New Hope Notes
Leaving The Past
Pastor Jon Burgess
As we start a brand?new year in the Conquer series, our message today is Leaving The Past,because what we stop is just as important as what we start! When faced with insurmountable odds, a radical decision is necessary: Burn the ships! Make sure there is no room for retreat—just forward movement!
Alexander the Great showed up on the shores of Persia, looking to expand his kingdom; but he quickly realized that the Persian forces vastly outnumbered his! His generals begged him to return/retreat; amass more troops then return when the odds were better. But Alexander the Great made a seemingly illogical, irrational, and almost insane decision in that moment—he said, “Burn the ships!” Their only choice now was to move forward; there was no stopping his conquests! The battle with Persia became known in the annals of History as the most amazing victory.
God desires a similar victory for us when we're faced with tough challenges and insurmountable odds! When there is no back door and we’re trapped, we trust God and go forward, leaving the past. And God will make a way for us into a future that He has planned for us!
Elijah the prophet was a mighty man of God. And Elisha wanted to be mentored by Elijah, receive his mantle, and follow in his footsteps. Being a prophet of God was difficult with many hardships, persecutions, and often threats of death. But when Elisha received his call from Elijah, he decided to go forward and burned his plow, and offered his oxen as a sacrifice—literally, nothing to return to! We must be willing to do the same…
1 Kings 19:19?21 NIV says, "19So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. 'Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,' he said, 'and then I will come with you.' 'Go back,' 20Elijah replied. 'What have I done to you?' 21So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant."
Let today be a demarcation point for you! Do what Alexander the Great and Elisha did: Burn your old ways of thinking, leave the past behind, and move forward to the new thing that God would call you to!
1. Stop Saving Valuables; Start Speaking Value To Others
Our words have power! Do those around us feel valued or devalued? Often, we devalue those around us, only because we don't know our own worth and value before the Lord!
James 1:16-21 NIV says, “16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sister. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created. 19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”
God wants to clean out the clutter. He wants us to value the things that are valuable and stop holding onto the things of the past.
Marie Kondo on Netflix, invented the KonMari way. She is the queen of tidy and clean. She is like a cute little samurai ninja master that comes into the homes of stressed out people with cluttered closets, and trains them in the way of KonMari, a de-cluttering process. She goes through clothes, books, papers and all your little stuffs, and sentimental items. She shows them the process of gathering things to give away, and then says thanks to this house for all it has given. While I watched her thanking the house for being of service, I began to see the similarity in giving thanks to God for His providence. What was a too small, too cluttered, too cramped seems now a spacious, neat, open living space! Is God asking us to do the same to our hearts as Marie Kondo is doing with the house? Is God doing a heart check within us? The quickest indicator that something is off in our hearts is anger—a holdover from our past. Do you get angry a little too often? Snap at family, friends, and co?workers? The snappy anger is tied to a place of hurt/pain (usually felt underappreciated) a place from our past that we need to surrender. Identifying what makes us happy and brings joy can begin a process of cleaning out old ways of living, and why the next point is so important…
2. Stop Reading The Bible; Start Letting The Bible Read You
Many people often see themselves as pretty good Christians, and think, “At least I'm not as bad as those other people,” but…
James 1:22-25 NIV says, “22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like, 25But whoever looks intently [takes note] into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
We often don't allow the word of God to read us because we don't want it to show us what we actually look like! The word of God/the Bible is God’s living active voice that changes and molds us into His image, and we become New Creations in Christ. We won't just say, “I'm going to read the Bible more.” Instead, “I’m going to let the Bible read me!” Process it. Chew on it. That's the idea of taking notes and gazing on it carefully.
Our New Hope ohana is encouraged to do daily devotions, via the S.O.A.P. process: Reading scripture, writing it out, posting our observation (what it is saying to us), then applying the scripture to our life. This is when we begin to gaze, and the word of God is reading us: “How am I being changed by what I'm reading today?” That question leads to transformation. We turn our journal entry into a prayer. Journal for a month to stop the old habit of just reading the Bible; and start the new habit of letting the Bible read us!
Here are a couple of tools to aid you: The New Hope App is a free download—all of our sermons and resources are there. The daily devotions are on the Resource page, click on S.O.A.P. on the bottom of the screen, and follow along with the entire church. Then go through that S.O.A.P. process: Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.
It's not behavior modification, but inner transformation through the word of God and the spirit of God in each of us! Instead of anger and frustration, we will start speaking value and thankfulness to those around us; and thanking God for all that He has given us.
3. Stop Going To Church; Start Being The Church
Many people have for years gone to church faithfully and attended every single event; and, yet, have never understood that the church is not a building—it's people! That's exciting because the church is not limited to an-hour?and?a?half expression on a weekend. But, when we get together, we're reminded that this is where we learn to speak love and share respect.
James 1:26-27 NIV says, “26Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
If this building were to burn down today, the church of New Hope would still be here—just as it did when the roof fell in at Farrington! New Hope did not stop—it continues to exist because the church was never a building. The church is the body of Christ where people are filled with the presence of God and are living out the purposes of God. We are His hands and feet to the world around us!
We are the church even when we are driving and someone cuts us off, or takes our parking spot! We are the church everywhere we go!
James is saying that there are many people that seem very religious, but what comes out of their mouth is evident that they actually haven't had an inner transformation! God is calling each of us to walk out the reality that we are the church.
I was reminded about this when I was recently at the Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop (partner with the Salvation Army since 1922). Ross and Stef Anderson (who have served at New Hope Oahu in many capacities) have recently opened the Kitchen, and are continuing to work with women just coming out of women's correctional facilities.
I first met Tiffany at the Waioli Kitchen & Bake Shop. She began to tear up as she said: “I'm here today because of the messages of New Hope broadcasts to the correctional facilities on the island. My mom had just died about a year ago, and while in prison, I was watching the Fear Factor message by you, Pastor Jon, and you held a spider, facing down your fear.”
Tiffany was afraid, but realized right then that she needed to surrender her fear; and in that moment, she came to know Jesus Christ. I'm telling you this story because this is not about me, but it is absolutely about every single person who captured that message, who helped put that message on a CD, and our Prison Ministry that brought the message to her, that led her to know Christ.
Let's start speaking value to others instead of speaking out of anger and hurt; instead of holding on to valuables, let's hold on to each other and make sure that those around us feel valued, not just family and friends, but those that are broken and hurt around us; instead of just reading the Bible, let's let the Bible read us; instead of just going to church, let's be the church! Let’s surrender!
It’s not behavior modification; it’s always spiritual transformation!
The only thing we can truly control is how quickly we yield control to the only One who's actually in control—that's Jesus!
STUDY QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: