2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 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.
It’s that time of year when people decide to make positive changes and pursue better choices in life. I have not made resolutions for a number of years now. I do have goals. I live by the list if you will. I am constantly writing it down, mulling over it and going after it. Whatever “it” is. I wasn’t always that way and I am really not sure when it happened. Some call it maturity. Maybe it comes with age. As a young person, I seldom finished what I started. But in 1990, my life changed for the better. I became a mother for the first time. I felt meaning and purpose in that little baby’s existence. I had achieved what I know now was one of God’s many callings on my life. I relished it. I enjoyed it. I was challenged by it. The Lord blessed us with five amazing children. They are all different and unique filled with purpose and potential that it is our pleasure to see unfold in their lives.
In the past five years, there has been a subtle shift occurring slow in coming. When you have a houseful of children and not a moment of silence, it seems like the day will never come when you and your spouse have time alone. We have always had children with us. With two boys grown and gone, the house grew a little (or a lot) quieter. The pantry seemed fuller. Our daughter married and moved away. Now there are empty rooms and it seems like our house just got bigger overnight. Suddenly, I am faced with the task of finding the new me in the midst of transition. With only two girls left at home, one on the verge of adulthood it is clear that it is only a matter of time before my purpose will change and transform to the new one that the Lord has for the next stage of my life. Change is hard. Especially if we do not want it or like the ways things are. When our life is bettered by our relationship with Jesus, it is easy to become comfortable and complacent with the change so far and stop seeking that “glory to glory” promised in His Word. Guilty as charged. I was not sure that I wanted this new role that is coming. I like being a mom. It is who I am.
If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old one is gone. The new is here. We are the message of reconciliation to the world. However, what I have decided through the Word of God and a whole lot of prayer in this transition is that new is not like the world offers it. It is not an overnight process but the process achieved as we live our life constantly moving closer to the Lord. What you think you are today may not be who He created you to be tomorrow? I can set goals. I can make plans. But ultimately it is the Lord’s Plan that will prevail in my life. (Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21) What does this mean? To live the life that God created you to live and Christ died for you to have means reconciliation to Jesus Christ not once but every single day of our natural life. It requires change that may be uncomfortable and even unwelcome.
Romans 5:9-11 (NIV)
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
When sin made us God’s Enemies, Jesus died for us to be reconciled back to God and attain right standing or righteousness again. There are many differing opinions about this process. I think I have lived them all. I have been the one who wandered down the aisle to pray and receive Christ not really knowing what I was doing or what I was asking. I have been the one who answered a pastor’s call to return to Christ because all that was required is calling on the Name of Jesus. Left the church and wandered right back into the wilderness of life. It was not until I completely wrecked myself and figured out that the way I was living amounted to nothing but devastation and destruction that I realized until I walked down to the altar ready to give something back I would continue to leave unchanged. I do believe in once saved always saved. It is more than words mumbled in regret. It is not one prayer but a life of communicating with our God, Savior and Lord with the Holy Spirit’s Help. To come before God with no intent to change, be delivered, healed, changed or restored is not going to ever amount to anything. The first act of reconciliation is to come to Jesus Christ with the express purpose of asking Him to be our Savior which means leaving sin, shame, guilt and regret behind to become the new creation that a life reconciled to God produces.
Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation. How much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through this life? There is more to life than an altar call and simple prayer. You are not forced to live in freedom. You do not have to walk in the Blessings of God. You do not HAVE TO DO anything. Reconciliation is the act of reconciling. To reconcile means to bring into agreement or harmony and make more compatible. When we give up sin to accept salvation, this is immediate. It is how we achieve right standing with God the Father. But it is not the end of God’s Creative Process in our life. To reconcile means to settle (Isaiah 1:18) and reconsecrate our existence. To give our life up for greater purpose. It is an active choice with great reward. As we reconcile our life to God, lining up our life to His Word, Will and Way something wonderful begins to happen and we are restored.
Romans 6:5-7 (NIV)
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
2 Corinthians 3:3-6 (NIV)
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
If you want to be a brand new you this year, there are certain things that must occur. You cannot do everything the same way that you did them last year. You must pursue positive change. If your desire is a closer, deeper and more meaningful relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ it will require reconciliation in a two-step process. First, you must take a walk to the Cross and give up your old self. I venture to the Cross daily because I need His Grace more and more. The more I live the more I know I cannot make it a day without God’s Love and Mercy in my life. I can stop right there and live in the cataclysmic cycle of sin and repentance that leads nowhere but circling the wilderness. Constantly battling my flesh without resolution, I can never move on to what God has purposed for me to do or fully see the potential of my creation or salvation. Merry-go-rounds are fun and entertaining unless you have to live on one that would be insanity.
We must not only reconcile our sin to the Cross but our life to God. He doesn’t leave us high and dry but gives us His Spirit to live in us and partner with us in our pursuit of complete reconciliation. To be new is not something that we do, but what Jesus does in us taking the good that is placed in us and allowing it to grow, develop and mature into the new creation hidden there all along. We are not competent to produce such change in our life that leads to completion only compromise. It is the God in us that restores us to His Glorious Standard of Life.
Colossians 1:19-23 (NIV)
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.
As I venture into this season of change and become who I am in addition to being a daughter, wife, mom, friend, church member and employee – it is with great expectation. I have decided to quit trying to reconcile my life to human expectation. I didn’t even make a list of personal goals for the coming year. Like many years in the past, we are fasting and praying for 21 days. We have been doing it for two and it is clear that the Lord has been trying to get my attention for some time. This is a brand new year. It is a new season in our life. It is time to embrace the new things that the Lord is doing. I can only do this by reconciling my life to Him.
Last month, our bank account did not add up. I am one of those crazy people who still keeps a check register even though I do not write checks. Everything that goes in and out. When my account balance and the register did not agree, it began to drive me nuts. I thrive on order. Character flaw for sure. Finally, I sat down to review each transaction and found the problem. I had made a mathematical error. Even though it was a costly one, I was satisfied when I fixed it because things were in order and right. Life is not random. We are created with a purpose and plan that is made by a Sovereign God who does not change His Mind or make mistakes. Even when we deviate from the Truth, it does not change anything about our life. His Plan is still intact. His Purpose will continue to prevail. Our participation is that of reconciliation. If I want God’s Best in my life, I must continue to live in agreement and harmony with God’s Word, Will and Way because He is relentless. Not because He is a mean god, but because He is a Good Father who is intent on the very best for His Beloved Children.
Titus 3:4-7 (NIV)
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
It is pointless to participate in a religion without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is proof that someone intends to live in unity, harmony and agreement with their Savior and make Him their Lord. What is the point of going to church and doing good things if in the end you still die? You’ve left your mark on the world. What does that matter – this world will die and pass away? Unless we have established a place in the Kingdom of God, we will go with it even our good reputation and earthly legacy is nothing when the end comes. But those who endure to the end will be saved.
Today is the Day of Salvation and beginning of a new life of rebirth and renewal that has the potential and promise to carry out every purpose and plan that God intended for your life. Jesus came to give us a full and abundant life with complete satisfaction so that we lack no good thing. His Spirit completes this process in the yielded life that pursues reconciliation with God completely accepting His Standard of Living that far exceeds what we can even think to ask for. It is a new season for you. It is a new day. God’s Favor is ready and waiting. It will not begin with anything you do or say. It is not according to how much self-control, motivation or determination one can muster. It is a commitment to become the new creation and accepting the new life offered by Jesus Christ and learning to reconcile our entire existence to God and His Kingdom. I want to be that brand new person in 2016. How about you?
Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.