December 31, 2014 -- Issue #29 - Volume 15

 
 

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        In today's issue:

 

1) Get Ready for the New Year!

2) Making Any New Year's Resolutions?

3) Bible Lesson & Game: God's Resolutions

4) Epiphany Star

5) A New Gratitude

6) Adult Devotion: Resolve to Run Faithfully 

7) New Things Theme

 
 
 
                                                                                          

1) Get ready for the New Year!

God's New Year's celebration, the Feast of Trumpets, is quite different than our secular New Year's celebration. The Feast of Trumpets marks the beginning of the civil or national year for Israel; it occurs during September or October. Today it is known as Rosh Hashanah, but it has little if any comparison to the Biblical celebration. Although the Bible doesnít say this, the Feast of Trumpets is believed to celebrate the creation of the world, and specifically when God created humankind on the sixth day. Trumpets were to be blown during this feast, calling people to wake up spiritually and repent of their sins. And in this regard, New Year's resolutions of today might find their similarity. For example, promising to quit a bad habit or destructive lifestyle, deciding to eat more healthfully, resolving to treat others with kindness, and turning from sinful behaviors to draw near to God, are good beginnings for a new year whether it's in September, October, or January! 

Learn more about the Biblical Feasts.

 
 
 

2) Making Any New Year's Resolutions? 

Over the past few weeks, I've been scanning web articles about New Year's resolutions. They all sound pretty similar: "Starting January 1st, I'm going to shed those extra pounds." Or, "this year, I resolve to be kinder and less irritable." Or, "I'm going to take time to smell the flowers, clean out my closets, pay attention to the needs of my family, not yell at my kids, learn a new language, watch less TV and read more books." As followers of Messiah, we might add, "pray more, praise Him more, serve Him more."

There's the ideal . . . and then there's life, as it happens. Whether due to over commitments, lack of organization, laziness, apathy, or selfishness, we often find ourselves making the same promises each year. There's a gap between what we aspire to and what we actually do. (Frazzled Perfectionists and Self-Appointed Martyrs take note: your aspirations and what God actually asks of you may be quite different--Yeshua is the only Savior.)

In our own strength, we can summon the resolve, working hard to keep the resolutions we've made (worldlings do it all the time). But as daughters of the King, we're not alone in our endeavors to lead godly, yielded, ordered lives. 


Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13
". . . He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Yeshua HaMashiach. . . . Therefore, my beloved . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."

Though we have a Helper, we sometimes function as practical atheists, as though He doesn't exist. Maybe it's merely a case of momentary amnesia or that His words aren't embedded in our hearts. We forget His presence and promises--and the fact that we've been raised up--already--with Messiah, seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Mind-boggling and heart-warming, isn't it!

Discipleship is a lifelong process. The words from Philippians remind us to soberly consider the work God desires to do in our lives. None of us can say we've "arrived" spiritually. There's always room to grow--to be conformed to the image of our beloved Yeshua. And it begins with submitting all areas of our lives to Him. It's a matter of our wills. If we're fighting that submission in a particular area, we need to ask "why?" What perceived need are we trying to meet on our own?

Any day is the right day for self-examination. Are we walking in the Spirit or in the strength of our own flesh?

As we begin a new calendar year, let's ask God to show us those still unyielded places. Let's ask Him to shine the light of His Ruach in our hearts. Let's ask Him to reveal His will for our lives in the coming months. And then, let's wait and be quiet before Him--stopping to listen for His voice. His plans are always good, always bring Him glory, always advance His Kingdom, and always lift up His Name.

Yeshua HaMashiach is the English transliteration of the Hebrew for Jesus Christ
Ruach is the English transliteration of the Hebrew for Spirit

© 2014 by NC Enterprises

Editor's note: This devotional was written by a Messianic Jewish friend. You may print it for your personal use or forward it to friends, freely. However, please do so without making any changes and include the copyright, above, as well as this paragraph. It may not be posted or published, either online or in print, without permission from SundaySchoolNetwork and the original author. 

 
 
 

3) Bible Lesson & Game: God's Resolutions

Begin class time discussing the meaning of a resolution---the root word, "resolute," means determined, firm, purposeful, strong-willed, courageously steadfast.

When people make New Year's resolutions they are stating firm promises to accomplish something good in their lives. New Year's resolutions are sometimes just silly fun, like promising to never eat Brussel Sprouts! Other times resolutions are more meaningful, such as promising to quit a sinful habit to improve your health, or to control your tongue so as not to offend others, or to do something helpful for others. More often than not, New Year's Resolutions are not easily kept. So what's wrong? Why is it so difficult to make and keep our promises to do better for ourselves and others? Continue reading.

 
 
 

4) Epiphany Star

January 6th is Epiphany, which means Epiphany Sunday falls on January 4th this year. Epiphany celebrates the kings who followed the star to worship the baby Jesus. To commemorate the day, have children create stars and write Matthew 2:2 on them, "For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." You can also download a star pattern to print and cut out.

Discuss what it means to worship. How can we worship Jesus at home, in school, and in our neighborhoods?

For more ideas on Epiphany use the search box on our home page: http://www.sundayschoolnetwork.com, and visit the following link:
http://sundayschoolnetwork.com/lesson_Epiphany.html 

 
 
 

5) A New Gratitude

grat∑i∑tudeˈ
ɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
  a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

Before we bring in the new year, let us acknowledge to God the benefits that we have received from him. And even if you experienced trials and difficulties this past year, which may yet be unresolved, did this cause you to look up and seek God's help? Then isn't that a blessing for which you can be grateful? The Scriptures remind us that people cannot come to Jesus unless the Father who sent him brings them to him (John 6:44). The very fact that you are still looking to God for rescue is evidence that he is working out his plan in your life! 

God's children should want to be like Jesus, but how can we be like him unless we have suffered? Faith knows the power that his coming back to life gives and what it means to share his suffering (Philippians 3:10). However, God doesn't allow us to suffer just to experience it. God comforts us when we suffer, so when other people suffer, we are able to comfort them like God comforted us (2 Corinthians 1:4). 

God has made a promise to his children: all things work together for the good of those who love God-to those whom he has called according to his plan (Romans 8:28). This verse reminds us that we can look forward to the new year with grateful hearts, knowing that God will continue working out his plan in our lives! 

May it be our prayer to please God in all that we think and do, and have grateful hearts this coming year!

Happy New Year SSTN!
Your webservant,
Sarah Keith <><

 
 
 

6) Adult Devotion: Resolve to Run Faithfully

Itís no accident that God compares our Christian walk to running a race. Faith must be exercised. We cannot be expected to endure lifeís hardships well without the proper spiritual training. As the New Year arrives, countless people will resolve, once again, to eat more healthfully, exercise more, and lose weight. Many Christians will rededicate themselves to having daily Bible devotions, praying more faithfully, and determine to be a better friend, sibling, child, spouse, and neighbor to others. Continue reading.

 
 
 

7) New Things Theme

* How many states or cities can you name that begin with "new"? (New York, New Jersey, New Orleans.)

* Try something new each month of the year: a new activity, a new sport, a new hobby, make a new friend. 

* Use a Bible concordance to find all the "new" words in Scripture. 

* Memorize a new Bible verse each month that contains the word, "new." For example, 
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" Ezekiel 36:26.
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation." 2 Corinthians 5:17, 
"In keeping with [God's] promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth." 2 Peter 3:15.

* Using the Bible verses found above, make a calendar with a verse for each month. 

* What new attitudes and behaviors could you "try on"? "You were taught to have a new attitude. You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, with a life that truly has Godís approval and is holy" Ephesians 4:23-24.

 
 
 

 
 
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