Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Each Moment, New

 ...wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Psalm 51:8b
Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.  Isaiah 1:18

It's so hard to take pictures of snow as it falls.  Falling snow is just one of those things you have to experience live. On this first day of the new year the big, fluffy, white flakes started to fall in the afternoon.  They floated down to the ground in a most pleasant way.  Snow just makes everything look fresh and new again.  It reminds me of the verses that I listed at the beginning of this post.

With the new year people often make resolutions, goals to start over or begin something new.  These resolutions could be to start exercising more, to begin eating better, to begin good habits, or to get rid of bad habits.  Some people have great success with these resolutions.  Some barely make it a week before they've tossed the resolution out the window.  My personal success with new year's resolutions isn't that great.  But maybe that's because I don't see the need to make a resolution only on January 1.  A couple years ago I made a choice to read through the Bible in a year.  That decision was made in April, not January.  Every year in August or September I choose to start new habit at work that will hopefully make the job easier or at least more manageable.  Sometimes I make these choices, resolutions, with the change of seasons or to mark a significant event in my life.

While I'm not the biggest fan of new year's resolutions, I do see a purpose in resolutions, in goals to be better.  I just think that some people set some of their goals too high or have a goal that is too long term without enough strategies in place to accomplish the goal.

One of the best strategies to accomplishing something is to take small steps toward your goal. Sometimes the small steps are doing something the right way for a minute, for an hour, for a few hours, for a day.  With this in mind, I read through the following scripture passages:

But that is not the way you learned Christ! -- assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:20-24.

Put to death therefore what is earthly to you...On account of these the wrath of God is coming...But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, see that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.  Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you so you must also forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:5-14.
The best goal any person can make is to put on your new self, the new self that is founded on Christ.  Why would we want to keep the "old self" when we know that God's grace has provided so much for us.  Jesus died on the cross so I can put on the new self and slay (put to death) the "old self."  Think about it this way: the old self is like a ratty set of clothes, the ones that were left damp at the bottom of the clothes hamper.  They stink and look awful.  The new self is a brand new set of clothes; all fresh and clean and a perfect fit for you.  This new set of clothes is just waiting there for you to accept and put on. 

As Christians we accepted this new set of clothes when we surrendered our life to God and His will for our life.  So, why are you talking about putting on the new set of clothes, you may be asking me, if as a Christian I already accepted them?  Here are my thoughts on this: just because you accepted the new clothes / new self doesn't mean that you put it on.  You may have accepted the new self but have hung it up in the closet to admire and have chosen to wear the "old self" instead.  I'm not sure of your reasons for making that choice, we all have different ones, but that doesn't make the choice to continue in our old life (wearing the "old self") the right one.  When we leave the new self on the hanger we are telling God "Thanks, but no thanks.  Having your Son die for my sins was nice but I think I really just want to live the way I was before and not make the changes in my life to follow Your will even though you have done so much for me."

Knitting is a hobby that I enjoy.  It is one in which I knit lots of things and most of them are for other people or at least their little children.  Baby items are quick knits as are hats but I'm starting to divert from the point I'm trying to make here.  When I knit things for people or their children, all I really want in return is a picture that shows them wearing the item.  Even if it's only one time.  I want to see that something I've spent time and money on will be of use for the person receiving it.  That picture, that sight of my handiwork on someone else brings me pure joy.  With God it is the same way but I know that His joy is greater than mine.  When we put on the new self we show Him that we appreciate the sacrifice, that we appreciate and accept the grace that He has chosen to place on us. 

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23

Our "old self" is full of bad habits and many of those are hard to break.  This is where I want to tie back in the idea of resolutions. I'm not saying you can't choose to put on your new self for the rest of your life, what I am saying is that you can choose to wake up each morning and ask God to help you to put on the new self for that day.  Maybe you have to wake up and say that you're going to put on the new self for the next hour with God's help.  When that hour is up, you choose to put on the new self for the next hour.  You continue to do this throughout the day.  If you fail at putting on the new self during the day, please don't beat yourself up.  Confess it to God and ask Him to help you put the new self back on again.  Keep at it.  Each moment is a new opportunity for God to work in you.

I encourage you Sisters and brothers to look at each moment of your life and choose to put on your new self, your new outfit that was specially created for you by God.  It would be a shame if you chose not to wear this gracious, wonderful gift.  :)

Sister Jane
Romans 14:8

ps: some creature pictures to share with you  :)
T and S snoozing on the couch, almost nose to nose.  :)
The Franks enjoying the corn and snow

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