Posted by: glorifyhim1 | January 3, 2012

Changed by Christ

This may sound funny, but I’ve always loved fresh, new, clean pages – notepads, composition books, and journals filled with blank pages just waiting to be written on. There’s just something about all those empty pages that beckons me to start writing. But I barely begin when I invariably mess up. Ideas and thoughts do not always come well organized and developed. I have to erase or scratch out words. Sometimes I need to tear out whole pages. All too soon the pretty beckoning notebooks and journals become rough, worn, and not very attractive. Then I can hardly wait until I can open a brand new journal and begin anew again.

In much the same way, I always eagerly look forward to the new year. All those blank minutes, days, and months stretch out before me, untouched by all my mess-ups and failures of the previous 12 months. It’s my chance to start all over, perhaps to do better, or be better, or maybe even fill those days with something new, different, or challenging.

But all too soon, just like the pages in my worn out journal, my new year begins to look remarkably similar to my old year. All my good intentions and lofty goals are soon replaced with failures and mistakes. This year is no exception. Scarcely into 2012 and my fresh new start already bears the scars of my failures.

I’ve embarked on enough new years to realize that no matter how much I long to see changes in my life, or how much I resolve to make these changes, more often than not, they just don’t happen. Change doesn’t happen by simply turning a page on a calendar or wishing it so. In fact, I’m learning that true, life-altering change is not the result of desire, effort, or will, no matter how sincere. Neither is it the result of  something I yearn for or attempt with gritted teeth determination. Over the years I have discovered – and am discovering, still – true life-altering changes in my life are the result Christ’s work in me.

The apostle Paul in the New Testament is an example of a man who was completely changed and transformed by Christ. Once a persecutor of Christ’s followers, he became one of Christ’s most ardent supporters (see the story of his conversion in Acts 9). He suffered beatings, arrests, and  imprisonments to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Paul recognized Christ’s work in his life. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 he stated:  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

When we invite Christ to come into our hearts and lives, we become brand new creations. All the old stuff is forgiven and cleared away. We are like that fresh, new, clean sheet of paper just waiting to be written on. But more than a fresh new start, we are also promised the presence of Christ’s Spirit within us to help us. “By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit” (1 John 4:13). We do not have to go it alone anymore. We have the very Spirit of Christ dwelling within us. God’s Word promises us that as we surrender to Christ in our lives, the Spirit will —

  • guide us – “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:13).
  • help us – “And I (Jesus) will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).
  • empower us – “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11).
  • bring joy – “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
  • give us understanding – “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
  • bear fruit in our lives – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..” (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • equip us to serve – “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

And as Christ works in us and through us, we are changed!

 

I’ve also discovered that as I yield to Christ and surrender to His work in my life, I don’t need to worry so much about messing up those fresh, new unwritten pages, or those special new beginnings like the new year. Because every day with Christ is a brand new day. When we confess our sin, He forgives us and wipes our slate clean – everyday! (See 1 John 1:9). Everyday is a new beginning as He guides us, teaches us, and helps us to live so that we can bring glory to the Father. And come to think of it, all those messed-up journals are really beautiful treasures of how Christ doesn’t give up on me, but continues to work in me to help me be all He wants me to be. I guess I’d better get started on my 2012 journal. There’s a lot of clean, blank pages just waiting for me to write. I wonder what it will look like this time next year!

 

 

 

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