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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can You Begin Again?

The Bible begins with "In the beginning." Normally, we think there can be only one. We say, "You don't get a second chance to make a first impression." We think that we can never start again what we have already started. Fortunately, that is not the truth.

The Gospels of John and Mark start with the new beginning. Luke tells how he meticulously researched to tell the story of Jesus chronologically. Matthew begins with the lineage of Jesus from Abraham. It is clear that this was a new beginning. Suddenly, everything changed. Suddenly, the old rules were replaced with new ones. Suddenly, we understood grace rather than the law.

The beautiful aspect of the gospel is that you can begin again. You don't have to be what you were. You are not enslaved in the way you formerly acted. You don't have to be known for what you were. You can become new all again.

Jesus told Nicodemus that he should be "born again." Of course, this was perplexing to old Nick. The Jews had as system of being born again. They would have considered anyone coming into the faith as being born again. However, Nicodemus was already a Pharisee. He was at the pinnacle of the faith. He did not understand how he could or even should begin again. This was his stumbling block. It is the same for us when we believe that we cannot begin again. 

I often hear people say things like, "I married my wife once. I don't need to renew my vows." Now, this is a personal choice but I have found that I must renew my vows constantly. They should always be fresh and having them renewed formally is merely an expression of what I have been experiencing personally. Beginning again is an opportunity that should be met with frequency. It should be a determination that we will not let ourselves stagnate in our own failures. It should be a new determination as if we are made new by that determination to be different. 

What would be the reputation of many of God's servants if they had not began again? Moses would be known as a murderer. Peter would have been known as one who denied Christ. Paul would have been known as one who persecuted the Lord. These are events in each of these men's lives but they are not how they are characterized. They began again and their lives were made new.

A new year and new decade approaches quickly. The new year and decade will not be the same as the one that is passing. You will find that you will get worse in what you are doing or that you can begin again. We never really get to the bottom of the bad that we can do. We go the direction we are going unless something acts to stop us. We will get worse if we don't determine by God's strength to begin again.

Of course, this is true of many things in your life. You can begin again by being smoke free, being thin, being educated, being faithful to your spouse or being faithful to your Lord. You begin these things and faithfully continue in them until you become what you have begun.   

The beautiful story of beginning again is explained so wonderfully when the father of the prodigal explains to the son who never left him why he (the father) had to take the prodigal son back:

Luke 15:32 (NIV)
32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

You, too, can begin again. 

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