MAKING A NEW BEGINNING
Life is full of new beginnings. Think of some of them – a new school year, graduation, a new job, losing your job, marriage, family, moving house, empty nest, divorce, mid-life crisis, retirement, social circumstances, war, natural disasters, death of a family member or friend, new church. We all have to make new beginnings. Add to those listed the call of God on your life and the changes that He brings to our lives. The Bible has many stories of new beginnings. Let’s look at one example – Abraham.
ABRAHAM AND THE PLACE OF BEGINNING AGAIN
Abraham had a time when he had to make a new beginning. In Genesis 12 – following a visitation from God in which he was commanded to get out of his country, leave his family, and move to a land that God would show him – there is a promise of blessing if he does what God commanded. Abraham obeyed and ended up in the land of Canaan. It was there he built an altar to the Lord. An altar speaks to us of prayer, worship, sacrifice, and consecration. Later, following a stay in Egypt, during a time of famine, he sought to deceive Pharaoh by passing his wife, Sarah, off as his sister. Pharaoh found out about Abraham’s deception and sent him packing. While traveling back to the land of Canaan, Abraham came “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar he had made there at first. And there Abraham called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 13:3-4, NKJV). In other words, Abraham came to a place of beginning again. There are times in our lives when we need to do just that. Make a new beginning.
Paul, in Philippians 3:12-14, gives us 3 steps to making a new beginning.
STEP 1 – LET GO OF THE PAST
“Forgetting what lies behind” (Philippians 3:13). Not that you are to wipe out your memory, but rather you are to deal with the past and move on. Do not live your life looking in the rearview mirror. Here are 5 areas of the past to put behind you.
- Let Go of Your Failures – All of us have failed at different times of our lives, but failure doesn’t make you a failure. You need to claim the promise of Romans 8:28 (NKJV) that “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
- Let Go of Your Sin Guilt & Shame – Again, all of us have fallen into sin, some more than others. But thank God for the promise of His Word, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV). We can make a new beginning with a clean slate.
- Let Go of Your Successes – This may be hard to do, but like a farmer plants the successful see of the last harvest to reap the future harvest, John 12:24 (NASB) declares, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
- Let Go of Your Hurts and Your Bitterness – Hurts and bitterness can become a cancer to your soul if you don’t learn the healing power of forgiveness. Learn the lesson of Ephesians 4:31-32 (NASB), “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you.” Don’t hang on to your hurts and your bitterness. It is not worth it.
- Let Go of Your Griefs and Your Losses – All of us have experienced losses both big and small and grief. But it is not meant to go on forever. Eventually, you have to give it to Jesus and let it go. Remember, Jesus “has borne our griefs” (Isaiah 53:3-4, NKJV).
STEP 2 – LAY HOLD OF THE FUTURE
Paul had that clearly in focus when he wrote, “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13, NKJV). He had a goal for the future. He was always dreaming of places he could go, where he could take the gospel. The future has tremendous power to inspire, motivate, and challenge people. We need to be dreamers. Let the Holy Spirit give you God’s dream for the future.
STEP 3 – PURSUE THE PRESENT WITH PASSION
Paul put it simply, “I press on” (Philippians 3:14, NASB). That is what he did all his life so that he could, later on, declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, NKJV). So Paul was prepared to put the past behind him, and right now in the present, he declares, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14, NASB). You have the picture of an athlete straining to reach the finish line, putting everything into the moment. In fact, he is ‘seizing the moment because he has a destiny, a purpose to fulfill, a goal to reach a risk to take, a victory to be won!
CHURCHES NEED TO MAKE NEW BEGINNINGS
The last words of a dying church are, “We have never done it this way before.” Look around, and you will see many great and large churches that are no longer alive and thriving. There are many reasons for this, but they have never been willing to change. The COVID-19 epidemic that closed many churches to corporate gatherings has also given the church an opportunity to embrace many new forms of church life. This includes making use of modern technology involving the internet. We have to be prepared to do what Jesus tells us to do, and sometimes that means putting the net out on the other side (See Luke 5). Let not the church be the one to resist change but rather the one to embrace whatever change the Lord requires of us.
PEOPLE NEED TO MAKE A NEW BEGINNING
The greatest occasion of making a new beginning is when a person decides to give his life to Jesus. Thus, we experience the gift of a new life, an eternal life that comes as a result of Jesus’s death on the cross. That requires a decision to make a new beginning to life.
It all begins when we take personal responsibility for who we are and what we do with our lives.
O.S. Hawkins was a great pastor of a bygone era. He wrote, “It is never too late for a new beginning” (Hawkins, 2018). He went on to write,
“Take personal responsibility. Our sin is not some little vice we can laugh off. It is so serious that it necessitated the cross. It is not to be excused just because everyone else is doing it. It is not to be minimized because it is not as bad a someone else’s. We must take personal responsibility for our sin and acknowledge the gospel, the good news that Jesus died in our place to make a way out of what seemed to be inescapable for us. He was buried, and He rose again on the third day, our ever-living Lord and Savior, defeating both sin and death. Taking personal responsibility means admitting that you are a sinner and putting your faith in Him and Him alone (Hawkins, 2018, pg. 196).
A CLOSING THOUGHT
Have you ever thought that each day is an opportunity to make a new beginning? God in His wisdom has made life on this planet to incorporate night and day. This, in turn, leads us to require sleep, generally in the nighttime hours. When we wake up, it is a brand new day and an opportunity to make a brand new beginning as we live one day at a time.
One of the first things I do each morning is to declare, “This is the day the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). It is a new day and a new beginning.
So let us make every day a day to rejoice, be glad, and make a new beginning.
Hawkins, O. S. (2018). The Nehemiah Code: It’s never too late for a new beginning. Thomas Nelson.