He Makes All Things New
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
As a child, my mom and dad had many family traditions, and I cherish them all. Fun activities or special family time were a part of every holiday: from a huge heart-shaped cinnamon roll for Valentine’s Day to paper baskets filled for neighbors on May Day. The most significant, however, was our “gifts to Jesus” every Christmas Eve.
After enjoying Mexicali Pie (a delicious tradition), my dad would gather us together for devotions and communion. At the end, he would bring out paper, pencils, and envelopes for each of us to write a letter to Jesus explaining what we wanted to give Him in the coming year. Gifts might include reading the Bible in a year, witnessing to a neighbor, or making a change in our life. After addressing it to Jesus and sealing it in an envelope, each of us would place letter under the Christmas tree before any other gifts were exchanged. When Christmas was over, we each put our letter in our Bible to remind ourselves of our gift to Him. Doing this each year made me think of the new year and what it could mean between me and God.
We each have an opportunity to move out of the past and create a new beginning. A time to put aside failures, hurts, and regrets from the past and press on to what God has for us a fresh and new. A few years back, I had an experience that made this point “come alive” to me.
Shortly after Christmas, I had spent the afternoon enjoying one of my favorite hobbies: shopping for treasures at a local thrift store. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an old copper and brass teapot that looked like it had seen better days. It was dirty and corroded after years of wear and neglect. But the price was low and it looked like a great deal, so I bought it. When I got home, I had a big job to do. I researched the best ways to clean copper and brass and purchased all the necessary supplies. I tried many different solutions and methods to clean the teapot, but it seemed like an impossible task. After hours of scrubbing, rubbing, rinsing, and repeating these steps over and over, I begin to see a glimmer of hope for the old teapot. Though I almost gave up, eventually the old layers came off and beauty began to shine. It has now become something I proudly display.
This new beginning for an old teapot reminds me of an important truth for each of us: Jesus makes all things new. Jesus is our master refinisher. He works on us in His loving and patient way, never giving up on us. He sees beauty when we cannot and finds possibility in our frailness. The agents He has at his disposal for transformation are perfect, and He loves us through it all, helping every step of the way.
When we change the calendar from one year to the next, there really is nothing special about the date. Still, it is a time when God can speak to us, remind us of His love, and give us a fresh start to experience new mercies, new grace. new blessings, new conquest over stubborn sins, new faith replacing old fears, and new people coming into His Kingdom.
Jesus is the one who makes all things new. He is an expert at doing new things. This is possible because of what He did on the Cross: He died, He was buried, but He rose again to bring new life. As this new year begins, remember that God has new things for you in the days ahead. “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:15).
2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old is gone, the new is here.”
Philippians 3:13-14 “Brother’s and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
As we enter the New Year and finish our church-wide fast, the question we need to be asking is this: What does God desire to accomplish in me and through me this year? Take out a piece of paper and write a letter to Jesus, describing the “gifts” you want to give Him this year. Think of this as a time to renew your commitment to Him. Perhaps it is a goal in reading the Bible, finding more time to spend with God, building a godly character trait, giving up something that is harmful, or witnessing to a friend. Once you fill it out, put it in a place that you will see often to remind you of the new things that He wants to accomplish in you this year.
-Pastor Shari Dresselhaus