Friday, 30 June 2017

I am a Delight Psalm 147:11 by Susan L.

  "No, the Lord's delight is in those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His unfailing love." JCB
  "The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy." NKJ

  I had to go hunting through my concordance to find the passage that got me thinking about the idea of fearing God.
  "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involved torment." 1 John 4:18
  How can God be delighted by my fear of Him? The Jesus Centred Bible's concordance defines fear in two ways. The first is to have a reverential awe of God. The second part is what most of us know fear as: being afraid or apprehensive.
  Back in Moses' day, God wanted to be with each of His chosen people on a personal level. It scared the pants of them so they asked Moses to act as a mediator between them and God. They got laws, rituals and practices because it was what they needed to go through before they felt worthy enough to enter into communion with God.
  Jesus came to open the door for everyone. That's how badly God, the Father, wants to be in a relationship with every one of us. He gave us His only Son. Jesus was the expression of perfect love capable of casting out the fear/terror humans had of God.
  He doesn't want us to be so afraid of Him that we end up like Adam and Eve, hiding from Him. He doesn't want us to be afraid because we have sinned. The floodgates of grace were opened up the moment Jesus opened His eyes on Christmas morning.
  So, what is reverential awe? It's those jaw dropping moments of childlike wonder and amazement. It's being thankful. It's honouring the One who died for us. It's being speechless when we see God's hand clearly working in our lives. It's sharing those moments with the world in celebration.
   It's kneeling humbly before Him in prayer and supplication. Or sitting, if kneeling is beyond our physical ability. Or having a chat in the car on the way to the dentist.
  It's moments of quiet contemplation.
  It's realizing God is bigger than anything we could ever fathom.
  It's returning ownership of our lives back to God (again) on the way to the dentist.
  I think of the times in the past when the Lord intervened and saved my life. Foolish mistakes could have cut my story short. A Lifesaver candy nearly did. So did a hay baler. Yet, as I reflect on these moments which happened long before I turned to Him, I know He was there to save me.
  I am one of billions, a grain of sand on the beach, yet God has His finger on my heart and my life every single moment of every day...All fear is gone. In its place is an upwelling spring of hope because there is no place I'd rather be than right here with Him.

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

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Almost There by Susan L.

  I am created in His image. 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." NKJ

  The title, Almost There, is because this is the last affirmation on the first page. It's double columned so there's seventy on each page. It is such a thrill to have reached this first of three milestones. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to persevere with the goal of blogging about each one. Instead, I find myself looking forward to each day's challenging explorations with a sense of excitement that increases with each one.
  That's something to give a whole whack of thanks for: having a joy filled reason to get out of bed in the morning.

  There are probably books out there written by far more learned people than myself exploring the nature of God. To understand God is to understand ourselves. Living in a sin filled world kinda hampers our understanding. :) Isn't that the understatement of the year!
  Until we get to sit with Him in Heaven, our understandings fall miles short of the truth. That's why He gave us a Guide Book, the Bible. That's why He sent His Son to die for us.
  I often think about the time before time when God started laying plans for each one of us. I have imagined Him humming joyfully to Himself as He lovingly puts us together with a dash of this, a splash of that, a whole whack of this for sure!
  Brown eyes? Hazel with flecks of green? No, this lovely child gets deep blue eyes that sometimes look a little bit sad. I'll give her a generous helping of perseverance, too! She's going to need it. And He sighs, His own eyes sorrowful for a moment, knowing what the world has in store for His child. Then He smiles a smile that lights up the heavens because He knows that eventually she'll decide to turn back to Him.
  It boggles this little brain because no two people are alike. Even identical twins are different. Drawing from the knowledge of Himself, He predestined everything that makes us uniquely us. 
  Is that another reason why it's so hard to fathom God? We, you and I, are only given a small share of His identity?
  I've learned it takes relationships and community to help understanding grow. Which is part of Him as well: the Holy Trinity. He is a Community within Himself. There's books on that, too.
  No one has it "all". Sometimes it's hard to recognize those gifts which are part and parcel of  God's identity. Some have a way with children or animals or mechanical things. Medicine, public service, teaching, languages, science, mathematics, art, music...if I was to write a list of all the jobs in the world, each one contains a clue, a hint of God's nature that was incorporated into our DNA right from the get-go.
  The world says, "What we do is who we are."
  God's love turns that on its head, "What we are, we do."
  Our enemy likes to make sure that gets twisted. Actions and behaviours based on half-truths or outright lies are used to keep us apart from each other and the Lover of our souls.
  Beloved, be loved. Before the dawn of creation, you were lovingly formed. No matter what you're doing at this moment, no matter what the past held, throughout it all you were and are loved by a Love that surpasses everything. It's why He made you, to pour out His love upon you so you can pour out His love on others.
  Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice that made coming home to my Father possible. Thank You, Holy Spirit for guiding me into truth and actions. Thank You, Father, for making me just as I am.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Affirmation #69 by Susan L.

