Sermon January 1, 2006 : Isaiah 43:18

Posted in Sermons
  • Presenter: Gregory Bishop (translated by Omar Soto)
  • Date: January 1, 2006
  • Location: Congregation Lion of Judah, Boston MA

Isaiah 43, verse 18, speaks to us this morning. It says “forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing and now it springs up, do you now perceive it? I am making a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland.”

I want to ask you the question. Have there been any desert places for you in 2005?, moments of dryness, perhaps even loss in your life. We serve a God who is able to make all things new. We serve a God who is able to bring life even out of deserts.

God we come before you this morning, we thank you that you are the living God and that You can transmit life to us. We receive your life today in this place. We thank you God that you make everything new for us today. We open our hearts so that your living water will flow and God we thank that in You there is always a new day.

I’d like us to go together to Ezequiel, chapter 47. God bless you. The holy remanent here at 9 o’clock on New Year’s day. I love it. You wanted to give the first fruits of this year to the Lord. It’s fun to start the year in the house of God. The prophet describes a vision that he had of a river, a very special river that flowed out of the temple of God and I’d like to read this vision that he had.

Ezequiel 47, starting in verse 1. What I’m going to do is read it in Spanish and I’ll ask you that if you have it in English to just follow along with me, or just read it along.

The prophet saw a river flowing from the temple of God and wherever that river flowed there was life. The salt water became fresh water, where there weren’t any fish, there were lot of fish, where there weren’t any trees, there were a lot of trees.

You and I are the temple of the holy spirit. God wants a special river to flow out of this place that’s our hearts together here in this place. God wants this river to flow in every hospital, in every school, in every street, on every corner, in every crack house, in the city, and that river would flow and bring new life wherever it goes. And you know what? We have to flow with that river. God calls us to flow with that river this year, to get into that water and just flow.

The power is not from us, it’s from God. It’s a river that flows and we just have to jump in. I don’t know in some of your countries. We are part of that flow.

But there is a key question that this text speaks to me, because not everything was turned into fresh water and life. The river didn’t flow everywhere because there were also swampy places where the water stopped and it didn’t keep flowing, and that water remained dead. How many of us have seen a good swamp? How many of us used to play in disgusting swamps when we were young? It’s ok, at least there’s another slimy kid here.

There’s a key question: Are you a swamp or a you a stream? Are you in a swamp or are you in a stream? If we’re honest all of us have swampy places in our places, there’s a lot of disgusting bugs and frogs and muck, and stuff isn’t growing.

I loved what Gonzalo read today. When he said that God’s mercy is new every morning. I don’t know what you had to go through this year, but I know God’s mercy was there. He was with you every day of it. God says “I don’t know, you know, you may not know what’s coming this year, we don’t, but we know who’s going to be with us this year. We know who will be there every day. We know that every day there will be new mercy for us to receive.

The Israelites had to live by bread from heaven when they were wandering in the desert and every morning they had to get up and collect that bread, fresh bread they needed. And if they tried to save it for tomorrow, what happened? It got disgusting with maggots and everything.

I’m going to invite a little bit of participation. Are we cool with that? ‘cause you’ve got to wake up, ‘cause I know you were up till like two in the morning and you’re already starting. Ok, so you’re going to participate. Who could we think of in the Bible that God changed their names, there’s people from discipleship level one, you’d better have any answer for me? No. You know what Abraham, even though you’re an old man and your wife is old and even you could have kids when you were young, guess what? You’re going to be the father of nations, Abraham, father of nations.

How was Saul before? And his job application says, what do I do for a living. Oh, I kill Christians, you know, I pursue them. That was his job.

How many of us here maybe were Sauls before we met Jesus?

Her name was Saraí and changed it to Sarah, which is mother of nations, Princess, how about that!

Other examples: Jacob, what did they change his name to? Jacob. It was at the tip of your tongue, you were about to say that.

No, that’s a cool name too. Jacob was a slimy, sneaky, lying dud, but then she had it out with God and wrestled and struggled and God hit his hips so he would limp and remember and break his strong will, his ego. And God said ‘now you’re going to be Israel, ‘cause you struggled with God and men and have overcome.

