Thursday, January 05, 2017

New Beginnings

Why do we like New Year’s so much? I think it’s because it represents a chance to start over, a clean slate, a fresh start. We’ve all experienced our share of mistakes, failures and missed opportunities. We all have things we would do differently if given the chance. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were a “Do Over” button in life? I believe this New Year can be different because the God we serve is the God of New Beginnings.

There’s one story in the Bible that really captures this reality for me. It’s the story of the woman caught in adultery. Let’s look at her story in John 8 and let me share a few major points that jump out to me.

My New Beginning Depends on God and Not Someone Else.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, (John 8:3 NASB)
I’m glad that my future and my relationship with God do not depend on other people or I would be in big trouble.
It was the religious leaders that brought her to Jesus. The people you and I would have thought might have some compassion on her were the actual ones condemning her. Thank God her New Beginning didn’t depend on them! You may be thinking that your New Beginning depends upon someone else. For example:

  • Marrieds: “I will have a New Beginning  if my husband/wife chooses to be a better spouse.”
  • Singles: “I will have a New Beginning if I can find that perfect mate this year.”
  • Employee: “I will have a New Beginning if my boss treats me with respect.”
  • Student: “I will have a New Beginning if my teachers will just give me a break.”
You need to hear this! Your New Beginning does not depend upon anybody but God. If you are depending on someone other than God, you will never get it. God and God alone can give you a New Beginning.

My New Beginning Depends on God and Not What I Think About Myself .

They said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. (John 8:4-6 NASB)
Religious leaders think they now have Jesus. If He shows her mercy then they can accuse Him of violating the Old Testament Law.  If he abides by the Law He would be breaking the Roman law. But they were mistaken in how Jesus was going to respond to them. It never crossed their minds that He would find a way to show compassion while upholding God’s standard of holiness.

We do the same thing in our own lives. We talk ourselves out of New Beginnings by thinking, “Jesus wouldn’t do that for me. You don’t realize all those things that I have done in my past. God surely won’t forgive those things. How can God possible forgive me?”
Why don’t you let God make the decision how He wants to deal with you rather than you trying to make that decision for Him? In John 8, the religious leaders were wrong on how Jesus was going to deal with the woman caught in adultery. And you and I might be wrong in our own lives about how God going to deal with us. He may want to give you a New Beginning today, but you can not accept it because you can not possibly think God would give you that chance. Please… let God choose.

I Must Acknowledge That I Need a New Beginning.

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 NASB)

Jesus makes the statement, “he who is without sin throw the first stone.” Jesus knew that no person in that crowd was without sin. The woman caught in adultery was in sin, but so were the religious leaders who brought her to Jesus, and so was the crowd that gathered around to watch the event. All have sinned. That means that every single person in the sound of Jesus’ voice that day needed a New Beginning, not just the woman caught in adultery. But she was the only one who got one that day.
When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. (John 8:9 NASB)

Jesus didn’t tell the others to leave; He just told them to throw the first stone if you are without sin. I believe that Jesus desired that they all stay to receive their New Beginning. Instead, they all left. They refused to accept her New Beginning, and in doing so they also refused to receive their own New Beginning. They went away still enslaved by their sin.

That was their choice. What will yours be? Everyone reading these words today needs a New Beginning. We need a New Beginning on our jobs. We need a New Beginning in our homes. We need a New Beginning in our friendships. We desperately need a New Beginning in our Fellowship with God.

God’s New Beginning Will Change My Life

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11 NASB)
Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

You and I will know if we have accepted God’s New Beginning if our life is no longer the same. If it is the “same old, same old,” we haven’t accepted the New Beginning God has for us. But if you’re stuck in the “same old, same old,” don’t despair - simply recognizing you need a New Beginning can be the start of YOUR New Beginning! When we get fed up enough with your current situation that you cry out to God for a New Beginning, He promises to answer. And He will give you the steps YOU need to take for your New Beginning.
Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
  • Begin reading your Bible (again!). Use a reading guide to keep you on track, and consider joining me on Facebook in our Bible Reading group.
  • Start a family devotional. There are some great resources to help you. Consider using the Jesus Storybook Bible and read a chapter a night.
  • Reexamine what you listen to. Choose to listen to a sermon a week or some new praise and worship music on a regular basis.
  • Have an intentional private time of praise and worship. Private worship makes public worship meaningful.
  • Go to a marriage retreat or read a book on relationships. This isn’t an expense, it’s an investment!
  • Look for ways to serve someone else. Being part of our CARE Team outreaches is a great way to serve others!

These are just a few simple suggestions. But whatever the Lord puts on your heart, do it with ALL your heart. And model these things for your children. Remember that the things children learn are more “caught than taught” --- as they see you walking in the New Beginning God has for you, it will make them hungry for their own personal relationship with God.

It’s a new year. So it’s a good time to start since we’ve all been given a New Beginning!!!

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