By Rev. Fr. Dr. Mario Ozele
“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
Isaiah’s writings to the children of Israel came at a bleak period of their history. They were in captivity, they had lost everything they thought they would keep forever, and they were home sick for the land and the blessing God had promised them.
There are many people who think that God has stopped moving in their midst they think that God stopped moving a long time ago. But that’s not true!!! It’s because they don’t have their attention on what God is doing today. He said, “I will do a new thing”.
The fundamental principles of divine activity are changeless, but the outward shape of that activity alters with the changing needs of Gods people. We are meant to reflect on the past with gratitude and stimulated faith but not to allow it stereotype our expectations from God. God is doing a New Thing! To be able to see what God is doing we need to follow the instructions of these verses.
1. The first step to embracing the new thing what God wants to do in your life is to CHANGE YOUR FOCUS — QUIT LOOKING BEHIND AND START LOOKING AHEAD v.18, Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. If you are continually looking behind you cannot see where you are going.
At times we can’t see the new things that God is doing because we are living in the “good old days” blinded by the past. It’s ok to remember the good things but do not camp there it’s time to move on. There are people who can tell you what went on in their lives and in their churches 50 years ago but they can’t tell you what God is doing today. But we serve a now God!If you are ever going to move on to new things in Christ you must learn that …
A. You Cannot Depend Upon Past Victories To Sustain You. Forget the former things: The children of Israel had many victories in their past:
- Leaving Egypt
- Conquering the Land of Canaan
- Fighting off prospective conquerors
- Survived a split in their country
But now they are in captivity. All their previous victories were doing nothing to set them free. They needed a new work, a new miracle, a new victory. The question isn’t what has God done –the question must be: What is God doing in your life right now?
2. Secondly, in order to move on to new things in Christ you must know that … YOU CANNOT ALLOW YOUR PAST FAILURES TO POSSESS YOU… DO NOT DWELL ON THE PAST.
The children of Israel had failed God miserably. Every time He blessed them with good things, they returned to Him evil things:
1. God gave them the Temple – they gave Him idol worship
2. God gave them truth – they lived and proclaimed a lie
3. God gave them His commands – they lived like they were suggestions
4. God gave them wealth – they used it to abuse the poor
5. God gave them Himself – they gave Him nothing except rejection
The children of Israel did not deserve to receive anything from God. Yet He still loved them and He earnestly wanted to help them change. Notice God’s Message: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! God was not condemning them for their past, they could do nothing to change it. Instead God was holding out the hand of hope. He is in effect saying: Forget about your past — I am giving you an opportunity to start over. Isaiah 55:7 states, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
3. If you are going to get anywhere in your spiritual life you must understand that… YOU CANNOT LIVE ON YESTERDAY’S FAITH.
The children of Israel had experienced great spiritual blessings throughout their history. From the first Passover, to the crossing of the Red Sea, to the conquering of the Land of Canaan, to the building of the temple, the children of Israel had seen the hand of God at work in and through their lives. Yet their faith in what God had done was doing nothing to deliver them from their present situation. Their old faith was not sufficient enough to deliver them from their present problems. They needed new faith, a new vision for what God could do. They needed a new portion of the faith that had brought to pass all the victories from before.
4. The fourth step to embracing the new thing what God wants to do in your life is to CLARIFY YOUR FOCUS — DISCOVER WHAT GOD WANTS FOR YOU. “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.”
To Perceive: to know by seeing; care, recognition, acknowledge, aware of, understand. What do you see when you view your life? Do you see possibilities or problems? Notice what God said: I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
The children of Israel had a choice. They could view their past and the problems of their present, or they could focus upon what God wanted to do in their lives. In order to discover what God wants for you … You Must First See Yourself as God Sees You.
The children of Israel felt as though they were getting just what they deserved because of the way they had lived. Some even believed that God would never have anything more to do with them. But they were wrong!!! You may feel like your past has made your life a wasteland but in God, your life can become a stream of life. Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” St. Paul writes in Colossians 1:21-22, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.”
5. In order to discover what God wants for you, … You Must See Your Possibilities as God Sees Them.
I am making a way in the desert … We are surrounded on every side by trouble, tragedy, misfortune, heartache, discouragement; consumption, decline, loss, destruction, decay; ruin, devastation, desolation; refuse, rubbish, trash, garbage – DESERTS!
Deserts fill our world, stalk our streets and sting our spirit. Decay pollutes our air, poisons our water. Deserts kill our joy, dash our hopes and snatch our loved ones away prematurely. We are surrounded on every side by desolation, ruin, waste and destruction! On every side we are surrounded by the Cries of the People of God in these Deserts. 500,000,00 people hungry; 1 billion people in extreme poverty; 40 million dying every day from malnutrition; billions of people with no access to medical care. Millions addicted to drugs and alcohol; millions suffering the agony of neglect and abuse. People are sighing and crying and dying in this Desert! Their hopes dismantled; their dreams destroyed; their prospects all but perished! Deserts have come their way just like they have come our way!
Yes, each one us have our own “desert places.” Deserts leave no stone unturned, no body untainted, no life untouched and no heart unbroken. The Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world as the perfect specimen of the human family, through His life demonstrates for us what it means to be a true child of God. But even He wasn’t above this Desert-Experience; for He was stabbed by suffering, stung by pain, startled by disappointment and stalked by death. And taking His place, casting His lot with us in our desperate situation, the Desert claimed the Son of God, straggled the life out of Him, signed the requisition for His disposition, sealed the order for His termination, and delivered Him into a cool, chilly, waiting grave!
It seemed like all was lost; it seemed like all was done; it seemed like the horned enemy could now sing; it looked like the curtain had fallen on the Light of the world; it looked like Life had met death and death had won. But before you take out your pencil and write a Period thinking that’s the end of the story, I think I ought to tell you that God Erased that Period and wrote an Everlasting Comma!