Discipleship

The new beginning

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.
Isaiah 43: 15-21 (selected verse: 19)

By seeing the present political, socio-economic and religious scenario, it is difficult to predict how the year 2018 will be.

The warlike situation, violence, natural calamities, religious fanaticism, corruption, a decline of morality, women protection, untimely deaths etc. are the major issues that have become the global concern. In the midst of this, most of us believe that each  New Year brings blessings and peace to all and because of this hope we greet others.

Thank God, for the social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram etc. that helps us to connect with others and through this, we send greetings to our loved ones easily. On the New Year’s Eve, millions of people get engaged in organizing grand functions according to their customs and traditions.

On such occasions, people try to forget their painful past and welcome New Year with great excitement. But in this fun, many fail to see that they are being surrounded by unrealistic hope and their momentary enthusiasm will fade away with the rise of new worries and stress.

But those who trust in God and in His Word, for them the New Year brings divine blessings. We believe in God who does new and extraordinary things in our lives. Pandita Ramabai, a former Indian Social Reformer as well as an ardent follower of Christ once said, ‘a life totally committed to God has nothing to fear, nothing to lose, nothing to regret.’

Isaiah 43 is a passage of great hope, God’s faithfulness and His redeeming act for the people of Israel as well as for the Church today. The passage reminds us that we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus in order to glorify and praise Him through our good deeds. As Creator, He reveals His intimacy with us. After creating us, He has not abandoned us. But His protection (vs. 2), presence (vs.5), and power (vs. 16-17) continue in our every day of our lives.

In verse 18, God tells His people not to remember the former things. Israel suffered under the Babylonian exile because of their sins and hence God commanded them not to remember their past. He is now ready to restore them from their suffering. God does not delight in our suffering and so, He sends His Son Jesus Christ into the world as a saviour to redeem us from the slavery of sin and eternal death.

As we enter the New Year, God’s instruction for us is not to remember those things that have caused pain in the past. The reason for pain may be due to some sickness, theft, relationship crises, accident, addiction, the death of the loved ones, pride, hidden sin, job insecurity etc. But God of the Bible through Jesus Christ has the power to wipe out all our past follies, failures and bad deeds.

This New Year gives us an opportunity to trust in God who is ready to give us a chance for the new beginning in Him. In Vs. 25 God says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Once He forgets our past then we should not allow our past to haunt us. In Philippians 3:13 Paul writes ‘But one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.’ In order to progress in spiritual life, Paul decided to forget his ugly past that kept him away from God’s revelation. His focus now becomes Jesus Christ who is the source of all heavenly blessings.

Once we forget our painful past, God assures us to do new things in and through our lives. He has the power to break the wall of the barrier; open the closed doors; straighten the crooked roads, prepare unexpected highways in the wilderness; to run the streams of water in the desert and fill the barren land with plants. He replaces our old things with the new ones and changes our lifestyle totally.

John in Revelation 21:5 writes, ‘He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” He wants to redeem, refresh and renew us from our dull and boring past and fill us with His excitement, everlasting joy, and happiness by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is going to open new avenues for us in this New Year. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Is. 40:31).

Our new beginning begins with Jesus Christ who is the hope of our lives. According to Christian calendar, on First January, the naming of Jesus was done. Hence God gave the name Jesus Christ to the world on the first day of the year so that we may abide in Him. When we are in Christ Jesus circumstances shall never be our master and ‘we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ and ‘freed us from our sins in His own blood.’

Let this New Year bring blessings and prosperity to all of us as we trust our God daily.

Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us, through this world’s tempestuous sea;
guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us, for your help is full and free,
here possessing every blessing, if our God our Father be.
J Edmeston