Welcome to a BRAND NEW YEAR! Be honest, how many of you really thought the world was going to end on Dec. 21, 2012?? But hey, here we are! And again, like the beginning of every “new year”, we have the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, but more importantly refocus on the year that is immediately in front of us.
And as you begin 2013 what if, instead of simply making your annual resolutions, you considered some things in your life you’d like to see either replaced, renewed or even better, brand new? Don’t we all have some areas or some things in our life and our church we’d love to be brand new? Well, I’m convinced that’s exactly what God wants you to do and what he wants GCC to do- to consider that he’s “about to do something brand new!”
Here’s our theme Scripture for 2013: Isaiah 43:18-19 (The Message) “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
Wow!! God insists on doing something “brand new” in 2013 in your life, in your family, in your business, in your Life Group and ministry area, in our church, and more importantly, through our church in this greater Denver area! God says don’t simply be content with where you’ve been or what you’ve done- good or bad. As a matter of fact, God encourages to “forget about what’s already happened” and not to “keep going over old history” as if your anchored to either to good or bad experiences!
God says, “Be alert, be present” to the “something brand new” that He not only wants to do, but has already been doing! In other words, God has been at work to set you up, set GCC up for “something brand new!” He’s been making some “roads” and some “rivers”- two things that speak volumes about what “brand new” means for us!
But before we unpack all that and I talk about the implications of 2013 being a year of BRAND NEW let’s first consider why we would need or want “brand new!”
WHAT’S APPEALING ABOUT BRAND NEW?
When you think of brand new perhaps your first new car comes to mind or a new house you moved into, maybe the clothes or shoes you just purchased. Whatever the context brand new doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing something for the very first time; it often means you’re experiencing something in a new way!
For you to fully appreciate the concept of brand new you have to go beyond the experience however and realize WHY brand new can be so appealing: “Why do I like or want things to be brand new?” Here are three possibilities…
1) The thing I currently have is worn out. The car is simply worn out and beyond repair. That’s legitimate! Stuff get’s worn out- it doesn’t last forever. Mostly stuff gets worn out because we “wear” it or use it so much that eventually the socks are full or holes or the toaster won’t toast the bread anymore!
Relationships wear out. Jobs wear out. Ministries wear out. And regrettably we try to move forward in life, in our relationships, in our jobs, in our ministries with worn out love, or worn out passion, or worn out methods! And let’s be honest, WE NEED SOMETHING BRAND NEW!
Again, “brand new” sometimes means to “replace” what’s worn out. But more often than not, especially in relationships, often it means to “repair” or “renew” it! Maybe your relationships or your job or a ministry doesn’t need replaced it needs renewed!
The question is, for you and for GCC is this: What’s worn out that needs replaced or does it simply need repaired or renewed? We have to be very careful and prayerful before deciding this!
2) The thing I currently have I just don’t want or need anymore. I don’t want or need an iPhone 1 when I could have an iPhone 5! What’s wrong with that? It’s really okay to not want something anymore; especially as it relates to what is “new and improved!” I love the “new and improved” aspects of technology- who wants a 16 inch black and white TV when you can have a 50” 1080p HD TV?? Who wants bang out docs on a typewriter (some youth are asking right now, “what’s that?), when you can have a laptop??
Now, I’m not remotely suggesting you should be applying this to your marriage or relationships or maybe even a job, UNLESS it’s not wanting your marriage or relationships or job to be bad, but “new and improved” in the sense that some significant changes need to take place. Perhaps what’s needed is a “brand new” perspective or attitude.
Again, “brand new” often means you just don’t want “brand old” anymore! Things get branded, marriages, relationships, people, churches… and it is more than okay to say, “God, we need something brand new in this marriage, in this relationship, in this job, in this church!
What’s been branded in a way that you don’t want it anymore and you need “brand” new?
3) The thing I currently have is not worth the effort and even wasteful. It’s just not worth it; as a matter of fact, it’s even wasteful, to keep buying stamps for letters when I could be sending emails for communication purposes! That makes sense! It’s way more effective and saves money too! Let’s be honest, after a while that 1980 Plymouth Horizon just isn’t worth putting money into anymore- especially when the AutoZone tells you they don’t even make parts for it anymore!!
