Newness Of Life For A New Year
By Kim Butts
Our creative Father loves to develop newness in and around His people. He is at work to transform us from old to new. By the power of His Spirit, we are continually being made new day by day. As you look to this new year, consider studying these passages with your family. Take some time to consider the goodness of the Lord, and how He has made provision to transform you into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Talk about how God has, is, and will continue to make you new. See if you can find new things in every passage that you may never have considered before. Is there a promise? Is there something that gives you courage…or hope? Drink deeply from the well of the Father, who is able to make all things…and all people new.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Discussion: Describe your new birth in Jesus. Why do you think God is so merciful to us?
"We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom. 6:4).
Discussion: Why do you think it is necessary for God’s people to be buried with Jesus in baptism in order to experience new life?
"I am the LORD; that is My name! I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you" (Isa. 42:8-9).
"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 desert and streams in the wasteland" (Isa. 43:18-19).
Discussion: Are there any idols in your home? What are they? (Keep in mind that they may be "good things.") What are some things in your past that need to be forgotten? How can you keep from dwelling on them? What are the new things that God is doing in your lives?
"I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD" (Psa. 40:1-3).
"Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise His name; proclaim His salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples" (Psa. 96:1-3).
Discussion: My friend, Dick Eastman, President of Every Home for Christ, felt the Lord leading him to sing his prayers for several months. At first, he felt self-conscious and a bit silly; however, as he began to be obedient, the Lord began to give him new songs; new ways to express his love to the Lord. Has God ever put a new song in your mouth? Describe the experience. Try to write and/or sing new songs to the Lord as you pay attention to His glory among the nations and His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
"For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow…I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" (Isa. 62:1-2, 6-7).
Discussion: What do you think God is saying in this passage about Jerusalem’s new name? Talk about others in the Bible to whom God gave a new name. Could the Lord be calling you to be a watchman on the walls in this new year?
A New Heaven and a New Earth
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind" (Isa. 65:17).
"But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Pet. 3:13).
Discussion: Here is an Old Testament passage with a promise, and a New Testament reminder of that promise. Talk about what a new heaven and a new earth might be like. What are you most looking forward to in this home of righteousness?
"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" (Lam. 3:22-23).
Discussion: What could we be consumed by that God’s love and compassion protects us from? What does it mean to you that the Lord’s compassions are new every morning?
"Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’ They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 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. Then they will follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws. They will be My people, and I will be their God" (Ezek. 11:17-20).
Discussion: God is speaking through Ezekiel about the Israelites in this passage; however, His people today need undivided hearts too! What are some things that have kept you from having an undivided heart? According to this passage, what will happen when God puts a new spirit in the people of Israel? Has God put a new spirit in you? If so, how do you know?
New Wine and New Wineskins
"No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved" (Matt. 9:16-17).
Discussion: Jesus brings a newness of life that cannot be contained within old habits and lifestyles. Have you prepared a new wineskin to receive the new wine He wants to pour into it? How is your new wineskin different from your old one? Perhaps you are still trying to pour new wine into an old wineskin. What has been the result?
"In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me’" (1 Cor. 11:25).
"He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6).
"By calling this covenant ‘new,’ He has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear" (Heb. 8:13).
"For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant" (Heb. 9:15).
Discussion: Talk about how the new covenant of Jesus is different from the old covenant of the law. How does the Holy Spirit give life to you? Consider taking communion together as a family. Talk about the new covenant and why it is important to be reminded of the sacrifice Christ made for our sins.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).
Discussion: How do you carry out this "new" command in practical, everyday ways? Why is it important for "all men" to know that you are Jesus’ disciples? What new things could you do this year to be obedient to this "new command"?
New Way of the Spirit
"But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" (Rom. 7:6).
Discussion: What does it mean to "serve in the new way of the Spirit"? How do you "die" to what once bound you? What could you do in this year to serve others in this new way?
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17).
Discussion: As a family, talk about how you became new creations because of Christ. What old habits and/or lifestyles changed when Jesus came into your lives?
"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" (Eph. 4:22-24).
Discussion: What was your former way of life? What does it mean to "be made new in the attitude of your minds"? Do you still struggle with "deceitful desires"? If so, how does Jesus help you? If not, how has Jesus helped you?
New and Living Way
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19-22).
Discussion: How will Jesus’ "new and living way" help you to live differently in this new year? What does this passage teach you about prayer? About faith?
Jesus came to make all things new! Will your family choose to honor Him for His sacrifice…this year…and for the rest of your lives? How will this new year be different because of the "new and living way" – the way of Christ Jesus?