship, faithfulness, joy, and repentance.  Returning is an indication and an admission, that we, at one time, have been in the “right place”.

With that in mind, for Throwback Wednesday we’d like to “return to basics”; and that basic involves truth.  More specifically, God’s Truth.  We offer for your consideration, “Truth:  The Divine Perspective.”

Truth: The Divine Perspective

Return to Joy

 

Returning to joy

What is Joy?

Joy is defined as gladness of heart.  It is listed among the top five things[1] people desperately want in life yet “never seem to be able to get”.  Joy’s allusiveness, in many cases, is the result of our tendency to define joy as external to ourselves.  We believe it is a person, place, or thing.  Once we have “it”, we’ll have joy.  Wrong!

Joy under Attack

As we survey the world we live it, gladness of heart is under attack.  Our attempts to navigate 21st century living seem more daunting and challenging with each new day.  Financial worries served as a significant source of stress ranking higher than three other causes of concern: work, family responsibilities, and health concerns.

Work, family, and health concerns have exploded.  So how can we find joy?   The Apostle Paul shares the secret of not only how to find joy but also how to return to it in spite of the pressures we might face.

Source of Joy

In Philippians 4:4, Paul exhorts the Church at Philippi to holy joy and delight in God.

Delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in him at all times.  (Phillips Translation)

God has furnished us with joy even in the worst of circumstances.  Nehemiah in the midst of hostility and threats, said that “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Neh. 8:10).

David acknowledged that “in God’s presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).  Jesus instructed His Disciples “to live in The Vine”—in Jesus’ holy presence (John 15:5-11).  By living in the Vine, Jesus’ joy would remain “in them and be full.”  These same offers of joy are extended to you and I who live in the 21st century.    Jesus is the source of our joy.

Returning to Joy

It is God’s desire that we return to joy regardless of life’s circumstances or difficulties.  Jesus describes these as “tribulations” (John 16:33).  Tribulations and trials are “natural outcomes” we suffer as a result of living in a fallen world.

We experience the effects of fallenness every day.  They include death, disease, and difficulties.  However, in Christ and as God’s children, we have been provided with God’s Presence (The Holy Spirit), God’s blessings (Eph. 1:3-17), and God’s inexhaustible grace to sustain us (Phil. 1:6).

Strengthen our Joy

Returning to joy strengthens our resolve and helps us to continue the purpose God has set before us. Such strength can only come from Eternal God Who helps us through the worst of circumstances.   When we come into the presence of the Lord, we connect with His great and eternal power.  God’s power exceeds anything we can do in our own strength (Phil.  4:13).

We are invited to return to the joy that comes from serving God who is sovereign and who has overcome the world (Ps. 119:89-91).

[1]  Top 5 include:   Happiness, Money, Freedom, Peace, Joy

Return to Faithfulness

 

 

The basics of backsliding.

As a child, I remember our worship services especially the ones with sermons that warned our congregation of the dangers of “backsliding”.  After the minister’s fiery discourse, a few members would approach the “welcoming” altar, many times weeping and repentant.

The word backslide, in a Christian context, implies movement away from Christ rather than toward Him. A backslider is someone who is going the wrong way, spiritually. He is regressing rather than progressing. The backslider had at one time demonstrated a commitment to Christ or maintained a certain standard of behavior, but he has since reverted to old ways.   Backsliding in Hebrew mean “turning away, turning back, or apostasy”.  It infers “defection”—turning away for the wisdom of God (Prov. 1:32) and away from Jehovah—the Covenant Keeping God (Jer. 3:6, 8, 11, 12).

Return to the wisdom of God.

We don’t hear much about backsliding these days.  Perhaps our focus has shifted to the “lost” versus those who “appear to be” in the ark of safety.  But backsliders are as important to God as the unsaved in that backsliding is an indication of the lack of one’s faithfulness to Him.  Faithfulness to God was an important part of the prophets’ proclamations and is central in appreciating Hosea 11.

The Old Testament prophet’s function was to not only herald the warnings of God but to also remind God’s people, Israel, to remain faithful to Him.  Through the prophets, God announced His intentions to enforce the covenant which was always in accordance with categories of blessings and curses already contained in the Law.  Even today, we need to take heed to the prophetic Word of God.  We must remain faithful to Him and if we have “backslidden”, repent, and return to faithfully follow God.

