“5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.” (Rev. 21:5)
Our God is in the business of making all things new. He is the God of new beginnings. As we embark on a new year in 2021, it can be a blessing to feel like you have a new year with a fresh, new, blank slate on which to write new blessings and new life experiences throughout this coming year. Each new day is like a new page in the book of our life. Every new year is like a new chapter in that book. God is in the business of turning the page to a new blessed chapter in our lives. There are many examples in scriptures of those who endured very difficult seasons of their life – some very hard pages and chapters – but then God turned the page and gave them a new chapter in their life. In like manner, we need to take this new year, this new day, as an opportunity for God to write a new, blessed chapter in our lives.
God has proven he is skillful at creating new, blessed, glorious things out of what we would see as ruined, worthless, dead, or simply nothing at all. God took nothing and created everything new in the natural creation (Gen. 1). God takes our dead, sinful natures and creates a new creature in a spiritual creation by the new birth (2 Cor. 5:17, Gal. 6:15). Essentially the entire story of redemption is God “doing a new thing” and bringing newness, beauty, and life to a sinful, dead world – giving beauty for the ashes that man-made by sin. We are dead in sins by nature, and God did a new work in giving us a new heart where we can now serve God in newness of life. God will ultimately make this world new as well. At his second coming, God will usher in a “new heavens and a new earth” and finally make all things perfectly new in this world (Rev. 21-22, Isaiah 65-66). Then we will sing a “new song” for all eternity, singing “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:9, Rev. 14:3). God takes things that are old, bad, or even dead and brings forth new things to his honor and his glory.
Each new day is like a new page in the book of our life. Every new year is like a new chapter in that book. It is a great blessing that every day is the beginning of a new page and every year is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. For the God who makes all things new can write a new chapter in your life beginning today which is much more happy and blessed than the previous chapters. God is in the business of giving “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3). Just because we’ve had a few bad chapters in our lives, does not mean that newness and blessing are not right on the horizon. Even if we have had a few bad chapters recently does not mean that is the end of your story. On the contrary, in novels and movies it is when things always look the absolute worst with no hope, that is usually right before the hero shows up to save the day. As the old saying goes, “the night is always darkest just before the dawn”. Consider the life of Joseph. He started out very well in the first 17 chapters of his life. But then in chapters 17 to 30, he was betrayed by his brethren, sold into bondage, falsely accused and slandered, unjustly imprisoned, and forgotten. Despite those challenging times in Joseph’s life, God began a new work and at age 30 elevated Joseph to second in command in all of Egypt, and then chapters 30 to 110 of Joseph’s life were abundantly blessed.
Those who are older and more aged might be tempted to feel there is nothing left for me to do in the kingdom. Many faithful, elderly saints often struggle with why they are still here, especially when their health might begin to fail and so many of their loved ones have already passed on to glory. Well, the God who makes all things new is not limited by your age. Actually, most of what is made “new” is formerly “old” right? God can begin a blessed, exciting, new chapter in the lives of old disciples as well. Abraham was called by God and left his homeland at age 75. At that age, many people are settling into retirement and not up for new, exciting adventure into a land they’ve never known. Instead, God opened a new chapter in Abraham’s life at the old age of 75 and that older chapter of life is what is highlighted in scripture. The only thing we know about Abraham prior to that point is that he was a pagan idolator (Josh. 24:2), but it is this new chapter in his life (that just happened to coincide with his old age) that gives us the example of justification by faith and many other blessed lessons by our knowledge of his latter life.
Moses also had a dramatic shift in the story of his life. The first 40 chapters of his life were extremely blessed in the eyes of the world. Then Moses chose to forsake the sin of Egypt and serve God, but his zeal was not mature enough to lead God’s people and led to him killing an Egyptian. The next 40 chapters was Moses isolated in Midian on the backside of the desert obscurely shepherding sheep. All of that was to prepare Moses for the last 2/3 of his story that began at age 80 when he led Israel out of Egyptian bondage. At the age when most of us think we are washed up and just waiting to pass away, at age 80 God began a new chapter in Moses’ life that was the most exciting and blessed time of his entire life. We cannot think that our life is too old, dead, or useless for God to use us in a mighty way. No, our God makes all things new, and he might even see fit to open a new chapter and new door in your life at an older age. Our God is able – he makes all things new.
