“A Brand New Start”
Hello, and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. Several years ago, I moved from one city to another. I made new friends and started a new career. It was an exciting yet challenging time in my life. My future was uncertain, but I continued to move ahead. And, I am thankful I did, for the Lord provided what I needed. Every day, I saw Him working in my life. One thing led to another, and before long the pain of the past was a distant memory. Perhaps you are looking for a similar experience. You need God to provide a brand-new start for your life. God is in the business of doing that, every day. He continually works in people's lives to make things new and better. He cares for each of us. And more than anything else, He wants us to experience His free gift of salvation. In our lesson today, we will think about the new start God makes available through His son Jesus Christ. Oh, I don't know what your life looks like. I don't know the struggles, or the pain, or the sin you deal with on a daily basis; however, God does, and He does not want any of that to drag you down any longer. He offers you a better way. He invites you to seek Him and find Him. And, He is willing and able to set you free from the pain of the past, whatever it might be, and to give you a brand-new start. If that is what you are looking for then I am glad you joined us for today's lesson. I hope you will stay tuned to this channel for the next few minutes.
There is nothing more exciting than receiving something new. Whether we are talking about a new set of clothes, or a new job, or perhaps even a new car, it is always special to receive something new. But no matter what we might receive here upon the Earth, none of it will compare to what God offers to us. He invites us to receive a brand-new start. And, an example of that is found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 1 and verse 18. <"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool..."> In a very beautiful passage, God invites people to have the forgiveness of sin, to have our sin washed away and forgiven so that we can be pure and holy in the sight of a righteous God. And through that, God offers a brand-new start in life. And, I cannot think of anything that is better. I don't know about you, but I know about my past. I know that in my past I have committed some sin and I have made some mistakes. I have left undone some things I should have done. I have some regrets, and I wish those scars were not a part of my life, but they are. Perhaps you can say the same thing. Maybe there is some sin in your life. Maybe there are some problems in your life, right now, and you wish they would go away. You wish you could simply remove or erase them. Well, the good news of our lesson today is you can, because God invites us to receive a brand-new start. God offers us a clean slate because He loves us. And, God loves you, and He loves me, more than we will ever know. He loves us more than we will ever be able to understand, this side of eternity. And more than anything else, God wants us to receive this free invitation to start over, to receive the forgiveness of sin and to enjoy and to receive His wonderful spiritual blessings. But the question comes, how do we do that? I want you to think with me about a story that Jesus told. He called it a parable. It's found in Luke chapter 18. I want to begin reading with verse 9 as we think about pride and humility. < To some who were confident in their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men —robbers, evildoers, adulterers— or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”> Oh, pride is an extremely dangerous attitude, and it keeps one from experiencing the love of God and the forgiveness of sin. And in this story, we find that highlighted. A Pharisee went to the temple to pray, and he was proud. He says, "God, look at everything I have done. Look at how good I am. I am better than everybody else, and certainly I deserve Your blessing, and Your forgiveness, and everything else." Yet in contrast to that was the tax collector, who went also to the temple to pray. And he said, "God, I need your mercy. I'm a sinner. I don't have anything to offer. I know I'm not worthy of anything, but please have mercy and compassion for me." And Jesus said it was that man who was justified and right in God's sight, instead of the Pharisee who was so proud and arrogant. When we want to receive the forgiveness of sin, today, it is with that spirit of humility that we come before God and we ask Him to bless us and to forgive us, as we receive His son Jesus Christ. So many people, today, believe in their own efforts to be good; attending church; and, reading the Bible; and, giving; and, praying; and, living moral and ethical lives; and, a host of other things. And through all of that, they say, "God, look at how good I am and look at what I'm doing here upon the Earth. Certainly I deserve Your mercy and Your forgiveness." Yet, nowhere in the Bible do we find such a teaching. Rather, we find it is the person with a humble heart, who absolutely depends upon God for salvation, is the one who receives it. Yes, God wants us to humbly trust Him instead of trusting in ourselves. Oh, we have nothing to offer to God that would count for our salvation because God has offered everything to us, and through that our salvation has already been purchased. And, when we trust in the Lord, He forgives us. When we depend upon the Lord God Almighty, He forgives us of the sin in our life. When we put our faith and our trust in Jesus Christ, His only son, it is then that we can have our sin washed away, forgiven, and forgotten. Listen to these words, found in Ephesians 1:7-8. < In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.> The apostle Paul writes these words and states "in Him," or "in Christ Jesus," we have the forgiveness of sin. Yes, it is through Jesus Christ that we are redeemed and set free from the sin in our life. Through the amazing grace of God, that He lavishes or pours out upon us, we have that forgiveness and we are able to stand pure and holy and right in the sight of God. I don't know what it is about some people, but often times we tend to classify sins. In our mind, we believe there are some sins that are greater than others, and those greater sins deserve a greater punishment or consequence than the so-called lesser sins. But yet in God's mind, all sin is the same, and all sin prevents us from having a relationship with God. In fact, we know that we all sin. We learn that in Romans 3:23. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Based upon that statement, we need a solution for our sin problem. How do we get rid of the sin in our life? We can't come up with one on our own. We don't know how to do it. All of our good efforts cannot provide that solution. But yet, God, in His great love for us, has already provided it; and that was through His son Jesus, as we just read. For it is in Him that we have the forgiveness of sin. He is the one who cleanses us by the sacrifice He made on our behalf. Yes, God forgives us through the blood of His son. And again, that is good news and we can be thankful for it. I want you to think with me for just a moment about what Jesus Christ did. He went to the cross and He died a very humiliating and painful death. He was hung up on a cross between two thieves; and, the nails were driven into His hands and feet; and, there He suffered and He died for all of mankind. He paid a price for our sin that we could never pay. He paid a debt that we cannot come up with enough money or good deeds to satisfy. Yes, Jesus did that for us. He was then taken down from the cross and put into a tomb, which had never been used. But, Jesus did not stay in that tomb very long, for on the third day He rose victorious from the grave to live again. And that is the heart of the gospel message. That is the heart of the story of the Bible, the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's one and only son. And, when we realize what God has done for us, it is then that we accept His invitation. When we recognize the magnitude of His love and the debt that Jesus paid on the cross, it is then that we want to receive the invitation to come to Him and to have our sins forgiven. As we think about the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus, listen to these words from the apostle Paul, which are found in Romans chapter 6. He takes what Jesus did and then he applies it to what we are to do, symbolically, in response to Him. Beginning with verse 1 of Romans chapter 6: < What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.> Isn't that a beautiful explanation of what Jesus did, and our response to Him? And, there are several phrases there that capture my attention. The first one is we are baptized into Christ, or we are baptized into His death. That just as Jesus died upon the cross, so too we die to the sin in our life. We say goodbye to our past, never to live in it again. And, we are immersed into a pool of water, a baptism, where our sin is symbolically washed away. We are baptized into Jesus. But then secondly, we are then raised to walk a new life. That's what happened with Jesus. He rose up from the grave after a short time in it. And, we too rise up from that pool of water and we begin to live a brand-new life in Jesus Christ, as we put Him on as our Lord and as our Savior. And, then we notice that we are united with Him. We become a part of Him and He becomes a part of us. This uniting process takes place in that act of baptism, as we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ. God becomes our Father and we become His children. We are a part of His family. And through all of those things, we now become a new creation. The old is past, and the new has come. And, we are able to be a part of God's family, and to enjoy all of His blessings and promises and privileges that He affords to His children. Yes, the Lord brings us into His family. And when He does that, we are able to have a brand-new start in life. We don't have to live in the past, but we can move ahead with great joy. As God's children, we now make that new start. We put that past behind and we move ahead to the plans and the purposes that God has for us; and, that is primarily to live to the praise and the glory of God for what He has done through His son Jesus Christ. When I think about God's plan now, for me and who I am to be in His family, I think about a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. God's people were in captivity in Babylon, and they thought God had forgotten them. They didn't know what was going to happen. They wondered if they were ever going to get out of captivity and start life over again. And, God reminds them, through His servant Jeremiah, that He still loves them, and that He has not forgotten them, and there is a future in store. Listen to these words beginning with verse 11 of Jeremiah chapter 29. <"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the places and nations where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”> Oh, that must have been an encouragement to these people in exile, to know that God still loved them; and, there is coming a time that He would bring them back, when they would seek Him and find Him and He would give them a brand-new start, all over again. And, that is still true for us today. When we seek the Lord with all of our heart, and when we find Him, and when we receive that invitation to have our sin forgiven, it is then that God gives us a new plan and purpose in life. A number of years ago, I came across a cartoon, a Peanuts cartoon with Lucy and Charlie Brown. Both of them are standing on the deck of a cruise ship, with their deck chairs in hand. And Lucy says to Charlie Brown, "Life is like a deck chair. You can place it on the deck of a ship to see where you are going, or you can place it to see where you have been, or you can place it to see where you are currently." And, Charlie Brown responded by saying, "I cannot even get my deck chair unfolded." That's the way it is with so many people today. They cannot seem to get life unfolded. They don't have a direction, or a plan, or a purpose. And yet, we know that we do have a plan and a purpose and a direction when our sin is forgiven, and when we are united with Jesus Christ, and when we become a part of His family. Yes, the Lord knows our future, and it is full of promise. I'm excited about that, and I hope you are to; that, God gives you a brand-new start. And your future with God, I don't know what it's going to be, but, it will always be better than what has happened in