Summer is almost here and it’s time to slow down, rest, and make plans for the remainder of the year. For the next several weeks, I will be taking a break from writing the blog so I can move into a new home, take a long-awaited anniversary trip with my husband, and tape next year’s Bible study on the book of Matthew. We will be highlighting some of my all-time favorite blogs over the years. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!
I love what I do. While definitely work, this work is also my ministry. I love the opportunities to serve the Lord by sharing his word with others.
Life has been complicated this past year as well as joyful, difficult, fulfilling, and blessed. Stepping away from some of my work to rest in the Lord and refocus my thoughts on the future is right and good.
A new self
I was reading some familiar verses in Ephesians when I saw the passage in a new way. If you have lived a Christian lifestyle for most of your life, this may give you some new thoughts as well. ALL of Scripture has purpose in our lives, and these verses spoke a word to me.
Paul was writing to the Ephesian church, encouraging them to move away from the sinful behaviors of their past, pre-Christian lifestyles. He said, “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:20–24).
I’ve taught those verses before, but usually from the perspective of first-century issues. In doing that, I applied these verses only to our lives before salvation. I want to be clear, that is what Paul was teaching the Ephesians. But are these verses only about that?
An old self, redefined
Most of my readers have been Christians for a long time. I was raised in the church and truthfully, my pre-Christian years weren’t dramatically different from the life I lived after choosing Christ as my Lord and Savior. Passages like the one from Ephesians kind of seemed like verses for someone else.
But what if Paul wanted to teach these verses to people like most of us, who have lived as Christians for the vast majority of our lives?
Are there times we need to “put off our old self” too? There are times we step away from our “former manner of life” even if it isn’t necessarily “corrupt.” Sometimes our former way of life is simply outdated. There are times we need to step into a new day, a new calling, or new circumstances. Paul’s instructions are key for those moments as well.
When a renewed self is needed
I never want my relationship with God or my ministry to grow routine, uninspired, or stale. Teaching God’s word is always relevant and rewarding. But isn’t it easy to continue doing what we have always done, even when the Lord might want to plan a “new thing”?
Paul told the Ephesians that after they had stepped away from their “old self” there were things to do if they wanted to be renewed.
First: we need to be renewed in the spirit of our minds
We need to think differently, discover new ideas, and simply learn to know God at newer and deeper levels. We should never be finished “seeking” God. Our spiritual lives are eternal, and we can measure our success by our growth. We are not finished growing until we have become an eternal soul in heaven.
Second: we need to put on the new self
I know this originally meant to step into the life of a person who has been born again and filled with God’s Holy Spirit. We all remember the wonder of waking up with the knowledge that we had become an adopted child of God. But should our wonder fade? Shouldn’t we make the choice to put on our new self every day?
Third: we should evaluate our spiritual lives by the standards of Christ
Our renewed lives should continue to make us more like Christ, with each passing year. We were created after the likeness of God. We were made to be truly righteous and live holy lives.
A new home, a new path, and a new heart
There is a LOT that is new in my life right now, and it is exciting. I have so much work ahead of me in the next few weeks, but I look forward to getting on a plane and leaving it all behind. I will enjoy as many sunsets on the ocean as I can before returning home to work some more.
I am taking my soul on this vacation and asking God to renew, refocus, and redirect my life – in whatever ways he would choose. It’s a new day, and I want to be whoever the Lord calls me to be for this next season of life.
Whatever that might mean, I know this: I want to keep growing and keep serving the Lord. I want to be more like Christ next summer than I am this summer.
It’s time to take time
It’s time to take time to rest, think, pray, and respond to God’s guidance. I’m excited for a few weeks to “be still and KNOW” the presence of my Lord.
Rest is good! I pray each of you will be able to find time to sit at God’s feet and “reason together.” Could God have a new plan for your life as well? One thing is certain, we are never finished growing into someone who is more and more like him.
I’ll be back soon…summer blessings!