Dust Off!

There are times in all of our lives when we need a new beginning with God. Maybe you have failed the Lord terribly through deliberate rebellion and sin. Perhaps you have drifted carelessly into the world and its ways, neglecting the things of God. Now you’re far from Him. A disappointment or trial may have caused you to drift from the close fellowship with God and His people that you once enjoyed. You need a new beginning. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of new)

Or…life can seem terribly dreary. Familiar patterns are repeated over and over again. Ruts appear. Dishes keep getting dirty. Bills keep coming. The house always needs something done to it. And as we grow older, our bodies signal the rapid passing of time. Energy levels decline. Aches and pains come from nowhere. From being unthinkable, one’s own death is seen as a real possibility. You need a new beginning.

Or…emotionally we can feel trapped by what has gone before. Previous actions, mistakes, and evils close in on our minds. We can be haunted by what has happened. The depressing patterns of petty frustrations and useless arguments scar and desensitize us. We can become numbed wandering through the day trying not to feel anything. You need a new beginning.

But you wonder if it’s even possible. And if it is, where do you start? The thought of a new beginning is scary, because you don’t want to risk another failure. But you’re not content where you are. You’ve come to realize that the idols of “Babylon” (the world) can’t satisfy your soul. You’re so dissatisfied in Babylon that you’re willing to uproot yourself and make the difficult and perilous journey back to the land of promise.

This is where Ezra can give us some guidance…and hope. To some of the old timers, the newly rebuilt temple didn’t look like much. They were comparing it with the former glory of Solomon’s Temple that they had known, and this one didn’t pass muster. So they wept while the younger men rejoiced. But God used this new beginning to reestablish His people in their worship to Him amidst the rubble of what once had been Jerusalem. Concerning the temple that was begun here, the Lord said,

The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former. (Hag.2:9)

But you get there and discover that the land is just a pile of rubble. How do you begin again with God? New beginnings with God are possible no matter how spiritually low we have gone.

The nation of Israel was about as spiritually low as you can go. The northern kingdom had fallen to the Assyrians in 722 B.C., after a history of idolatry. The southern kingdom of Judah fell in 587 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and dragged the Jews into captivity in Babylon. And yet God had promised a new beginning in this desolate ghost town. Seventy years later, the Jews returned to their beloved Jerusalem (Jer.29:10-14)…they dusted off the rubble and began to rebuild. Whether it is to His people corporately or to individual believers who have fallen into sin, our God is a God of new beginnings!

The remarkable thing is that we are now His temple or house, where He dwells in us and walks among us:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Cor.3:16)

And, the Church is the Temple. The building where we meet is not God’s house…it is only the place where God’s house gathers for worship. God’s house or temple can meet in private homes or in a park or a barn or a cathedral. But we need to remember that the place isn’t sacred…the people are sacred! When even two or three of God’s people gather in the name of Jesus, He is there in their midst (Matt.18:20).

The application is that if you need a new beginning with God, don’t try to go it alone. There is a sense, of course, in which any new beginning must be intensely private. You must go to the Lord in private and confess your sins and personally appropriate the shed blood of Christ. You must personally get into God’s Word and begin to obey it in your daily life, starting on the thought level. If you have not started there, you can go to church meetings every day of the week, but you will simply be reinforcing hypocrisy in your life, putting on a good front to others while your private life is in shambles.

But once you’ve begun anew in private, you very much need to be built together with others who have a commitment to know God. Without that commitment to other believers, the world, the flesh, and the devil will overwhelm you. So, wherever you are, God’s door is open. He invites you to a new beginning with Himself.

To the fallen but repentant King David, the prophet said, “The Lord has taken away your sin” (2 Sam.12:13)…it was a new beginning. To the disobedient and chastised prophet Jonah, spat out of the great fish, “The word of the Lord came…the second time” (Jon.3:1)…it was a new beginning. To the weeping and broken Peter, the risen Savior appeared privately to restore him:

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” (Jn.21:15)…it was a new beginning.

Have you failed the Lord miserably? God graciously offers you a new beginning! If you want a new beginning with God, it’s available. Begin at the cross and then walk in obedience to His Word. Time to get up, dust off, and walk in newness!! Amen!

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