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I’ve often looked at this verse from 2 Corinthians and focused on the beautiful promise of the first half of the verse. NEW creations! Not refurbished. Not remodeled. Not modified. NEW! That’s grace! My loving Heavenly Father took this worthless pile of flesh and made something new. And, might I add, God don’t make no junk!

Then one day, rather somberly, I spent some time on the rest of the story.

“The old life is gone…”

Is it? The question haunted me. Yes, I’m forgiven. The debt of my sin is eternally washed away. On the inside I’m new, but this battle raging inside me continues on. Some days I’m strong and watch the enemy retreat. Some days he wins the battle.

Jesus’ invitation to follow him is no party. Instead of balloons there is hardship; instead of cake, temptation; the ice cream is replaced by worry. That’s when I’m also reminded I was never called to walk this road alone. My strength was never a factor, only my reliance on him.

Paul had a similar struggle he tells about in Romans. He loses with the reminder that only the grace of Jesus will rescue me from the battle. Some days I lose the battle. Some days I win. But in the end the war is won because of the empty tomb!

Father help me to live worthy of this new body. Give me a Holy Spirit power to leave the old behind and dwell in the new!

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

new yearA few days ago we began a brand new year. I remember growing up and thinking the year 2000 was a long way away and perhaps would never get here. Now, Y2K seems like a dream and many of our kids in high school have no idea what you are talking about when you mention it unless they remember something from a history class!

I don’t mean to sound like a ‘Debbie Downer’ but I always watch the New Years Eve festivities on TV with a bit of a smirk on my face. The airwaves are full of hope for the New Year. “All that happened in 2014 is behind us now, we can move on to better things.” (I actually heard that said in an interview.)

The reality is, many of the struggles each of us had on December 31, 2014 are still with us. There are concerns about the economy, world peace, health care, disease, ebola, terrorism and family/relational issues. And the worst part? No doubt some of your Christmas toys have already been broken or are the wrong size/color/style.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every day could be filled with the same hope and excitement of New Years? How much would you give to be able to put all the worries of 2014 behind you and really be able to leave them there?

There are some things we can’t let go of in a physical sense. However, there is a solution to the worries and concerns of the heart. If we are honest, when the heart is at peace, circumstances have little or no effect on our outlook on life.

In the book of 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul makes a startling statement. When Jesus comes into our lives and invades our heart-felt emotions, we are made new. Not remodeled. Not reconditioned or reconstructed. NEW.

I was thinking of that verse the other day and a couple other verses about ‘newness’ came to mind. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”

We are made entirely new through personal faith in Jesus Christ. We receive the newness of God’s love every morning. The new hope and excitement of New Years Eve every day? Maybe not physically, but a heart centered on Jesus Christ can celebrate being ‘new’ every day of the year regardless of outside circumstances.

If you are looking for hope that transcends the physical, I encourage you to visit a house of worship where Word of God is spoken and the forgiveness of Jesus is lived out. Feeling the need to recharge of your emotional/spiritual batteries? Many Camps/Retreat Centers offer personal retreat areas or retreats and events designed to help you get refocused. Whatever situation you are in, realize that God’s love transcends the struggles of our physical lives. His love is new every morning, just as we are ‘new creations’ in Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as we enter this New Year of 2015 I’m in awe of so many things. Time and circumstances have no bearing on you. You know my past and my failures but are willing to make me a new creation. Your love for me is brand new, exciting, passionate every morning regardless of my mood. All I can say is thank you. I look forward to living with you over the next year. Amen.

The Lord said: Forget what happened long ago! Don’t think about the past. Isaiah 43:18 (CEV)

I have a friend who was in a snowmobile accident that nearly took his life. His injuries were so severe that both of his legs had to be amputated. As he lay in a coma for six weeks, our community gathered around him and his family in prayer for physical healing as well as spiritual healing.

