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New Year New Life - A Devotion

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Matthew 9:17 (NLT)
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”

The brand New Year is just around the corner. I am ready. My heart beats with anticipation of closing the chapter marked 2013 and moving into the coming year of 2014. I woke up this morning with an end in sight thankful that I can see the finish line (or maybe I should call it a checkpoint). Coincidentally or maybe not, it was time to begin a new journal closing the old one and tying it shut. I can feel the holiday blues that came with this season beginning to fall in preparation of stepping into the potential and promise of the coming year. As if the Hand of God is gently but firmly wiping off those weights and burdens that have kept me crawling through Christmas and all its festivities. Oh how I loathe fighting depression and feeling overwhelmed. It is an awful feeling that I know many people struggle with not only through the holidays but also the winter months and some all year long. The enemy stirs up fear and doubt to eliminate our faith and confident hope in the Lord. The devil causes anxiety that Jesus is not coming at all and we are wasting our time waiting on Him. He tries to convince us that things are never going to change. His mission is to steal, kill and destroy the destiny planted deep in your heart by causing you to turn from the Lord’s Power, Promise and Potential for your life to chase the American Dream and other dying causes. He wants to distract you with the things of this world in a last ditch effort to rob you of the new season that is coming. It’s how he steals harvests right out from under us as we leave the field to lie in waste. What are you looking for in the coming year? Are you ready for something new? Do you want everything God has purposed and promised for the coming year? I know that I do. I have great expectation of the Promises that I have been given. I know the Lord will not disappoint. There are a few things I must be prepared to do to have a happy and prosperous New Year! It will be totally worth it as I embrace a New Year and new life in Jesus Christ!

No one puts new wine into old wineskins or they will burst from the pressure. Say goodbye to the same ole same ole, no really to embrace this philosophy of New Year and new life will require to change the vessel to prepare for the fulfillment of the Lord that is coming. God cannot fill your life with His Newness until it is void of the old stuff. Not only that, we cannot receive all that the Lord has for us in our present state. We must begin now to prepare for future harvests and be ready when they come. Unfortunately, many people expect the Lord to open the windows of Heaven and bless them right where they are doing exactly what they have been doing. This is never the case. A new life requires new faith and new hope to be accomplished. It is how a righteous person attains life. If you want abundant life, it will require more of a yield on your part than ever before. The old wineskin was accustomed to yesterday’s wine. But this new wine needs new and flexible skin to ebb and flow with the pressure from the new thing that it has been filled with. You must be flexible in your faith so as it expands you do not explode from the pressure. What pressure? The pressure to change and move with the Holy Spirit as God leads you in righteousness for His Name Sake to every promise, blessing and harvest that He has prepared for you! It’s there for the taking, but it can only be discovered by faith!

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 (NLT)
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Anyone who belongs to Jesus Christ has the potential to become a new person. Not everyone who belongs to Jesus Christ WILL become a new person. In order to do so means relinquishing our old life to fully embrace the new lie that Jesus has prepared for us. We must decide that it is better than what this world has to offer and decide to have it. When offered a gift, you have the right to choose to accept or reject it. We must make a choice between looking at this life from a human point of view or decide to look at this life as temporary. Those who decide this life is temporary and long for the eternal will reconcile their life to Jesus Christ by faith to obtain the righteousness found in His Grace that allows us to live forever rather than temporarily. One would think that this would be a no-brainer and it probably would be if people did not have brains. But the truth is there are many so-called Christians who think that they are Heaven bound but do live lives reconciled to Jesus Christ. To reconcile is to no longer oppose. Your sin is rebellion against God. Every single one even if you do not commit the seven deadly sins which is a lie from the enemy because all sin outside of the Grace of God has the potential to kill you. It means to re-establish friendly relations. To love sin more than God will never bring His Family back together. God hates sin all of it. This is why the Blood of Jesus covers our sin and washes it as far is as the east is from the west. God cannot see sin or it produces His Wrath. His Justice will not allow it into His Presence without being consumed. Jesus Christ reconciled sinners back to God by removing their sin. Now through faith in Jesus, people can step back into right-standing with God! We are only fooling ourselves when we think God would allow us to drag our sin in behind us. Reconciliation makes us compatible with Christ as we walk through life following His Example. It is a form of re-consecration when we choose salvation calling Jesus Christ our Savior AND Lord. In the New Year, God is calling many people who have been deceived that God’s Grace permits perpetual and habitual sin back to the Cross to be reconciled once more and begin a new life. Will you come?

