Friday, 27 July 2012
A New Creation
Call me a late bloomer. Most kids go through their wild, rebellious streak in their teen years. I, on the other hand, had more of a “roaring twenties” experience. While most of my friends were having children in their twenties, I was in my early thirties before I married and settled down into motherhood. Most of the people I go to church with were raised in church, and it has always been a part of their lives. I was in my early thirties when I gave my heart to Christ, and that’s when I got a new life and a new perspective.
If you were to talk to people who only knew me back in the day, they might be surprised to know that I am a Christian. They might even be a little skeptical, especially if they are not Christians. They know my sins and could probably recount them for me in detail. My behavior and habits back then defined the person they knew. However, if they, too, have become Christians, they should be accepting of the news of my transformation. After all, they’ve had a similar experience. But that is not always the case.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NIV)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
How many times do we hear news that someone has gotten saved and the first thing we do is doubt? We roll our eyes or give that little sigh that says, we’ll see if they stick with it. We start thinking about all the things we know about that person and wonder if they can really make it as a Christian. It’s hard to get a fresh start when the world is reminding you of your past. But if we are Christians, we are not a part of this world. We should not be looking upon our brothers and sisters in Christ from a worldly viewpoint. The world says they’ll never make it. The Word says that they can “do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We need to see people through God’s eyes. When He sees the blood of Jesus applied to them, He forgives them of their sins. We should do the same.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19(NIV)
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 men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
A few years back, we were asked in our church to write down the things we wanted God to do for us in the coming year and to be praying about them. At the top of most lists, including my own, was that our loved ones would be saved. It is a good thing to desire. However, when doubt attaches itself to our prayers, it makes them less effective. Matthew 21:21-22: So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” We are really good at asking for things in prayer, but we are not as good at believing it will happen.
If we want to see our friends and loved ones saved and serving God, then we need to change the way we think about them. We need to change the way that we see them -- not as the world sees them but how they are seen by God. We need to be forgiving and quit bringing up their past. We need to replace our “they’ll never change” stinking thinking with the mindset that with God, all things are possible. Then when our prayers are answered and the person does give their heart to Christ, we need to prepare ourselves for the change in them. We should be encouraging them and allowing them room to become this new creation in Christ. We can’t hold them back by hanging on to who they used to be.
The world may remember who I used to be and try to define me by that, but what counts is who the Lord sees me as today. I am not who I used to be. I am a new creation in Christ. I am becoming the person He always intended me to be – the way that He has always seen me.
Posted on 07/27/2012 5:14 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 20 July 2012
Cool, cool beans, neat-o, off the hook, radical, gnarly, tubular, groovy, bad, far out, outta sight. Each generation has its slang words to express that something is excellent or impressive. One that has been used for many years and that I hear even more frequently is awesome. For example, we had an awesome time at the movies. Or, he has this awesome phone that I would love to have. When someone tells us something like they bought a new outfit or learned how to whistle, we say, “Awesome!” If we ask how their dinner out went, they say, “Awesome!”
When I say or hear someone say, “Awesome!”, I hear it said the way the character Jeff Spicoli said it in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” If you have never seen the movie, the character, played by Sean Penn, was a burned out surfer dude with not a care in the world. Either that or I hear it in a Valley Girl voice. (Yeah, I know, I am weird.) The point is that the word started out being used by young people of a certain generation to mean cool or excellent, but it has made its way into our everyday language for people of all ages. I know I have found myself using it more frequently.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
But how much of what we say is awesome is really awesome? I have been studying in Ecclesiastes for our Sunday School class and I came across this scripture from Ecclesiastes 5:7 (NIV): “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.” The word awesome means inspiring awe. Awe means an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like. As the popular inspirational song says, “Our God is an Awesome God!” He is totally awesome and we should stand in awe of Him. If we take a moment to step back and look at all of Creation, from the largeness of the universe to the tiny details in a flower petal, we can see the awesomeness of God. When we reflect on what Christ did for the salvation of mankind, we can see the awesomeness of God.
Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.
