January 22, 2011

Old Has Gone

Day 20 of 21

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

2 Corinthians 5:14-21


 

This past week has been a significant week in my three-week journey. I have learned a lot and witnessed even more. God has made Himself known and affirmed over and over that He is with me.

I grew up in the Baptist church. I grew up learning all the bible stories, memorizing verses at VBS, memorizing the 23rd Psalm and the 10 commandments, learning all the hymns and on and on. I knew a lot about the bible. As an adult, it is beneficial to know these things because in hard times, the reminder of God's love is needed to deal with trials.

A time comes though, when all of those things that you have learned over the years, come into play. You have to put them into practice. It's all you have to hold on to and it becomes your greatest source of strength. I have seen the power and influence of Satan over people but I have seen the amazing power and faithfulness of God even more.

I will admit that when times are difficult, it becomes easy to lose focus of what God is doing and focus on the lies that Satan whispers into our ear. It has not only happened to me over the past two years but pretty much too every person I know who has been involved in my situation. Gossip has run amuck, as well as slander, jealousy, betrayal and the list goes on. All of those things were brought about by Satan and used to destroy the testimony of myself as well as others involved. What I find to be the most chilling in it all, are those that fail to recognize that they too have played a part in all that has taken place. For some it comes down to ignorance but for many, it is pride.

I have spent three weeks asking God for discernment but instead found an intimacy with the Lord that is beyond description. I have come to know Him in a new way and He has and is changing my life. I am happier than I have ever been.

One of the greatest lessons learned (for me) over the past three weeks has been that of alienation to reconciliation. I have learned that we live in a fallen world where separation, rejection and alienation cannot be avoided. We were created with a desire to be in a relationship with God. Sometimes, it is hard to find that connection where our relationship is solid and not surfacy. Our relationship with God is critical to our well-being but there are times when things stand in the way of that relationship. We all at one time or another (probably daily if we're honest) have violated the Lord's commands whether it be something that we have done or thought or said.

God cannot be in the presence of sin. Scripture tells us that the wages of sin is death, which is eternal separation from God. (Romans 3:23) Being raised Baptist, I was taught this from an early age. Typically the diagram of the two cliffs with God on one side and man on the other with the cross serving as the bridge to both was used to illustrate this point. Now what I share next maybe one of those "duh" moments for everyone else but for me, it was been a huge revelation. There is more to the I am a sinner, I need Jesus and so I say a prayer and ask Him into my life moment. I have spent 26 years thinking/believing that I asked Jesus into my heart and all my sins before that were forgiven and now I have to live without messing up. Now I don't believe in conditional salvation. I believe once saved always saved so I'm not sure what my thinking was before but I know that I was placing A LOT of pressure on myself to get it "right" all the time by trying to do the "right" thing. I have lived in a constant state of stress.

Finally, the stress is gone and I am free from my list of "right" things. God solved this problem for me (actually for all of us). He sent His precious Son to pay the ultimate penalty for my sins (and yours). Jesus lived the perfect life, carried all of my (and your) sins (past, present and future) to the cross and died a gruesome death for me (and you). I am no longer condemned for my sin because Christ took my place. For me, the chains are finally gone.

I heard once that every time we try to forgive ourselves for something that we are taking away from what Christ did for us on the cross. It is not something I intentionally do but I know that I have allowed Satan to remind me of my failures in the past. From there I can't let go and dwell on my mistakes/sins. Every time I do that, I now realize that I am taking away from what Christ did for me.

When I accepted Him into my life, I became a new creation. God sees me through Jesus. I am covered by His blood and made clean. Not just for that one moment when I prayed the prayer but forever. Now knowing this does not mean that we are given a "get out of jail free" pass where we can continually live in sin. Well I guess we could but we then miss out on the abundant life. Instead, it means we are able to have a personal relationship with God, the King of the Universe, our Heavenly Father. He knew I would and that I have messed up but still allowed His Son to die for me (and you). This is where I get overwhelmed and it brings me to tears every time I think about it. He knew when He allowed His Son to take my place on the cross, all the sin that I would commit in my life. He loved me THAT much that His Son was crucified because He wanted a relationship with ME (and you)!!!!

I believe that God allows all things to happen for a reason. I believe that He can take the bad and use it for His glory. I believe that is what He is doing in my life at this very moment.

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