NEW BEGINNINGS...A NEW WAY OF LIFE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS American Baptist – United Methodist
5 MARCH 1995
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 5:17
In Jesus Christ, God has given us a second chance.
He has given us a new beginning.
But in this new beginning, we should also have a new way of life.
It's as we are told in our preparation verse for this morning, 2 Corinthians 5:17:
17. Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
If we are in Christ, then our lives should reflect that change.
Our previous way of life should have passed away, and we should no longer be the same.
We should be living in a new way.
We should be Christ-like in everything we do and say, and even if we make a mistake, we should realize it, and correct our ways.
We should be the loving and compassionate peacemakers He called us to be.
We should not go along with the hard-of-heart ways of the world.
In Deuteronomy 26:1-11, before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they were told of a new way that they should live.
Before we look at these verses, we should remember that until this time the Israelites were basically shepherds.
Now, as we look at these verses, note the change in their life-style that the Lord has set before them.
1. "Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it,
This was the fulfillment of the promise that the Lord gave to Abraham 430 years earlier, when He told him, "To your descendants I have given this land…" (Genesis 15:18)
Abraham was not impatient; he knew that the Lord would fulfill His promise.
We, today, should likewise be patient, but with full assurance that our Promised Land, Heaven, is not that far into the future.
When that day comes, all things will be made new; but in the meantime, we who believe should already be changed, and seek to bring the heavenly will of God to earth (Matthew 6:10).
We should be bringing a taste of heaven and kingdom living into the world.
The world should see in us no more hurting or destroying, which is so common in the world, for the knowledge of the Lord fills our lives as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
Returning to our Deuteronomy passage, note what the Lord tells the Israelites they should change when they enter the Promised Land:
2. that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you shall bring in from your land that the Lord your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name.
They were no longer to be the shepherds of their earlier days.
Now they were to become farmers.
Their new life was to be based upon plant agriculture.
They were no longer to be nomadic herdsmen with no real roots.
Now they are to settle down and till the soil, produce abundant crops, and take root in the land, as will their crops.
But there is more:
3. "And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, 'I declare this day to the Lord my God that I have entered the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.'
4. "Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.
The people are not being told to bring their produce from the ground with a sacrifice for their sins.
There isn't even a mention of sin or the need of a sacrifice.
All that is expressed is that the fruit of their labor will be accepted.
It's not being accepted as a substitute for the sin offering.
It's being accepted because those who plant and grow in the Promised Land should be of one heart and mind with the Lord.
Listen to what the person bringing the offering is to say and do:
5. "And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God, 'My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation.
6. 'And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.
7. 'Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression;
8. and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders;
9. and He has brought us to this place, and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
The expression “a land flowing with milk and honey” means a place of plenty. It doesn’t mean actual milk and honey.
It’s just another way of reinforcing the promise that they will have abundant crops, as we see in the next verse.
10. 'And now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which Thou, O Lord hast given me.' And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God;
11. and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.
This is living in the love and will of the Lord.
This is living in unconditional and uncompromising love.
This is going back to expressing the same intent that was given to Adam in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1:29-30)
29. Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;
30. and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.
This was a time before there was any death, and the Israelites were being told that they, too, could return to such a way of life in the Promised Land, if they so chose.
Each and every one of us who is born again has been given a new heart and a way of discerning the true will of God.
Don't fight against what you know to be true.
Don't turn from what you know to be true because of what others say or the pressures they bring to bear upon you.
Let the love of God overflow from your heart and soul.
We have been given a second chance.
We have been given a new beginning for the rest of our lives, even to all eternity.
We have been given a new way of life.
Let us resolve to live in it.
Your Comments are welcome
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