Monday, 31 December 2012

The Unchanging God Who Changes Everything

New Year, Old God.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17

God the Father doesn’t change; a new year doesn’t bring us a new God.  He is the same, he always will be.  And so is Jesus:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Hebrews 13:8

The seasons come and go: people are born, people grow old and people die.  We change our minds, change our outlooks, and change our ideas.  God never does. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Is that not an encouraging thought? 

The God who protected the Israelites from every foe is the same God who protects us now.  The God who delivered Joseph from his brothers and raised him to power in Egypt is the same God who promises to deliver us.  The God who died on the cross for us is the same God who loves us today.  And his words to those in ages past are just as certainly promised to us today.


   "All flesh is like grass
   and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
   and the flower falls,
25but the word of the Lord remains forever."
   And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
1 Peter 1:24-25

God never changes and neither does his word.  But when you know him everything else does because our God is a God of new things, mercies new every morning.  He promises many new things: new birth, new life, new family, new home and so much more.  And each one of these promises is certain because the God who promised them has not changed since the words were first uttered.  Human promises are feeble things, lasting only as long as the person who promised them is willing to keep to their word but God does not change like we do.
What then are these promises?

New Birth

“Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." 4Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?" 5Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'."”
John 3:3-7
To be born again, renewed by the grace of God, is truly one of the greatest changes possible in anyone’s life.  No longer of this world, suddenly we are citizens of a greater kingdom, with all the responsibilities and privileges which that brings.  Being born again leads to many things changing.  We are no longer just flesh and blood, but living spirit as well, we can know God’s kingdom, accept God’s truth and do God’s work.  We are, in short, completely remade.

New Life

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

When God saves us, when we come to know Christ, we are born again.  And then we are made new.  No longer are we blind slaves to sin, but now we can see again.  No longer are we dead to God, but now we live in Christ.

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6:4

“For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
Romans 7:5-6

Once we were constrained to living as the world does, as Matthew Henry puts it in his commentary on Romans 7:

“Our desire was towards sin, as that of the wife towards her husband, and sin ruled over us. We embraced it, loved it, devoted all to it, conversed daily with it, made it our care to please it. We were under a law of sin and death, as the wife under the law of marriage; and the product of this marriage was fruit brought forth unto death, that is, actual transgressions were produced by the original corruption, such as deserve death.”

But now, we are made new, in newness of life to walk according to the way of Christ.

New Family

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter 2:9-10

We are now part of a people, called by God.  His church, the bride of Christ, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the body of Christ. Wherever we go we have brothers and sisters, people who care for and love and support us because of what Christ has done for them. As the old hymn says so well:

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

New Home

New birth, new life, new family.  These blessings alone are too much for us to comprehend.  And yet they are only the beginning, for ours is the God who makes all things new.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
5And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." ”
Revelation 21:1-5

God is planning to remake the universe.  Remake it even better than it was before we ruined it all.  He will live with mankind and there will be no tears, no suffering, no pain and no death.  Read verse four again.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away
Revelation 21:4

If that doesn’t make you pause for thought, then read it again.  Realise what it is saying.  It says that one day; God will wipe the tears from our eyes.  Do you realise who this God is? This is the God who burned the stars into the sky with merely a word.  This is the God who created the universe, who created man, microbes and mountains.  This is the God who made you, and knew your every action before you were born.  That God is going to personally wipe the tears from our eyes.  Imagine that day!  Arriving at the gates of heaven, with the tears of earthly pain still running down our cheeks.  Tears from broken relationships, tears from persecution, tears from our own failures and from the failures of others.  Arriving broken hearted and downcast, and then God steps down from the throne and comes towards us, towards you.  He stoops down, and gently wipes the tears from your face, lifts up your drooping head and welcomes you in.  That is a day to look forward to, but when it seems so far away, when relationships fail, friends let you down, you can’t seem to win against your sin: what then?

New mercies

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””
Lamentations 2:22-24

Here is hope that does not disappoint.  God’s love will not let us down, no matter how many times we stumble and fall.  No matter how many times we fail him, fail others, fail ourselves: he will not let us down.  Great is his faithfulness!

We have a God powerful enough to create and recreate galaxies with a whisper, and we have a God kind and gentle enough to wipe the tears from our eyes.  We have a God who calls us to a new life, and a God who reaches out with mercy whenever we fail.  We have a God who will not let us fail forever, but will one day perfect us and bring us home.  These words are trustworthy and true, coming from the unchanging and eternal God: He will make all things new.

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation;
Thro' all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it;
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his—
How can I keep from singing?

<<In keeping with my resolution last new year not to procrastinate any more, here is the completed version of my New Year 2011 post that I finally finished (and combined with the note I did offer up back then, not that anyone will remember that far back).>>

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