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The Miracle of Our New Life in Christ

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Easter is my favorite holiday (actually I prefer the term holy day). But this year Easter was even more special because it was also my spiritual birthday. 34 years ago Jesus saved this poor soul from spending eternity in hell! I never get tired of thinking of what Christ did for me on that momentous day. Let me tell you my story.

I was brought up in a mainline Christian home. I went to church every Sunday but got nothing out of it. As time went on, I came to believe that God didn’t even exist. I was not a happy person. I felt empty, unfulfilled, and insignificant.

As I mentioned last time, I became involved with some strong Christians in a business. Their joyful peaceful lives made me wonder whether He might exist after all. One day while driving to work, I called out, “God, if You really do exist, I want to believe in You. Please show me.” And He did, for soon after that I heard the truth of the gospel and realized Jesus was what I been looking for all my life!

My heart was finally opened to the truth, and God opened my eyes to His truth.

“I once was blind, but now I see!”

On that day Jesus Christ gave me a new life, a new hope, and a new way of living. I am drastically different:

  • This emotional yoyo now has stability in the Rock of Ages (Is 26:3-4).
  • This fearful person now has assurance because God is with her (Is 41:10).
  • This lonely soul now has companionship forever with the most Perfect Friend (Jn 15:15).
  • This uncertain one now is certain that she is loved and cherished by her faithful Father (Jn 1:12, Jer 31:3)
  • This inadequate woman now has confident trust in the One who is able to do immeasurably more than she could ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).
  • This insignificant peon is making an impact for eternity because God is working in and through her for His good purposes (Phil 2:13).
  • This empty heart is now filled with joy and peace (Rom 15:13).

Did you know that the moment someone gets saved, a humongous miracle occurs?

When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we—in our sinful nature—are crucified with Christ. It is no longer the old self who lives, but Christ Himself who lives in us. We have died with Christ and now have risen with Him (Gal 2:20, Col 2:12)!

Now that’s a miracle!

I am living in that miracle of new life each and every day—with the abundance Jesus promised in John 10:10. Even during difficult times. Even as a widow.

So my friends, has He done this miracle in you? And if so what will you do with it? What should our response be to this magnificent Giver of such an extravagant, eternal and undeserved gift of life?

There is only one appropriate answer:

To live our lives solely for our Savior and His glory with unreserved gratitude.

He is worthy and He is worth it!

Nothing else makes sense.

Photo by Federico Bottos on Unsplash

The Beauty of an Ugly Cross

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As I look around this world, I see God’s beauty everywhere—in the mountains, birds, flowers, sunsets—my kitty. I can only imagine how much more beautiful the Creator of all this must be!

That’s outward beauty.

But I also see His beauty in—a mother nursing her child in the wee hours of the night, a daughter taking care of her declining parents, a person ministering to the homeless, and a missionary taking the gospel to the lost in Africa.

Now we’re getting closer to the inner beauty which God so highly values.

Why are these people beautiful? Because they reflect the sacrificial aspect of the cross. Though outwardly ugly, the cross is the most beautiful symbol to us believers.

When God first created this world it was beautiful; mankind was beautiful. Our sin distorted that beauty.

But God made us for His pleasure and couldn’t leave us in that ugly sinful state. So He made a way to restore His beauty and splendor in us and the world—through the appalling death of His Son on a horrible cross. When Jesus Christ arose from the dead, He conquered the hideousness of sin, evil and death!

Isn’t it ironic that the most beautiful Person in the universe, our Savior, was just an ordinary looking man?

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Is 53:2)*

Man judges by outward appearance, but God looks at the inner man.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)**

Jesus’ inner beauty—His kindness, love, patience, compassion, forgiveness, etc.—outshined any lack of outward beauty.

If you know Jesus as your Savior, this beautiful One is living inside you. His beauty can become your beauty; attracting others with the glorious gospel to redeem their souls from a forever ugly and horrific existence in hell.

That was how I got saved. In my early 30’s God put me in a business with some strong Christians. The lovely Jesus within them came out in their eyes, their actions, and their love toward me. Most of these people were just ordinary looking folks. Yet they were so attractive. Their inner beauty drew me to them and ultimately to Christ. I will be forever grateful!

So let me ask you during this Easter season—are you outwardly pretty or handsome but have a complaining, critical, unforgiving, or unkind spirit? If you claim to be a Christian, then you are making the gospel unattractive. Please stop it! You are hurting our Savior! Perhaps you need to make sure you actually know the Beautiful One as your Savior. (Sorry if my words seem harsh. But when I think of what sinful man—including me—did to my perfect Savior, I get wound up.)

