New and Improving

New and Improving

II Corinthians 5:17

 17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

When you look all around you, whether it be on television, on billboards, in newspapers, or whether you hear in on radio, we can all agree that, in this life, there is something that is always “new and improved”.  You can always here the announcer say that there is some product or service that is newer and better than its predecessor.  We hear “this product is now new and improved with 30% more of this or 95% less that” or “now guaranteed to give you better results or your money back”. There are not enough fingers to count the many times we have seen or heard any of these gimmicks.  The common denominator here is that, at one particular point in their existence, they were ALL good but, at another point, there were improvements that had to be made in order to make the consumer’s experience that much better.  There is a question still remains, however.  Did the product really improve your quality of life or did you just fall for yet another case of “let the buyer beware?  These days, its’ not always a product that some company is trying to sell you and I that will taste better, or smell fresher, clean cleaner, or even drive better and handle the curves better at 60 mph and stop on a dime and still give you the best miles per gallon with the lowest emissions, or even has more access to all of your gospel music on your phone/music player.  Now, there are ads to get you to get fit, get tone, grow hair, look younger, nip this and tuck that.  Again, the question remains, did it help you or did the buyer have to beware?  Also, what the ads are telling you and that “our product can make you better than you were yesterday”.  However, these things are only a temporary solution to the permanent problem because, once something is used to its’ potential, there will always be something better than the last.  One thing we can say about all of the ads we see or hear, not once, did any of them say that your life will improve if you give your life to Christ. 

 

Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth talks about our earthly bodies as a tent.  Now when you think of a tent, the first thing that should come to mind is that, while it will provide shelter from elements around you, it is only and forever will be temporary.  During the my days in the Army, I spent many days and as many nights putting up, working in, sleeping in, and tearing down a tent of some sort.  This was only a temporary housing or working area while on maneuvers or during a time of war as opposed to the solid structures of brick and mortar that we called the barracks.  In other words when we were in the tent, we knew that, even though we may have been on a field training exercise, and even though we may have been overseas in the deserts of Saudi Arabia or the mountains of Afghanistan, and even though throughout the history of the US military the tents themselves were new and improved, we knew that, eventually, we had to go HOME!!!  Paul is telling the church that, yes you are here on planet earth living your lives as best as you can and yes you are working day in and day out and that you are raising your children the best way you can but, there is a better place than this place and it is New and Improved. 

 

Paul is also telling the church that this New and Improved place that he is speaking of could NOT be constructed down here.  He said, in verse 1:

   1For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

In other words there is no amount of construction, no amount of technology, no amount of engineering genius, financial funding that is better than what is already being prepared for us in heaven.  Jesus said in John’s Gospel, “In my Father’s house, there are many mansions…I go to prepare a place for you…”  He said told His disciples that he was going to prepare which meant that He was going to give His life for them, and for you and for me. 

 

Paul also told us verse 17 that, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold all things are become new…”.  What he’s saying here is that when we are in Christ, when we come into the Will of God, when we accept the fact that we are indeed sinners saved by Grace, when we realize that we are but filthy rags in God’s sight, we are a new creature.  What we used to do is what we used to and what we do now is for God and God alone.  In other words, the old me, is dead and gone.  That thing I did when I was younger, dead

That vice I had when I was in college – dead

That drinking problem I had – dead

That monkey that was on my back from years of drug abuse – dead

My attitude that I had towards my wife – dead

Those no good thoughts I had towards my husband – dead

The times I gave mom and dad a serious way to go – dead

The times I showed up raising all kinds of sand in the church – dead

Now that you are in Christ all of that stuff you used to do died with Him when he died on the cross but, since He rose from the dead, ALL THINGS ARE BRAND NEW.  What I am trying to tell you today is that, since you are in Christ, you’re a new creature.  What you used to do is dead and gone and now you are New and Improved.  Don’t worry about this earthly tabernacle that you call a body.  Yes, it will get weak and there will be times when you really don’t really want to drive to church much less get out of bed but, I have the perfect ad campaign for you.  It’s called Salvation.

Tired of only relying on the Ten Commandments?  Are you tired of trying to get into Heaven on just your works alone? Well try New and Improved Salvation.  It’s not only guaranteed to wash away all of your sins, it’s guaranteed to give you eternal life.  No more sacrificing animals or having to rely on how often you come to Sunday School.  New and improved Salvation allows you to have a mansion already prepared for you by Jesus Christ Himself.  Here’s what two people said after receiving the Plan of Salvation:

Thief on the cross said:  “I was a thief and I murdered people and ultimately sentenced to die but when I asked Jesus to remember me when He came into His Kingdom, he said that today I will be with Him in Paradise”.

