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New Beginnings

 

New Beginnings

LifeSword Devotional

“God’s Word For Life’s Battles”

 

 

C A T H Y B R Y A N T

author of the Miller’s Creek Novels

 

 

 

WordVessel Press

31 Days of New Beginnings – Monthly Devotional

Copyright Cathy Bryant, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941699-11-9

This book is also available in print.

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission from Cathy Bryant or WordVessel Press

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Day 1: All Things New

Day 2: New Beginnings

Day 3: A New Song

Day 4: Beginnings & Endings

Day 5: Fear of the LORD is a Beginning

Day 6: Creation & Renewal

Day 7: Renewed Youth

Day 8: Restoration

Day 9: Back to Life

Day 10: The Great Exchange

Day 11: Reviving Spirits and Hearts

Day 12: Letting Go of the Past

Day 13: Looking Forward

Day 14: New and Improved

Day 15: Out With the Old, In With the New

Day 16: Forever and Better Life

Day 17: A Renewed Mind

Day 18: Daily Renewal

Day 19: From Caterpillar to Butterfly?

Day 20: Restoring Others

Day 21: Cooperating With God’s “New”

Day 22: Moving Forward

Day 23: Standing Up Under the Load

Day 24: Eyes On The Prize

Day 25: In His Steps

Day 26: Our Main Goal

Day 27: Goals & Actions

Day 28: Commit Your Way

Day 29: In Step With His Spirit

Day 30: Wisdom & Guidance for the Journey

Day 31: Faithful

Ministry Support

About Cathy

Cathy’s Books

 

 

 

DAY 1: All Things New

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making all things new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:5

 

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t do old? How exciting to think that He makes all things new! From the very first sunrise in the garden of Eden to the new heavens and new earth that awaits us, our Lord is in the business of new.

 

New years, new months, new weeks, new days, new hours, new minutes, new seconds. Every moment of every day is another chance to experience the new He brings. Sometimes that might require a mental adjustment on our part.

 

Are we willing to put on fresh eyes, rather than seeing the world through our jaded experiences? Will we do what we can to experience the newness He so wants to bring into our lives?

 

As a young teacher, there was nothing like the start of a new school year to get me motivated to make changes and do a better job—not just in teaching—but in all areas of my life. It was as if a fresh page of notebook paper had been handed me from on high, begging me to write the next chapter of my life in bigger strokes and brighter colors.

 

And I feel the same way about a new year or a new opportunity or springtime.

 

So as we begin this 31-day spiritual journey together, let me encourage us all to meditate on the truth that our God makes all things new. In addition to new, we’ll also look at beginnings, a close relative of new and another specialty of our amazing God.

 

Let’s begin our journey into new with a prayer.

 

Father God, how grateful we are that You make all things new. As we journey through the newness that only comes from You, help us to lay aside the dingy glasses through which we tend to see the world. Help us to focus on You, Your goodness, and the newness that is ours for the taking. Thank You for this opportunity to see You with fresh eyes and to make this journey with others. In the precious name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: In what ways can you allow the new God brings into your life to transform not only you, but to make a difference in the lives of those around you? What are some ways in which you’ve experienced how our God makes all things new?

 

DAY 2: New Beginnings

 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. -Genesis 1:1

 

Have you ever stopped to ponder the miracle of that first beginning? And does it bring you to a place of awe—like it does me—that the Maker of the beginning has no beginning or end? He simply is.

 

No wonder God answered with the words “I AM” when Moses asked His name. He always has been. He is. He always will be.

 

That is the very essence of the God who began time by speaking the heavens and the earth into being.

 

But as miraculous as that first beginning was and is, God didn’t stop there. He is the God of new beginnings.

 

Don’t believe me? Just Ask Adam and Eve, who in spite of their sin and dismissal from Paradise, were given a fresh start. Or ask Abraham, who in spite of a God-given promise, in impatience took matters into his own hands, starting a war between brothers that continues to this day. Or ask Moses, on the run from his adoptive family for murdering an Egyptian. Or King David, who in spite of being a man after God’s own heart, committed adultery and then murder to cover up his wrongdoing.

 

The Bible is chock-full of example after example of men and women who messed up, but were given a fresh beginning. A do-over. Another chance.

 

I say all that to say this. As much as we might long to be perfect, we are not. Sometimes we mess up. The ugly word for it is sin. Like it or not, we are all sinners, and we will be until the day that God makes us new in His kingdom.

 

If you’re struggling to get over a past sin or a pet sin—if you can’t forgive yourself and assume God won’t either—if the enemy of our souls constantly hurls accusations your way, there is still hope. And it’s found through Jesus Christ. If we come to God through Him, truly repentant and working hard to turn ourselves around, we can trust that our God does indeed give us a new beginning.

 

Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You are a God of new beginnings. That our mess-ups—our sin—is no match for Your forgiveness. Father, at those times when we struggle against sin and the accuser, help us to whole-heartedly turn back to You as our only help and hope. We praise You for being a God of second chances. Thank You for what Jesus did for us at the cross. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What sin do you need to confess to God, turning back to Him and away from your sin? How can you help others who might be struggling with the lingering after-effects of sin?

 

DAY 3: A New Song

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. -Psalm 40:3

 

So far in our 31-day journey of new beginnings, we’ve seen that our God makes all things new and that He is a God of new beginnings, even though He is without beginning or end. Today we will see the result of the new beginnings He brings: a new song of praise.

 

There was a time in my life when, like David who wrote Psalm 40, I felt stuck in a slimy pit of mud and mire. I knew where I had to turn, and I did. But for whatever reason—maybe to see if I was truly repentant, or perhaps to test my faith—God made me wait.

 

Waiting is never easy. It sometimes makes us question whether God has forgotten our name and address. It can even make us doubt His love. But waiting can also remove the dross from our lives, leaving behind a better and stronger faith and relationship with God.

 

But the absolute best thing about waiting is when God finally answers. We actually feel Him lifting us up from the slimy pit of despair and setting our feet on the Rock of Jesus, giving us firm footing for the first time in what seems like forever.

 

Then it happens.

 

Out of love for Him and gratitude for His mercy and grace, a new song of praise bursts forth from our hearts and lips. Our muddy and miry mess morphs into a message, and our troublesome test turns to testimony.

 

But the most wonderful part is that others hear our new song and place their trust in Him.

 

Friend, if you are in a season of despair, wait patiently in expectant hope for the Lord. He alone can bring forth a new song from the darkest night, using hard times for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory, causing many to believe in our great and mighty God.

 

Lord God, there is no one like You. Thank You for lifting us from the pit of despair, for hearing our cry, for moving on our behalf. Thank You for the sure-footing we have in the Rock that is Christ. Lord, may our hearts move us to sing forth Your praise in a new song that brings many souls to Your Kingdom. In the name of the Rock we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Do you know someone suffering from a season of despair? How can you encourage them today?

 

DAY 4: Beginnings & Endings

In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end. –Psalm 102:25-27

 

There is one thing of which we can be certain. Everything that has a beginning in this old world in which we live also has an ending.

 

It started with the fall of man. At the very moment that human sin entered Paradise, death became the ending for our beginning.

