Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In with the new!

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Acts 6:8-7:2a

TO CHEW ON: "For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us." Acts 6:14

Less than 40 years have passed between today's story and the event we celebrated yesterday (Jesus' birth). It's a relatively short span of time, yet long enough to change the course of history. The council of priests here accused Stephen of the same thing they had accused the adult Jesus of — wanting to change the temple order of worship (Matthew 26:59-61). And though the witnesses against Jesus misrepresented what He said, the coming of Christ did mean the end of the temple order of worship, the foundation of Judaism.

I can understand the resistance of these leaders when confronted with claims that were so earth-shaking. We naturally fear and resist change, especially when it shatters the lens through which we view life. And that's the kind of change Jesus brings:

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17

What new things does Christ bring?

1. A new sensitivity (Ezekiel 36:26).
2. A new Master (1 Corinthians 8:6)
3. A new mind (Romans 12:1-2)
4. A new reason for living (Philippians 1:21).
5. A new guidebook (1 Peter 1:23).
6. A new interest (Colossians 3:1).
7. A new freedom (Romans 7:6).
8. New strength (Isaiah 40:31).
9. A new love (1 John 4:7).
10. A new song (Psalm 40:3).
11. A new destiny (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Reviewing all these new things that Jesus brings gets me all excited again about the privilege of being His child.

Have you invited Him to bring this newness into your life? Such a decision won't be without its discomforts, as you deal with the old: mindsets, values, priorities and allegiances. But it's so worth it!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, again, thank You for coming to earth to bring change and make things new. Help me to embrace and incorporate all these new things into my life today. Amen. 

MORE: Feast of Saint Stephen

The "new" for the disciples also brought martyrdom. Today the church commemorates its first martyr, in the Feast of Saint Stephen. The liturgy for today begins with this collect:
We give you thanks, O Lord of glory, for the example of the first martyr Stephen, who looked up to heaven and prayed for his persecutors to your Son Jesus Christ, who stands at your right hand; where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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