A Prophet’s view of backsliding

In Hosea 11, God speaks to the prophet as one would speak to a close friend and confidant.  God shares with Hosea His history of unbridled favor and goodness to Israel.  The opening verses (vv. 1-3) read like a doting parent, who has poured all their affection and attention upon their child only to receive, in return, opposition and defiance.  God’s “gentle cords and bands of love” (v. 3) only resulted in Israel’s ingratitude and unfaithfulness.

For Israel’s immorality and worship of idols, God’s punishment of Israel would be swift and severe.  Israel’s unfaithfulness would earn God’s judgment and doom.  God’s compassion toward Israel would be the only reason God’s mercy and grace would be extended (Hosea 12:6).  It would, however, call for their faithfulness to God.  

Why do we backslide?

God attributes Israel’s behavior to its “bentness to backsliding.”  This “bentness” is like Paul’s description of “the flesh”—that unredeemed part of man that still exists within believers (Rom. 7: 17-19).  Israel was deaf and disobedient to God’s voice, spoken by Moses and His other prophets. They rebelled and became more resolute in their disobedience; adding to Israel’s injurious behavior, was their failure to exalt God (Hos. 11:7).

The positive ending to what began as a tragic narrative is that despite Israel’s faithlessness, God was faithful. God honored His covenant and extended mercy to Israel with the promise to ultimately restore His covenant people to Himself (vv. 10-11).

Are we guilty of 21st century backsliding?

How similar is Israel’s behavior to that which we find in our nation, in our homes, and in our individual faith walk.  That same “bentness to sin” that tempted Israel still tempts us today to unfaithful behavior. Though delivered from the bondage of sin, we may find ourselves still pursuing those things that feed our fleshly desires and wants (1 John 2:15-17).  Backsliding may manifest itself in several ways, e.g., dropping out of church, losing fervor for the Lord, walking away from a ministry or a family, or falling back into old habits.

It is a great encouragement to our hope in God’s mercies to remember that “God is God”, and not man.  He is the Holy One.  He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and receives us even when we are guilty of backsliding.  God is faithful to His covenant people.  Even in our faithlessness, God remains faithful to us (2 Tim. 2:13).

In Search of Peace: When will we find it?

In Search of Peace: When will we find it?

We seek peace.

What peace are we seeking and when will we find it?  Because of God’s grace and mercy, we experience various degrees of peace even in this fallen world.  We are no longer in enmity with God because of Jesus’ gift of life (2 Cor. 5:18).  We on occasion see glimpses of peace between nations and groups divided because of preference, politics, or social agendas.  However, even that peace is tenuous and subject to change with the next difference of opinion.

The search for peace is a pursuit that will continue until we transition to eternity.  So why are we trying so hard to achieve it now?  Because it is God’s desire that we live in peace with each other and experience peace within.  Without peace we will be hindered from accomplishing our divine purpose which includes glorifying God.

Peace was God’s First Choice

When God and man lived in the Garden of Eden, their world was designed to accomplish a specific purpose.  God would provide for His creation—food, clothing, shelter.  Man in turn would be obedient to his Creator and reverence God.  They would enjoy an intimate and harmonious relationship. There was peace.   Of course, we know what happened to the plan of creation.

Although many attempts have been made through the institution of covenants and laws, man has always been troubled with contention, strife, and war (Hab. 1:3; James 4:1; Rom. 2:8).  The biblical text relates attempts by God’s prophets and priests to bring peace, but none could be found—externally nor within.

Only Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, could bring the “peace” that would reverse the ravages of sin that resulted in broken relationships and shattered hearts (Isa. 9:6-7; Mic. 5:4-5).

Peace is a hard issue.

Early in our study we defined peace as a stress-free state of security and calmness, everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom.  Let’s be real.  Man cannot orchestrate this kind of peace while we live in this fallen world.   And this is the world we must live in right now.   The peace described in this definition will be possible when Jesus Christ returns and rules physically during the Millennial Age.

However, right now God’s peace is guaranteed by His unchanging promises and can be found through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is possible spiritually through the Holy Spirit living within us. The Holy Spirit fortifies us as we live in this fallen world.  He sustains us even in the most desperate of circumstances (Gal. 5:22).

