Summary: If you can’t see a bright future, Good News! 1)God created you & wants you to know He cares about what’s happening 2)God is walking with you through your trouble & has a plan for you to live victoriously 3)God is always on the move & wants you to keep up
Good News for the New Year; Isa 43.18-21
(adapted from James T Draper, Jr.’s sermon by the same title, published in Preaching with Passion, Draper, ed., Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2004)
Since the New Year began, we have been seeing the Scripture tell us how to prepare ourselves for a new year. We have been encouraged to 1)get spiritual and 2)to touch others. And, 3)we should examine ourselves, keeping the good and throwing away the bad.
But, what if you are the kind who looks to the future and looks to yourself, and you really don’t see yourself making a change. You’ve tried in the past to correct bad habits and failed. You’ve attempted to get more serious about your spirituality, and came up short. Simply put, you don’t see a bright future. So, what do you do? Do you pretend that you are satisfied with your life when you really aren’t? Do you rationalize that your relationship with Jesus is all it can be? Do you feign contentment whey, truly, you hold yourself in contempt?
Folks listen, when you can’t see how change is possible, when you can’t see a brighter future, when you despair over having to settle, know this: God has good news for the New Year!
God is near to us and he is used to taking the broken and mending it. It is business as usual to take the hardened clay and remold it into something new and better. Whether you realize or not, God is at work in you and your future.
His gracious hand is working even when you are not. God is moving in your life even if your spiritual life is at a stand still. Listen friend, the good news for the New Year is that God loves you so much that his compassion for you supersedes your failed attempts. For God so loved you that he gave his only begotten for you that you may have everlasting life. It wasn’t based on your performance or lack of it, but based on the love of God.
If you look back and find a grim past and you look ahead and see no change coming, then God has a word for you, God has for you good news for the New Year:
18 "Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
20 The beast of the field will honor Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
21 This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise.
“This people” that Isaiah was writing to were not as yet a praising people, but were a discouraged people. These were people in exile, taken captive from their homeland to Babylon. Their lives were upset and rearranged, controlled and dominated. But God says to this people, “Consider not the past, but look to the new thing that I am doing.” “You may be able to do nothing to break free into a bright future, but I can!”
You see, God told them that it would have to be Himself who would change things. They were mere captives, without power, without freedom, without control. Don’t you feel like that at times, a captive to sin, without freedom to make good choices, always without the self-control that Christ modeled for his followers?
Paul felt this way when he wrote to the Romans,
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.
Paul felt as if he had no power of his own to stop the spiritual/physical war battling between always between his mind and his heart. But through the eyes of faith he called out and asked Jesus to deliver him from his wretched body of death. And with faith, he cried, “25 I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!” It is Jesus and Jesus alone that can free us from the slavery of sin and death.
It has always been God who has delivered humanity from the inertia of sin. And it has always been in the quagmire of not being able to see any human solution to the problem, that faith can make the biggest difference. So if you are in a place where you can’t find the answer, this is the place where you must have faith. This is the perfect time to hear God tell you, “Behold I will do a new thing.” “I will make a way in your wilderness…I will make waters in the dry land.” Without God doing it, and without faith, we have no hope, we will never see a bright future; but, with God at work, there is Good News for the New Year. Philippians 2:13 (NKJV) “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”