Pastor Nick Cleveland
My family and I enjoy watching Extreme Home Makeover. One of the reasons I like to watch it is the fact that something beautiful often comes out of something difficult. I love the Before & After.
It reminds me of a man selling an old abandoned warehouse that had sat empty for months. Vandals damaged the doors and windows and trash was found everywhere. He told the prospective buyer that with some repairs it could be good. The buyer said, “Forget about the repairs. When I buy this place, I’m going to build something completely different. I don’t want the building; I want the site.” That is exactly what God wants to do in your life. He plans to build something new. Many of us are longing for this kind of extreme makeover as we head into the new year.
The Apostle Paul wrote over half of the New Testament. He was completely changed when he encountered Jesus. God did a brand-new thing in him, a total renovation. God specializes in making all things new. He loves to take old, forgotten, tattered, ruined and despised things and make them new. He chooses to use what the world tosses away. An ultimate makeover. It’s a fresh start that completely changes everything, but it’s only available to anyone in Christ. Paul told the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God isn’t building a better you. He’s building a new you!
Paul explains this by contrasting the before and the after of this extreme makeover. He describes them as old and new. So, let’s define the mindset and characteristics of the old and new. You can’t defeat it until you define it.
Worry vs Hope. Worry never works, it only makes it worse. Every time we worry, we try to play God. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Worry weighs us down.” (MSG) Too many people let worry lead the way, but God offers a better foundation for life and it’s…Hope. Hope isn’t a wish or a dream. It’s a confident expectation of the future. Peter saw it first hand and wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3) That changes everything and it’s a foundation you can build a new life on.
Wounds vs Healing. If you’ve lived long, you’ve been hurt. In no way am I suggesting you should minimize or ignore your pain, but I am telling you it doesn’t have to define you today or direct your tomorrow. When you hold onto hurt, it’s called resentment and it holds onto you. God offers a better way…Healing. The Psalmist reminds us that God promises healing, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3) I love that verse because it doesn’t treat the wounds like they’re not there. God acknowledges that life hurts and you’re going to need stitches and there will likely be a scar. But, God says, “I do heal” and scars tell stories. You can move past your past and know healing.
Wants vs Healthy Habits. We all have wants, but when those drive our lives, we make some unfortunate decisions. The Apostle Paul told us that, “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial…” (1 Corinthians 10:23) When seemingly good becomes all-consuming goals, we lose focus of what life is really all about. God invites us to…Healthy Habits. Life isn’t what happens to us. It’s how we respond to what happens to us. When I was training to run in a race, I had to decide which I would prefer…the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The Apostle Paul wrote to his apprentice, Timothy, challenging him to, “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales…train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Sounds like good advice, even today, regarding social media. Put your focus on habits that direct your life to a better future. Use this time as a way to refocus your wants to match God’s ways. You won’t regret it.
My Way vs Humility. When we do life our way and not God’s way, we get lost. But we like the freedom of our way, don’t we? Going our way over God’s way is fun. If it weren’t fun, we wouldn’t do it. Sin feels good. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t do it. Sin is a big deal, because it cuts us off from God and leads us to death. The writer of Proverbs told us that, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12) So, we need…Humility. God offers you a new life. To receive the offer, you must admit you’re not God and that you can’t rescue yourself. A few verses later, Paul told the Corinthians of a ridiculous exchange that took place, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
God is the one who brings hope, healing, health and humility. This changes everything in our lives!
The best way to predict who someone will be in the future is to look back at who they have been in the past. EXCEPT one thing. When Jesus gets involved. When Jesus gets involved, He makes everything new. He serves the eviction notice to the old and ushers in the new in your life. Who do you want to be in 2021?
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