Hope is Fresh and New
Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (II Corinthians 5:17)
May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is (Ephesians 3:18).
[That you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God's presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself] (Ephesians 3:19-20 AMP).
And then take on an entirely new way of life-a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you (Ephesians 4:23 THE MESSAGE).
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life... Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us (Colossians 3:10-11)
Keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you (I Peter 4:19).
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Many people think I grew up in a Christian home, but I didn't. I grew up in a moral home, a home that stressed the importance of living by the Golden Rule. But it wasn't until my parents hit a hard place in their marriage that the four of us kids found ourselves in church. It was the beginning of a new life for all of us! That's where I first met Jesus and was baptized when I was twelve.
But my teenage years were busy, and going to church became less of a priority for me. I remember thinking that since God lived inside my heart, I could talk to Him anytime (which is true), and that I didn't really need to go to church to help me grow in my faith (which is not true)! Instead of having a relationship with Jesus, I had more of a "helpline" I'd reach out and call in case of emergency.
Whenever I felt a twinge of guilt or conviction about something, I would compare myself to others my age. I was still a good kid, I was fairly responsible, and I liked pleasing my parents. Unlike other child stars, I didn't get into drugs or alcohol or trouble with the law. My life seemed pretty tame. I tried to focus on the good things I was doing, things I thought could balance the scales in my favor. But I remember thinking, "How good is good enough? And is this really how God works? Can I really just do whatever I want and then ask for forgiveness later?"
Then I learned that God's standard of goodness is different from the world's standard, and for the first time I saw myself as a sinner. For the first time I really understood that I had broken God's law, that Jesus paid my penalty with His own life, and that there was no love greater than that. He rescued me, He saved me, He delivered me, and knowing this led me to real repentance and heart change. Out of gratitude for what Jesus did for me, I genuinely wanted to live a life that honors His sacrifice. A life that pleases Him. A life that points others to Him.
It's been more than thirty years since I began this new adventure, this new life in Christ. I'm still learning what it means to live my life for Him. I'm still learning and growing in my relationship with Him.
Sometimes I make mistakes or lose my way. But my hope is not that I can ever get to a place where I do it all perfectly-or do enough good to outweigh the bad. My hope is in Jesus and what He's already done for me. My hope is in His unconditional love for me. My hope is in His forgiveness, His amazing mercy and grace-which are fresh and new, each and every day.