Newness of Life
Another glorious day has arrived that we have the opportunity to gather together to remember our lord Jesus Christ in the appointed way and to strengthen our bond of fellowship we share with each other. Lifting our voices in song to give praise and glory unto our God. Listening and reading along to the words of wisdom and instruction found in the daily reading of our bible and to hear the word of exhortation.
Paul's epistle to the Romans 6: 3-4 offers us a blueprint for the beginning of our life after baptism. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in a newness of life."
Each one of us, through baptism, has begun a newness of life. A new beginning. A new life in Christ. With this newness of life comes the responsibility to live our lives in a new way. The biggest change that takes place is no longer are we number one. God is number one. The motivating force that controls our life is no longer the fulfillment of our desires but the desires of God. God deserves it. He deserves it because He is the creator and He so loves us that He provided the sacrifice of His only begotten son that we may attain eternal life and be with Him as He intended from the beginning. God did that for you and me.
Romans 6: 6 "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin may be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin....Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts of it." The desire to serve ones self is very strong. Our very nature is to look-out-for-number-one. It's a sub-conscious reality that's part of our human instinct. Moreover, number-one being anybody or anything other than you is not an easy transition to make. Genesis 6: 6-7 "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually. And the LORD repented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."
The water of our baptism did not contain a magical liquid that instantly changed our natural instincts. The water freed us from sin but it did not bestow upon us a state of sinless ness. From the moment we came-up out of the water, we started a journey that demands great faith. Faith in the promises made to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, even the thief on the cross. It also demands great obedience to the word of God. It demands humility in place of pride. It demands love in place of hate. It demands servitude in place of self. It demands__ newness of life.
Matthew, Mark and Luke give an account of the last Passover Jesus spent with his disciples and the institution of the emblems of remembrance. John's account of that Passover mentions nothing of the emblems but recounts what took place before the supper began.
4Jesus got up from the supper and took off his coat. He picked up a cloth and put it around him. 5Then he put water into a wash pan and began to wash the feet of his followers. He dried their feet with the cloth he had put around himself.
Matt. 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 records the main reason we are here today. The remembrance of our savior the lord Jesus Christ in the appointed way. John 13 records the way we are to conduct ourselves throughout the week to be worthy to partake of the bread and wine. The fellowship we share with God through Jesus Christ is a wonderful honor and privilege. And even though it is a gift from God we must earnestly strive not to dishonor it with a prideful look or an envious thought or a callous remark. One of the hardest things about being human is, not having the last word. Having the last word is pride manifested in it's highest form. Not many people can resist getting in the last word even if it's mumbled under your breath as your walking away.
A little background might be helpful to fully appreciate what Jesus did by washing the feet of his followers and to better understand Peter's protest; "I will never let you wash my feet". In biblical times there were no paved roads or cement sidewalks and the common mode of transportation was walking, shod in sandals. Foot washing was an act necessary for comfort and cleanliness for weary travelers. Customarily a host would provide quest with water for washing their own feet as it was regarded as such a lowly task not even Hebrew slaves were required to wash the feet of another. In this context, we can better appreciate the statement made by John the Baptist in Mark 1:7 that he was unworthy to untie the sandal of the one coming after him and the remark exclaimed by Peter. Jesus' washing of his disciple’s feet emphasizes the humility and loving kindness that we are to show one another.
Jesus sacrificed his life for us; for you, me and all of mankind. His death was very violent, very painful and he suffered it in silence. His sacrifice began long before his death, for it started when he chose to obey God's will rather than his own. When he chose to serve rather than to be served. Jesus overcame the weakness of the flesh with the strength of the spirit. Our future depends on our ability to overcome the weakness of the flesh just as he did. We must make the same sacrifices that Jesus made in daily living. Our duty is to serve God and we serve God by having the spirit of a servant. Having the spirit of a servant is more than just helping our fellowman but actually wanting to help, with the emphasis on wanting to.
We live in an age of remarkable wonder and technology that is on the brink of lost hope and deluded dreams. The religious systems of today are suffering deterioration from within through sexual scandals, mismanaged monies, racial disruption and general dissatisfaction. This puts an even stronger burden on us to maintain our outward subjection to Gods' word. Our newness of life must shine as an example to encourage the uninformed to reach out for the hand of God. Our actions and words should show the love that we share, with God, as representatives of Christ.
3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. His action showed the love he had for the father and consequently the conversion of many to follow the way of truth. Can we do less should one disagree with us, judge us, despitefully use us or persecute us. Are we able to bear this type of crucifixion? Are we able to pray for that individual?
Can we endure verbal humiliation with humility? Can we obey God commands and suffer tribulation in the hope that our actions may bring another to the table of the Lord?
As representatives of Christ we impact the lives of loved ones as well as strangers without realizing it. Any carelessness on our part such as bad tempers, selfishness, envy or anything un-Christ like affects the people around us. There are many people close to our lives that need the reassurance of our confidence in God. We cannot serve them if we cannot overcome the desire to serve ourselves. Do our neighbors see us as ambassadors of Christ? When our neighbors see us leave the house with our bible on Sunday morning or Wednesday night, does our life style portray us as religious or hypocrites in their eyes? We owe it to the glory of God for every personal contact in our daily lives to present ourselves as followers of Christ. There are lives we can touch through the power of God's love in us.
15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Wanting to please God allows our light to shine and we learn how to please God by reading His word
Through continual study of the word of God we can overcome our sinful nature. In times of distress or tribulation look to your comforter for peace and understanding. No matter what your difficulties are, an answer to them can be found in your Bible, if you look for it.
Our future hinges on our desire to overcome the flesh, for the day will come when we will be held accountable for our lives. Jesus' words in Matthew 12:36-37
36But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account there of in the Day of Judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned"
If we keep God in our hearts, we cannot help but to show love in our words and actions for the newness of life we have ascribed to.
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