We remember sweet times of answered prayer. When you brought family and friends together. When you gave blessings and we cheered with great joy. When you ushered in new life. When you escorted us to that sweet spot of service. When you led us to safe places and beautiful seasons of rest.
We marveled at the work of your hands. We celebrated with laughter and songs of praise. We exclaimed, “God has done this! It is a miracle! He is amazing!”
We humbly ask you to do it again, Father. Bring life where there is death. Bring flourishing where there is barrenness. Bring rain where there is drought. Bring light to the darkness. We have planted in tears. We are desperate. We need you.
Restore to us that which has been ravaged. May we sing anew with great joy. Swing wide your doors of blessing once again.
Let us find delight in your presence.
We sing your praises. Always. For you are faithful.
Through Jesus. Amen.
We’re reading through, and with intentionality, praying through the Psalms during this school year. There are 150 Psalms, divided into 180 different readings. See this post for more info.
Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
Romans 8. Here we go!
We concluded the previous chapter discussing our addiction to sin, caused by the Human Condition. Paul swings the door of God’s grace wide open here. Can it be any clearer than this: “If you belong to Christ Jesus, you won’t be punished. The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Christ Jesus and will set you free from sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, CEV).
A new power is in operation! The Spirit clears the air and frees us! Jesus took on the mess of the world… and the mess that is our life. We embrace what the Spirit has done, and is doing, in us. God didn’t tinker around when He came up with the plan to redeem us. He sent Jesus to put sin to death permanently and completely. “God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.” (Romans 8:3-4, MSG).
“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5
Isn’t that a wonderful promise? God is big enough to make the rough, smooth. To make the choppy waters a delight. To make purpose out of messes.
The believer is promised, through Christ, that we are made new. Really? What does it mean to be a New Creation in Christ? Paul says: Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message)
Don’t you love the word “anyone” ? We all get a fresh start. We all have the opportunity to be new and different every day in Christ. What a great promise going into a New Year!
And why are we so blessed to receive the newness of a new day, day after day? Keep reading in 2 Corinthians 5 and you see that Paul says it’s all about relationships. God gives us an opportunity to get a fresh start so that we may encourage others and proclaim the Good News of the hope of the Messiah. Look how he finishes the thought:
We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (The Message).
We can look back at the old year and say, “no, this year will be different.” I hope it will be for you. I hope you will find the courage to move beyond the old, the routine, the mundane… those things which may have tangled you up or brought you down.
Let’s look ahead in 2012 with boldness and confidence. God’s grace is fresh for us every single day. “A new life burgeons!” Can you see it?