Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Beginnings: Triplets of Rebirth

Photo by Bogdan 2005
Blank Document: Create. A thrill of anticipation flutters in my heart when I hit those buttons on Word, knowing that God can fill that clean slate with the words He chooses as I yield to His Holy Spirit. I’m often surprised and delighted by the thoughts and word pictures He creates when I don’t clutter the page with my own preconceived notions.

This time of year has more than its share of new beginnings. In many parts of the world, freshly fallen snow creates a pristine landscape, cleansed of yesterday’s grime and soot, coating tree branches with feathery plumes and sparkling crystal, and blanketing downy fields that invite fresh footprints.

Those who celebrate Christmas with gift giving are enjoying their new presents – perhaps the novel experience of an exotic fragrance, the taste and texture of undiscovered gourmet treats, the exciting look of the latest fashion accessory, or even the crisp, cool feel of new sheets. All across the globe people are viewing the first page of their new calendar or journal, and many of us who read devotionals are marveling that once again it is January of a new year.

The New Year, as well as the start of each month and even the dawning of each new day, is like an automatic reset button. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and that no matter what mistakes we have made and what sins we have committed, He is quick to forgive us and to cleanse us from our sins if we confess them and repent (I John 1:9).

Daily Bible reading for the year begins in Genesis, contemplating the Creator of all, the self-existent One Who simply was “in the beginning.” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Without Him was nothing made that is made (John 1:3). 

As we have seen in our study of triplets in Scripture, the attributes of God, the Names of Jesus, types of worship, and works of His creation can be described in groups of three. This pattern continues as we look at new beginnings of the earth and of human life.

The Bible describes three new beginnings for the earth and all it contains, even though the earth will in one form or another continue eternally (Psalm 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1:4). First, God created the heavens and earth, as well as light, celestial bodies, water, plants, animals, and man (Genesis 1). But once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death entered their world, and even the earth was cursed and fell into corruption (Genesis 3:17-19; Hebrews 1:11-12; Romans 8:22).

The second beginning for the earth was the flood, in which God caused cataclysmic changes on the earth and its oceans and destroyed most of the earth’s inhabitants because of man’s wickedness (Genesis 7).

The third beginning for the earth will be renovation by fire, occurring after Christ’s return and His reign in the Millennial Kingdom. Even the very elements of the earth will then burn with an intense heat (2 Peter 3:10) in preparation for the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Christ will make all things new (Revelation 21:5), purging the earth from the corruption of the curse, sin and death.

For God’s children, human life also has three beginnings: conception, birth, and being born again. For every human being, life begins at the moment of conception, at that defining moment when the union of sperm and egg result in a reassortment of genetic material from both the father and mother, containing all the instructions needed to ensure development of a unique person with specific physical and emotional traits.

Everyone on earth was born on a specific year, date and time, with our birthday marking our beginning in this world, that moment when we first cried out to announce our presence. Pediatricians note the newborn’s weight, length, and head circumference and track these three measurements throughout early development. But we were born “few of days and full of trouble,” (Job 14:1) with only a very brief, limited time (James 4:14) to overcome and subdue our sin nature and to honor God with our life.

This can happen only if we have a new spiritual beginning – that moment in time when we are born again (John 3:3-8). That rebirth requires that we come to the end of our natural self and die to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31), realizing that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23-28), and that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Only when we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) can we be reborn as a new creation in Him (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 6:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

God has created each born-again believer with the potential to use our own peculiar characteristics to glorify Him, no matter how the world perceives us (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). What others might see as a defect is like clay in God’s hands to be fashioned into a special vessel consecrated to His purpose (Isaiah 29:16; 64:8; Romans 9:21). At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us and equips us with at least one spiritual gift to be used to encourage fellow believers (1 Corinthians 12).

A new beginning awaiting all believers is the Rapture, when we will have new bodies, a new address, and a new name (Revelation 2:17). Our bodies will be like that of the resurrected Christ (Philippians 3:21), and we will never die, age, or become ill. Instead of pain, sorrow, and tears, we will experience vitality, joy, and a new song. (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 5:9; 21:4). Our new home will be in our own mansion, (John 14:2) in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

As this new year begins, I’m eagerly anticipating what God has in store, and even more eagerly awaiting the new beginning of the Rapture! It could be this year or even this very day – may we be ready by knowing and serving Him! 

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives 

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why He Came

One of the greatest mysteries of our Christian faith is that Jesus Christ, Son of God yet God Himself, the Fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9), present since before time began (John 1:1), the Creator of all (John 1:3), came to earth in human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Why did He come to us in this unique way? It will be incomprehensible until we see Him in glory, yet here are a few possibilities to consider:

He came to Seek and to Save: Jesus said that He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Sinners, certainly, lost and condemned to eternal death in hell without the salvation and eternal life only He can bring (John 3:16-18). But Jesus also sought out and restored those who had lost their health (Luke 8:43-48; Matthew 10:8), their sanity (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35), the comfort of human relationships (John 4), and hope itself (Matthew 5:3-4).

