“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NLT)
It appears that our culture is obsessed with the shiny new bells and whistles that we think we really need in order to get through life. The only problem is that the new will soon become old and lose its appeal.
That is why I like thrift shops. You can usually get some pretty good deals there. But this is not always the case, and sometimes I can go overboard when trying to find a less expensive product.
For example, I once bought a blender for 50 cents. While I thought it was great at the time, it only worked for a few days. That faulty appliance didn’t appear to be worth much, but it did stimulate some ideas which I would like to share with you.
In this fast-paced modern world, we unfortunately tend to treat people like I treated that old blender. If we judge folks to have outlived their usefulness by societal standards, we throw them away like useless pieces of junk. We tell ourselves that we’re too busy to stop by the nursing home tonight, or that the job won’t allow us to help out our families. Our hearts have grown cold, and we may ask the same question which Cain once did: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Or we may ask, as the lawyer did, “Who is my neighbor?”
Whether you see yourself in this category or not, God has told us to visit the poor, the orphans and the widows. So my question is: Why don’t we do this on a larger scale?
I am sad to say this, but it is my opinion that most of us sit in church on Sunday, and then sit on the bench on Monday. I don’t mean this condemningly, because I know from experience that it is easy to do. I really want to try and see people with the same compassion and empathy that Jesus does. To do this, I have found that I need to spend time with Christ in prayer, asking Him to open my eyes. There is a hurting world out there, and according to our opening text, God is doing a new work. But the question facing all of us is: Will we let Him into the hidden areas of our hearts?
The challenge which God sets before us is to respond by walking in newness of life. But to do this topic justice, we need to explore what that phrase really means. Please come on this journey with me, for it is my hope and prayer that we will be conformed into His image a little bit more as a result.
I have to admit that at first I saw this as threatening, for it took me out of my comfort zone at times. But I finally realized that it was because of this: The scriptures tell us to count the cost of following Christ. True discipleship means I am not my own. I have been bought with a price by Jesus Christ.
Stop and think about that. Meditate on what it means, for it is truly life-changing. Here are some thoughts that might help you out:
1. If I have come under Christ’s Lordship, the ownership of my life has been taken over by another.
2: I want to do what He desires, because I have willingly transferred that ownership to Him.
Now contrast this concept with our predominant cultural views. To do this, you only have to listen to some famous commercial jingles. “Have it your way” and “You deserve a break today” come to mind. If you examine these catchy little ditties with an open mind, you will see how they totally revolve around self-satisfaction.
Christ, however, has called us to a life that centers on our love for Him. Paul tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, but as someone has said, a living sacrifice can crawl off the altar.
So that brings us back to our phrase in question, namely a newness of life. Jesus explained this quite vividly when He outlined the three steps of discipleship. He commanded us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow Him.
The idea of denying ourselves for Christ is the act of saying, “not my will, but yours be done” in our own lives. In the second step, please make note of the Word “daily”. The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning. Mercy is getting something that we don’t deserve, and God wants to shower new opportunities upon us each day that we don’t earn.
While it is easy to raise your hand in church, we must learn to press forward through the trials of life if we are to carry our crosses. We must rejoice because He has borne our sorrow, and shielded us from uncountable pains and trials with His mercy. The idea of following Christ simply emphasizes the fact that He is in control of my life, and I am not.
Let Christ truly take control of your own life in a new way. As He leads you down new paths, you will forget the things that have bound you, as you look forward to new opportunities.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.