Podcast Of This Message
A new year is upon us, 2019 is officially here so happy birthday Earth?!? Now rather than me giving you a Christian horoscope about the coming year I want to talk about how we can embrace change and new beginnings in our lives so we can better serve and follow after God. I know that many people look to posts like this to find out what God is going to do in the world during 2019, be it in politics, the church, world events, or over generalized personal promises. By this I mean words such as “look under your chairs, everybody gets a victory, you get a victory, you get a victory everyone gets a victory” with no details, confirmations or steps to carry out to see it come to pass.
I don’t mean to downplay God’s ability to provide theme words for 2019 and any other year or His ability to provide glimpses into what is about to happen. Instead I want to paint a picture of what I feel God is leading me to teach and talk about over the next twelve months, and spoiler alert it has to do with how to handle and navigate change in our lives. Far too often we hear a word from God and click like and don’t do anything to see those words come to pass in our lives or in the world around us. We need to go beyond chasing after an unending stream of unused/unapplied words from God in our lives and rather we need to learn how to engage with what God has already spoken to us.
A single word from God can change a person’s life but to see that word become a reality we must learn how to navigate the waters of change. Never has God called or commissioned a person to do something great and then leave them in the place He originally found them in. That is the lesson for this coming year and it will be the driving force behind what I will be talking about in these articles throughout the year, and starting in June on my podcast and in my videos.
God Brings Change But Doesn’t Change Himself
The process of life is one of constant change, we get bigger, stronger, older, weaker, smaller and so on. Life is about growth and change and as long as we are alive we are faced with some form of change or another. Be it changes in our appearance, in our family, at work, in politics, or in the world around us in general. At times change is good and other times it can be painful, but that is life, change can bring out the best of us or it can chase us away into a deep dark corner to hide in until the change stops. No matter what happens or what changes what is inevitable is that we will face change again.
Now not all change is bad there are times where God is the one initiating change in our lives or in the greater world. For now though I want to focus on God’s desire to change us for the better, because He is aware of all things and He knows what we have to do in order to fulfill His purpose for our lives. Although we experience change and growth God does not. He is not alive in the senses that He doesn’t have a beating heart and is carried through time. God is eternal and with that eternity brings a stillness to His identity, purpose, nature and vision. God sees all and knows all therefore He who cannot change is able to see into us so that we can change to be more like Him.
Isaiah 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’” (NKJV)
Daniel 2:21-22 “And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. 22He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.” (NKJV)
Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.” (NKJV)
God has a plan and a purpose for each of us but to achieve those plans we have to learn how to follow God and how to submit to the changes He is trying to bring to our lives. It wasn’t enough for young David to be anointed King by Samuel, yes David had the promise but he still had to live out a life which would turn that promise into a reality. At times there were good seasons and others were marked by rough seasons in the literal wilderness. The promise was not enough for David, the offer of Kingship came at a price: his everyday life.
I feel this is the missing ingredient in the lives of many Christians. We feel that we have a call or purpose from God but we do nothing to see it become a reality. We covet the title of king but we don’t want to fight Goliath, or serve Saul, or lead a band of misfits in the wilderness, or learn to live on the run, or even how to show honor to our enemy as David did with Saul. We expect God to do all of the work and forget that a life with a calling is a life of partnership with God.
We Are Prone To Change In The Wrong Ways
Unfortunately despite how much God tries to change us for the better we as Christians still seem to be prone to chasing after the wrong kinds of change (both personally and corporately). We are comfortable with superficial changes and think that if we experience enough of them it will count towards a change of heart. If I change these eight secondary things I can trade them in for a major heart change in God’s eyes. I know this is silly but it frighteningly happens more than I’d like to admit in the hearts of Christians and in the operation of the local church. We treat God’s commands to follow His words like its some fad diet that we follow along with until we get dissatisfied or too hungry for the old things then we abandon it and move on to the next thing. We have Christians who collect attempts to obey God like other people collect exercise tapes and gadgets, thinking that volume equals success.
We go on these diets of obedience, character development, love, patience but never follow through to the end and assume that as long as we “tried our best” for a couple of weeks that will be enough to satisfy God and open the flood gates of heaven so all of the promises and blessings will rain down upon us. It is an ‘easy Christianity’ that we crave where no change is involved, no challenges are involved and no growth is necessary. We want the benefits of Christianity and relationship with God without any of the responsibilities.
