Dear Friends,

Wouldn’t it be great to start over – to begin to live a life free from all the hurt, pain and poison of the past? Such freedom is possible if we will but let God’s promises and provisions unfold in our lives. In Is. 43:18, 19 He tells us, “Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.”

Through the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ it is possible to start all over but we must learn to live in the now. Unless we learn to live in the midst of the new things God is doing now we will be trapped in the hurts of yesterday and enslaved in the worries of tomorrow. With Jesus as Lord of your life, today can be your Masterpiece for “this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it”(Psalm 118:24). God is a God of the Now! As we are freed from the regrets of yesterday and the dreads of tomorrow we are able to create success in our lives by focusing on today. Today is the only time we have. It is too late for yesterday for that ended last night. We can’t worry about tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).

We can start all over as 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has past away, the new has come.” It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins that He provides that allows us to start all over. Through the living Christ God provides water in the “deserts of life” and “streams in the wasteland” of hopelessness and despair. In order to experience such we must practice living in the “now” of the presence of God.

I know from personal experience that as I live in the now I must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Only then can I experience a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of these troubled times. The challenge is doing this every moment of everyday. As I strive to live as a new creation in Christ I find myself awakened to the wonders of God’s creation that “the world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts” (Ps. 40:5, Message Bible). As we walk through the wonders of God’s creation we will not hear the birds sing, feel the refreshing breezes, see the wonderful sun sets, or touch or smell all that He has created for us today unless we live in the now. The hurts of the past and the fears of the future will block out God’s blessings of the present unless we live in the now.

I have found that in the midst of overwhelming odds I must not lose hope. I must let God’s power at work this day flow into my very being. I need to know in the depths of my soul that even though the dark nights of injustice surround me, the bright dawn of deliverance will soon arrive. Archbishop Oscar Romeo declared prior to his death by an assassin’s bullet, “Don’t be led astray either by the allure of power and money or by following false ideologies. True hope is not found there either. True hope is not found in a revolution of violence and bloodshed, and hope is not found in money and power – neither on the left nor on the right. The hope that we must account for and that makes us speak with valor is found in Christ, who reigns even after death, even after murderous death. And with Him reign all who have preached his justice, his love, his hope, and his peace.”

When I am feeling over-whelmed with the hurt, pain, injustices and hopelessness of life, I know from experience that when I call out unto the Lord He will answer. It is like a literal fulfillment of Is. 43:20, 21 where God says, “I provide water in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.”

The deserts and wastelands can be found in the face of each hurting, homeless and hungry person around us. It can be found in the loneliness of the jail cell, the nursing home and the hospital bed. This brokenness is all around us. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “We have lived under the agony and darkness of Good Friday with the conviction that one day the heightened glow of Easter would emerge on the horizon.”

This glow of glory has come. Christ is risen and now He tells us, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live” (John 5:24, 25).

Many who were previously dead in their hopelessness, fears, and sins can now start all over because of the life that Christ provides. Those captive to this materialistic self-serving world will consider the ones now alive in Christ to be extremists. But we shouldn’t be surprised by such a reaction. After all, those who crucified Jesus said he was an extremist. Believers today, who have started all over have died to themselves and have been resurrected unto Christ Jesus, to the extent that what touches His heart also touches theirs. Such individuals are always called extremists.

As a new creation in Christ, God has chosen you to manifest His love in this time and in this place. While this miracle unfolds, you will see Him do exceedingly above what you can ask and think. We read in Exodus 1-15, Psalms 59-72 and Acts 1-7, God will take ordinary people such as you and me and will do extra ordinary things through them.

Whether it was Moses, Peter, or Stephen, we see individuals who were set free from themselves to the extent they were able to start all over and serve God and those in need. Such freedom is a result of committing our lives to Christ as Peter declared in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Such a commitment sets us free from the paralysis of the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. Jesus enables us to start over in the now as we trust Him as the source of our salvation.

When one starts all over God often trains his great men and women by placing them first in insignificant positions, allowing their desires to serve Him result in serving others. For Stephen this meant being involved in the distribution of food to the needy. Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law when God spoke to him through a burning bush. God tells Moses “I will be with you” as Moses returns to Egypt to liberate the children of Israel. When we start all over, things may seem to get worse rather than better. That is why we must trust God with the problems we are facing now and not compound them by worrying about the future or allow ourselves to be frozen in the hurt and the abuse of the past.