 

One day the foundations God laid at the creation of the world will crumble. The intricate handiwork He created in the heavens will roll up like a scroll. They will perish and die. Like a worn and tattered garment, God will change them out, discarding what once was.

 

As scary as that might sound, for those who place their faith in Him, we can rest assured that when He changes out those old clothes, they will be for brand new ones. Why?

 

Because God is forever the same. The big word for that characteristic of God is immutability. He does new, remember?

 

Big words aside, doesn’t it bring such comfort to know that in spite of old and death and perishing, our God doesn’t change? Because He is changeless, we have hope that just as He created before, He will create again. We can be certain that new beginnings lie ahead with our changeless God in charge.

 

Oh, Creator of the universe who laid the foundations of the earth,—because of sin and the resulting curse of death, this planet on which we live will one day crumble away to nothingness. One day You will roll up Your heavenly handiwork that declares Your glory, and put it away forever. Like old clothes, our current earth will be thrown away. That would be a frightening experience, except for one thing. Though all else around us fades away and wears out, You are forever and always the same. We praise You, our God of new beginnings, for You alone are unchanging. In Your Son’s precious name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How does knowing that our God is forever the same, without beginning or end, impact you? How can you pass that hope on to someone who needs it?

 

DAY 5: Fear of the LORD is a Beginning

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise. -Psalm 111:10

 

While those who place their faith in God are commanded throughout His Word to “Fear not!”, there is one type of fear we should both welcome and develop. The Bible, in the above passage and in many other verses, tell us in no uncertain terms that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

 

I’ve heard preachers and Bible commentators say that the fear of God is more awe and respect than fright. I get that. I really do. But I also believe that as Sovereign Lord of the universe, we should also have a little healthy fright built into our relationship with God.

 

Think about it this way. Did you ever play with matches when you were a little kid, even after being told not to do so? For those of us who gave way to the temptation, we quickly learned—the hard way—that fire was something to be feared and treated with healthy respect.

 

Charles Spurgeon had this to say about fearing God: “Pay to him humble childlike reverence, walk in his laws, have respect to his will, tremble to offend him, hasten to serve him. Fear not the wrath of men, neither be tempted to sin through the virulence of their threats; fear God and fear nothing else.”

 

For me, the fear of God has been something that has developed in my life as I age and my relationship with the Lord grows. I’ve experienced His discipline and the darkness that separation from Him brings—a fear-inducing situation, and one to which I never want to return.

 

Though I’m sorry and ashamed of the sin that took me to that place, I’m grateful the Lord used it to teach me to fear Him. That fear is the beginning of wisdom, a beginning we all sorely need.

 

Lord God, You are truly too great and awesome for our finite minds to fully comprehend. Teach us not to fear anything or anyone but You. In the crazy and mixed-up world in which we live, it seems that people have it all backwards, with no fear of you, but fear of everything and everyone else. Show us how to get it right. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Digging Deeper: Further study of God’s Word on the subject reveals the following:

1. Reverential fear of God is commanded. (See Deuteronomy 10:12; 13:4; Joshua 4:24; 24:14; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Isaiah 8:13; Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 1:7; 2:17.)

2. Fear of God: is a good thing (1 Samuel 12:14); brings God’s direction/instruction (Psalm 25:12); brings God’s goodness and mercy (Psalm 31:9; 103:13; 147:11; Proverbs 1:7; Luke 1:50); and brings God’s acceptance (Acts 10:35).

 

DAY 6: Creation & Renewal

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. -Psalm 50:10

 

We didn’t intend for it to happen. Not this way, and not at all.

 

But one day we came to our senses and realized that we had gone astray. Wandered off the course marked out for us. Left the side of the Shepherd who is our provider and protector.

 

When this happens, what do we do to rectify the situation?

 

We scramble back to God, pleading for Him to change our wayward and wandering hearts, begging for the ability to be more steadfast.

 

The man after God’s own heart, King David, did the same. He had stolen the wife of another man, then tried to cover up that sin. When Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, proved too righteous to give in to the cover-up, David had him moved to the front of the battle and then called for the rest of the army to retreat.

 

It’s easy to think things like: Well, my sin wasn’t all that bad. It was just a little white lie. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to do it.

 

We all have our rationalizations, justifications, and excuses. And not one of them holds water.

 

If we sin against God in the slightest way, it is still sin, which brings separation and death.

 

So why did King David pen the words above? Because he knew that the only help for his sinful condition was God. Only Someone as powerful as the Creator of the universe has the ability to create a pure heart from a sinful one and can renew that right spirit within us.

 

And if He did it for David, there’s hope for us as well.

 

Lord God, not one of us is worthy of Your love, goodness, and forgiveness, but still You love us. You proved it at the cross when You allowed Your perfect Son to die in our place, as Your prescribed way of bringing lost and fallen mankind back to You. Thank You. Lord. When we fall, may we be quick to turn back to You, yearning for You to create in us a pure heart and steadfast spirit. In the holy and perfect name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Do you often find yourself justifying sin? Does that approach work? What is a better alternative?

 

DAY 7: Renewed Youth

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. -Psalm 103:2-5

 

When we’re young, we all seem to have a bit of Superman Syndrome. You know what I mean, that feeling that you’re invincible? That everyone else will age and grow old, but you’ll stay young your entire life? I first learned I wasn’t invincible the day I turned forty. On the last day of thirty-nine I felt young and healthy, but I woke up on the first day of forty with a need for reading glasses and aches and pains I’d never had before.

 

All joking aside, apart from God, we’re hopeless and helpless. But with Him? Well, let’s just say we’re blessed. His benefit program is like none other! First, He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases. I love that these two are listed like they’re one and the same. Why? Well, because they are! Our sin is a genetic disease passed down from our parents, which we in turn pass on to our children. God’s forgiveness is the ultimate healing!

 

Secondly, He redeems our life from the pit. “Redeem” is a financial term, meaning to buy back. From the cross of Calvary Christ purchased us for God. Our sin results in the wages of death, but by the blood of Jesus we’ve been redeemed from sin and death.

 

As if these weren’t enough, God also crowns us with love and compassion. Wow! What a sobering and astounding thought! His love and compassion becomes a tiara on our heads. And just as jaw-dropping, God satisfies our desires with good things.

 

The result of all these benefits? Our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Now before you go all Superman on me, let me remind you that as long as we live on this cursed earth, we will experience the side effects of our genetic sin disease. We will age. We will feel those aches and pains in increasing number with each birthday. It’s our hearts and spirits that will experience that youthful vigor.

 

Because of God and His Son Jesus, what has been accomplished for us is like money in the bank. It’s a done deal, so real and certain that the psalmist proclaims it as if it had already happened. One day we’ll breathe our last on earth and take our first breath in heaven, where there is no pain, death, dying, or crying. Our youth will be renewed. Who needs Superman?

 

Lord God, how great are Your benefits! And we deserve none of them. They’re ours because of Your goodness and mercy. Thank You that one day we will have renewed youth in Your Kingdom. Thank You for sending Jesus to redeem us from sin and death. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What are some other benefits of belonging to God that you are especially aware of today? Do you know someone who needs to hear about all God’s benefits?