Peace that passes all understanding.

The Apostle Paul, while imprisoned in Rome, appealed to the church in Phillipi, to “rejoice in the Lord”.  Strange message considering Paul’s situation.  But while experiencing the backlash of living in a fallen world, he found peace in his situation.  He offered the same to them (Phil. 4:6-7, NLT).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Chrysostom, Eastern church father and archbishop of Constantinople wrote these words on “how this peace—God’s peace—passes all understanding”.

The peace of God, which He imparts to us, passes all understanding. For who could have expected and who could have hoped for such benefits? It transcends every human intellect and all speech. For His enemies, for those who hate Him, for the apostates—for all these He did not refuse to give his only begotten Son, so as to make peace with them. The peace which will preserve us is the one of which Christ says, “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.”  For this peace passes all human understanding. How? When He sees that we should be at peace with enemies, with the unrighteous, with those who display contentiousness and hostility toward us, how does this not pass human understanding?[1]

God’s peace is what we need for 21st century living.  Peace that will not only exceed our expectations but also guard our hearts and minds, from fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.  Our “call to action” as believers is to, like Jesus’ Disciples and the Apostle Paul, become agents of peace and ministers of reconciliation to a “peaceless” world.  In the world’s search for peace, let us be the light to show them where they can find it (Matt. 5:9).

[1]  Ancient Christian Commentary of Scripture, New Testament VIII, Mark J. Edwards

In Search of Peace: Perfect Peace or Peacelessness?

Perfect peace or peacelessness?

Peace Recap

We closed last week’s session by putting forth the truth that true peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.

Through Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, we as believers have peace with God (Rom. 5:10), the peace of God (2 Peter 1:3-4), and peace from God (2 Cor. 4:8-9).    God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   So why is there so much peacelessness?

What causes “peacelessness”?

Is there such a word?  I don’t know but, for me, it is the perfect description of what we are experiencing while living in this fallen world. Increases in depression, anxieties, and mental distress.  Conflict and violence in our world, in our nation, in our communities and our families.

Even nature is experiencing peacelessness as we adjust to the effects of global warming and climatic changes.  Peacelessness (no peace) is one thing we can all agree is going to be difficult to attain in our immediate future!

Why peacelessness?

For both believers and nonbelievers, the difficulty in finding peace lies in where we are looking for it.  Unfortunately, we most often look for peace in the wrong place and from the wrong source.   We place our dependency on the world and on self.

    • The world offers a false sense of security and hope that it cannot produce. Its knowledge and technology are God’s gifts of wisdom, but it cannot replace our all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere present God.  The world’s “fallenness” makes it neither trustworthy nor truthful (1 Cor. 7:31).
    • Our flesh, our pride, and our disobedience often lead us down the wrong paths for our life. When we lean on our own understanding, we are placing our trust in the fragility and the weakness that is innate in humanity (Prov. 3:5-7).

We must also consider the influence of Satan’s lies and deception. All these factors result in the same outcome which is the failure to hear and accept God’s offer of peace.

God, however, offers a solution to the peacelessness (lack of peace) in our life.  The God of hope wants to fill us with joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the   power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).  How can we access this joy and peace?  By believing in God and in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  By faith, God offers “shalom shalom”—perfect peace.

Perfect Peace

The prophet Isaiah gives us both the outcome and the pathway to God’s peace (Isa. 26:3).

You (God) will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

    • “God will keep”. God will guard and watch over us.  Just as a watchman in a high tower of an ancient city continually surveyed the terrain for potential problems.  God watches over us.  If there is a problem, the watchman will defend and protect.  So will our God.
    • “our mind”. Our intellectual framework “continually processes” the daily trauma we’re exposed to.  It guides our decisions as to the best solutions for the problems we face.  It holds our thoughts and our imagination.  It also houses our fears and brokenness.
    • “in perfect peace” (shalom shalom). Why is it perfect?  Because God is its source.  God commands the “right resources” we need to address life’s situations.  His peace is underwritten by His promises, His presence, and His power.  He is the Great I Am (Exod. 3:14).
    • “he trusts”. Trust, translated, means “to have confidence; to make secure”. This is our part to perform.  Our trust is reflected in our obedience to God’s Word and in our allegiance to Him.  Trusting in God is a non-negotiable.  Rather we are “abound or abase” (Phil.4:12-13) or “pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8-10), we trust God!  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
The Final Peace

God alone can give us the peace we so desperately need in our life and in this world.  I leave you with these words from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  While He shared them with His Disciples in the moments prior to His crucifixion, He speaks to us today.   Read them; meditate on them.  God is our peace (Eph. 2:14).  He is our “Shalom Shalom”.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NLT)

In Search of Peace: Whose peace do we want?

