While John the Baptist was in prison, he heard about the works of Christ. So, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one they were expecting or should they keep looking for someone else.
Jesus told his disciples to tell John ‘those things which you hear and see’.
The disciples saw ‘the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead raised, and the gospel preached to the poor.
When a person’s visual acuity is 20/20, it means that he/she has normal and clear vision (at 20 feet).
The church has been hearing the word of God for years, but 2020 will be the year that we will ‘hear and see’.
We will see what we have heard.
Happy New Year!
[Scripture reference: Matthew 11:1-5]
rebuild: to build something again after it has been damaged; repair; to return something to its original state
The Jews were imprisoned and enslaved for 70 years in Babylon. When they were led captive, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, burned and destroyed God’s temple, the walls and gates.
We’ve read and taught about the broken walls, but have you ever thought about the broken people who returned to Jerusalem after 70 years? The temple was later rebuilt, but the walls and gates were still in the same condition – broken down and burned. Because of this, the people were in great affliction and reproach (Nehemiah 1:3). These people were hurting. They were ashamed of the condition of their city. All they could see was devastation, loss, defeat, ruin, and rubbish.
I know it sounds like what they went through was bad, but it was actually for their good. You see, the reason why they were in captivity was because they disobeyed God. If you transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations (Nehemiah 1:8). But God didn’t leave them. He didn’t reject them. He just waited for them to turn back to Him (Nehemiah 1:9).
While enslaved in Babylon, I believe they realized how good God was to them – that He wasn’t unfair or hard (when compared to the Babylonians). They realized how much He loved them. They learned that it was better to do what He told them to do rather than to do what they wanted to do. What God allowed the Babylonians to do to them wasn’t to harm them, but to help them. Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good (Deuteronomy 8:5, NLT).
But before there was a rebuilding, there had to be repenting. Nehemiah confessed his sins and the sins of Israel (Nehemiah 1:5-11). He just didn’t tell the Lord ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘Forgive me’. He acknowledged what they did and admitted that it was wrong.
The people that returned to Jerusalem after captivity was called the remnant (Nehemiah 1:3). They were the ones that remained. They survived. Even though it didn’t feel good (the results of disobedience), they endured the chastening. Someone once said that if disobedience got you in the situation you’re in, then obedience can get you out. So true!
For years, I believed a certain way, I thought a certain way, and I behaved a certain way. Just like Eve, I knew what God said, but because what I heard sounded good and what I saw looked pleasant to the eyes, I disobeyed God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they hid and sometimes we hide because we think that God doesn’t want to look at us anymore. We’re ashamed of ourselves and what we’ve done so we think God is mad at us or ashamed of us, but God says, If you return to Me, I’ll return to you.
I couldn’t see things clearly because of the walls (lies) that the enemy had built in my life, but every time I hear a sure word or receive revelation concerning something I’m dealing with now, the walls begin to fall. God is tearing down every belief, thought and lie of the enemy so that He can build me the way He wants me to be. Is not my word like as a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29)?
God wants to take away the old so He can give you something new – a new heart and a new spirit. He wants to remove the stubborn heart and replace it with an obedient heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Some have lost strength along the way and some have lost their trust and faith in God and in His word, but God is able to restore and rebuild those things, too.
Let God rebuild you so that you can help rebuild others.
It is always important to be focused when you’re behind the wheel, but I try to be even more focused when driving to a place that I’ve never been before. I don’t even like to answer my cell phone while I’m driving because the only voice I want to hear is, ‘In one mile, turn left’ or ‘You have reached your destination’.
Because I don’t know where I’m going, I have to trust the voice of a woman on my phone – who I don’t know and have never met – to take me to a place that I’ve never been before. To reach my destination, I must pay close attention to her instructions and follow them.
It’s the same way with God. We have never been where God is wanting to take us, but we have to trust that He knows the way. In fact, He is the Way. All we have to do is obey His instructions.
When Jesus asked the impotent man if he wanted to be whole, he was really asking the man to make a decision. The man told Jesus that he had no one to put him in the pool when the water was troubled, but then he makes a surprising statement. But while I am coming, another steps down before me (John 5:7).
