BEGINNING GOD’S NEW DAY

1 Cor.15:20,21 – But the truth is, Christ is risen from the dead, as the firstfruit of a great resurrection harvest of those who have died. For since death came through a man, Adam, it is fitting that the resurrection of the dead has also come through a man, Christ.

The resurrection of Christ marked the beginning of God’s new day. Since the first day of the fall and its horrific effect on God’s creation the Lord has been orchestrating the events of our world to prepare for His glorious new day. The resurrection of Christ is the firsfruits of God’s glorious plan of renewal in a brand new world. This is a quote from the Passion Notes on this verse.

“The first part of the harvest is called the firstfruits. Jesus’ resurrection is the firstfruit of those who will be raised in resurrection power, never to die again.“

As we start a new calendar year my thoughts turn to spiritual renewal. When Christ returns we will be like Him, transformed in the twinkling of an eye. In the meantime we experience continual renewal by the word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, Christ’s resurrection marked the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s amazing plan. Here is a quote from Gordon Fee on today’s passage.

“Christ’s resurrection marks the turning of the ages; the subsequent gift of the eschatological Spirit (last day Spirit) is certain evidence that the End has begun. But the fact that we still live in bodies subject to decay, and that there is yet a future Parousia of the Lord (coming of the Lord) with a subsequent resurrection is also clear evidence that what has begun has not yet been fully brought to consummation. Thus for Paul, believers are thoroughly eschatological (end time) people, determined and conditioned by the reality of the future that has already begun, but still awaiting the final glory. We are therefore both “already” and “not yet.”

So as we begin a new year I think its time to press in to the Holy Spirit. The mark of God’s end time people is the power and the presence of the Lord. Our world is being dominated by spiritual darkness, confusion, and fear. The power of His presence and the evidence of His renewal in our lives has a major and lasting impact on our society. Don’t underestimate the power and influence of Christ in you. Your world needs Christ to be unleashed in and through your life.

DRINKING AND RENEWAL

Rev. 21:6 – Then he said to me, “It has been accomplished! For I am the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end. I will give water to all who are thirsty. As my gracious gift, they will continuously drink from the fountain of living water.

When you begin to see the work of the Lord, the work of transformation and renewal all around you, it produces a thirst for God and a desire to participate in His amazing plan. Being an observer on the sidelines will never do, we are being transformed and also involved in His work of renewal at the same time. This is the beauty of the work of redemption, it starts the moment we are born again but His work of renewal is continuous. Drinking in His goodness by praying in the Spirit and worshipping and feasting on God’s word, assures that we will experience His continued renewal in our lives. At the same time we become vessels or coworkers with the Lord. He uses us in His plan of making all things new as we share His love with broken hearts all around us. Here is how the Expositor’s Bible Commentary describes this verse.

“Using the same word that declared the judgment of the world finished, God proclaims that he has completed his new creation: “It is done”. The names of God, “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” emphasize his absolute control over the world as well as his creatorship of everything. To those who thirst for him, God offers the “water of life” without cost. Here salvation is beautifully depicted by the image of drinking at the spring of life…..John knows that the visions of God’s glory among his people, proclaimed as the Word of God, will create a thirst to participate in the reality of this glory. Nothing is required except to come and drink. Those who respond to this invitation and remain loyal to Christ as overcomers will inherit all the new things of the city of God. They will be God’s children, and he will be their Father. This is the essence of salvation–unending, intimate relationship with God himself.”

This is what you were born for, to know Him intimately and enjoy Him forever. This is the great discovery of your life. Knowing and enjoying Him will define our lives for eternity.

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

Rev. 21:5,6 – And God-Enthroned spoke to me and said, “Consider this! I am making everything to be new and fresh. Write down at once all that I have told you, because each word is trustworthy and dependable.” Then he said to me, “It has been accomplished! For I am the Aleph and the Tav, the beginning and the end. I will give water to all who are thirsty. As my gracious gift, they will continuously drink from the fountain of living water.

Renewal is constantly happening by the hand of God. The Lord will not rest until the devastating results of the fall on all creation is finally swallowed up by His work of redemption and renewal. The end of a year and the beginning of a new year gives us a glimpse or a foreshadowing of God’s beautiful work of renewal. As we close out 2019 we are grateful for all the Lord has done but, like Paul, we are forgetting what lies behind us. We forget the victories and especially the disappointments. All of 2019 is finished and now we enter into God’s new chapter for 2020. This work of renewal is pointing toward the end of this age and the beginning of God’s new age. The ESV Study Bible points toward this new day in its commentary on this passage.

