A New Thing | Isaiah 43:18-19

January 8, 2017 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: Stand Alone Sermons

Topic: Stand Alone Passage: Isaiah 43:18–19

Christopher Rich – January 8, 2016
A New Thing |Isaiah 43:18-19

Introduction | A Sign, A Note?
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road Church where we are Saved by Jesus Work. Changed by Jesus Grace. Living on Jesus Mission.
I am not big on signs and wonders and I am incredibly weary of saying “God told me x”. Mostly because I think we’re more than capable of turning nearly anything we see and experience into something we’re personally hopeful for or really WANT to see. Our hearts are notoriously bad at accurately distinguishing God’s voice will and our own desires. So when I say God is speaking, directing, calling or acting in any particularly situation, I believe it is best determined in the rearview mirror and among community. Yes in hindsight God was doing something and others agree. Additionally, things seldom ever turn out how you expect them but they always turn as God does. I’ll give you two examples: #1was meeting my bride Tara. I saw her at a church service and told my friend “I could marry her today” (My desire was clear) But I wanted God’s approval because as a prodigal son I did not have a great track record of respecting for women. I prayed. “God, I would like to meet this Girl, but if you have to make it absolutely clear because if I move on my own I am going to mess this up.” That is when she said to her friend “we need to meet two people before we go.” OH I swooped around so fast because I was sure God was telling me to talk to her. Community had to inform the decision (Tara had to agree with my assessment) and in the rearview I can say after 12 years of marriage and 6 kids, a homeschool van, God was at work and it’s different that I expected. #2. Coming to Damascus Road. In this case it was not something I immediately desired. Lived in Smokey Point and couldn’t commute to church in Seattle. I was reading Acts 9 in my reading plan and heard Paul on the Damascus Road preached by Piper and Chandler podcasts and then went to the Acts 29 site and all of the sudden there is a new church In Marysville. Tara and I agreed we were called to be here for a few months before we moved back to Seattle, that was 10 years ago. It was in no way what I would have planned or voted on and at the time even if God told me this was what His path was for me, my family, this church I would have let God know misguided He was and then probably go full Jonah.
That brings us to where Damascus Road find herself now in this new season of adopting First Baptist Church into our Family on Mission Together. Our elders have been in meetings, prayer and fasting about this seeking the mind of Christ for over a year. I’ve prayed over this space and later this church of people for years now. Church networks have been involved, countless pastors and churches have been praying in this direction for months. God has been at work, is at work, and will continue to be at work in the life and affairs of His church. While I’ve believed for some time we would find ourselves united together, the timing of reaching this decision has seemed lengthy. This summer when things seemed to be bogging down Bryan Tripp and I were on the phone discussing whether we thought this was still a possibility and if it was, God was going to have to speak in a chorus of two different elder boards, a church network and a congregation groups not known for easily making consensus decisions. I was at Starbucks talking when an older women I’ve never met approached me quietly with this note saying “for you” with some lengthy sections of scripture from Ephesians and a few verses from Act 1 and Isaiah 42 and 43. Because this has never happened to me before I’ve kept the note in my Bible for the past 6 month and at time said “well if this is a sign we’ll know in the rearview and within community.” I also said if we do come together, our first gathering in this space I would use this note to make the outline of the first sermon of a new season.
PART I | What is the church? Who’s is it?
Eph 1:15-23 | 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
What is the church? It is not defined by a building, a program, a name or a legacy. A church is the redeemed people of God Saved by Jesus’ work on the Cross not any of their own, they are being changed by Jesus’ Grace to never remain as they are but be shaped and grown by the work of God the Holy Spirit in their lives. And they are Living on Jesus’ Mission; the mission He was given by the Father to seek and save the lost and He commissioned to the church. Drilled down even more simply they are people who have placed their trust in Jesus, and they love His people and are on a missionary pursuit of God’s Glory in all things. God is their Father of Glory but as a Christian you’re not an “only child” so you love your brothers and sisters. We are not orphans we have not been left alone God has given them the Holy Spirit to seek wisdom and revelation for the purpose of knowing God more fully. The Spirit has opened they eyes of their hearts to see they have been called into a hope. A future hope of a glorious inheritance and a present hope of His great might working on behalf of His people. The present hope is experienced, the future hope anticipated, because to the past power of God displayed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The power that plants grows directs empowers the church for mission is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the same power that breathed the world to existence is the power that brings people who are spiritually dead in to new life. Also, we see Jesus is ruling and reigning on the throne above all other authorities you can conceive or names you pledge allegiance too. That same power that resurrected Jesus he says is the same power working for you. If you have your faith hope and trust in Jesus It will manifest itself with a love towards His people. The Gospel is an invitation to be adopted into a family to become a member of His Body. A body whose head is Jesus. You are not the head of the church, I am not, church networks elder boards etc. Only Jesus is the head. He plants, He grows, and as He sees fit He reshapes.