 

 

DAY 8: Restoration

 

The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. -Psalm 23:1-3a

 

Maybe it’s because those are the only types of houses we seem to be able to afford, but my husband and I always end up purchasing fixer-uppers. You know, those houses with more potential than actual charm. Though I may grouch and grumble during the lengthy, exhausting, and expensive process, at the end of it all, I appreciate the transformation that has taken place.

 

God has used multiple fixer-uppers in our life together to teach me truth about the restoration process.

 

First off, just as there is no such thing as a house without something that needs fixing, there is no human soul that isn’t in need of restoration. Secondly, restoration is a process which involves considerable time, effort, and expense. God must love us an awful lot, because He willingly took the time and effort to develop the perfect plan in restoring mankind. But more importantly, He spared no expense in offering up His One and Only Son.

 

The last truth is one that takes me somewhat by surprise. With each and every home we’ve restored, we saw some sort of potential in the house from the very beginning, a nugget of value that caught our eye and imagination, and made us say, “There’s something about this one…”

 

Friends, as our Creator, God knows our potential. We may be a run-down heap of a shack, but our Father looks on us with love, probes a little deeper, then raises His head with a twinkle in His eye and says, “There’s something about this one.”

 

And so the restoration work begins. It’s often painful as the old is stripped away and the new is put in place. And we usually aren’t too aware that we’ve changed all that much. But one day, on the other side of glory, we’ll realize that God has taken this old house and restored it to the purpose and plan God intended all along.

 

Only He can restore our souls.

 

Father God, thank You for loving us enough to see the potential, rather than the time, effort, and expense. May we never forget that our restoration came at such a high price. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What other comparisons can you make between the restoration of houses and the restoration of souls?

 

DAY 9: Back to Life

 

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. -Psalm 19:7a

 

As I thought through the truth of today’s devotional, I realized that paramedics and doctors often have to revive, or bring back to life, those in need of their services.

 

It is exactly the same in a spiritual sense. Even those of us who already belong to the Lord often need the “life” breathed back into us. Sometimes it’s just that we’ve let our hearts grow cold. Or maybe it’s the pressures of life that leave us feeling like road kill.

 

Whatever the reason for our near-death status, revival is of utmost importance.

 

And now that I think about it, this near-death experience extends to our churches and our nation as well.

 

Simply put, we need revival.

 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that our hope as a nation lies in the next person we elect as President. But the truth is that no human being, apart from God’s help, can correctly govern a nation and lead them well.

 

It’s also easy to assume that our paid church staff should be the ones who see to it that our hearts for God stay alive. But in all honesty, their responsibility as under-shepherds can’t encompass the hundreds and thousands of wayward human hearts under their charge without our Almighty God’s intervention.

 

And sadly, we often think revival is something that other people need, not us. That’s a sure sign that it’s our heart that needs an electric jolt.

 

When it comes to revival, let us be like English evangelist Rodney ‘Gypsy’ Smith, who said this when asked how to bring revival: “Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle around yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.”

 

Oh, God, it’s us standing in the need of prayer and revival. Breathe Your life back into us again and revive us—as individuals, as Your church, as a nation. We need fresh wind and fresh fire to spur us on to be Your people. So Lord, bring revival, and let it begin in me. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Why do you think it has been so long since our nation and the world has experienced a large area revival? What will it take on our part to bring about that sort of revival?

 

DAY 10: The Great Exchange

 

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah 40:31

 

If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that my human strength is puny in every sense of the word. Yes, there are things I can accomplish in my own strength, but the results are never as good as when I depend on God’s strength.

 

In this familiar and much-loved passage from Isaiah, we learn the secret of renewed strength, which actually means to exchange our strength for God’s.

 

Hope.

 

The human meaning of hope is so weak and meaningless. When we hope for something that way, it’s a wimpy wishing with no way of knowing if it will come to pass.

 

The Biblical meaning of hope is altogether different. It’s an expectant waiting on God to move. And our hope in Him is never misplaced. He is in all ways able to accomplish anything. Nothing is impossible with Him.

 

So if in the midst of your current life circumstances, you long to soar on eagle’s wings—if you yearn to walk and run without growing weary or faint—the best thing you can do is to wait on Him. Expectant faith in His ability to do above all that we ask or imagine will result in the greatest exchange rate in the history of mankind: exchanging your puny human strength for His infallible strength. That’s a bargain none of us can afford to pass up.

 

Lord God, Your Word challenges us to live a life of faith. Help us to remember to expectantly hope in You, waiting in faith that you are able to do more than we ask or imagine. Thank You that nothing is impossible for You. Our hearts sing Your praise for the ability to soar on the wings of eagles as Your strength becomes our own. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How do you think we should spend our time waiting on God—passively or actively? Why?

 

DAY 11: Reviving Spirits and Hearts

 

For this is what the high and lofty One says—He who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” -Isaiah 57:15

 

Comfort floods my entire being at reading these words. God is with us. Isn’t that the greatest gift of Christmas? Knowing that through the birth of Christ—Emmanuel—God is with us.

 

As an introverted writer, I am by nature a loner. But there is One whose Presence I never want to be without. Several years ago, I took a road trip in early spring to see an abundant wildflower season of bluebonnets, Indian paint brush, and field daisies in the Hill Country of Central Texas. When I arrived back at home in East Texas, a friend made the comment that she wished she didn’t mind travelling alone.

 

I thought to myself how much I preferred it, at least occasionally, as it gave me time to think and to be on my own schedule. But most of all, it gave me time alone with God as my only companion. That is a gift I wouldn’t trade for a whole car-full of companions.

 

The all-holy and eternal God lives in the high places of the heavens, yet He also makes His dwelling among men. And according to the above passage, He also lives with those of humble spirits and repentant hearts.

 

But there’s also a bonus! Not only does He tabernacle and pitch His tent among mankind, but by doing so, His presence with us revives, or breathes life back into, our spirits and hearts. A double blessing, to be sure.

 

Lord, we thank You for Your willingness to dwell among us as sinful men. Help us to maintain a humble spirit and contrite heart, so that we might enjoy the blessings of Your Presence with us. How comforting it is to know that there is no place we go where You are not. May we live out our days in constant awareness of You right there beside us. In the holy name of Jesus—God with us—we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How does knowing that God is with you impact your life? What do you sense God’s Spirit leading you to do in order to fully experience His Presence?

 

DAY 12: Letting Go of the Past

 

“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.” -Isaiah 43:18-19

 

I can only speak for myself, but the one thing that tends to trip me up the most is the past. Past mistakes, past successes, past places, past people. But in this verse, God clearly tells us to forget the past and not let our minds dwell there. Why does He tell us this?

 

Because we are created to live in the present. The past is behind. It’s done. No amount of thinking or dwelling on the past will take us back there. All we have is the present and our expectant hope in God and His plans and purposes for our future.

 

A story is told of a monkey who put his hand into a jar to grab a handful of peanuts. But when he tried to withdraw his hand, the size of his balled-up fist prevented him from bringing the nuts out of the jar and to his mouth.