In Search of Peace: Whose Peace do we Want?

In Search of peace.

As we learned last week, peace can be defined in many ways. From a world perspective, peace is a stress-free state where there is perfect harmony and freedom. However, peace from a biblical perspective provides us with more precise descriptions on which to focus our attention.

Both the Old and New Testaments use the root word, salom or shalom to capture the meaning of peace as “completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony”.

Peace by any definition can be very elusive and subject to change because of external influences.  That’s why we need to be clear as to what we’re looking for and where we think we may find it.

Loss of our Peace.

At one time man experienced “perfect peace”.  That peace was found in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve.   There was completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony.  On Maslow’s Hierarchy they were “at the top” of the pyramid.  Their peace, however, ended with the entrance of sin.

In the beginning, all creation was in a state of shalom, and this is the environment that Adam and Eve entered into. This Shalom was a perfect peace, where the infinite Creator of all things was in complete communion with his created beings Adam and Eve. Yet sin destroyed that shalom and cast the world into a place of brokenness. The fallen world we live in, with its violence, heartache, pain, and death are very visible results of the Shalom that was lost so very long ago.[1]

As we view the challenges of living in the 21st century with its social challenges, spiritual deficits, and moral vice, we might ask if peace can become a reality in our lifetime.  Peace can be achieved but it must begin with an understanding of the true source of peace.

Man-made peace.

There are two types of peace we can experience.  The first is man-made peace which is based on the creation of external systems to ensure safety and security.  It also includes safeguards to support peaceful interactions between individuals, groups, and communities (relationships).  On a large scale we see governments (local, state, or national) serving in these roles.   Our best efforts in fabricating peace will only leave us in disappointment and despair because our skewed understanding of peace is dependent upon things outside our control![2]

God-given peace.

The other option we have is God-given peace. The pursuit of God-given peace begins with being spiritually reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10).  Because of our sin nature, our relationship is estranged.  The way back to God is only possible through acceptance of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin (Rom. 5:8-9).  Once reconciled to God, we are no longer in enmity with each other.  We have peace with God.

Once we have peace with God, we become heirs of salvation and part of God’s Kingdom (Rom. 8:17).  As children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to comfort and strengthen us during difficult times. The Holy Spirit brings peace by reminding us of the faithfulness of God.  The Spirit speaks to the promises and blessings that are ours because of our righteous standing made possible through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Peter 1:3-4).   We have the peace of God.

As we daily walk in newness of life with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we begin to act like Jesus.  We are told to be conformed to the image of Christ who provides us with the model of how we act and react while living in this fallen world.  We have escaped the corruption that is in the world through our knowledge of God—His power, His purpose, and His presence.  This provides us with great confidence even when pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8-9).  We have peace from God.

True Peace

Jesus promised to give His Disciples peace.  Jesus’ peace quiets the inner turmoil that comes with danger.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you: I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled, or fearful.” (John 14:27, CSB)

The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that God’s peace is true peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7, Living Bible)

Whose peace do we desire?  True peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.  God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   God’s peace meets the perfect biblical standards.  It is complete, leading to contentment, giving us rest (from worry), and creating harmony in our relationships.

[1] Jason Soroski, “What does shalom mean and why is it important?”, Crosswalk.com.   

[2] Samuel Stephens, “The Pursuit of Peace”, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

In Search of Peace: What is Peace?

 

In Search of Peace: What is Peace?

The Pursuit of Peace

With all the chaos in the world, contention in our country, and personal stress in our life, it is no surprise that one of the things people want most but can’t seem to find is peace.  Whether we’re talking about world peace, peaceful relationships, or peace-of-mind, there just never seems to be enough peace.