Wait a minute.
His problem wasn’t that he couldn’t move. His problem was he kept stopping. His problem was he kept getting distracted. Have you ever noticed that the moment something new is about to happen in your life, the old comes? Old things. Things that God delivered you from. Old boyfriends or girlfriends. Old ways.
Old things are nothing but distractions. Distractions come to confuse you, to take you in many directions (except for the right direction) and to keep you from possessing the thing that God has said He has given you. This man was at the right place. He was near the pool. He was so close, but he was more focused on the people than the pool.
The old wants to keep you from entering into the new. It is waiting and seeking for an opportunity to enter back into your life, but this time you will be wise and not foolish. You will no longer be taken advantage of by the enemy. Though you may stumble, you will not fall. You will please the Lord.
The enemy only brings old things. He may use a different person this time, but it’s still the same old thing. Just remember…you are new.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17, KJV).
Therefore if any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature. Old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new (GNV).
Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence (GW).
God is giving you new strength for the new year. I’m not saying things will be easier next year, but as you obey God, things will get better.
My prayer for you is that you don’t faint before you see the goodness of the Lord (Psalm 27:13). May the areas you failed in during the previous years, you now succeed and overcome them in the upcoming years. May you be wiser this new year than you were last year.
You’re going to have work harder this coming year. Keep praying, but do not use prayer as a substitute for work. God has given you much and He requires much from you.
Whatever you stopped believing God for, I pray that you believe again and trust God again. May you enjoy the blessing of the Lord that makes rich and adds no sorrow with it. You know what sorrow feels like, but now you will know HIS joy.
To those of you who were deceived and tricked out of something or who had something stolen from them, may God avenge you speedily. For every year that was stolen, lost or missed (even from your childhood), I pray that He restores those years – in one year.
It’s not too late for God to do what He promised. He is faithful that promised. God began a good work in YOU and He is going to complete it.
Happy New Year!!!
Exodus 2:23 tells us that the cry of the Israelites went up before the Lord due to their bondage. They were tired of what they were going through. They were tired of the abuse, the beatings, the burdens, and unfair treatment. God heard and He answered their cry. The Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more forever (Exodus 14:13).
One moment, they were praising God for rescuing them (Exodus 15:1), but later they complained and wanted to go back to the very thing that made them cry. How could this be? According to Exodus 12:41, it had been 430 years of slavery. They had lived this way for a long time and they were set in their ways. Things weren’t that good, but it was the only life they had known. It was familiar.
They brought up the past a lot. They talked about what they missed in Egypt – the fish, cucumbers, lemons, leeks, onions and garlic. I believe they wanted what God promised, but I don’t think they liked the way He was taking them to get to the promise. They also weren’t patient, but it is only through patience and faith that one inherits the promise (Hebrews 6:12). One example of this was when Moses took too long on the mount. What did they do? They went right back to their old ways and asked Aaron to make them gods. If they served the Egyptians, it is possible that they also served their gods.
God wants to do a new thing, but some of us won’t give God a chance. As soon as it feels like nothing is happening or will ever happen, we consider going back to old things – old relationships, old conversations, old habits. We’d rather walk by what we see or feel than walk by faith. Some of us haven’t received the things God promised because we don’t want to let go of our old ways. Jesus warned against putting new wine in old wineskins because the old wineskin is not in the best condition to receive something new or something good. It is not fit for its use or purpose. You see, new wine forces the wineskin to expand, but if the old wineskin can only stretch to a certain point because of its poor condition, then it will be ruined and lose whatever it is given. But unlike old wineskins, we can stretch, grow and change – IF we want to.
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).
If you’re single and desire to be married one day, sometimes it will feel like you will never meet him or her. The devil will try to make you feel like there’s nothing better than what you used to have. For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:12). But the devil lied again. It wasn’t really that good. The temptation to settle or to go back to a relationship or something from your past (that wasn’t good) will come and although the wait seems long, I will tell you what God told the Israelites:
You must not go back that way ever again (Deuteronomy 17:16).
