“Before-and-after” photographs are interesting. They document a fundamental change:
- The 100 pounds lost,
- The beauty makeover, or
- The building from foundation to finish.
Each Christ-follower has at least one of these before-and-after photos in his/her mind. It is the mental record of a fundamental change Jesus made in the life of the one who now follows Him.
Most of us have more than one such mental photo, perhaps even an album of them, so gracious is the Lord toward us—how loving, kind, sometimes stern, sometimes demanding—but always for our good.
The Poet adds his photo to the album:
“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”
“Before…but now…” A lifetime between those words can be found!
- Before Jesus saved me, I was lost and on my way to hell.
- Before Jesus forgave my sins, I was laden with guilt and the consequences of sin.
- Before I heard and believed the Word of God, I was confused about life.
- Before I found my place in the Family of God, I was alone in this world.
What a difference Jesus, the Life-changer makes!
- Now I walk the Path of Life with joy and victory every day and eternal life on the horizon.
- Now I am forgiven. I stand before God as if I had never sinned.
- Now I see and speak the truth about life. I have a light for my path and a clear blazing torch showing me each step to take.
- Now I know why I am in this world. I know what God wants me to be and to do. I am connected the True Vine—Jesus Himself—and I joyfully bear fruit every day.
How wonderful for each of us that the moment between “before” and “after” came! If life were a film, it would be the end of the flashback and the beginning of the story. Past is not prelude. Turning points do happen. These are the moments that define our lives.
The Bible is replete with before-and-after stories:
- Abraham and God’s call to go,
- Moses and that burning bush,
- King David and the dead man by the Ark,
- Isaiah and the King, high and lifted up,
- ordinary men and the invitation of Jesus to come and follow Him,
- James, the son of Mary and Joseph, seeing Jesus after the resurrection,
- Paul in route to Damascus and the Lord Himself,
- Peter on a rooftop praying, and
- the whole Jerusalem church opening their hearts to the rest of humanity.
And now we add our before-and-after biography of Grace to the record!
Here is the proof of the Gospel. Here is the history that is His Story. Here are the facts after the faith. Here is our hope for today and our confidence in tomorrow.
O Lord, you have dealt graciously with your servant, according to your word. Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. You are good and you bring forth good; instruct me in your statutes. The proud have smeared me with lies, but I will keep your commandments with my whole heart. Their heart is gross and fat, but my delight is in your law. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver.
Psalm 119:105 NIV
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Genesis 12:1-4 NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him.
Exodus 3:4 NIV
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
2 Samuel 6:9 NIV
David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?”
Isaiah 6:1 NIV
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.
Matthew 4:19-20 NIV
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
1 Corinthians 15:7-8 NIV
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Acts 10:9-10 NIV
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
Acts 15:19 NIV
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.
Song of the Turning Point
I’ll God Where You Want Me to Go
Text: Mary Brown
1. It may not be on the mountain’s height,
Or over the stormy sea;
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if by a still, small voice He calls
To paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
“I’ll go where You want me to go.”
I’ll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain, or plain, or sea.
I’ll say what You want me to say, dear Lord.
I’ll be what You want me to be.
2. Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now, in the paths of sin,
Some wand’rer whom I should seek.
O Savior, if Thou wilt be my Guide,
Tho’ dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I’ll say what you want me to say.
3. There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor thro’ life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified;
So, trusting my all to Thy tender care,
And knowing Thou lovest me,
I’ll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I’ll be what You want me to be.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
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