1. Happy New Year
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." Revelation 21:1-6
A New Year, 2012, has come. I have often thought of Revelation 21:6 as a New Year's verse because it speaks of the "Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." As I began reading in this chapter I noticed all the things that are described as "new". John saw a "new heaven and a new earth". He also saw "the holy city, new Jerusalem". He describes a new life when God shall wipe away all our tears and "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Then we come to verse 5, "And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." Are you looking for a new beginning? Look to the One who makes all things new. Let's dedicate this year as a year of worship and service to the One who makes all things new, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Happy New Year!
2. A New Creature
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." II Corinthians 5:17
Our introduction opened with Revelation 21:1-6, the new heaven and new earth, the new city of Jerusalem, and a new life without pain or sorrow. How can we enter into this new life? By trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. Would you like to start this New Year as a new creature? You can have rejoice when all things become new in your life. This new life is as easy as A, B, C. A -- Admit that you are a lost sinner. Romans 3:23 tells us "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" and Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) B -- Believe and C -- Confess, as we are told in Romans 10:9-"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." You can be a new creature, and have this new life, and have a very Happy New Year!
3. Sing A New Song
"Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." Psalm 33:3
"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:3
"O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth." Psalm 96:1
"O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory." Psalm 98:1
"I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee." Psalm 144:9
"Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints." Psalm 149:1
Our Christmas play told the stories of many of our favorite old Christmas carols. Many were written and sung during times of great adversity. We enjoy singing the old hymns and songs at our church, songs that have given hope and joy through the ages. Some songs become so familiar that we can sing all the words. This may cause us to sing without really thinking about what we are singing. It may help to read the words to that great old song, "Rescue The Perishing" or "Nothing But The Blood". It is also good to sing new songs, so that we listen to the words with our ears and our heart. I have listed several verses above where the Psalmist reminds us to sing a new song unto the Lord. He implores us to sing out loud and others may hear it and trust in the Lord. Sing some new songs to the Lord, but don't quit singing the old songs. Listen to the words as you sing and sing unto the Lord.
4. Jesus Taught A New Doctrine
"And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him." Mark 1:27
The books of Matthew and Luke open with the Christmas story, but Mark jumps right into His ministry. Mark tells of His baptism and how Jesus called James and John "And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes." (Mark 1:21-22) The people of Capernaum could tell that there was something different about Jesus. They did not know at the time, but Jesus did have authority. He had the authority of God because He is God. His "new doctrine" was a Light to a darkened world. His "new doctrine" brought water to a thirsty land. Still today, His "new doctrine" brings peace to a troubled soul and salvation to the lost. Are you searching for hope and peace? Are you tired of looking to the world for all the answers? You can find help in the Lord. The Word of God can give you a new peace and assurance of hope that you will never find anywhere else. If you have a Bible, read in the book of John and find Jesus, the Light of the world, and the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You can find His doctrine in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
5. A New Commandment
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35
All through the Old Testament God's people lived under the law. These words were spoken in the upper room just after Jesus washed the disciples' feet. They knew the law and commandments. Jesus gave them an example of how they should love and serve others when He humbled Himself to the duty of a servant as He washed the disciple's feet. Jesus knew that His time on earth would soon be finished. He reminded His close friends that He loved them and asked them to love one another. Let His words speak the same message to you today, and throughout the New Year. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
6. The New Testament
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:26-28
Last summer we had a Bible study with the youth at church and we began with the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. We discussed a little about each book and worked our way through the Old Testament and then through the New Testament. The Old Testament has several covenants between God and mankind. God never failed, but man has a sinful nature and could not keep the laws and commandments of God. Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to be the sacrifice and He offered Himself to pay our sin debt. The sacrifices of the Old Testament ended. The prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled. Jesus gave us the New Testament filled with mercy and grace.
7. A New Way
"And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old. And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved." Luke 5:36-38
The religious leaders of Jesus' day, the scribes and Pharisees, did not like the teachings of Jesus and often questioned His doctrine. At this point in our scriptures Jesus had called Matthew (also knows as Levi), to follow Him and Matthew made a great feast and many publicans were present. The scribes and Pharisees murmured to the disciples that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners. "And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 3:31-32) Then they asked why the disciples did not fast like John's disciples and Jesus told them the parable above. Jesus explained that you don't take a part off a new garment to repair an old garment, or both are ruined. He did not come to mend the old law, but to bring a new way. "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;" (Hebrews 10:18-20) I have stated several times this week in these studies that Jesus became our sacrifice. We do not have to offer lambs to pay for our sin. He made a new way, and all we have to do is trust Him and follow His way. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6)
8. Put On The New Man
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24
"But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Colossians 3:8-15
The Epistles of the New Testament were written to the early believers to help guide them to living a Christian life. In our two examples above the Apostle Paul exhorts the early church to "put off" the old man with the sinful living, and "put on" the new man and be like Christ. When we get up in the morning and get ready to go to work we don't put our clothes over the top of our pajamas. We first take off the old dirty clothes, then put on our new clothes. At the end of a long day, again we take off the clothes that have become dirty with our living and working, and put on clean clothes. Paul tells us to put off anger and put on kindness. We are to put off wrath and malice and put on longsuffering and forgiving one another. Above all, he exhorts us to put on charity, or love, as we saw earlier this week. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35
9. A New King
"And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." Exodus 1:6-8
