New Things? Where?

woman with her shoping bags clipart

 

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”                                                                Isaiah 4:19

I remember reading passages like this as a young Christian and getting so excited. I would think, “God’s going to do something new and great in my lfe!”. Then I would start looking for the opportunity that was surely coming. As days went by without anything starting, though, I’d grow confused, and honestly a bit miffed. And a verse that started out as a promise became a disappointment.

I thought nothing was happening, but that was wrong. You see, I took those verses to mean something was going to change outwardly for me – in other words, my circumstances. I looked for a job or ministry or relationship improvement to arise, because that’s what I wanted from God. When nothing developed, I went on to assume God had given me a “no’’.

I don’t know when I made the turn, but at some point it dawned on me – or rather God revealed to me – that He might be planning to make an inward kind of change in me. At first I didn’t like the idea. I wanted God to give me something to do. But the more I studied scripture, the more I learned of His greatest desire. It became clear He was concerned with making His way into the wilderness of my heart, making a way for streams of His living water to flow.

Practically speaking, God knew I was full of pride, self-seeking and stubbornness. He knew the work that needed doing inside, and how much I would resist it. But He couldn’t use me as I was, because the faultiness within would show itself in what came out of me. The inner renewal had to come before new callings could be given.

How about you – are you willing to accept the quiet new things God wants to do within? Remember this: those kinds of changes are the beginning of an exciting new mission He will send you out to do.

 

New Things

change-ahead-sign-23033398

See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.                                                                                                 Isaiah 65:17

 

This verse is full of hope and promise, and now is a perfect season to explore it. So let’s dive in:

See…”

Realizing the truth that God has a plan is comforting in itself. But just think – not only is He in control, He is generous to share His plan with us. And it gets even better: we can actually be a part of the work.

“…I will create…”

Our Lord is amazingly creative. He loves both making new things and making things new. Do you see the difference? That means we can always find signs of His hand in and around us. It’s important for our spiritual health to take the time to look for His handiwork.

The former things…”

God is giving us a glimpse of the world to come, a bigger picture. Meanwhile, we are still living in this world – one full of care and even hardships. But in God’s view, those situations that cause us such pain are temporary. That can be hard to believe in the midst of struggle, but one day we’ll all be able to look back with clearer vision.

“…will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

This isn’t the only place in scripture where God promises to forget. Hebrews 10 says it’s our shortcomings that God will “remember no more.” He has the power to remove and separate us from our sins. Why show us such mercy and grace? Quite simply because He loves us.

This year, I want to spend more time soaking in scriptures like this. They keep my focus less on any of my current troubles and more on my powerful and wonderful God. I can’t think of a better way to start 2017.

 

A New Years Wish

Sunset Picture
Happy New Year!

It’s December 31, and like the rest of you I’m caught in that funny in-between place. You know, looking back and doing a year-in-review kind of inventory, while making my list of goals and dreams for 2017.

Whether this past year was full of delights or difficulties, each of us “pressed on.” Hopefully you can can say that you have moved at least a few steps closer to God. No matter where you’re at right now, just take a moment to savor how delighted He is with you!

In the spirit of New Years Eve, I wanted to share a scripture from Isaiah 42 that reminds me that our Lord is always up to something in and around us:

“See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare…”

I wish all of you the best for the coming year. Let’s continue on our journey, encouraging one another as we go!

In Christ,

Heather

 

 

Prepping for 2016 Pt 2

new-years-resolutionsYesterday, I wrote about my usual approach to planning for the new year. In a nutshell, it’s usually been an intense process that leaves me saddled with a big To Do list. Until recently, I’ve enjoyed the work involved. And when I’ve looked over a finished list, a sense of excitement has taken hold.

So many possibilities for the coming 12 months!! But possibility wasn’t enough to keep me going, and most of my great ideas would soon fizzle out.

But this December I’m going about this differently. It’s more than shortening my list, though. Inspired by Michael Hyatt, a gifted teacher in the area of time-management, I’m looking at the “why” of my goals. In doing that, I’ve uncovered some values – like gaining worldly success and pleasing others – that have driven my planning.

