This week's devotional is from Pastor Jeff Mazzariello.
ENCOUNTER: Read Colossians 3:1-17
“...you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." - Col. 3:9,10
One of the most amazing aspects of the good news (the gospel) is that when we come to Christ and receive his gift of forgiveness and eternal life, we are given a new nature. It’s amazing when you think about it. Our “old self” was on its own, separated from God, and so “dead” with respect to spiritual things. But the text says that we (the old self) died and we have been raised with Christ... now “alive” to God. Notice that we didn’t “do” anything, or change ourselves, or work ourselves into a more righteous person. Nope. This new nature is a free gift, given to us by God through the work of Jesus on the cross. So now we walk in it. We lean into it. We “put it on.” Therefore, as Christ followers, our obedience and godly living is not simply us attempting to be better humans. Instead, our obedience is a faithful “living into” the new nature we have been given. The “new me” is alive to God. And what that means practically is that I am indwelled with the Holy Spirit, who leads me, gives me supernatural strength for obedience, and empowers actual transformation of my heart, soul, and mind.
We have been asking this question in various forms for a few weeks now: What can you do (what spiritual practice can you engage in) that puts you in the place to receive the leading and power that the Holy Spirit has for you?
As a suggestion, here is a practice you might engage in this week:
Each morning, set aside a few moments of total quietness. Some of us call this our Quiet Time. (And for some of us, it requires getting up a bit earlier!) Grab your coffee, and sit with Jesus. Actually imagine him in the chair next to you. And, in addition to whatever else you want to tell Jesus or ask him for, simply ask him for his Holy Spirit to fill you this day. Confess that you want to “put off” your old self and desire to “put on” your new self today. Tell him of your desire to be led by the Holy Spirit. Tell him of your desire to be changed by his power. Confess to him the ways you know that you live a self-ruled, self-directed, self-reliant life, but that you want him to be Lord today... And see what happens...
BE A BLESSING:
If you persist in living by the power and leading of God’s Spirit, then you will find that he is using you as an agent of blessing over and over again. Your eyes will be opened more and more to seeing how you can be a Kingdom-of-God-bringer wherever you go. This mostly looks like being a conduit of the heart of God by being a person of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, etc. etc. Ask God to alert you to just one person in your life path today to whom he wants you to be a blessing. Then ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what that looks like, and to give you the courage to “put on your new self” and do it!
One of the main reasons we gather together for small groups and worship is that being together reminds us of the truth that we are a new creation. Since our old self hangs around and bothers us we can start to believe that we have not really been re-born or made alive with Christ. We can convince ourselves that this isn’t working for us and that we really aren’t able to be led and changed by God. This lie is disarmed when we gather to celebrate and rehearse the truth. We need each other to remember. “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (v.16)
This is why at MCC we say we believe you grow best when you are connected to a smaller group of believers. Are you deepening your connection to others, so that there is mutual encouragement to live as the “new you?” Is there one step you can take this week to move deeper in a relationship with another believer?
Carry on, dear friends, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit of God. You are a new creation!