Paul said:  I was a persecutor of Christians and was on my way to Damascus to that very thing when I was knocked off my beast and was asked by the Lord, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?”  After I asked Him who He was, He said that it is I Jesus that though persecutes.  Then he gave me orders to preach His Gospel all over.

 

These are just a few people who have tried new and improved Salvation.  Now you can try it for free!  All you have to do is accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Saviour and He will come into your life.  The things you used to do before Salvation will be of no interest to you.  Now you will have a need to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him in the pardon of their sins.  Some side effects include:

Increased amounts of the Fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.  Please be aware that said fruits are contagious and can be spread to others

Sudden shouts and praises to God for bringing you from a mighty long way

Sudden urges to study the Word of God

You may have Salvation and operate heavy machinery and can also have it while driving.  People under the age of 18 are still eligible to receive the Plan of Salvation.  If you are ready to receive this Plan, it is recommended that you admit that you are a sinner and ask Christ to come into your life.  Once you have done this consult your local church that teaches The Word of God and contact the Pastor.

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Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek

Psalm 91:1-2

 

   1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

   2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

 

If and when we do a search for the words “hide” and “seek”, you can usually find the following definitions:

hide

hid·ing, noun

verb (used with object)

1.

to conceal from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered: Where did she hide her jewels?

2.

to obstruct the view of; cover up: The sun was hidden by the clouds.

3.

to conceal from knowledge or exposure; keep secret: to hide one’s feelings.

verb (used without object)

4.

to conceal oneself; lie concealed: He hid in the closet.

 

seek

1.

to try to find by searching; look for: to seek a solution

2.

( also intr ) to try to obtain or acquire: to seek happiness

3.

to attempt (to do something); try: I’m only seeking to help

4.

( also intr ) to enquire about or request (something): to seek help

5.

to go or resort to: to seek the garden for peace

6.

an archaic word for explore

When I was in my younger days, back before electronic age that our

 

children are accustomed to, the kids in my neighborhood or at school

 

would all go outside.  One of the games that we would play, especially if

 

there was a mixture of boys and girls, was hide and seek.  We would

 

spend numerous hours at this game as, almost all of the time, everybody

 

got a chance to be “it”.  We would work ourselves into a frenzy looking

 

for places to hide so that, whoever was “it”, would have a hard time

 

finding us before we could get tagged and get to base, where you were

 

safe.  Appeasing my curiosity, I looked up the rules of the game, and

 

found that there are several variations of Hide and Seek.  I will give you

 

just two for today:

 

Normal variant 1

In the normal variant, “it” counts to a number that was designated before the game started. Once “it” reaches that number he or she yells “Ready or not, here I come!” and then starts searching for the players who have hidden. When “it” finds a player, “it” will generally say something along the lines of, “I see you (player), you are hidden in (hiding place),” so that the player will know he or she has been spotted. The first person “it” finds will become “it” in the next round. But “it” continues searching for other players until all the players are found. The last person found doesn’t get any prize or reward but it is accepted that he or she has the best hiding place. If “it” gives up, he or she can yell “Olly olly oxen free!” and the players will come out of their hiding places, a new round will ensue with the same “it”, and the players may or may not choose the same hiding place.

[edit] Normal variant 2

In a more active variant, hide and seek can be combined with the game of tag. Instead of “it” simply spotting players, he or she has to tag them instead to get them out. Hiders can make a dash for Home Base, which is usually a landmark where whoever is “it” counts off. Touching the base area makes a hider safe, and the aim of the game is to touch base without being tagged. The seeker continues to search for hiders and if he/she finds none then he/she is “it” again in the next game. However, if “it” finds and tags someone before they are able to touch base, he/she must call out in a loud and repeated fashion “All ye all ye outs in free”, “all ye, all ye, in come free”, or where the call has been changed and slurred “Olly Olly Oxen free!”, which means a new “it” has been tagged and all the other hiders are safe to return back to base.

 

When I reflected on the times my friends and I played this game and

 

when I studied the text we are sharing today, I have come to the

 

conclusion that, as Christians, we will always be in a situation where the

 

enemy will have us in a game of Hide and Seek.  It’s already been

 

established in 1Peter 5:8 when Peter says:

  1. 1 Peter 5:8 (Whole Chapter)
    Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

In other words, whether you like it or not; whether you want to or not;

 

whether you are at work or at home; Satan wants to and will have you

 

playing his game of Hide and Seek.  The good thing about this is that,

 

while he wants to seek and devour you, all you have to do is to conceal

 

from sight; prevent from being seen or discovered, obstruct his view, and

 

conceal yourself from by hiding in the “secret place of the Most High and

 

abide under the shadow of the Almighty”! 