His wife tells me that the day they were planning on bringing him out of his medically induced coma was a day of apprehension. My friend was known for a foul mouth and extreme anger. Everyone prepared for the worst when he would wake up and find he had no legs.

The other day, I sat with this friend in a men’s Bible Study. You wouldn’t have known this new person beside me. Miraculously, he woke up from his sleep and entirely new man. There was no anger, no rage and no profanity. In its place were words of comfort, of love, of grace and forgiveness.

My friend owns a hardware store in the tiny community where I live. He sells all sorts of goods a hardware store would sell, but there’s one other commodity you can count on when you enter the doors of his store. You’ll find Jesus.

At the earlier mentioned Bible study our group as discussing the personal meaning of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Listening to him talk about the newness of life he received gave me a whole new meaning to that verse. Here he was, a man that had to learn to walk again. A man who, in many ways, had to learn an entirely new lifestyle. Ask anyone in town. They’ll tell you Bill isn’t the same as he used to be. He isn’t. He’s new. His life has been touched by the Savior.

It wasn’t easy. He stumbles on those new legs occasionally. The pressures of being a business man sometimes cause the ‘old man’ to start to surface. But he’s still not ‘the same old Bill.’

God’s word reminds us in Isaiah 43:18 that our past is just that. Past. Regardless of what happened back there. Regardless of whose fault it was. Regardless of who did what, or said what or did what to you, it’s past.

Jesus offers the only real solution to starting over and he does it with a whole new life.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, there are times when I stumble. There are times when the pain in my heart, from the mistakes of my past, haunts me. During those times let me rest on the promise of your grace. Help me to set my past behind me and look forward to a new tomorrow. Amen.

Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The past is forgotten, and everything is new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CEV)

Like an old pair of shoes tossed in the garbage. Like a discarded, favorite pair of jeans. Like that car that finally gave up the ghost after years of trial and tribulation. That’s what life is like after Christ comes.

Once we were under the Law. The Law was God’s standard of living after sin entered into mankind. The Law was never meant to remove sin as much as it was an appeasement for sin.

Then grace entered the picture. Grace didn’t just appease God, Grace cleansed us. Before we became followers of Jesus we lived life according to our own conscience. A conscience based on the idea that we were the center of the universe. Right and wrong depended on what was best for us. It didn’t work. I was never intended to work.

When we came to a place in our lives where we realized our faults, we felt guilty. Guilt isn’t always a bad thing. Guilt, in a positive sense is simply agreeing with god that we made a mistake. Guilt can draw us back to him when the path we’ve taken separates us from the peace he intended for us to have. Guilt, in the positive sense, is terminated with repentance. Gone. Wiped out like an old pair of…well, you get the picture?

  • The Law makes us aware of our guilt; but Grace cleanses us, even from the memories of our faults!
  • The Law says we’ll never succeed; but Grace says we’ll never fail because of Jesus living in us!
  • The Law says we are guilty; Grace says we are redeemed!
  • The Law says you’ll never be free; Grace says you’ll never be held captive!
  • The Law uses guilt as a tool to remind us of our past; Grace uses conviction (through the Holy Spirit) to remind us of our holiness through Christ!
  • The Law focuses on external actions (rules); Grace focuses on the heart and emotions!
  • The Law says you are doomed; Grace says enter into the presence of a loving Father!

As followers of Jesus Christ we no longer need to live under the oppression of guilt even though we continue to be attacked by sin. 1 John 1:9 reminds us that ‘when’ not ‘if’ we sin we can come to the Savior and receive forgiveness. The guilt we feel before that is our Father’s beckoning us to come home to his loving arms. Not for punishment. Jesus took that. He calls us home to be restored.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I continue to battle with feelings of guilt for past mistakes in my life. Mistakes that have hurt others. Mistakes that have hurt myself. Mistakes that have hurt you. Forgive me once and for all for those times when I’ve failed. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to live free of the false guilt Satan throws my way. Amen.

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