Ok. Any other examples? Peter, what was the change of Peter’s name? Someone new who I haven’t heard from. What does Peter mean? God named him the rock, because you’re going to be a rock for the people of God. So God …. God gives us new names.

And I’m going to invite old Mark, because I just want to talk, I’m used to …. in English. Everyone of us has a new name that God has written on a white stone. Some day when we get to heaven we’re going to find out our new name, and it’s a name that is only known to the heart of God because God is into making all things new in your life. He gives you a new birth too.

The Bible said that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have gone, beholds all things become new. We’re born again. When he need Jesus he gives us a new heart. The Bible says He takes out that heart of stone and He puts in a heart of flesh.

How many people have been crying babies when you know Jesus? Or you become just….. you know you just cry real easy when you meet ……. People who never cried before, you know. Specially some of these tuff guys, you know. And then the spirit starts getting in that heart and starts to soften it up and the tears start to flow and all that pain just comes out in a stream, because God makes all things new.

The Bible says God gives us a new set of clothes when we come to meet Jesus. The prophet Zechariah had a vision of the high priest, who was dressed with disgusting, dirty clothes and Satan was accusing him, saying ‘this man is dirty, he is a sinner’, and the angel of the Lord said ‘the Lord rebuke you, Satan. The Lord who has chosen this man as a stick from the fire rebuke you, Satan.’ They he commanded that an angel came and brought a beautiful set of priestly garments for that man.

God has a new suit for you this year. He has a new mantle for you this year. A new spiritual calling that He is going to clothe you with, like one of those knights in the Middle Ages where they clothed him in new shiny….. like the bride of Christ dressed in a beautiful wedding dress for Jesus. New clothes.

God promises to put a new song in your mouth. The psalmer says ‘patiently I waited for the Lord and He reached down and pulled me out of the miry mud, out of the swamp that I was stuck in and He lifted me up and He put my feet on a rock and He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to my God, that I’m going to sing for Him. God’s giving you a new song. Sing it this year, let it flow out of your mouth this year. Let God take your hand and lift you out of that mud that you feel stuck in and put you in a solid place and bring new things out of your heart. He’s given you a heart of flesh.

God says that someday He will make a new heaven and a new earth, everything will be new.

Let’s read from Revelations 21. I’ll read it in English and then you can read it in Spanish afterwards. The apostle John says: “then I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea, and I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband, and I heard a loud voice from the throne that it was saying ‘now the dwelling of God is with men as He will live with them and they will be His people. And God himself will be with them and He’ll be their God, He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. And He who is seated on the throne said ‘behold, I make all things news’.

The world we’re living in is going to change some day. The trees are going to be more bright green. I don’t know if the animals are going to talk, but, hey, who knows? The water is going to be crystalline and pure just like a Caribbean island beach, but better, and we’re going to be clothed with a new body and you’re going to glow with the glory of God. And when we see each other out there, you’ll look and think ‘is that you? I think it’s you. And we’re going to think we see something familiar in the eyes of the people, something, a glimpse, something about the smile of the person and we’re going to recognize him ‘I think it’s you, I think it’s you’. But you’re glowing with the glory of God. That’s what God is going to do for us, clothed with glory and God is now in the process of beginning that transformation here and now.

You know, I love it, when people come here fresh of the street. You’d tell they’ve been beaten around there and there’s kind of a heaviness, and I’m just thinking ‘ I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in this person. If they come and if they sing those songs to God and if they let the word come into them and mix into them, and if they come up and let all that pain out in tears and accept Jesus, God’s going to turn in a little light inside and He’s going to start to soften the heart of each of us. And they’ll start to have this big smile is going to start beaming out of them some times. Not that everything’s going to be perfect in their lives, but there’s new hope, there’s new power because God makes all things new. He loves it. It’s His hobby, He loves it….. I could see God just cracking up. He’s talking to the angels and up there ….. where did you see this one? I’m going to do something with this person, you can’t even imagine ….. And it’s fun, He has fun with it.

