Tag Archives: the present

Living in the Sonshine!

Most of us like a good motivational speaker.  And a good motivational speaker will agree with my statement from last week:  your past does not determine your future—your present determines your future.

Of course, the motivational speaker will say that the decision you make today is the one that really matters because it can change the future.  Just because you were lazy or foolish or whatever in the past does not mean you have to continue that way.  Make a decision today to change your future, they say.

But that’s not what I am saying.  Because you have eternal life, your future is already in your present.  In Christ, you already own what God will give you in the future.  The “mansion on the hilltop,” if you like that image, is already yours.

So what?  If I am not living in the mansion now, in this world, then what difference does it make to know that it is already mine?  Well, it makes a lot of difference.

Living in eternal life is the difference between striving and resting.  Eternal life is the difference between wishing and thanking.  It is the difference between desire and assurance.  You don’t have to strive to measure up, to win the love of God, to deserve Heaven.  You don’t have to worry about what lies in store for you after you leave this world.  You don’t have to be content with wishes and hopes because you already live there.

We are, according to Ephesians 2:6, already seated with Christ in “the heavenly places.”  We are with Him forever.  No one can snatch us out of His hand.  The kingdom of God is already in us and we are already citizens of it.

Apart from the message of grace and the understanding of what we have received in Christ, many people struggle with assurance.  They fear the future and worry whether they are good enough for the judgment.  They long for the day this life will be over and they can enter into hope and promise.

But not you and me.  We know that eternal life means we are secure in Christ.  Because He has loved us, He has given us all things.  Heaven is ours—we will never die.  We do not fear the evil one and his lies, nor the eternal hell that is his.  We do not strive to earn what is already ours.

And, best of all, we are beginning to see glimpses of eternity today.  The Son is shining through!

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Filed under Theology and mystery

Life in the Present

Instant replay.  Some say it is the downfall of football.  Giving the fans the opportunity to review, over and over, a play and judge the calls of the officials has certainly changed some of the flavor of the game.  What was an attempt by broadcasters to energize and involve the fans was the beginning of a whole new way of life for those fortunate enough to live in such advanced times.  Today we can replay many of the events of our lives, sometimes events we would love to forget.  The criminal thought he had committed the perfect crime until he saw himself on the television news in the act.  The actions of teens that would have simply been remembered by the ones who were there are now immortalized in the minds of a world through Facebook and YouTube.  We can’t seem to escape our past.

Of course some of us don’t need videos to remind us of the stupid or sinful things we have done.  We remember plenty.  We remember too much.  In fact, because we remember, we find it hard to think of those things as separate from us in any way.  We allow those dumb things to define us.  We say things like: “I am a —,” based on what we have done.  Or: “I always —,” because we remember doing something foolish.

Now, most of us have been taught that we should not let our failures define us.  We know that our sins are forgiven.  But we still look back on those things with regret and fear and shame.  Because we can remember what we did, we find it hard to think of ourselves as separate from what we did.  So what if I could show you that the things of your past have been redeemed in your relationship with Jesus?

Because you have eternal life, you live forever in the present—in relationship with Jesus.  That means that the mistakes and sins of your past have been more than wiped away.  They have been incorporated into the wonder and joy of your present.

Now, so that you don’t think I have gone too far off the deep end, here’s what I mean.  Those evil things you and I did in our past are no longer on our accounts as sins held against us.  We know that.  But, beyond that, those evil things have themselves been used in your life, and apparently in the lives of others, to accomplish the purpose of God.  Nothing you did was a surprise to Him.  When you came to Him, those things were in the package you brought.  Not only did He wash you clean from guilt and shame, He also used those things as part of the building process of your life.

Don’t get me wrong.  Those things were sins and they were evil.  But notice Joseph’s understanding:

 

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20

 

And God tells Isaiah that the sins, though stained as deeply by evil as possible, will be washed and purified.

 

 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18

 

And here is the promise for you and me:

 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

All things?  Even those awful things I have done, those things I regret so deeply?  Yes, even those things!  All things have been brought into your present, washed and made useable for your good.  Under the blood, in your relationship with Jesus, even those things have worked good for you.

Now, I realize this may be a difficult teaching to swallow.  We have been taught to hate our sins and think of them as the reason Jesus went to the cross.  We have been made to feel terrible whenever we think about what we did, no matter how long ago.  But the truth is that we are not to live in the past.  We live in the present and, if we are truthful, those evil things that weighed on our hearts contributed to our need for a Savior.

A wise friend reminded me one day that people who fail need a Savior, so I should never be ashamed of the fact that I failed.  In the same way, people who sinned needed a Savior and—Praise the Lord!—a Savior was sent for us.

I never want to do those things again, but I also no longer will live there.  My life is in the eternity of Jesus, full and free because of His love.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under Theology and mystery