What is peace?  A biblical counselor asked their patients to work through an exercise which has them lists the qualities and characteristics of peace.  The results with both Christian and non-Christians are to help people understand that, many times, the peace they seek is “situational, temporary, and experiential”.

It (peace) is seen as the absence of conflict or the removal of hinderance to personal happiness. “When I’m not fighting, when I’m appreciated, when I’m happy, when I’m financially secure.”[1]   

What does OUR list look like?  Take a minute and write down what you think peace looks like.

Do we want peace?

Silly question!  Who doesn’t want peace?  Well, of course, Satan doesn’t want it.  Whether it’s peace in the world or peace of mind, Satan loves confusion, conflict, and division.  So do Satan’s followers: “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places”, i.e., political, commercial, social, religious (Eph.6:12).   Before we answer the question of do we want peace, let’s agree on what it is.

What is peace?

A general definition of peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there is no fighting or war, everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom.[2]  Is peace a feeling?

Webster adds to this definition by highlighting the “freedom” aspect of peace: “freedom from disturbance, from war, from civil disorder, and even freedom from disputes and dissension between people.”  Is peace based on our circumstances?

I am enjoying this study on peace.  From a biblical perspective, it gives me an opportunity to closely examine the words that were “carefully” chosen by the Holy Spirit to best represent God’s intended meaning of peace.  It becomes a point of spiritual clarity for me.  Whether it is Greek or Hebrew, the word meaning adds to the “precision” I need to know what peace really looks like.

Peace by any other name!

The biblical concept of peace is larger than what we might read in our modern dictionaries. It rests heavily on the Hebrew word root (slm) which means “to be complete” or “to be sound”.  The verb peace conveys the meaning—”to be complete or whole” or “to live well”.  It is from this root that we get the more familiar word, salom or shalom. 

In the Old Testament, this fine distinction of peace can be grouped into four general categories of shalom:

  1. Wholeness of life or body, i.e., health. (Ps. 34:18; 147:3; Jer. 33:6)
  2. Right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant. (Numbers 25:12-13; Ezek. 34:25-26)
  3. Prosperity, success, or fulfillment (Lev. 26:3-9)
  4. Victory over one’s enemies or absence of war (Isa. 9:6-7)

The New Testament word for peace, eirene, has been greatly influenced by the Hebrew use of shalom.  It occurs in each book of the New Testament.  Eirene originally referred to the orderly, prosperous life that is possible if there is no war.  Only much later did philosophers begin to apply the concept to an inner, personal peace.

In many ways, the two renderings of peace overlap, especially regarding relationships and harmony between people and nations.   It describes:

  1. Harmonious relationships (Luke 14:32)
  2. Freedom from harassment (rest from war) (Luke 11:21; Acts 9:31)
  3. Order, rest, and contentment (Matt.10:13, John 14:27)
  4. Harmonized relationship between God and man (Acts 10:36; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-17)

Shalom is still used in both greetings and farewells.  It is meant to act as a blessing to the one to whom it is spoken.

Where is my peace?

In answer to my earlier question, “do we want peace?”  Of course, we do! So, if we all want peace, why don’t we have it and why is it so elusive?  As stated earlier, many times the peace we seek is situational, temporary, and experiential.  If we base our peace on the things of “this world, our peace is tied to an unstable, ever-changing world (1 John 2: 15-17).

Unfortunately, we often allow this type of peace to dictate our feelings and our emotions.  We may feel safe, secure, and calm; that is until there is a change in circumstances.

Peace may appear to elude us because we don’t know what REAL PEACE looks like.  That is the purpose of this series to better understand what real peace looks like.  Once we have a clear understanding of what it looks like and its true source, we will find shalom as we navigate the tumultuous waters of 21st century living.

May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.

May it be filled with God’s shalom.

[1] The Pursuit of Peace, Samuel Stephens, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, April, 2020

[2] Vocabulary.com

On the Road to God’s New Thing

A road by any other name

A road is literally defined as a wide way leading from one place to another. We often think of roads as access to new opportunities of commerce or development, such as the road to success.

A road can also describe a series of events or a course of action that will lead to a particular outcome. In the book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck uses “road” figuratively to describe the sometimes hard and often painful process of change. Peck uses the “road less traveled” as a illustration of the journey this requires.