When a person considers going back, it’s because he doesn’t believe that there’s something better ahead. Unfortunately, some people have returned to old things not knowing that ‘one more time’ could be their ‘last time’. The very thing that God delivered you from is looking for an opportunity to come back in your life, but this time it won’t return alone. It will bring seven other spirits and you will be in worse shape than before. The King James Version describes it as the ‘last’ state (Matthew 12:45).
You will be left behind if you keep thinking about what you left behind. Let it go and let go of the way YOU do things. Your way isn’t always the right way and sometimes it is our ways that get in the way. Your ways are not My ways (Isaiah 55:8).
New wineskins don’t resist new wine. It allows the new wine to change its form. It works with it. It expands with it. When Jesus told Simon and Andrew to follow Him and he will make them to become fishers of men (Mark 1:17), He never told them what to leave. They just knew that what they had was no longer needed – not for where Jesus was taking them. And straightway they left their nets, and followed him (Mark 1:18).
Unless you’re going back to apologize or to give thanks, don’t go back. What God has is better than what you once had.
In 2005, there was a woman who received the world’s first partial face transplant. It was reported that she attempted suicide by taking sleeping pills. While unconscious, her dog ate part of her face. A team of surgeons decided to give her a new face. It had never been done before, they had to wait for a deceased donor and the procedure was very risky, but they took a chance. After 15 hours of surgery, the surgeons were very pleased with their work.
But there was a problem.
After surgery is performed, the surgeon always gives instructions. They did their part. Now the patient must do their part. Although something new took place in this woman’s life, she still had old ways. It was reported that she refused to stop smoking and the surgeons believed that if she continued to smoke, her old ways would reject the new work. She wanted the new, but she didn’t want to let go of the old.
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).
I believe this scripture. I believe the moment I received the gift of salvation that this change immediately happened in my life. All things – everything – became new. I immediately became a new creature. I wasn’t the same anymore. I became a different person. However, I believe that some of the reasons why we don’t enjoy the full benefits of salvation or come to the knowledge of what ‘life more abundantly’ is because we don’t follow God’s instructions. Like a dog who returns to its vomit, we return to foolishness. We return to old things and old ways. We don’t allow the finished work to work completely in our lives. I also think that some of us don’t like being different. We don’t like being hated. We don’t like the feeling of rejection. We would rather ‘fit in’.
Another version of the above scripture reads, “Let him be a new creature’. Christ made us free, but it is our responsibility to not entangle (to get caught in; to get distracted with cares; involved in complicated circumstances from which it is difficult to escape) ourselves with the yoke of bondage that He freed us from (Galatians 5:1). God doesn’t just want us to be free, but He wants us to be free – indeed (truly; certainly; undeniably; without question, without a doubt).
God did something great in Saul’s life. When Saul went to the hill of God, he met some prophets and they prophesied. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him, he prophesied with the prophets and he turned into another man (1 Samuel 10:6). God, by His Spirit, changed him, but Saul had to do something in order to maintain and guard what the Lord did in his life. Between chapter 10 and chapter 16, Saul repeatedly disobeyed God as well as God’s priest, Samuel. By 1 Samuel 16:14, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit now troubled him.
Salvation is a free gift. We don’t work for our salvation, but we must work out our own salvation. Continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ] (Philippians 2:12).
And that requires change.
One day, I shared with an individual that I wanted to do a certain thing, but it just seemed impossible. The person offered different suggestions to help me get started, but an excuse followed every suggestion he made. He finally got tired of me and said, Well, you don’t want it bad enough. I was mad with him for a long time. (Yes, I got mad at someone for telling me the truth). But I now understand what he was saying. I didn’t want to work hard for it. I didn’t want to sacrifice anything to get it. I wanted change, but I didn’t want to change.
Do you remember when Jesus asked the man who had an infirmity for 38 years, Will you be made whole? What He was really asking was:
Do you like your condition?
Do you want to remain in your condition?
Do you want change?
How bad do you want it?
We’re seeking change of our circumstances, but why not seek a change of our hearts and minds. Let the mind of Christ be in you. Let us be a new creature. Let God transform you into the image of His Son. Renew your mind daily with the word of God. Stop returning to old things and things that are familiar. Change for the change He did in your life. Guard and protect what God has done in your life…
He did a good work in you.