We’re talking about how new life comes into your world. If there’s nothing in your life that needs some renewal, then the words below are not for you. Grab the remote, Seinfeld has a new stand up show on Netflix.
If there is, then know that in the Bible the apostle Paul says that your life can be changed. From old to new, from dead to alive. And he points out your window and says “just as God resurrects the world of nature every spring, so God will resurrect you. Not just after you die, but today. God will raise the dead in you. Today. (1 Corinthians 15)
How? Last week’s blog’s answer to that was “Get to know who Jesus is, and you’ll be changed.” You’ll see your life through a different lens. It’s like introducing yourself to a whole new reality. The first is last. The poor are blessed. And love trumps everything as being the greatest power on earth.
Today, the answer to the “how” question is one word: GRACE. New life comes when grace is experienced.
Do you know that God has never had any intention of holding your past against you? You know people and I know people who consistently throw your past mistakes back into your face. Five years ago, you messed up with something, and there is it, in front of you again. Why do you keep reminding me of that and using it against me?
Some people never forget your past mistakes. Hopefully you’re not sitting beside that person as you read this. That might be awkward. But if that’s the case, what’s below might help.
Grace keeps no record of wrong doing. Jesus said ‘you are forgiven’. Yes, go, and sin no more, don’t keep stepping in the same hole over and over. The fact is, we will mess up, because we’re human, but please know that God doesn’t hold it against you. Instead, God says “It’s new every morning. Great is your steadfast love.” (Lamentations 3, and pretty much everywhere else in the Bible)
Here’s a story. It’s formed the core of my understanding of God’s grace.
The setting is almost 30 years ago when I made a decision to answer a call to church ministry. An important part of that call was my conviction that average people not only needed to know about, but also, wanted to know the God revealed through Jesus in the Bible.
And I understood that God had given me certain gifts that would help people know and understand God. That was an exciting thing and still is. And personally, I felt a sense of newness with it. This was about me having a new direction, a new chapter in my life beginning. A turning of the page and all of that.
A month or so after beginning studies, I’m driving in the car. It’s a beautiful October day. And somebody behind me beeps. Not a “hello” beep, but a “you’re going too slow” beep. I look in my rear-view mirror, and I’m suddenly irritated to see that in the opinion of the guy behind me, I’m not going fast enough.
We get to a stop sign. I’m waiting, and the guy behind me beeps again. “Come on”, I hear him yell. “Go!” And before I know it, (I’m not proud of this, but I'm in too deep to stop telling you now), I’m out of the car, I’m walking back to the car behind me. I get to the driver, and I get right into his face, and I say “what is your problem?”
It’s just a kid, maybe 18, with his girlfriend. His jaw is fully dropped. And he’s like “What is your problem?” I pointed my finger right into his face and said “Don’t be beeping at me.”
And so, here’s the picture. Here I am, a student of ministry. Bright eyed and ready to start shining the light of Jesus into the world. Man, what a lousy rep for God I was that day. I got back to my car thinking “What did I just do?” God would have had every right to fire me right then and there.
Cue Morgan Freeman audio: "Raeburn-Gibson, your admission acceptance has been revoked, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out."
Thankfully, that’s not how God works, and that’s what “new every morning” is all about.
OK, so, you don’t have a road rage story. But, you have a story. We all do. The need for grace is across the board. Why? Because each of us is wired to be ungodly. The bible calls it the sinful nature. (See Galatians 5) I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m always pulled back into old ways of being. Even after ‘newness’ comes.
And so God promises “You are forgiven. Try it again. Go, and sin no more, and by the way, I’m here to help you to help you with that. It is new every morning. New every morning. This won’t be the last time you stumble either. So, try it again”.
"It is by grace that you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:8) That word "saved" can also be translated as "given new life."
You’re forgiven. Be glad about that. Bask in it, just like you do with the late May sunshine majestically surrounding you.
And then, hand it on to that person beside you who keeps making mistakes. Brown will turn green. Buds will blossom. Do it in Jesus’ name.