Like waves lapping at a shore, generations of abuse tend to follow one another. Each generation can trap the next in resentment. As a result untold thousands walk around angry with their parents or someone else who has mistreated them in their past. Their lives are confused, their emotions crushed, and their ability to help others who are in need destroyed. Those experiencing such need to start all over and experience the liberating power of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps you feel your parents or someone else in your past plucked away at your self-esteem, feather by feather, until you stood naked and defenseless in the world. All that is left is rage, fear, and anger living in an unforgiving heart. As a result, sadness is kept locked behind the door of your life. Many choose to bury their anger out of fear that it will become a raging fire, burning out of control. Yet anger has to go somewhere. As a result it may seep out into our daily environment like illegally dumped toxic waste, in the form of depression, substance abuse, promiscuity or spurts of inappropriate rage or dreams of wild revenge. For many who have been mistreated, anger is their first name while blame is their second name.

The time has come to stop denying the hurt and then, once acknowledging it, stop blaming others for it. Start all over and let the love of Jesus Christ heal you now. Every rip in the fabric of a relationship needs the binding of God’s love. Such a binding involves making the “quantum leap” where, like an electron aimlessly circling the nucleus of resentment, we receive a new burst of energy which thrusts us around the nucleus of God’s love. This spiritual quantum law is summed up in Galatians 5:13-15 which says, “The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” Revolving around the nucleus of bitterness causes such destruction. Receiving the energy of Christ’s love, provided by His death and resurrection, results in life and liberty from the tyranny of the mistreatments of the past.

As long as you continue to hold on to your bitterness, you will continue to be a victim. Yes, you were deeply hurt in the past, but the fact is you cannot change the past. What you can change is your perception of it and the feelings, which enslave you in the present. That is why you need to start all over and respond in a positive way to the invitation that Jesus gives in Matt.11:28 when He says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

When I get all wrapped up in the memories of the past or the worries of the future I am not able to experience God’s blessings in the present. Worry keeps me from experiencing the wonders of God’s creation in the present. It fills me so full of self there is no room for God. When there is no room for God there is no room for other people. This worry and fear can drive us to depression or a self-centered spirituality that does not include the needs of others. That is why we must spend time alone with the Lord in prayer and daily Bible reading.

As we spend time alone daily with our Lord Jesus we will not be a “Stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears” (Acts 7:51) who try to spiritualize the freedom that Christ provides to such an extent that we see no need to fight for the justice of the poor and needy. We will as new creations in Christ desire to be a part of God’s work for He “will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in His sight” (Psalm 72:12-14).

Let us arise moving forth by faith, knowing that, “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is His name” (Exodus 15:2-3).

As we start all over believing that God is starting a new work in us let us realize that the way we choose to invest our time today directly affects our future. If we waste today, worrying about tomorrow, or regretting the lost opportunities of yesterday we won’t capitalize on today’s potential. There is a dieing world out there waiting for a people to arise who will declare, “send me O Lord. Use me to be your instrument of healing, hope and salvation.” We must make the most of the days we have left. Moses wrote, “Teach us to number our days” (Ps. 90:12). We all have a purpose for living. As we live out that purpose in service unto God we are able to make each day a Masterpiece that will survive for all eternity.

Don’t forget that the choices you make today will directly impact your tomorrows. Live each day fully for the glory of God. Share in both word and deed with everyone you meet that there is hope because Christ is Risen. Reject sin and let the Word and Spirit of God fill you to the extent that this day you will become His Masterpiece, glorifying God both now and for all eternity.

You will become God’s Masterpiece as you choose today to start all over living in the now and developing an attitude of gratitude. Starting all over means determining that your priorities will be based on the Word of God. It means making a decision to have your thinking Christ centered and that you will keep your commitments to God and others.

Now let’s start over and let the Lord fill our hearts and mind. May we determine through the grace of God to let Jesus be Lord of For truly, “this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

Yours in Christ,
Larry Rice

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