TEXT: Isaiah 43:18-19
How many of you here this morning, “Would like to have something new or a fresh start in your life?” Many of us here this morning have made many mistakes in our lives as Christians and as individuals. We have experienced many setbacks and failures throughout our lives. Sometimes we allow these mistakes, these setbacks and failures to enslave us to the point that we never enjoy the full life that God has given us to enjoy.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Then he goes on to tell us that there is an adversary, called the Devil, that seeks to still, kill and destroy that life. The Devil will remind us of our past in order to keep us from enjoying the life that God gave us to live. The Devil does not want you to have a fresh start in life or for you to experience something new.
The good news is, God says, “I want you to have a fresh start in life, I want you to have a new beginning, I want to do something new in your life.” Aren’t you glad that God wants to do something new in your life? Doesn’t it make you excited to know that God desire to give you a fresh start, a new beginning in life? What all of us here need this morning is a Fresh Start, a New Beginning with God. Last year some of you said, “I am going to grow in my relationship with God. I am going to pray more, read my bible more and get more involved in my church. I’m going to spend more quality time with my family.” The list could go on. The fact all of us here made some mistakes or we made some bad decision that hindered us from doing those things that wanted to do.
Well this morning the good news is according to Isaiah 43:18 “The Lord says, `Forget about what has happened before. Do not think about the past. Instead, look at the new things I’m going to do. ” Listen to what God is saying in this verse. Forget about what’s happened before. He says don’t think about the past. It’s over. The book’s closed on it.
We need to understand that God is far more interested in our future than He is in our past. Some people think that God is stuck on their past. That all He wants to do is remind them of the things that they have done wrong. God is more interested in your future than He is with your past. That’s where you’re going to spend the rest of your life. He says, “Forget about your past. Forget about the former things. Don’t think about it. Look at the new thing I’m going to do.”
Israel was being punished for their sins and rebellion against God. God wanted to give hope and encouragement to His people. He wanted them to know that even though they were being punished they were not being forsaken. God wanted His people to understand that the punishment that they were experiencing would not be the end of them. The fact is that God want to give them a fresh start in life, a new Beginning in life.
Israel no doubt was discouraged because they thought this was the end of them. They had gone too far, they had sinned and rebelled against God to the point that He would no longer be their God. Maybe they thought God would not deliver us again, it’s over. That is when they begin to remember the former things or past deliverances. Israel could remember past deliverances and past victories. They could remember when they were trapped by the Red Sea and had nowhere to go, how God made away for them. They could remember that when the enemy was about to overtake them how He provided protection for them. They could remember the former things, but they couldn’t see their future. That is why God said; “I am going to do something new.”
Maybe that is where you are this morning! You feel that you have made so many mistakes, you have failed God so many times and you have sinned it all away. Now God doesn’t want anything to do with you. You feel and believe that you have no future with God. The good news is, God is saying, “It’s not over, I have plans for your life. I am about to do something new for you. ”
The 1st step to embracing the new thing that God wants to do in your life is to:
1. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS
v.18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” QUIT LOOKING BEHIND, START LOOKING AHEAD.
Application: If you are continually looking behind you cannot see where you are going.
If you are ever going to move on to new things in Christ you must learn that:
a. You Must Never Depend Upon Past Victories To Sustain You.
(“…Forget the former things.”)
Application: The children of Israel had many victories in their past:
- Leaving Egypt
- Conquering the Land of Canaan
- Fighting of prospective conquerors
- Survived a split in their country
But now they are in captivity. All their previous victories were doing nothing to set them free. They needed a new work, a new miracle, a new victory.
The question isn’t what has God done (“They are new every morning…”) – the question must be: “What is God doing in your life right now?” “What is it that you want Him to do in your life right now?”
Secondly, in order to move on to new things in Christ you must know that:
b. You Must Never Allow Past Failures to Possess You.
“…do not dwell on the past.”
Application: The children of Israel had failed God miserably. Every time He blessed them with good things, they returned to Him evil things:
- God gave them the Temple – they gave Him idol worship
- God gave them truth – they lived and proclaimed a lie
- God gave them His commands – they lived like they were suggestions.
- God gave them wealth – they used it to abuse the poor
- God gave them Himself – they gave Him nothing except rejection.
The children of Israel did not deserve to receive anything from God. Yet He still loved them and He earnestly wanted to help them change. Notice God’s Message: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! God was not condemning them for their past, they could do nothing to change it. Instead God was holding out the hand of hope. He is in effect saying: “Forget about your past — I am giving you an opportunity to start over.”
If you want to embrace the new things of God, you need to refocus your thoughts; that means you have to stop thinking some old patterns. Which memories are you still rehearsing that keep you from having a fresh start in life? The Bible says let go. Let go of those things. The more you hold on to that memory, the more you rehearse it, it continues to hurt you today. It cannot hurt you without your permission. You have to change your mind and let go and get rid of those painful, hurtful memories of shame and guilt and other things.
c. You Must Never Live on Yesterday’s Faith.
Application: The children of Israel had experienced great spiritual blessings throughout their history. From the first Passover, to the crossing of the Red Sea, to the conquering of the Land of Canaan, to the building of the temple, the children of Israel had seen the hand of God at work in and through their lives. Yet their faith in what God had done was doing nothing to deliver them from their present situation. Their old faith was not sufficient enough to deliver them from their present problems. They needed new faith, a new vision for what God could do. They needed a new portion of the faith that had brought to pass all the victories from before.