 

The same is true for us. If we hold too tightly to the past, we will never enjoy or fully experience the present. Nor will we be able to hope for the future if we’re tied up in the past.

 

Lest we think that this is a problem particular to modern-day humanity, let me refresh our memories. Remember what happened to the young nation of Israel after God delivered them from slavery in the land of Egypt? It didn’t take long for them to begin grumbling and complaining and longing for the food they had there.

 

Rather than enjoying the gift of freedom God had granted them in the present, they preferred past slavery.

 

The lesson for us is this. If we want to live a life of faith fully in the present, we must completely let go of anything from our past, moving forward in hopeful expectation of God’s plans for us now and in the future.

 

Jehovah-jireh, our God who provides, thank You that You are doing a new thing. Help us to remember that moving ahead in faith with You requires that we let go of the past. We pray that You’ll enable us to relinquish past mistakes, successes, places, and people, and move forward with You. Grant that we might perceive the new things You are doing in our midst. Even desert paths and wasteland wanderings are no match for You. In the name of Your Son Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What are some things from the past you need to relinquish in order to enjoy the present and God’s future for you?

 

DAY 13: Looking Forward

 

“Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” -Isaiah 65:17

 

Anticipation. Is there anything so thrilling and exciting than the anticipation of something good? Whether Christmas morning or a great meal, looking forward in anticipation is a pleasant and joyful experience.

 

While God’s Word commands us to forget the past, it highly encourages us to look forward. And our greatest anticipation is our future with God in the new heavens and earth He has promised to create for those who trust Him.

 

As a former elementary music teacher, I always tried to include Black-American spirituals as part of the student’s curriculum. Why? Because the songs from this part of our nation’s history express a longing for and anticipation of a better place.

 

When life hands us heartache, the best thing we can do is look forward in expectation of what God is doing. This not only restores our hope and faith, but also brings great comfort. And when our brothers and sisters experience distressing situations, the best thing we can do for them is encourage them with God’s promise of better days ahead.

 

There is truly nothing like life’s woes to make us long for our true home.

 

And to whet your appetite for heaven even more, God says that the troubles of this life aren’t worthy to be compared to the glory that lies ahead. It will be far better than anything we can even imagine.

 

Thank You, Lord, for the promises in Your Word that give us such hope and encouragement. Help us to be mindful of the antidote to stressful situations: looking forward to Your creation of a new heaven and new earth. Your Word tells us that there are dark days ahead, but beyond that is the home we long for as aliens in enemy-occupied territory. We are so grateful for that glimmer of everlasting hope and joy: forever day after a lengthy night. May the troubles of this life focus our attention on You and Your promises. In the name of Jesus—who makes our heavenly reunion possible—we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Which Bible passage description of our long-awaited heavenly home gives you hope and encouragement today? How can you use this hope and encouragement to brighten another’s day?

 

DAY 14: New and Improved

 

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” -Hebrews 8:7-8

 

Modern-day advertising always has at least one product which makes the claim that it is new and improved. Then why was I paying good money for the old and unimproved version? In all actuality, the “new and improved” advertising label is just that. Yes, small improvements might have been made, but nothing on such a grand scale that anyone would notice.

 

But for believers, there is something that actually is new and improved, and that is our covenant with God.

 

In the old covenant which God made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai, the blood of animal sacrifices was required day in and day out for the remission of sin. The Law was given, which could not make men holy enough to be reconciled to God, because human beings are so flawed they cannot perfectly keep the law. In short, there was nothing about the old covenant that could save us. Instead, it only served to teach us that there is absolutely nothing we can do on our own to be “good enough” for Holy God.

 

But then God brought the new. And by “new,” I mean both new and improved.

 

Rather than the blood of thousands upon thousands of animal sacrifices, this new covenant was settled “once and for all” by Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Rather than a mercy seat, where once a year, a priest would enter to make atonement, through the death of Jesus, God ripped apart the veil that separated men from God, allowing us access to His throne of grace at any time. Rather than laws written on stone tablets and scrolls, God chose instead to write His moral code on the minds and hearts of men.

 

Once again, God proves that His new is actually improved. And because of this new covenant, we have new life.

 

Lord Jesus, how grateful we are that You gave up the splendor of heaven to be born as a helpless baby to peasant parents, all for the purpose of being sacrificed as the atonement for our sins. Thank You for Your love for us that prompted such an act of sheer grace. Lord, when we’re tempted to think that You don’t care about us, help us to remember the cross and the new covenant You’ve made with us through Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Digging Deeper: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:26-28; Matthew 26:28; Romans 11:26-27; Hebrews 8:13; 12:18-24

 

DAY 15: Out With the Old, In With the New

 

For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. -John 1:17

 

Have you ever tried to patch something old with something new? If you try to attach a new patch of fabric to an old garment, the patch will quickly shrink and tear away when washed. This of course lands us squarely where we first started: with a damaged piece of clothing. In addition, it has wasted a cut of new cloth.

 

Jesus used this same analogy when He tried to explain that the old and new covenants couldn’t be combined.

 

Isn’t that such a human thing to do? Rather than just following one or the other, let’s add the two together. That should surely be better!

 

The only problem? It doesn’t work.

 

Jesus also used the analogy of new wine in old wineskins. The new wine would make the old skins burst, wasting both the wine and the wineskins.

 

The Pharisees of Jesus’ day and the legalists of today both have the same problem. By trying to earn God’s grace through keeping the law, they both break the law (which is impossible for sinful men to keep perfectly) and annul God’s grace.

 

So let us avoid anything that smacks of earning our way into heaven. As Mark Twain so vividly explains: “Heaven goes by favor, not by merit. If it went by merit, you would stay out, and your dog would go in.”

 

Dear Father, forgive us for those times when we become self-righteous, attempting to earn favor with You that has already been won for us by Jesus. May we be ever mindful to flee our legalistic tendencies, and also keep us from imposing legalism on others. Thank You for ushering out the old by ushering in the new. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: In what ways are you sometimes tempted to try to earn your way into God’s good graces? In what ways do you sometimes attempt to impose legalism on others?

 

DAY 16: Forever and Better Life

 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. -1 John 1:1-2

 

God told them what to expect if they opted to disregard His warning.

 

Death.

 

And that’s just what happened when Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Beforehand, their existence was perfect and unmarred, as they lived, blissfully unaware of evil, in Paradise and perfect union with their Creator.

 

Death is the result of sin. It always has been and always will be.

 

That’s what makes the good news gospel of Jesus such great good news. Through His sacrifice, He conquered both sin and death, bringing with Him the opportunity for eternal and abundant life.

 

In John 1, we learn that Jesus was there in the beginning, the Word through which God spoke Creation into being. He is also described as being full of life, the same life God breathed into the nostrils of Adam. We also learn in the first chapter of John that Jesus and His life is the light which darkness and evil cannot extinguish. And that light He brought into the world was for our benefit, to help us see spiritual truth.

 

The life spoken of in both John 1 and 1 John 1 denotes both quantity and quality. After all, how good of a deal would it be if we had eternal life in our current sinful condition? Instead, God’s plan was to grant us new life in Jesus that was both abundant (quality) and forever (quantity.)

