Today’s Bible passages are: Genesis 2, Matthew 2, Ezra 2, and Acts 2

01022014_NBBy Nicole Bennett, Guest Contributor

Oh, how I love the start of a new year!

We’ve made it through the excitement and abundance of the Christmas season—it’s a season of excess for me to be sure. I indulge in all the culinary delights, fill our days with beloved traditions, and deck the halls with memory-laden relics.

Throughout the last week of the year, we stretch out the celebrating, enjoy the décor and days off, and repose as much as we can until the year ends.

Over the last few years, as my family has grown, our New Year’s Eve celebrations have gone from loud and boisterous, full of family and friends, to quiet nights at home, kids tucked in snugly. But they always culminate in a final day of relaxation, food and football on the first.

And then comes January 2nd.  It’s the day I suddenly feel the climactic urge to simplify and purge—a physical manifestation of the newness of another year beginning.

The clean slate of a new year isn’t really any different than any other day—His mercies are new every morning after all (Lam. 3:22-24).

But as we start at the top of a new calendar I can’t help but embrace the fresh start that it brings.

As I read through today’s passages, I couldn’t choose just one to focus on. Each one is so rich with wisdom and encouragement as we start afresh this year. Whether you make resolutions, set goals, prayerfully choose a word for the year, or all of the above, here are a few ideas from today’s Scripture passages that we can carry with us into 2014, in response to his grace. 

Take time to rest 

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:3

If God takes the time to breathe and enjoy the fruits of his labor, we probably should, too. How much less weary would we be if we took the time to take a break, enjoy the people we love and spend time with the Lord? As we close another busy season, let’s take the opportunity to renew our spirits with the Holy Spirit for the start of 2014, and make sure to do this regularly during the year.

Carry the spirit of Christmas into the new year

…they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:11

We know that the wise men didn’t actually visit Jesus when he was a newborn in the stable. When they did though, they had the same reaction as those who had visited him at his birth- praise and worship. When Jesus was born, God brought to the world the critical element in his plan of redemption- his Son. Let’s strive to carry an attitude that lays down gifts of worship at our Lord’s feet, giving him the praise he’s due, all throughout 2014.

Offer our hearts to the Lord

Some of the heads of families, when they came to the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, made freewill offerings for the house of God, to erect it on its site. According their ability they gave to the treasury of the work… Ezra 2:68-69a

When the thousands of exiles returned to Jerusalem from captivity, their hearts were intent on rebuilding the temple, and even before they started construction, they were prepared to donate freely to the fund. How does this apply to us? I love how one commentary puts it: “if we are to build a tabernacle in our hearts for God we too must come to Him with the freewill of our hearts surrendered.”

Embrace community

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…. And day by day… they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (Read the whole passage here.)

2013 marked a year where the Lord really stirred in my heart a passion for intentional community, and I want to be sure to carry that on into the new year. God created us in community, in the image of the community of the Trinity. The ways we can minister to one another are numerous and the ways we can bless one another are worth whatever challenges we may face in devoting ourselves to fellowship.

Today’s Question: What awareness of God’s grace are you carrying with you into 2014? What else do you see in today’s Scriptures, that you can carry with you this year?

NicoleB_200Nicole Bennett writes at Gidget Goes Home, a lifestyle blog exploring the search for contentment, community and creativity… and lots of homemade ice cream. She studied languages & literature at Cal Poly and CSU Long Beach and now spends her days homeschooling and enjoying the San Diego sunshine. Nicole and her husband love serving in church leadership, and enjoy the outdoors and watching baseball with their two daughters and one son.

Related posts:

Who's the Boss? (Parenting by Grace) - Matthew 8
A Place to Go with Our Guilt - Leviticus 7
Saved by Renewal - Titus 3
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