A message dated Sunday, December 26, 2021 for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH.
For the audio podcast of this message, click here.
I started writing this message a couple of different times. Under normal circumstances, each of us would be talking about Christmas and family time and giving glory and praise to Jesus for His life on earth and what it represents. Well, my wife and I have had a few quiet days because it is the first Christmas in many years that we are having without her mom being around. I also got word this week that one of my co-workers passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. The sudden changes of life have made this year, even more than last year, a quieting and reflective experience. Lynn and I have found that it is important for us to pace ourselves every day as we spend time with Jesus. We are pressing ahead through it all.
And that’s just it. Pressing ahead is not always a great experience. Some days are downright difficult. If you have been through a similar situation, you probably remember how the days just seem to run together as you go through it. Memories flood in when you start cleaning out rooms or even going through the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. It is moments like this where we welcome pressing ahead to a new beginning. Out with the old, and in with the new—whatever it turns out to be.
And that is the theme of today’s message: We must press ahead. We remember the good times and the wonderful family experiences that we have all had, but it is interesting that God still gives us guidance as we move forward with life.
We must press ahead.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Our calendar tells us that the year is soon coming to an end, and that we are to look to the New Year as a new beginning.
It is a new beginning, but only as far as what the calendar tells us.
We celebrate when there is a new life brought into the world. A wonderful new beginning, indeed. There are many new beginnings throughout life. Graduation, marriage, a new job, retirement, and on and on.
When there is loss, we grieve. It takes time to get through our moments of grief, and while they are not to be rushed or set aside, it is in our best interest to move ahead.
Jesus provides us guidance with these new beginnings in the power of the Holy Spirit. He has reconciled us to Him.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
I love the New Living Translation version of this verse:
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
We are made new each and every day as our relationship with Jesus Christ grows each day, and we continue to grow and develop on a daily basis. It may not seem that way at times, but God is teaching each one of us every day, and sometimes in very subtle ways. We mature in our faith as we trust in Him.
We must press ahead because life is full of new beginnings. Life is a series of new beginnings.
Jesus is the foundation of everything that we understand about new beginnings. The Hebrew Christians had to learn more about following Jesus and putting aside those things from the Jewish Law that no longer applied to them:
Hebrews 10:11-18 NLT
11 Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
16 “This is the new covenant I will make
with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
17 Then he says,
“I will never again remember
their sins and lawless deeds.”
18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.
This was a radical teaching for the Jewish Christians, for sure, but it was showing them exactly what it meant to move forward from the old covenant that was no longer necessary, and to now move to a new beginning, which was having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And this leads us to one of three aspects that I will share with you as to what is involved in experiencing a new beginning:
• New beginnings require moving forward in faith.
• New beginnings require moving forward in God’s strength.
• New beginnings require living with hope for a brighter future.
First, let’s look at the role of faith in our new beginnings. We can never overstate the importance of faith within any aspect of our lives. We live in faith for Jesus Christ, who is where all of our faith comes from.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. The original Greek used for ‘author’ is Archegos (ar-khay-GOS), which means “originator, author, founder, prince, leader.” The word for “perfecter” is teleiotes (tel-i-o-TACE), Greek for “completer, finisher.” 1 As we had noted earlier pertaining to the plight of the Jewish Christians, they had to overcome personal struggles and peer pressure from other Jews to step out on faith and trust Jesus.
He writes the story of the life of every believer and knows each one intimately, but trusting in His new beginnings in life requires faith.
Hebrews 10:22 NIV
…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Our level of faith is directly proportionate to our level of confidence in the power and ability of Jesus Christ. If you are struggling with faith at this time, or any time for that matter, let me assure you that God is not done with you. You have a lifetime of growth and development ahead of you.
Matthew 21:21-22 ESV
21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
Our level of faith is often hampered by worldly events or circumstances. Whenever we lack faith, we are to seek Jesus and ask for God’s strength:
1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV
That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Which leads to our second aspect of new beginnings: Moving forward in God’s strength.
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 41:10 ESV
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Joshua was reminded repeatedly by God to remain “strong and courageous” as he assumed the responsibility of leading the Israelites:
Joshua 1:9 CSB
Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Faith requires trusting in God’s ability to carry you through moments of difficulty as you look forward to new beginnings in your life. Turn your fears and moments of doubt directly over to God. He will help you to prevail and experience great success…no matter where you go.
The third aspect of new beginnings comes from living with hope for a brighter future. We already have something to look forward to when it comes to experiencing the final destination for our salvation in Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). He also wants us to have hope in our recent and extended future as we follow and serve Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:13 ESV
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Our hope in Jesus Christ is rooted in His promises for us.
Hebrews 10:23 ESV
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 CSB
2 We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. 3 We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you have been listening closely to these aspects of new beginnings, you may also discover that each of these–faith, living in God’s strength, and hope–calls to attention the love that Jesus Christ has for us, and it reminds us that God is well aware of our longing for new beginnings when difficulty is present:
Romans 8:28 ESV
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We must love God as we have faith, draw upon His strength and have hope in our future. He already loves us.
Do you trust Him in moving forward?
Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Pressing on is the key. Don’t look back and don’t stand still. Jesus leads the way as we seek our new beginnings in life. He is with us every step of the way.
Copyright © 2021 Melvin Gaines.
1 Lucey, C. (2021, April 12). How is jesus the author and Perfecter of faith? Christianity.com. Retrieved December 23, 2021, from https://www.christianity.com/wiki/jesus-christ/how-is-jesus-the-author-and-perfecter-of-faith.html