'New every day'
4th September 2020
'The old has gone'
17 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
they are a new creation:
The old has gone, the new is here!
18 All this is from God,
who reconciled us to himself
through Christ and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation.'
.... 2 Cor. 5:17b-18
We are the products of our past
but we don't have to be prisoners of it.
The centrality of Christianity is new life;
the possibility that we can change
completely - for the better.
In fact, we cannot discover God
and inherit eternal life unless
we undergo a radical change,
one that can only be compared to dying
and being reborn, completely new.
People talk about how hard it is
to change old habits, and
'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'
(actually you can!);
but that's nonsense.
People can and do change,
I saw this time after time
in my prison ministry.
A fifty six years old
(I'll call him John,
though that was not his name)
who had spent most of his life
in and out of prison
said to me in the chapel one day,
'I'm too old for this I've had enough,
I've wasted too much of my life
in places like this.
When I go out through though gates this time,
I'm not coming back.'
I encouraged him and prayed with him
although I knew in my heart
I'd heard the same story time and time before,
only to meet the speaker
back in the Reception area a few months later.
But John was right,
he sorted out his life
and never returned to prison.
He found a supportive church,
studied, turned his life around
and never came back into prison.
He is now a happy married man
and father of two.
Oh, that he had found that motivation earlier
and not wasted so much of his life!
Actually, what he found was God;
and was that time before wasted?
No, everything is done in God's time;
28 And we know that all things work together for good
to those who love God,
who have been called according
to his purpose.
.... Romans 8:28
That experience he gained in prison
is now being used in prison ministry
with young offenders
helping turn their lives around.
People can and do change;
the most ingrained habits.
The most difficult addictions
cannot stand up to God;
we can overcome them if we enlist his help.
So, if there is something we want to change,
we have to ask God to help us -
pray about it;
then listen to God's prompting.
But we have to be absolutely committed first,
we have to really want to do whatever it is -
we have to jump out of the aeroplane
before our parachute will open.
Through prayer God will work miracles
if you are trying to give up smoking
God will not just help you resist the temptation;
he will take away the craving.
Stay persistent in prayer and go forward in trust.
Paul wrote in his letter
to the church in Philippi
13 'But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind
and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal
to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward
in Christ Jesus.' 3:13-14.
With God's help we can change our lives around
wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
If we are born again in Christ,
we are a new beginning.
Most of us have something
we have been meaning to work on;
let's get started.