“The removal of the first heaven and earth eliminates the fatal infection of evil in the cosmic order and gives way to God’s creation of a new cosmic order where sin and suffering and death are forever banished. The old order was in “bondage to decay” and “groaning … in pains of childbirth until now”, awaiting the day when “the heavens … will be dissolved” and “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell” will be established to forever replace the old. This represents the specific fulfillment of the prophecy given to Isaiah: “Thus says the Lord GOD … ‘I create new heavens and a new earth …’”

So maybe you have had one of those rough seasons in life. Close that chapter, let the Lord wash that season away. Come and drink from His fountain of renewal. You will experience increasing strength and a glimpse or vision of His new day in your life. I have a great expectancy in my heart for 2020. I believe this will be a historic year for all of us.

THE CHARISMATIC RENEWAL

Acts 15:16-18 – And the prophet’s words are fulfilled:

‘After these things I will return to you

and raise up the tabernacle of David

that has fallen into ruin.

I will restore and rebuild what David experienced

so that all of humanity will be able to encounter the Lord

including the gentiles whom I have called

to be my very own,’ says the Lord.

‘For I have made known my works from eternity!’

I was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit in August of 1973. Thousands of others across the world at that time were having a similar experience. The Charismatic Renewal and an off shoot of that movement known as the Jesus Movement was in full swing. I ended up in a Bible College/Jesus Community in California called God’s Army. Those were some of the sweetest and special days of my life. We worshipped together, studied together, worked together, and lived together in extended households. Worship was a huge part of our lives. Jesus music (spiritual rock) was just in its infancy. Worship was the air that we breathed. A huge part of our corporate worship experience was singing spontaneously together songs in our heavenly language. Heaven would come down in those meetings and carry us into the heavenly realm. My life was changed in those precious moments. The restoration of Spirit empowered worship was a huge part of the Charismatic movement. Singing the Psalms of David put to music was the bulk of our singing. Here is a quote from Theopedia describing the Charismatic movement.

“Virtually all Charismatic Christians believe that the presence of God can be experienced in a supernatural way by believers, usually during times of intense spiritual reflection (such as during a worship service, a small group meeting or personal prayer). The singing of praise songs is an important element in this belief.

Nevertheless, there are two primary beliefs which define the charismatic movement. The first is the belief that the “charismatic gifts” of the Holy Spirit, such as tongues, prophecy, and miraculous healing, are still in effect today. Charismatics also hold that sometimes Bible passages are misinterpreted in order to declare that charismatic gift are not valid for today’s believers.”

Those early years of worship left a lasting impact on everyone who was involved in that movement. Our church worship today reflects the influence of the Charismatic Renewal. Today’s verse speaks of the restoration of the Tabernacle of David in the last days. I believe the exuberant and spontaneous worship we experience in our services is exactly that.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD – Part 1

Ps.23:1-2 – The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

This may be the most known passage in all scripture, Psalm 23. This is the passage Jesus was referring to in John 10 when He refered to Himself as the Good Shepherd. Today I want to take another look and drink deeply from this Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd. The Passion Bible has an interesting observation in this first verse. It says that the Lord is my Shepherd and my best friend. This is a footnote from the Passion Translation, “The word most commonly used for “shepherd” is taken from the root word ra‘ah, which is also the Hebrew word for “best friend.” So what is David’s point in the beginning of His famous Shepherd’s Psalm? Knowing Christ intimately is everything. This is the beginning of our Christian life. The Lord is my Shepherd and my closest friend. I am one of His sheep and I hear His voice.

