A New Beginning
Let’s talk about “new beginnings” this morning!
The kind of “new beginnings” that really mean something.
Starting fresh again...with a new awakening in your Christian walk.
And why not! ...we’re still in the very first few weeks of an entire new year.
To help show you ...and convince you that you need to consider a “new beginning”, we will look at two main areas in our Bibles.
If you received a church bulletin and have already peeked at the back,
you have found the two areas to which the Lord will direct your attention to this morning.
The books of Acts and Jonah.
Let’s pause, and take a moment to go to the Lord in prayer.
PRAYER: “Lord you have set before us today portions of you Word to reveal to us important life changing scripture. Life changing if we let the Holy Spirit work It’s way. We find these wonderful verses in Acts CH 9 and in the entire book of Jonah. Reveal the true meaning of your Word to us Lord, for it’s in Jesus name we ask, Amen.
Before I launch into scripture this Lord‘s Day...I ask you...
Are you an individual who is in need of a “new beginning”.
Has your Spirit-led life become colder than desired.
Have you become increasingly indifferent with your Christian peers?
Are there any of life’s un-necessary baggage that needs discarding?
Have you noticed that your Christ-like walk is sadly un-spirited?
Tell me then, has God wanted you to go in a certain direction ...a direction that would have clearly benefited His Kingdom,
...but you went in another direction, an opposite direction, or no direction at all?!
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time for an awakening in your lukewarm heart.
Maybe it’s time for self examination, today, now, this morning.
Maybe it’s time for a “new beginning” or a re-visit to a previous “new beginning” that needs re-kindling.
A re-visit that will set things back on track and back on spiritual fire with you, your fellow Christians and the Lord.
For I’m not only calling for possible new conversions today concerning this “new beginning” such as illustrated with Saul’s conversion; but also for the saved Christian who needs a spiritual awakening.
Why a “new beginning”...?
Well, because we all could use a little improvement in our daily walk.
We could all use ...a meaningful spiritual boost.
I’ll let your own minds discuss with yourselves whether the words or terms like “spiritual lazy” or “backslider” or “lukewarm Christian” or even “unsaved sinner” mean anything in your life.
If you have a heart that is crying out for change this morning, the message found in the books of Acts and Jonah, will be of vital concern.
All of you know that in a congregation of any size,
in any given church or denomination,
there are individuals who need to improve their relationship in Christ.
I know there are some here today.
It is so easy and common for us to slide into this spiritual laziness.
So let’s set our minds and our hearts to purpose a change before leaving this place today.
No more taking the easy road.
No more automatic wide-path decisions.
No more brushing-off the Holy Spirits’ conviction.
Our old nature sees to it, that we should struggle,
and at times this old nature seems stubbornly unshakeable...
This old nature is in constant conflict with our new nature...the one secured in Christ -if you are a believer.
So I present to you, two different men in two different areas of our Bible, from the Old and the New Testaments.
We will look first at Saul...who became Paul; an excellent example for us all. Saul had an amazing conversion on the road to Damascus.
And then we’ll finish with a revealing look at Jonah for help with our “new beginning” concept. Jonah, who quickly re-directed his own “new beginning” with the Lord while out at sea.
These two examples “cover the bases” between beginning anew:
--either as a new convert or
--a current believer who is in need of more than just a little prompting from the Lord.
I wonder which example best describes the place where you’re at today?
Both biblical stories are dramatic and very much worth looking at.
If you’re currently perfect as Christ, neither scripture reference is for you.
If you are not perfect...this message is for you.
But you say Brother Mike,
A “new beginning??”
“I am doing just fine in my Christian walk.”
--“I attend church every Sunday.”
--“I never miss Sunday School.”
--“I’m in the church choir.”
--“I assist with preparation of the Lord’s Supper.”
--“I take a shift in the Nursery”
--“I help collect the offering.”