the past, because you are one of His children and He is your Father. And when we embrace our new future, we can live with great joy. Oh, we don't have to worry about our past. We don't have to dwell upon the mistakes and the sin of the days gone by, but we can anticipate the good things that God has in store for us. There is a glorious future. There is a plan and a purpose, and He promises to be with us through it all. There are a couple of passages of Scripture that remind me of that great truth, that God is with me and there is a wonderful future that lies ahead. One of them is Hebrews 13:6. The author writes, < “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”> I don't know about you, but I am glad the Lord is my helper, because I can't make it in this life on my own. I've got problems, and difficulties, and trials, and temptations, and if I didn't have the Lord, I don't know what I would do. Often times I would perhaps give up, or quit trying, or move in a different direction, but God is my helper. And I also notice in the passage that we are not to be afraid. 365 times in the Bible, in God's Word, we find the phrases "do not be afraid," or "do not fear." That's one time for every day of the year. Every day, we are reminded that God is with us. He is our helper, and there is no need to live in fear, worry, or anxiety. Here's another passage, Psalm 121:5. The psalmist, David, writes these words: <"The Lord is the shade on your right hand."> As it is today, so it was with many people years ago. The right hand was the dominant and more powerful hand for most people. And David says that's where your Lord is. He is your shade, He is your protection on your right hand and wherever your right hand goes, that's where God is; and, He is no farther away from you than your right hand. That gives me comfort. That gives me encouragement that God is with me, right there, even to the very end of the age. And because of that, all of the forces of Satan do not even stand a chance against the powerful hand of God and His protection over me. Yes, God promises to be our constant Companion and Protector. And, whatever we experience in life, all the difficulties, and all the trials, and all the pain, and the rejection, and the sufferings, or whatever else it might be, if we are a part of God's family He protects us and He comforts us through it all; and, He will never leave us and He will never forsake us. No matter what your life looks like now, I want you to know that God offers you a brand-new start; and, if your past is not very pretty, your future can be most beautiful. That's encouraging to know, isn't it? If you have past sins and mistakes and problems, or perhaps even if you have some difficulties in your life right now, all of that can be done away with and put in the past when you submit to Jesus Christ in a spirit of humility and obedience and baptism, as we've already talked about; and, become a part of God's family, united with Him through Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior. And, I hope and pray that you will do that. I hope and pray that you will recognize that God offers to you something special, that you cannot receive anywhere else. He offers it to you through His son Jesus Christ; the forgiveness of sin and the promise of a better day. Join with me in prayer. <<Holy Father in heaven, thank you so very much for Your love for us; a love that we don't understand, a love that we could never fathom this side of eternity. You love us more than we will ever know, and we thank You and we praise You for that. Thank you for your son Jesus, for the sacrifice He made on the cross, and for the opportunity now we have to receive Jesus Christ, to obey Him, to be united with Him in baptism and to enjoy the forgiveness of our sin and a promise of spending an eternity with You. God, my prayer today is that all those within the sound of my voice might respond to your invitation to receive a brand-new start in life. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.>> I don't know what your life looks like today. I don't know if you are dealing with some sin in the past. I don't know if you are struggling with pride in the present. But, there is one thing that remains and I hope you will never forget: God loves you. He loves you more than you will ever know. And, more than anything else, He wants you to receive the free gift of His son Jesus Christ. He wants to give you the forgiveness of sin and to welcome you into His family so that He can bless you for all eternity. My hope and my prayer for you today is that you will think about starting over, putting that past behind and receiving something new; receiving what God offers to you through His son Jesus, through your baptism into Him. And then, knowing that God is with you, He loves you, He protects you, and He will never leave you as He gives you that brand-new start in life.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson. If you are ready for the new start God promises, perhaps we can help. Here at "Key to the Kingdom," we offer a Bible study that will assist you in knowing more about God and His free gift of salvation. The Bible study requires no money or obligation, but it is a way for you to grow spiritually. When you call the number on the screen, we will be happy to send it to you in a few short days. You can work through it at your own pace, and we will be more than happy to assist you with any questions you might have. If you would like to know more about this ministry and what we believe, please visit our website, keytothekingdom.com. There you will find other resources that will assist you in making a brand-new start. Our goal is to offer basic biblical teaching that will help guide you in your daily walk with God. You may even want to view this message again. That can be done through the website, and it too is available without any cost or obligation. I do hope you'll take advantage of that free offer. Every week on this same channel, I share messages that have made a difference in my life, and I believe will make a difference in your life as well. Remember, God is in the business of changing people's lives and giving them a brand-new start. Once again, thank you for being our guest today, and please join us again next time as we continue to study the Bible on "Key to the Kingdom."