In order to start acting in faith that means you’ve got to stop having a pity party. You’ve got to stop feeling sorry for yourself. “Poor me! I’m such a victim. Life is unfair.” Of course life is unfair! Whoever said it was fair? God never said that. This is a world filled with sin and because of that, life is unfair. But you have to go on with life anyway. You stop having a pity party and stop rehearsing the past, regretting the past, and you get on with the present and the future. The more time we spend regretting our past, the more of our future is wasted. The more time you spend thinking, “I wish that hadn’t happened! I wish I could change that. If only I could go back, reverse the clock and redo history,” and you’re rehearsing and regretting, you’ll not only make yourself miserable right now, you’re setting yourself up for more of the same thing in the future. The way you set yourself up for more failure is by focusing on past failures. Whatever you focus on you tend to reproduce in your life. “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”
What you need to do is learn from those failures. Let me give you the real secret of success. Every successful entrepreneur knows this. Real success is built on failure. Failure is the way you become a success. You figure out what doesn’t work. You never call it a failure in your life. Call it an education. You learn from past failures and mistakes and act in faith for the future. Some people will never act in faith because they have been paralyzed by the fear of past failures and mistakes.
What we need to do is learn from the past, act in faith for the future and look to God for guidance.
How do you get rid of fear of failure? Faith. ACT IN FAITH. Faith for today, not on yesterday’s provision, guidance, blessings or miracles…but step out in faith today, believing that God will do something great in your life today! Faith is not so much the absence of fear, as it is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Stop worrying about what others say or think. Proverbs 29:25 “Being afraid of people can get you into trouble.” The Living Bible says, “Fear of man is a dangerous trap, but to trust in God means safety.”
Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to China, said that Jesus’ words in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God,” could be translated, “HOLD ON TO THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, former pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel, appreciated Taylor’s insight and said:
“Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God and, as long as you do that, you cannot go wrong. Faith does not look at the difficulties…Faith does not look at itself or at the person who is exercising it. FAITH LOOKS AT GOD…Faith is interested in God only, and it talks about God and it praises God and it extols the virtues of God. The measure of the strength of man’s faith, always, is ultimately the measure of his knowledge of God…He knows God so well that he can rest on the knowledge. And it is the prayers of such a man that are answered.”
Always remember this: LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS FAIR, BUT GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL!
The 2nd step to embracing the new thing what God wants to do in your life is to
2. CLARIFY YOUR FOCUS.
DISCOVER WHAT GOD WANTS FOR YOU.
PERCEIVE [GR yada’, yaw-dah’ prim. root]: to know by seeing; care, recognition, acknowledge, aware of, understand.
What do you see when you view your life? Do you see possibilities or problems? Notice what God said: I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
The children of Israel had a choice. They could view their past and the problems of their present, or they could focus upon what God wanted to do in their lives.
In order to discover what God wants for you:
a. You Must First See Yourself as God Sees You
The children of Israel felt as though they were getting just what they deserved because of the way they had lived. Some even believed that God would never have anything more to do with them. But they were wrong!!!
You may feel like your past has made your life a wasteland, but in God, your life can become a stream of life.
Romans 8:1,2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Colossians 1:21,22 21And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight
In order to discover what God wants for you:
b. You Must See Your Possibilities as God Sees Them
I am making a way in the desert.
God is able to transform the desert areas of your life into fields of blessing and abundance. God can take a dried up useless life and transform it into a life of purpose and grace
The greatest step to embracing the new thing what God wants to do in your life is to
3. COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD’S PLAN
God had already set into motion the events and people who would lead Israel out of captivity and back into the land of blessing. BUT IT WAS STILL UP TO THEM TO DECIDE IF THEY WANTED WHAT GOD WAS OFFERING. If they refused God’s plan, if they refused to follow where God was leading, then they would be doomed to remain in their captivity.
God has already set into motion a new direction and a new purpose for your life — will you follow Him?
Trust God to help us succeed. Depend on Him. We don’t need depend on ourselves. We’ve already proven that we can’t do it on our own. That’s why we’ve failed. Some people just don’t get it. They stumble and fall and then they get up and say, “I’ll just try harder!” It’s like you go up to a wall and bang your head against it and the wall doesn’t fall down. You try it again and Bang! Again. You keep doing it thinking, “Maybe it will fall over this time.” That’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results. If we keep doing the same thing then we will keep getting the same result. We can’t change who we are, only God can do that. I am not speaking about the outward man but the inner man. The real person is the hidden person of the heart. Success in life is not trying harder, but living smarter – GIVING GOD THE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Our own understanding can often deceive us. What we “think” should happen. What we “reason” to happen. Yes, facts are facts, and if you are basing your understanding on that alone, you are limiting God. You see, GOD IS A GOD OF MIRACLES! A place where facts alone cannot explain. If we take the God-factor out of an equation, we will end up with less then what could really happen.
Zechariah 4:6 “You will not succeed by your own strength or power but by My Spirit, says the Lord.”
“When someone becomes a Christian, They become a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!” God specializes in new beginnings. Jesus Christ has the power to do that. It’s called being born again, the chance to start over. God says, “I don’t want you to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to give you a whole new life.”
Psalms 95:7-8 “For He is our God, And we are the people of His pas-ture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion…”
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