PART II | What is God doing the lives of His people and His church?
Isaiah 42:9-10 | 9 Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” 10 Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
God is from eternity past and eternity future, but is active and reveals Himself to us in History because we are not eternal. As we go through life often on auto pilot of routines wandering affections He shakes us from zombie like stupors! To Behold is give your attention and be captivated by, clear the decks of everything you’ve been focused on and be mesmerized. The former things have come to pass. God has worked! And it has all been according to His plan. He was in the past working out all things for His glory and the joy of His people. We look back at the story of our lives at who and how God worked we can and should celebrate! Celebrate that God worked. Celebrate that God used imperfect people, imperfect programs or means to draw imperfect people into restored relationship with Him as their perfect Creator.
When God says He is going to do new things, He is going to do new things. He has made a declaration. When the UN or another organization makes a “declaration” everyone kind says “we’ll that’s nice” but it doesn’t change anything. When God says He is going to do new things, He is telling His people HE IS STILL WORKING! So the past has gone, but He is giving them/us Hope that the God who worked in the past is the God who has much more instore for His people than what they have previously experienced. There is a preview of coming attractions, buckle up, get ready for the ride. He is going to be making changes for His glory. Somethings are going to be happen and I am giving you a bit of a heads up. We can (and do) get blindsided, but God also gives some warning. But at the moment God has made “declaration”, a change has already happened because we are now aware there are greater changes coming than we anticipate. This like when you find out you are pregnant. In some sense at that moment there is a change! Things are not going to be staying the same and there is a new anticipation that someone is going to spring forth months later. Is is good God has given announcements “A baby is coming” more life is coming get ready!
God declares new is coming How are we to respond? Sing to the Lord a new song! His praise from the end of the earth! Our God is the Creator and He has made us in His image to be creative. Our lives are to be ones of creatively worshipping the one who created all things and us! So when God says He’s doing a new thing He’s calling us to new (renewed) worship. Sing a new song! YES! New music! He hasn’t stopped working so we do not stop creatively worshipping. Write the Lord some new sermons! Lord willing Plant to the lord new Groups and new churches! Baptize to the Lord new believers! Our Father in Heaven says I am doing a renewal and restoration project on my creation. I’ve Created you to create, I’ve renewed you to renew. Come get to work with me. Let me be really specific so we all are prepared that means we are going to Pursue to the Lord new Missional Priorities. Schedule to the Lord a new calendar. “Paint to the Lord some new colors” Expect and embrace change. But this is very easy to say and incredibly difficult to do. What gets in the way of us worshipping God in new ways in response to the new works He is doing?
Isaiah 43:18-19 | 18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
What are we to remember not? We have to remember that it’s Sin and the fall that takes something beautiful and new (creation) and turns creation into something old and dying. When he’s talking about the former things or to consider the thing of old you look at the verses before and God says I made a way through the sea and a path through the waters (Parting of the Red Sea dry land in water) there was pathway through the barrier of water (separating them from where they were stuck to where they needed to go) AND there was overwhelming victory over the army that was pursing them. The former things and the things of old was their old life in slavery. We are enslaved to sin and we need the total victory that only God can provide. This is all really good news!! That we should not forget!! Again celebrate, savor.
While our God was in and active in the past He does not remain there, and neither should we. When God has declared to us new things are happening and called us to renew worship. He is also calling us no longer dwell on or live in the former things. God commands His people “to forget about the former things and not dwell on the past.” because we are prone to white wash the past, exaggerate legacies, and hold on too long to things that are no longer. We can so easily “BEHOLD” the past and be captivated by it when we’re told repeatedly to “BEHOLD” the new work God is doing. When we “behold” the past we are undervaluing the present. When it becomes chronic we can idolize the past and when we do we minimize what God is doing in the present and we are reluctant to look ahead to where God is leading us to.
If God did great things in the past why is it good news to not remember or dwell on them? Where you have experienced the good works of God in the past he is telling you “greater things are yet to come” But let be much more realistic, where we have experienced pain, sin, brokenness, loss, all the effects of a world and hearts marred by sin this is INCREDIBLY good news because God is telling us that no longer defines us, it no longer condemns us, and it no longer has to rule over us. The passing of the old is at the very heart of the Gospel that says if anyone is in Christ we are a new creation. So when God says He is doing a new thing it is always an upgrade from what was. This is difficult for us to imagine because we do not live a world where NEW is always BETTER. Realtors say “New Price” I am like that could be higher or iPhone 7. In God calling us to not “BEHOLD the OLD” He is calling us marvel and delight in His new that is always better.