Or even worse instead of making the changes God is speaking to our heart we simply replace God with one in our own image, while others find a pastor who will enable our resistance to God’s voice. Then there are those who hear from God about changing a portion of their own heart of soul and go on a crusade to force everyone else to do what God told them individually to do, while never actually doing it themselves. When we resist change and progress in our walk with God we are demonstrating to Him that we really want to serve a different God all together. One that is passive, one that is quiet, and one that acts more like a guidance councillor than the Wise King of the Universe.
Jeremiah 2:11 Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. (NKJV)
We have this desire inside of us to go back to living the ways of the world once again and we get triggered and offended when God tells us otherwise. What would have happened if David murdered Saul in 1 Samuel 24 while in the cave with him? What would have happened to his calling and promise to be King of Israel? Far too often we want to take our divine inheritance through natural means, and God’s process of change and refinement in our lives is a mission to keep us from doing that. God wants us to work with and through Him to accomplish the purposes of our lives, lest we drink from the Pride flavoured Kool-Aid and take all of the credit and accomplishments for ourselves.
Isaiah 48:3-5 3 “I have declared the former things from the beginning; They went forth from My mouth, and I caused them to hear it. Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. 4 Because I knew that you were obstinate, And your neck was an iron sinew, And your brow bronze, 5 Even from the beginning I have declared it to you; Before it came to pass I proclaimed it to you, Lest you should say, ‘My idol has done them, And my carved image and my molded image Have commanded them.’ (NKJV)
We as believers and children of God cannot go around making changes simply for the sake of making changes. It’s like when a church is struggling financially and/or spiritually, and they think the answer to their problems is unveiling up a new logo. Change for the sake of attention is not real growth, you can make all kinds of changes but that doesn’t make them the right changes. You can move your house off of a foundation of rock and put it onto one of sand and while yes you changed you just made everything worse. We cannot reject the changes God is trying to make in our lives and try to replace them with other changes that we think are more suitable.
Not New But Activated
New Beginnings isn’t just about something new coming along to change a person’s life but it can also be things long promised coming into reality, the newness is in the person’s place in the fulfillment of long forgotten promises. It was new to David to be king despite being anointed for many years, in a single day he went from exile to the crowned King of Judah (and later Israel). That was a profound change in his life, but all he did for those decades prior prepared him for the day the crown would be placed upon him.
New Beginnings then can be look at as the start of a new chapter rather than you opening up an entirely different book. Right now I have a couple of books that I’ve been reading for over a year, not because of laziness but because it seems that when ever I open one of those books I find myself confronting exactly what I need to see at that moment. Yes I power through other books as well but I keep finding myself facing these moments in an existing book which help to direct my life.
That is what I’m talking about here about New Beginnings, all of us feel as if we are multiple books which are opened at the same time. We have a book of family, work, relationships, destiny, goals, successes and at times God will take us to one of those books and flip the pages to the next chapter so that we can begin the next season of that book. At times that chapter will overtake every other book on the table while other times it feels as if it is running in the background muffled by everyday life. What is important is learning how to follow God when He takes us to those new chapters, but we need to understand that God only advances us after we have proven our faithfulness, demonstrated our humility in obeying Him and in our openness to hearing what He is speaking to us.
What’s Coming In 2019
This year I will be teaching on three interconnected themes. The first is on New Beginnings and we will be taking inspiration from two places; the life of David, specifically when he exited the wilderness season by finally becoming King, as I eluded to above. While in the New Testament we will find out how Saul became Paul the Apostle, how he went from Pharisee to the wilderness and then became the great builder of the church.
Secondly, I’ll be teaching on the matter of Hope and how it is tied to our understanding of God’s nature because our hope is grounded in God’s identity. Thirdly, I’ll showing how we are to live as ones who have come out of the cycle of judgment. Think about places such as the book of Judges where Israel would go from faithfulness to apathy to idolatry to suffering (invasion, famine, etc.) to mourning to repentance to blessing/deliverance and back to faithfulness. I believe God wants us to learn how to come into of the process of repentance, blessing and faithfulness and learn how to remain in that place without slipping back into the cycle for as long as possible.
So I invite you to join me on this journey through 2019 as we follow as closely as possible behind God in a place where we can see Him work and learn how we can participate along with Him.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning; The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (NKJV)
To go deeper in your journey with Christ check out my new book Understanding Who You Are: A Survey of 21st Century Christian beliefs which is now on sale. Available in paperback (Canada or USA) and eBook! Get your copy today and discover not just your purpose but how you can build the Kingdom of God here on the Earth
2019 The Year of New Beginnings Cameron Conway is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.