Welcome to week 3 of my cyberspace Bible Study. This fall, my posts are following the heart of the messages I teach each week at my church. I pray you will be blessed.
1) A New Seed (New DNA)
I Peter 1:23-25 says, For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.
In my last two posts, I wrote about God's desire and plan to help us to renew our minds and transform our lives when we become a beautiful new creation through our faith in Jesus Christ. My own transformation began one spring evening in 1977, after I accepted a friend's invitation to her church youth group. That night, as the youth pastor gave his message to an enthusiastic group of high-schoolers, I listened. And, for the first time in my life, I heard the good news of the gospel. I knew, with my whole being, that Jesus was real! He was the Son of God, who came down from heaven, became a man, was crucified on the cross for MY sins, and was raised on the third day to give ME new life. No one had to convince me how much I needed a Savior. I knew I was a sinner. So, at the pastor's invitation, I eagerly asked Jesus to live in my heart, to forgive my sins and to save my soul. Although, it took two more years before I fully embraced my decision, that night an imperishable seed was planted in my heart, and a new DNA began to flow through my soul. Little did I know, that memorable evening, I also received a new name.
2) A New Name
John 1:1-3, 11-13 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made...He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God---children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
Recently, I added my maiden name on my Facebook timeline. One reason I included my unusual Norwegian name was to connect with "long-lost" family members. It's been so fun to get acquainted with my relatives. But, to be honest, the reason I kept my maiden name off my profile information was because I didn't want my former high-school classmates to find me. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the person they remembered from high school. Until, one day when it occurred to me, I want to be found. I want others to know I have a new name. Not just my married name, but I have a spiritual name. I am no longer just Cathy Indgjer, the lost and confused girl they knew in high school. I am Cathy Child-of-God! If people from my past find me, I pray they will get a glimpse of the Lord's amazing power to transform a mixed up teenage girl into a woman with a deep faith, strong convictions and a certain hope. The "old" Cathy, was born again. She became a new creation, with a new name! And, much to her surprise, she also became part of a whole new family.
3) A New Family
Mark 10:29-30 Jesus said, Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children...
Through Facebook, not only have I reconnected with long-lost family members, but I have connected with men and women who are a part of my family of faith from around the world. I took both of these families for granted, until years ago, when my husband and I moved away from them to pursue God's call on our lives. For more than a year, alone in a new city, I begged God to send us a new family of faith, especially godly mentors to teach me how to love and care for my young family. And, as Jesus promised in the passage above, for the last twenty-two years, God has blessed us with more "brothers and sisters", and "parents" and "children" who have loved us, prayed for us, believed in us and encouraged us than we could have ever imagined or hoped for.
In order to renew our minds, and fully enjoy the transformed life God desires for each one of us, we must recognize and nurture the new seed growing in us, understand and take ownership of the new name given to us, as well as reach out to and connect with the new family all around us, waiting to welcome and embrace us.