Bible says angels long to look into these things. It’s amazing, the way God changes life. It’s amazing. It’s an amazing thing. I doesn’t happen with angels it happens with people. We are part of this and then God says to them ‘look at what I did!’, and this person is a symbol of His glory and His power to change a life. And we become part of that stream flowing….. People say, something is different about this person. They smell different. They have the fragrance of Christ. There’s something weird about them something of Jesus in them.

That’s where we’re going. The key question is, are we willing to change along with the change that God wants to do on us? That’s much better than I said it in English. Thank you. God is always changing and moving and we have to move along with Him, we have to let that process happen. A lot of us don’t like that, we want things to be the same as before, even if we were miserable we want to stay the same.

Jesus says we’re like old wines skins sometimes. You see they used to take wine skins which were bottles but they were made out of leather and a new wine skin would be flexible and would breathe. And that’s important because the wine when it ferments it expands. Guess what happens if you put a wine that’s fermenting in an old wine skin that is hardened and doesn’t breathe? I learned.

I have a wonderful sister in the church who gave a special vegetable carrot juice in a glass bottle and I put it under my desk in the office up there and I forgot about it. Until one day, I opened the door and there was like orange juice all over my walls, rug, and glass all over the place. It was a juice bomb because it fermented and I learned a little chemical experiment there: the glass doesn’t breathe, it explodes.

God’s spirit is like that vegetable juice. It’s like wine. It’s going to expand, it’s going to breathe and we’d better breathe with it or we’ll have orange juice all over the wall. We need to breathe to flow with the change that God wants to do on us. Sometimes we prefer our misery, sometimes. We’re sad, we’re depressed, we’re miserable and for some reason we don’t want to change. Because at least it’s familiar to us.

What’s the saying? that the devil I know is better than who I don’t know……… there was a guy, and we’re going to go there, we’re going to read this John chapter 5 and I identify with this man sometimes. He was a man who, I’m just going to summarize the first few verses, he was a disabled person, he couldn’t walk and there was a special pool, like a fountain in the city and there was a weird thing that would happen when angels would come and move around the waters, I mean a bizarre stuff ….and the first person in gets healed. You’ve heard the saying ‘the last one in is the rotten egg, well…… say it in Spanish. Anyway, you got to get into the water first or you’re not going to get healed. This man had been laying there for 37 years, 36 years, so Jesus comes up to him and look at what Jesus asks him, verse 6. He says: “When Jesus saw him laying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time He asked him a question, He said: do you want to get well? Do you really want to change? You’ve been here so long, could it be maybe that you’ve chosen to stay this way? Look at the man says, he says: “sir, …. replied, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I’m trying to get in someone else goes down ahead of me”. He had excuses: I don’t have anyone to help me. I need someone kind to get me down there, someone always beats me ahead. Million excuses. We’re like that so much of the time.

God says, I got a different life for you. We’ve got a million excuses. I drove by an old friend on the street last Sunday on my way to my service, he was relieving himself behind a pole on the sidewalk doing his business. …..Hey, come on I’m going to church, why don’t you come with me? And he said, oh, no, no, no, I’ve got a commitment, I’ve got….. even if he’s drunk out of his mind, I’ve got something I got to do. And he said, and so….. anyway, I let him calm by giving him a lift up to his house…… so probably I’m just as dumb as…. Come on, man, why not today…. He says, no, no, tomorrow. I’ll see you there tomorrow… We have excuses.

Jesus says, do you really want to get better? Do you really want to change? You see, Jesus here tells him “get up, pick up your mat and walk”. And he is healed, but then the Pharisees come over and ask him: wait a minute, wait a minute. It’s the Sabbath day, it’s Saturday. It’s Sabbath day, what are you doing carrying your mat, who told you to do this? The man didn’t even know He was Jesus, he goes and tries to find out and he bumps into Jesus, He says ‘look, you’re healed, so stop sinning before something worse happens to you. You’re healed on the outside, now be healed on the inside.’ And the man just nods his head and goes and tells on Jesus and tries to get them arrest Him. He had made a choice to remain an invalid on the inside.

