Thursday, September 29, 2016


There are verses in the Bible that really capture my imagination! Some produce striking images in my mind, and others leave me in wonder at the depth of their meaning. Among the many examples, I've always been fascinated with the final phrase of 2 Corinthians 5:17... "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

Imagine with me on this one. Our union with Christ is a mysterious concept, but what the Apostle Paul reveals here is that if we are "in Christ", we are a "new creation."  I can't help but wonder if Paul's mind is harkening back to Genesis 1-2 where we find the original creation story in which we're told of God creating the first man and woman amidst the grand backdrop of Him speaking the earth and the universe into existence. What a wonder as Paul imagines glorious light displacing the darkness, stars flung into space in every direction, and the formless void on the surface of the earth suddenly taking shape and growing a lush green carpet of vegetation with creatures of all varieties roaming its hills and plains. To crown it all, a man and a woman are created to bear the image of God in this beautiful new world. The creation story captures the imagination in its everything-from-nothing life-explosion like no other Bible story! 

And then, Paul picks up the language of that wonderful story in 2 Corinthians as he seeks to give us a picture of the Christian's union with Christ. "...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..." But this is not like some new craft project to put on the shelf with one's previous crafts. The old creation from that beautiful story in Genesis is tainted. Sin has spoiled it. Something has died in us due to sin corrupting our hearts. So when Jesus came 2,000 years ago – just as we know he was there in Genesis 1-2 – He came to replace something old and broken with something fresh from heaven! He came to make new creations, providing a life-explosion of resurrection life to supplant the old creation that was dead in its sins. This doesn't mean our personalities are replaced, but that our sin-stained spirits are made alive! And as wonderful as it must have once been to be created in the image of God and to sometimes walk side by side with God in the garden, it's now possible to be born again into a life of right-standing with God and to walk with Christ continually living in our hearts by God's Spirit every moment of every day! 

But it's the final phrase that personalizes this verse for me... "The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!" When I read, "Behold, the new has come", I visualize a plush stage curtain slowly opening, bright lights shining on what will soon be revealed, and a packed audience waiting in hushed anticipation to see... you. Yes, you! You're just standing there on that big stage, wearing your usual jeans and favourite t-shirt, looking a little awkward from all the attention. But you've got a slight smile on your face that you just can't hide because Jesus is inside you and wants everyone to see that you are His new creation! You see, as ordinary as we think we are, and as often as we feel we fail Him, we live our Christian lives by the life and power of God, and can be encouraged that "we are His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10) and that He loves us with "the immeasurable riches of His grace" (Ephesians 2:7). We're what He wants to show off to the world with the word, "Behold!"  Because Jesus then wants us to show everyone that He is the one who made us new!

© 2016 by Ken Peters

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In Memory of Consumers Distributing

Some of you may remember Consumers Distributing. It was a store that operated from 1957 to 1996 in which customers selected items from a store catalog instead of from store shelves, and employees would then go to a warehouse behind their counter to get any catalog items requested. I loved Consumers Distributing, and was sad when they closed. I used to eagerly page through the Consumers catalog, wishing I could afford so many of the things that I saw. I can fondly remember random items that I bought there: a baseball glove, a wall clock, a microwave cabinet, a floor lamp. And so many other things. I think I enjoyed shopping there because it was so easy to browse their entire stock as you just stood in one place and paged through their colourful catalog, knowing that whatever you found could immediately be brought out and presented to you like a gift (that you then had to pay for)! It was like Amazon before the internet and without the shipping fees! And just as Amazon aims to provide us with all that we want all on one website, Consumers Distributing tried to provide whatever any consumer might want all in one catalog.

All of these memories occurred to me this morning as I read Proverbs 23:23. "Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding." 

These are all invaluable items! Much more precious than baseball gloves and floor lamps. And it occurred to me that they're all readily available in the pages of one beautiful book that contains the words of God: the Bible! I can eagerly read my Bible knowing that every page is filled with truth and wisdom, instruction and understanding, and all of it is affordable because it's free! Isaiah wrote, "...he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). The food Isaiah spoke of was spiritual food. He went on to mention an "everlasting covenant" with God (55:3) in which we know that wine is symbolic of the shed blood of Jesus and milk represents the rich nourishment of God's Word. And it's all explained and made available in a book that has no product pictures, and yet is full of pictures for those who have eyes to see!

So as eager as I was to browse the Consumers Distributing catalog (and as eager as I may sometimes be to browse Amazon), I have so much more reason to be excited about reading God's Word. In the pages of my Bible are truth, wisdom, instruction and understanding; they are always in stock and always free. And the Holy Spirit is continually available as our teacher in these things (John 14:26), though He doesn't wait behind a counter to receive our requests as we find things  He comes right into our hearts to enlighten and encourage us as we read. So read eagerly, looking for all that is available and always free!

© 2016 by Ken Peters