Friday Jan 06, 2023
Friday Jan 06, 2023
Friday Jan 06, 2023
Well, hey there and hello! First of all, Happy New Year. More than that, blessed and filled to overflowing with God’s love and grace and mercy and guidance and favor to you. What a year it will be if we see God’s hand at work in all sorts of areas of our lives. And what honor He’ll receive if we live out 2023 intentionally, with our eyes on the Lord, seeking and doing His will, praying like we believe our God answers those prayers, loving others like we believe God loves us fiercely, as the apple of His eye. Why not make it just that type of year? I’m in. How ‘bout you?
You’re listening to The Burt (Not Ernie) Show Podcast, part of the Spark Network, now playing in the Edifi app. This is episode number 131.
A new year.
Resolutions, recommitments, restructuring of all sorts of areas of our lives, renewal and revival and basically all the words that start with “re”.
We want the new thing.
We want hope, we want a good, good future. We want the betterment of our own worlds and the whole world. Hope is rekindled in the new year.
What does God’s word say about hope, about that search we tend to have for something new, something good, when a new year begins? We kind of do this at our birthdays, too. What are we looking forward to in this year of life, what hopes and dreams do we have for the upcoming 12 months, and so on.
Is it just foolhardy wishful thinking? Is it people being people, it is optimism rearing it’s head at this time of year? Or is it something God puts inside of us, this interest in and desire for the new thing?
I’m going to read a few verses, all from the New Living Translation, because there are some promises for us from the Bible that can be very, very encouraging to take with us into the coming year.
First, from the very last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, chapter 21, so the very tail end of Revelation, the very last portions of the Bible, chapter 21, verse 5. Here is what is says in the NLT:
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”
So, who is speaking here? The One who sits on the throne. And there is one King of kings, Lord of lords, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the only One worthy to sit on that throne.
These are some of the last words in the Bible. There are 22 chapters in the book of Revelation, and this is from chapter 21. Jesus is telling us something important, because what people say when they are closing something out, like a book or a sermon or a speech, those words are more likely to stick, to be remembered, to be carried out with the person when they get up and leave the auditorium, much more likely to be remembered than the words in the middle of the hour long speech. Ted talks are short for a reason, right? That brevity lends to the sticking power of what’s being shared. It also forces the speakers to hone in on the key points and cut the fluff out (reminds me of Strunk & White’s book The Elements of Style…isn’t there a rule in that book about eliminating words?). Ted talks work for a reason. And the reason is, they are direct, to the point, cut to the chase, they get right to it.
God wanted us to read these words toward the end of the book of Revelation, and that’s where He placed them. So, we are kind of starting at the very end of the Bible as we start at the very beginning of 2023.
He who sits on the throne says to us, “Behold. I am making all things new.”
All really does mean all.
That chronic pain you’ve dealt with the last couple of years? That’s on His list of things that will be made new. Finances tight in this economy? Well, He’s gonna make that all new one day. Not sure what you do on the daily to serve your family, your church, in your workplace is making much of a difference? No worries, when He makes all things new you are going to know the actual eternal impact of what you did. Like the widow who gave two mites, which seemed like very little, Jesus may well reveal that what you gave was more than you know.
He also says that these words are faithful and true, they are accurate. The Amplified says they are incorruptible and trustworthy. That’s important for us to know as we roll forward into 2023. God’s words, and His promises made in His word, are accurate, true, faithful, not able to be corrupted, trustworthy. And His promise here is that He is making all things new. What He is telling you in the Bible is trustworthy and true.
And hey, if you need some encouragement, I can say that you can find so much hope and encouragement by reading the book of Revelation. It doesn’t have to be viewed as a scary book that we avoid reading because some of it is hard to understand and some of it seems stressful and some of it seems like it will happen in a whole ‘nother lifetime. It’s a book that holds a promise to the reader (and I am gonna let you read it to find out where it says that and what that exact promise is!) but there is so much hope about the future, our future, in eternity with the Lord, about His coming again and setting all things right, about the joy we will have in His presence. It’s actually a very encouraging book, and reading it could be a great way for you to garner hope as you begin this year.
Jesus has promised that He is making all things new. He is working on all the things! Isn’t that a great promise?? Behold this promise! Take a look at it. And then, choose to believe it. There are blessings that come when we choose to believe God’s promises.
In the Old Testament book of Ezekial, chapter 11, verse 19, we read:
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.
