Jun - Jul 2020

I Am About To Do Something New

Amy Christie

Jul 12, 2020

Something's coming, something good
If I can wait

Do you believe that? Do you believe something';s coming? Something good? Something new? Can you believe that? Can you trust that?

It's pretty difficult right now isn't? To believe something good - something new is about to happen? That something new can come out of all of - this?

Cause things kind of seem like they are a mess right now. So far 2020 has not been kind to us, we are all feeling the effects of the pandemic and the quarantine everything from death to loss of jobs, loss of marriages, and more recently of the gross hatred that is destroying our communities - the horrific racism that continues to permeate our culture - it's been a rough 6 months
Can we find - can we trust that something new, something better, something good can come out of all of this?

We have all of that going on around us and many of us are fighting our own individual battles - illness, family issues, just personal distress, etc.

And there have just been a lot of changes in my life over the last year or so: important people have moved onto other things, circumstances have changed with my kids, my parents, my work, not all bad... just different. And as I approach my 50th bday, I often wonder who am I and where do I belong.

And I am not alone. All of us are feeling confused, frustrated, defeated, weary at some level. But over the past several weeks I've had multiple people say to me - maybe God has something new - maybe God is about to do something new - God has got something new - something's coming.

Can I believe that? Can I trust that? Can you?

God is doing something new!
God himself says it in Isaiah 43.
18 "But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
Let me read it again - let those words sink in:
18 "But forget all that-
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

Something's coming...something new.
Those are words of expectation - words of anticipation - words of hope!

And that is exactly why we are in this series, Didn't See That Coming, looking at the book of Isaiah- to find words of hope in the midst unprecedented circumstances - to see blessing in the midst of hardship and pain - to see God working in the midst of frustration, confusion and fear.

The Israelites had pretty much hit rock bottom as Isaiah is speaking to them and his words for them, I believe are perfect words for us during what might be deemed as our rock bottom in so many ways.

The world behind the text is what was going on at the time the book of Isaiah was written.
The world of the text is what does the text itself tell us.
The world in front of the text is how does all of this apply to us right here and right now.

The World Behind The Text:
The Babylonians conquered the nation of Judah in 586 B.C., and after destroying the entire city of Jerusalem, they gathered up a good number of the conquered Israelites and hauled them back to Babylon. Now the Babylonians didn't take just any Jew - they chose about 10,000 of the prominent, wealthy, talented, elite Jewish people. They didn't allow the Israelites to bring their sacred religious scrolls with them, but they did allow them to settle in the same area and to gather together and talk and remember and sing and keep as much of their culture and religion alive as possible. But they still deeply and desperately longed for home. To most Jews, having to live in Babylon was awful... it was a tragic circumstance that seemed would never end.

Seems like those are words that could be used to describe kind of where we are today. The Israelites had for years had a hard time trusting God and this period of exile is no different. So that's a little world behind the text - and I believe as we understand that world we clearly understand that the words that come from the passage of Isaiah we are looking at today - were words for the Israelites for such a time that they were in and are words for us for such a time as we are in.

Now I';m not trying to say most of us have it as bad as the Israelites in exile, but it has been a bleak time and for some of you maybe you are sitting there saying - actually I feel a lot like they probably did.

You may find yourself right now having a hard time finding hope, having a hard time trusting God, but something's coming!

The first week of this series, Barry started by saying God is still working.
Isaiah 40:5:
"Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The LORD has spoken!"

And then last week Tim continued that theme and added the idea to remember what God has done for you in the past.
Isaiah 46:9
Remember the things I have done in the past.
For I alone am God!
I am God, and there is none like me.
And we're going to add to those ideas this week as we continue to look at the book of Isaiah. When you are faced with those moments that you didn't see coming.

Remember God is still working. Remember what he's done for you in the past. And you prepare for what's to come - something new, something good.

Let's see what God has to say about that in Isaiah chapter 43 - this is the prophet Isaiah speaking on behalf of God
Isaiah 43:14
14 This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"For your sakes I will send an army against Babylon,
forcing the Babylonians[a] to flee in those ships they are so proud of.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
Israel's Creator and King.
16 I am the LORD, who opened a way through the waters,
making a dry path through the sea.
17 I called forth the mighty army of Egypt
with all its chariots and horses.
I drew them beneath the waves, and they drowned,
their lives snuffed out like a smoldering candlewick.
18 "But forget all that-
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
the jackals and owls, too,
for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
so my chosen people can be refreshed.
21 I have made Israel for myself,
and they will someday honor me before the whole world.

Wait a minute - forget all that? What? You just reminded us of all sorts of ways you have delivered us and taken care of us and now forget it? This shows us that there is a sense in which we must remember the past, in terms of God's great work on our behalf. There is also a sense in which we forget the past, with all its discouragement and defeat, and move on to what God has for us in the future. God is going to do something new and wonderful. Live for the future! Because verse 19

I am about to do something new
Something's coming!

Staying stuck in the past can keep us from the new thing God wants to do. And this could mean something completely new or a transformation of something that exists. If Israel stayed stuck in the discouragement of Babylon, they would never look for the new thing of release from exile. Is it possible we could work against the new thing God wants to do? Because we are so lost in or discouraged by our current or past circumstances or situations?
Do we have eyes to see it?
Do you not see it?

