What are some of the things that you are most looking forward to in 2022?
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) reads -
Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
We tend to falsely believe that our past determines our future, instead of remembering that our God determines our future. He is the one who makes a way in the wilderness; He is the one who is more than able to do a new thing in your life this year, something unheard of as The Passion Translation says.
Isaiah brings a prophecy, a word from the Lord here. He stirs God’s people to believe for a new thing. They have been rescued from slavery in Egypt and now God encourages them to stop going over old history and “be alert, be present” (MSG) for the new thing that God is about to do.
How might our dwelling on our past and “looking down at our circumstances” instead of “looking up at Him” limit our future? In what ways can you be more alert and present today, expectant of the new thing that God is getting ready to do?
Why not spend a few minutes praying about that. God is always doing new things!
How patient are you whilst waiting for something or someone to arrive – maybe you’re waiting for a package to arrive in the post or for a friend to call you?
Lamentations 3:22-24 (NIV) reads -
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
We can always rely on new mercies from our faithful God. In this passage, though Jeremiah has sunk to a low emotional state, he finds hope when he remembers whom we find hope in.
The people of Jerusalem and Judah were feeling beaten down and defeated, yet they were not completely consumed. There was still a remnant with a promise of restoration. Where there is life, there is hope.
Our God is a covenant keeping God and His compassion, His mercies never fail. It is as if they are new every morning, as God is the source of never-ending life and hope.
Jeremiah also knows the key to a healthy soul – it is when we make the decision that God, and God alone, is our portion. This is where we will find true satisfaction – simply in God. He is our portion, He is our inheritance, He is our all.
In what areas in your life right now can you thank God for His never-failing compassion and mercy? In what ways has God been your portion, your provider this week?
Take some time to thank Him now.
What is your favourite song to sing whilst driving or in the shower?
Psalm 40:3 (NIV) reads -
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
This is a Psalm of David and although we do not know the occasion of his waiting, we do know that David has been “waiting patiently”, earnestly and perseveringly, until he heard from God and sensed God bending down, hearing his cry and helping him.
David says that God has “lifted him out of the slimy pit” or out of “the pit of despair” and that he has set his feet on solid ground and has given him a firm place on which to stand.
Have you ever felt God rescue you from a dark or a difficult place after a period of waiting? What prevented you from giving up?
After this period of waiting, God puts a new song in his mouth, a hymn of praise to God.
The Passion Translation puts it in this way –
A new song for a new day rises up in me
every time I think about how he breaks through for me!
What part do you think praise and worship plays in bringing breakthrough in our lives? Are you trusting God to put a new song in your heart for this new year?
Spend some time today praising God for His goodness to you and be expectant of what God will do.
In what ways have you radically changed since you were a child? In what ways are you still the same?
Jesus is about to depart and go to the Cross, so these final words that He speaks to the disciples are very important. After revealing who will betray Him and showing Judas love one last time, He now says these words to His disciples.
John 13:34-35 (NIV) reads –
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
The ancient Greek word that Jesus uses here for “new” is “kainen”. It carries the meaning of “freshness” as opposed to “outworn”. So here, Jesus is not necessarily saying that this is a different commandment, as the command to love was not new. Yet there is a freshness to what Jesus commands them to do.
He commands the disciples to love one another as He has loved them. He has just displayed an incredible act of love towards Judas, His betrayer and He is about to go to the Cross, the ultimate display of love. And now He commands His disciples to love one another in the same way.
Spurgeon makes this accurate remark regarding Jesus’ statement –
“We are to love our neighbour as ourselves, but we are to love our fellow-Christians as, Christ loved us, and that is far more than we love ourselves.”
This command can be a great challenge for many, where humanly speaking, Christians can often be drawn into deep disagreements and divisive behaviour with fellow Christians. This is, no doubt, a tactic of the enemy. Our love for one another actually speaks volumes to a watching world.
In what ways is Jesus’ love for us to be an example in our love for one another? Why do you think that our love for other Christians is so important?
Who, amongst your Christian family, is God encouraging or challenging you to love today? Spend some time now praying for them.
They say, “Never judge a book by its cover!” Can you think of a time recently where you jumped to a wrong conclusion about someone or something based on outward appearances? How did it affect your responses?
Galatians 6:14-16 (NIV) reads –
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
The way of the world is to build an impressive portfolio of achievements, bedazzling others with our fancy resumés. Paul’s resumé was incredibly impressive to his fellow Jews …. until he met Christ. And then he considered it all loss.
He was completely freed from the stifling atmosphere of people pleasing, following the crowd and worldly obsessions.
As he says in verse 14 (NLT) –
As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.