  I am created in Christ for good works. Ephesians 2:10
  "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." NKJ
  "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned long ago." JCB

  My Lord? What do You have planned for me?
  And I have to chuckle. Why do I think the "plan" needs to be something great, something extraordinary?
  I supposed there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut? A doctor? The Prime Minister?"
  No. I want to be me because...the me that is me was created to do good things that are great. It may only touch a single person but the greatness of simplicity is in the expression of Christ's love.
  Why do I think I need to do more or be more?
  I suppose there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "You work in a drop-in for people whose lives are touched by mental health and addictions? Oh."
  People frequently look away at that point because it's not a comfortable topic of conversation.  
  "That's nice."
  I am blessed when someone hears what I do and they feel comfortable enough to quietly share their own struggles. This happens a lot.
  I've heard that doctors and lawyers get that a lot, too.
  Maybe I need to look at my life through the eyes of Jesus...

  Maybe the blog is a good work, too. I'd never thought of it that way because it's a tool used to ground myself in the Lord nearly every day. Yup, I write for purely selfish reasons. I selfishly want to let go of self to find the self God made me to be.
  I hadn't really thought about the ripple effect this has yet, every time I sit down to write, I eagerly check out the places around the world where someone has popped in for a visit. It's like opening a gift every time a new place shows up!
  The little eight by ten inch map I highlight new places on doesn't really reflect how big this ole earth is. It's waaaay bigger than I can wrap my head around. Perhaps one day, every single country will be highlighted. I'd have to throw a party to celebrate that achievement wouldn't I?
  For someone without letters after her name, without social standing, with very few of the identifying markers society views as levels of success, that's pretty awesome. It's humbling at the same time, too.
  I rarely share that I am a blogger. It's never dawned on me before that it is part of the good works the Lord has equipped me to do. Even when I make mistakes quoting scripture. There's a richness in that, too. It's a growth opportunity.
  Perhaps part of identifying what is a good work is that it not only blesses others but generates a richness in my own life. Especially when I make mistakes only to end up growing as a person, as a child of God.
  Jesus' good work on the cross meant sacrifice.
  I am thankful to have the time I need to dedicate to the blog. Is it a sacrifice if it doesn't feel like one?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I am Courageous by Susan L.

  "And David said to his son, Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed for the Lord God--my God--will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord." 1 Chronicles 28:20 NKJ

  Courage is facing or doing something despite being afraid.
  I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. For a brief moment He faltered because He knew what lay ahead. He asked His disciples to stand watch with Him but they slept instead. He even asked His Father to spare Him the things that were coming.
   I've often pondered these events because Jesus experienced everything people experience. He has first hand knowledge of the temptations that lead us astray. I think of how His mortal flesh battled against the reason why He was there. In the end, He embraced His destiny because He knew that His Father was there to support Him during the upcoming terrible trials and eventual crucifixion.
  "Your will, Father, not mine." He said and the fear left Him. Inhuman strength, His Father's gift of courage, filled the hole where fear once coursed through His body.
  I find such comfort in Gethsemane. It's a garden I've often visited in my imagination especially when the Lord was urging/encouraging me to step into my memories, to face down the pain of past events, to "crucify" the old man. Knowing it was because He wanted me to be free, I'd square my shoulders, lift my chin and softly pray, "It's time but oh, Lord, I am afraid."
  Like a mantle, God's gift of courage would wrap itself over my shoulders. It doesn't mean I didn't' feel pain or grief or torment. Sometimes I wished it would be over.  Some days there was no hope that it would ever end. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed. Some days I couldn't feel the mantle. There were a lot of those days but despite all these things, God's gift enabled me to persevere, to boldly go where I'd never gone before.
  Together He and I would work through the tough stuff. Unlike Jesus, I wasn't alone. There have been many companions who have supported me along the way: my mom, an amazing therapist, a few close friends, the people at the centre. I am thankful for every one of them because sometimes we need love with skin on it. Sometimes we need a shoulder to help us bear our trials.
  Lord, I thank You for courage. I thank You for the inquisitive determination that demanded I find truth. I thank You for granting me the space and place to work things through at my own pace. Thank You for the gifts of art and writing that have been so crucial in breaking down the biggest burdens into manageable pieces. But most of all, I am thankful for Your Son, for the path He walked that makes mine much easier to travel.
  "Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You." Ps 63:3

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Word Choices by Susan L.

  The affirmation for today reads, "I am controlled by the love of Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:14
  "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died." NKJ
  "Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe we have all died to our old life." JCB
  I baulk a bit at the use of the word "control" in the newer Bible translation. Control negates free will, something God, the Father, gave us right from the get go. Control isn't love. It's subjugation and is entirely against His nature.
  Being compelled to do something on the other hand means we are urged to make the best choice about what we are being asked to do. That same compulsion also shapes how we choose to do it. Being compelled by love is the insistent drive to act in and out of love. Even though it's the best way to live, it's still our choice whether or not we follow the compulsion.
  Without the ability to choose, there would be no need for grace and forgiveness. Both are different facets of God's love. Knowing God's grace means we are compelled to offer the same grace to others.  
  At least, when we are ready.
  Sometimes it takes a while. Wanting to forgive another is often all that is needed because it sets our feet on the right path. It's a conscious choice to walk the Love path of Jesus.
  Choosing to forgive others isn't about them, it's about us, our heart, our walk, and our freedom.
  The Love path is having a relationship with Him. That, too, is about choice and our willingness to embrace change.
  Still, knowing what true Love is and being able to live accordingly are often miles apart. That's where the light of Jesus shines like a beacon, leading us out of the darkness into paths of righteousness, of holiness and love.
  We aren't alone either. Jesus gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit. He is the indwelling source of compulsion and guidance.
  Even though I embraced Jesus as my Lord, change wasn't instantaneous. It takes His tender tutelage to carefully strip away the layers of the old self that shapes my world view. More than anything, I want it to be a Godly view. This has compelled me to travel the Black River time and again as the profound impact of life events has been explored and truth has been uncovered.
  Because Christ died for me, I can also make the choice to die for Him. My soul hungers to be better than I am, to love better than I could ever do on my own.
  I had taken a mental health break from work to collect my thoughts. Being truly happy and anxiety free for the first time in my life, it was a challenging to be there. I knew I was being selfish, wanting to hang on to the joy like a miser holds onto gold. There's some fear in there, too, that something would happen to steal it from me. Yet, over the past week, I've come to realize that my Joy is my strength. So, feeling refreshed, I can go back and allow it to overflow because I will be filled.
  My joy also has the deepest Foundation. The love of Christ.
  "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24

Monday, 19 June 2017

Route 66 by Susan L.

  I am continually with God. Psalm 73:23

  "Nevertheless, I am continually with You. You will hold me by my right hand." NKJ
  "Yet, I still belong to You; You hold my right hand." JCB

  Route 66 is the original highway that cuts through the US from coast to coast. It's long been replaced by major, four lane highways or toll roads and is mostly forgotten except to the locals. This affirmation, #66, reminds me that God is the route I've chosen and even if I wander off, His road is always before me. It is free to travel, too! It's even better because His path stretches for miles behind me. I only had to look through the rear view mirror to see where His hand touched my life time and again.
  David wrote this Psalm when he was feeling bitter and envious because of how people who mocked God were prospering and seemed to be living a life of ease. He couldn't figure out why. He momentarily laments his life of faith and dedication. God spoke to him in the sanctuary and explained how He had these people in His sights, that their final destiny was not a good one.
  Then came Jesus who has them in His sights, too. He has redemption planned for everyone and anyone who turns to Him.
  Yet, I have to wonder, are those who prosper without knowing God truly happy? I know I wasn't. All the wealth I once had was like Paul's thorn in my side because of the personal cost, the life I lived trapped by lies. Thank You, Lord for Your limitless grace and forgiveness. Thank You even more for setting me free.

  This has taken me a lot longer to write this morning because I keep getting distracted watching a crew with a tall boom truck take down the massive black willow in my front yard. Between age and the ice storm two years ago, it was a scraggly looking thing that threatened to come down on its own. The power lines were in its path and at risk of getting pulled down with it if it fell. I've waited three years for them to come courtesy of the township. The rest, a threat to the house and my neighbours house, was taken down then because that half was on my property not the township's so therefore it was my responsibility.
  A tree that has taken fifty years to grow is being demolished in a few hours by a team of accomplished woodsmen. A tree that has taken fifty years to grow will provide my neighbours with firewood aplenty.
  Seeing it down has made me realized how subconsciously worried I was that it could fall on its own.

  I am happy it's done. 
  I am happy to be on a journey with Jesus so that watching professional woodsmen has me delighted because I can relate it to my walk with Him. The rotten stuff is being clear cut right out of my life. None of it will remain standing.
  "But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all Your works." Ps 73:28



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Topsy Turvey by Susan L.

I am content with weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:10

  At first glance, this affirmation generated a great big, "What?" But it's better than simply being content!

  "That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." JCB

  Paul was given a thorn in his side following a fantastical journey into the third heaven. The thorn was a messenger from satan to keep him from becoming proud of this blessing. It was a reminder that the knowledge wasn't permitted to be shared because it was beyond anything his brothers and sisters in Christ would be able to understand. He had kept silent about it for fourteen years before writing about what had happened.
  Paul begged the Lord three times to take away the painful thorn. You know what His response was?
  "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 JCB
  Five times the Jewish leaders gave Paul thirty-nine lashes. This might get a bit grim but bear with me or if you like, skip to the paragraph after the break.
  The average human can't take that kind of punishment all at once. It would be divided over several days to give the body time to heal: a period of grace if that's another way to look at it. Those doing the punishing wanted their victim conscious.
  But the break only lasted long enough to enable the sentenced to take the next set of lashes without dying. This cycle would go on until all thirty-nine were completed. Not only is this a physical torture but it's also a mental one. The brain and body would constantly cringe at the thought of what was coming. There were probably people sentenced to this kind of punishment who lost their minds during the process.

  To go through this five times and survive mentally intact is a work of God. To even be alive is a work of God. To be thankful for the experience? Wow. Maybe this is why:

  I took a moment to reflect on the scourging Christ experienced before being crucified. It must have shocked and confused those doing the whipping that He neither fainted or died from blood loss. All He did was lean on His Father to help Him get through. I am reminded that every lash represented sin cut into the flesh of the Innocent for one purpose: that my sins can be forgiven. Therefore, I can be reconciled to my holy Father. 

  To know first hand a fraction of His suffering must have filled Paul with an undying gratitude. Paul got it. He knew the richness of God's grace and the immeasurable strength of One who knows no weakness.
  My sufferings are only a fraction of Paul's experiences because the Lord has spared me much. I have not been persecuted for my faith. I am not afraid for my life because of what I believe. I am free to worship where I choose, to pray, to write. But most of all I am free to celebrate all the trials when the Lord has sustained me.
  Lord, help me reach deeper into Your sustenance when life is good!
  "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you,. For My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9 NKJ


Friday, 16 June 2017

I Am Content Phillipians 4:11 by Susan L.

  "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content." NKJ
  "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have." JCB
  Paul then goes on to add, "For I have learned how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." Phil 4:12-13
  I've taken a few days off work but hadn't made any plans. It appears Someone Else had a great idea how to best use the time!
  So the last three days were spent in the basement. It was utter chaos down there. My tiny workshop had been dismantled last year when Hydro reconfigured the power supply to the house. Whenever I'd done a project, the kit needed had been simply chucked downstairs. Every time I went down there, it was overwhelming. Every time I tried to find the tape measure, it took forever to find! Aaaargh!
  A new, bigger workbench has been built using thick pine boards I'd salvaged from a discarded waterbed eight years ago for just that purpose. It has one shallow shelf for clear bins containing hand tools and other bits and pieces intrinsic to woodworking. It has a deeper shelf on the bottom for small scraps of decent wood that might come in handy down the road. I hung peg board above it to hang the tools used all the time. No more hammer hunting either!
  Shelves are set up to hold power tools. Another holds nails and screws and a small but mighty ghetto blaster for playing worship music while I am working. Loudly.
  The shop was moved to the other side of the basement away from the oil tank and furnace. There's now plenty of safe space for working around the bigger power tools that have their own stands.
  The entire basement was swept and de-cobwebbed. Five bags of trash are waiting to go to the dump. I've a pile of metal stuff waiting for a friend to come pick up and recycle. There's three massive bins of garbage wood to burn. Why I'd hung onto it, I've no idea!
  A keeper is an old, 1970's era, soft seated, chrome legged chair that invited me to sit for a moment and enjoy the finished product. Content? You betcha!
  Where's this leading? Because I was not happy with the situation down there, opportunity opened up for change to happen. Out of discontent comes the contentment found in making those changes as well as being able to enjoy the arrival at the end. But I don't think this is what Paul is talking about here.
  Am I content with what has grown over the years into an amazingly well equipped shop? For the most part. I'd like to build a router table so it's safer to work with. It's a powerful beast that can take on a mind of its own. A small wood planer would be nice, too. (Chuckle.) A few days ago I was bemoaning the fact I didn't know my heart's desire besides wanting to know Jesus better. Lord, I lift this little wish list to You.
  "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil 4:19

That is waaaaaay more than power tools!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

I am a Conqueror Roman 8:37 By Susan L.

  "Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." NKJ
  "No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." JCB

  I had another epiphany at home church two nights ago.  I needed yesterday to let it percolate, grow and solidify because it rocked my world in an amazing way. These affirmations were given to me as a tool to learn my identity as a follower of Jesus. It was also an opportunity to explore the gifts that living in Jesus unlocks.
  At least, that's how I have approached it up to now.
  I realized there's an entirely different dynamic involved in these affirmations. It's not about me being this or that. Although, it is still an important aspect because it's easy to fall away from God's truth when other "truths" try and move in.
  What's more important is this long list tells me about the attributes of Jesus. The capital "I" at the beginning of each statement belongs to Christ, His Father and the Holy Spirit. A little "i", meaning me, is wrapped securely within it.  The I Am is the holy Trinity. An i am is me. Or to clarify, the list's heading is "WHO I AM IN CHRIST" but I am now seeing it as  "Who Christ Is, therefore i am."
  I have been given a wonderful opportunity to grow my knowledge of Jesus on so many different levels. More than anything I want to be like Him. There's something assuring in knowing this is a done deal, that this destiny began to unfold the moment I accepted Him as Lord.
  I am also seeing more clearly the idea that He had never left. I had.
  Being like Jesus is something I can't do on my own, though. There's a couple of things called independence and self-reliance that shape how I approach the world and my place in it. It's been so much a part of the fabric of my life because not knowing Jesus for most of it, there were no other options based on the circumstances. They still creep in because there is an enemy of my soul working very hard to keep his poisonous ideas flourishing. The old ways have a way of resurfacing.
  I falter. I sin. I don't always turn to the Lord. I get angry and frustrated and run out of patience. I rarely ask for help...hold on.... Jesus is all that is needed for the strength to overcome all these things (and many more). My Conqueror won the battle already through His once-and-for-all-eternity victory at the cross.
  "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:38-39

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

More Confidence by Susan L.

"I am confident He will never leave me." Hebrews 13:5-6

 I've gone and done a big, "Oops!" Before putting in the scriptural base for this affirmation, I want to apologize to God and my readers for messing up His name. Jehovah means "Lord" not "God with us." I should have written "Immanuel" yesterday instead. Some days the brain is better than others! Thank You, Lord for grace.

  "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." So we may boldly say: "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"" NKJ
  "Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." So we can say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?" JCB

  I prefer the King James translation in this case. Covetousness covers more than money. It describes a need to possess worldly markers of status. It can feed a vicious determination to get what is wanted at all costs. No share-sies allowed. That's avarice. Scrooge, from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", is the personification of a covetous person. Jealousy plays a huge part in this insatiable need to have more.
  So let's back up a bit. Where does the need for "stuff" come from?
  There's the cultural element. There's media bombardment fueling inadequacy. There's the endorphin rush that comes with buying something new. The birth of easy credit in the late 50's created the immediate gratification syndrome with the consequences that people in the wealthiest nations are carrying unprecedented debt.
  We can never pay enough or do enough to fill ourselves with a sense of self worth.

  Jesus bought it for us. He paid the value His Father holds for every single person. Forever.

  There was a long pause after writing that last sentence.
   Lord, there are so many areas in my life that I haven't embraced Your perfect love for me. It's only in Your perfect love that fear will be cleansed from my beating heart. I want to live securely and confidently in Your promise that You will never leave nor forsake me. Help me discern where this isn't happening, where covetousness and greed enter into my life.
  I also want to thank You for Your provision of everything I need to live and more. Help me learn to be content and grateful in all things. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!

