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Graduation vs Commencement. Congratulations to all who are graduating from one level of education or life, to another. Graduation is often referred to as “Commencement.” Graduate means complete or finish. Commence means begin or start.

We really live out these two words in our every day lives, don’t we? We graduate and we commence; finish and begin, over and over again. How thankful we should be that we have new days, new moments, and are not bound in the past. Some who are graduating High School will have fond memories; others will have memories of sadness and anger. No one can live in those memories.The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3: 14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended ( or arrived); but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the high goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Paul had a lot of things “behind” him. Sometimes we forget he was a zealous persecutor of Christians. He would drag them from their homes, have them imprisoned or even killed. He stood by watching his fellow Jews stone Stephan to death. But then, one day on the road to Damascus, Paul “ graduated.” We find this in Acts 9. Paul, who was named Saul, “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogue in Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way (disciples of Jesus), whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed, he came to Damascus and suddenly a light shone around him from Heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to Him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” He was told the voice came from Jesus.

He asked what Jesus wanted him to do. This is a great part of scripture to read, but from that moment of “graduation,” “commencement” began. Saul/Paul became a new person! In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “ If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away. Behold! all things become new!” “ In Christ,” those are the key words. How wonderful that we do not have to be held in bondage, or defined by our old lives. Not one of us can go back in time and change things. Not one of us can live in the past, although sometimes we try to. What was, is no more. It may have shaped us and we can learn from the past, but it is not our future.

We cannot re-write the story of our lives up to this point, BUT we can write new chapters, page by page. We all know, who love a good book, a “page turner,” each new page holds excitement and the story is never the same but changes. We have been given this wonderful gift of being able to begin again, each new day; each moment. We have this powerful gift from God. If your past haunts you, or others hold you bound by it, in Christ you have new life! Mistakes (we have all made them) are in the past.

Certainly Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament understood this. People surely held him, or tried to hold him in his past, but He used it as a stepping stone, on which to leap into a testimony of New Life in Christ! Celebrate “ graduation” and excitedly live into “commencement!” Begin each day as a “new day!” Look to Jesus Christ, for He is the life changer; the one who indeed makes “ all things new!”

Get rid of anger, sadness, arrogance, and embrace each new day with joy. “This is the day that the Lord has made; I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. No matter what is occurring around us, we can rejoice and be glad in the new days of our lives! Thanks be to our Lord of new beginnings; of new life!

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