When a man raised in the Jewish faith, “a Pharisee of Pharisees”, pronounces that circumcision will not affect our status, in regard to our salvation, this is truly profound. Paul has had a revolutionary revelation – “that the Cross of Christ alone can save”. He wants everyone else to know this truth!
Paul knows “what really matters is the transforming power of this new creation life.” (verse 15 TPT).
He also knows the evil motives of those advocating circumcision for the new believers – they just want to look good to others and avoid the persecution that comes from teaching that the Cross, and the Cross alone, can save.
In what ways can we be tempted to fall into legalism and boast about outward acts of religious observance or obedience? What are some of the signs in our lives that our interest in this world has been crucified?
When we are born again, God does a deep work in us; we become a new creation in Him, as His transforming power works in us, creating a new free life. Spend some time now thanking God for the work He has done in you, and that you are now a new creation.
What is your favourite road trip snack?
Psalm 98:1-3 (NIV) reads -
Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvellous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
It is thought that this is a Psalm of David, and he encourages us here to sing to God “a new song”. This concept of singing a new song to God is found in several places in Scripture, including Isaiah 42:10 and Revelation 5:9 and 14:3.
As followers of Jesus, there should be new songs in our hearts too, as we celebrate new victories. Consider the number of times that people in the Bible celebrated a victory or a significant occasion with a new song – Miriam composed a song, Deborah composed a song, Mary composed a song.
And the reason for the new song is because “he has done marvellous things”. The sense here is that God has done “wonders” or miracles that cannot be explained.
The Message translation of verse 1 reads –
Sing to God a brand-new song.
He’s made a world of wonders!
He rolled up his sleeves,
He set things right.
In what ways has God rolled up his sleeves and set things right in your life recently?
Decide today to “sing a new song to God” for the wonders and miracles He has done in your life and in the lives of those around you. He is worthy of our praise today!
What has been your favourite surprise recently?
2 Peter 3:10-13 (NIV) reads –
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
We have experienced a couple of very unusual years recently and for many, time has probably felt as if it were travelling slower, as we have awaited reopening of borders and the opportunity to be together again.
Peter here writes a letter to his beloved friends as a reminder, to stimulate them to wholesome thinking.
The Passion Translation puts it this way in verses 1 and 2 – “I’ve attempted to stir you up and awaken you to a proper mind-set. So never forget both the prophecies spoken by the holy prophets of old and the teaching of our Lord and Saviour spoken by your apostles.”
In this unusual season, it is a good time for us to also remember the prophecies mentioned in the Old Testament and the promises of Jesus. None of these have changed!
Peter reminds us in verse 8 that with God “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Time is no limiter to God, as He created time and He lives outside it.
So here in this passage, Peter speaks of the sudden day of the Lord, and the establishment of a new heaven and a new earth. He encourages his readers to live a holy life as they await that day.
The Message puts it this way –
The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
How does the knowledge that things won’t always be the same as they are now encourage you in this season in your life?
Trust today that God can move in your life and do more in one day than you could do in a thousand years.
Do you have an extensive wardrobe or do you like to “stick to the classics?”
Colossians 3:9-11 (NIV) reads –
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Paul writes to the Colossians here and he reminds them to live as those who have been made alive in Christ. This is a great reminder for us today – that we have been raised with Christ to a new life, so we should set our hearts and minds on things above, rather than on earthly things.
In what ways does this thought encourage you in this current season around the world?
The Amplified Bible translates verses 10 to 11 in this way –
“…and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self— a renewal in which there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, [nor between nations whether] barbarian or Scythian, [nor in status whether] slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all [so believers are equal in Christ, without distinction].”
As followers of Jesus, our lives are “now hidden with Christ in God” (verse 3). Our new selves are being continually renewed. How cool is that!
It is as if God has clothed us with a new wardrobe. The Message puts it brilliantly – “Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it.”
How do you feel knowing that God has clothed you in this way?
And now there are no dividing lines between us! The world likes to draw up lines of distinction. God does not! Christ is all, and in all. As believers, we are equal in Christ, without distinction.
Why not spend some time today praying for people in your world who have not found this new life yet.
We tend to be creatures of habit. For example, you probably eat pizza a certain way (some fold their pizza) or brush your teeth a certain way. What new skill have you learned in the last year?
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) reads –
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Paul writes to the Ephesian believers in this passage, giving them firm instructions – that they must no longer live like the unbelieving Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds, and the emptiness of their souls. Their understanding is darkened; their reasoning is clouded; they are spiritually blind and hard of heart.
What are some of the things that can make us spiritually blind or hard of heart?
Paul encourages the Ephesian believers that if they have really heard Christ and been taught by Him, then they need to put off their old self and completely discard their former nature.
Instead, he encourages them from The Amplified (verses 23 and 24) –
“be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation].”
In what ways has Jesus given you a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude recently? Are there any areas in your life where, with Jesus’ help, you need to put off your old self?