 

Praise be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

 

Savior and Lord, thank You for being the Word of God, the light of the world, and the abundant and eternal life! You are the best gift ever, and our words seem so inadequate in expressing our heartfelt gratitude. May we be ever thankful for the gift You are. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How does knowing that Jesus brought both abundant and eternal life impact you?

 

DAY 17: A Renewed Mind

 

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

 

Our God is in the renewal business. From the renewed youth we discussed on day seven to the renewed strength on day ten and on to today’s renewed mind, our Father is in the business of transforming us into the image of Christ and making us new.

 

It’s no secret that the world, the dominion of Satan, sometimes has sway over us. But we must remember Whose we are, and the great price with which He redeemed us. As this verse tells us, we must have a renewed mind to overcome conformity to the world and allow God to transform us.

 

God’s Word has so much to say about our minds, and from my own personal experience with spiritual warfare, my mind is the first place Satan attacks. No wonder that we need the helmet of salvation as part of our spiritual armor!

 

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, we read: We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

 

In Philippians 4:8, we’re encouraged to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (All words that describe Jesus!)

 

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, we learn that we have the mind of Christ.

 

In Romans 8:6, we are told that the mind of a sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

 

Are you starting to see the connection? We become what we think about. If we think on worldly things, our hearts and lives become worldly. But if we chain up those worldly thoughts, and choose instead to think on the things of God (a renewed mind), we become more and more like Christ, the number one objective of God concerning us. Our renewed mind is the only way in which we can discern His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

 

Oh, God, teach us to take our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ. Help us to recognize the schemes of the enemy in using our minds to gain a foothold in our lives. Instead, may we be quick to think on good things, heavenly things, Your things. We want to become like Jesus, so grant us the ability to think His thoughts and live them out before a dying and hurting world. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: In what ways do our thoughts determine the direction of our lives? What is the remedy?

 

DAY 18: Daily Renewal

 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. -2 Corinthians 4:16

 

I’ve been there. Have you?

 

That place where you’re not sure you can continue to put one foot in front of the other? Where your “get-up-and-go” has “got up and gone?”

 

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve come to God, completely dejected and unsure if I can keep going.

 

I know I’m not the only one. Job knew that depth of despair. So did Jonah. So did David.

 

So did Jesus.

 

But a miracle always occurs when I go to God with my despair. The same miracle evident in the psalms of David. One minute he’s pouring out his frustrations and calling down curses on his enemies, and in the next he’s at peace and strengthened by God to resume his journey.

 

I truly understand the miraculous turnaround, because I’ve seen it time and time again in my own life.

 

Paul knew this same kind of miracle. Though he was beaten, stoned, persecuted, hungry, and “wasting away,” inwardly he was “being renewed” on a daily basis.

 

I love that for believers, renewal is an ongoing action. That is surely the life of Christ within us.

 

Thank You, Jesus, for Your life inside ours, renewing us from within. Because of You we don’t ever completely lose heart. This earthly life may take a toll on our outward body, but because we belong to You our spiritual being is miraculously being renewed. May we be quick to seek Your face when overcome with despair in order to experience that renewal. In the power of Your name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Can you think of a time, or perhaps many times, when you were inwardly renewed, even though your outward circumstance seemed impossible? How can you encourage a fellow believer with your testimony of daily renewal?

 

DAY 19: From Caterpillar to Butterfly?

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! -2 Corinthians 5:17

 

For years I’ve used the analogy of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly as the new creatures we become in Christ. But as I studied this passage in preparation to write this devotional book, the flaw in that analogy became instantly apparent.

 

If as new creatures in Christ, we simply went from caterpillar stage to butterfly stage, we wouldn’t truly be new creatures. We would just be a different form of the creature we already were.

 

From the Genesis account of Creation to the new creation we become in Christ, the word “create,” when used to describe the work of God, means to make something from absolutely nothing.

 

And that is what He does in us at the instant of our conversion. We experience rebirth, not as a similar creation, but as a brand new creation! Being born again brings on more than just new direction in our lives. It gives us a completely new nature. And with that new nature comes the capacity to reflect the image of God as He originally intended.

 

For now this new creature resides in our old bodies, but we are as different from our old man—not as a caterpillar from a butterfly—but as an amoeba from a zebra.

 

Only the God who created us could bring about that sort of transformation.

 

Creator God, thank You for creating us anew and giving us new birth as new creatures in Christ. Our old man is as good as gone, and our new man has come. That miraculous giving of new life and a new nature is the very life Christ came to give, an astounding fact that leaves our jaws agape. Thank You for working the miraculous in us! In the name of Christ—who makes us new—we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What thoughts come to mind as you meditate on the fact that we are new creatures in Christ?

 

DAY 20: Restoring Others

 

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. -Galatians 6:1

 

On day eight of our thirty-one day journey together, we discussed the restoration God brings. Yesterday we learned that through Christ we are made new. In the verse above, we see those two thoughts intricately woven together.

 

It’s easy to read the verse above and think that the sinner mentioned is an unbeliever. But the letter of Galatians was written to a church. So the one caught in sin is a brother.

 

This brings up a couple of thoughts for me. First of all, just because we’re saints doesn’t mean we don’t sin. Everyone of us is capable of the most heinous of sins at any time. Even the disciples, when Jesus mentioned that one of them would betray Him, questioned Him by asking: “Lord, is it I?” They knew they were all capable of the unthinkable.

 

Secondly, as spiritual beings (the new creatures we discussed yesterday), we are to be about our Father’s business of restoration, and we are to do so gently and in caution. Unfortunately, this is usually the exact opposite of what happens when one of our brothers or sisters sins. Rather than having compassion on them and reaching out to them for restoration, most churches have the tendency to shoot the wounded! Rather than love them, we shun and condemn.

 

Nothing grieves my heart more than to see how we treat our brothers and sisters, whose speck of sin is no match for our beam. Multiple times on the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples to “love one another.” That love is the law of Christ.

 

Is it any wonder then, that in the very next verse in Galatians, Paul writes: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Oh, Father God, forgive us for the way we treat our Christian brothers and sisters! Help us to fulfill the law of Christ and have compassion on those, who like us, are sinners. May we be quick to reach out to them, to love them back into Your arms, and to restore them gently. Help us to extend to them the same grace You’ve lavished on each and every one of us. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Can you think of a brother or sister who needs restoration? How does the verse from Galatians give you both encouragement and instruction?

 

DAY 21: Cooperating With God’s “New”

 

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. -Ephesians 4:22-24

 

I can’t help but wonder how often I sit back on my laurels and expect God to do all the work in this process of transforming me into the image of Christ.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I know quite well that I’m not God. There are things I cannot do; things that only He can do in His great power.

 

But at the same time, there are things I can do; things that His Spirit and power within me enable me to do.

 

One of those things is cooperating with Him by putting off the old self.

 

Even though we’ve been made into new creatures, that old sinful nature is still at work inside me. It’s up to me to recognize when the old self is trying to take over and tempt me to do things the new man should never do.

 

On day seventeen, we learned about the importance of renewing our minds to discern God’s will and not conform to the world. That is the teaching Paul is referring to in being made new in the attitude of our minds.

