“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?”
Isaiah 43:18-19a, NLT
Has anyone ever asked, “What’s new with you?”
How would you answer this question? Would you share about new goals you are accomplishing at work? Or new activities you are doing with family or friends? Or possibly a new hobby or workout you started?
Most likely, you wouldn’t answer this question by rehearsing all the things you have done in the past, but instead, you might respond with what is happening in the present, right now.
Consider how God’s people might have answered that question in the sixth century BCE. They may have responded, “Nothing is new with us. We remain in Babylonian exile, daily facing the cultural pressures to compromise our religious identity as God’s people.”
Many years before their Babylonian exile, the prophet Isaiah warned God’s people about the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians coming to conquer them because of their refusal to love and obey God. They did not listen to Isaiah but rather continued to sin against God.
God was true to His word, and the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon’s Temple, and deported select people to various locations in the Babylonian empire. Now exiled, God’s people waited and hoped for God to fulfill His promises. Unfortunately, many of God’s people succumbed to the cultural pressures of living in a foreign land. Yet, some focused on the promises of God that salvation was coming by remembering God’s words through the prophet, Isaiah:
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10, NLT
Through the prophet Isaiah, God also declared He was about to do something new. In fact, God was going to do something unprecedented in their history.
Isaiah proclaimed that God would step into His creation and redeem all people who believed in Him. God does a new thing – God embodies human flesh and sacrifices Himself to redeem people from their rebellion against Him.
Isaiah is a masterful writer as he records the past, the present, and the future activity of God. Isaiah explains that remembering the past can be an empowering action, especially when we remember what great things God has done on our behalf. But remembering the past can be a debilitating act when we expect God to do the same thing as He has done before or when we dwell on previous sin and disobedience that God has declared forgiven.
God wants you to remember the past through His wonderful works but forget the past regarding your sins that have been forgiven.
God desires you to live in His presence daily, allowing Him to guide you through new and unfamiliar things, clearing away obstacles, and making His way evident to you. God wants you to look for the new things He is doing – unprecedented, never seen before. God is always at work accomplishing His purposes.
As you face cultural pressures to compromise your identity in Christ, consider the following five actions to allow God to guide you this year.
- Remember the past – all God has done for you
- Forget the past – all your sins are forgiven in Jesus
- Live in His presence – daily allow God to guide you
- Look for unprecedented action – actively look for God at work
- Respond in faith – acknowledge God’s thoughts and ways are beyond yours
Next time someone asks, “What’s new with you?” boldly share how you are living in God’s presence daily and allowing Him to guide you through this new year.
Courage For Life exists to encourage you to embrace your God-given courage and live the abundant life God intended for you. Follow Courage For Life on Instagram @GodGivesCourage, and stay tuned for more blogs each week on CourageForLife.org.