 

 

When the Psalmist wrote this, we can come to the conclusion that he was

 

definitely in a game of Hide and Seek.  We can also see that, since he

 

was in this game of Hide and Seek, he knew where to take refuge.  When

 

you find yourself in the middle of life’s difficulties, when you can feel the

 

enemy closing in on you, and just when you think “it” is going to get you, you need to immediately go into hiding. 

 

Hide – so that you can see where the enemy is coming from

 

Hide – because you can, sometimes, see the traps that have been laid out before you

 

Hide – because, by yourself, the storm that you are in will be too much for you to handle

 

 

 

We have to hide from time to time because, it is in this solitary place

 

that, you can truly hear what God has to say…If you’re willing to listen. 

 

Psalm 27: says that:

 

 5For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

 

There’s something about that tabernacle that will make all the difference

when you are definitely in trouble.  There is something about that

tabernacle that gives you that inner peace and that feeling of comfort

and safety.  There is something about that tabernacle that, when you are

in there, you can lock that spiritual door so that no one can come in and

disturb you.  There is something about that tabernacle that allows me to

search for let God know exactly what I’m feeling and when He speaks I

can listen.  That tabernacle isn’t what you may consider as these four

walls of Greater Bethel Missionary Baptist Church or any other building

with a cross and stained-glass windows, wooden pews, choir stand,

pulpit, or communion trays.  That tabernacle can be your kitchen, your

bathroom, your bedroom, your carport, or even your cubicle at work.  As

long as you are willing to hide God will set you in His pavilion and, in the

secret of His tabernacle, He will set you on a rock.  But you just have to

be willing to Hide…PERIOD!

 

When you find yourself in a position to hide it is then where you have to

be ready to seek.  If you go down to verse 8 of the same 27th Psalm, God

lets you know that, while you are in there hiding, there comes the time

that you need to seek and see just what he has to say to you:

 

 8When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

 

That’s the whole purpose of hiding in the first place. You’re hiding, and

keeping yourself from being visible from the enemy but you are also

hiding so that you seek God and can still hear that still small voice.  This

is when you are in a position to SEEK GOD. 

 

Then enemy will engage in a game of hide and seek with you.  When you

find that you are in a game of hide and seek.  You must do hide in the

secret place of the Most High God and from there you will be able to hear

that still small voice.  However, when you are in your secret place, when

you are concealing yourself from the “fowler and the snare” that has

been placed for you, when you are hiding, make sure that there is some

seeking involved:

 4One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

When you are seeking God, you must be prepared to hear the instruction

that He WILL give you.  You may not necessarily be ready to hear what

He has to say but, if you are in the will of God, what He has to say is a lot

better that going through your storm by yourself.  I’ve said this before, if

you could solve all of your problems, you would have solved them by

now.  If you knew exactly when and exactly where Satan was going to

attack you, what would be the purpose of God’s tabernacle?  What would

be the purpose of David asking God to create in him a clean heart if he

didn’t think his heart needed to be cleansed?  What was Noah’s purpose

of building an ark if he knew ahead of time that it would only rain for 40

days and 40 nights and that he and his family would be spared?  Why

would Solomon waste his breath asking God for wisdom if he thought he

could do without it and, since we’re talking about us, why would we go

hiding if we really didn’t want to seek God in the first place?  When I was

a teenager on my way to finishing high school, I had enlisted into the

Army under the delayed entry program.  That meant that, even though I

was Senior in high school, I was still 17 and, since I was still 17, I could

not just go and run into the nearest recruiting office and sign my life

away.  I had to make sure that I was doing the right thing and, to be

quite honest, I really didn’t have a clue what I was getting myself into. 

So, like any teenager who thought he knew all there was to know about

absolutely NOTHING, I went to my Dad and talked to him about it. 

Granted his time in the Army was many years removed from the time I

was going to enlist and there were some obvious differences as far as

how and where I was going to go once I got there but, the fact of the

matter is that Dad knew the answers to what I needed asked and even

though my Recruiter was in the modern Army, my Dad was still my Dad

and if I really, REALLY needed a straight answer, whether I wanted to

hear it or not, who better to go that to my Dad.  My point is this, if you

KNOW where you’re going or what you’re going to do or what you’re

going through is not necessarily where you need to go or what you need

to do or even where you need to go, you better ask the Father and the

way you do that is to get in the secret place and seek His face!