More from the GDW archieves
from June 6, 2006
Put On The New Self
How does (or should) a Christian live? We might say a Christian is “made” by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and we might define a Christian as a child of God who will spend eternity in Heaven. And while these are true statements, it still seems there ought to be something about a Christian that makes them different from the rest of the unbelieving world; “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The moment we truly believe in Jesus Christ and accept the forgiveness offered through the sacrifice of His death, we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit and become a “new creation.” But at the very instant of what we call our new birth, there is little recognizable difference between the old creation and the new. The transformation is done on our heart and there needs to be a process where we mature and allow this transformation to consume every area of our life.
Much of the letters written by Paul were devoted to this same subject. He spent most of his ministry preaching the good news of Salvation through faith in Jesus; but most of his writing was to Christians, instructing them on how they should live.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
These verses are part of a three chapter passage (Ephesians 4-6) which begins with “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) and includes teaching about unity, love, humility, anger, purity, husbands, wives, parents, children, slaves, masters, and the full armor of God – all teaching about what is meant by the new self! Some find it hard to understand that a Christian must be taught and urged how to live, but Paul understood. In fact, it’s clear in the original language that Paul is saying to put on the new self…and to KEEP putting it on!!
This is perhaps the most important, yet also the most neglected, teaching of the church today. We seem to have lost the understanding that the Christian life is designed to be a radical transformation which lasts all the rest of our days. The call to “come as you are” is also a call to prepare for change.
The new life we’ve been given is not like the old – it’s “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Let’s rise up every day and be determined to put away the old and live according to the new. Let’s show the world that our walk is different – that we walk hand in hand with Jesus – that we have indeed put on the new self.
From June 1, 2006
His Work of Art
Do you ever wake up and wonder if you’re where God wants you? Do you ever wonder if you’re really following God’s plan for your life? These are normal questions and ought to be asked by every true believer in Jesus Christ. We should desire to follow His plan; and the only way to know is to ask, listen for direction, and obediently follow.
The most important part of God’s plan is that we trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin; “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants us all to repent, turn to Jesus and receive His gift of Salvation – He wants us to step from eternal death to eternal life!
But many people receive His gift and then continue life with no real change, no new direction. This should not be! When we receive God’s gift of Salvation, something wonderful occurs; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we place our life in His hands, He wipes away the ugliness of our sin and begins to grow and mature us into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8:29). This process of maturing growth is His plan!
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
When we become a new creation in Christ, we become God’s workmanship. The Greek word for workmanship is “poiema” – it’s where we get the word poem. And though it might be difficult to think of our life as a poem, the idea being presented is that God is creating something beautiful, something almost poetic which touches the heart of God.
It might be easier to switch analogies and think of God as the Master Painter. When we give Him our life, we hand Him our old canvas – a canvas covered with the grotesque ugliness of sin. But by grace the canvas is wiped clean, and the Artist begins to paint a work of art with Jesus as the model. Every stroke of His brush is to make our canvas look more and more like Christ.
Are we where God wants us? Are we following His plan? To help find the answer, we should ask: Is the likeness of Christ beginning to form or is my canvas still filled with ugliness and confusion? Am I allowing Him to paint or am I trying to take the brush at every opportunity? Do I even trust Him with my canvas?
God really is the Master Painter, and He really does know what He’s doing. If we will allow Him to finish His work, the end result will be better than anything we can imagine!! Let’s give Him our canvas and allow Him to paint. Let’s follow His plan and allow our life to become His work of art.
From May 30, 2006
Hiding Among The Baggage
When Samuel became too old to be an effective judge, the leaders of Israel asked for a new kind of ruler; “Appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” (1 Samuel 8:5). This request was actually an indication of the sad decline of God’s people. By requesting a king, “as all the other nations,” they were rejecting God’s plan and choosing to follow the ways of the world.
God was disappointed with the heart of His children; but He granted their request and told Samuel to anoint Saul as Israel’s first king. Saul was “an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites – a head taller than any of the others” (1 Samuel 9:2). Saul’s external appearance was a perfect match for the superficial values of the nation.
When Samuel spoke with Saul, he was quite surprised to hear he had been chosen by God: “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” (1 Samuel 9:21). Saul’s insecurities were so great that when it came time to officially anoint him as king, he was nowhere to be found.
1 Samuel 10:22
“So they inquired further of the Lord, ‘Has the man come here yet?’ And the Lord said, ‘Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.'”
Although Saul made many mistakes as king, we must not forget he was specifically chosen by God and empowered to do His will. But Saul lived with a great sense of inadequacy and was never able to effectively lead. He continually stepped out of God’s will because his focus remained on his own limitations rather than on the limitless ability of the One who called him to serve.
Each of us who enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are also chosen to do His will – empowered by His Spirit to accomplish everything He desires for our life; “His divine power has given us everything we need” (2 Peter 1:3). Unfortunately, most of us enter this relationship carrying bags from our past which weigh us down and hinder our ability to serve.
What baggage are we still carrying or using to hide from God’s call? There may be sins and failures in our distant (or even very recent) past which make us feel unworthy to serve. We may still carry the pain and mistrust of a broken relationship. We may have even made a sincere attempt to serve but taken a few wrong steps and fallen flat. But NOTHING must keep us from doing His will. Nothing must keep us from following where we know He is leading. Let’s trust Him with all our heart and answer the call today. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ and stop hiding among the baggage.
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