Now it springs forth! The same God that was at work in saving you in the past, in saving your parents is at work right now! He’s said I told you change is coming, now it’s here. I told you a baby is coming and now it’s here! Why don’t we precieve it? Because we’re too focused on the former things and the things of old. We can so easily shift our gaze to the past and believe that is where God was working but in doing so we forget and miss what God is doing right now. In beholding the new you are worshipping God today.
What is the new thing? The new thing is not a destination but a journey. Hey in the past I lead you out of slavery to sin, I kept you from certain defeat and death from a relentless enemy hunting you down. I made a dry path through the impassable abyss of a sea of separation with wrath and death on one side and life and purpose on the other. NOW you would be foolish to stay at the shore and camp at the Red Sed because delivered from slavery and death is NOT the final destination! I have something better and different for you but it’s going to require you to keep moving even through a dangerous, hostile, inhospitable wilderness. It is a path in the wilderness. We are not called to camp out or build monuments, we are not called to wonder like nomads with never resting or getting closer to HOME, but to have purposeful direction. God has made path in the wilderness that as we walk in obedience to Him we are constantly walking away from what was and walking towards what will be. We don’t walk down the road alone. God has made a path not for a person but a people. We are all invited to a family road trip!
Rivers in the desert. He doesn’t leave us in a dry and weary land where there is no water, but he renews and refreshes us with streams of living water even in the midst of a desert. His provision is perfect because He gives us what we need to sustain life, have our thirsts in life quenched with true satisfaction. (How many of you are still excited about your Christmas presents from 10 years ago?) Rivers and steams flow, not a lake or spring to camp out at but river to walk along. He saves by making a dry path through water and he sustains us by producing water in the driest of circumstances. We will not be sustained by our own efforts but by the river of living water flowing along the path He has prepared for us to walk on. A new space or a new church is not the Promised Land. A church folding into the family of Damascus Road is not the destination but a means to more effectively carry out the mission God has given His people in Christ. God is doing this for a purpose. We are not just becoming family but we are family on mission together.
PART III | What is our mission and what is next?
Acts 1:8 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The mission of God to save and redeem a people from slavery of sin to achieve victory over sin to make a path in the wilderness of this world that leads to the final destination of eternal life with Jesus and His people did not begin with you or me and it does not end with us either. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to be ambassadors in our city region first and across cultures and languages, and borders. We want to see God have waters of baptism flow like a mighty unending river and we want to be obedient to His commission of us to constantly point people to faith and trust of Jesus for salvation and discipleship.
Were you part of First Baptist? Go ahead and mourn but not like one with no hope. Praise God for the over century of ministry to this community under her name. Remember the Touchdown was never the name of 1st Baptist being great any more than it would be if Damascus Road’s. There is one name Glory belongs to and it ain’t mine, yours, your families, or either of the churches we’ve be blessed to be a part of. There is one name that gets glory and it’s JESUS! Every change you see, experience, and participate in is for the express purpose and desire of being as effective as possible in pursuing the Great Commission in the place and to the people God has called us to in this city and county. Sing a new song!
Are you a part of Damascus Road? Don’t think that for a second things are so different because we’re in a different gathering spot, the Gospel hasn’t changed, our mission hasn’t changed, our identity and core values haven’t changed. We need to know them, embody them, and impart them now more than ever. But don’t think there won’t be things that change with a new space and another church become coming part of ours and with a new more visible platform to reach our city and county. Sing a new sing!
Are no not a Christian? Are you feeling like you came into a family party and you’re not in, then know these words are still for you in Christ. The new thing for you is freedom from slavery and wrath of sin AND new life with Jesus. This journey begins with you acknowledging you are a sinner separated from God deserving His just wrath and trusting the work of Jesus alone who lived the perfect life you couldn’t and died the death you deserved for sin, and rose again so you can have new life NOW and the life to come. If this is you, know the old has passed and the new has come. We invite you to be baptized signifying the passing of the old you on the cross and buried in the watery tomb as Jesus was buried and be raised with Jesus to a new life of following Him as you Lord and joining His people the church on the journey through the wilderness. Take a new path! Trust a new savoir! Follow a new king! And sing with us a new song!
What’s next? In the near term we will spend the next five weeks in a ROAD 101 Sermon Series looking at His Gospel, Our theology, leadership, mission, and membership. This will be an important time to be informed and/or reminded what makes our church distinct and how we see a health church function on mission.
ROAD Groups will relaunch where you can discuss and grow together. Are you in a group? If not find one!
ROAD Crew Leaders (Hospitality, Kids Road, etc) will be introduced each week so you can learn how to serve. Do we know you? Please fill out a connection card?
Now we will move to a time of response to God’s word, Singing old and new songs, for Christians coming forward to take communion remembering the cross, and giving our tithes and offering cheerful, sacrificial, intentional response to a God who joyfully intentionally sacrificed everything in Jesus so we could be made new. Then we will go and continue to daily walk the path He has prepared for all who simply Trust Jesus.