Every New Year's, many people turn into Athenians.
"For all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing else, but either telling or hearing something new" (Acts 17:21).
Everyone seems to be looking for a new word. What is God saying? What is the newest thing God is doing? Who has had a vision? What is prophet so and so saying? It seems to be the trend every New Year's. And this leads to all kinds of click-bait articles to draw you into a sensational word.
Although I believe in instilling fresh hope in people, and I certainly believe in genuine visions and prophecies to alert us and inspire us, especially as we head into a new year, we must also exercise caution to remember that there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9). Our problem is that in looking and insisting on something new we forget the old and the sure paths of the Lord.
"Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where the good way is and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it'" (Jer. 6:16.
Many are rebellious and don't want to walk in the old paths. They are like the Athenians on Mars Hill. They have itching ears and cannot endure sound doctrine and strong truth (2 Tim. 4:3-4). It's a form of idolatry.
When Israel lived in idolatry, Jeremiah mourned for them and said this:
"They have stumbled off the ancient highways and walk in muddy paths" (Jer. 18:15b, NLT).
Isaiah, the great prophet, called those muddy paths "crooked paths":
"They have made their paths crooked, Whowever treads on them does not know peace" (Isa 59:8b, NASB).
Today, we have many muddy and crooked paths in Christendom. Unsound doctrine and sensationalism seem to be at an all-time high. Most popular are the greasy grace and fake love messages where preachers emphasize grace and love to the exclusion of other vital themes such as repentance and confession of sin. Such sweet-tooth messages have greatly diminished the fear of the Lord among us.
We are living in perilous times. At the root of these perils may be the failure of the church to teach sound doctrine and stand in the whole counsel of God. The second greatest failure, as a result of the first, is giving heed to seducing spirits and the false prophetic that fills the vacuum churches and preachers have left for not preaching the full truth.
God's message in my heart for the new year is to forget the new and return to the old. Quit trying to walk in something new when you're not walking in something old. Quit seeking new light when you've neglected the old light.
Here's a recent quote by Mario Murillo that speaks volumes:
"Today we are swimming in more false teaching, false prophecy and false Christianity than ever before. All across the internet ministries dabble in new age hybrids of Christian faith, exotic extremes, drunkenness and even perversion. Turns out, the church is the other swamp that needs draining."
Not the New Year's word most want to hear, but it is a sure word.
The Old Can Always Be Made New
Many Christians become bored with the old because they've left their first love. The old is always made new in God's presence. The familiar is always fresh when you are intimate with the Lord. And frankly, that is our greatest need.
Several years ago, while waiting on the Lord for direction in some meetings we were conducting I heard the phrase, "The Holy Spirit has come to make everything new, fresh and alive again." This statement has become the anchor of our ministry since then.
When the Spirit of God begins moving and breathing on humble repentant hearts then the simple things of our faith become dear and precious. We are purified. The basic doctrines of Scripture become new to us. Through the operation of the Holy Spirit Jesus becomes real and alive in our hearts. The joy of meeting together in worship, in prayer, and in the Word becomes a pure joy. Gladness and gratitude for our salvation fills our hearts, and compels us to tell others of our wonderful Savior and make disciples of all men. These are the old paths.
As I stated, when the familiar things of our faith are touched by heaven they lose their staleness and become new and fresh again. Listen to this beautiful quote by Winkie Pratney:
"The things that touch us in a true revival are not strange and mysterious things made clear, but plain and simple things made central and old things made new."
God is doing what He's always done. He is doing an old thing. But He makes the old new all the time as we stay in love with Jesus.
So Happy New Year?
May 2019 be a year of knowing God in a deeper dimension. I'm confident that this little book that has inspired many to a new life of prayer will inspired you the same way: Prayer: The Language Of The Spirit
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