We never need to limit in our minds what God can do. We must remember that God is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). God’s ways are so much higher than ours and his thoughts so much higher than us, we simply can’t understand what God is doing all the time in his sovereign will. Despite our limitation of understanding, we never need to think that any situation is too far gone, any person too messed up, or any relationship too broken to where our God cannot “make all things new”. God is able to do so much more than we can even fathom in our mind, and we never need to limit God for what new thing he can do in our lives.
Some people might think that their mistakes in their past might be too much to overcome for God to write a new chapter in their life and be mightily used in God’s service. Let us consider a brief survey of some people in scripture who had horrible pasts, but God began a new work and made all things new in their lives by his life-transforming power.
- Abraham the Idolater – When we first find Abram, he is worshipping false gods in Ur of the Chaldees (Josh. 24:2-3). But then, God calls him to be the father of his chosen seed of the Jews, and ultimately the seed of the Messiah and figuratively of the elect. All of our stories of Abraham are after this new work calling in his life from age 75 to the end of his life.
- (The Thessalonian church had a similar testimony, turning from idolatry – “how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”, 1 Thess. 1:9)
- Jacob the Supplanter – In the early portion of his life, Jacob is characterized by deceit, lies, and manipulation. He even had to flee his homeland in fear of being murdered by his brother, Esau, for stealing his birthright. Then, later in his life, Jacob was converted and was blessed by God to be the father of the nation of Israel.
- Moses the Murderer – Moses left Egypt in fear of the Pharaoh because he murdered an Egyptian. He then spent 40 years in exile before returning at age 80 to lead Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses was blessed by God in a special way to lead Israel for 40 years, in spite of his past murder in Egypt.
- Rahab the Harlot – Even though Rahab was converted and joined Israel from Jericho, scripture still characterizes her by her past sinful profession, as a harlot. Despite her past sinful lifestyle, Rahab married a godly Jewish man, Salmon, and was blessed to be in the lineage of both King David and later the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
- Ruth the Moabite – Ruth showed up in Israel as a Moabite (the enemy of Israel during the time of the judges) and a widow. She was a maligned, prejudiced foreigner. But she was blessed to meet and marry the godly man, Boaz, and ended up being the great-great-grandmother of David and in the lineage of Jesus Christ.
- Matthew & Zacchaeus the Publicans – God called Matthew as his apostle from his former profession as a publican. Publicans were probably the most hated people in all Judean society because they were viewed as traitors to Rome and also getting rich by oppressing their fellow Jews with taxes. But it’s a publican who God chose to call into a new life as his apostle, and Matthew immediately left his job as a publican and followed Jesus. We also see Jesus calling Zacchaeus from a former life as a publican as well.
- The same could be said for the “sinners” with which Jesus ate as well, accused of eating with both “publicans and sinners” (Mark 2:14-17). These were people who were known publicly by their sins, their life was characterized by sin. Despite their past sinful lives, Jesus came and began a new work in their lives and opened a new chapter in their lives in following him in discipleship
- Unnamed Woman caught in adultery – In John 8:1-11, we find a woman caught in adultery trying to be stoned. Jesus stands up and defends this adulterous sinner, convicts her accusers, and they all leave trying to stone her. Jesus then tells her “Go and sin no more”. We don’t know anything else about this woman in scripture, but we know that Jesus gave her a new lease on life. Instead of being slain for her sin, she was called to go and live a new life in service to God.
- Unnamed Malefactor on the cross – One of the two malefactors crucified with Jesus lived a very wicked life, so wicked that he was condemned by the Romans to death. Not just a petty thief, but a violent malefactor and criminal, he had lived a very sinful life. Although he only knew Jesus for just a few moments before his death, God did a new work in him on the cross and is arguably one of the greatest examples of the sovereignty of God in the new birth in all of scripture (Luke 23:39-43). God gave this malefactor to us as this example, despite his life of sin.
