Monday, 11 December 2017

Wonder Psalms by Susan L.

  I am a magnifier of God. Psalm 69:30
  "I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving." NKJV
  "Then I will praise God's name with singing, and I will honour him with thanksgiving." JCB

  The verse before this one is more appropriate for the day:
  "I am suffering and in pain. Rescue me, O God, by your saving power."

  The last glimpse I had of my cat, Pumpkin, was him scurrying away when I pulled into the driveway late Saturday night. The car scared him away.
  He must have gotten outside at some point before I left unbeknownst to me. I haven't seen him since. There are no paw prints in the fresh snow around the side door. It's minus 10 this morning. He's never been outside except for one brief escape a couple of weeks ago.
  I've searched the neighbourhood, calling for him. I've questioned the neighbours, wondering if they'd seen him. There's 1000 acres of bush across the road. There's a gazillion hiding spots in the closed-for-the-season trailer park behind me. Even if he answered my calls, he has a tiny, squeaky voice that would be next to impossible to hear unless I was right on top of it.
  I'll head out again this morning to have another look.
  If he doesn't turn up, this will be the last pet I'll ever own. If he does turn up, this will be the last pet I'll ever own because it's so hard when something like this happens.
  Lord, if he is trapped somewhere, guide me to him. If he is lost, let him find his way home. If he is far away, let some kind soul take him in. If he is in the area, let him hear my voice. Let me hear his voice. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

I Am Made By Him. Psalm 100:3 by Susan L.

  "Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." NKJV
  "Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture." JCB

  This little lamb had a rough night last night. The wee hours of the morning greeted me as I tossed back and forth, trying to find a comfortable position. I thought I'd taken my meds but wasn't sure if I'd forgotten. Double dosing isn't a good idea either. It's safer to miss altogether. Or maybe it was just one of those nights. It happens.
  The mental hamsters kept running circles. It was a busy week. It's going to be a busy weekend followed by a busy week.
  Some of it's my own doing.
  It's the season for making chocolate truffles for Christmas gifts although I did cut back on the quantity.
  Inspired by watching "The Great Christmas Cookie Challenge" I decided to do a bit of baking. It's something I haven't done in years. My gingerbread men and women look nothing like what's on TV! These and sugar cookie snow men look like something Salvador Dali might make.
  And jam. It came first actually because the black currants harvested from my bushes in the back yard were using up valuable freezer space.
  And marmalade. Because I wanted to try and make some. It has enough pucker to make your back teeth hurt but boy, is it yummy!
  And grape jelly. Since all the canning stuff was already out, why not? I used Welches Grape juice so it was easy as anything. No fruit preparation involved.
  I've two Christmas parties coming up where we are to bring a home-made gift. I thought I'd whip up a couple pair of mittens in the midst of all of this. I managed one pair (thankful to sit down for a bit)but they are too small. I'd forgotten what size needle was used last year and hadn't made note of it in my pattern book. Oh well. The flurry of kitchen activity has provided enough.
  Toss in a couple busy days at work and whew! It's no wonder my anxiety was through the roof last night!

  In light of today's Scripture, I am left thinking about the cookies and how every single one turned out differently. A cookie cutter doesn't mean uniformity. The tricky heat in my oven. An inexperienced hand trying to run a tiny bead of icing around the tiny figures. Some cookies are thick, some thinner, and some too thin and overbrowned. (It has been a long time since I baked!) 
  Those were tasted as part of extremely important quality control.
  My intent was to make perfect cookies but it would seem the world got in the way.
 
 
 
 

Friday, 8 December 2017

I am Loyal. Psalm 86:2 by Susan L.

  "Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You!" NKJV
  "Protect me, for I am devoted to You. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God." JCB

  My mind has drawn a blank about how King David, an author of the Psalms, lived out the rest of his life. Chosen by God to be King, he eventually succumbed to the temptation of using his power for personal gain: namely the wife of one of his most faithful soldiers. He succumbed to human desires, that sinful, seductive voice, to the point of arranging the death of her husband so she would be free to be with him.
  Wikipedia (yay!) has the outline of David's full story. As a result of his choices, David was denied the privilege of  rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. Then his son, Absalom tried to overthrow him so David fled until Absalom died. The fallen king returned to Jerusalem, to the throne, to finish out his reign in peace. He named Solomon as heir.
  I have to wonder what happened when David went into exile.
  I have to wonder what words God whispered in his ear after David's position of earthly power was stripped away.
  I have to wonder if David spoke to God with a contrite and repentant heart.
  Actually, he does. Regularly. It's in the Psalms.
  He writes of the depression and sorrow being apart from God birthed in his breast. He writes of regret and shame and fear. He offers his heart to God over and over again, singing praises to the One he knows will fix everything.
  How does this tie into loyalty?

  Because God is.

 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

More Love by Susan L.

  I am loved constantly, unconditionally. Isaiah 43:4
  "Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honoured, and I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you." NKJV
  "Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honoured, and I love you." JCB

  I am thankful for the person who compiled the list. It's been an amazing, challenging and fruitful journey so far in exploring these affirmations.
  This is a chapter I've read many times when things were difficult. God's words to Jacob, to Israel, in Isaiah 43:2 spoke directly to my heart.
  "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown." This Scripture was the birthplace of my blog title.

  Constant love is like that. Fair weather or foul, unshakeable, unfaltering love remains.
  Well, that's a surprising statement! And perhaps the beginning of an answer to yesterday's prayer.

  The love of God is sustaining and an inpouring fountain of strength.
  It isn't just the touchy-feely, mushy stuff although Mary was encouraged to rest at her Lord's feet as He taught His message of peace and salvation. This is part of the story about Martha and Mary. One of my favorites.
  So love is a place of rest and renewal.
  But it also means love teaches and encourages. It guides and molds our hearts and behaviours. Love does it so kindly, with such grace, that I want to grow into a better person.
  Love means it's okay to be who I am right in this moment in time.

  The love of God, His glory, personified is Jesus.
 
  Isaiah 43:13 goes on to say, "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done."
   The love of God is forever.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

I am Loved. John 3:16 by Susan L.

  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but would have everlasting life." NKJV
  "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." JCB

  The chapter/verse numbers for today's affirmation are a common sight.
  It's quoted on private billboards at the side of the highway.
   Baseball game attendees write it on poster board, hoping the camera will pick them out of the crowd. That way, the boldly written, "JOHN 3:16!" will be televised throughout the world. It usually is at least once in the broadcast. If the camera doesn't find it in the crowd, a home run ball often lands near the sign holder just to make sure it is seen!
  I wonder if anyone who reads these declarations is encouraged to find out more? I wonder if a gateway to understanding God's love is opened by these bold ads. I wonder because it's a cultural assumption that everyone who sees these things would know the 3:16 refers to a location in the Bible.
  It's purely curiosity yet I can accept that I'll never know the answers.
  I have a lot of questions that may never be answered in this life.
  Still, I'll keep on asking, seeking, knocking.
  Especially when it comes to discovering what love, real love is about.

  Why? Because thinking about love makes me uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable.
  My experiences of love have been tainted by the world. While I want to let go and move on, those four little letters, L...O...V...E, trigger alarm bells that send me running scared.
  That's sad, isn't it?
  How do I understand the pure, unadulterated love of God? How do I fully embrace what it is to be loved without strings attached?
  Lord, You blessed me with an imagination. Maybe by imagining a big garbage bin, You could help me toss what isn't applicable to the pure and Holy love You unlocked through the sacrifice of Your only Son.
  This is my heart's desire and my prayer for today: to know Your heart deeply and intimately. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, 4 December 2017

I am the Lord's. Isaiah 44:5 by Susan L.

  "One will say, 'I am the Lord's'; Another will call himself by the name of Jacob; Another will write with his hand, 'The Lord's,' and name himself by the name of Israel." NKJV
  "Some will proudly claim, 'I belong to the Lord.' Others will say, 'I am a descendant of Jacob.' Some will write the Lord's name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own." JCB

  Following yesterday's post there was a cascade of response to my prayer about the stones that were weighing me down. I was led to delete some games from my phone that have eaten up far too many hours in the day. There are other places of separation, too. Like too much TV.
  Modern idolatry can be towards things like techno gadgets, or beating the next level, or watching an entire series in a TV marathon.
  Or food.
  Or the cross-stitch that has to be completed NOW!
  I've gone a little over the top in my passion to get it finished and have let other things slide. Or maybe that's just me being me and how I pursue the various interests that captivate creativity. It usually is in spurts that last until the next thing comes along that takes me down a different road...

  Except this: my morning grounding in scriptures.
 
  There was a long pause of reflection as I weighed the difference between delving into God's Word vs. being entertained by the ways of the world. How come I turn to the world when the world and the answers to life's great questions are at my fingertips?

  Because it's easier. It's easier to plug into my phone and mindlessly swap coloured tiles. It's easier because every win gives a burst of pleasure. It's easier because I don't have to think.
  It's easier because I am not challenged and encouraged to make changes in how I live or think.

  Lord, forgive me.
 
  Even though yesterday and today have been days of repentance and surrendering, I am also encouraged as the Lord revealed how spiritual sacrifices are a natural extension of faith. Gratitude may have started out being totally sacrificial (at times it still is) but has evolved into being part of my daily prayer language.

  I am the Lord's.
  He is mine.
  In the end, that's all that matters.
 
 

 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Affirmation #164 by Susan L.

  I am a living stone in a spiritual house. 1 Peter 2:5
  "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." NKJV
  "And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God." JCB

  What exactly are spiritual sacrifices?
  This needs Google-ing.

  Denton Bible Associations has blessed my search with a clear list.
  It starts by making note that, under the law, there were seven types of sacrifices. Pigeons, cows, and other animals were used in blood offerings for the redemption of sins. What animal depended on the sin or how much money you had. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross did away with this necessity. For believers, in place of the Law, are seven spiritual sacrifices that neither blood nor money can buy.
  I am copying this list from the site www.dentonpbc.org as affirmed by the appropriate scriptures. The comments in brackets are my own.

  1. The sacrifice of faith. (Turning away from the ways of the world and serving God.)
  2. The sacrifice of righteousness. (Placing our trust in the Lord. This might include making choices that are God honouring according to our faith in Jesus.)
  3. The sacrifice of a broken spirit. (The act of repentance then embracing life lived in and through God's grace. I think this may also mean the act of letting go of the old man and embracing the new as preordained by God.)
  4. The sacrifice of thanksgiving. (Giving thanks when we don't feel thankful does wonders for the soul.)
  5. The sacrifice of praise. (It's a wonderful way to overcome trials when we focus on the One who has all things in His sight.)
  6. The sacrifice of doing good. (Our actions speak louder than words sometimes.)
  7. The sacrifice of communicating good to others. (While not 100% clear, I think this has to do with helping each other bear our burdens through the love of Jesus. It also includes what Thursday's post was about: speaking life into a situation. Is sharing the Gospel considered a sacrifice?)

   This is an awesome list. But what is a sacrifice anyways?
  Webster's says it is giving up something you want to keep.

  oh.
  
  (Long pause.)

  Lord, what stones are weighing me down and preventing me from finding the joy in a life lived fully in You? I don't want to keep anything that comes between us but I need You to show me what these things are. Guide me into the freedom of letting go, of sweet sacrifice. Let me grow into a spiritual anchor stone for others. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Isaiah 58:11 by Susan L.

  I am like a watered garden.
  "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." NKJV
  "The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring." JCB

  I can't help but think of the places Christ and the Disciples travelled and lived. Only where there was ample access to water did green things grow. The rest was rocky desert and seemingly lifeless.
  Dusty feet, clad only in sandals, would be caked with dirt and other effluent from the donkeys, camels and oxen sharing the road. Passing through villages would add to the grime. Sanitation was nothing like it is today.
  It explains the horrified reaction the Disciples had when Jesus humbled himself to wash their feet. The Son of God thought nothing of getting His hands dirty.
  I think, too, of the Lord sitting beside the well begging a drink of water from the Samaritan woman. He would have been so thirsty...
  It makes Him special, this thirst, this want, because it means our Lord Jesus has an intimate knowledge of human need in all its forms.
  From craving water to the emptiness of our souls when we live apart from God, Jesus experienced it all yet remained sinless.
  Then there was Gethsemane. The garden, the oasis, where the Lord made peace with His Father about His approaching death and sacrifice on the Cross.
  Lord, let me be a garden in the desert. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 
 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

John 7:38 by Susan L.

  I have life flowing though me.
  "He who believes in Me (Jesus), as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." NKJV
  "Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'"

   John 7:39 goes on to clarify that the living water is the Holy Spirit.
  South of me on a rural highway there is a building in the middle of nowhere. It was initially designed as a conference hall with Italian style, arched windows. The conference hall didn't survive so the building went on to host a car dealership, a flea market, and a restaurant. A number of other business tried to make of go of it but none remained for very long. I remember driving past it and regularly commenting that nothing ever seemed to last, it wasn't a good location, it was an ugly building, etc.
  Then I became a Christian.
  Driving south, I passed the building and felt a check in my heart. This time, instead of passing judgement on all the negatives of the place, I prayed for a business to thrive. I retracted all my negative comments and asked God to bless the location. There's a now a business that has been there a long time. It succeeded where others failed.
  It was one of my early lessons on speaking life, on giving life as opposed to taking it.
  With early Christian enthusiasm, I tried to bring a dead field mouse back to life, too. No luck with that, at least that I saw. Maybe when I walked away and surrendered this tiny creature to God's will, a miracle happened. Maybe it scurried away to continue doing mousy business into a ripe old age.
  I hope so but I'll never know.
  That's part of speaking life. We never know the end result. We never know how much of an impact we can have on others.
  What I know with absolute certainty is our tongues are an incredible weapon. They can cut someone down to nothing or raise the dead.
  It's our choice on how we wield this power. It's our choice, as believers, to listen to the Holy Spirit.

  Lord, forgive me for the times my tongue got away on me. Let me be quick to listen to the Holy Spirit, the essence of life that flows through my veins. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

I am a Light in a Dark Place by Susan L.

  Acts 13:47
  "For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, That you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" NKJV
  "For the Lord gave us this command when he said, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.'" JCB

  There is much to be thankful for this morning. Tattered, broken clouds tear across the icy blue sky letting the sun shine down for the first time in days. It feels like it's been weeks. Even though the trees are bare of leaves and November gray is the colour of the season, when the sun hits the upper branches as they sway in the breeze, they glow. The poplars, ash, birch and maples create a pallet of shades and hues I never thought gray could be. It's punctuated by the earthy green of cedars and pines heavily laden with milk chocolate pine cones. (I've heard this is a sign of a hard winter. I hope not!)
  This is my corner of the world. Every day the view from the kitchen window changes. It's still the same trees but each season, each day, each hour adds its own subtle nuances to the landscape.
 
  I have often thought about going on a missions trip to some exotic location in obedience to this commandment. It's been thought about but cast aside because I believe that's where Christians go astray in thinking we need to leave home to spread the love of God. There are a lot of earth corners where we live, work, shop, exercise and play.
  There is need and want in my own community. There is poverty. Hunger. Homelessness.
  There is incredible wealth as well. High end stores dot the main street beside second hand shops and pawn shops. High end restaurants snuggle in beside places where a slice of pizza and a soda can be bought for a couple of bucks.
  Tucked in behind the main street is the food bank.
  If all who believe that Jesus is Lord and the Author of salvation spread the gospel to those in need in our own back yards, it wouldn't be long before salvation is found in the earth's farthest corners.  
  Physical wealth has nothing to do with spiritual need.
  I am thankful the Lord called me to be a writer (amongst other things). I am not so great at face to face conversations about faith. I am not so great at conversations period.
  Hmmm. Neither was Moses. Look what he accomplished through faith and obedience!
  Another "Hmmmm."
  And a smile.
  Moses I am not! But I am Susan or Sue for short. Lord, how will You use me to glorify You?
  I need to think about (and be thankful for) how He already is!
  Lord, bless me with opportunities to share of You. Bless me with the words to say in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Teach me to set aside my own reluctance and fears. In Jesus' name I pray.
  I want to thank You for giving me the blog and the opportunity it provides in helping me understand what being a Christian means. Thank You for every individual around the world who, by joining me at the kitchen table, encourages and strengthens this resolve. Praise God that You have given this socially awkward, middle aged woman, a voice.
  Now, let me be a light that is unquenchable. AMEN!
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

I Have Light. John 8:12 by Susan L.

  "Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."" NKJV
  "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life."" JCB

  In comparing these translations, I think I prefer the first one. In the JCB version, it implies that Jesus will give us the "light that leads to life" at some point. It comes across, to me, like something that has yet to happen. That life isn't with us yet.
  In the NKJV, we "have the light of life." It's here. It's indwelling. It's intricately wrapped around every particle of our DNA. Or should I say, He is here. Jesus is indwelling. His Spirit is intricately wrapped around every particle of our DNA.
  Oh...right. This conversation happened prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room. Jesus is hinting at a promise yet to be fulfilled for all His followers.
  The Bible is a history book as well as a guide. It's good to keep that in mind.
  Maybe that's part of the promise as well. Jesus would have known at some point in the future, His words would be written down for all believers. He knew His Father would inspire the authors to write letters. He knew His Father would inspire someone to put it all together. He knew someone would invent a printing press. He knew His words would be translated into countless languages. He knew His story would be written down so those who don't believe would be able to read about Him and the love of God.
  If Jesus is a lighthouse, the Holy Bible is His beacon.
  And we are blessed by the illuminating wisdom of the Holy Spirit to help us understand His words.
 

 

Monday, 27 November 2017

Romans 8:6 by Susan L.

  I have life and peace in the Spirit.
  "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." NKJV
  "So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." JCB

  It was a good weekend. Having worship rehearsal on Saturday morning then playing in church yesterday was wonderful. We were a small but mighty group.
  I was blessed with being able to share my knowledge about trauma and PTSD with one of our congregation members. She works closely with several refugee families in town and has first hand knowledge of the horrific events that led them to flee their homeland. She is concerned for many of them who are struggling mentally and emotionally.
  But that's the nature of a trauma response. In the moment, there might not be any obvious signs of the damage being done to the body, mind and spirit. Trauma responses can take years to show up. It might explode because something totally unrelated  triggers an avalanche of nightmares and anxiety. And grief. That's a huge part.
  Being able to share with her about the personal nature of trauma helped her understand how experiences can affect one person yet might not even raise an eyebrow in someone else. There is no "trauma scale".
  I recommended the "PTSD for Dummies" book because it is a good way to learn the fundamentals of this mental health challenge.
  Moments like this make everything I have gone through worth while. It even makes me thankful.
 
  Still, I always feel a bit chastised when faced with scripture's like today's. Sigh.
  Is having PTSD a mark of sin or due to having a lack of faith and trust in the Lord?
  Ouch. That's an ugly question!

  For sure it's a result of sin. Both my own and others'.
 
  Hmmmm, maybe it's what I do with it that matters. Roman's 8:8 says that those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
  When things are bad, I don't turn away. I run into the open arms of God and He leads me to the shores of the Black River. Again and again and again. He opens my eyes to forgiveness, repentance and plain old gratitude as we unravel the layers of hurt and pain. Together.
  He has brought me a long way. Because I live with PTSD.

  Lord, only You can see the end of this journey or fully understand its purpose. Thank You, that one day, You will wipe away every tear.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Affirmation #159 by Susan L.

  I have life abundant. 1 John 4:9, John 10:10
  "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." NKJV
  "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him." JCB

  "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." NKJV
  "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." JCB

  This begs the question and it's a biggie...What is life?
  My heart thump-thumping sends the blood rushing through my veins. There's air going in and out of my lungs. Ergo, I am alive. (Yay!)
  This same heart leaps for joy and aches in sorrow. Ergo, I am alive.
  I am watching squirrels chase each across the front lawn. The deliciously rich aroma of a morning coffee fills my nostrils. The smooth laptop keys wait beneath my fingers for the next word. I sense these things without really thinking about them. Ergo, I am alive.
  I forget what applying human characteristics to inanimate objects is called. The laptop keys aren't really waiting because they have no sense of time or self. They are not alive even though they keep putting in typos whenever I write anything.
  That's part of being alive as well: an awareness of self...Hmmm, many of God's creations are alive yet lack this awareness. Like a tree.
  Being alive means I will know death at some unforeseen point in the future.
  Yet, because of Jesus, that death is transformative. My soul will go on to a better place.
 
  There have been many days when I wished for my life on this planet to be over. When the anxiety gets really bad and I am exhausted, it's hard to face another day knowing the anxiety will be waiting.
  I know I am not alone in this struggle.
 
  I think an abundant life is one rich in experiences. Some of them I'd like to have not experienced but I cannot know grace without first knowing condemnation. I cannot know love without first knowing hate. I cannot forgive another without having my own sins forgiven.
  Thank You, Jesus, for having redeemed everything I've gone through. Thank You for teaching me what joy there is in life.

  I feel led to reach out to my readers. This can be a hard time for many as the days grow shorter and we head into the Christmas holidays. If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. Life can be hard sometimes. We were never meant to struggle on alone.
  I can hold onto hope for you because Jesus brought me to the shores of the Black River time and again. He will do the same for you. If you let Him in.
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

I am Liberated. Romans 6:23 by Susan L.

  "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." NKJV
  "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." JCB

  The lesson this week at church was about major religions to test the idea that all religions lead to God. They were broken down into three categories or combinations of these.
  1. Religions based on thinking. You master the right truths.
  2. Religions based on experience. Having the right mystical encounter.
  3. Religions based on doing. Keeping the right commandments.
  Drawing near the deity is rooted in performance and any sort of position in the after life is earned or not if a person falls short of doing everything they need to do.

  While the sermon focused on helping us understand the basics of faiths compared to Christianity, I am not going to go much further into detail because I feel inadequate to the task. The man who preached the sermon has spent years studying religions. (The Meeting house has his sermon on line as part of the series in Bad Ideas. This is #5. All of them are well worth checking out.)

  What I know for absolute certainty is the God I worship is a God of love and relationship. He is not distant or absent. I know for absolute certainty that one day, I will be with Him in Heaven.
  How do I know this?
  Because Jesus made it possible the moment I chose to make Him my Lord.
  There is nothing on this earth I could do or need to do to earn that place.

  Yes, I am called to live according to a higher calling.
  The highest calling of all is to live in and through the love of God.
  I've read this passage many times and baulked at the first part because it came across as a threat. With fresh understanding, I realize it's simply affirming that to live apart from the love of God (that's what sin is) means I am not living, I am dying.
 
 
 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

2 Corinthians 2:14 by Susan L.

  I am led in Christ's triumph.
  "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." NKJV
  "But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume." JCB

  The intangible is a large part of life. It tends to slip to the sidelines in discussions about faith yet faith itself is an intangible. It's there, we feel it, yet it cannot be picked up and touched.
  Burning incense is the same. Once lit, the smoke rises and curls only to vanish. The aroma released remains long after the stick has burnt away. Even though we can't touch it or feel the sweet fragrance, it's there. It's an intangible.
  I love the poetic quality in the NKJV translation. "The fragrance of His knowledge." If we are the incense, Christ is our fragrance. Our knowledge of Him flows from us even if we don't know it's happening.

  Knowledge is knowing. (Bear with me as I think this through.)
  There's knowing then there's Knowing
  So, what do I Know?
  I know Christ is with me in all things, at all times.
  How? Because I feel His presence.
  I know He leads me to victory every time I challenge my beliefs, my misconceptions of truth, and seek to grow through an intimate knowledge of Him.
  How? It is the story that began long before I accepted Him as Lord.
  I know He will do the same for anyone.
  How? Because He saved me. Because His love is big enough for the entire world.
  It's why He was born and why He died.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Riches by Susan L.

  I am lavished with riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7-8
  "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence." NKJV
  "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding." JCB

  I was away spending much needed time with family. Now time is needed to recoup from the (to me) chaotic couple of days.
  Sometimes I feel inadequate to the task of being a gramma. Noise is hard to cope with. Busy is hard to cope with.  At one point during a drive between events, I had to pull my hat down over my eyes to eliminate the added visual stimulation of flashing car and street lights that were fueling an anxiety attack.
  It makes me sad that this sort of thing happens because it overwhelms the joy and pleasure of being with them.
  Or is it wisdom to realize I only do what I can do?
  And what I can do is sufficient.
  This time I was able to share what was going on with my son.
 
  Sunday afternoon was less hectic. My granddaughter and I got into the Lego for several hours while my grandson was away at a birthday party. We built a purple, yellow and green Unicorn Land castle with a moving drawbridge, ramparts, and watch towers. We added rather square looking, fire breathing, dragons to the scene and even built unicorns from different blocks.
  While she played with our creation and built her own additions, I got completely lost for a while building a spaceship. Lego is awesome!
 
  I have no idea how all this ties into today's affirmation.
  I do have a prayer, though. It's for a dad who was at the rink.  He was screaming commands from the side at his barely teenaged son on the ice. At one point, the dad was so disgusted with his son's performance, he cursed his inadequacy using profanity not fit for children's ears.
  I want to lift the pair up to You, Lord. I pray that Your kindness touches their hearts. I pray they come to know You and the value You hold for both of them on and off the ice. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

I Lack No Wisdom. James 1:5 by Susan L.

  "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him." NKJV
  "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." JCB

   I burst out laughing when I read today's affirmation. "I lack no wisdom." Maybe not but I can be awfully dumb at times. Hence the Band-Aid on a finger that had a disagreement with a kitchen knife. Oops!

  Wisdom is totally separate from age, intelligence or education.
  The honest forthrightness of a child's insight can be a precious thing indeed (and potentially embarrassing).
  Knowledge is good. But, without wisdom to guide the application of that knowledge, it is a dead thing with no purpose. Or worse, knowledge is turned to serve the dark forces in this world.
  Three men used their learning to follow a star. Did their wisdom show itself when these rich and powerful men humbly knelt before Jesus' cradle? Is that why they are called the "wise men"?

  Long ago, I fell in love with the many verses in Proverbs that speak of wisdom and her qualities. It's a wonderful exploration of what wisdom is. Whenever I read them, my heart leaps with desire for everything she represents.
  Its as though Solomon's writings were an introduction to the Holy Spirit...

  There was a long pause here. It felt like my head was going to explode with ideas that have poured out far faster than my fingers could ever type. Why is wisdom a woman? Is it the Spirit that makes us wise or is it by learning to listen and obey? How can a knowledge of scriptures be a dangerous thing? And a whole bunch of other stuff.

  Then this popped into my head and the brain train screeched to a halt:
  Knowledge, without the heart of God behind it, shaping its outpouring, tempering it with love, becomes a cudgel we use to beat each other to death.
   Forgive me Father, for feeling I have to prove how "smart" I am.
  Teach me to be wise.
 
  Wow. What started off rather nonsensically and light hearted has ended with a bang. Yet, my heart is lightened with this deeper understanding of wisdom.

  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
  Courage to change those things I can.
  And the wisdom to know the difference.
                    Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

 

 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

I Am Known. 2 Timothy 2:19

  "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'" NKJV
  "But God's truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription, 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and 'All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.'" JCB

  Belonging longing. There's no better way to describe the fundamental human need for connection.
  The devil knows this so he will do anything in his power to make sure we remain apart from God and each other.
  It was only by reaching out to my pastor and sharing what was going on with the anxiety did it lose its grip. And things were worse than I let on, not wanting to upset anyone.
  Because I shared my burden and held it up to the light, I've had almost a week with minimal tension. Praise God.
  It's like learning a foreign language, this asking for help.
  It's really hard to be vulnerable especially when vulnerability has been turned against me into a hurtful weapon.

  My old neighbours had a nick-name for me. "Saint Sue."
  Gee. I haven't thought about that for a long time. It still hurts. Lord, let me forgive them because they had no idea of the terrible world I was caught up in. They had no way of knowing why I was led to be a superwoman who tackled any and all responsibilities because it was, I believed and was encouraged to believe, my role as loving wife. Although, I have no idea how maintaining farm equipment ended up being part of that role.
  My youngest son and I went away for a week. Our first holiday in eight years. It took hiring three people to tend to what I looked after in a day even though my spouse was at home. For weeks after I paid the price for "abandoning" my responsibilities.
  The silent treatment is one of the cruelest things we do to another person.
  And, as Forest Gump says, "That's all I am going to say about that."

  Because, in the end, the Lord had marked me as His and was waiting for me to reach the end of my own self-sufficiency.
  I did an about-face that rocked my world.

  Lord, it doesn't take much to put me into isolation mode. Looking back I realize it's because of fear seasoned with a dose of shame that stops me from reaching out. Isolating is a learned behaviour that needs unlearning!
  I know, with practice, it will become easier.
  Lord, guide me to those who are trustworthy.  Encourage me to stop putting off reaching out in the first place! :)

 

Monday, 13 November 2017

I know Whom I believe. 2 Timothy 1:12 by Susan L.

  "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." NKJV
  "That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return." JCB

  This is my third start this morning. Following rabbit trails and typing shallow platitudes seems to be the only thing my brain is capable of today. Thank You, Lord, for delete buttons.

  Maybe it's because nothing I say can add one iota of anything to Paul's story. His declarations of absolute faith and trust in the Lord makes me want a deeper connection with Christ.

  In everything.

 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Romans 8:28 by Susan L.

  I know all things work together for good.
  "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." NKJV
  "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." JCB

  Sometimes, when I read a Bible passage, one particular word or thought will leap out. Not so with this one. This one has several worthy of exploring further.
  "All things." That's everything. Good, bad or indifferent. It's trials, joys and suffering. It's the entire range of human experiences.
  Thank You, Lord, for the books in the Bible called Ecclesiastes and Job.

  "Work together for good." No matter what the devil throws our way, "God can redeem it for the good of those who love God." This doesn't mean we will be necessarily healed of our wounds but perhaps our experiences can help us learn patience and humility. Perhaps, when we are in a place that seems far removed from God, we are being given the opportunity to learn trust and have faith that He is there. Always. Maybe all we've been through gives us the gift of understanding and compassion and makes us able to minister to others better.
  Lord, thank You for my life.

  I get a sense that this passage is often quoted to those who are in the midst of trials. Maybe someone said it to me. Instead of this passage giving comfort, it felt punishing. (I forgive them because it was their way of showing love.) There is a time to quote scriptures and a time when the only requirement is to give a hug or hold a hand. That's love with skin on it.
  Teach me discernment, Lord, so I can better comfort the suffering, encourage the failing, and strengthen the weak according to Your will for their lives. Let me bring life through all I do and say.

  "Love God." I know this is hard for some. The heart of God the Father is often tainted by our experiences with our earthly fathers. How we perceive Him is shaped by a parent who was broken. And it's not just a parent, any authority figure can have a detrimental impact on our understanding of who God is.
  Lord, I ask to know You even more.

  "Are called according to his purpose." We live in a success oriented culture. Big job, big bucks, big house are the parameters of success constantly bombarding us. This idea overflows into our faith. We end up looking for OUR GRAND PURPOSE IN LIFE SERVING GOD. While in pursuit, we miss the wonderful and humbling understanding that every day, every moment, every event has a purpose pre-ordained by God.
  Even when we think we screwed it up.
  And that is a wonderful thing.

  Lord, I want to unravel the misunderstandings I have about who You are and what serving You looks like. Again, I ask that You show me how to love better. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 
 

Friday, 10 November 2017

I am a King's Kid. Psalm 44:4 by Susan L.

  "You are my King, O God." NKJV
  "You are my King and my God." JCB

  Being called a "kid" doesn't really fly in face of my age. ;)
  Yet, I owned goats. Baby goats, kids, can't walk. Oh, they might take a few solemn steps here and there but their sheer delight in being alive makes them skip and bounce along beside their mothers. A sudden, explosive leap punctuated the happy dances. It was a treat to watch them and always made me smile.
  They lived in utter abandon and joy. Totally caught up in the moment.
  It's something that's hard for me to do, to be in the moment. Even as I write, I look at my clock, think about what I need to do to get ready for work. I eyeball the covering of snow on the ground, assessing the impact...
  But I have to share what happened earlier.
  My snow tires are still in the shed so I lifted a prayer to the Lord to get me safely to work. Barely had the words crossed my lips when the inspiration to use the car's four wheel drive option popped into my head. It will give me better traction.
  Then the plow went by, clearing the road.
  I did my own happy dance in the kitchen.

  Our King isn't a distant ruler. He isn't on His throne looking contemptuously down on the masses. He doesn't regard anything for our well being as beneath His concern.
  I know sometimes it feels like He might be, when prayers aren't answered right away. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they aren't. Sometimes we don't even know they've been answered because our God is a generous King who will often give us what we need, not what we want.
  I hadn't asked for the snow plow to pass.
  It's my own foolishness that has me so late to get the snow tires on. But, I love this part, God has used my procrastination to remind me He is with me in all things. I am His child after all.
  I think it's time for another happy dance!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, 9 November 2017

#150, A Milestone by Susan L.

  I am in a Kingdom of priests. Revelation 1:5-6

  "To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings ad priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." NKJV
  "All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen." JCB

  Today's post is the halfway point in this journey of exploring God's word and finding the personal connection. There's marching bands playing in my head, ticker-tape floating through the air while fireworks explode across the sky...screeeech!!!
  Thank You, Lord! For inspiring me, challenging me, teaching me and growing me along the way to this point.
 
  I've been thinking about honour a lot; thinking about how to incorporate and live with an attitude of honouring God no matter where I am or what I am doing. Even if my eyes are watering and my nose is running from a cold that decided to move in a couple days ago.
  How can I share God's love in a work environment that is politically correct? It is no secret I am a Christian but there are restraints on what I can talk about. Although, the Lord has provided many opportunities for me to share more that I thought possible. Thank You, Lord, that I've been able to be open according to Your plans and that people have witnessed the wonderful work You have done and are doing in my life.
  Make no mistake about it. If people know you are a follower of Jesus, they are watching.
  How do I emulate Jesus in the huge, Saturday lineup at the grocery store check out? The post office? The pharmacy? A restaurant?
  It's a tall order to set aside my own agenda, the dreaded "to-do" list, but kindness takes no time at all. Compassion doesn't eat away at the clock. Patience...well...it might take a moment longer. It's a good thing those precious seconds can be filled with grace.
  The woman who waited for me in downtown Hamilton has had a profound effect. She set aside her own agenda to guide me to the highway. When she pulled over to wait for me when I got stuck at a red light...it was special and amazing. What did it take in the grand scheme of things? Maybe she was late for an appointment or dinner. Maybe she was late picking up her children from the babysitter. It didn't matter. What mattered was helping a complete stranger who was lost in unfamiliar streets.
  Lord, to be Your priest is a high calling. Let me rise to the occasion. Let the image, attitudes and behaviours in my life be as You would be. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
  As for today's milestone? My heart is doing a little happy dance!
  

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

I am Kept. Isaiah 38:17

  "Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back." NKJV
  "Yes, this anguish was good for me, for you have rescued me from death and forgiven all my sins." JCB

  I am running a bit short on time this morning but still wanted to take a few moments to explore today's affirmation. Part of it is because a major milestone in the affirmation list is approaching and I want to get to it ASAP! How human of me!

  Hezekiah's poem has another verse that struck a cord with me.
 "But what could I say? For he himself (God) sent this sickness. Now I will walk humbly throughout my years because of this anguish I have felt." Isaiah 38:15

  I have to ponder on the idea of God sending anything that would harm His children because, as a follower of Jesus, the New Testament is full of teachings about the love of a God who is definitely not the author of the evil in this world. Somehow the two don't seem to go together... I think that could be an entire post on its own.
  Or maybe it's a contrast in attitude. Much of the Old Testament makes reference to the wrath of God, His judgement and so forth. But if I read these passages as a foreshadowing of Christ's coming it provides a different perspective...isn't hindsight wonderful?
  Hezekiah is humbled because God freed him from his anguish, the death bed he prayed to be delivered from.
  I am humbled because God did the same for me only my death bed was a life without Jesus.

  Is there such thing as a life bed? (Smile.)

  Silly question. Or is it? If I choose to rest securely in the arms of my Lord, trusting Him, honouring Him, wanting to do things that are pleasing to Him, aren't I living in a life bed? Or maybe it's more of a life boat. Either way, it's a sanctuary. It's a place of peace and rest.
  For that I am eternally grateful.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

I am Justified. Acts 13:39

  "And by Him everyone who believed is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses." NKJV
  "Everyone who believes in him (Jesus) is made right in God's sight--something the law of Moses could never do." JCB

  Justified: "just-as-if-I'd never sinned" is how our teaching pastor, Bruxy Cavey from the Meeting House, explains it.
  Jesus made it easy for us.
  He did all the work.
  As a follower of Jesus, I don't have to go to church. I don't have to pray. I don't have to give up anything.
  But, here's the key. Anything that becomes a "have to" comes from a legalistic approach to faith.
  Having the love of Christ embedded in my heart means I am a willing partner who wants to live according to His will. I want to live according to the love He so freely gave.

  I want to change.

  Hmmm. This begs the question, "Why do I think I need to change in the first place?"

  It would appear there is a judge and jury residing in my head constantly pointing out my shortcomings. (Forgive me, Lord, for being quick to judge others.)
  Lord, forgive me for listening to them, the legalists, the enemies of my soul, because You have deemed me worthy. In You, I have been reborn and justified before God.
  Everything we have gone through hasn't been because You needed it to "make me holy", it's been for me to find the freedom life with Jesus holds. For all who believe.
 
 

Monday, 6 November 2017

I am Joyful. Philippieans 4:4 by Susan L.

  "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" NKJV
  "Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!" JCB

  Freedom comes one small step at a time. A word, an idea, a whisper comes along that releases something good, something God predestined to be part of a life on this earth.
  I went to the symphony yesterday. It was the first concert of the season and was absolutely amazing. The guest violinist was above and beyond masterful. The music soothed my soul despite the hectic, race-against-the-clock drive down hampered by rain, accidents and construction.
  I am still filled with peace this morning. A wonderful break from the anxiety!
  Between performances, the conductor usually shares a bit about the composer and the music. It adds a rich dimension to each piece. One short piece was introduced as being a "note poem". The words leapt into my heart.
  It's like that moment when I read about painting landscapes, that it isn't about duplicating the exact image but rather capturing the essence of the scenery, the place, the feelings evoked by being there.
  I was given an understanding about what my own small forays into music composition actually are. I compose note poems to capture the essence of a feeling, a place, an event. Just like in a painting. No words required.
  They are nothing like what the masters create. They are for piano, not an orchestra. My skills and abilities fall far short of creating symphonies.
  It doesn't matter because in everything I create, be it bedside tables, a sweater, a painting or a song, the joy is in the creation and the satisfaction of a finished product even if it isn't perfect. All of it is a celebration of the gifts and skills God has seen fit to provide me with.
  And I have to smile. Why is it I expect perfection in the other aspects of my life? Where is the joy I find in making sawdust?

  Honour.

  Creating honours my Creator. I approach making the things I create with a joyful heart.

 This is a paradigm shift moment in my thinking.
  Service honours the Servant. Kindness, grace and compassion honours the sacrifice my Lord made for me, for us.
  I have, want, to make this part of my life in the everyday so that work honours God, relationships honour God, emotions, thoughts, ideas, actions...the whole kit and caboodle becomes God honouring.
  Yes, I won't get it right every time. Yes, my imperfections will show up. Yes, there will be set-backs and trials and worries and sorrow. That's okay, too, because I am never, ever alone.
  Christ is my Joy.
 

Sunday, 5 November 2017

An Instrument by Susan L.

  I am an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13
  "And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." NKJV
  "Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." JCB

  For anyone who is visiting this site for the first time, I have been working my way through a list of three hundred affirmations given to me in the spring following a retreat. Originally, five affirmations were to be read each day to my reflection in the mirror. The purpose was to speak life into my own life. However, I decided to blog about each one. Taking a year to do so. And I am glad to have made that decision because it has given me a chance to explore and better understand the meaning of the assigned scriptures.
  I am also thankful to have the two Bibles that further provide insight and knowledge because sometimes the older version, the New King James Version, is as clear as mud! The New Living Translation, or Jesus Centred Bible, has helped tremendously in understanding the teachings of Jesus.
 
  The human body consists of 206 bones, as many as 806 muscles, water, and 12 organs. Five of those organs are crucial to our survival. Then there is the non-quantifiable such as our soul, spirit, mind, thoughts, ideas, personality, emotions, experiences and memories.
  So, how can I take this incredible feat of creation and use it for righteousness?
  I think it's important to keep in mind as followers of Jesus, we are life bearers freed from death. If any of our actions, thoughts or words go against that, it means sin still has a grip.

  Hmmm. There's many places in my own life where this is true. There's one particular muscle that seems to trip me up on a regular basis: my tongue.
  Why is that?

  Because the non-quantifiable keeps getting in the way. Particularly the emotions, experiences and memories that came before this moment in time.
  How do I rise above these things?
  I can't. At least, on my own I can't.
  I can make better choices.

  In writing this, I realized how much bad feeling there is towards my own body. It's hard for me to find compassion when, through no fault of my own, the anxiety gets revved up. Even though I understand that the emotional trauma associated with PTSD causes real and measurable brain damage, it is frustrating.
  Lord, I know You will empower me to rise above all this. I know You already have in many ways. I give thanks for this vessel of my soul. Let me use it to glorify You in everything I do. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

  

 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Romans 8:35 by Susan L.

  I am inseparable from His love.
  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation , or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" NKJV
  "Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or threatened with death?" JCB

  No matter where we walk, no matter what happens to us, Christ was there first. All our trials and troubles, He experienced in His short time on earth. The only difference is He remained sinless.
  Humans? Not so much.
  I have to smile at my own responses to trials because they are, more often than not, un-Christ-like.
  Frustration isn't patience. Getting angry isn't grace. Resentment isn't forgiveness. Swearing at a telemarketer? Waaaay off base.
  Yet, despite my failings, my weaknesses, the Lord is quietly encouraging me. Next time I can do better. If I don't, that's okay because there is always a next time. And a next time after that.
  The best part is I want to be a better person than I am right now.
  It takes practice, that's all. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable before God.
  It took me a long time to realize that I can take my troubles to Him. I can talk to Him about why I am frustrated or angry or full of resentment. In letting go, I let love in.

  I don't pray enough.
  That idea came through loud and clear.

  Prayer is the golden thread of connection with a Love that surpasses all things, overcomes all things, and heals all things.
  It isn't Christ who turns away. It's me. Trying to hold it together all on my own. It's me. Trying to find answers to unanswerable questions. It's me. Believing I need to fix whatever is broken. It's me. Not asking for help because of what? Shame? Fear? It's me. Hiding the truth of what's really going on inside and putting up a wall, the illusion I've got it all together, rather than being vulnerable.
 
  Whew! Those were tough words and have given me much to think about.
  What is held up to the light...the light of the love Jesus has for us all.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Beautiful by Susan L.

  I am inscribed on His palms. Isaiah 49:16
  God says, "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands." NKJV
  "See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands." JCB

  I learned, not that long ago, to keep an eye open for signposts pointing to Jesus that are placed throughout the Old Testament. It has opened my eyes to a whole different understanding of the events and stories held within the ancient texts.
  While Isaiah shares God's words of hope for the children of Jerusalem, this is an affirmation pertinent to every single person who lived or lives or will live!
  I can't help but think of the hands which were pierced and nailed to the Cross. The ultimate act of sacrifice and victory because Jesus, the Innocent, took the sins of the world with Him.
  My name was written on those hands. So was yours. So was everyone's.
  Jesus took my sin with Him.

  (A long pause.)
 
  Many times have I written a phone number or address on my hand. It had to be something important that couldn't get lost like it might have had I written it on a piece of paper and tossed it carelessly into my purse. Or worse, filed it away in safe place never to be seen again!
  If I can place such importance on a phone number, the significance of having my name inscribed on the hand of God is mind blowing!
  It's an act of care. It's an act of honour. It's an act of love.
  It's forever.
 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Romans 8:11 by Susan L.

  I am indwelt by His Spirit.

  "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you." NKJV
  "The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you." JCB

  Rebirth. Renewal. Restoration. Redemption.

  Hope.

  Faith.

  A joy that surpasses all worldly understanding.

  I needed this reminder today that He, who is the Author and Finisher of my life, knows me far better than I know myself.
  I needed this reminder today that He loves me far better than any human understanding of love can even come close to.
  He loves me so much, He moved in.
  I needed this reminder that I am not alone. Ever.
  Maybe it's time to let go of trying to fix the anxiety. (Not "fixing it" creates its own anxiety!) Maybe it's time to let go of worldly cures and rest in the assurance that in this exact moment in space and time, things are as they should be.
 
 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Affirmation #142 by Susan L.

  I am indwelt by Christ Jesus. John 14:20
  Jesus says, "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." NKJV
  "When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." JCB

  After installing the closet doors for my bedroom, I pulled out a jean jacket that hasn't been worn for a long time. It's the season for jackets. It's been in my wardrobe for a long time: a man's jacket dressed up with a bit of crazy quilting on the back and sleeves.
  As I put it on, I remembered why I have kept it.
  This is a story I've shared before but it's one of those unforgettable events that keep coming to mind.

  It was the summer of the coyotes. Over a decade ago. The summer I was on my own while my ex was overseas.
  One afternoon, the cows were kicking up a terrible fuss. I went flying up the road to the barnyard to see what was the matter. The cows were attacking a lamb that was bleeding profusely. The only reason I can think they would do this is because it smelled like the coyote who boldly circled hoping to get close enough to snatch it back.
  I chased coyote and cows away and lifted the lamb up. It was too badly injured to save. Sitting on the ground, I wrapped it in the above mentioned jean jacket and held it while it died. 
  There had been far too much death that fateful summer including a pet goat that had disappeared a few days earlier.
  As the little lamb breathed its last, and tears filled my eyes, I remember saying, "I can't do this any more. I am done. Finished."
 
 I've shared before about the significance of this jacket being covered with the blood of a lamb and even though it washed out, the Lord has used it to remind me that I am covered by the Blood of the Lamb.
  Over the last few days, since I pulled the jacket out of the closet, I've realized something else.
  God was listening.
  He heard my despair.
  He heard my need.
  Even though I'd turned my back on faith and church, He hadn't turned His back on me.
  He honoured my long forgotten commitment to Jesus spoken at a forgettable Anglican First Communion Ceremony. (Lord, once again I forgive the priest who did so poorly at sharing Your love.)
  He used this prayer, to a God I vainly hoped was there and listening, to set in motion everything that would set me free and make me run directly into His arms once and for all.
  Forever.
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 28 October 2017

I am Indestructable, John 6:51 by Susan L.

  Jesus says, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." NKJV
  "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh." JCB

  It's a bit of a challenge to figure out how this affirmation is derived from this particular scripture so I don't even know where to begin...
  I don't know how eternal life can be connected with indestructability.
  Or maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way...
  My soul is eternal. It will not die. It will be in heaven with my Lord and Saviour when this earthly, annoying, betraying body is needed no longer. I think I get a new body when I die, too. (Something else to look forward to!)

  Our spirits can be broken. Our bodies and minds, too. Yet, no matter what the world throws our way, our souls, the fabric of our God ordained identity, remains true.
  The world may distort that truth but, as a follower of Jesus, God's truth will reveal itself every time.
  If I let Him show me.
  If I believe.
 

Friday, 27 October 2017

I am Included, Ephesisans 1:13 by Susan L.

  "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvations; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise." NKJV
  "And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago." JCB

 Out of curiosity, I counted the number of affirmations on the list that are referenced in the book of Ephesians. There are thirty-four out of three hundred. Ten percent. It's made me realize there is much more to this small Book than I'd thought.
  Out of necessity, I've only focused on the Armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) in any great depth. My walk as a Christian began on the battlefield. The armor was one of the first faith based paintings the Lord inspired me to do.
  I think it's time to really dig into the rest of it because, if my assumptions are correct, the armor is built of love, not metal. The armor isn't made to keep me apart, it's meant to illustrate confidence in Christ and His teachings.
  I can fight the powers that would oppress my soul. That much I know. There have been many victories with Christ guiding my sword: my prayers of repentance and forgiveness.

  There was a long, long pause.

  Lord, You know I am struggling with an upsurge of anxiety. It's bad this time around. It makes it hard to think, to pray, to leave the house. Be with me, in Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Dwelling Place by Susan L.

  I am in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:30
  "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption--" NKJV
  "God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin." JCB

  My Uncle was laid to rest yesterday. There was no formal ceremony, just four of us to lovingly close the cover on Harry's book of life. He now rests beside his wife, mother and father.
  When I was there to place my aunt to rest, it was a barren cemetery; a wide open field surrounded by wide open fields. In the twelve years since her passing, the trees have grown a lot and there's been many new trees planted. It makes a difference. The cemetery doesn't look so forlorn.
  I am thankful to have this done before the snow flies. I am thankful that yesterday morning continued to be unseasonably warm, that the rain, cold and wind held off until we had done what needed to be done. I am thankful the long drive there and back gave me an opportunity to see the fall colours and rejoice in their beauty.
  I am thankful I spent Monday night at my folk's place, breaking up the travels.
 
  I don't feel much like writing this morning or exploring this affirmation. My heart is in the basement workshop where two bedside tables wait to be completed. It feels good to make something, to keep my hands busy especially since I've been struggling with my old foe, anxiety. It's gotten bad lately.
  I think I had a breakthrough about it last night, an "Aha!" moment right before I fell asleep. The anxiety disappeared when I changed my eating habits for the better. Cutting sugar out of my diet was the top priority.
  With all the chaos of the last several months, sugar crept back in.
  Thank You, Lord, for this wise insight into a possible contributing factor. Give me strength to tackle the sugar addiction again. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 
 

Monday, 23 October 2017

Ephesians 5:1 by Susan L.

  Today's affirmation is: I am an imitator of God.

  "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children." NKJV
  "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children." JCB

  I think back to my own children and how much of their learning and growth was based around imitating the adult role models in their lives. My two year old uttered a mild profanity after I bumped the car hard into the curb. The timing was perfect and we all found it extremely funny but, boy, did I ever have a hard time getting him to stop saying that particular word. Especially since we'd all laughed in the first place!
  I confess he learned it from his parents.
  Then there is an image from a documentary film that still haunts me to this day even though it's been thirty years since I saw it. The film was about the troubles between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland when things were at their worst in the 1970's. One side or the other was having a parade. It doesn't matter which. A cute as a button, rosy cheeked, little girl of about four years old was standing on the sidelines shaking her fist. She was screaming hate filled words at the parade participants who were not of her faith.
  She learned it from her parents.
  God forgive us. Forgive me.
 
  Now I'm stuck. I haven't a clue about what to write next.

  My heart is crying out against all the world's lessons that still have a foothold. My soul is crying out for something better, to live better than I have. I want grace, compassion, kindness, joy and hope to be an intrinsic part of me. I want those blessings to overflow. Lord, I want to imitate Your amazing love with every fibre of my being. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 
 
 
 

 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

I am the Image...by Susan L.

The rest of the affirmation goes on to say, "and glory of God." 1 Corinthians 11:7

  "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man." NKJV
  "A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God's image and reflects God's glory." JCB

  This has thrown a cog in the works and has stirred up a whole whack of questions. Chapter 11 is entitled "Instructions for Public Worship."
  Just before the quoted scripture, Paul goes as far as to say that a woman with her hair cut or head shaved is a shameful thing and that her head should be covered when praying or prophesying.
  I am struggling with this because it flies in the face of everything I am coming to know about the love of my heavenly Father. How can having a shaved head make one iota of difference? Why does Paul use shame to direct behaviours when, as children of God, we are to be set free of shame? Jesus died to make it so!
  Questions, questions and more questions!
  On the reverse of this, it is apparently disgraceful for a man to have long hair yet most portrayals of Jesus have long hair. What a rebel! Uh, yup.
  Yet, according to Paul, long hair on woman is supposed to be her pride and joy. What happened to humility and not being vain?
  While writing affirmation #114 about being glorified with Jesus, I came to realize that glory is the unadulterated, outpouring love of God. Does He love me less because I have short hair? It's even buzzed really short on one side.
  What a rebel! Yup.
  Lord, Paul's words have me terribly confused. Genesis makes it very clear that both man and woman are made in Your image yet these words have torn the idea of being representative of Your glory to shreds. 
  Guide me into truth and understanding. Let everything I do and say be all to Your glory and Yours alone. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!
 
 

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Affirmation #136 by Susan L.

  I am the image of God. Genesis 1:27

  "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." NKJV
  "So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." JCB

  In Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses who He is.
  "I AM WHO I AM. And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you."
  I've pondered over this particular verse many times as I try to understand God's nature. Because I live in a physically divided state, being a woman apart from man, it's stretched my imagination to think of God as being both male and female.
  I've heard previous teachings that speak of the Mother Heart of God but I think it's deeper than His heart. There is no division of gender in any aspect of His being. He is the "I AM." It's humans that assign gender specific traits to His character.
  (Now there's something to Triple T! Why are traits limited by being gender specific?)
  Sunday's teaching was on this very subject so I am going to quote the notes, "Jesus came to show us that the God of power and judgement (thought of as male) is also the God who lays down his life to serve, sustain, embrace and nurture (thought of as female)."
  Jesus first miracle of turning water into wine has leapt into my mind. Was wedding preparation the domain of women back then like it is now? His mother was the one who pointed out the insufficient liquor supply. If so, Jesus providing wine was a very womanly act of service!
   I have to give thanks that I am a creator (small c) who is willing to set aside cultural and social gender limitations in much that I do.
  If God is the I AM, I am the "i am", God's child made in His image.
 
 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

I am Humble, Philippians 2:24 by Susan L.

  I don't know if it was an intentional mistake but the quoted scripture doesn't match the affirmation this morning. ;)  In reading though Philippians, I found this verse...
  "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each man esteem others better than himself." Phil 2:3 NKJV
  "Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves." JCB

  Humility is the offspring of gratitude.
  Gratitude, giving thanks, honours the Source of our being and doing, our skills and talents, our abilities and growth.
  Gratitude honours the gift of others whose presence is woven in and around our lives and experiences.
  Gratitude is acknowledging the worth in all our experiences, even the unpleasant ones.
  Hmmmm, that last one isn't so easy.
  Sacrificial gratitude is giving thanks when it is nearly impossible to do so. When every fibre of our being rebels and wants to stay angry or bitter or wants revenge, "Thank You," places those pride based emotions at the foot of the Cross.
  Gratitude is the gateway to forgiveness.
  To forgive is to embrace love.
  Love is humility.

 
 
  
 
 

 

Monday, 16 October 2017

I am Honoured, 2 Timothy 2:20-21

  "But only in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honour and some for dishonour. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." NKJV
  "In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honourable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work." JCB

  I think of the classic book, "Les Miserables". It's also a movie and a theatrical production. The main character was an ex-convict, a thief. He sought a night's shelter with the only person who would let him in the house: a priest. The priest's housekeeper was concerned at letting such a disreputable person in. The thief did what he knew best, what the housekeeper knew he would do. He stole the silver flatware but, in fleeing the scene, got caught by the police with his bag full of loot. The police returned him to the priest to confirm the stolen items were his.
  The priest reacted by affirming they had belonged to him but, he added, he had given them to the thief. He chastised the thief in front of the police because he had forgotten to take the silver candlestick holders. Motioning to the astounded housekeeper to get them, he had a moment to quietly speak with the humbled thief and admonished him to use the silver to turn his life around.
  He did.
  God used the silver Judas took and used it to write the greatest redemption story ever. One that was set down for all mankind.
  My only concern about today's affirmation is the implied necessity of being "pure" before I can be used by God. There's much more behind this excerpt from the Bible. Other writings affirm we have a helper in the form of the Holy Spirit. Other writings affirm we are already cleansed of sin before God. Other writings encourage us to be better than we are because none of us, no matter what we do, ever has to go it alone.
  I want to add another verse from 2 Timothy that points clearly to the indwelling of Jesus in our hearts and minds. It is what makes it possible for us to be pure, to be ready to be used by God for good works.
  "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." 2 Tim 2:13
  I am honoured to be the recipient of such amazing love.
  Lord, show me how to live in and through Your love. In Jesus' name I pray.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

I am Holy, Ephesians 1:4 by Susan L.

  "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." NKJV
  "Even before he made the world, God loved us, and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." JCB

  This is a wonderful response to yesterday's post along with H's affirmation that I am not alone in my response to unwanted callers. Today's affirmation brushes away my regrets about the recent, un-Christ like behaviours.
  God doesn't see them because Christ's final sacrifice makes my sins disappear.