The results of this friendship? I shall not want. He not only provides for my daily needs, He also satisfies the longing of my heart. He is my greatest need. He is my treasure and my portion in life. This is the key to freedom from addictions and sinful behavior; the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Next David says He makes me to lie down. When the Lord is my Shepherd I can begin to enter into a place of rest. Rather than always doing, I begin to practice a lifestyle of receiving. If the Lord is my best friend and Shepherd, I can rest in Him, He has me covered. This resting is connected to two powerful provisions. First, He makes me lie down in green pastures. What are these pastures for a sheep? Green grass, all I could ever eat. For the Christian this grass is the written word of God. We can take our daily rest feasting on the green grass of God’s promises, this is rest for our soul. Next, He leads me beside still waters. These are the waters of rest and peace, the living water of the Holy Spirit. I can lay me down in His presence and find rest and renewal for my soul. This is our place of renewal, this is my place of rest.

WASHED AND RENEWED

Titus 3:5 – not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

I love the word renewal. This is the work of the Lord that is continuous. He finds us one way and then continues to work on us throughout our whole life making us totally different. This beautiful work associated with redemption is a cooperation of the Word and the Spirit in our heart and mind. David spoke about renewal in his prayer of repentance in Ps.51:10. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

He wanted his heart to be not only washed and forgiven but transformed. That is the beauty of today’s verse. The Lord washes us from our sins and then begins renewal in us so that we will not fall back into sin. Paul called it the washing and renewing of the Holy Spirit. Here is a definition from Dick Mills on renewal.

“renewing, anakainosis – A combination of ana, “again,” and kainos, “new.” The word suggests a renovation, restoration, transformation, and a change of heart and life. In Rom. 12:2, it indicates a complete change for the better, an adjustment of one’s moral and spiritual vision. Here it stresses the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming the life.”

In Psalms David says that our inner strength is effected by renewal. Ps.103:5 -“Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” We can lean on this promise to stand strong in times of temptation and also when we need strength to endure the challenges of life. He is daily renewing my inner strength like an eagle.

Psalms also describes the creative power of the Lord involved in renewing His creation.

Ps.104:30 – “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.”

Think about it, the Lord didn’t just create everything and then back off and become uninvolved. He is daily involved with His creation, renewing the face of the earth. If He is involved it’s eagles, badgers, waterfalls, and arctic formations; He is surely involved on a daily basis in the lives of His children. Renewal is happening everyday. What is my part? Step in to His flow and allow Him to work His beautiful work of renewal in me.

THE NEW JERUSALEM

Rev. 19:7,8 – Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.

John’s description of the church is quite a contrast to the Babylonian harlot, the one world church. The church on earth has bought in totally to the spirit of the world, the spirit of antichrist. They act like the world, think like the world, talk like the world; all because the spirit of the world is in them. This weekend Egon Falk, a Danish Evangelist who ministers in Tanzania, told me about the spiritual condition of the church in Europe. He said that many European Christians are socialist in their belief system and have no problem with abortion. Our country is speeding down the same path being led by the broken academic world; our schools and colleges are swallowing up the path toward socialism. This big government approach is paving the way for a last day universal government that tries to run our whole society. Man is arrogantly trying to build a utopia without the Lord in it. The judgement of the antichrist, the false prophet, the one world government, and the false church are all imminent. Christ will return Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s passage.

“The occasion of this song; and that is the reign and dominion of that omnipotent God who has redeemed his church by his own blood, and is now in a more public manner betrothing her to himself: The marriage of the Lamb has come…..You have here a description of the bride, how she appeared; not in the gay and gaudy dress of the mother of harlots, but in fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints; in the robes of Christ’s righteousness, both imputed for justification and imparted for sanctification—the stola, the white robe of absolution, adoption, and enfranchisement, and the white robe of purity and universal holiness. She had washed her robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and these her nuptial ornaments she did not purchase by any price of her own, but received them as the gift and grant of her blessed Lord.”

The rejoicing in heaven was spontaneous. The world system was finally being judged and Christ was about to return. I think all of us become distant and lukewarm, the time for repentance and renewal has come.