It’s just not worth the effort and even “crazy” to keep doing same thing and expect different results- especially as it relates to methods of communication or worse yet, ministry! We may not always like it but there are “brand new” ways of doing things that are powerfully more effective!
Sure, I can still go to the Library and research OR I can access the over 20,000 volumes I have on my computer that can “searched” in a matter of seconds!!
We can waste our time, which is our life, on outdated, archaic systems, technologies, methods, and yes, even in reminiscing about the “good old days!” I’m all for a trip down memory lane once in a while, but don’t live there! As much as we’d often like to go back to what we believe to be a simpler, or happier, or convenient, or in our mind, a productive time, life is a moving forward journey, so let’s not waste it!
What are you wasting your time, your life on; what’s not worth it anymore?
We need “brand new” since things can become worn out or not wanted, or not wasteful- a waste of our time and life! Of course, any of those three things is completely contingent on the “something new God wants to do!” God’s purpose or will, what aligns with his Word, the Bible, is always the criteria for embracing and experiencing something brand new.
Lets be honest brand old can be outdated, stale, even hurtful! The KEY is KNOWING if God wants to REPLACE it, RENEW it, or DO SOMETHING BRAND NEW!
You have to seek God and ask (21 Days of Prayer/Fasting beginning Jan. 19): 1) Is there something in my life God wants to replace? Are there some things God wants to renew? What are the things God wants to do something brand new with? We need to ask those same questions for the church, etc.
As a matter of fact, God challenges us to “Forget all that- what is behind us, in the past!” Not in a dishonoring way, but in a way that doesn’t anchor us to the past, but frees us to “See the something new that God is about to do!” Which brings me to how important it is to…
ACTUALLY FORGET SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON SOMETHING NEW!
Note Isaiah 43:14-19 (NLT) This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon, forcing the Babylonians to flee in those ships they are so proud of. I am the Lord, your Holy One, Israel’s Creator and King. I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. I called forth the mighty army of Egypt with all its chariots and horses. I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned, their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick. “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. 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.”
For some, a brand new thing or a brand new way is more than just appealing; we recognize that it is necessary. For others, brand new is difficult to embrace, especially when it requires you to admit, “it’s a new day!” And then there are those who desperately need brand new because “brand old” or “brand current” means being branded by past hurts or current mistakes, which you’d love to be able to forget!
And yes, in every case, God wants us, perhaps even demands us to “Forget all that!” WHY?? It’s the only way we can see the “something new that he’s about to do!”
When God tells Israel to “forget” the Exodus from Egypt he essentially is telling them that they must “let go of old imagery in order to understand the new.” Notice: Instead of a way through the sea, it will be through the desert. Instead of the sea being made into dry land, the desert will bring forth life-giving water! In other words, God is saying “that’s the way I did it then, but this is the way I am doing it now!” Why is this so important for us to embrace?
Because God is saying that the “landscape” has changed! Praying that God will open the sea so you can cross over is not appropriate when you’re standing in the middle of a desert! Both for you personal life and for the church we must realize the “landscape of culture has changed” and this requires that we “forget” how things used to be or used to be done and focus on why and how things need to be different!
People and churches who fail to accept that the landscape of life in 2013 has significantly changed are doomed to being more than simply irrelevant, but to being irreverent! God wants to do something brand new BECAUSE NEW is NECESSARY to NAVIGATE this present LANDSCAPE!
Whether we like it or want to accept it or not, we live in a spiritual wilderness and moral wasteland! I’m not going to bore you with the stats- just Google it! We’ve got the “new normal” that has cultivated a very different cultural landscape and we need a “road” to follow and a “river” to refresh us!
It may require us to ask: “Why does the church exist and Who is it for?” We may have “forget” how we used to engage and connect with people and “focus” on “new rules of engagement” that are required!
NEW ROADS AND RIVERS!