 

On day nineteen, we discussed how God creates us as new creatures, made to reflect His glory and character. Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf involved taking our sin and giving us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). From the moment of our conversion, God begins the work of sanctification, the process of making us holy.

 

Yes, God and His Son Jesus, have done much of the work for us, but we have work to do as well. Our job is to put off the old man and take on the new. When we cooperate with God’s work of “new,” we become like Him in righteousness and holiness, not as a work done in the flesh, but through the power of His Holy Spirit.

 

Thank You, Lord God, for making us new. Thank You for the work of Jesus on the cross to make it possible. Lord, may we always be quick to cooperate with You, by taking off the old man and putting on the new. When the world sees us, may they see You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What are some ways in which you cooperate with God’s work of “new” by taking off the old man? And in putting on the new man?

 

DAY 22: Moving Forward

 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:12-14

 

Forward momentum in our lives can sometimes be difficult to achieve. From a personal perspective, the more I try to move forward in the direction I sense God leading me in, the more junk life seems to throw my way, bogging me down in urgent but unimportant details that seem to have no impact on the world around me.

 

I have a feeling I’m not alone.

 

So what are we to do when life hurls garbage away?

 

First, we must remember that God is sovereign and in control. Nothing comes our way without His permission.

 

Secondly, we must deal as quickly and decisively with these interruptions as possible.

 

Last, but certainly not least, we must get back on track, not allowing the enemy to bog us down any more than necessary.

 

Let us never forget that we are made for a purpose. Our overall purpose is to trust God, be involved in an intimate relationship with Him, and do all we can to glorify Him and make Him known. Beyond that, He has given us each gifts and abilities that uniquely equip us to encourage our fellow soldiers and carry His hope, love, and grace to a lost and dying world.

 

And on those days when we get discouraged by the junk life deals us, let’s keep our eyes on the prize that awaits: our heavenly home and Jesus!

 

Heavenly Father and Jesus, our Lord and Savior, thank You that our lives are not empty and without purpose. Help us to seek Your will in every aspect of our lives and submit to it. And then, Lord, when we get bombarded by stuff that really doesn’t matter, grant us the ability to deal with it and get back on track. Thank You that You are in charge and can use even the mundane to bring about good. Lead us onward and upward in Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What do you believe is your personal calling in life? How are you carrying out that calling?

 

DAY 23: Standing Up Under the Load

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. -Hebrews 12:1

 

The halls of faith are lined with those who have gone before us. These champions of the faith serve as such stalwart examples for us to follow. We can gain much encouragement through studying their lives: Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, and so many more.

 

From our perspective on earth, life often seems like more of a challenge than what we’re capable of handling. And there are times when life storms leave us reeling. In their wake the broken pieces of ruined lives seem to litter the ground around us. How can we possibly persevere under such circumstances?

 

The answer is simple, but not easy. Yes, we can look at the example of the heroes of faith, but we especially need to turn our eyes on Jesus.

 

The meaning of perseverance and endurance actually means to stand up under the load. But in order to do so effectively, there are a couple of things we have to do first.

 

First, we must throw off everything that hinders. Something can be good in and of itself, but if it hinders us from fulfilling the race God has marked out for us, we must get rid of it.

 

Next we must get rid of sin. It only serves to entangle us in its tentacles and trip us up. If we were told that we had cancer in our arm and the only way to get rid of it was removal of the arm, we would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, that we were as quick and decisive in ridding ourselves of the cancer of sin!

 

Life is a marathon. In order to run this race with perseverance, we can’t afford to allow sin and worldly trappings to hinder us or trip us up.

 

Father God, thank You for allowing us the privilege of running this race for You and Your Kingdom. Help us to get rid of anything—especially sin—that keeps us from running to the best of our ability. Give us Your supernatural strength to stand up under the load of life. May the examples of so many, especially our Lord and Savior, give us the encouragement we so badly need. In the name of Jesus who encourages us from the finish line. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What is hindering you from running the race with endurance and to the best of your ability? What steps can you take to throw off those hindrances?

 

DAY 24: Eyes On The Prize

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. -Hebrews 12:2-3

 

In my freshman year of high school, I ran track. At five-foot two-inches, I never have been built like a runner. But I gave it my best shot. The thing that helped me the most was learning to fix my eyes on the finish line.

 

It is the same for us in the race of life. There is a definite finish line. Though we don’t know what hurdles we’ll have to clear between here and the end of the race, fixing our eyes on Jesus will help us finish strong.

 

Yes, we may have to endure some pretty tough stuff between here and there. Already in our world, we see frightful images of what Christians in other places are having to suffer for the name of Christ. And I sense it coming to our shores as well.

 

How can we possibly prepare ourselves?

 

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus struggled with the task before Him. Yes, He was fully God, but He was also fully man. The pain and agony awaiting Him was not a pleasant thought. But He submitted Himself to the will of God for our sakes, His gaze fixed on the joy ahead—not just for Him, but for us as well. Then He sat down at the place of honor beside our Father.

 

Sat down! People only sit when the work is over, and His was.

 

Brothers and sisters, keep the image of what awaits us on the other side firmly fixed in your mind. To endure the opposition we will surely face, to keep up our strength, and to stay encouraged, we simply must fix our eyes on the prize.

 

Jesus, thank You for enduring the shame of the cross on our behalf and for being the author and perfecter of our faith. No matter what the future may hold for each of us, we pray that You will enable us to keep our eyes on the prize of heaven and eternity with You. Give us strength, encouragement, endurance and steel-hard faith to run the race set before us. In Your most holy name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How does keeping your eyes on the prize of Jesus and our heavenly home encourage you run the race of life well?

 

DAY 25: In His Steps

 

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. -1 Peter 2:21

 

We currently live in the mountains of northern New Mexico. During the past two winters, we’ve averaged forty-five inches of snow each year, and this year we’re on track to receive much more. When the snow gets high and there is outside work to be done, it is much easier for me and my short legs to have someone bigger go before me. This allows me to use their footsteps without battling the snow drifts.

 

Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, has already done this for each and every one of us.

 

Trouble and suffering were foretold for believers by Jesus. In John 16:33, He said this to His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

 

Nothing tests our faith in Jesus more than suffering. But if we keep in mind that He suffered for us first, it will give us the encouragement and example we need to keep going. In addition, He will be our peace in the midst of trials and troubles. He has gone before us and overcome the world on our behalf by going to the cross in our place.

 

Our job is to follow in His steps. He’s already punched holes in the drifts to make the path clearer and easier to traverse.

 

Oh, Jesus, how grateful we are that You have gone before us to make the way clear. Thank You for leaving Your footsteps for us to follow. We especially thank You that Your footsteps lead us home. Give us the strength and endurance and encouragement we need to keep moving onward and upward. In the name of Jesus—the name above all names—we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: How has Jesus cleared the path for you lately? How have you followed in His steps—joyfully or reluctantly?

 

DAY 26:Our Main Goal

 

We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him. -2 Corinthians 5:7-8

 

We serve a God who deals in impossibilities. Nothing is impossible for Him. Because of that, we, too, can conquer the seemingly impossible. But there is something that is impossible. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Our desire to see what lies ahead is natural enough, but it can severely impede our faith journey.

