"Out With The Old; In With The New"   (December 2011)

We have just celebrated CHRISTmas.  (I hope you all had a wonderful celebration with family and friends.)  Many people this week will be packing up the decorations and placing them back in storage until next year.  CHRISTmas 2011 is now a thing of the past- alive only in our memories and photographs that were taken.  To the world the celebration of CHRISTmas was nothing more than a one day event on the calendar that happens once a year.  But for the Christian CHRISTmas is never over.  It is more than a date on the calendar, or an opportunity to take a holiday off from work, or receive gifts.  CHRISTmas should be a daily occurrence.  I don’t forget it until next year after I take down the tree.  CHRISTmas is still very much alive and well in my heart every day.  CHRISTmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, which was God’s first step in manifesting His great love to the world.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  When Christ was born in a manger, it was the beginning of God’s plan to redeem mankind from our sins.  I think about His birth and entrance into the world daily.  I am so glad He humbled Himself and took upon the robe of flesh.  I am thankful that He left the splendors of heaven and was born as a helpless baby.  I am so glad that He came into the world to save us from our sins.  “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)  I can never forget CHRISTmas because CHRISTmas is not a box of ornaments, homemade candies or special carols.  It is part of my life.

How do I celebrate it daily?  I celebrate it through my worship.  When I worship Him and give Him glory, I am celebrating Him.  Like the wise men who came to worship the new born king.  “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1,2)  In worship I acknowledge who He is.  He was no ordinary baby.  This wasn’t just another king.  This is the Son of God.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1,14)  This was God’s gift to mankind-- to me.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Not only should CHRISTmas be a daily celebration in the lives of the believer, but so should Resurrection Day (Easter).  Just as I celebrate Jesus’ arrival to earth through my daily worship- acknowledging who He was and is; God come to earth in flesh- daily I celebrate His death, burial and resurrection.  I can never forget the cross and what He did for me there.  I have life now because of Him.  I have eternal life, a hope and a future because of His sacrificial death on the cross.  Because of His obedience in fulfilling His Father’s plan at Mount Calvary I have peace with God.  “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)  I am His child and have been reconciled to the Father now in right relationship with Him because of Jesus.  “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)  “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:18a)  My daily celebration of His resurrection occurs through my obedience to Him by applying His word to my life.  Because of Him, I have been raised to new life.  I had a “resurrection” if you will.  “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Romans 6:4,5)  Being a new person, I don’t desire to do what I once did.  My desire is now toward Him and that desire is demonstrated as I follow Him in loving obedience to His will, plan and purpose for my life.  My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Him.  He purchased me with His own precious blood.  “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)  He has made me a brand new person through His death on the cross and that is something that I can’t help but remember everyday.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Then there is Thanksgiving, another holiday that the world celebrates once a year but we should celebrate everyday.  As you can see, the daily celebrations that I am talking about are not times when we have large gatherings, cook special dishes, or spend time with family and friends, they are attitudes that we possess toward God- worship, obedience and thanksgiving.  Each morning that I wake up, I am extremely thankful that the Lord has granted me another day.  I am thankful that all my needs are met.  I am thankful that He is with me and does not leave me.  I am thankful that He has written my name in His Book of Life.  I am thankful for the many blessings He bestows on me daily.  I don’t need a special holiday to offer thanksgiving to the Lord.  I am so blessed I can’t help but give Him thanks-- everyday, all day!  “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (Psalm 100:4)

So you see, while the world makes these holidays once a year events and just a special date on the calendar, they should mean something totally different to us and something we acknowledge daily.  There is one more “holiday” that we haven’t addressed and that is the one that is next on the calendar-- New Year’s Day.  (It would have already happened by the time you read this.)  The majority of the world’s population is eagerly looking forward to the New Year.  There are hopes that it will be better than this past year.  Hopefully, this will be the year that dreams you have been holding on to for a long time will come true.  Those things we have put off will be on the agenda when the new year arrives.  Each new year offers a “fresh start”.  We feel hopeful because each new year stands before us like a “clean slate”.  There are no mistakes on it, no failures, nothing left undone, no regrets, it is as if we can forget those things and leave them all behind- because we are heading into a “new year”.  This is the time when people hope for a second chance-- that’s what a “New Year’s Resolution” is- a second chance to start over and get it right this time.  (Personally, I don’t ever make resolutions.  I try to follow the Lord and let Him lead me into what He wants for me during each upcoming year.  Besides, the plans God has for me are better than the resolutions I make for myself.)

