Wednesday, January 25, 2012
A New Beginning
Ex. 12:2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.
Acts 1:4 While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me;
Acts 1:5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
When God was preparing the Israelites to leave Egypt he promised them a new life. As a seal of that promise he told them to reset their calendars for their lives would have a new beginning. The month of their deliverance was to be the first month of the year for them -- starting the calendar over again and marking it from a significant moment -- when God had delivered them from Egypt! This was their new beginning. Move to the New Testament and we find another significant new beginning. Jesus has come to the earth, lived and died and is now preparing to ascend into heaven. He is telling the people of another new beginning which they will experience in Jerusalem.
This is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for we serve a God of new beginnings! There are times when he says that enough is enough -- and it's time to reset the calendar and give you a fresh start. This is a gracious God who loves and cares for everyone enough that he wants to give them hope for a new life in him.
For the Israelites the new beginning involved stepping out in faith. They were to go and walk out into a desert to worship God. They were to follow all of his instructions. Their entire relationship with God was to change as a result of this new beginning. They really struggled with the changes in their lives. It was all so new to them, and yet they did follow God's instructions for the passover and he protected them and they were eventually allowed to go and have a new beginning. For us to have a new beginning we must take a lesson from these children of Israel who were scared and worried about what as ahead. And yet, to have a new beginning one must trust in God who will provide and lead the way.
In Acts we find a different scene. We find a rag-tag group of 120 people who are wondering what is going to happen next? There's such a small group of them left after all the massive crowds dispersed. Jesus didn't turn out to be the political leader they had hoped he would be. The faithful few are told to go and wait in an upper room where there would be a new beginning. They had no idea what that meant. Jesus had said he had to leave so that he could send them the Holy Spirit. What was a Holy Spirit? And yet, they went to the room and they began to pray -- the men and the women who had been faithful followers of Jesus. And they waited for a new beginning. They too stepped out in faith not knowing what that future held. When the Holy Spirit came, little did they know that they, on a personal level, would be completely transformed into new people! They became the vessels that God used to bring about the new beginning. They became vessels filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit.
God is offering every one of us a new beginning. For some it is simply starting out on the journey with God and allowing him to lead you. It can be tough, just like it was for the Israelites. Some days there was faith, some days you struggled -- but God never left you alone and went with you. And the way he comes and is with us today is through the presence of his Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit is transformational. It takes us from being weak and doubting followers to becoming powerful followers with abilities we could never even begin to imagine, for they are not our abilities, but his giftings flowing through us.
Do we need a new beginning? It all starts with a step of faith in the direction of a faithful God who promises to lead us and to fill us. Let's go!
Lord, morning by morning you bring your promises afresh and a new to me. Thank you, and may I walk and follow you in faithfulness. Amen.