 

In those times of our lives which feel like new beginnings, we often set goals for the coming days that help us move from where we are to where we want or need to be in various aspects of our lives. While setting goals is not a bad thing, it is important for us to remember that in setting new goals, our main goal is to please Him. And that requires faith.

 

Sometimes faith means stepping out into the unknown. Often we only have enough light to see one step at a time. It’s scary. It’s unknown. But our faith in Him is what will carry us through.

 

Another thing I’ve learned about faith journeys is this: Sometimes the way God is leading seems to make absolutely no sense!

 

But don’t take my word for it. Look at the examples left us in the Bible. Moses was to lead the people to the Red Sea, where they were trapped between the water and the quickly-advancing Egyptian chariots and army. Gideon had to pare his soldiers down to a mere three-hundred men to defeat the Midianites. Joshua and the Israelites were to march around Jericho for seven days and then blow trumpets to make the city walls fall! What?

 

In each of the above examples, the journey required faith in God, who ultimately received great glory in the way He delivered His people.

 

Dear friends, let us be confident enough in our God to step out in faith, even when what He is calling us to do seems to make absolutely no sense. Our goal is to please Him. And those faith steps are the only way we can do that.

 

Lord God, stretch our faith. Help us to remember in all our goal-setting, that first and foremost at the top of our list is the goal to please You. May we also remember that the only way to please You is to live a life of faith. Make us quick to step out at Your direction. In the name of Your Son Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: In what areas do you sense God calling you to take a step out in faith? Does it make sense? What is your response to His call?

 

DAY 27: Goals & Actions

 

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of His calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. -2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

 

There is nothing like a new beginning in our lives to prompt us to set goals. The excitement of new seems to take on a life of its own and set into motion a host of things we want to accomplish. Yet in and of themselves, goals have no power. It is only by taking action that our goals reach fulfillment.

 

In the above passage, Paul hints at those goals/purposes, but is quick to lead straight into actions prompted by faith. Both goals and actions are important. It’s not enough just to have a plan. We must also take action to implement that plan.

 

Notice that God is the One who fulfills our goals and gives us the energy to carry it out in faith. He is our energy source. “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Because He gives us the power and fulfills our goals, we can’t grow proud or take credit for the “good purposes” or for acting on them. That’s why in verse 12 it talks about Jesus getting the glory through us. That is to be our motive in all that we undertake (1 Corinthians 10:31).

 

So whatever “new” situation we find ourselves in—the start of a new year or month, a new job, a new location, a new home, a new family member, a new school year—whatever the case, pray through your goals and the actions you need to take to reach them.

 

Especially take notice of those that require steps of faith. You’ll recognize them because you won’t be able to make it without God’s help. Without His intervention, you’ll utterly fail in your attempts to make those faith goals happen. That may sound scary and even a little harsh, but since our motive is to glorify Him, those faith steps are exactly the means to do just that.

 

Lord God, we thank You for “new.” New is always exciting and fresh and full of hope and promise. The new situations we find ourselves in encourage us to set purposes and goals and then to step out in faith actions to accomplish them. Thank You that You alone provide the power to grant those desires. We take comfort in the fact that You will receive glory when we attempt to accomplish great things for You. In the power of Your holy name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What purposes is the Lord calling you to today? What faith steps will they require on your part?

 

DAY 28: Commit Your Way

 

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. -Psalm 37:5-6

 

As exciting as new beginnings can be, they are not always easy. In fact, they can be downright challenging. And the enemy will be quick to bring on the questions and doubts, as well as the desire to sometimes tuck tail and run in the opposite direction.

 

If you’re like me, the paralysis of analysis can set in quickly, leaving us immobilized and fearful.

 

In those times of doubt and fear, we are not without help or hope. God is always present, even when He is silent. His desire is always for us to seek Him, to run to Him with our fears, doubts, and questions. There is nothing He allows in our lives that He cannot use for our good and His glory.

 

David was a man who understood the challenge of living out a new purpose in faith. Anointed by Samuel at a very young age to become the next king of Israel, it wasn’t long before David found himself on the run from King Saul who wanted him dead.

 

On the run with a bunch of misfits, David often hid out and lived in dark caves. He surely must have wondered how God would bring about his upcoming kingship under the current set of circumstances.

 

Brothers and sisters, when God plants a dream in our hearts, He will bring it to fruition. It might take years and years of challenge after challenge for us to reach that dream. That’s okay. It causes us to lean even harder on our great and mighty God.

 

So whatever the goals and purposes of your heart, commit them to God. Only He is able to bring them about, and in the process make “your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

 

Father God, thank You that not one of Your promises and purposes for our lives will fail to come to fruition. We’re grateful that in the midst of trying to live out these challenging dreams and purposes, You grow our faith and gain the glory. Help us to lean on You even more when we face challenges and setbacks. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What dreams and goals of yours are currently on hold because of setbacks and challenges? Have you recommitted them to the Lord?

 

DAY 29: In Step With His Spirit

 

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. -Galatians 5:25

 

Many times in God’s Word, our earthly journey is compared to that of a soldier.

 

In Ephesians 6, we’re told to suit up with God’s armor to wage war against the spiritual forces of darkness, using His Word as our sword and prayer as the direct line of communication with our Commander-in-Chief.

 

In 2 Timothy 2, we’re encouraged to endure hardship as a soldier of Christ Jesus. We’re also warned against getting involved in civilian or worldly affairs in order to please our commanding officer.

 

And then in today’s passage in Galatians 5, we see this small and obscure verse after the list of the fruits of God’s Spirit. At first glance, it might seem to have little to do with being a solider. But the words “in step” is stoicheo in the original Greek, and means to march in military rank.

 

The heavenly hosts referenced in Scripture are actually angel armies. And as Christ-followers, we too are soldiers for God’s Kingdom. Make no mistake about it, life is a battle, and it’s a battle for the souls of men. Our only chance at success in this battle is to stay in step with the Spirit of God.

 

The victory has already been won. At the cross, Jesus delivered a death-blow to Satan. He once and for all conquered sin and death for mankind. Though our victory is assured, there is still a fight to be fought.

 

Let us fight the good fight of faith by staying in step with His Spirit within us.

 

Lord of Hosts, You are Almighty God, and nothing is impossible for You. Help us to suit up as members of Your earthly army and to fight the good fight of faith. Grant us the ability and desire to stay in step with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for the victory that is ours through Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What battlefront does God have you on at the moment? How can you stay in step with His Spirit in this particular battle?

 

DAY 30: Wisdom & Guidance for the Journey

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. -James 1:5

 

If we were on this faith journey without resources, we would be the most pitiful people ever. Thankfully, that is not at all the case.

 

Because it is a journey of faith, we sometimes struggle to know what to do and where to go. But we are not without help. In the above verse from James, we see that our God is generous in granting His godly wisdom to us mere mortals. Doesn’t that just make your heart sing?

 

And to top it all off, God grants us wisdom “without finding fault.” Some translations say “without criticizing.” Wouldn’t it be just awful to ask God for wisdom and have Him answer by saying: “Well, if you had done what I told you at mile marker 33, you wouldn’t be in this mess. Engage your brain, please!”

