New Spirit — January 24, 2014 (Friday)

Today’s Verses:

Ezekiel 11:19-20

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Today’s Questions:

What does God say the promised undivided heart and new spirit allows us to do?

What do you think characterizes the “undivided heart” God promises in this passage?

When have you felt most fully devoted to God and his purposes? What do you attribute that devotion to? For example, were you engaged in certain practices, relationships, or choices?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, thank you for your promise of an undivided heart and a new spirit. I can see that the more I come to know you, the more my motivations, my desires, and my focus change to things that matter to you. Is this my heart transplant? And your power, and presence, and peace! Is this your spirit in me? You would do this for me, a small soul and expert sinner? Please don’t stop; continue to transform my heart and work through your spirit in me so that I can grow in the joy of obedience to your laws and decrees. I want to know you more, I can’t imagine being too close. Reveal to me, by your great goodness and grace, your presence and your love.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read John 14:15-25 to learn of Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit for those who love him.

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New Heart and New Spirit — January 23, 2014 (Thursday)

Today’s Verses:

Ezekiel 18:30-32

Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

Ezekiel was a prophet who was among the Jews exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 B.C. Ezekiel’s calling from God was to communicate to his fellow Jews that as a result of their rebellion and disobedience, Jerusalem would fall. Once this occurred, Ezekiel’s mission shifted to telling the Jews of God’s coming redemption and restoration. The word “repent” in English means “to feel sorry for” or “to feel regret.” But, the Hebrew word that has been translated “repent” is “shuwb,” which means to turn back or retreat.

Today’s Questions:

What does God say a person who repents will get?

Identify a sin or patterns in your life about which you feel sorry for, but from which you have not yet retreated or turned away.

What is keeping you from retreating from those sins or patterns in your life about which you feel sorry, but from which you have not yet retreated or turned away?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, Father, I need you. I need your forgiveness, your mercy, and your grace. I want life! Father, help me. I need strength and courage to turn away from the things that keep me bound to a lesser life. You have already set me free, why do I still get so easily lured back into captivity? Renew my heart and my spirit. Make them yours, make them resistant and resilient. The thing I doubt the most, God, is your goodness. Though the evidence of it abounds, I still doubt it. Build my faith, speak to me, give me the fortitude to remember your promises and all you have done to make me free.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Romans 7:7-8:11 to learn about Paul’s struggle to turn away from his sinful desires and actions.

New Humanity — January 22, 2014 (Wednesday)

Today’s Verses:

Ephesians 2:14-15

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Today’s Questions:

What does this passage say Jesus’ purpose was?

To ___________ in himself one _______ __________________.

To _________________ both of them to ________ through the cross.

In what, other than Jesus, do you most often seek peace?

What does it look like for Jesus to be your peace in your walking-around life?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, thank you for the Prince of Peace, the peacemaker, the peace-bringer. I feel your peace deeply from time to time, catching glimpses here and there. But, Lord, I want to live every moment in that peace. I am so often on edge and irritated by the insignificant. I can be plagued by anxiety and driven by fear. Help me, Father, to live out the reality of Jesus Christ at the center of my being and my relationships so my soul is settled and my love is without restraint. Continue molding me into a peacemaker. And, oh, I pray for earthly peace. This world is ravaged by war, Lord, we need your peace in our physical world. I long for your return and speed your coming by practicing peacemaking.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Jesus’ words in John 14:25-27 to know the peace he gives.

New Birth — January 21, 2014 (Tuesday)

Today’s Verses:

1 Peter 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

The book of 1 Peter is a letter the Apostle Peter wrote to Jewish and Gentile Christians throughout Asia Minor. During the time he wrote it, Christians were experiencing intense persecution and suffering under the Roman Empire. In his letter, Peter emphasizes the promise of hope in the midst of suffering.

Today’s Questions:

According to this passage, what is the hope we have as a result of our new birth?

Think of a time you were suffering in some way. What occupied your mind and heart during that time?

Identify a time in your life when praising God and seeing his mercy was difficult. Identify a time when doing so was easy. What was the difference?

Is there someone in your life who is suffering and with whom you could share Peter’s message of hope? How might you share it?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, Father, let these words of Peter be my morning song and my evening refrain! Lord, forgive me that my first thoughts in suffering are not of you. How easily I forget the source of my hope and the promised inheritance for the reborn. My heart focuses on the near, the temporary, and the fading light. Help me, Father, to fix my heart on heavenly things, the everlasting, the light that never dims. Let me be someone who brings words of hope and encouragement to those I know who are suffering. Give me courage, patience, and peace to be present in the midst of another’s pain. Work through me, Lord, to touch a life with love and comfort today.

Go A Little Deeper:

Review John 3:1-21 for Jesus’ description of what it means to be born again.

New Life — January 20, 2014 (Monday)

Today’s Verses:

Acts 5:17-20

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

Today’s Questions:

What do you think the reaction of the apostles was when the angel told them to go stand in the temple courts to tell people about life in Christ given that they had just been imprisoned as a result of their healing and teaching?

How do you describe your life in Christ? How is it different than your life before you knew Christ?

What do you say to someone who asks you what it means to have new life in Christ?

Today’s Prayer:

Father, there was a day I never could have imagined this new life. Thank you for interrupting my old life and blessing me with the new life of now and the new life to come. I want to be different, Lord. I want to look at the world and what it cares about and worries over, and see that I am different. I am concerned about what your eyes see, what your heart desires, and whom you love. As I walk through my day, show me, Father, those things I hold onto like the world does and help me to release them. Remind me, Father, that you have unlimited goodness and are just waiting to pour out your blessing on me.

Go A Little Deeper:

Review Romans 6:1-4 for another description of new life in Christ.

New Self — January 19, 2014 (Sunday)

Today’s Verses:

Ephesians 4:20-24

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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.

Today’s Questions:

What are the three things Paul instructs the believer to do in this passage?

Put _____ your _______ self.

Be made ______ in the attitude of your __________.

Put ______ the _________ self.

What is meant by “deceitful desires” based on the transformation you have seen in your own life?

In this season of your life, what are you doing to put off your old self, be made new in the attitude of your mind, and put on the new self?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be made new. As I look back on my old self, I cringe at what I thought would satisfy and fulfill me. I was so deceived for so long. Thank you for continuing to pursue me and place people around me who showed me who you are. You know my heart and know I can still easily slide back into my old self and am still deceived at times. I am seduced away from you. Forgive me these lapses and don’t stop whispering your love, encouraging my growth, and satisfying my longing.

Go A Little Deeper:

Review Philippians 4:8 for the kinds of thoughts that renew the mind.

New Creation — January 18, 2014 (Saturday)

Today’s Verses:

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 (NASB)

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

The word “new” in this passage, each time it appears is the Greek word “kainos,” meaning “unprecedented,” “unheard of,” or “of a new kind.”

Today’s Questions:

What does it mean to live not for yourself, but for Christ?

What old things have passed away in your life since you have been following Jesus?

What new, or unprecedented, things have come into your life now that you are following Jesus?

What do you think it means to know someone else as a new creation instead of according to the flesh?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, Father, I pray that these words from Paul’s letter would sink deeply into my soul, that they would be my anthem, my reason, my way of being. I pray for your eyes as I come to know those around me. How often I look at others with judgment and irritation, or without compassion. I pray that you would draw me close so that I live in you, through you, out of my connection to you. I pray, Lord, that I look different than the world, that Christ is manifest in me as I move through my days. Whatever looks different than Christ, Lord, change it, I surrender to your shaping, healing hands.

Go A Little Deeper:

Review Revelation 21:1-5 to see the parallels with this 2 Corinthians passage.