Isn’t this an awesome verse? Look at the promises here! God is saying that He will do the impossible. Now, if you’ve ever known someone with a heart of stone, then you get my drift. It is the most miraculous thing to see someone go from a stony heart, like stubborn in a way that defies all ability to reconcile or reason with, from that to a tender, responsive, soft heart. It is a miracle of miracles! And that is what God does. He specializes in it. He does this every single day and it will never stop being one of my favorite things in the entire world.
And just a reminder, when we see a verse of promise in our Bible that uses the word will, it really does mean will. God does not play. God does not mince words or misspeak.
He says it because He truly means it.
He WILL give us singleness of heart. He will put a new spirit within us. He will take away our stubborn, stony hearts and give us tender, responsive ones in place of that old stony hunk of junk.
This is a verse you can remember when you are praying for people. We all know people who are hurting, who have hard hearts, who need the Lord in their lives. I mean, maybe you don’t know anyone like that, but golly most of us do. Because this world is hard to live in. That’s true for us all. So there are people who are hard in one or another aspect of their life, and we can pray and ask God to do as He has promised here in Ezekial, to give His people a singleness of heart (that’s a great prayer to pray over your local church for the whole coming year of 2023 - jus think what might come to pass if you prayed that over your local church every single week of this whole year… what kind of an impact might that have by year’s end?) And for those people who need the Lord, pray that God will keep His word as found here in this verse and soften their hearts, draw them to Himself, put a new spirit within them. What a beautiful way to invest in others and to pony up, ya know, and put our money where our mouth is. Like, if we believe God’s promises only in word, we probably aren’t praying for those promises to be true for us, or for others. Let’s be praying believers! Can we make this year the year we, as individuals, become praying believers? We believe God’s promises and we pray big, bold, daring prayers based on those promises. Let’s do this thing!
Now, from the New Testament book of 1 Peter, chapter 1, the very last part of verse 3 says this in the NLT:
Now we live with great expectation.
When we know what the Word of God says, and then live and pray with that knowing underpinning what we think, how we act, the decisions we make and most certainly how we pray, well, we are living with great expectation.
Not tiny, miniscule, itsy bitsy spider sized expectation.
GREAT expectation. Yeah, I think maybe God’s Word said it first and Dickens took a cue from the Bible. GREAT. EXPECTATION. (Dickens title is in the plural, ours is singular - we set all our hope on Jesus, and all our expectation is from Him. We don’t have a bit of hope over here in this religion, some over there in that self-help plan, a bit more in our own John Wayne pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality, getting by with a little help from my friends over this a way… No, our expectation is from the Lord. Beginning to end, it hinges on Him. And remember the first verse from Revelation? Trustworthy and faithful.)
Hope resting firmly on Jesus is rock solid. That’s what we need, and that’s what we need to share with others.
I’m not saying you can never have a bad day. I am saying Jesus on the side is not the answer. He is the One who says to take up your cross daily and follow Him. He is the One who says the servant is not greater than the master. He is the One who rose on the third day and sent His Holy Spirit to be with us, in us, when He sat down at the right hand of the Father. That does not sound to me like a bit of Jesus on the side, Clyde. That sounds like the Great I AM as the Lord of all.
There is hope for you this year, because the Bible tells you so.
And there can be hope for those around you who are hurting, because you can pray for God’s promises to become their reality.
You can encourage your pastors, you can be a blessing to your coworkers, you can make a difference in the furthermost corner of the world because you know how to pray according to the Word of God.
The only thing that can stop you from praying is, well, you not actually doing the praying.
Start now, start today, start with this: Lord, who can I pray for right now?
Ask Him to remind you of verses with promises and hope to pray for people, and He surely will. Ask God to hear your prayers and to answer them, to be glorified in this hurting old world, and to be expand His kingdom and do a work in this world that makes a mark, makes a difference, ask that by the end of your life, the world would be a better place because you prayed and you believed God’s promises.
May 2023 be your year to leave this kind of legacy, this kind of impact. And may you be blessed in all your ways, in all you do, as you seek His kingdom first and foremost.
Lord bless you and thank you so much for listening today. I’m thankful for you and I’m praying for you (if you want to know what I’m praying for you, check out the link to the 2023 Prayer Planner… spoiler alert, I don’t pray small prayers for you. I pray big and I really do trust God to do amazing things for you as I pray based on His word.)
See ya next time! Bye bye.