For the Collage Sunday School Class.
We are at an exciting time in our lives… all of us. It is a time of new beginnings. We are starting a new Sunday school class. We are starting a new school year. Some of us are starting a new school. Kenny and I are starting a new journey as youth leaders. It’s an exciting time.
I remember being in school and thinking that this time of year meant I could reinvent myself… new year, new you kind of thing. I would imagine what I would need to wear to be this “new me”. I would think about how I would need to change my hair or makeup, change how I walked or talked or acted. But the truth was I was right back at Grantham School with the same OLD people, in my same OLD clothes, and my same OLD ways. Does it mean that reinventing yourself doesn’t work? Does it mean that no matter how much I try I will always be the same person I have always been?
I am going to challenge you today that it does NOT.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says…
The Lord says, “Forget what happened before,
and do not think about the past.
Look at the new thing I am going to do.
It is already happening. Don’t you see it?
I will make a road in the desert
and rivers in the dry land. (NCV)
I love those verses! GOD makes all things new! Even you! Even me!! He can make a road show up in a desolate place!! He can make rivers show up in a dry and barren wasteland! If he can do that, he can do a new work in me!
It’s time to renew your commitment to God. It is time to make time for him and make him a priority in your life. Once you make Him a daily habit, create with Him a personal relationship; He can begin to do a new work in you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says…
If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! (NCV)
Did you catch that? The old things have gone! Sure, I might have the same old tired hairdo… I may wear the same old tired clothes. But I am not the same on the INSIDE. God can transform the way I think, the way I respond to people, the way I look at life! God can make me the best me I could ever imagine I could be!
What I have to acknowledge is this: GOD IS WRITING MY STORY. I may think I was the one who got this score or who earned that award or who people want to be around… but I am nothing. I can do nothing apart from God. He is the one who blesses me with my scores, my awards, and my friendships. People will want to be with you because they sense God’s presence within you! God is writing a better story for you than you could ever write for yourself. You just have to take your hands off the pen and let Him.
Read Psalm 139 (I mean the whole chapter, peeps. Take out your bible or bible app and look it up!)
I often think about the “ordinary people” in the Bible. You know the ones. Usually they aren’t even given names. They are referred to as “a leper”, “a woman”, “a soldier”, and “a boy”. I think about the encounters they had with Christ. We read about those in the bible all the time. But we never know what the rest of their story is. Ya know?
Take for instance the soldier in Luke 22 at Jesus’s arrest:
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
Luke 22:47-53 NIV (emphasis mine)
Peter cut of the soldier’s ear. Cut it off! Then Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him! What was detached was reattached… and I can imagine it was better than ever!
But what happened to that soldier after that? He is never mentioned again. What was the rest of his story? Did he leave his job as a Roman soldier and begin to follow the teachings of Jesus? Did he go home and tell his friends and family what had happened, becoming a bold witness for Christ? Was he present at the crucifixion? Was he one of the soldiers who cast lots for Jesus’s clothes, or did he turn away because he was ashamed that he even had a hand in any of it?
I believe God wrote his story into an amazing witness for Christ. I believe others came to know Jesus and what he taught because of the testimony of this ordinary soldier with an extraordinary encounter with Jesus.
What’s the rest of your story? God is writing it, will you be obedient to follow along? Will you put Him first in it: a main character and not a second fiddle? I challenge you to pray to Him. Give your story to Him and ask Him to help you trust. Ask Him to help you follow. Ask Him to give you the strength it will take to do the right thing for HIM when everyone else isn’t. He is here. He is listening. He will not leave you or forsake you.
It’s a new beginning. You are a new creation. What are you going to do about it?