Unfortunately, I think many people have lost their awe, or fear, of God. Even among people who consider themselves to be Christians, I am not sure that we always give God the reverence, fear or awe that He deserves. There is a lot of fear-mongering in our society. We are told be afraid of all kinds of things, from diseases to political parties to global warming. We wring our hands and spend too much time worrying about a lot of things that may never even touch us, instead of considering the status of our salvation. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Joel 2:31 says, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.” Yes, we should stand in awe of God.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I don’t want anyone to feel bad about using the word “awesome,” and I am not trying to get anyone to stop using it. You’re likely to catch me saying it. But I do think about the word a little differently, and I may try to be a little more discriminating in my use of it. I believe that we should remind ourselves that we need to be more reverent, more fearful and more in awe of God. He’s not a genie in a bottle who is here to grant our every wish. He’s not an item on our daily “To Do” list that we can spend 15 minutes on and cross off. He is our Creator, and the Creator of everything and everyone around us. He wants a relationship with us. Deuteronomy 10:21says, “He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen.”
God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.
We need to humbly remember who God is. Job got his reminder from God. In Job 38:4-7, God says:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?”
In Deuteronomy 28:58-59, the Israelites were warned: “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD, then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses.”
How is it that we can so easily forget that we serve an awesome God? Why should He have to remind us? I think that there are a lot of things that are pretty cool. I’ve seen some neat things, and I’ve met some fantastic people. I may have even referred to some of them as awesome. But only God is truly the Awesome One, and He is totally awesome!
Posted on 07/20/2012 6:19 AM by Susan Nelson
Friday, 13 July 2012
I'd Rather Be a Chicken
Our church secretary, Crystal Fershee, does an excellent job of preparing our weekly bulletin. Several weeks ago she had put on the front cover a picture of an eagle in flight. The caption read: “Are you an eagle or a chicken?” An eagle soars high when a storm approaches and rises above when it hits. Our pastor, Bishop Craig Cook, asked the congregation, “Which would you rather be?” As you might expect, nearly everyone said they preferred to be an eagle. He then quoted the following verse.
Are you an eagle or a chicken? This question kept dwelling in my mind. We just returned from vacation and guess what I would notice while we were traveling? Fast food chicken restaurants, and that question would come forth in my mind every time I saw one. So I decided to take a look at the characteristics of a chicken and consider if I’d like to be one.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
To soar above all the storms of life like an eagle would be nice. But, in reality I seem to go through a lot of life’s storms, or trials. Note that I said “go through them,” and not “stay in them”. But, here’s what I learned about chickens.
And it shall come to pass,
Chickens are early risers.
Chickens have provisions.
They are up a dawn. From Genesis in the Old Testament to James in the New Testament, the Bible speaks of rising early. Proverbs 8:17 says, “and those that seek me early shall find me.”
Their housing is provided. They live in hen houses or chicken coops with hay nests for sitting to lay eggs, and they’re protected from the elements. Unlike the eagle, they don’t hunt for sticks and twigs to make their own nests. Chickens have meals brought to them. They don’t go hunting for prey to eat like the eagle. Philippians 4:19 says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” He is Jehovah-jireh, God our provider.
Chickens are patient.
Chickens stay close to home.
They wait upon the farmer in his timing for their daily allotment of food. Psalms 145:15 says, “The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.”
Some Biblical scholars believe that Jesus never traveled more than 30 miles from home during his ministry, while others say it may be as many as 90. Regardless, we get a sense of security by sticking close to home. It keeps us grounded. John 15:7 says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Chickens are protectors.
Chickens stand their ground.
They know when storms are approaching or danger is near their chicks. Chickens with chicks appear to be quiet and keep themselves, pecking around the barnyard and minding their own business. One would think they could snatch one of the chicks and the momma hen would not be aware of it. Well, just let her sense that a chick is in danger and watch the mother instincts kick in. The wings drop and the talons come out to flog the predator. She then calls all her little ones to her and hides them under her wings. Psalms 91:4 says, “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”
Chickens can’t soar above the storms to escape trials like the eagle. They have to stand up to situations they encounter. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) says, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Chickens are givers.
When someone calls you a chicken, usually they are implying that you are a coward. But when that happens, just remember these characteristics and how a chickens’ life is patterned after the life of Jesus. I now have my answer to that question from the bulletin. Me . . . I’d rather be a chicken!
They give their eggs for our nourishment. II Corinthians 9:7 (NIV) says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” When a chicken’s life on earth has been exhausted, she gives it for us. Greatness is not ruling over others but serving them. Matthew 20:28 (NIV) says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Posted on 07/13/2012 6:00 AM by Dreama Kingrey