Wednesday, 28 June 2017

I am Dead to Sin Romans 6:11 by Susan L.

  "Likewise you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord." NKJ
  "So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus." JCB
  "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts."  Rom 6:12

  "Lusts." Hmmm, that's a plural isn't it? It covers pretty much everything we covet, desire, want, or absolutely have to have that takes us away from God. How many of our actions are motivated by lusting after something?
  Lust flies in the face of trust.
  It separates us from exercising the faith, the belief, that anything and everything we need will be provided by our Lord. It turns us away from the greatest Source of anything and everything we need.
  It's all about choosing the higher road.

  I'm not very good at it sometimes.
  The phone rang the other day. It was from a man who claimed to be a manager at Fed Ex. He told me I'd won 2.3 million dollars, a Mercedes coupe, a microwave and a blender courtesy of the Clearing House and Readers Digest. I wanted to believe but after making a couple of phone calls, it was obviously a fraud. That's as far as I went with it.
  If a winning ticket isn't sitting in the palm of my hand, it's for sure a scam. That's sound advice from the Anti-Fraud people here in Canada.
  What this brief invasion from the land of the lost did was stir up discontentment with what I have. I went on a mental spending spree that ended up with me looking around my home and picking out its inadequacies: the kitchen, the bathroom, the driveway, the lawn, my bedroom, the tree stumps, the cat claw marks on the furniture (grrrr!)...yah. I mentally trashed the place.
   A phone call was all it took to wipe away the gratitude I usually have for my home, the sanctuary God provided, and sent me lusting after the most expensive renovations imaginable.
  Gratitude makes home improvements an exercise of stewardship. Gratitude means I can do these things when I have the means the Lord will provide. It doesn't have to be today. I don't have to go in debt to make it happen NOW! (That's something else the phone call stirred up, the need for instant gratification.)
  Lust is a garden that only grows toxic, invasive weeds.
  Gratitude is the weed killer we can use to overcome our foe: the thief who steals joy. The betrayer of souls wants nothing more than to keep us unhappy with the way things are.
  I am content to wait, to do a little bit at a time. I know the Lord has a master plan that far outweighs anything I could possibly imagine. He's got an amazing eye for design after all. :)
  Father, forgive me for the times I've let lust dictate my thoughts and actions. Grant me the insight to recognize lust and strength to chase ungodly desires from my life. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

I am Dead in Christ Romans 6:4 by Susan L.

  Not being the author of this list, I find this a rather odd affirmation to explore because the truth of the matter is that I am alive in Him. Let's see what the scripture says...
  "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from he dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." NKJ
  "For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives." JCB

  This same passage was used about a month ago for Affirmation #41, "I am buried with Christ."
  It's all about leaving the old man behind by submitting to the second most important step in being a follower of Jesus: baptism.
  I had been baptized as an infant according to Anglican practices. I also attended several lessons about what communion was prior to going through the ritual of first communion. Something rather important got missed: the love of Jesus. I went to the classes but couldn't tell you a single thing that was taught at the time. I accepted first communion feeling a bit like an imposter because I didn't understand the reason why such a thing was done. Being thirteen, it was the proper time according to the church.
  Lord, maybe it's time I forgave the Anglican Priest who ran the communion classes... Forgive me for viewing holy Communion as a church ritual. Thank You that it has become an incredible gift of intimacy and connection with You. Each time, I sit with Your disciples in the upper room and hear You speak the words so carefully written down.
  Thank You, Lord, that no experience is wasted because You filled my heart with the desire to be baptised as an adult. It was on my own terms and as a proclamation of the newfound faith You placed in my heart.
  But it's more than a proclamation isn't it? Understanding the profound impact this act of obedience has had on my life continues to grow as I mature as a Christian. Part of it is a proclamation of faith. Mostly it is another intimate moment of physical connection with the final work on the Cross: the Lord's death and resurrection into eternal life. 
  Re-birth and resurrection, the gift of Baptism. The old man is left behind in the waters. The new one, the true, God ordained, person emerges.
  And I have to smile. A friend just called and provided my closing comments for today. We were talking about last Thursday night's once-in-a-100-years storm. Torrential rain fell, in some places 130 mm. Rivers overflowed their banks causing some people to be evacuated from their homes. Bridges, roads and driveways were washed away in a matter of moments. Massive culverts were undermined and pulled from the ground.
  Nothing of man will withstand an assault by water if there's enough of it. The waters of Baptism are a gazillion times more powerful. Nothing of man can stand against them.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Page Turning by Susan L.

  I am crucified with Him. Galatians 2:20
  "So I died to the law--I stopped trying to meet all its requirements--so that I might live for God." Gal 2:19 JCB
  "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." NKJ
  Paul then goes on to add, "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." 2:21
  There are laws in this world to keep us safe, to try and deter us from harming each other or ourselves. There are bi-laws in every township like only being able to own three dogs. I guess that's about keeping the neighbourhood bark free. There are provincial laws and federal laws. There are unspoken, social "laws" regarding conduct and appearance. Laws, laws everywhere.
  The courts are jam packed with people whose choice to break the law has landed them in hot water. Not all of them break the law willingly. Many are coerced. Many are simply innocent bystanders who ended up living in addictions because their doctor opened the door. I hesitate to use the terminology about some being victims of circumstances but sometimes a bad choice is the only option. Especially when it's better than the worst choice. Fear is a terribly efficient motivator.
  Laws change and evolve through public demand and as a society progresses. We women got the vote. Internet fraud didn't exist a couple of decades ago.  Marijuana is going to be legal in this country starting next July.
  Jesus turned the page on the laws given to Moses. He's really turned the page on all laws written down or implied because if we allow His love to guide our choices, we truly can do no wrong. But, because it's an earth where evil lives, wrong is part of our lives as well. Brokenness tends to colour our human understanding of love.
  In Mathew 5, Jesus commanded us to love each other as ourselves but in John 13, just before He was crucified,  He superseded this one with a greater commandment, that we love each other as He loves us. Maybe it's because He knows how hard it is for us to love ourselves.
  In the same conversation with His disciples, He also promises to ask His Father to give all believers the gift of the Holy Spirit to help them fulfill His commandment. I am so thankful for this gift because some days my own brokenness has me falling short of loving others unabashedly and unashamedly.
  Which turns yet another page. This one is full of life and light and hope and grace. Jesus came to accomplish the purpose of the laws that had kept the Jewish people, the chosen people apart so that the words of the prophets would come to fruition. Jesus was the Promised One.
  Lord, I am ready to turn the page on my own brokenness. I want to live a life that is based on Your immeasurable love for others. Help me see what that looks like. Help me live what that looks like. I also lift up to You those trapped in circumstances, the law breakers, the fraud artists, the lost. Help them avoid hot water experiences and guide them into the joy found in the Living Waters. May Your love reach into the darkness and lead them into paths of righteousness. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand where it gives light to everyone in the house." Mat 5:14-15 JCB