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Inside or Outside - Where are you looking?

We make decisions all day long, from what time to awaken to what we will wear, eat, or do within that day. Some are quite easily made - like taking a drink of water when we are thirsty, or crunching on a cracker or two when we want a snack. Others are a little harder - like when we have to figure out the budget or what market moves to make with our investments. Still others are astronomically hard for us - like taking the first step toward seeking forgiveness when we know we have been wrong or making things right when we have made a mess of things. Decisions are not all easily made - some take us some time, while others almost 'percolate' within us until they are finally fully formed and we are ready to take action upon them. There are just some that should not be overlooked, though - especially the ones that are the harder ones to make!

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. (2 Corinthians 5:16-18)

The decision of God to provide us restoration through the death of his Son wasn't something I believe God had to 'percolate' on - he just knew it was the right decision and he set things in motion to move heaven and earth so he could see us restored to full relationship with him. If God didn't think twice about his greatest decision, why is it we have to 'mull things over' time and time again when it comes to taking steps of obedience with him? Maybe it is because of our stubborn determination to 'get things right' ourselves. How's that been working for you? It hasn't been working very well for me! The decision to be obedient may not always be the most popular, the first one you consider, and definitely not the easiest, but it is guaranteed to be the most rewarding!

We look a whole lot at the outside of a man or woman and make judgments about what they are like. It is one of our downfalls to consider only what we see on the outside, though. The outside can often present an image quite different than what is truly going on within the man's soul, heart, and mind! The soul can be in a place of tumultuous upheaval, steeped in guilt, shame, and sin's damaging accusations. The mind can be in turmoil because it is unable to rest as long as these accusations are allowed to continue. The heart can be sensing very little positive love because the mind and soul see's themselves as 'unworthy' of any love. All that can be going on inside, while the outside looks kind of like the individual has it all put together in a neat little package! The outside is no indication of what is on the inside - that is why they say the eyes are the window into the soul - they 'betray' the reality of what is on the inside.

We are created anew in Christ Jesus - but we all know it can take a little bit of time for the 'inside' and the 'outside' to 'catch up' with regard to this dramatic transformation process. In the meantime, we struggle with the old image of how we see ourselves and each other. The important thing for us to remember is that the cross makes us spotless - there is no flaw in us any longer. The reality is that we are kind of 'messed up' and it can take a little while for the mess to get all cleaned up! There is no change within us until we decide (make the decision) to take the first steps toward obedience that God asks us to take. Yes, they may be hard, but they are necessary. Yes, we may have to 'eat crow' a few times, while admitting we were wrong in some matter, but that is the first step of GRACE taking care of business in our lives!

The scars will be there. The hurts will creep in from time to time. Yet, the truth never changes - we are made new in Christ Jesus. The old is passed away - the new has come. Now get on with those decisions of obedience! Just act upon what you know he is asking you to do and without even noticing that it has happened, your 'inside' will begin to make a transformation you never knew was possible! Just sayin!

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