This passage has in view Israel's prophesied deliverance from Babylon, but also more than that. It also has in mind the ultimate deliverance, brought by the Messiah. Can you imagine if they missed all of that because they were stuck in the past?

Remember what God has done but also look forward to what he will do.

22 "But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help.
You have grown tired of me, O Israel!
23 You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings.
You have not honored me with sacrifices,
though I have not burdened and wearied you
with requests for grain offerings and frankincense.
24 You have not brought me fragrant calamus
or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices.
Instead, you have burdened me with your sins
and wearied me with your faults.

God is saying: Why are you ignoring me? In these awful times, why are you not turning to me - reaching out to me? We act like following and serving the Lord is a burden - it's hard and tiring, and we just need a break if that's how you feel then maybe you are not truly in step with him.

28 Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."Matthew 11:28-30

We should never tire of that. That is a gift. Hope. Refuge.
and yet often we don't connect - abide -; lean into our relationship with God - we don't obey.

We as individuals - as the church - as culture, we keep repeating the same sins over and over. We are wearing God out with the same exhausting sinful behavior - we are no different than the Israelites in that way.

Look around - the same issues and broken places keep resurfacing or never going away - because we just keep repeating bad behavior. We will never be able to move into something new with God unless we are in step with Him - we are seeking Him and allowing the spirit to transform us and change us.

25 "Yes, I alone-will blot out your sins for my own sake
and will never think of them again.
26 Let us review the situation together,
and you can present your case to prove your innocence.
27 From the very beginning, your first ancestor sinned against me;
all your leaders broke my laws.
28 That is why I have disgraced your priests;
I have decreed complete destruction[b] for Jacob
and shame for Israel.

What does God do with hard-hearted people - such as the Israelites and frankly us? He will forgive them and forget their sins. Why? Because he loves his people and longs for their humble return. That's the story of humanity. And we can try to present our case, but we have nothing to stand on - Adam and Eve sinned and we are all sinners - we have no case - we are wrong, sinful and yet God remains faithful to His promises even when His people prove unfaithful, or weary Him. Like the prodigal son - he goes off and does what he wants and trusts the wrong things and people - and had he stayed there his life might have been cursed but he returns home to the father -and the father forgives and forgets - and God's ultimate act of forgetting was Jesus on the cross

44 "But now, listen to me, Jacob my servant,
Israel my chosen one.
2 The LORD who made you and helps you says:
Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant,
O dear Israel,[c] my chosen one.
3 For I will pour out water to quench your thirst
and to irrigate your parched fields.
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
4 They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.
5 Some will proudly claim, "I belong to the LORD."
Others will say, "I am a descendant of Jacob."
Some will write the LORD's name on their hands
and will take the name of Israel as their own."

God' promise of hope and restoration -you can still know his goodness - just turn back to him
And when we do - he doesn't promise to sprinkle or dab or drip or even give but to pour out.
He promises if Israel returns to him - trusts in him -honors and obeys him - abides in him.
He will pour out water to quench your thirst.
He will pour out His Spirit on our descendants.
He will pour out His blessing on our children.
And when he pours all of this out, he says:
I will thrive!
You will thrive!
We will thrive!
And we will proudly exclaim, I belong to God.

Something's coming, something good!

Can you believe through all the pain and hardship and the unknown and the uncertainty that something is coming - he is preparing us for something new - he is preparing us for something better.

"When nothing is sure, everything is possible" Margaret Drabble

In this moment - everything is possible, church.
All of this upheaval is drawing our attention, waking us up - it's not new info - some of the issues he wants to right he
wanted to right for years - since the fall of humankind.

He is using new ways to get our attention. - to bring our attention to what needs to be righted.
He';s pleading with us right now - begging us right now.
Not in anger - in desperation.
How long will it take till we get it right?
I don't want to see more demise more victims more hatred - I want to do something new.
Like in Isaiah - he knows we're in a rough place right now - things are hard and unknown - he wants us to remember what he has done and anticipate what he is going to do.
He wants us to move people toward him - to bring his kingdom on earth - not kingdom of power but of humility and forgiveness and mercy and love.
A kingdom that puts others first - that is so contrary to our world.
The world turned upside down - a kingdom where everyone else is more important than you.
A kingdom where people with power give up some of that power so there can be equality for all - because we choose the path of self giving love.
A kingdom that wants to right wrongs - heal broken places - a kingdom full of the movement of the holy spirit.

"I believe that, at this present moment, God's people ought to cry to him day and night that there may be a fresh baptism into the Holy Ghost. There are many things that are desirable for the Church of Christ, but one thing is absolutely needful; and this is the one thing, the power of the Holy Ghost in the midst of his people."(Spurgeon)

We need the power of the Holy Spirit so we can be in step with God - lean into Him and do something new.

2 Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God';s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Living the way Jesus has called us to live may not always be popular but it is powerful.

If God has something new - then we must be on board - we have to be open-palmed - we have to listen to the spirit - we have to obey.
If he has something new for the world - we need to lead the way - forge the path - be his hands and feet.

We stand on his promises.

I don't want people looking back and saying why didn't they do anything why didn't they make it better - why didn';t they get it - like we look at the Isrealites.

19 For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?

If he is going to do something new - we better be ready to be something new -I can see it - It's on the horizon - I don' want to miss it- do you?

God wants to do something new and he wants us to be a part of it.

Won't you join him? Then we can ALL thrive.