That’s only a minute portion of the overall picture in our daily walk...
just a smidgen!
and for those who do some of those things I mentioned...that is indeed very commendable. Thank-You.
God Bless you, those things are very important, thank-you!
But after Sunday has come and gone and you are back at work or play or business or home... are you still making some kind of a difference?
That is where the “new beginning” idea mentioned today will help you.
You...a member in this flock,
this congregation needs you to start afresh today with a change we will see this whole year through and into the next.
Will that change take place in you today?...will you let the Holy Spirit have it’s way with your “new beginning”?
I believe the examination of the two lives we will look at today will encourage you to do more,
--to be on fire for the Lord...
--to live stronger for the Lord...
--to further the kingdom of God in wonderful ways...
...and why not...we haven’t reached perfection yet -have we? ...so let’s keep on striving for that very perfection in Christ.
I think of Abram who became Abraham
I think of Sarai who became Sarah
I think of Saul who became Paul... our first example we will look at from the book of Acts.
Turn with me to the New Testament...Acts chapter 9.
This is truly wonderful.
Our first example of someone who definitely started a “new beginning” ...Let me read for you several key verses.
(READ IT NOW, Acts chapter 9:1-19)
Isn’t this amazing!
Saul’s personal history prior to his “new beginning” is amazing too...
Let me tell you more about Saul and further clarify the “new beginning” he really did have.
Saul, was a noted enemy of the church at the time.
Saul was there when Stephen was stoned, no doubt encouraging that ugly scene.
He was of pure Jewish extraction.
His parents were Pharisees.
He was instructed in Jewish history and the Law of Moses.
He could even declare that as touching the law he was blameless.
It as Saul who “breathed threats and slaughter against the very disciples of the Lord” as we read in the first verse of chapter nine.
He was on a mad expedition to hunt and find the scattered disciples...he wanted them arrested and imprisoned.
Then Saul, while on that stretch of road from Jerusalem to Damascus, was suddenly enlightened with a light from heaven that flashed around him.
And his “new beginning” experience began.
Saul, now Paul, receives the Holy Spirit, and immediately starts to take action in his new conversion.
I quote “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God”.
We can only hope and pray that our “new beginning“, starting today, could be as meaningful, and spirit-led and directed, as Paul’s. I pray that it is.
Imagine, Saul thought he was already doing God’s Will up till this life changing incident!
Imagine if the Lord had His way with YOU today!
Let me encourage you with verse 22...“Yet Saul grew more and more powerful”. Your “new beginning” can be powerful too.
------Jesus... (if we examine the text closely)...was the preacher to Saul himself in his conversion...let that same Jesus speak to you today in your “new beginning“.
Now if you would with the time we have left, join me as I read the entire book of Jonah...it’s not long...please read along.
Jonah who was the only OT prophet to attempt to run from God...
maybe you are doing the same thing.
Jonah who was sent on a mission...in a certain direction to preach to Nineveh because their wickedness, evil, violent and idolatry behavior, was before the Lord.
God eventually, as you will see in the story, has to command this prophet twice to go and finish his mission in Nineveh...
Listen or follow along as we read this important story.
Let the Holy Spirit convict you.
Let it tug on your heart and prompt you to seriously consider changing any direction in your life that needs to be changed.
Many of us are very much like Jonah.
(READ JONAH NOW, all four chapters)
I read the entire book because you needed to hear the entire book.
It was clear and simple. I wanted the actual reading of the book to take the place of any long explanation. I think reading it was revealing enough.
Jonah found his direction after a rocky seafaring start...
He offered up a Psalm of Thanksgiving and went to Nineveh after all...and was instrumental in saving that great city of 120,000.
I ask that you get on the right path this week for the Lord.
Starting today, prayerfully ask the Lord to allow His presence to saturate your thinking, your actions, your talents, ...everything, and you will certainly be on your way to a promising new direction...a “new beginning” that will make a difference in the lives around you.
The flesh is so weak, but God’s Spirit is so very willing.