The lord reminds us that his grace and mercies are new every morning. Another year gone, another year closer to eternity. Let's desire to walk closer to the lord, a new way pleasing to Him.
We may all be in different stages of life, in different levels of spiritual maturity, varying degrees of closely walking with the lord; Yet the lord desires that we press on towards another degree of knowing Him, obeying Him and pleasing Him. Growth is a sign of life - and a christian doesn't have the luxury of stopping His growth.
In the old testament we see the first miracle that Elisha performed - regarding the healing of the waters of Jericho.
(2Kgs 2:19-22) And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city [is] pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water [is] naught, and the ground barren. And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought [it] to him. And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren [land].So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
Often we see that the situation of the world that we live in is pleasant - but the state beneath reveals a want, and certain barrenness and death. We may have increased in knowledge and technology, but a deeper looks reveals a moral and societal breakdown.
What did the man of God do there ? He takes a "new" cruse filled with salt, and applies it to the source of the poisonous springs - and the waters are healed and the land is cured.
Today, the lord is looking for new cruses - people like you and me - to be filled with the salt to bring about a healing of the lands we live in. The main thing we need to do is to bring about a newness in our lives. Unless we are renewed, we will continue in our old lusts and paths, and will fail in the divine commission. But if we choose this day, to be renewed, the lord promises to use us as vessels of his glory.
The lord jesus said - unless we are renewed, we cannot be vessels holding the new wine. Luk 5:37-39. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
Remember friends, we are near to the time of the coming of the lord Jesus ! and the word of God indicates a time of world-wide revival and renewal. The church is not going to go out in a whimper but there will be a time when millions will flock to the church and the real men and women of God because we have known the lord and we have the answers. That will be preceded by a time of tremendous outpouring of the holy ghost exceeding even the pentecostal experience of the first church. But to be able to hold the new wine of the holy ghost, we the vessels have to be made new ! The lord wants us to be made like new wineskins before he can pour out his new grace and power and wine of the holy ghost into our lives. new wineskins are soft and supple - they can hold the new wine. old bottles become tough and leathery and will split and break when the new wine is poured.
For us to experience a renewal, the lord desires that the old things in us must be put out and replaced by the new grace of God.
1. Old sins and burdens -
Heb 12:1-2 let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of god
There are old sins and thought patterns which seem to always be successful in bringing us down and defeat us. They are the sins which so easily entangles us and produces an evil fruit from us. It may be anger, it may be an unlawful relation, it may be a toxic habit or a substance abuse, alcohol or pornography. But the lord says - lay it aside. As simple as that. The responsibility is with us.
Likewise, there are burdens and weights that we carry, and it gets worse year after year. The lord says - cast your burdens on me, for I care for you. it may be a hurt that someone has caused, it may be a grief that has never passed, it may be a bitterness or a deep unforgiveness. But the lord says - throw it away this year. Beloved, we are in a race (the christian journey is always pictured as a race in the new testament) - and one who runs a race, runs with just the right amount of clothing needed. Have you seen a mountaineer pack his sack? It is to ensure that nothing hinders his progress. Let's remove those burdens and continue on our race for the lord, without letting His grace failing in our life.
2. Old traditions -
1 Pet 1:18 , Col 2:8 - they did it wrong, you are doing it wrong.
ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot
Often, we get trapped in the traditions of men - whether it be a religious tradition or a world-wide tradition. Often the traditions carry with it a source or origin of ungodly nature. (for example, the Christmas trees evolved from the worship of baal and asherah, Easter bunnies are an ancient symbol of fertility, Christmas wreaths and other decorations also springing from such tradition).
Another tradition that has trapped many a naive christian, is the unbiblical practice of child baptism. Baptism , as mentioned in the bible, is always by full immersion in water, after you have been born again and you accept and believe Jesus Christ as your lord and saviour, after your repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But the traditions of men have caused many to be baptized as an infant, deceiving millions to think they're going to heaven when they are not.
What are the traditions that are binding you dear friend? in the new year, decide to put off those and walk as it is mentioned in the bible.
3. New shoes for a new walk -
Luk 15:21-22 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet'
The prodigal son had gone far from the father's house, distanced himself from the father who loved him, and walked the continuously declining path of sin. He finds himself amidst abject poverty and craves for the filth that pigs eat (and as you know , pigs eat anything - even the stuff found amidst human refuse). At that low point in his life, he comes to his senses and begins his walk back home, wishing to be just accepted to the old household as a servant.
As the loving father of the parable sees the wayward son trudging home, unsure of his acceptance, the father throws his exalted bearing to the winds and runs towards his son and throws himself on the neck and hugs and kisses him. And at the first admission of the son's guilt and sign of genuine repentance, the father gives him 3 gifts.
1) a robe - the imputed righteousness of God - a reminder that he is accepted back into the beloved
2) a ring - a sign of authority and a power of attorney - acknowledging him as a business partner of maturity
3) new sandals - I want to dwell a moment on these new sandals. The prodigal had gone far into the dirty and filthy walks of life. His walk was tainted by sin and immorality. now that he is restored to the father, the Father wants him to walk in newness of life (Rom6:4). Not the old paths friend; You'll again dirty your shoes. But the new paths - avoiding the old paths of sin.
i pray that we'll walk a new path, dear friend. Life is all too short and precious to waste in testing the patience and long-suffering of God in rebelliously continuing the paths of sin.
4. a release from the old man -
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin
This is the time that we need to realize that the lord has kept a huge treasure inside of us. When we are born again, God himself comes and lives inside of us. To release the God-life into our daily experience, we need to experience the death of the old man and the self-life. The bible says - except a corn of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a seed. if it dies, it produces the fruit. John 12:24
One of the great truths of the gospel is the commandment of water baptism. through it, we walk in newness of life -
Rom 6:4. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The process starts at our baptism, and follows every day as we deny our 'self' take up the cross and follow Jesus our lord. As we start off on our christian journey, our 'old man' is significantly stronger than our 'new man'. This power balance is the key to a victorious christian life. As we dig the word of God, understand it, and obey it, as we pray to the lord, as we speak in tongues and edify the inner man, as we walk in the light, as we quickly confess and turn from sin, as we are filled with the love for our lord, our inner man grows stronger. As we deny the older man the former lusts in which he walked, as we resist and mortify the sin by the spirit of God, our older man becomes weaker. And we realize that we're now able to walk in victory as the lord gives us grace.
The lord promises to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ez 36:26-27) and when we walk thus, the new covenant becomes a reality in our lives. And as we present our bodies as living sacrifice, we are renewed in our minds and we will prove the perfect will of God. Rom 12:1-2
ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God
Beloved friend, in summary, flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. We are being prepared for a new eternity, in new heavens and new earth to be in new Jerusalem with our heavenly bridegroom. And only a renewed person can thus be in the eternity with God. And only a renewed person can become a plate to hold the salt to purify the waters of impurity. (2Ki 2:20)
For all the weaknesses and hindrances that we have in our lives, can we take a step forward and say - Lord , we are yours. Help us to be renewed in the inner man. Lead us by your spirit. Preserve us from sin and evil - till we are with you in Eternity. In Jesus name, amen.