The new life is not a myth, and it is not like going on a low-fat or low carbs diet. Neither is it like setting a New Year Resolution. If, anything, it is part spiritual and part physical. The spiritual — is completely out of the control of the flesh, but the physical–is like a ball in your court. Therefore, whatever we say and do will say a lot about the life we live.
Naturally, the heavenly father carved out a new life for us when He sent His Son to die. Sadly, though, none of us can embrace this new life until we get rid of the old life. In essence, the old life died with Christ, but many of us continue to hold on to its memories that we find it difficult to embrace the new life.
In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the apostle Paul hinted at the new life when he writes, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”.
Of course, Paul was speaking from experience. We have read about his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road. The Bible states that Paul then Saul was breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples. He even went to the high priest requesting authorization to go down to Damascus and bound anyone he finds spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, all that furor and hatred would change once Paul experienced the new life. (Read Acts 9:1-19, Acts 22:6-21, Acts 26:12-18).
Therefore, the apostle knew first hand that without the new life we are like the unruly Israelite who could not shake the memories of the meat they ate in Egypt and Lot’s wife who hung on to the memories of Sodom to her death. Still, if anyone doubted Paul’s thesis, then He need not look further than the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus in John 3:1-8.
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one can do the signs you are doing, unless God is with him.”
“How can someone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to the flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
Everybody has a thorn in the flesh. One that you desperately want to remove. Ironically, you have asked God to take it away several times, but nothing happens. It seems God did not hear you. So, you begin to wonder whether He is listening to you at all. Before long doubt and fear set in and you find yourself going backward instead of forward.
Let me be clear, a persistent thorn in the flesh is not a sign that your heavenly father does not care about your well-being, neither does it mean that He did not hear your request. However, It could mean that He has already acted upon your request, but you have refused to accept His proposal. It could also mean that the thorn is the execution stake you need to pick up daily to follow Jesus.
The Apostle Paul struggled with a thorn in his flesh too. He had petitioned God to remove the thorn three times, but every time he did, the answer was always the same, “My grace is enough for you”, (Read 2 Corinthians 12:9). Of course, like all of us who suffered from thorns in our flesh, the beloved Apostle, was not happy with the answer God gave him, but after three, tries he realized he was fighting a losing battle.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, as I reflect on the thorn in my flesh, I am reminded with absolute assurance that the closer I get to God is the less concerned I am about a thorn in my flesh. Further, the thorn in my flesh may be one thing that keep me grounded, resolute and steadfast in pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.
There is an old fable that goes like this: “From the poor house to king’s house”. That is kind of what the apostle Paul meant when he said, “You are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir” Galatians 4:7).
Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, God’s eternal plan has always been to adopt us into His family. He does this by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that He finds immense pleasure doing this, (Read Ephesians 1:5). That is the reason He sent Jesus to break the Yoke that binds us.
I thank God that I am not desperate, alone, insecure, unwanted and without an identity. I am an heir of God and co-heir with Christ. God has adopted me into His family because He wants me to be a part of His own. He wants me to have the same rights and privileges that belong to a son who has come into His inheritance.
I am not the outsider, the world thinks I am. I am a child of a King who owns everything. I have His love, attention, presence, acceptance, and His name. I own what He owns. His riches are mine, His other children are my brothers and sisters and His home is where I belong.
It has been more than twenty years since I came in contact with Jesus, and I must admit, I have had my share of ups and downs. Over the years my experience has thought me not to take my Salvation for granted, so now and then I do a soul-searching. I usually replay situations where I think I did wrong and ask God to forgive me. I also devise strategies that I think will help to stop me from making those mistakes ever again. Sometimes I fail, but I keep trying.
Astonishingly, recently while I was doing my usual soul-searching the following question pops up in my head: “Do you still look the way you did before you met Jesus?..Now, this is a difficult question. Nonetheless, I would like to think I have changed tremendously for the better over the past twenty years. Conversely, If I have not, then I would be one of the biggest Dr. Hyde and Mrs. Jekyll because it is impossible for anyone to stay the same after he or she, came in contact with Jesus. If I sound stupid, and naïve, I am not the only one.
The apostle Paul, in one of his letters to the Church in Corinth states: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps the apostle was thinking about his own conversion and later transformation (Acts 9), when he penned those words. For there was no fiercer opponent of the gospel of Jesus Christ than Saul, yet when he came in contact with Jesus his life transformed like a caterpillar morphed into a butterfly.
My dear brothers and sisters let us face reality. If we say we are Christians, and family, friends, neighbors and co-workers do not see the change in us, something is wrong. It is either we have aborted the transformation process or it never occurred at all. Surely, Saul did not suddenly become this perfect person after his Damascus road experience. Neither did the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, but the changes in these two people were blinding.
Hence, if family, friends, neighbors and co-workers do not see any changes in your attitude, behavior, language and modus operandi you need to ask yourself this question: “Do I still look the way I did before I met Jesus?” If the answer is yes, then it is time for a soul-searching.
- Jesus transforms… (stuartmccormack.wordpress.com)
At a Dodger Stadium news conference on Tuesday December 11. 2012 , the Los Angeles Dodgers introduced their newly acquired $147 million Baseball pitching star, Zack Greinke to the news media. Majority owner, Magic Johnson was asked whether money was no object with the Dodgers. He responded with four words, “We want to win”.
Everybody wants to be a winner. Winning is everything in the secular world, especially in sports and athletics. It is not enough to compete. One has to win, and win now! Otherwise, you are deemed a loser, and since no one wants to be a loser, the pressure of winning becomes greater.
Unfortunately, not everybody can be a winner. There is only one spot on the podium for the winner, so some of us have to settle for the unpopular also ran position.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Instead, let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. . . Hebrews 12:1-2
However, unlike the secular world, everyone can be a winner in Christ and in the Christian world. In this sacred world, the race is not awarded to the swift nor the battle to the strong. This race is a marathon, and the winners are those who run with patience and endure to the end. There is no controversy in the Christian race. No doping scandal and no false start. Everyone is on equal footing.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
There is no so-called superstar in the Christian race, and there is no mention of judges or referees. There is only one Judge–the righteous JUDGE and He cannot be bought. He does not take a bribe. He calls the race as He sees it. It does not matter how popular you are, and how long you have been running. He does not curry-favor.
Here is how a winner in the Christian world sounds at the end of his race:
I have fought the good fight, and I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”. 2 Timothy 4.