"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 4, 2018
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (NKJV) The NLT says it like this: "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!"
Recently, I was unable to fall asleep so I got up and came downstairs to pray. This scripture came to mind and I realized that I understood what this verse was saying, but didn't really have a really deep knowledge of what it meant and didn't really "get" it. If so, then I would stop thinking about past sins and failures. If so, I would stop relating past sins and failures to other people.
When someone repents and accepts the gift of salvation, they are no longer the same person that they were before. They become a brand new person; a person whose old life is passed away/gone, and they begin a new life. Their past no longer defines who they are or what they've done. Their sins are removed as far as the east is from the west, by our Father (Psalm 103:12). In fact, He forgives, wipes away their sins, then no longer remembers their past transgressions (Isaiah 43:35 and Hebrews 8:12).
Upon repenting and becoming a christian, immediately a complete transformation takes place. We may look like the same person on the outside, but inside, we have a new birth.
In John chapter three we read a story about Nicodemus, who was a Jewish religious leader. He came to Jesus after dark one evening and said, "Rabbi, we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you."
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God."
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicodemus. "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?"
Jesus replied, "I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.'"
Each of us had an earthly mother who gave birth to us. We were in her womb for nine months, more or less, where we were formed and grew, drawing nourishment from our mother's body. But then delivery time came where we passed from being inside of her body, to being a tiny little human that could be held and touched and seen. As days, months, and years passed we grew and developed and were taught and learned and matured.
Yet in spite of all of that, we had that sinful nature inside of us that we were born with. Then there comes that time when we each must decide what to do with that sinful nature. Do we continue to allow it to develop and grow and cause us to remain in our sin; or do we put that sinful nature to death and become a new creation in Christ? Sometimes people may make that choice, then fail to follow through with their commitment and go dig up that buried sin-filled man/woman and take off their new godly nature and put on that stinky old person that had already been put in a tomb. There are those who try to put on the old and new man, much like people change clothes. That doesn't work! You can't be a christian when it's convenient, then put on the old sinful nature when things get tough or you're faced with temptations.
Romans 6:1-8 explains it well. "Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined Him in death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with Him in His death, we will also be raised to life as He was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him."
Verse 12-13 continues, "Do no let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life."
Do you understand what these verses and the verses I quoted at the beginning of this devotion all say? When we repent and become a new person, the old person dies and no longer lives! Our old sin-filled selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. When we died with Christ, we were set free from the power of sin; but just as Christ was raised from the dead, we now live new lives. That old man is dead, gone, and buried!! We are no longer who we used to be, but we are made completely new!
So that means if someone committed a horrible sin, or had a really bad reputation, or had sinful habits and hang-ups, were dishonest or a cheat, were adulterers, committed murder, had an addiction, was imprisoned, etc...... when they repented and asked Jesus to forgive them, that old sinful man was immediately buried and in it's place Jesus gave them a new heart and they became a new creation.
Therefore, afterwards when other people bring up that persons past and discuss what type of person they used to be, or want to talk about the old days and how awful that person was, or connect their past sin to them, or rehash stories of sinful behavior and misconduct.... they are talking about someone who no longer exist! They are talking about someone who has died and been given a new life. That old man/woman and their sinful nature is passed away and gone, and that's no longer who they are.
I heard a story of a man who met up with an old acquaintance. That person kept wanting to talk about the old days and how wild this man was and all his escapades and the trouble he had gotten into. He would say, "Remember when...." and the man would reply, "No, I don't remember that." The other man would persist and say, "Yeah, remember you used to....", trying to rehash all the sin-filled choices that the first man had made. The first man finally cut the man off and said, "That man has died. That is no longer who I am! I am a new person and that old man no longer exists and I no longer remember him."
THAT is what Paul is writing about in Romans and 2 Corinthians! When someone tries to bring up the past, we say, "I don't know who you're talking about! That person is dead and no longer lives, and I no longer remember who they are. Jesus made me brand new and that old nature is buried and gone!"
Not only do we see ourselves as a new creation and forget about the old person that we were prior to salvation; but that is how we view others as well. Instead of remembering how someone used to be a drunk, or drug addict, or adulterer, or lied to and cheated everyone they knew, or were sexually promiscuous or committed adultery, or in prison or jailed, or was a thief, or whatever..... we stop bringing up that "old man" that is buried and gone, and see them for who they are in Christ today.
Let's put into practice and learn to put these scriptures into daily practice; for ourselves, as well as on the behalf of others. Let the past go, stop bringing it up and seeing ourselves or others through that filter, and see ourselves and others as Jesus sees us!
It's common for someone to become born again on a Sunday service. Then Monday, they have to wake up at the same time. They have to go through the same traffic. They have to clock in at the same job. It might be tempting to think everything has gone back to normal.
When I got married, we only spent a few days for our wedding and honeymoon. Then we went back to work. It was the same job, and all. But that first day back, I went as a married man, not as a single one. Even though I was working with the same people (like my parents), and at the same place, same time, etc., I was changed.
It should be the same when we are saved. It might be the same place and all, but we are forever changed.
Place chicken breasts in baking pan and cover with Italian dressing; cover with foil. Marinate for 1 hour or longer in refrigerator. Don't pour off or remove the dressing before baking. Place the covered pan at 325 for 2 hours or in place in crock pot and cook until tender.
You can also cook a pork roast the same way.
I remember as a little kid liking to pretend to be a grownup and wearing the shoes of my mom or one of my big sisters. Mama had a pair of high heels that someone had given to her (I don't particularly remember her wearing them, but maybe she did), and I liked to wear them around the house. I supposed perhaps that is something that a lot of little girls like to do; wear the shoes of grownups.
Last week I wore a pair of tennis shoes the two days that I babysat Jovie, who is 4-years old. I tend to take my shoes off when inside, and she would put them on and walk around in them. On Tuesday she asked if she could wear them upstairs..... nope, because then she'd take them off and I'd have to go look for them later. Okay, could she wear them into the bedroom where she sleeps and put them by her bed? No! I told her if she wanted to wear them, she needed to stay in the living room so that I would be able to find my shoes later when it was time for me to go home. On Thursday she was wearing my shoes once again and asked if she could borrow them for a few days. I told her no, because I needed them. She said, "Well, could I just borrow one of them?" I told her no, because it was raining and my foot would get wet. She said, "It's okay. You can just borrow one of mama's shoes to wear!"
"When Jesus looks at a mirror, He doesn't see me.
When Jesus looks a me, He should see a mirror." - Luke Lang
Be a refection of Jesus; don't try to make Him a reflection of yourself!
We love you!
Loretta & Jon