Jesus sought His apostles, transforming them from simple, coarse fishermen and tradespeople to fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-22), to the first missionaries who would spread His Good News, first to the Jews and ultimately throughout the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

Praise God that He loved and sought us before we even knew Him (1 John 4:19), and that Christ knocked on the door of our heart until we answered Him (Revelation 3:20), transforming us from enemies of God (Romans 5:10) to joint heirs with Himself (Romans 8:17), becoming His friends and His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). Praise God that when Christ rose from the dead, He saved us from death, so that all who trust Him as their Savior also have eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

He came to Sacrifice: Holy God cannot allow sinners into His presence unless they are made righteous in His sight and unless His just anger at our sin is appeased (Romans 3:22-26; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Salvation is therefore only possible through the perfect, sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29,36). In His perfection, He submitted to crucifixion and willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice to pay for all of our sins, past, present and future (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16; Colossians 2:10-14). He took the punishment we deserved and paid our debt that He did not owe and that we could not pay (Isaiah 53:5).

He came to Substitute: In a transaction we will not fully understand until we reach glory, all of Christ’s righteousness is imputed or credited to our account, and all of our sin was debited against His account. When God the Father looks at those who have placed their faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), He no longer sees our sins, but He sees only the perfect righteousness of His Son (Romans 4). 

He came to Submit: As the Word, Who created all, became flesh (John 1:3,14), He became the embodiment of submission to the Father’s will (Luke 22:42). He was born to a humble virgin betrothed to a carpenter of modest means (Matthew 1:18-23), and He entered this world in a lowly feeding trough among barnyard animals (Luke 2:7). In His human form He became the ideal example of putting God’s will before our own desires, trusting that God will work all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

Despite His infinite power, He submitted with meekness and humility to those in authority, knowing that God was in control and that His perfect will must be done (Matthew 26:52-54),. He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17-18), for in His sinless state He was the only man capable of keeping it. He knew that His teachings would bring division between His followers and the religious leaders of the day, resulting in persecution, yet He preached nonviolence (Matthew 5:38-39; 10:17-23; 34-39).

He came to Serve: Christ will return as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16), before Whom every knee will bow (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10). Yet in His first coming, He came as a servant, putting others first, even stooping to wash His apostles’ feet (John 13:4-15). If He could humble Himself in this way, how much more should we serve one another, and in so doing serve Him? In service as in all things, Jesus was the ideal of humanity in Whose footsteps we should follow.

He came to Suffer: Only by tasting our sadness, hurt, fatigue, hunger, cold, betrayal, and pain could Jesus identify with us in our suffering. When we approach His throne in prayer, we can have faith that He personally has experienced our need and has compassion for us in whatever trial we are enduring. He was like us in all ways, even tempted, and yet perfectly without sin (Hebrews 4:14-16).

He came to Show the Way: No man can directly look on God, and yet those who were blessed to see Jesus in His earthly ministry, and all of us who know Him through His recorded Word, know the Father, for Jesus and His Father are One (Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22; John 8:19; 28-29). At the moment of our salvation, the Holy Spirit enters the believer’s heart (Ephesians 2:20-22), teaching us about Jesus, Who is the express image of the invisible God the Father (Hebrews 1:3). As He walked the earth, He taught us how to live, to be born again (John 3:3-8), and to have faith (John 20:29). Jesus is the only Way to the Father, to forgiveness of sins, and to everlasting life (John 14:6).

He came to Set up the Kingdom: Jesus was the promised Messiah, as foretold in Old Testament prophecy (Isaiah 9:6-7), to deliver the nation of Israel (Romans 11:26). In His Second Coming He will rule in the Millennial Kingdom on the throne of David (1 Kings 2:33,45; 9:5; Luke 1:32). Yet in His first coming, when His ministry was directed primarily to the Jews (Matthew 10:5-7) His chosen Hebrew people not only rejected Him, but crucified Him (Zechariah 12:9-10; Revelation 12:5; Matthew 23:37-39).

Surely this was no surprise to God, Who in His omniscience and foreknowledge has known since the beginning of time who would accept and who would reject His Son, yet without interfering with our free will (Romans 8:29).

So why did God allow this? In His infinite grace and mercy, this delay in setting the King of Kings on the throne of Israel allowed the Gentiles to be grafted in to God’s family (Ephesians 2:11-20), so that whosoever would accept Christ would become children of God and inherit eternal life (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13). Praise God that Jesus came to us to allow this wondrous plan, and may we be ready when He comes again, meeting us face to face in all His glory!

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives

Womanhood With Purpose
Adorned From Above
No Ordinary Blog Hop