New, Not Improved
We will use any edge we can to market our "stuff" these days. Two
merely cosmetic techniques are widely practiced. One technique is to
change the packaging to make the product look nicer, different, and
better without making any changes at all in the product itself --
"Packaging is everything" the old adage goes. The other technique is
really a labeling ploy and not much of a change. Make a small
insignificant change in the product, and then market it as "new and
We can easily get caught up in a similar shell game in our spiritual
lives. We make a few cosmetic changes, and then talk about our new
insight that has revolutionized everything about our spiritual walk. A
friend sent me an e-mail recently and compared it to a "remodeled" café
in his area. The owners had painted the place, gotten new menus, and
even claimed to have a different manager. Everything was "new and
improved." The problem was, the cook was the same, the items listed in
the new menus were the same, and the food was as bad as ever.
When we first come to the Lord, we are blessed with a new life! Phrases
like "new creation" (2 Corinthians 5:17) and "born anew" (John 3:3-7)
and "live a new life" (Romans 6:3-4) are used to describe our walk with
God. But what happens when we've been in the trenches of Kingdom
warfare awhile? Where is that newness that we first knew? Where is the
excitement and anticipation with each new day? Does it have to go away?
Can we keep it from fading?
Our freshness in the Lord doesn't have to fade!
Life can be new for us each day! Sure, we will face some very difficult
times. Life makes sure of that because we are flawed people who love
flawed people and because we are all mortal. But if the Great Lamenter
could say, "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies
never come to an end, they are new every morning..." (Lamentations
3:22-24) while in the midst of devastation and horror, I believe we can
find newness in each new day as well.
To experience God's newness, we're going to have resist the quick fixes
and realize that only an encounter with the Lord can give us this
newness. Sticking "new and improved" on lifeless predictability isn't
going to make it spiritual renewal. Changing the menu without changing
the cook is not going to leave us with anything other than a prettier
environment to eat the same old stuff. The Lord wants us to have
genuine freshness in our lives. So instead of distracting ourselves by
changing cosmetically, let's really pursue an encounter with the Living
How do we do that?
We seek him! We yearn for him! We pray for him to enter our lives! We
offer ourselves to be used by him! We minister in his name, sharing and
sacrificing to bring him glory.
But rather than me listing a quick little Phil-formula for you to try,
why don't you join me in opening up the Word of God each day between
now and the end of the year. Let's look for the Lord's will to enter
our world, encounter us in special ways, and make us new. Get a special
colored marker or pen, and start marking the verses you find for those
days when life does seem old and stale. Ask the Lord to help you find
him in your search through his Word! I'm confident that if you will do
this, you will find his that mercies are "new every morning," because
of his great faithfulness.
HERE ARE A FEW TO GET YOU STARTED:
Psalm 23:1-4 -- The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He
makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his
name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your
staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence
of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Isaiah 57:15 -- For this is what the high and lofty One says -- he
who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy
place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive
the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite."
Matthew 18:20 -- For where two or three come together in my name,
there am I with them.
Matthew 28:18-20 -- All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I
am with you always, to the very end of the age.
John 14:20 -- Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one
who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will
love him and show myself to him.
2 Timothy 4:17-18 -- the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so
that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the
Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The
Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to
his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
[ by Phil Ware -- from Denial ]
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