Please read Genesis 28:16-22 and Jonah 3:1-3.
INTRODUCTION: God is a God of a new start. We have just begun a new year. I believe it is fitting for every Christian to look at his accomplishments in the past year and make some new goals (rededicate some of the old goals) in the new year. I do not go along with the argument that says, „I do not believe in making new year’s resolutions, because I failed to keep so many from the last year.” None of us ever plan to do all we plan to do, but all who try to do better are helped by trying. People who try probably do more than those who do not try. Now is a good time to start over again and do much of what you failed to do in the last year, and this year be everything God wants you to be. Think of it this way – God is a God of a second chance. Look at the verse in Jonah again, „And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time.” Aren’t you glad that God is the God of a second, a third, a fourth, chance? Let us look at 3 great Bible characters who made a new start:
I. JONAH MADE A NEW START AND GOT A SECOND CHANCE TO PREACH IN THE GREAT CITY OF NINEVEH.
He rebelled against God’s call and ran away from God. At Joppa, he paid his fare to go to a far country, but on the way to Tarshish, God prepared a great storm. Jonah confessed his rebellion and had the sailors cast him into the sea to stop the storm. God had already prepared a great fish to swallow him. Then Jonah said his penitent prayer, and the fish threw him up on the shore. Jonah then quickly went to Nineveh. This time when God said, „Arise,” he got up and went. Jonah got his second chance. Nineveh repented and got a second chance at life for another 100 years. Jonah was a better man because he had a new start. Of course he wasn’t perfect. Of course he failed God as well as himself, but thank God for a God of a second chance. Benjamin Franklin said, „Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” Arnold Glasgow said of the new year, „Too many new year’s celebrants seem to think that a good beginning is half the bottle.” Your friends can wish you a happy new year, but only you can make their wishes come true.”
II. JACOB MADE A NEW START AT BETHEL.
Bethel means the House of God. After stealing the birthright from his brother Esau, Jacob met God at Bethel. Jacob in a dream saw a ladder (a stairway) reaching to Heaven and the angels of God ascending and descending. He arose and said, „Surely the Lord is in the place; and I knew it not.” (Genesis 28:16). Then Jacob made a vow to the Lord in verses 20-22, „If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I to, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” In the next few years Jacob backslid even more, then came the command of God that he should go back to Bethel. So, the family did away with their idols, and with chastened hearts and clean garments, went back to Bethel and made a new start. God blessed Jacob at Bethel in Chapter 35.
III. MOSES, AFTER 40 YEARS IN THE DESERT, MADE A NEW START TO DELIVER ISRAEL.
Moses, after being reared by Pharaoh’s daughter, decided to cast his lot with his people, the Hebrews. He killed one Egyptian and thought to deliver his people, but God had another plan – to put Moses out to pasture for 40 years. Then, one day God spoke to him through the burning bush, and Moses went for his second chance to deliver his people. Moses made a new start, and this time he succeeded.
Why not say, „I RESOLVE.” Moses chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Paul forgot those things which are behind and pressed forward. David lifted up his eyes unto the hills, „from which cometh thy help.” Daniel purposed to „commune with my God at all times.” Caleb and Joshua refused to be discouraged by the big crowds against them. Joseph stayed true under all temptations to lead him astray. Gideon advanced even though his friends were few. Aaron and Hur upheld the hands of their spiritual leader. Isaiah consecrated himself to do God’s work. Andrew strove to lead his brother into a closer walk with Christ. Stephen manifested a forgiving spirit toward all who sought to hurt him. Timothy resolved to study the Word of God. The heavenly host proclaimed the message of peace on earth and good will toward men. Jesus overcame all earthly allurements by refusing to succumb to their enticement. I RESOLVE – „I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” What will you resolve to do in the New Year? Will it be another year of discouragement, frustration and loss, or will it be a year of opportunity, joy and victory? The choice is yours.