My next list was of the results that living by those values: frustration, discouragement and anger, among other things. The obvious question that came to mind was, “Do I really want to live like that anymore?”

The answer was a resounding “No”, so I set out to create a new set of values.

First, I had to admit that those old values showed a lack of connection and obedience to God. But, as a believer, I’m called to follow my Heavenly Father, not my own desires. Look at what He says in the Book of Isaiah,  “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go.”

That’s more than a commandment – it’s a promise that He will always be there, providing for me.

Comforted by that truth, I was able to see a need to change from focusing on myself to thinking more about others. Paul’s words in Romans 12 capture this mindset beautifully, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

A new sense of possibility and excitement stirred up in me as I wrote two new lists:

What do I want my values to be from here on?

  • Having a view of myself (including my identity, my worth, measuring my success, etc) based on what God says
  • Using my talents and gifts to build God’s kingdom and to build others up
  • Taking personal responsibility in areas like finances, health, household spending, etc
  • Showing care for other people each day
  • Using my time well each day
  • Spending time in God’s Word, reading, studying and memorizing it

The results of living by those values:

  • Deeper sense of purpose
  • More peace
  • More joy each day
  • Better relationships

Here’s to a truly New Year!

Mistakes & Mercies

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”   Isa. 43:18-19

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good: my joints weren’t as stiff as over the last few days, and I was somewhat rested. During my morning stretches, I felt led to thank God for His “new mercies”, so that I could really start the day fresh. Well, before I finished flexing my feet, I realized that I’d forgotten a family member’s birthday. Not by just a day or so, either.

A cold splash of embarrassment hit, followed quickly by shame, a familiar one-two punch for me. Then it wasn’t long before other goof ups I’d committed paraded in front of me. And I’m not sure which was worse – how I judged myself, or the judgement I assumed others have had about me.

If someone else were to share a struggle like this with me, I’d probably say something like: “Even if you did make a mistake, you’re being awfully hard on yourself. Beating yourself up isn’t going to change anything.  Make it right as best you can, then let it go.”

That sounds like pretty good advice. So why is it so hard for me to follow? Part of the reason may be low self esteem, or looking for worth in what i do. But I think another part of it is a lack of faith.

In many scripture passages, I can find God’s promises about this very type of situation:

  • He forgives our sins

he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness…” 1Jn 1:9

  • He removes our sins

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps 103:12  

  • He forgets our sins

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”      Is 43:25
It seems like God has a lot more mercy on me than I’ve had on myself. And as His child, I need to concentrate more on what He says than how I feel. Yes, I’ll send a card and maybe even make a  call to express belated birthday greetings. But then it’s time to move on to those new things He’s doing!

Getting Out There

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.                Isaiah 6:8           

Why is evangelism so hard for me?

If I had to state one reason (excuse), it would be:“I’m not gifted to do it.”

I know it’s true – the ability and passion to witness, especially to strangers, was not woven into my DNA. My attempts to reach out often include stuttering, and a nervously-voiced Bible verse – not a very engaging style. In contrast, I’ve watched as certain friends make evangelism look effortless, as smooth as silk.

For years, I’ve told myself that it’s better for me to just stay out of the way and let the professionals handle witnessing. After all, I might actually do more harm than good. But the longer I live as a follower of Christ, the less I believe that. And in light of Scripture, any other excuses I have come up with start to fall apart as well.

Jesus said straight out, “Go and make disciples,” and that Great Commission wasn’t meant for only the original eleven apostles.  Before that, David and other Psalm writers called God’s people to proclaim the greatness of our Lord.   

In other words, this is work we are all supposed to be doing. And if I’m not silver-tongued, so what? God wants me and you to open our mouths. Whether beautiful poetry or awkward phrases come out, He will use our words to reach the world.

Knowing that gives me butterflies in my stomach and, oddly, some reassurance. Because it means I can’t hide behind excuses, but as I timidly start to step out more, the Holy Spirit will be there to show me how.
is anything keeping you from being a witness in the world around you?