New year, New life

Last night I rang in the New Year driving home from the hospital, where I had spent most of the day supporting good friends as they welcomed a son into the world.

Life is such a miracle, and to hold and snuggle a precious newborn baby is to know the tenderness and loving-kindness of the God who created him.

What a way to begin a new year, witnessing new life!

New life in the new year!

New life in the new year!

As I kept the new mom company and watched as she talked with and loved on her sweet child, my mind was drawn to the Scripture passage found in John 3.

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit…”

January 1 brings hope each year, for us to be able to leave the past behind and have a fresh start. We crave that innocence and purity we have lost. Just like a newborn baby, we seek to be cradled securely in loving arms. We look within ourselves, to our relationships and from our livelihood to find the satisfaction and purpose we so deeply desire. And, every year we watch the Times Square ball tumble down, just like all of our independent efforts, and wish this next year would be different.

We have the same questions Nicodemus had.

And, Jesus has the same answer: we must be born again, born of God’s Spirit, and become His son or daughter. We need to be made completely new, just like a newborn baby.

Whatever you are facing in 2013, no matter the obstacles already looming and the mistakes you may be running from, new life is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Your eternal life with God can begin today. Jesus reminds Nicodemus in the same conversation that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. In the same fashion, those of us who have received that wonderfully precious gift need to fully possess it. We must live in God’s power, receive His forgiveness, extend His mercy and proclaim the Good News.

This is how I want to spend the new year.

Knitted Treasures

When we tuck our children into bed at night, they each have a special blanket that helps sooth them to sleep. Though both Jackson and Lauren had many blankets from birth, from soft plush to plain cotton, each settled on a special home-made treasure to become their “blankey”. Whether they are tired or sick or just want to cuddle, it is what they reach for to find comfort and security.

When Lauren was sick last week, her blanket went with her everywhere.

These blankets were knitted together as God was forming and shaping each child before they were born. When I see these and other gifts lovingly made for Jackson and Lauren, it reminds me of the depth of God’s love for them, and for me, from the very beginning.

Psalm 139:13 declares, “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

God was there from the moment each of us came into being. He planned us. He created us. He was there with us as we grew and every part of us developed. We are because He is. He knit our bodies and our lives together.

So God created man in His own image;
He created him in the image of God;
He created them male and female.

Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

God’s hands-on approach to our lives didn’t end as our parents held us in their arms for the first time. God is intimately involved in our lives, seeking to bring us to the point where we understand the depth of His love and respond.

Recorded in Genesis, God revealed Himself to Abram, and Abram surrendered his life to follow God’s call and promise. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” The word “credited” actually means to interpenetrate or to weave. God weaved into Abram His cleansing power to make him right with God. It was an action that could not be undone.

Just as beautifully as God knitted our lives together in the womb, He also weaves His righteousness into our lives as we are born the second time.

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

 Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

– John 3:3-8

When we place our lives in God’s hands, the same can be said of us as it was for Abram (later renamed Abraham). Romans 4:23-25 says, “Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, but also for us. It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Or, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

God doesn’t stop there. He made us, He saved us, and He has a plan for our lives. He desires for us to be connected together as a family to share and demonstrate His message of love to the world.

But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Ephesians 4:15-16

God has created, credited and connected us in such a miraculous fashion, weaving and knitting us into the people He intends us to be.

And, each time I tuck in Jackson and Lauren, snuggled tightly with their blankets, I see the promise of God in their lives and pray God will complete the beautiful work He has begun in them.