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? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
The New Year makes me feel good. It brings with it the amazing privilege of trading in the previous year and all of it ups and downs, good times and bad, victories and defeats for a clean slate and another chance to do things differently. A chance to live a better life. To make better decisions. I love the New Year. As a matter of fact, I just love NEW.
I mean, everyone loves NEW. We love new stuff, new music, new clothes, new opportunities... That fresh feeling.
We love how NEW makes us feel, how NEW makes us act, we tell people about all the NEW things that we get or the NEW things that are happening in our lives.
There is a trend that is resurfacing in culture of mixing the old with the new. In decor it’s an “eclectic look.” Taking vintage furniture and forcing it into collaboration with 21st Century modern pieces is popular in a variety of living space, from the neat homes tucked into suburban neighborhoods to high-rise lofts overlooking the world’s largest cities.
In music it’s new verses with classic hooks in the chorus or a new rendition of an old song.
In fashion it’s the resurgence of vintage and retro stores, like Anthropology and Rugby, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel with new styles and trends that have the look and feel of a former era of fashion. It has even become trendy to shop at thrift stores and resale shops in hopes that we can create a new look in some one else’s old clothes.
In a culture that is constantly mixing and matching, weaving together the fabrics of things past with that of things present, we must stop for a second and examine what Christ was sharing 2000 years ago and how it is absolutely relevant to our lives today.
In Luke 5 Jesus shares a story with an audience that had gathered.
He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.
Jesus doesn’t attach the new to old.
He wants to exchange the new FOR the old.
He exchanges, beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness...
The combination of old and new may be fashionable, trendy, even in some cases, appropriate. And although is has become acceptable in pop culture to tether the old and new together, God’s ways are counter-cultural. God doesn’t do things the way we do things.
That’s what points us to our key verse in Isaiah:
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
This scripture doesn’t tell us whether those former things are good or bad, positive experiences or negative.
Sometimes everything in our past that we need to release isn’t bad. Sometimes the best experiences in life create a watermark by which we measure everything else and we reject the the new that God wants to do in our lives because comparatively it doesn’t seem as good. But in reality is not that it’s not as good it’s just not the SAME. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever but we have not experienced all of who God is... so when he reveals more of his character to us and reveals more of his ways we are seeing new attributes of the same, for the first time.
As a matter of fact check this out:
In Exodus 16 there is a group of people called the Israelites. The Israelites were God’s peeps. They were a nation who were once slaves to Pharaoh and Egypt but God sent them a leader named Moses to set them free. Well they got out to the desert away from the harsh slavery system in Egypt and started to get hungry. So they mumbled and complained and threw fits and told Moses, dude we’re hungry! Moses talked to God because he and God were tight and God said that he would send Manna from heaven every day expect the sabbath!
The people were stoked!
It was like having Chik-fil-a at your doorstep every morning! SCORE!!!
BUT God gave them 1 requirement. They could not save it for the next day. That was cool though because God would send FRESH manna NEW manna the next morning!
So what did the Israelites do? They saved it! FAIL! It got old and expired, filling up with maggots and worms. It stunk and they couldn’t eat it.
What we have to realize is that some things in life have an expiration date.
Even your provision could become your problem if God says go get something new and you try to hang on to something old.
Yesterday’s blessing could become today’s curse if you’re not willing to go back out to where it may be uncomfortable and inconvenient to gather the new that God has for you today.
Jesus wants to give us something NEW.
But what we try to do many times is take the NEW experience, the new mindset, the new attitude, the new LIFE that Christ wants us to have and weave it into old experiences, our old mindsets, the person that we used to be, the things we used to do, the things we used to say. We have to be able to release our yesterdays into the past so that we live in the new day that God has for us.
We must completely replace the old human way of life with the new godly way of life. Because the new life is righteous and spiritual strength, it cannot be combined with the old, wicked, and weak human way of life. They are incompatible.
Don't try to limit new life in Christ. Jesus brings something new. Celebrate it. Be challenged by its demands and rejoice in its promises. But don't ever try to simply attach it to what you had before. The call of Christ is new, fresh, and all encompassing. Begin each day with fresh eyes and new ears with the expectation that the Lord will do something you have never seen or expected. You won't feel safe. It won't be predictable. But, it will be the purpose-filled life you were designed to fulfill!
For God’s Renown!