A New Leaf
By Greg Quinn
January 5th, 2011
We have just celebrated the end of one year, and the beginning of another. Out with the old, in with the new. The old man with the cane and the baby in the diaper greet each other once again as the mascots of the old year and the new one. And not only the start of a new year, but the start of a new decade. At this time of year, we think of things we should have done differently, things we should have done period, things we should not have done, and how we can improve the new year over the old one. Many set “resolutions”, most of which only last a few days or few weeks at best. Then we fall back into the same place we were prior to making the resolution. Instead of “out with the old, in with the new”, it’s “out with the old, in with the old, more of the same”. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The Bible talks about staring over. In fact, one of the greatest beauties of the Bible is that it provides each human being the opportunity to start over. And, recognizing that we humans tend to mess up a lot, it affords us the opportunity to start over again. And again. And again.
God is a loving God. The Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that are in it. The water was formed by God’s voice. The Word of God spoke the stars into existence. The earth was created by the spoken word of the God of Creation. Same with animals, people, etc. Everything that is was made by God. Not an explosion. Not evolution from a monkey (so who made the monkey?). God made everything, including man in His own image. And, God saw everything and was pleased with what He had created. But then Adam and Eve messed it up for all of us. They sinned, and that sin created a separation between man and their Creator God who knew no sin and that could not tolerate sin. So, this disobedience to God created in all generations of mankind to follow the separation between God and mankind, and the need for a bridge to bring us back together with God. For generation after generation, man tried to build this bridge through good works, through sacrifices, through offerings, through prophetic words, and so on. The burnt offerings would sustain God for a while, but the bloodshed of animals only covered up the sin for a season. The process would start over again, with a Holy God not tolerating disobedience from His creation, and a sinful man trying to cover up their sin on their own. But, God loved us so much that He had another plan, one that was unthinkable, but one that was necessary. The only way that God could resolve the sin of mankind was to once and for all have the only complete sacrifice for this sin. And the only way for this to occur was for one without sin to pay the penalty for the sin of all mankind. And the only one without sin was God Himself; Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Some people are better than others. I have an aunt we call Aunt Mary. Mary Evelyn Kent is her name. Aunt Mary is probably the kindest, sweetest, nicest lady I have ever known. I’ve never heard her say a bad word about anyone. She has always had good things to say about most anyone she comes in contact with. Growing up as a troublemaking little boy, it would have been easy at times for Aunt Mary to scold me. But, she always told me how good I was, how handsome I was, how proud she was of me. Even today, of more than 80 years old, Aunt Mary always greets me (and most everyone she meets) with a smile and an “I love you.”. And the way she says it, you know she means it. She epitomizes the picture of a Godly woman as outlined in the Bible. She’s among the kindest people I have ever met. But, as good as Aunt Mary is, she is also a sinner in the eyes of God. All of us are sinners. Even the best of us do wrong sometimes. The Bible says in Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” And that even includes Aunt Mary, or the nicest person that you may know. And, this includes you and me.
When we work a job, we work for wages. If you are a carpenter, for example, you are paid to build something. When you do the work, your payment for doing the work is your wage. We are all sinners; we all do wrong in the eyes of God. And by doing so, the wages for this life of wrongdoing is death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In other words, the only recompense for sin (or disobedience to God) is death. For generations, the death of an animal to atone for a short time for the sins of mankind was required as a band-aid over a gaping wound. But this was only a temporary solution. God knew that the only way to remove the sin penalty (eternal death) from mankind was to send a Savior, His only Son, Jesus Christ, to once and for all pay the death penalty to purchase for all who accepted this gift eternal life with God in Heaven. Freedom from death. Freedom from the penalty of sin.
