2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Today is Memorial Day. The day that we remember those men and women who gave their all their life their entire being and summation of time so that we can live in a free country. It is the freedom that allows us to worship God freely and openly without restriction. Now before we get into a debate about religious freedom in America, stay with me for a moment. What better way to honor those who gave their life so that we could be free than to walk in that freedom. I believe that when Jesus gave us our life back and called it new life it was because that rather than in bondage to the Law – people were free to love and serve Him despite our inability not to sin. My father was in the military during the Vietnam War. My son has engaged in the war on terror in the Middle East. Both returned safely to me, thanks be to God. But there are many other men and women who did not make it back and gave their all. This is not a guilt trip but a call to live your life according to the sacrifice made for it.
Jesus Christ gave His All so that we would have a new life. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. A new life has begun. It will be what you make of it. What does this mean? How do I change the condition of my life? Well, there are few essentials to the resurrection of your being. We should probably start there.
Luke 7:11-15 (NLT)
Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
It would seem all was lost that day. The widow with one son, her only child, walked behind the coffin carrying her entire life. How could she go on without him? He was her everything. I cannot imagine how this mother must have felt. When our son was diagnosed with cancer, the Lord told me the very first night that he would live and not die. I believed it. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything else. The loss of a child is incomprehensible to me. I don’t even think those who have endured it fully understand the ramifications of such a loss as they fight to live with a fractured heart. When Jesus saw the woman, “his heart overflowed with compassion.” Your new life has nothing to do with who you are, where you have been, or how far gone you think you might be. The Love of God is unfailing and unconditional. When He meets you in that place of complete brokenness, He has to move. He has to right the wrong and fix the injustice. That day Jesus gave the boy back to his mother. Now I know this doesn’t happen every day, I have lived the last few years in the Oncology Unit. But I can tell you one thing…when you walk that close to death and eternity it will change you. I have seen it turn entire families around in a heartbeat. Suffering through one of the most heinous and ugly diseases, there is more laughter on the Pediatric Oncology unit than any other place I know. Why? We view the time we have differently when it might be taken from us. The thought of losing a lifetime that we thought we had changes everything. One encounter with Jesus Christ can make the rest of our life count differently. The Lord gives us a new life simply because He loves us. What we do with that life is really up to us?
Mark 5:35-43 (NLT)
While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from the home of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. They told him, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus overheard them and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” Then Jesus stopped the crowd and wouldn’t let anyone go with him except Peter, James, and John (the brother of James). When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw much commotion and weeping and wailing. He went inside and asked, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” The crowd laughed at him. But he made them all leave, and he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples into the room where the girl was lying. Holding her hand, he said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means “Little girl, get up!” And the girl, who was twelve years old, immediately stood up and walked around! They were overwhelmed and totally amazed. Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone what had happened, and then he told them to give her something to eat.
The unfailing and unconditional love of Jesus is how we are given new life, but it by faith that we receive it. The people at the house had already gone into mourning. They had decided that she was dead. Jesus told Jarius that she was only sleeping. Now who do you believe? That’s a tough call. There is no back and forth. You have to pick a side. There are no half living and half dead zombies walking around. You have new life or you don’t. Jesus told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” This could apply to just about every single situation in our life. Faith is the very thing that changes everything. Don’t believe me – try it. When our son had his third relapse of cancer, it was very bad. Cancer was evident from his neck to his abdomen. The optimism previously noted in his medical team was now more of conscious quiet as not to get our hopes up in this grave situation. His cancer was resurfacing more quickly and aggressively. The doctor told me, “We are in the realm of hope now!” That statement was life changing for me! I knew in that moment that God was telling me I have taken over now. Things are about to change just keep your faith solely in me. Boy oh boy was that tested by every fire imaginable and unimaginable. To get to his little girl, Jarius and Jesus had to walk home, go through a crowd of people wailing and crying reminding him that his baby was gone, and walk through a house full of memories to her dead lifeless body. How far will you have to walk by faith to receive new life? Friend, I don’t know. But it’s worth it…oh so worth it. Our son is approaching a year of remission. They told us that with the bone marrow transplant his odds were still only 2% that he would survive. That’s what faith can do.
John 11:32-39 (NLT)
When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha rushed to meet her dear friend, Jesus along the way. Their conversation indicative of other conversations at funerals and wakes amongst believers. Everything was past tense, but when Jesus came that would all change. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this Martha?” Of course she agreed in the past tense but not in the present. We live with Jesus in the past tense rather than bringing Him into our present. Of course, those who believe will live forever in Eternity. The Word of God doesn’t say that we have to wait for it, but we choose to. We cannot believe that the Lord can take this tired, broken, and ruined life and make something better because we know our self. But that is not the case. When Jesus went to Lazarus, Martha grew quite concerned about opening the tomb of a man dead and buried for four days. The stink would be terrible.
This is what stops us from reclaiming time and allowing the Lord to work out every detail for our good. We are so concerned with the condition of our life that we are afraid to let Jesus in to do His Good Work. Jesus answered her disbelief, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s Glory if you believe?” Our belief is not an act for the future but holds hope for today. We honor those who died to give us freedom by taking back the time stolen from us by bad choices or moments of indecision wrapping in the grace given to us called time.
Matthew 27:51-53 (NLT)
At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
When Jesus died on the Cross, He gave His All so that I could live again. I believe it. I have seen the Resurrection Power of God work for His Glory in my son’s battle against cancer. When we sing about the fact that Jesus is alive, I can goosebumps every time because I have seen resurrection power in action. No one will ever change my mind regarding its validity. I still do not understand why children die or even adults for that matter before their time. I do not understand the deep depraved evil that permeates the earth. I cannot identify with life takers only the life giver. God loves me. His Intentions for my life are always good. I just need faith to live a new life and make the most of my time in transition. I have to believe and trust the Lord with my life to have the new life that grace wraps me up in. I honor the Lord by living that new life rather than returning to the comfort of my old one. When He died, His Spirit was set free to live in each of us which fills us with resurrection power that doesn’t just empower us physically, but spiritually, mentally and emotionally too. We honor men and women of service today. If they could come for one day and spend it with you, would they feel they died for a good cause or was it all in vain? What about Jesus? Would He feel you are making the most of the life you have been given? Today I live free to love the Lord and honor God with my life because men and women have defended my freedom as an American. This time I have been given and secured with great potential because Jesus gave me my life back – I intend to honor them both by living my life to the fullest and making the most of each moment in faith, hope and love – the things that are eternal!
I Corinthians 13:12-13(NLT)
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.