Ill. Last month Scott Martin and I were traveling across a ranch in Wyoming. We were literally in the middle of nowhere! The “road” we were on wasn’t on any map, but it was a road and eventually it led us to a major highway.
Wildernesses and Wastelands are not very attractive, nor very appealing for the church. We tend to find roads around such places. But if this is the landscape of our culture, a spiritual wilderness and wasteland, then it’s where our influence is most needed.
God promises to make NEW roads and create NEW rivers! And we need to understand just how powerful NEW is biblically!
• There are two New Testament words that come to mind that are translated “new.” Neos meaning “recent” and Kainos meaning “qualitatively different.” I like the latter one because it aligns with Isaiah 43:18-19 and speaks to the potential to experience God-ordained brand new things for your life!
• God is committed to doing SOMETHING that is DISTINCTIVELY DIFFERENT and of MORE SIGNIFICANT VALUE than we’ve ever experienced before!
• The KEY is “forgetting the old” and “SEEING the NEW God is doing!” God has distinctively NEW things in mind for you and me and GCC! God knows the ways of the past will not work in this present cultural landscape- we do not need dry paths through rivers; we need rivers in dry places!
• Consider the NEW Roads and NEW Rivers God is making…
ROADS are representative of both DESTINATION and DIRECTION!
Recall Israel had “wandered” in the “wilderness” for 40 years! They meandered and messed around all that time. Although the “Promise Land” was their destination, at least for them, there was no direct route. So when God told them he’d make a road or pathways in the wilderness, he’s saying that they would have not merely have a destination, but the specific direction to get there! God was going to bring the children of Israel back together as a nation and he’d make pathways for that to happen, etc.
In 2013, what’s God’s destination for your life, family, for GCC, and what’s the direction, the new “roads” God will make to get there? Over the next few weeks of this series I want to share some specific thoughts about this as it relates to us and to you- not changing our message or mission, but identifying the more direct roads that will enable us to navigate our “wilderness” and bring greater influence and impact wherever we go! That the “NEW” Road may not END here but START here!
RIVERS are representative of PROVISION and PRODUCTIVITY!
Throughout Scripture God uses “rivers” to indicate how he would provide for Israel and his children and how he would make his people prosper. You read about the “river of life” and being “planted by the river” and “rivers of blessing”, etc. For Israel God was saying that their lives and land would be blessed because he would create rivers! Visit Israel today and you will see how they’ve caused the desert to become an agricultural oasis by creating rivers that provide irrigation to produce significant amounts of food, etc. Israel has also now created “fish farms” in the desert by drilling deep into the ground and tapping into aquifiers, etc.
“Rivers” speak of that which FLOWS in the same direction and that which overflows and FLOODS! It speaks of that which resources and refreshes!
In 2013, God wants GCC to “flow” in a very specific direction and even become a “flood” of influence and impact! How do we need to flow for overflow? I believe too, that we will see God’s provision come to us and flow through us!
Again, I’ll being sharing more on this in the weeks ahead! It’s imperative that we trust God and expect that he will do something new in 2013! Perhaps something new is required because some things are worn out, or not wanted or needed, or wasteful and not worth the effort anymore…
We need to realize that God is very much committed to making “all things brand new!” (Rev. 21:5)
With this in mind, 2013 carries the promise of BRAND NEW! No, we’re not changing our message or our mission; we’re simply challenging ourselves to expect and experience something brand new for our church and for our lives personally for clearer direction and overflowing provision!
So I invite you to join me as we take this journey together in 2013, to be alert, to be active, and to be aware of how God will cause something brand new to burst out!
Write these questions down…
1. What do I need brand new in my life?
2. What needs replaced or renewed?
3. What’s the “something” new that God wants to do?
Prayer: “Lord, you’ve promised to do something new in my life. There are some things that are worn out: __________________, there are some things I just don’t want anymore because You don’t want me to have them: ____________________, and there are some things I’m wasting my time and my life on because they’re not Your purpose for me: _________________________. Give me the wisdom and clarity to know what YOU want for me God…” Amen!