New Every Morning Notes – Jan. 6, 2019

Welcome to a brand new year! My guess is, that you are either really looking forward to all the great possibilities ahead or you are shrugging your shoulders and thinking, “Same old, same old”.  So, which is it?

A lot of folks I talk to say, ‘New Years Eve is nothing special’. They go to bed before midnight and I often hear them say, “It is just another day.” After witnessing many New Years Eves come and go, the thrill is gone.

It is just time marching on, right. We mark time on our calendars but one day is not much different then the rest. What if I told you that was wrong. What if I were to suggest to you, that every moment, every second is new.

Rev. John Piper writes, “Every moment is a completely unique creation by God the Father, through the Son, who is upholding the universe at that moment, by the power of his word. A moment is never neglected and never is a moment repeated.”

Just imagine, if you can, every snowflake, like every person, and every moment is unique. Every waking breath is part of God’s re-created plan. Every moment, God commits again to fulfill his promises to us.

Lamentations 3:22-23 reads, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Now, when I read that passage, what I hear ‘is new and fresh’ that’s what God’s compassion, commitment, mercy, forgiveness and love is.  So, how then, can that apply to every moment being a new start?

Before we can answer that question, we must look at the background of this text. The Prophet Jeremiah is writing the book of Lamentations at a very difficult time. Incidentally, to lament is to express grief, complain, mourn or to wail in great sorrow.

At the time of the writing, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians had just destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. The people there had been run off or dragged off into exile. And Jerusalem’s enemies openly mocked them.

It was a bad day for all and didn’t look very promising in the near future. In the midst of all of this is Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, is sitting in the ashes and rubble. His mood is bleak and his words start out dark and angry. Lamentations 1:1 reads,

“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people. In Vs 16 he cries out, “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me, no one to restore my spirit. My children are destitute, the enemy has prevailed.”

Maybe you have had days, weeks or even years where you felt like Jeremiah. The world as he knew it, literally crumbled all around him. All seemed lost. The foundations were in shambles.

In the movie “Seeking a friend for the end of the world”, we are told an asteroid is set to collide with earth and all will perish. One man sets out on a journey to be with the woman he loves. Along the way he meets up with several interesting people. In one scene, Steve Carell and Keira Knightley get stopped on the road by a policeman.

The policeman goes on to explain that they were speeding, have a tail-light out and are driving with an expired license plate. They agree and explain that because the end of the world is near, they have no identification (it was lost in a fire) and all they seek is some mercy. The policeman gives them a nice smile and then says no as he arrests them and takes them off to jail.

Sometimes life is hard…Like losing a spouse, a significant relationship, a job, a promotion, losing transportation, or our way and it can be life changing.

It can, like it did to Jeremiah, leave us reeling and feeling adrift. Sometimes the future looks bleak…but hope is just around the corner.

Considered, in a National survey, the most inspiring words in the Bible in times of tragedy are these words by Jeremiah;   he said,

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your Faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.” (Lam. 3:21-24)

These words were spoken over and over again – after the attack on Pearl Harbor and after the attacks on the Twin Towers. They were heard during ‘the War of Independence’, and the Civil War and almost every war since. It has been reported that Abraham Lincoln had a bookmark – that never left this passage in Lamentations.

Jeremiah was seized by a magnificent thought, God’s mercy had not changed. His faithfulness had not diminished and his love would never end. In the midst of life’s struggles, there is always hope in God.

There is nothing in this world that is so bad, that God cannot turn it around. Hebrews 6:19 reads, “We have ‘this hope’ as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure.”

We sometimes sing, “Great is thy faithfulness”, great here means abundant and overwhelming. And to say God is faithful means, he is secure, trustworthy and firm as a solid rock.

Rev. Andy Elmes once said, “No amount of ‘Wheaties’ can supply us the strength that God can. God’s faithfulness is the true breakfast of Champions.”

If faith and life in Jesus can really make us a new creation, and his words in Revelation are true, “Behold, I am making all things new”; then the old has truly passed away. (Rev. 21:5) And each moment we are fresh and new in God’s Spirit.

No matter the struggle or the rut we are in, we can see farther and with real hope and insight. Jesus promises to go ahead of us and to call us by name. Can you hear him?

The Apostle Paul carried many heavy burdens, yet he was able to write to the Philippians, “But this one thing I do, forgetting what is behind, I strain toward that is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize, for which God has already called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

If God is the source of our strength and encouragement, then our hope lies in the place he is calling us, not the places we have been.

Writer Louisa Fletcher Tarkington expressed our longing for a new day to be a real new beginning, when she wrote:

I wish that there were some wonderful place

called the Land of Beginning Again,

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped – like a shabby old coat at the door

And never put on again.

Rev. John Ortberg said he was talking to a friend and he asked him, “How are you feeling this morning?”

His friend responded, “I’m not sure yet, it is too early to tell. I’m not even awake and I’m not sure that God gets up this early.”

That man had had an especially long night and asked, “The mercies of God are new every morning, right? But why doesn’t God promise us instead that his mercies are new every evening?”

You see, Ancient Jews believed that the new day began at sunset. They begin all their religious holidays in the evening, and the biblical text mandates that the two most important religious feasts, the Passover and the Day of Atonement, begin at sunset.

I pondered that question for sometime. Because I think he has in interesting point. Yet, it is often at night; that we lay and think about the events of the day. We ponder what we did wrong or what could have done better or maybe even those things we regret doing.

Sometimes it leaves us tossing or turning. Sometimes we dream or have nightmares about our day past. It seems as if, even in our time of rest, we still need God’s mercies and peace. And maybe that is why God’s grace, peace and mercy come in the morning, after some refreshing sleep. Things often look different in the morning. Then with Jesus, we can endure hardship and live to conquer a new day.       

When Moses and the Israelites wandered in the desert, they begged God for food and water, and God provided it. The Lord said to Moses, “I will make it rain down Manna or bread for heaven for you.”

The people are to go out each day and gather only enough for that day. In this way, God tested them to see whether they would follow his instructions.

Each morning, we, like the Israelites, start over with a new blank slate. Time really is irrelevant in God’s world because God never sleeps or ages. But He waits and He watches us to see if we will rely on Him, for our journey.

David wrote in the psalms, “Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.” (Psalm 143:8)

Jesus tells us this truth, in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Each new moment, each new day and each New Year will require us to call upon the Lord and to trust in His love to carry us through. Each moment is a gift from God to live fully. Each day is unpredictable and an adventure waiting to happen.

“This, this is the Day the Lord has made, so let us be glad and rejoice in it.” (Psalm 118:24)   Never is a moment repeated and never should a moment go neglected or wasted. Because in it, is a blessing.

Seize the day! Don’t procrastinate. Take the bull by the horns and live with a new spirit and with a new satisfaction. God made this moment, this day, this year, especially for you. Spread the ‘Good News’ and live into this fresh New Day all of the hope that our Savior provides.

Your assignment is…to pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you this year…and then to follow.

Amen.