Last week we looked at the new life we have in Jesus Christ and several of the new things He fulfilled with His life and death. Now I want to look back in the Old Testament to the very first time "new" is used in the Bible. Abraham was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Jacob, whom God named Israel. He was the father of twelve sons, one being Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery and under the providence of God he became a ruler in Egypt. "And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou." (Genesis 41:38-40) But Joseph died and Pharaoh died. "Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph." (Exodus 1:8) This Pharaoh put the Israelites under heavy bondage and they served the Egyptians until God led them out by the hand of Moses. Things were going well for the children of Israel until the new king took over. Sometimes things seem to go well in our jobs, our homes, our communities, our lives. Then a new leader arises that doesn't know our work history, our integrity, our God. That one little change may send us on a sudden curve for the worse. We need to pray for our leaders. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:1-4)
10. A New House
"When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence." Deuteronomy 22:8
When we think of the law of the Children of Israel, we usually think of the Ten Commandments, but there were many other laws also. Much of the books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are filled with laws for daily living, sacrifices, cleanliness, and duty. The example above is a law for safety living. The Israelites had flat roofs which may have been for fellowship in good weather, or used for drying fruits such as figs. Rahab hid the spies among stalks of flax on the roof. (Joshua 2:6) The commandment insures that when building a new house there was to be a raised barrier around the roof, just as we would put a rail around a high porch or balcony. This shows that God is concerned with all aspects of our lives. When we read the Bible we may not understand all the laws, but each is recorded for a reason. God has commanded us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That means that a Christian should not date a person that is not saved. A person may get tired of waiting to find the right Christian mate but will be sorry if he or she does not follow God's will. We need to seek the Lord's will in all aspects of our lives and trust His Word. "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him." Proverbs 30:5
11. A New Wife
"When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken." Deuteronomy 24:5
Yesterday we looked at one of the Jewish laws concerning building a new house. Today we see a very unusual law about a new wife. I believe that this law shows that God is concerned about marriage and the family unit. After a couple was newly married, the husband could not go to war or be charged with any business which carried him away from home for one year. He was to stay home and "cheer up his wife". That seems like a strange law to us, but look at the essence of the law. It shows how important it is for a new marriage relationship that the couple spend time together. We live in such a fast paced world today that many family members seldom see one another. Our work and play carry us away at various hours of the day and night. It is important to our families that we spend time together. Communication is very important in a relationship, and even though we have cell phones and can "reach out and touch someone" at any time, that is still not the same as personal communication and touch. It would probably help all of our family relationships if we tried to "cheer up" one another. That would be a good New Year's resolution... try to cheer up someone each day. I think that it would not only help the person we try to encourage, but it would give us a greater peace and joy. Have a happy day!
12. A New Thing
"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19
We are living in troubled times. Many have lost their jobs in our area, and more continue to lose their jobs as companies go under. I have changed my way of spending since losing my job eight months ago. I am thankful to God above for providing our needs. When we needed money last month to finish paying our property taxes I prayed that God would send us the money somehow. When our children were small God often supplied our needs through unexpected sources. Mike sat down to balance his checkbook and found that he was out of balance several hundred dollars. He had forgotten to put down one of the deposits. I had to praise the Lord for supplying our need. If he had written down the deposit, we probably would have spent it on Christmas gifts. But, as it turned out, we had it at just the right time. Let's read our verse above again. "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." You may need help from God. It may be financial, but it could be physical or spiritual. You may not see an answer to your problems, but God's Word says, "Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." God can make a way through your wilderness and He can bring up rivers of living water in your desert.
13. A New Hope
"And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD." Lamentations 3:18-26
Yesterday we talked about God bringing a new thing to help us through troubled times. Jeremiah begins this chapter in Lamentations describing great trouble. "I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He hath led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light." (Lamentations 3:1-2) When we reach verse 18 Jeremiah confesses, "My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD:" He seems to have lost all hope. Then he remembers God's faithfulness. He remembers that God is merciful and full of compassion. "This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." The Lord's mercy is new every morning. Each new day that we awaken we can praise the Lord for His merciful protection through the night. Each new day that we are able to get up in the morning we can praise the Lord for His merciful strength. Each new day that we wake up in a warm house with food to eat we can thank the Lord for His merciful provision. Don't lose hope. Trust in the Lord's mercy and compassion. "They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD."
14. New gods
"They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?" Judges 5:8
The first two phrases in this verse is a good summation of the book of Judges, "They chose new gods; then was war in the gates..." This is explained in Judges 2:12-16. "And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger. And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless the LORD raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them." This cycle is repeated over and over throughout the book of Judges. The Children of Israel served other gods, and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies, and when they cried out to God, He sent a judge to deliver them. I serve the one and only true and living God. There are many today who serve new gods of their choosing. I am not just talking about the other religions. The things we put first in our lives, things we devote our time, energy, and money to posess can come between us and God. If we are not careful we can worship our work or our play, or even our loved ones. When the Lord saves us we love Him with all our heart, but if we are not careful we can become as the church of Ephesus of which Christ says, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." (Revelation 2:4) Don't let those little "g" gods bring war into your gates this year. Follow the great commandment of our Lord. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)
15. A New Tomb
"When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch." Matthew 27:57-66
I guess Satan was rejoicing about this time. He thought he had Jesus, after being crucified and sealed in a new tomb. He even had guards around the tomb. We can read the next chapter and see what happened to those guards. "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay." (Matthew 28:2-6) A new tomb could not hold the Lord. The chief priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus said He would rise again the third day. The angels reminded the women that Jesus had told them He would rise again. When the angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone I don't think he did this to let Jesus out. I think he rolled back the stone to show us that the Lord had risen. This is why we have a new hope. This is our new covenant and new testament. He is the new way and He has the power to make all things new. And one day those who trust in Him will see the new heaven and new earth. Give your heart to Jesus and you can be a new creature in Christ Jesus. Happy New Year!