Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - New Normal

In almost every new article or segment that I read or listen to, I hear the same term, “new normal”, used over and over. It has become the new buzz phrase that has come to symbolize this new decade. New social practices such as distancing and reduced capacity are now becoming the new norm. There have even been discussions and suggestions regarding the handshake. Some doctors feel that the accepted and traditional custom should be eliminated from our daily interactions. 

Everything we do from now on will be scrutinized through the lens of the new norm. Although I am not a fan of the term, I believe that we should embrace a new way of thinking and feeling towards one another. As we continue to deal with COVID-19 and its impact in our lives, we should also take a moment to look at our lives through a spiritual lens.   

Last week, I talked about having a new heart and a new spirit. When we accepted Christ Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, we received the free gift of salvation from our Heavenly Father through the blood of His son, Jesus. As we received that gift, we received a new heart and a new spirit. Our old stony, sin-filled heart was removed and a new one was placed into us. Our old spirit of disobedience was ripped away and a new spirit of love for our Father and for others was put in its place.

After receiving our new hearts and our new souls, we are called to walk with the Lord daily and dedicate our lives to serving Him and to loving one another. There is a new norm for us as Christians. We are no longer to walk in darkness and act disobediently. We have been transformed and we should reject that old, sinful lifestyle by living a life of worship and love.

In chapter two of his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

In this passage, Paul tells us that there is no way for us to satisfy the requirements of the law. No matter how hard we try, there is no way that we could, on our own, meet the requirements of the law and avoid spiritual death. Our salvation can only come through the blood of Jesus poured out as an atonement for our sins. When we accepted this gift, we were given a new life and a new way to live. 

The grace that we receive has a deep meaning for us. Just like that beautiful song by Isaac Watts, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”, you cannot help but be humbled by the value of that gift of salvation. The son of God the Father came from his throne on high to live among us and show us the way back to the Father. When it came time to lay down his life for our sins, he walked the Via Dolorosa to die upon a cross. While on that cross, Jesus suffered for each of us and bore the world’s sins upon his broken body. When the moment came, the skies grew dark and the stone moaned as Jesus took his last breath and gave up his spirit.

In chapter nineteen of his gospel, John records that final moment of Jesus, “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

It is through that act of love for each of us that Jesus made us right with God the Father. As a child of God, Jesus lives in you and walks with you daily. His lessons and his life are ours to guide our daily steps. We are no longer part of the old norm, but, rather, a part of the new norm.

As we walk daily in that new life, let us always remember the life of Jesus and his sacrifice for us and live our lives in accordance to his teachings. This new norm means that we live our lives with a Christ-like attitude daily and devote ourselves to God. 

Paul writes, in chapter two of his epistle to the Philippians, “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

Don’t let Jesus’ sacrifice become meaningless in your life. Live a life dedicated in love and service to the Lord and to those around you. Act in a way that is Christ-like and hold firmly to the word of life. Don’t let anything come between you and that new norm. As you continue your daily walk with the Lord, you will soon find that this new norm will strengthen you for the days ahead and that you will stand firm in His grace. 

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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