 

Our God is generous, kind, and good. We are so blessed. In addition to His wisdom, He also leads and guides us.

 

In Psalm 23, undoubtedly one of the most beloved passages in the Bible, we find these words: “The LORD is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.” I don’t know about you, but I take great encouragement in knowing that our Good Shepherd gives us everything we need for this faith journey. He is truly all we need because He provides for our needs. This psalm of David goes on to mention how our Shepherd also leads and guides.

 

With His Presence, wisdom, and guidance, there is truly nothing we lack.

 

Good Shepherd of our souls, thank You for being all we need. We are so blessed to be the sheep of Your pasture. You are always with us. You grant us wisdom. You lead and guide. Help us to seek You and Your wisdom and to follow where You lead. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: What wisdom and guidance do you currently need for your faith journey? Have you sought the Lord, who generously gives both?

 

DAY 31: Faithful

 

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:4-6

 

Our God is faithful. The words of an old Imperials’ song come to mind as I type this final devotional in our journey together of traversing God’s new beginnings. “He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us to let us down.”

 

While the song dates me, (can I really be this old?) it is so true. The same God who began this work of faith in our hearts will be faithful to complete it, until the day of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus arrives.

 

Be encouraged. Take heart. Be of good cheer and encouragement. His plans and purposes for us, as part of His Kingdom, will be fulfilled.

 

Thank you so much for allowing me to be a small part of your faith journey and for being a part of mine. As I type these words, I’m praying for you. And as you read them, I hope you’ll say a little prayer for me. It brings me great joy to know that one day our journey paths will find their completion and crossing point in heaven.

 

To the name of the One who is Faithful and True, belongs all glory and praise!

 

Lord God, we are so grateful to be a part of Your Kingdom. Thank You for allowing us to make this journey together. But we especially thank You for Your Presence with us every step of the way. In the name of Jesus Christ—who has triumphed over sin and death on our behalf—we pray. Amen.

 

Food For Thought: Can you think of a fellow believer who needs encouragement in their new beginnings and/or faith journey? Please pray about what you can do or say to give them the encouragement they need, and consider sharing this 31-Day Devotional Journey with them.

 

THE END

 

THE END

 

  • * *

 

I pray that NEW BEGINNINGS has been a blessing to you. If you found the book helpful, please consider the following:

1. Make a donation to help make this faith-based ministry possible. I have opted to allow readers to set the price for my books. Your donation will insure that I am able to continue this ministry. You can mail your donation to Cathy Bryant, P.O. Box 884, Farmington, AR 72730. Over ten percent of the proceeds from my books are used to support other Christian ministries.

2. Take a moment to leave your honest review on various sites. This helps authors as well as potential readers.

3. Share this free book with family and friends via word of mouth, email, and social media.

Thank you so much!

 

About Cathy

 

A native Texas gal, Cathy currently resides in the lovely Ozark mountains of northwestern Arkansas with her husband of over thirty-five years. When she’s not writing you’ll find her wrangling chickens, rummaging through thrift stores, spending time with her family, or up to her elbows in yet another home improvement project.

In addition to the Miller’s Creek novels, Cathy also has written devotional articles for The Upper Room magazine, collaborated with other authors on two devotional books, and penned her own Bible study and daily devotional books. Visit Cathy at CatBryant.com. Cathy also loves to connect with readers in the following places:

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Cathy’s Books[
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**]http://www.CatBryant.com/books-2[
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**]Miller’s Creek Novels[
**]Texas Roads[
**]A Path Less Traveled[
**]The Way of Grace[
**]Pilgrimage of Promise[
**]A Bridge Unbroken[
**]Crossroads[
**]Still I Will Follow[
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**]Other Fiction[
**]Pieces On Earth (Christmas novella)[
**
**]LifeSword Bible Studies & Daily Devotionals[
**]The Fragrance of Crushed Violets[
**]Believe & Know[
**]New Beginnings[
**]The Power of Godly Influence[
**]Life Lessons From My Garden

 

 


New Beginnings

From the author of the bestselling Miller's Creek series comes this daily devotional for women, full of God's new beginnings, second chances, and fresh starts. Endings in life aren't always pleasant or expected, but they are always followed by new beginnings. With each new beginning we tend to count our God-given blessings, dream big, and set new faith goals for a new season of life. But wouldn't it be wonderful if we could enjoy those new beginnings on a daily basis? We can. Our Jesus always does new. As the giver of new life, new is His calling card, and every new beginning with Him makes everything better than before. His mercies are new every morning. Join us for this 31-day daily devotional journey as we pick up the sword of truth to study verses on how God makes all things new. Can you hear Jesus calling? It truly is time for out with the old and in with the new. Don't miss this chance to explore our countless new beginnings with Jesus. WHAT READERS ARE SAYING: "This is an excellent devotional for anyone who is facing a new beginning in their life. I found Cathy Bryant's style to be engaging and like sitting and having coffee with a mentor who loves and cares about my journey. I was pretty amazed at how many facets and angles of newness were explored in this devotional, and I found myself very refreshed and encouraged to press on after reading each entry. I highlighted so many things that there is no way I can share favorite quotes this time! There are just too many!" "Being able to randomly go to any day in the book and read the scripture, explanations and questions will make it easy to use this devotional for years to come." "When choosing a devotional to use during my daily Bible study, I look for one that has substance, or what Scripture refers to as meat. I can tell you that Cathy Bryant’s New Beginnings fits the bill. Each one gave me something to chew on and ponder which led me to deeper study of God’s Word." "I highly recommend 'New Beginnings' and the other devotional books in the LifeSword series by Cathy Bryant." "A new day, a new beginning! Cathy has done a great job in this devotional of showing us that through our relationship with Christ a new beginning is what He has in store for us when we come to Him. I like how in this crazy, hectic world Cathy's daily devotions are short and easy to read, but very thought-provoking. As a busy wife, mom of two boys, and working a full time job only a few minutes are available before chaos hits, so it is nice to have this quiet alone time with Him in such a way Cathy provides." "Cathy Bryant 's new devotional book, "New Beginnings" is one of the best devotional books I have ever read. It is a great way to start the new year with 31 devotions designed to jump start a new beginning. This is a book I would use in counseling sessions in that I would give it to clients, friends, or church members who have gone through a difficult year and need a new beginning." "New Beginnings is a wonderful devotional that reminds us that each new day is indeed a new beginning in our journey of faith. As we read, we see that our mistakes, our failures, our shortcomings can all be brought to Jesus and traded for a brand new start." OTHER LIFESWORD DAILY DEVOTIONALS & BIBLE STUDIES: The Fragrance of Crushed Violets: Forgiving the Inexcusable Believe & Know: The Search For Truth The Power of Godly Influence Life Lessons From My Garden POSSIBLE CATEGORIES: Daily Devotionals Daily Devotionals for Women Christian Living Women's Christian Living Spiritual Growth Personal Growth

  • Author: Cathy Bryant
  • Published: 2017-03-27 23:20:17
  • Words: 13573
New Beginnings New Beginnings