On my way to visit my daughter Jenny in Limpopo (a 12 hour journey) I had plenty of time to think and I recalled how fed up I was a few days earlier when I discovered that right at the very beginning of my knitting I had dropped a stitch! There was only one thing to do! Undo it! Which of course I duly did albeit reluctantly! I stared at it for ages before I took the plunge. I finally realised I would notice!
What struck me as I pulled the whole thing undone is “life is pretty much like knitting in progress!” Each experience in our life, is like a stitch being added into the fabric of our lives.
Unlike a jersey, we cannot simply unravel our lives and start all over when we make a mistakes. But we do have a God, a wonderful compassionate loving God who can fix what has been broken! He can give us a brand new life!
A PROMISE FULFILLED
I really enjoy the Old Testament readings because they remind me that God didn’t wake up one morning and say, I need to do something about those people or else they are going to destroy each other and everything that I have made!
From the beginning of time God had a plan to save the human race. He did not leave us alone in our mess! He gave us Jesus who has given us new life on Him.
Over the past few weeks Nigel has spoken to us of Gods amazing grace. This morning I would like to speak of a particular aspect of God’s grace, His “healing grace”.
Jesus healed many people of physical illnesses in his day but He also healed the wounds that no one could see. He touched and healed outcasts in society, people wounded by rejection and shame. People such as prostitutes, tax collectors and the much despised Samaritan’s. He healed them inside and out! He gave them a new beginning!
Jesus said: MT 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
It is the nature of our God to heal ….. He said to Moses “I am the LORD, who heals you."
God doesn’t just fix our broken lives, He gives us a new beginning. A new life in Christ!
2CO 5: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
Romans 6:4 …just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
THE NEW LIFE – NEW OPPORTUNITIES
The difference between our old and the new one, is that in the past no matter what happened to us or how many or how few mistakes we made, how happy or unhappy, we were, life in the long term was without hope because we were dead in our sin!
(COL 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all your sins).
God doesn’t only forgive our sins He forgets them!
God says through Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
The danger is of course that people mistakenly think that this is a license to do whatever we like. Nothing could be further from the truth! We are still accountable to God! (RO 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.)
Sadly this misconception of an easy Christian life is popular today and we need to be sure that we are not fooled by the lie. It is not OK to keep on sinning regardless!
I met a very nice young man recently, who told me that he is a “born again” Christian and he likes that, because now he can do what-ever he likes so long as he believes in Jesus. Not so!!!
A new life challenges us to new perspectives! New goals! NEW PRIORITIES! NEW VALUES!
Paul said that we should COL 3:5 Put to death, whatever belongs to our earthly nature and – to rid ourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from our lips.
Our lives and our outlook on life will change if we listen to what God says through His Spirit. He convicts us of sin, and calls us to confession and repentance. Unfortunately we continue to live in a sin sick world that does impact on our lives which is why we desperately need His healing grace.
Although we understand that when we receive a new life in Christ and our sins are forgiven, we don’t always understand how to cope when other people’s sin impacts on our life.
When we are treated unjustly, are rejected, abused, robbed, cheated or demeaned by others it is really difficult to know how to deal with the feelings and thoughts that rage within us. Feelings we know do not honour God.
Jesus came “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners, to provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."
If this is true why are there still so many wounded and broken hearted people? Why it that so many believers do not have the kind of peace and joy that Isaiah speaks of. A lasting peace and joy that remains in the good times and the bad!
Jesus did not promise us a trouble free life! He warned his disciples that their lives were not going to be easy. He said JN 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Jesus overcame the world when He rose again from the dead and sent the Holy Spirit, our counsellor our comforter to be with us till He returns.
Jesus dealt with our sin on the cross, and we have new life in Him, but the problem is we still have to contend with others people’s sin.
When we are hurt by the actions of others our most natural reaction is resentment, hatred, anger, bitterness, vengeance, and sometimes even fear. For example. (There are many examples we could use but this one is common to us all).
Suppose a close friend betrays your confidence. When you hear this how do you react?
First you might feel a deep sadness, disappointment, then pain. After a while along comes the anger, the bitterness, maybe even revenge and hate. Wow! Just look what someone else’s sin has done to you!
In one fell swoop their sin has caused you to plunge right into the depths of sin along with them. Now you have to deal with your own sin all over again!
What does God's word have to say about that?
GAL 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy;
And what does the Bible say about how we should handle our situation?
EPH 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
HEB 12:15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
ROMANS 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.
Medically speaking it is not considered healthy to suppress our feelings and I am not suggesting that we do that.
What I do suggest is that we express our feelings, but first to the one who told us not to allow our anger to lead us into sin, not to allow the root of bitterness to grow and cause trouble, not to take revenge. If it is helpful to express our feelings who better than God to express them to?
The Bible tells us 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer is not only about telling God our troubles and asking for things. It is also an opportunity to listen to what the Spirit says!.
We must also listen. When we quietly and prayerfully wait in His presence He does speak to us. Maybe not in an audible voice but He speaks to our hearts and minds.
Being still is not something we are not very good at.
Our lives are hectic and noisy, and we are seldom still other than when we are sleeping or sitting in front of TV. If we want to hear God speak, we have to take time to be still and open to hear Him.
One of the most difficult things for us to do is to let go of the hurt. We feel justified in having them.
Letting go does not minimise what has hurt us but it does maximise our chances of moving on in our life healed restored and whole, at peace with God each other and of course ourselves.
Many people are living with past hurts totally oblivious of the insidious way in which Satan has drawn them into a web of ungodly thoughts and feelings. He has succeeded in convincing them they are justified to feel as they do. It is a lie and a trap to rob us of the blessing God has in store for those who believe! We must not believe him.
What wounds are you hiding in your heart today? If you can’t think of anything right now, ask yourself what bugs you the most? Then ask yourself why? It is a good place to start. You might be surprised at the difference it will make to your life when you let go and let God heal you and fix what is broken in your life.
You have been given the gift of new life in Jesus – He claimed that he was the one Isaiah spoke of. The one who would bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captive and release from darkness for the prisoners,
Allow Him to heal your wounded heart today, let Him set you free from the things that rob you of your joy and your peace.
He is waiting to be gracious to you!