Ephesians 4: 17-27
17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[d] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
I was reading this verse today and it struck me.
How often do we just forget the day of our conversion to Christ? The moment when we surrendered our lives to Him to lead us where He has planned.
Fast forward a few years and likely, you may have forgotten the feeling, the Holiness of that day.
I was a kid when I asked Jesus into my heart. Apparently I did it twice. The second time I must have been that much more sure. Or else I had taken the last cookie from the cookie jar without permission. I was about 7, and honestly, my memories of anything before 8 are not as clear as thereafter. I’m really hoping that’s the case for most people…. 🙂
Now I am 36. I have four kids. I have a job. A house. A mortgage. There is a lot more life I am responsible for. It gets full, often busy at times in life. So sometimes I forget to read my bible. It’s there in plain view beside my chair on purpose. But still the purpose gets overshadowed by the assignments and cold tea cups on top of it.
This week Billy Graham went to Heaven. I still remember the first movie I watched. The image I most remember though wasn’t the scenes of the story the movie was playing. It was of the crusade that had been put into the movie. I have to say, the writers always did a good job of making the crusade a part of the movie. Effortlessly it seemed. But I remember seeing Rev. Graham standing up there saying, “Jesus loves you. He wants to forgive you of your sins.” I remember thinking about how much courage it must take to stand up in front of all those people and say these bold words about Jesus. I was already saved at this point in my life. But I remember thinking about how amazing it would be to lead someone to Christ.
Photo: NBC News
When I was in 4th grade, my parents sent me to public school. For all of 4 months. We didn’t make it past the “All about Recycling” Program the school put on at Christmas. There were even fearful of offending someone with Santa in 1990. Anyway. It was in the playground of that school sometime that fall that I prayed with one of my new friends to ask Jesus into her heart. I honestly, 26 years later, can’t remember her name. I never saw her after I left school in January to homeschool. But the experience and feeling still stuck with me. I felt like I was actually doing something with my life. With Christianity.
Our Christian life is a life of constant surrender. Like when I really wanted to be a nurse…but I knew the Lord was telling me to become a teacher. What a waste of one semester learning body anatomy was. But it did teach me something. It taught me to listen to the still small voice of our Father. We have to listen if we are to move forward in life at all.
We have to think back to the moment we first surrendered to Jesus. We have to remember He wants us to lay down all that worldly stuff. The love of things over people. The love of being the top, to being the one in the back of the line caring for someone who needs us, who goes about being unseen.
Verse 24 tells us to “Put on our new nature.” What is that new nature? Sure we may look the same, but what about our actions? Our spending habits? That’s been a big one for me this last year. I needed to be content. To spend less and give more. God hasn’t given us the extra about what we need to live on for ourselves. He gave it to us to support the single mom struggling to make ends meet. For the friend who is going through a hard time and bringing over a meal would just make her day. He gave it to us to help us be His hands and feet on earth.
If we look exactly like the person beside us who hasn’t found out the love of our Father. If we watch the same negative & dark TV shows they do and call it entertainment…how is that showing them we live our life differently.
“Oh, God wants us to have nice stuff.”
I’m kind of on the fence with this one.
Because I believe God wants to bless us. Bless us with things that matter eternally not mainly earthly. He wants to reward us with health, a long life, family and friends. He wants us to have a roof over our heads. A good one. He doesn’t want us to struggle. But I mean, he was born in a stable. Yes, he had gold, frankincense and myrrh gifted to him. However, he had 12 disciples he had to feed and support while they worked for him right? God knew He was going to need an income to help support him.
I am preaching to the choir here.
So back to Billy Graham. I’m not discussing finances here because it doesn’t take long in a Google browser to see how much money he potentially had. But I have first hand stood in one of the ministry’s buildings and seen the people working hard to get the good news out however they can. Sure there are lots of volunteers, but they employ a lot of people to get the Good News out there. They bring medical aid. They bring food. They bring gifts. All these things open people’s heart to the gospel. Jesus feed the 5,000 and healed the sick. But you can’t do that without money. I don’t know how much money he poured back into the ministry or other ministries. But I have faith he did.
What I am saying is who will continue the work he started? Have we lost sight of what living a Christian life actually should be full of? Rev. Graham’s message was always so simple. It never seemed to be mixed with all the other jumble of denominations or non-denominational “thoughts”. He didn’t seem to be ever caught arguing with someone concerning religion. He showed that life with Jesus was a compassionate relationship with our creator. There is someone who sticks closer than any one human can.
I’m challenging myself to go deeper. To forgive more. To hold less close to me that will pass away. God’s heart beat is people. It needs to be mine too.