Happy New Year January 1st, 2021
A Year of New Things
“See, I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
Thanks to Christmas, we all end the year with new things—new toys for the kids, new clothes (not always the right color or size, but still new), new pounds on our bodies. We start the year off with new things, too—a new calendar on the wall, new bills to pay, and new resolutions for the days ahead.
Everybody likes new things, including God. He’s called the Ancient of Days, but He says, “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?” God begins His book with the story of His creating a new world; He ends it with His plans to make a new heaven and new earth.
Our heavenly Father wants to do new things in the lives of His children. He desires to teach us new truths about Himself, provide new opportunities for ministering to others, take us to higher levels of worship and deeper levels of trust. But too often we’re like the Israelites when they were traveling in the wilderness.
God promised to provide for them by raining down bread from heaven six days a week. He instructed them to gather only enough manna for each day, except for the day before the Sabbath when they were allowed to store up two days’ worth. When some of the people disobeyed and tried to hoard extra manna, it became rotten and full of worms by the next morning.
I’m like that sometimes. God wants to do new, fresh things in my life and in my ministry for Him. But often I try to hold on to yesterday’s stale manna. I don’t want to let go of what is comfortable and familiar—some old way of thinking, a certain way of doing things, my usual area of service to Him. I may miss new and exciting things God has planned for me if I don’t fully trust His guidance, even when He seems to be leading me down unfamiliar paths.
One of the best ways to keep our faith fresh and new is to develop a habit of daily Bible study. God’s Word is timeless—old and new at the same time. Just as God’s “compassions are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23), a daily dose of His Word can give us new understanding, fresh insights, and renewed strength.
We can drink in the Psalms to help us “sing to the Lord a new song” (33:3 and others). We read in Ezekiel about God’s promise to give us “a new heart and a new spirit” (chapters 11, 18, 36). We rejoice along with Paul as he declares, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Studying the letters of Colossians and Ephesians reminds us that we have taken off our “old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9) and are to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:24 (NIV).
If we need motivation to live like a new creation, God has provided two keys in His Word. It’s important to look backward to the New Covenant, the source of our salvation. We can meditate on Hebrews and thank God again that the sacrifice of Jesus made “a new and living way” for us to enter His presence Hebrews 10:19-22 (NIV). And we also keep looking forward to our future by reading Revelation. We can find comfort in thinking about the time when God will right all wrongs, heal all hurts, and give us a new name and a new home.
A good way for a child of God to celebrate the New Year is to let go of anything that has gone stale or rotten. Then we’ll be free to live each day expecting new, fresh things from the One Who promises, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:5 (NIV).
Streams in the Desert – January 1
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
The land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valleys and drinketh water of the rain of heaven; a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)
Today, dear friends, we stand upon the verge of the unknown. There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to possess it. Who can tell what we shall find? What new experiences, what changes shall come, what new needs shall arise? But here is the cheering, comforting, gladdening message from our Heavenly Father, “The Lord thy God careth for it.”
All our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that shall never dry; here are fountains and streams that shall never be cut off. Here anxious one, is the gracious pledge of the Heavenly Father. If He be the Source of our mercies they can never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, “the streams whereof make glad the city of God.”
The land is a land of hills and valleys. It is not all smooth nor all down hill. If life were all one dead level the dull sameness would oppress us; we want the hills and the valleys. The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah, so it is grace and brings down the shower of blessing; the hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down showers. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have lived and thriven in the hill-country; how many would have been killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree and fruit but for the hill- stern, hard, rugged, so steep to climb. God’s hills are a gracious protection for His people against their foes!
We cannot tell what loss and sorrow and trial are doing. Trust only. The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our way today. It shall be a good, a blessed new year!
He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.
He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o’er clouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on.
–Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf
“Having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia … they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them.” – Acts 16:6-7 NASB
Paul had a clear mission: to spread the Gospel, follow God’s call, and deliver His messages. Throughout his journeys, he developed confidence that God was guiding him – until he approached Troas (in modern-day Turkey). Suddenly, God blocked every move. As a result, Paul didn’t know what to do or where to go. He faced a future filled with unknowns.
He could have given in to frustration and doubt. But, just in time, God spoke to him in a vision and told him to go to Macedonia. This was a new direction but clearly God’s will. Looking back, Paul could see why He had blocked his path. God wanted him to do something different than he had planned.
God may block our path for reasons we don’t understand at times. We may not have His peace. Doors may close in ways we didn’t expect. We simply may not know exactly where to go.
When this happens, we need to remember Paul’s example. Start by being faithful to what God has revealed. Obey His Word and the direction we have received. Always be sensitive to His Spirit. Pray and seek Him until we have His peace and He confirms His direction.
Remember, God is with you right now. Commit your way to Him. Be confident that He will guide you. Have faith that He will supply your needs and direct your steps.
A New Year’s benediction
By: Charles Spurgeon
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10
Suggested Further Reading: Revelation 21:1-6
Oh, beloved, when you hear of Christ, when you know that this grace comes through Christ, and the calling through Christ, and the glory through Christ, then you say, “Lord, I can believe it now, if it is through Christ.” It is not a hard thing to believe that Christ’s blood was sufficient to purchase every blessing for me. If I go to God’s treasury without Christ, I am afraid to ask for anything, but when Christ is with me I can then ask for everything. For sure I think he deserves it, though I do not. If I can claim his merits then I am not afraid to plead. Is perfection too great a boon for God to give to Christ? No. Is the keeping, the stability, the preservation of the blood-bought ones too great a reward for the terrible agonies and sufferings of the Saviour? No. Then we may with confidence plead, because everything comes through Christ. I would in concluding make this remark. I wish, my brothers and sisters, that during this year you may live nearer to Christ than you have ever done before. Depend upon it, it is when we think much of Christ that we think little of ourselves, little of our troubles, and little of the doubts and fears that surround us. Begin from this day, and may God help you. Never let a single day pass over your head without a visit to the garden of Gethsemane, and the cross of Calvary. And as for some of you who are not saved, and know not the Redeemer, I would to God that this very day you would come to Christ.
For meditation: The New Year may not always be as “Happy” as we would wish, but the Christian is blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3) and can look forward to a “Blessed New Year” throughout the problems that may come.