The prophet Isaiah issued a call to the people of Israel: “Sing to the Lord a new song and His praise from the ends of the earth” (42:10a NKJV). He wanted them to worship God for the new thing He was about to do among them. And what would that be? In the immediate context, Isaiah was pointing toward His people’s deliverance from Babylonian captivity; but in the more distant context, he was speaking of their salvation through Christ. Through the prophet, the Lord declared, “I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house. . .Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare” (Isaiah 42:6b-7,9a). What a welcomed message for a disheartened people! God was about to do a new thing as He freed them from their bondage and returned them to their home. Excitement began to grow as hope was restored. However, the people could never have envisioned the broad, eternal scope of this new thing. Eventually, God would send His one and only Son to deliver His people from their sins. No more spiritual captivity! No more spiritual oppression and blindness! Reading from the book of Isaiah, Christ described His mission by declaring, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18 NKJV). During this season, we are reminded of the new thing God did through His Son, Jesus Christ, and we celebrate that new beginning with gratitude and continued anticipation.
Of course, we also recognize how the Lord still does new things. This holiday season, my family is more aware of that than at any other recent time. God has given us a new home, a new ministry, and new relationships. We are so thankful for His work to get us to this point, and we are excited about the opportunities He is providing. We certainly believe that the Lord has great things in store as we share our lives with you. The Lord has blessed Temple Baptist in the past with strong leadership and vision, and we are expecting Him to continue to perform wonderful works among His people. Leslie and I look forward to getting to know you as we serve together with you, and we are especially grateful that we can celebrate Christmas and the New Year in Ruston. May God grant you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year as you rejoice in His salvation! And oh yeah, see you this Sunday!