As a New Year unfolds, the Lord wants us to know what to believe Him for and how to respond openly to what He is set to do. How can we best step forward into His year of new tomorrows with expectation?
Called to New Discernment
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. - 1 Corinthians 5:6-7
Purging out the old leaven to become a new lump refers to a practice the Lord instituted at the beginning of Passover, which God called "a beginning of days." In releasing the children of Israel from slavery, the first thing the Lord instructed was seven days of eating unleavened bread.
The skill of ancient Egypt's bakers with yeast had cultivated a particular taste among the people. The Lord's directive was not to call them to a life of blandness, but to move them away from what they were accustomed to in their former environment, so they could become sensitized to where He was leading them.
Paul is addressing a congregation who had lost their "taste" or discernment for the Lord's ways. Within the community of the faithful, there had become a tolerance for the Corinthian culture, which was considered even by Roman standards to be the lowest with regard to moral matters. These who had come to Christ were losing their perspective on grace. They knew the grace of God had forgiven them of their past failures, but they had somehow lost their taste for holiness. The “old leaven” was their exaggeration of the idea of grace.
The Lord desires for His people to discern between what “tasted good” before they were saved, and the fulfillment He promises faithful believers, which is beyond all they ever could have known. He calls us to new tomorrows, but first He wants to "re-tool" our taste buds, so we don't accommodate what is less than worthy of His purpose in our life. That's the principle of the "new lump"—God wants to create a new rise of His life, so that it's a "leaven that comes from heaven," not from the world's order of things.
Convinced of New Promises
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
Our new tomorrows begin when we first come to the Lord. The old record of our sin is removed, and we are promised eternal life. If we know Jesus, we know those two things are true, and our biggest concerns are resolved. He's erased the past that would have destroyed the possibilities of our future, and He's given us the promise of a future we never could have gained ourselves. Still, it's amazing the number of people who believe God can do those things, but have no idea how God can handle a situation they are facing right now.
In Christ, we have available to us a resource that continues to beget the newness of His power in the everyday things of our life. He sets before us new tomorrows in which He offers to develop our character, shape new habits in our lives, bring freshness and vitality into our vocations, bring a resurgence of love in our marriages and reconstruct ruined relationships and broken homes.
Believing for New Tomorrows
"Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." - Isaiah 43:18-19
The promise of new tomorrows has a requirement built into it… Don't talk about things the way they were. Don't let "the way it was" dominate your mind. This is not just "positive thinking." It is God's power! He says He will make a way in the wilderness. There are thorny issues and an overgrowth of circumstances that we don't know how to get through, but the Lord promises a way through the wilderness and a river in the desert to sustain us while we're pursuing that new way.
Cleansed for New Possibilities
"Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." - Matthew 9:17
When Jesus encountered religious traditionalism, He said that although it may have served them well in the past, but it wouldn't take people to the next place. When Jesus talked about new wineskins, He was talking about something that had been rinsed and stretched "just like new." Just as surely as new wine is an illustration of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the operation of the Word of God flows like water into our lives.
To open up to the newness of God's possibilities, most of us need a rinsing of the fabric of our lives. Some of us who have walked with Him the longest can be the stiffest when the Lord says, "I want to do a new thing." Even the dearest of committed believers have the mistaken capacity to say, I've tasted it all. The Lord wants to rinse us fresh and do something new in us unlike anything we've ever known before.
Won't you welcome the New Year with me by opening up to and expecting the promise of God's new tomorrows in your life? Invite the Lord to let the rivers of Heaven flow over you and renew your capacity to receive the new thing He wants to do in you.