God is a Holy God. We humans don’t truly understand the concept of holiness. But for God the Creator, who cannot even fathom wrongdoing, any disobedience or wrongful actions are as a sickly cancer, an open sore, excrement in the bowl of soup. God cannot tolerate sin. Therefore, the only payment for sin, as indicated, is death. But God loves us so much, that He is willing to send His Son, Jesus Christ, from Heaven to be born of a virgin, to live a perfect life, and to die on a cruel cross for the sins of mankind. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we were very unlovable, God loved us anyway, so much that he sacrificed His son for us.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God not only loved us so much that He sent His Son to die in our place, but He loved us so much that the means of accepting this salvation is so easy for anyone. Just believe that Jesus is the Son of God, accept that you are a sinner, accept that Jesus died in your place, and willingly receive this free gift of salvation prepared by God who loved His people. Jesus loved you and me, and all mankind, so much that He laid down his life to save us from the penalty of sin. He paid the price once and for all, where all we have to do is accept this free gift of salvation, and be saved from the wrath of God for our sin, and receive eternal life in Heaven as this gift.
We’ve just celebrated another Christmas. You’ve probably already enjoyed the gifts you received. But, these gifts will grow old, won’t fit, get broken, and you’ll tire of them. But there is another gift that never grows old, that always fits, that never breaks, and you’ll never tire of it. That gift is the reason for Christmas. That gift is Jesus the Christ. Born of a virgin in a manger. Lived a perfect life while facing all the temptations that we face today. Was beaten and crucified in our place. Died for our sins. Yet rose again on the third day to defeat death once and for all. And, Jesus did that so that we, as His followers, can also defeat death by rising again one day to live with Jesus and God the Father in Heaven for eternity. For us, it started at Christmas. For God, it started in the beginning of time.
Now we are celebrating a new year, a new decade, and for many, resolutions of changes you desire to make to have a better existence. In other words, the turning over of a new leaf. But, friends, resolutions are not enough. You don’t need a new leaf, you need a new life.
A “new leaf” really begins with a “new life”. And, this new life is only possible if you accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord and follow Him and His teachings. If you have never done that, then I urge you today to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins, to accept His sacrifice on the cross for you, thank Him for dying in your place, and believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for your sins, rose again, and make him the Lord of your life and follow His teachings. By doing this, your new leaf becomes a new life. And your new life is forever, always in the hand of God. You will sin and do wrong again, but you can always come back to Jesus. He is there waiting for you today, and will be there waiting for you tomorrow.
This new life is easy to obtain. You can do it right now. If you’ve never accepted Jesus, then do so right now. Just stop reading, and pray a simple prayer, something like this. “God, I am a sinner. I do wrong. I know that the punishment for sin is death. But I believe that you sent Jesus to die for my sins. I accept Jesus as your Son and my Savior, and I will make him Lord of my life and follow His teachings. Jesus, come into my heart today and save me. I receive your gift of eternal life. Thank you, God, for this precious gift.” The Bible teaches us in Romans 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” It’s that simple. And this new life can be yours today. Why not receive it?
Some of you reading this have accepted Jesus as your Savior already. For some, it was recent. For others, it may have been many years ago. But, for whatever reason, your relationship with God has gotten cold. Perhaps it’s time for your “new leaf” to be a renewed relationship with God. You, too, can pray for God’s forgiveness for turning your back on God, and you can receive a new, vibrant relationship with Jesus once again. Just ask Him. He will deliver.
It’s a new year. A new decade. And, it could be a new life altogether, or certainly a new leaf to turn over to a new way of living. Losing weight may be something you need to do this year, but losing your sin and gaining Jesus is more important. Getting a better job may be a good resolution for 2011, but getting a better relationship with Jesus is more important. Escaping illness is something you should desire perhaps, but escaping Hell is infinitely better, and that can only happen through a relationship with Jesus. A new home on earth is good; a new home in Heaven is better. A better relationship with family is a good thing, but a better relationship with God is greater. A college education is good, but an education from God by a study of the Bible is better.
As we engage our resolutions, and prepare to turn over these proverbial “new leafs”, let’s look at what is really important this year. Gain a new life that is only made possible through Jesus. And if you have Jesus, turn over that new leaf to make your life more worthwhile as a true follower of Jesus.
A new leaf. More than a resolution that you may break before the end of the week. Truly, this year, the “new leaf” or “new life” found in 2011 can be something you will never forget.
PS: If you read this article and prayed for Jesus to enter your life, then I’d like to hear about it. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you have specific prayer requests, make those known at email@example.com. May God bless you this year.