- Many healed by Jesus – Jesus gave a new life and opened a new chapter in their life to so many he healed from their physical diseases. Healing of blind man in John 9. Casting out devils of the Wild Gadarene in Mark 5. The 10 lepers cleansed in John 17. Mary Magdalene out of whom the Lord cast 7 devils, and then she was the first one to see the resurrected Jesus. So many more examples could be given of God beginning a new work in the lives of those who were in physically sick conditions. God can heal any of his people and begin a new work in their life.
- Peter the Denier of Jesus – Even though Peter promised to never forsake Jesus, when the temperature got hot, Peter denies Jesus 3 times and went out and wept bitter tears. He was ready to leave everything and just go back to his former life of fishing because what use could I be in service to Jesus after I denied my Lord? But despite Peter’s denying of Jesus, the Lord used Peter in a mighty way in establishing the early church – preaching the sermon on the Day of Pentecost, opening the door of the gospel to the Gentiles by preaching to Cornelius, and ultimately being the Apostle to the Jews. God used Peter in a mighty way, even though he failed and denied Jesus in the most important moment in his life.
- Paul the Persecutor and Murderer of Christians – I’m sure Paul could never fully get over his past persecution of Christians after his conversion. It wouldn’t surprise me if these past persecutions and even murder of his fellow Christians was the thorn in the flesh that Satan used to buffet him. After he was born again on the Road to Damascus, as he sat blind and without food for 3 days, I’m sure he felt there is no way that God can use him at all in his kingdom because of the past sins he committed. But God took Paul the murderer of Christians and did a new work and turned him into the greatest apostle of the New Testament. The Apostle Paul proves there is no one beyond the life-changing power of God to be used mightily in the kingdom of God.
- The converted sinners in the church at Corinth – “9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). People who live these kinds of lives don’t belong in the church, do they? We don’t want people that have soiled pasts like these in our churches – fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, or extortioners. Well, that’s who the Corinth church was made up of – “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:11). There is no past that is too sinful for God to begin a new work in you and begin a new, fresh, God-honoring chapter in your life.
- Many more examples from scripture could be given, but you get the point. There is no past so sinful that God cannot begin a new work in you and use you mightily in the kingdom of God.
Maybe your struggle is not that you have lived a life of past sins, but that someone else has wronged you. Maybe you’ve done nothing wrong but someone else has wronged you in this chapter of your life. Well, do not be discouraged because you are in good company. Don’t be discouraged because God can write a beautiful new chapter in your life, despite how some else has hurt you in the past.
- Jesus Christ himself was unjustly hated and killed without a cause, but Christ’s story does not end with his death. Instead, the story actually only begins with his resurrection. If you are hated or treated poorly without a cause, you are in the great company of the Savior.
- Joseph was unjustly sold into bondage, imprisoned, slandered, and forgotten. He did nothing wrong but others injured him. Nevertheless, we know that God still blessed him in the end, in the latter chapters of his life, to be a great blessing to others and save many people’s lives from starvation.
- David was unjustly hated and spent years (don’t know how many, but maybe even 10 years) running from Saul. He did nothing wrong but the only reason why Saul hated him was due to jealousy. David was blessed to avoid Saul’s persecution all those years and was still blessed to ultimately be the king after enduring years of unjust persecution.
- Paul – Alexander the coppersmith did him much evil, but Paul still commended him over to the Lord (2 Tim. 4:14-15). Then, when he stood trial at Rome, every man left his side (just like Jesus) but God still stood with him, when everyone else forsook him (2 Tim. 4:16-18).
“19) Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20) The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. 21) This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise.” (Isaiah 43:19-21) We might have gone through a difficult season and chapter in our lives. We might even be in a wilderness right now where it looks like there is no way out of this bad situation. Praise the Lord we serve a God who makes all things new! We serve a God that makes a way in the wilderness and can make a river in the middle of the desert. Not just making a river to look good, but to make a river in the wilderness “to give drink to my people, my chosen”. Even if we are in the middle of a wilderness right now in our life, God can and will make all things and new give us a refreshing drink of his goodness, love, grace, and mercy even in the middle of a parched desert. Let us embrace the new blank page we are given every day for God to begin a new work and begin a new chapter in our lives. Praise God we serve a Lord who makes all things new!
Click on the links below to listen to some sermons in a new window on this topic The God of New Beginnings: