Background Text: Isaiah 42:8-17
Devotional Text: Ephesians 4:24
We’re nearly two weeks into the new year. How are your resolutions going?
People generally adhere to two types of resolutions during this time of year — things we want to do and things we want to stop doing. But let’s not forget God’s place in our lives as we plan our new year. Be sure to make room for God’s guidance and surprises as the year unfolds.
As I’ve researched the Bible to see what it has to say about the “old” and the “new,” I found some wonderful scripture to put these thoughts into perspective. Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of the newness God brings into our lives.
Psalm 33 describes God as being trustworthy, praiseworthy, faithful, and whose word is dependable. And Verse 3 tells us that as we put our whole trust in him, we will be able to sing to him a new song. This is the new song of our lives, the life that does not belong to us alone, but is given to us by God in whose image we are created.
As you plan 2019, think about how God has changed your life in 2018. Or, if you are new to trusting in God, read the scriptures and talk to God in prayer. See what God has done for others, and understand that God wants to meet your needs, too. The Bible tells us that if we ask anything in the name of Jesus that is according to the will of God, he will do it for us (1 John 5:14-15).
King David, writer of Psalm 40, tells us why we need to look to God, because God puts a new song in our mouths. What is this new song? It is none other than Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 42:8-17 speaks of the new song. Verses 6-9 describe the “new song” as Jesus, not by naming him, but by description: “I the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles….”
Jesus himself told of the new covenant in the act of Communion, as he broke the bread and poured the wine, telling the disciples of his “body, broken for you,” and his “blood of the new covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin.” (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20).
It is then up to us to accept the new covenant, the sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross. As we accept that he died for our sins and is our Savior, we are then saved and made into new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Ezekiel 36:26 also speaks of new life, one that removes hardness in the heart and replaces it with a heart of compassion and feeling; one that replaces a cold spirit with the aliveness of the Holy Spirit. Again, these statements are found to be true as Jesus transforms us and gives us a new start. What better way to bring in the new year than to trust in God?
I love the verses in Matthew 9:16-17 that speak about patching garments with unshrunk cloth, and about old and new wineskins.
You see, you cannot patch an old garment with a new patch of unshrunk cloth or the new will not withstand a washing. The same thing with wine, as the new wine is poured into new goatskins, the wine ages and expands, and the goatskin will expand with it. However, if you try to put more new wine into an old goatskin, the goatskin will burst.
So how does that apply to the new year and new life? In the Matthew scripture, Jesus is telling us he did not come to patch up our old lives; he came to make them new. In accepting Jesus as our Savior, the old is gone away and replaced by the new relationship we now have with God. Jesus makes us pure and holy through himself. Jesus makes us heirs to God’s kingdom as we become brothers and sisters in Christ.
The analogy is that God does not patch us when we believe in Jesus. Instead, he makes us new.
As we think about our resolutions, think about God’s place in your own life. Certainly, we can hope to make some new accomplishments that will please us. Certainly, we can work at stopping bad habits. What place does God take as we make our lists of hopes for the year that is unfolding? Looking at our resolutions, are they selfish or do they benefit others as well?
God should be taking the same place in our lives as he always does, day to day, year to year, at the center of everything. We center ourselves with God through prayer, asking God to help us with the needs we have as we seek to act as a “new creation” in God.
If we have a new identity in Christ, as Ephesians 4:24 explains, “we are to put on the new person,” shouldn’t our resolve be to put away the old self (with God’s help) and put on the new (with God’s help)? Always remember, you are not in this alone. God is with you. God will help you. Open yourself up to God’s teaching and the Holy Spirit’s nudging. That means we take off the old self, the part that is of the fleshly sinful nature (as written in Galatians 5:19) and put on the new, fruitful self (Galatians 5:22-23).
God is interested in our character, the way we behave with one another, and the way we behave when we are alone with God.
God has given us a new covenant and has given us what has become known as the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39, paraphrased): To love God with all our being, and to so love other people as we would want ourselves to be loved.
John 13:34 also tells us of the new commandment given to us by Jesus: To love one another, as God loves us. 2 John 1:5-6 tells us to walk in God’s love. And finally, Revelation 21:3-5 says that it is God who makes everything new.
As we are made new, let’s not forget who controls our lives and remember God as we make our resolutions. This gives us an added element to make positive change. We need to remember that we do not know more than God, and only God knows what our future holds. Isn’t it smart to request God’s leading so we don’t miss out on God’s gifts for the new year?