Monday, January 11, 2010

When Do We Matter?

Maybe you heard about this story that broke a couple months ago. Seems that a man in Belgium was in a car accident and doctors found that he was in a coma. He remained that way for 23 years, in what his caregivers called a "persistent vegetative state." One problem; he wasn't actually in a coma, he was paralyzed. If you haven't read the story, here's the link: http:// . Anyhoo, the reason I mention this is that for 23 years nobody knew this guy's story. Nobody had every heard of Rom Houben. If a news reporter had gone to the hospital and seen him there, he wouldn't have written a story about him. This poor man wasn't deemed important until he 'woke up', so to speak, from his coma. Until he did something, no one took notice of him.
That's often the way things work in the world, isn't it? Until you do something, you don't matter; until you make some sort of impact, you're just another face in the crowd. I don't know about you, but I'm so glad God doesn't work that way. I'm so glad that God didn't wait for me to do something before I mattered to Him. In fact, according to scripture, I mattered to God before I ever did anything; I mattered to God before I was able to do anything. Ephesians 1:4 says, "...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world..." Isn't that an amazing statement? God chose us before the foundation of the world. Before He said, "Let there be light!", He had set His affection on you. He had chosen to love you, to redeem to you, to irresistibly draw you to Himself.
And that's a good thing. Because the Bible says that I was dead in sins; if God had decided to wait for me to do something before I mattered to Him, He would still be waiting. He didn't wait for me to do something, He gave me life and made me able to do something. I was like Lazarus, dead in the tomb. Lazarus didn't decide to wake up and live again, Jesus had to call to Him. In the very same way, I didn't decide to live; God called to me and granted me life. And He did this before the foundation of the world.
In a world that demands that you perform in order to have worth, in a world that screams, "What have you done for me lately?", isn't it good to know that we serve a God who says, "I have chosen you not because of anything you did or would ever do; I chose you because it pleased Me to do so"? Today, rest in the fact that you matter to God; and you've mattered to Him for longer than time has existed.

Father, thank You for choosing us. Thank You for choosing us in spite of who we are and what we do. Thank You for setting Your affection on us. Thank You for giving us worth. Help me to always find my contentment in obeying You. And just as You set Your affection on me, help me set my affection on You. Amen.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Obligatory New Year's Post

It's the time of year to make the obligatory end-of-old-year, first-of-new-year-post. And I sort of went back and forth about what to post because frankly, you can go to a lot of different places to read about what resolutions you ought to make, what things you ought to focus on, etc. And I don't want to just rehash someone else's words. Instead, I thought I'd share something that has been rolling around my head for a couple days.
As we fly into this new year, you hear so many people talk about "a fresh start", or "a chance to start with a clean slate", etc. And I get what they're saying. But in reality, the new year offers none of that. When I woke up on the 1st, I had the same problems I had on the 31st. There was no magical slate wiping or any of that stuff. If you have any doubt about that, call your credit card company and see how clean the slate it.
Now I'm not saying all this to be Johnny Rain-Cloud or anything, but celebrating a new year has just brought back to mind that the only way to really get a fresh start, the only way to really start with a clean slate is to experience the redemption that God offers through Jesus. According to God's word, we need a fresh start. According to scripture, we need to have a clean slate. Problem is, we can't clean the slate. In fact, we don't even want to. We love our sin. We love to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, we love to be selfish and prideful and hateful and wicked. And that presents a major problem; God demands holiness while I embrace wickedness. And the end result of this tension is death; spiritual separation from God.
But here's what makes the Good News so stinking good; when I come to God in faith and repentance, I get a fresh start. I get my slate wiped clean. The Bible says that if I confess my sins to God, God is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins. And just to make sure we don't misunderstand, the Bible goes on to say that God cleanses us of all unrighteousness. That means that if it's bad, it goes. Ever sinful, wicked, unclean, bad, and immoral thing I've done has been wiped away. In fact, the Bible says that when a person is united with Christ through repentance and grace, that person becomes a new creation. Everything that defined them before Christ dies; everything is then remade, recreated in the image of God. That means that when God looks at me, He sees Jesus Christ. Now that's a thought that will melt your little noodle, isn't it? And that's a real fresh start. God has given me a 2nd chance; and a 3rd chance, a 4th chance-as many chances as I need. All my sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ; my heart of stone has been replaced with a heart of flesh. I was like Lazarus, dead in my sins. But when Jesus stood before me and called my name, I came to Him; though I had been dead in my sins, Jesus breathed the breath of eternal life in my nostrils. Life flowed into me; I was remade, recreated in the image of my King. And I was given a fresh start.
When you hear people talking about starting the new year off right, remember that only through Jesus can we start off this year or any year right. Only in Him can we have forgiveness of sin and be restored to a right relationship with the Father. This year, look to Jesus for your fresh start. Come to Him in faith and repentance; bow your knee to Him as Lord and Master and receive His mercy. And even more, receive a fresh start. Happy New Year.

Father, thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Thank You that though my sins are like scarlet, they can be white as snow. Thank You for provided a true fresh start for me. Help me to prove this new year, by my life, that I have been remade in Your image; that the old person has passed away, has been crucified with Christ, and that I've been raised to walk in newness of life with Jesus. Thank You for wiping all my sins away. Help my life to bring You glory and honor as I walk in obedience to You. Amen.