And for those of you out there who are not so attractive on the outside, can I remind you that God looks at the inner beauty?

So my friends, when He looks at you, make sure He can see the beautiful spotless One in you.

This Easter Sunday…

Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful…. (1 Pet 3:3-5)**

If you are not sure if Jesus is your Savior click here so you can be!

 

*THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

**Scripture taken from New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Newness in Christ Awakens a New Song in Our Hearts!

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It’s spring! Trees are budding out. Forsythias and daffodils cheer us with their bright yellow blooms. Everything is coming to life with new growth after a long seemingly dead winter. All this newness refreshes our spirits and renews our hope. (Plus spring gets me itching to go hiking so I can learn new lessons!)

I don’t know about you, but spring makes me want to burst out into song. (But don’t get too close—I might hurt your ears!)

Nevertheless, it is fitting to sing a new song to the Lord—plus the Bible tells us to.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  (Ps 96:1)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! (Ps 98:1)

Think about it. As a believer in Christ you have lots of new things to sing about:

  • You’re a new creation in Christ with a new divine nature (2 Cor 5:17)—not a changed you, but a brand new you.
  • New life (Rom 6:4) through a new birth (1 Pet 1:3)
  • New standing before God with a new righteousness from Christ (Rom 4:23-24)
  • New way to approach God with confidence through the blood of Christ

…We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.  (Heb 10:19-20)

  • New things to learn about God, transforming you into His image

…New self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (see Col 3:10)

  • New Master
  • New Father
  • New hope
  • New peace
  • You’re under a new covenant (Heb 8:8-13)
  • New freedoms—freedom from the power of sin, Satan or anything that tries to rule over you aside from God (Heb 2:14, 1 Cor 6:12). Freedom to be as God designed you to be.
  • New mind and way of thinking (Rom 12:2)
  • New mercies every morning (Lam 3:22-23)
  • New joys as you go into God’s presence
  • New experiences with God and His people
  • New excitements as you see God working in you, through you, and around you.
  • New trials to overcome—but with a new attitude (Eph 4:23-24)
  • New strength
  • New direction in life/new calling and purpose empowered with new abilities and spiritual gifts
  • New family with new people to love and new people to love you.
  • New citizenship in heaven (Phil 3:20)
  • New future home on a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1-4)

Wow! I think we’ll have a new song of praise to sing every single morning if we keep our eyes on Him! Our magnificent God deserves our praise. He is worthy of it.

I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you…. (Ps 144:9)

So my friends, even if you don’t have a good voice, make a joyful noise to your Lord and Savior.

It is beautiful music to His ears!

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Ps 95:1-2)*

 

 

Scripture taken from: THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.

and

*English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

What does “The Joy of the Lord is My Strength” Mean?

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Nehemiah said, “…This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)

We’ve heard it, sang it, but what do the words “The joy of the Lord is my strength” really mean? For a long time I was clueless to its meaning. So…

What is the joy of the Lord?

Why is it my strength?

And

How can I get it?

Let’s look at a few Scriptures first.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet 1:3-4, 6-9 emphasis added)

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:5, 11)

The joy of the Lord is not necessarily being happy about what’s happening. It’s a deep inner peace and contentedness despite our circumstances. It’s a joy resulting from our faith in and love for our Savior. We need to understand that our joy cannot be found in our circumstances, but in the Lord Himself.

If you are looking for happiness in your happenings, you will be greatly disappointed!

Now when you have the joy of the Lord deep inside your soul, you will have the strength to endure and persevere through life’s difficulties. You will have a living hope that a better day is coming; that this hardship will not last forever. You’ll be able to greatly rejoice despite heartaches because you know these trials are proving that your faith is a genuine saving faith, which will then result in much praise and glory to Jesus.

When you’re filled with joy and hope you will have the strength to keep on keeping on.

How do we get this joy?

By knowing (as I’ve mentioned numerous times before) that joy is not something you should try to get; it shouldn’t be the goal.

Rather it’s a byproduct of being and remaining in a right relationship with God.

As you connect and remain connected to the life-giving Vine (Christ), the fruit of His Spirit (Gal 5:22), which includes joy, will be produced in you by Him.

So my friend, if you are in need of strength today, if you don’t think you can take one more day of this life, find your strength in the joy of the Lord.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13)

 

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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