We need to decide; yes, Jesus, I’m ready for You to change me. I’m ready for the new things that you have for me. And if we are willing to do that, there’s a special promise that I want to read to you in John, chapter 7. I want everyone to go there with me, John 7:37, it says “… on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and He said in a loud voice, he cried out “if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the scripture has said, streams of living waters will flow from his innermost being”. Those streams will flow. That’s an amazing promise.

The river out of the temple is going to flow out of you, if you will come to Jesus and drink. If you would that wherever you go life is going to surround you. You’re going to go into dark places and there’s going to be light. You’re going to meet hurting people and healing will flow out of you because the river is not just not flowing from somewhere else anymore, but is flowing from within you.

You just put yourself in contact with death, with where there is death and darkness and you just watch God bring new life. It’s an amazing promise.

I’d like to close just with a little very personal testimony and I hope it’s ok, it’s kind of personal but my wife’s grandfather went to live with the Lord this last week and he was so old, immigrant from Japan, an amazing, amazing man and his name was Furuya, which in Japanese means, dry old valley. And one day, when I was, we were dating, I think it was, I was sitting and I was in a meeting that I should have been paying attention to, but instead I was doodling, and I was doodling Kenny‘s name in different languages. And I was writing it in Hebrew, because I learned Hebrew in school and then I was looking at what it said Furuya and it occurred to me that that has meaning in Hebrew. Furu means ‘made fruitful’. It’s the same from the name Ephraim. Meche preached about this a couple of weeks ago. Ephraim means double fruitfulness. So Furu means ‘made fruitful’ and ‘ya’ is a shortened form of the name Jahue, Jehová. In Hebrew this name means ‘the Lord makes fruitful’. God makes it come to life with new fruit.

And I thought of my grandfather’s life and all the different hard things he had to go through in his life. And there was a time during the Second World War, that all the different Japanese immigrants were put in jails. You could have been born here but because you were Japanese they put you in jail because the enemy was Japan at that time. And this man and his wife and their baby had to go to the camps, had to go to jail for a few years. It was a dry valley they went to. But guess what happened while they were there? They met Jesus Christ in a personal way and the Lord has made them their fruit.

What’s your dry valley? What’s the thing in your life that you feel it’s so dead that you can’t imagine life coming from it? We serve God who looks you in the eye and says: my son, my daughter, I make all things new. So let me flow into you and streams of living water will flow from you. And there’s going to be fruits because God makes everything bear fruit.

And so we’re going to come before the Lord right now. I invite you to stand up. We need to really say yes to the Lord, yes, God. I do want to get well. I do want to grow and change. I’m willing to be a flexible wine skin so that I can drink your new wine, because I know you’re going to pour it out this year. We’re in very special times. Prepare yourself for a special visitation this year, but we have to let that spirit flow in us. Be willing to change with him. So let’s pray.

Father we come before you today. We thank you that you are the living God. We thank you that you’re a God that makes all things new. We thank you that you give us new hope. We want to say yes to you today. And I’d like if anyone wants to say yes to Jesus in a special way today, I invite you to come up here to pray. You just come on up, if you want to say yes to the Lord in a special way you come up…. There’s something you’ve lived with for many years and you want to let God do the work in you and you want to receive Jesus, I invite you to come up here or you just want to say yes to Him in a special way, the invitation is here.

Father we say yes to you today. I thank you for your living waters. I thank you for the amazing promise that you’ve made that You can transform us, that You can put a new song in our lives, that sins and problems that we’ve had for years, they don’t have to continue. We can change. Things that seemed dead can come to life again. Holy spirit we receive you this morning, and on behalf of Lion de Judah and the whole church we represent, we say yes Lord. Pour out your new wine today, new wine. You saved the best for last. We want your new wine, God. We want that joy that comes from you. We want that hope that comes from you. I thank you Lord God that your door opened to us, it doesn’t matter what happens, it doesn’t matter what we’ve done. The blood of Jesus cleanse us from sins….. we thank you Jesus. We thank you Jesus.

Version en Español

Sermon delivered by Gregory Bishop (translated by Omar Soto) taped January 1, 2006 at Congregation Lion of Judah (48 min.) Listen | View (100K) | View (400K)

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thank you so much for your inspiration words may God continue to use you in a mighty way thank you and God bless you

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