Romans 12:2 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

To have a new life means one must surrender their old one. If I buy new furniture, then I must make a place for it by removing the furniture that now sits in its place. The delivery guys are not going to help me decide but rather unceremoniously dump it in my front yard. My neighbors don’t care what I do with it because most of them are going to be mad and/or jealous that I received it. To many times, we get caught up in making our new life acceptable to everyone and everything rather than just dumping it all out on the Altar of God and asking Him what can stay and what should go. He knows the Plans that He has for you. The Lord has promised that they are good with a future hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) It will only come to you if you seek the Lord wholeheartedly which includes “cleaning house”. You must evaluate and inspect your life today to have what is coming tomorrow and make room for it. New wine will burst old wineskins. To have something new requires preparation on my part to receive it. If I want all that God has for me, then I must remove the compromises, counterfeits and substitutions that I have put in its place. If I choose to become a living and holy sacrifice, accepting only what comes directly from the Father and making room for it in my life – I will begin receiving deliveries on a regular basis. Fear of lack causes us to grab hold of less than God’s Best. We worry and stress over tomorrow, next week or next month rather than focusing on what God has provided for today which is always more than enough for those who choose to give God their whole life for His Use. As we learn to live in the Will of God, we will have the Way of God manifest in our life for His Glory! The Lord uses word like “everlasting life”, “unfailing love”, “abundant joy” and “perfect peace”. If you have anything less than you are not experience the new life as He has promised and have settled for something less. If you want the New Year to be the beginning of the new life that you have been promised, it will require you to change the way that you think. You must think like a new person who is expecting more out of this year than last year and are willing to make the changes necessary to have it including removing the things in your life that have taken the place of God’s Very Best!

2 Corinthians 3:3-6 (NLT)
Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

Some say that “new wine” is a reference to the New Covenant accessible through the Blood of Christ and every blessing associated with our relationship to Jesus Christ that reconciles us our Father in Heaven. Those who have entered the New Covenant have been given the Holy Spirit which is the living, breathing essence of God deposited in mankind to aid and assist us in righteousness. The Holy Spirit promotes faith and confident hope. He takes the Word (when we choose to give it to Him) and work it throughout our heart and life giving us a clear understanding of God’s Character and His Expectations of His People. He empowers us to do the Will of God despite our sinful nature’s battle to keep us from it. If I want something other than what I experienced this year in the coming year, then it would be safe to say that I must do some things differently. Many people will resolve to a live a healthier lifestyle. Merchants have already jumped on board with their effort and fitness equipment is on sale plastered all over the internet, newspaper and television. At the gym, people are in and out touring the facility and signing up to begin their New Year’s Resolution in January. They are buying all the right clothes and reading countless articles on better health. But none of this is going to work without a lifestyle change. Radical dieting and sporadic exercising only produce temporary and superficial results. Real transformation will only occur when a proper diet and regular exercise become part of one’s daily routine. Then you will experience long term benefits. An accountability partner is always a benefit when attempting something new like a healthier lifestyle. To have someone for encouragement, motivation and a bit of conviction when falling short will definitely give you better changes at success than those who face such an endeavor along. God has given you an accountability partner called the Holy Spirit. Do not ignore this valuable asset locked inside your heart. He will speak up when listened to. He will nudge you when necessary so don’t ignore Him. The Spirit will lead you to a new life in the New Year if you will simply partner with. Under the New Covenant, the Spirit gives life. You are part of the New Covenant so get to know God’s Spirit and let Him do His Job for you! (John 15:26)

Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT)
Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

If you are hoping for a new life in the coming year, it begins with a willing heart. “May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Where is your expectation today? Do you have some new opportunities for employment, relationship or other prospects in the coming year that you hope will come to fruition? Are you willing to lay it all done today and say, “Not my will Lord, but Your Will be done today?” To have a brand new life in the New Year will require seeking the Kingdom of God first before anything else in your life and every bit of your expectation in Him. So much in fact, that you are focused on the Windows of Heaven and not opportunities on this earth. Human expectation and godly expectation can become convoluted without the Spirit’s Distinction in our life. Are you willing to change? You will never experience anything new without some kind of change it is impossible. You cannot go to the new place or position that the Lord has prepared for you unless you are willing to move. Willingness to change begins in me and is a necessary component to finding a new life in the New Year. We are being changed from Glory to Glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Each New Year has even greater potential as we further reconcile our life to Jesus Christ. It will take my entire life time including each and every New Year to discover God’s Plan for my life because it is from beginning to end. There are many things that I hope that we can leave in 2013 with cancer being the first and foremost. I know that it is God’s Will to heal and fully restore my son so I will take that with me into the coming year. But there are many things I choose to leave behind such as all my faults and many failures wrapping them up in the guilt that tries to ensnare me. I will leave behind fear, doubt and anxiety as I choose to love and trust the Lord by faith and confident hope with the sound advice and steady guidance of His Spirit as He leads me through life. I will continue to fortify the foundation of my life with His Word which is Truth each and every day meeting Him as I do now! I will not take grudges, hate and judgment of others in the coming year and ask God to change my heart teaching me to love everyone as he does! There are many more things that in the next couple of days I will evaluate and examine in my life so that I can step into the brand New Year ready for a brand new life. Will you?

Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

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