An honest letter was sent to the Internal Revenue Service. It stated: “Dear Sirs: I cannot sleep. Last year, when I filed my income tax return, I deliberately misrepresented my income. Now I cannot sleep. Enclosed is a check for $150.00 for taxes. If I still cannot sleep, I will send you the rest!”
During these 40 days of Lent we have repented for our sins. We have found just how important “change” really is in our lives. Every day we, like Rip Van Winkle, awake to find the world different. The molecules keep moving around us.
2CO 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! While there is stability in God, there is also change. That change makes us who we are and what we are as Christians. To the degree that we are willing to change, God will mature us. Do we live with such certainty that we believe God will change our lives?
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” Why down to the potter’s house? Why not the house of worship? Why not some place that has a beautiful sunset? So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. Ever been in a pottery shop? They are messy. There is clay all over the floor, I call it dirt. It is usually hot from the kiln. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.
The illustration of the potter and his wheel was to serve as a warning to the Hebrew people for their evil. But it was also letting them know that through a relationship with God that their lives could and would be changed. When Paul had so persecuted the Christians, even to the point of death, when Paul was converted to Christianity, no one wanted to believe it, but God showed Paul a new man, totally different. When the woman caught in the very act of adultery was brought to Jesus, he changed her life. Not only because he spared her life from the religious leaders, but he offered the opportunity of change, “go and sin no more.”
We are always being unfaithful to God, but God continues to return. This is what the Lord says – he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. It almost sounds like our baptism!
For we go down into the water, and that part of us that was evil, is washed away.
How many of us live in the past? Look what God has done? That reminds us of how powerful and wonderful God is. See, I am doing a new thing!
In the story of Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). We may not be possessed by demons as was the demoniac, but we are possessed by harmful and destructive character traits, unclean attitudes and thought patterns can take up residence within us. A zoo of lust, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds.
“My name was Legion.” And like the demoniac, the cure for us is to run to Jesus, bow down before Him and allow Him to cast out whatever may possess us.
Forgiveness isn’t pretending nothing has happened, or pretending that what happened didn’t hurt. It isn’t even forgetting it completely, and it isn’t going back and starting over as though it hadn’t ever happened. Instead, forgiveness is refusing to let anything permanently destroy the relationship. There’s a place for saying, “I’m sorry.” There’s a place for assuring the other person that “all is forgiven.” But the goal of both is to rebuild the relationship. One of the amazing things about a healthy beginning again is that the relationship is often stronger than it was before.