Jeremiah’s  road

In Jeremiah 31, the prophet speaks to the people of God in Babylon to prepare them for a “road”—both literally and figuratively—that would return them to their own land after their 70-year exile.

Jeremiah’s message is clear. They are not to be afraid or lose heart. They are to be focused with a firm resolution to rebuild the nation of Israel.

In Jeremiah 31:22,  Israel is called to refrain from falling back into their old rebellious habits as God creates “a new road”  to their salvation—a “new thing” that had never been done before (or since).

How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.  

Failure on the road

Israel is warned against potential backsliding which is interpreted as “faithless”. In the past both Israel and Judah had consistently failed to “holdfast” to God and depend solely on Him for their every need. (Job 27:6) The results was always disastrous as proven by the conquest of both nations.

Where are we placing our faith? Is it in people—elected officials, family members, or friends?  Are we dependent on things—bank accounts, social status, or professional affiliations? Do we believe only in ourselves—our intellect, looks, or personality? When Jesus returns, will He find  us faithfully following Him on the new road? (Luke 18:8)

With God on the road to new things

Israel is encouraged to trust God, Who would create a “new thing”—interpreted as strange and surprising—in the earth. God would create a woman who would “compass” or protect man.

Many interpreters understand this “new thing” to be the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  A woman, the Virgin Mary, enclosed in her womb the Might One. This was to be their incentive.

They would know that with their return from exile came the promise of not only their physical restoration but also the spiritual blessing of the Mighty God (Is. 9:6). God would not cast off His people but bless them. This was to be their assurance.

What is the road for us today?

How do we  to live in the knowledge of this “new thing”?  Knowing the blessings of being in Christ (Ep. 1:3-14).

We live attentively in God’s presence. God is creating new opportunities for us.  However, we must listen for His voice and watch where He is working. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

We live expectantly in God’s provision. God has provided all that we need to live godly lives and to accomplish His purpose in our lives. (2 Pet. 1:3-8)

We live faithfully in God’s purpose. As the elect of God we live by faith. We do not backslide or “draw back unto perdition” but trust that He who began this “good work in us” is able to complete it. (Phil. 1:6)

Our journey to understanding “new things” has hopefully provided incentive and inspiration to walk in the divine purpose God has created for our lives. When we as believers trust God and understand God’s reason for “new things”, we can move forward joyfully in faith and confidence.

God’s Reason for New Things

God's Reason for New Things

Why change?

Last week we asked if we are ready for “new things”.  Maybe your life is going great and you have no need to change.  Great!  But for the rest of us, we realize that as the world changes, we too, must make sure that the way we are operating is within the will of God and His purpose for our lives.

Why resist?

It is human nature to resist doing new things even if new things offer more than the status quo.  The Book of Numbers takes us to where we observe the impact of a nation’s resistance to “new things” with respect to God and His divine purpose for their life.

But if the LORD make a new thing and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.  Num. 16:30 (KJV) 

What should have been an eleven-day journey resulted in a forty year “funeral procession” (Num. 14:28-29; 32-35).  Regardless of Israel’s opposition, God would show them a reason for His new thing.

Resistant and rebellious until the end!

From the time of their departure, Israel complained and was rebellious against not only the leadership of Moses and Aaron but also against God Himself.  Israel had seen the many miracles of God yet  in their hearts, regardless of what God did for them, “Israel had Egypt in their hearts. ” [1]

Where is your heart?  When God attempts to move you to your divine purpose, do you complain and murmur?  Is your affection set on the things of this world when God’s plan offers much more? (Col. 3:2-4)

New things may come with a price.

Read Numbers 15:1-20:13

Motivated by jealousy and envy, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram attempted to seize the priesthood from Aaron and his sons. In so doing, they also challenged the sovereignty and authority of God.

In the wilderness, God would teach Israel a painful lesson about the reason for “new things”—about sacrifice, authority, and responsibility.

That “new thing” would come with a price—it would cost Korah, Dathan, and Abiram their life, their families’ lives plus the lives of 14,700 people within Israel’s camp.

One of the reasons for God’s severity in punishing Israel was to prepare the way for His new thing—a people who would accept the “new beginning” He had readied for them in the Promised Land.  It would be there that Israel would experience new victories, a new priest (Eleazar), a new leader (Joshua), and a new generation.