RENEWAL AND REFRESHING

Acts 3:19 – Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

This promise became from precious to me during an unusually difficult season in my life. I had been pastoring Victory Fellowship for a number of years and had experienced favor and blessing on everything from family to church and in my personal spiritual experience. The body of Christ went through a season of very unusual difficult times in the late 1980’s and the blowback from that was effecting every part of my life. I was feeling it with family drama, financial and ministry problems, and my spiritual condition was not the best. These problems brought me to a place of spiritual hunger and thirst, times of refreshing began to break out in my life. I love the Amplified Bible’s rendition of this verse. “So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the presence of the Lord”. Here are some thoughts from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“To urge them to turn from sin to faith in Christ, Peter said that “Times of refreshing [will] come from the Lord.” For years the Jews have been expecting the messianic age, the golden age of blessings. The prophets themselves spoke about the coming of spiritual strength and blessings. This new age has dawned with the coming of Christ. Peter’s “times of refreshing” is one way of speaking about the baptism in the Spirit. The people can now experience the renewal or “refreshing” of their souls through the joys and the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result of their repentance, not only will their sin be forgiven and they will receive relief from their guilt, but they will also experience spiritual renewal through the Holy Spirit.”

So maybe you are feeling a little exhausted and out of breath by the adversity that we all face in this life. Living in this world guarantees resistance and exhaustion. We can take courage from this incredible promise, the Lord send times of refreshing again and again from the presence of the Lord. The Lord is faithful to His people, spiritual hunger and thirst is a sure sign that renewal is well on the way.

THE WORKING OF THE SPIRIT

Titus 3:5,6 – But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

The Christian life is basically the life of the Holy Spirit expressed through His sons and daughters. Christianity is not a creed or a set of beliefs, it is the life of the Spirit expressed in and through us. This is why I need continual renewal, the Christian life is just not something we can do or perform. This new life is started when we are born again (regeneration) and is empowered and maintained by the renewing of the Holy Spirit on a consistent basis. The Holy Spirit gives us moral strength, freedom from addictive or compulsive lifestyles, spiritual hunger, spiritual understanding, giftings, and power for ministry. Paul said I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. That must mean I can do nothing of value without Him. Here are some thoughts from Matthew Henry on today’s passage.

“Here is the principal efficient, namely, the Spirit of God; it is the renewing of the Holy Ghost… We are said to be born of the Spirit, to be quickened and sanctified by the Spirit, to be led and guided, strengthened and helped, by the Spirit. Through him we mortify sin, perform duty, walk in God’s ways; all the acts and operations of the divine life in us, the works and fruits of righteousness without us, all are through this blessed and Holy Spirit, who is therefore called the Spirit of life, and of grace and holiness; all grace is from him. Earnestly therefore is he to be sought, and greatly to be heeded by us, that we quench not his holy motions, nor resist and oppose him in his workings.”

It is by the help of the Holy Spirit that we can pray, preach, and understand the scripture. He is the One Who awakens us and continues to draw us by giving us a spiritual hunger. I have come to the conclusion that I need Him continually in my life. Renewal is not the optional cherry on top that happens occasionally, it is an absolute necessity in my life. Let Jeremiah’s prayer be our prayer

Lam.5:21 – “Restore us to You, O LORD, that we may be restored; Renew our days as of old.”

BRAND NEW

Rev.21:5 – Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new. And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

The Word of God is quite amazing to me. No matter how much you study it you can never master it. Like God Himself, His Word is limitless. Today’s verse is a great example. In this one verse of scripture are two words that are absolute game changers. The first word is poeio translated as ‘make’. This word is where our word poetry comes from. This is describing the creative power of God. It is used as a continuous action verb describing the constant working of God. The second word is kainos which is our word for ‘new’. Kainos means new in species, better, renovated, or higher excellence. You take these words together and it says that the Lord is continually making our lives new and better by His creative power working in us. This is how Jonathan Edwards describes this verse.

“Hence this new state of things is called a new heaven and a new earth. Christ came to restore all things with respect to the elect that, whatever there is of the ruinous effects of the fall through the whole universe, all might be fully and perfectly healed in Christ; that old things might pass away and all things become new; that man himself might be a new creature, both in his soul by conversion and sanctification, and in his body by the resurrection, and the world as to him might become a new creation; and so not only himself created anew in Christ Jesus, but everything created anew as to him fully and perfectly. Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.” Hence the end of the world, when this shall be perfected, is called the “times of refreshing” and the “times of restitution of all things” (Acts 3:19–21).”

As John’s prophesy in the book of Revelations is coming to an end He is showing His work of renewal and redemption and how it is eradicating the results of the fall in His sons and daughters. No matter how difficult your life has been, no matter how far you have wandered from Him, His power of redemption and renewal is greater. He is continually making all things new in my life and in your life. His renewing love never ceases. Embrace His renewing power today.