When I say that for the believer each day should be “new year’s day”, what do I mean by that?  As we have said, people look at this time as a time of fresh starts and new beginnings.  They hope to leave “old” things they acquired during the past year behind them.  What is the motto of the New Year?  What do we hear repeated during this time?  “Out with the old, and in with the new!”  This is what I mean by every day should be “new year’s day” for us.  Each day is a new beginning, a fresh start.  We don’t have to carry any heavy baggage we may have accumulated during the day into the next one.  When we get to the door of a new day, we need to leave behind the things of yesterday.  Paul said it this way under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

At the beginning of each new day when you wake up, everything prior to that time is now “behind” you- not in front of you.  So you need to leave it back there.  The Lord doesn’t want you dragging yesterday’s mistakes, pain, guilt, bitterness, fear, etc. into this new day.  It will rob you of the “abundant life” that He came to give you.  Each day is a new day, don’t bring old things- the things we have already named into it.  It is a fresh start.   

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)  How can you rejoice and be glad today when you are weighted down by something that happened to you yesterday, last month, or last year, and you have not gotten over it?  How can you enjoy the blessings that the Lord wants to load on you today?  “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” (Psalm 68:19)

We don’t need to wait until the new year gets here to do something about these “old” things that keep haunting us, that keep us in bondage, that keep us from enjoying the one life that the Lord gave us, or that will keep us from fulfilling our God called purpose.  I believe the Lord wants us to enter into this new year (as well as every new day) without all this baggage from the past. 

Everyone wants a “word” for the New Year, I believe one thing the Lord is saying to us is:  “Out with the old, in with the new”. 

“Out with the old”.  “Forgetting those things which are behind.”  Leave your burdens in 2011.  Leave them behind.  Get past it.  Stop bringing into your present.  Stop allowing it to affect your future.  It is time to lay it to rest.  It is time to put them down.  Don’t bring them into 2012.  And don’t carry them around day after day.  It is time to lay aside those weights that would so easily beset you.  It is time to lay aside the guilt of past mistakes and failures.  It is time to lay aside those old feelings of resentment because of something someone said, or did, to you.  It is time to deal with those old issues that you have never dealt with before- you just keep dragging them around and bringing them into each new day-- and new year.  It is time to stop beating yourself up for a bad choice you made in the past.  It is time to stop playing around with a sin that you have been convicted over repeatedly.  “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)  There is a race that is set before us that we must run.  No race is ever easy, but it is almost impossible to run if you are carrying a weight on your back. 

“In with the new”.  “Reaching forth unto those things which are before.”  What lies before us each new day, or new year?  New opportunities, new victories, new levels of faith, the chance to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, the fulfillment of His plan for your life, open doors, and new chances to glorify Him.

Not only is there a race to run, there is a mark (a goal) to press toward.  “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  The goal is transformation into Christ likeness.  How can people see Jesus in us when we are burdened down with cares, past hurts, bitterness, or any of the other many things that can weigh us down and suck the life out of us?  There is another goal also, and that is to show the creation what the sons of God look like.  “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19)  Creation/mankind is waiting to see us shining as bright lights in a dark world.  It is waiting for someone to show them what Jesus really looks like.  It is waiting to hear the truth.  People are waiting to hear the good news that God loves them and Jesus saves.  There are people to reach with the love of God.  Souls are lost and perishing, the weak need to be strengthened, the discouraged need encouraging, the hungry need to be fed, and the sick need to be visited.  If we don’t let go of what is weighing us down, we will not be able to shine the light of Jesus’ love throughout this world.   
So how do we go about leaving these things behind?  How do we let these burdens go?  How do we stop bringing them from the past, or yesterday, into today?  “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)  You take them to the foot of the cross and leave them there.  It was at the cross where your burden of sin was originally removed.  It was there where you became a new creation.  It was there where you received a new life in Christ.  Like the old hymn says, “At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away.  It was there by faith I received my sight and now I am happy all the day.”  The cross has never lost its power.  It still has the power to save, heal and deliver.  Jesus bore your sins at the cross, He can certainly bear that baggage that you are carrying around.  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)  He has given you an invitation to cast it upon Him.  He has invited you to come to Him and take His light burden in exchange for your heavy one.  Go to Him in repentance and asking for His help to let them go.  He will not turn you away.  He never turns a seeking heart in need that comes to Him.   

Will you go into this new year carrying the same old, same old issues that have hindered you, held you back and held you down year after year?  Will you spend this next year carrying heavy burdens over from one day to the next?  Or will you make the choice that when you get up each morning before your feet even hit the floor to cast yesterday behind you and press forward into this new day?  The choice is yours.  I have decided that my motto for each new day will be, “Out with the old, and in with the new”.  Each day is new, and each day has a clean slate that has nothing written on it yet.  What will be written on your day?  Old things like unforgiveness, temper, condemnation, agony, pain?  Or new things that the Lord wants to reveal to you and accomplish through you? 

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

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