Our new way of life is renewed from the inside out. Why not spend some time thanking Jesus for His new life poured into you?
What is one thing that you are really passionate about? How has this passion shaped your life?
Ezekiel 11:19 (NIV) reads -
I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
How good is it to have an undivided heart?
Ezekiel makes this prophecy, announcing God’s promise of restoration to His people after exile. He announces that He will give His people one heart, a new heart and that He will put a new spirit within them.
He will take from them the heart of stone, and give them a heart of flesh, that is soft and sensitive to the touch of God.
God hints here at the greater work of restoration, which comes in the offering of a New Covenant. Israel will be gathered together again (one heart). There will be a spiritual transformation, as they receive a new spirit. The Law will now be written on hearts of flesh, rather than tablets of stone.
The promise of one heart here may refer to a singularly devoted heart, or of a reunited and unified Israel.
How powerful is it when Christians unite as one, with one heart?
Why not spend a few minutes today and allow God to do “heart surgery” on your heart? In what areas do you need to develop an undivided heart?
If you could travel to any year in a time machine, what year would you choose and why?
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) reads –
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
This is a promise for ALL of us, for anyone, regardless of class, background, nationality or IQ. Paul here is talking about regeneration – that when we come to Jesus Christ in faith, we are not just forgiven but changed into a new creation. This process of regeneration means that we are changed, and we are being changed.
So, it is not about us “turning over a new leaf” or turning the calendar to a new page, but instead it is all about the deep work that God does in us.
This work by God, of rendering a “new creation”, is an even greater work than that which God performed when He first created the world. When God first created the universe, He created it from nothing. Now He does a deep work within us – remoulding our stubborn wills, renewing our minds and hearts.
We receive the gift of being a new creation and we must also make the choice to live the life of a new creation. We remember that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. As we remain connected to Him and submit to the work that He does in us daily, we live and walk this life as a “new creation”.
In what ways were you aware that you had become a new creation after you gave your life to Jesus? What changed in you? What changes have you seen God do in you recently?
Today, you can declare that “in Christ” you are a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here! Spend some time thanking God for that today.
What would be your absolute dream job?
Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NIV) reads -
Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!
God reminds us, in this prophecy to the Israelites, of our individual responsibility before God to ensure things are right with God, to repent where we need to and to turn to God afresh.
Ezekiel is actually pointing the listeners and readers to look forward to the new covenant. Ezekiel encourages them to “get a new heart and a new spirit”. Repentance was available, even to the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day.
Today, we are so blessed to be living on the other side of the Cross, where we know that the road to salvation involves, first of all, repentance and then we are offered full forgiveness.
Ezekiel’s prophecy to the people “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!” is again echoed in 2 Peter 3:9, where Peter reminds us that God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
How has repentance helped you in your life to develop a new heart and a new spirit?
Let God refresh your heart and your spirit and thank Him for His grace filled gift of forgiveness to you today.
How do you think that the world defines “love”? How would you define love?
2 John 1:5-6 (NIV) reads –
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
This is not something new that John writes here; the theme of love is all through his gospel and his first letter. The measure of our love for one another is integrous to our Christian walk.
Jesus says in John 13:35 that people will know we are His disciples by our love for one another. And we are reminded in 1 John 4, that we cannot say that we love God yet hate our brother.
John’s definition of love is interesting here – that we walk in obedience to His commands.
Why do you think that John defines love in this way? In what areas can you show your love to God today through your acts of obedience?
Pray that God will help you to walk in love today.
If you could learn one new personal skill this year, what would it be?
Matthew 26:26-28 (NIV) reads –
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
As we begin a new year, we are reminded here in this passage of the New Covenant that God’s people were about to enter into, the new agreement which was sealed with the shedding of Jesus’ blood.
Whilst we understand what is taking place here in context, imagine yourself as one of the disciples seated at the table with Jesus.
How do you think you would have responded to His statement “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”?
Only Jesus could institute a New Covenant between God and man, as He was and is God incarnate. He alone had the authority to establish a New Covenant.
Earlier God had promised that He would put His law in our minds and write it on our hearts, and that He would be our God and we would be His people (Jeremiah 31:33). Now the pathway is opened up at The Last Supper.
And now we can make a choice, even a fresh and new choice today. When Jesus says “Take and eat” nothing is forced on us. Instead, we choose to receive what Jesus offers us today. In the same way that without food we will perish, without Jesus sustaining us and carrying us we perish.
What is Jesus offering you afresh today – maybe a second or third chance, perhaps the possibility of a fresh perspective, maybe His forgiveness and love?
Praise God that we are people of the New Covenant, and that nothing can separate us from His love. Take some time now to enjoy all that Jesus offers you and to thank Him for it.