  Even so, mistakes lead to growth and they fill my heart with the earnest desire to be a better person. Although, sometimes it takes a while before the same mistake no longer repeats itself.

  What would it be like to live a sinless life?
  It wouldn't be good, at least for now, because then I couldn't learn about grace or the love God has for His wayward children.
  And that, in the end, is all that really matters.
 
 

Friday, 13 October 2017

I am His Handiwork, Ephesians 2:10 by Susan L.

  "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them." NKJV
  "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

  The phone rang at ten to seven this morning. That's early for me. Horrible thoughts raced through my head as I leapt out of sleep and out of bed to answer.
  "Did something happen to a family member? Who else would be calling this early?"
  The family is fine.
  It was a phone scam regarding my credit card. They called to tell me someone had just spent a considerable amount of money using my account.
  I confess my morality slipped. After a few choice words about the unseemly hour of the call, and reeling from the rush of adrenaline, I asked to call them back.
  A quick call to the actual credit card company verified my suspicions. It was a scam. Again. An audacious one that would call early in order to catch someone half asleep and off guard.
  Never give out your credit card or personal info to ANYONE who calls you!!!!
  The duct cleaning company has started calling again. I swore at them, too, out of utter frustration in trying to end these calls.
  I don't know if other countries in the world are so plagued by telemarketers or fraud artists like we are in Canada. Some people I know get a dozen a week. I went and checked out my phone company's privacy policy. If the number is listed, they can't stop anyone from calling the number. The next step is to have my number unlisted even though it will add to the bill.
  And I am left sitting here dealing with an extra dose of anxiety this morning because it feels like a mugger just tried to steal my purse.
  Lord, I feel I've let You down because of my lack of love towards these callers. I feel I've let You down in my language choices. I feel I've let You down because I am thoroughly p'd off about the phone thing, and at the people behind the scams. I feel I've let You down because grace has left the building along with patience, forgiveness and compassion. I feel I've let You down because I've let someone's actions shape my behaviour.
  Forgive me and thank You for giving me enough alertness this morning that I didn't fall for the scam.

  (My phone is now unlisted as well as having spam callers blocked which I didn't know the phone company could do. All for the princely sum of a couple of bucks. It'll be the best two dollars I've ever spent!)
 
 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

I am His, Isaiah 43:1 by Susan L.

  "But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; You are Mine." NKJV
  "But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine." JCB

  Verse two in the JCB goes on to say:
  "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown."
  Thank You, Lord, for being with me on the Black River.

  I picked up a counted cross stitch kit yesterday at the dollar store. I've never done cross stitch but the picture captured my attention. It's of a lovely young woman with flowers in her hair called, "Innocence".
  Thankfully there's clear instructions but I figured if I can follow a hockey player pattern for a knitted sweater, the principles are the same. Only the medium has changed.
  I loved the fact that the edges of the fabric had to be wrapped in thread to prevent them from unravelling. Maybe that's what community is about, wrapping each other in friendship, companionship and love so we don't unravel.
  While it takes concentration because of the unfamiliarity, there's a meditative, prayerful element to it that ties in to what's been going on lately. As each colour, dark or light, is sewn into its place, the full picture will begin to take shape. For now, there's a whole lot of background just waiting its turn to be adorned by small, cross shaped stitches.
 
  As the prayer by Thomas Merton goes, "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end...Therefore I will trust in You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen." (Thanks, H, for sending it to me.)
  I am God's child after all.
 
 
 

 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Affirmation #130 by Susan L.

  I am hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
  "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." NKJV
  "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God." Col 3:2-3 JCB

  This doesn't feel affirming. It feels more like a conviction.

  Lord, how am I supposed to meditate on heaven when this earthly mind and body betrays me? Especially when I don't know what sends me careening down the Black River rapids! How do I get off the boat? How do I lose the anger and frustration being swept away stirs in my heart?
  And I am angry. Very. Very. Angry.
  And tired.
  And feeling terribly lonely.
  I was living a miracle, a taste of peace for several months with zero anxiety. It was wonderful.
  How come it ended?

  What would Jesus say about all this, seeing as my life is hidden with Him?
  I keep hearing the words, "Ask for help. That's what community is for."
  So why can't I?
  Why is it so hard for me to accept help even when it is offered without being asked for?
 
  I don't want to be an inconvenience or to be a bother to any one.
  Now there's a core belief that has deep roots.
  It's no wonder I am feeling lonely if this is how I think. It slams the door on being blessed or giving others the chance to do the blessing. It slams the door on community and friendships.
  Thank You, Lord, for helping me see the truth.
  Help me learn to trust others, that their motivation is of love. Help me let go of my fierce independent streak or at least learn to tame it. In Jesus' name I pray.
 
 
 
 
 

 

Monday, 9 October 2017

I am Helped by Him, Isaiah 44:2 by Susan L.

  "Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you; 'Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.'" NKJV
  "The Lord who made you and helps you says: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, O dear Israel, my chosen one." JCB

  So it hasn't been a good weekend. I had to battle down a panic attack yesterday morning at church. I walked into the performance hall where we hold the service. Worship music was playing loudly through the speakers. There were busy people busy setting up the equipment.
  Unwanted and unbidden, up came the overwhelming, screaming heebie-jeebies.
  I couldn't breathe.
  I could feel my brain slipping sideways. It's like reality becomes a post card, a flat image utterly disconnected from the actual textures of life. Everything starts to grow distant and surreal.
  I went ahead and set up my flute then tooted a few warm up notes but had to get out of the room. It was like a dream. I walked into the common area, taking some deep breaths which never works for me when it comes to battling the inner forces but I took them anyways. 
  Someone asked me if I was okay.
  Tears pricked at my eyes. "No. I'm not."
  Leaving wasn't an option. We were doing a performance piece in honour of Thanksgiving and I wanted to play, to be a small part in creating something beautiful. There joy in making music!
  I took one of my just-in-case-of-emergency pills. It calmed me enough to get through the service although tears of exhaustion bubbled up as I packed up my flute as quickly as possible and fled when it was over.
  Lord, You are my help. Thank You for sending someone to pray for me in the midst of all of this.
  Protect me from the unrelenting sadness as I face the reality that the Black River still flows and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it. Help me let go of the anger, the resentment; of the feelings of powerlessness.
  Because You know the truth of who I am in Christ.
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

I am an Heir of God, Titus 3:7 by Susan L.

  "Having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." NKJV
  "Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life." JCB

  The scriptures before today's affirmation bear quoting.
  "Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But--
  When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Titus 3:3-6 JCB
  Because of his grace he made us right in his sight...
  There is nothing I can do. There is nothing I can pay. There is nothing I can say that could earn such a gift.
  It's mine because I am His child.
  So are you.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

I am Healthy, Deuteronomy 7:15 by Susan L.

"And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you." NKJV
 "And the Lord will protect you from all sickness. He will not let you suffer from the terrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all your enemies!" JCB

  I find Old Testament verses at odds with those of the New; at odds with Jesus' message of love.
  Bear with me as I think this through.

  So God's chosen people knew diseases in Egypt but I think this is more than physical ailments. I think it also includes spiritual sicknesses such as despair and hopelessness. Several centuries of slavery would make anyone despair of ever being free.
  So God sent Moses.
  Then the Israelite's path to freedom was paved by plagues visited upon the Egyptians.
  Signs and miracles. Violence and death. Vengeance and revenge upon their captors. The Israelites weren't touched or harmed in any way. The blood of a lamb spared them.
  Maybe this isn't about the Israelites. Maybe this is about the rest of the world. They would witness God's hand caring for His chosen people. They would see them victorious in battle after battle despite overwhelming odds. They would see them blessed with the finest lands, the healthiest flocks. The world would wonder, would want to be a member of God's chosen people.
  In the movie, "The Prince of Egypt", as the Israelites leave Egypt, they portray Egyptian guards dropping their spears and joining in the Exodus. Perhaps it's artistic licence or maybe it really happened. I'd like to think it did.
  It wasn't all happily ever after for them. Forty years they wandered, being tested, being humbled, being refined and purified because through these people, God's Son would come.
  He came so our sickness, our sins, can be forgiven and we can be made well and whole. He came so we can have a personal, intimate relationship with our Father without having to do a thing except believe in His Son who died. The final Lamb sacrifice required to solidify the New Covenant of God for all peoples.