How does God use “new things” in our life?
    • God might need to reset or reboot our current efforts. Stalled plans, ungodly influences or fleshly lusts can often take us off the path God sovereignly chooses for us.  God’s intervention will guarantee success. (Phil. 1:6)
    • God may desire to take us out of our comfort zone. He may even allow “trials and tribulations” into our life to move us forward.  In trusting and waiting on the Lord, we find courage to persevere as we pursue God’s plan for our life.  (1 Pet. 1:6-7)
    • God could choose to introduce us to an opportunity that may not have been on our radar screen. It is in those moments we can depend wholly on God to bring prospects into our life that will result in our good and His glory.   (Matt. 7:11)
God always has a reason for introducing new things into our life.

They may not be easy but they are always worth it.  We may not understand “why” but we can trust “Who” (God).

In the past when faced with new things, I was like Israel, guilty of complaining and murmuring.  Out of fear and frustration, I would cry, “Lord, why me?” I now choose God’s path for my life and when faced with “new things” I sigh in faith and confidence, “Lord, it’s YOU and me!”

[1]   Wiersbe Bible Commentary

Ready for Something New?

Ready for Something New?

Do you need something new?

Do you need a new surge of inspiration?  Perhaps you began 2023 with a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, gain more faith, or increase your personal time with family.

Perhaps you’re fasting to discipline your body or engaged in a prayer effort to renew your spirit.  Aren’t these the things we normally do?  How’s it working?  Maybe it’s time to change our thinking.   Maybe it’s time to do a “new thing”!

It’s been said, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you got!”  So do a new thing!  God’s thing!  Walk in the divine purpose God created just for you—from the beginning of time (Eph. 2:10).

What’s a “new thing”?

In the Old Testament, the use of “a new thing” is cited in only three (3) texts:  Isaiah 43:19, Numbers 16:30, and Jeremiah 31:22.  Here they describe situations where God’s greatness and sovereignty is on display as God “invites man” to move into His designated purpose.

In the New Testament this concept of “a new thing” is manifested in the fulfillment of Messiah who came to gift us with salvation and to restore man to God’s original purpose—to glorify Him and live with Him forever.  God was unable to fulfill His purpose through families, tribes or kings; through prophets, mediators or priests.  God brought salvation to earth through Jesus Christ—”God’s new thing”.

This “new thing” would result in:

      • The Kingdom of God coming to earth. (Matt. 4:17)
      • Mercy, grace, and truth. (Ps. 85:10)
      • Man becoming a “new creation”. (2 Cor. 5:17)
      • Freedom from the penalty and power of sin. (Rom. 8:1)

A new thing is promised.

In Isaiah 43:19, God is promising to retrieve and restore Israel from their 70-year exile.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.  (KJV) 

The New Living Translation makes God’s plans even clearer.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. 

The Israelites deliverance out of captivity would be more famous than that from Egypt (Jer. 23:6-8).  Israel thought they knew God but He was about to show them something different—“a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert”.  To do this would be humanly impossible but God alone had the power and authority to do “a new thing” (Isa. 45:7, 12).

I am learning that with God nothing is impossible (Gen. 18:14).  As my pastor stated in his Sunday sermon, the reason we aren’t realizing God’s best for our lives isn’t because of God.   “God is not the problem.  WE are the problem!”  Our lack of faith and refusal to get out of our comfort zone keeps us from moving into God’s promises and His purpose for our lives.   1 Corinthians 2:9 reminds us that: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared or those who love him.”

Are we ready for a new thing?

For us, God is more than able to “make a pathway through the wilderness and create rivers in the dry wasteland.”  God wants to do a “new thing” in our life so we can walk in His divine purpose.  Here is the “CPR” we can use to revive us and begin our journey.

      • Confess areas of sin in our life that are interfering with hearing God.
      • Position ourselves to hear God speak—pray, read and meditate on His Word.
      • Reflect on where God has already begun working in our life.

Then ask God how we can serve in His Kingdom (our purpose), wait patiently, and listen attentively.  God invites us to join Him in doing a “new thing.”  When we trust God with our lives, we can look forward to an exciting future with purpose (Jer. 29:11).