  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever." Heb 13:8

Monday, 12 June 2017

Philippians 1:6 by Susan L.

  Affirmation #61 "I am confident He will finish me."
  "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." NKJ
  The Jesus Centred Bible reads, "will continue His (good) work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
  I think there's a possibility that this could also mean until the day our Lord takes us home. We'll meet Him then, too. Or does completion continue after life as well? Food for thought.
  Although I've also pondered and found comfort in the idea that some hurts in my life might not be healed until the day the Lord takes me home. Then He will finally "wipe away every tear" Rev 21:4. (Those wounds I surrender to His will because I am more than willing to be healed this side of Heaven.)
  This is such an inspiring verse for me. It has also affirmed what I wrote about the other day, that from moment to moment we are completed until the next set of completions begins.
  G(o)od in action. It's a work that is even more important than the creation of a universe full of good things.
  Humans have tried to create a mini-earth: an enclosed, self-sustaining, environment. With little success. Microscopic bacteria poisoned the air of one such experiment and nearly killed the people inside.
  Our Lord was meticulous in His design, in all the elements, the creatures, the plants, the air we breathe. Even the weather and ocean currents that vitalize this planet were part of His plan. From atoms to the sun, He set in place a careful balance necessary for life to thrive.
  From Adam to the Son, He set in place the careful balance necessary for us to thrive, to rise above the dark forces of this world. But only if we let Him help us to live according to the promises He has given us. His plan for us is beyond good.
  Christ's work on the Cross means I, we, don't have to wait to die to meet Him. He is Jehovah, God with us. Always.
  "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and discernment." Phil 1:9

  Beloved, be loved. If you don't know Jesus as Lord, I once again invite you to invite Him into your life. He has been waiting especially for you for a long, long time.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

1 John 5:14-15 by Susan L.

  Affirmation #60 I am confident of answers to prayer.
 "And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for." JCB
  I've been reading Bruxy Cavey's book "re(union)" which is the foundation for the teaching series we are going through at church. It's challenged me on a number of levels. One of which ties into today's affirmation.
  It's wonderful to be able to look back through past posts and see that prayers have been answered time and again. Most of these prayers are spur-of-the-moment, heartfelt requests for healing and a deeper understanding/relationship with my heavenly Father and even more so, Jesus. Many of them have answers that are still unfolding even as I type. It is definitely something to give thanks for.
  I'm being nudged towards making a different type of prayer. One that has me voice my dreams for the future. It scares the pants off me! Even though I have a most welcomed hope for the future, it's still vague. As I read a section in "re(union)" about asking God for our heart's desire, I was a bit sad because I couldn't think of anything that was wanted enough to ask/hope for.
  So, why is it so hard to make a wish, a prayer for my future life?
  I guess it's because it is such a foreign concept. It's learning a new language. Future-speak. It's also bigger than just asking for stuff. Although, time and again, the Lord has blessed me with road side finds fulfilling a need needed. Each time I've done a shameless, happy dance of gratitude.
  Maybe "bigger" is the wrong word. "Different" is better, not so imposing.
  So I have to ask myself, what do I want?
  Do I want a partner to share life with? Part of me says yes, the other isn't so sure. What sort of person would suit? Could I think about what he would need to be like?
  Most of the time my prayers have been to remain single if a human relationship would take me away from God. Now I am learning how relationships are a way of drawing nearer to God, it's got me thinking about those prayers. Am I ready for something completely different? Is it time to move out of isolation, the protection of my sanctuary and singleness?
  Whoa! Back up a moment! I need to be kind about this. I have not hidden behind being single. I have not been well enough for a long time to even consider having another person in my life besides a few special friends and Pumpkin. Cats are demanding partners! If anything, this is a celebration moment because I am even entertaining the possibility of a relationship with a man. Talk about a change!
  Do I want to go back to school? For what? To become a pastor? Why a pastor? Hmmmm, is it possible to do online courses towards that purpose? It's an idea that has been whispering around the edges of my mind for quite a while now. I've never put it "out there" before. 
  Lord, let Your calling for my life come through loud and clear.
  There I go again. Finding a way to escape asking for something. :)
  This new language is going to take some getting used to!
  "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Jude 1:20-21

Friday, 9 June 2017

I am Confident 1 John 4:17 by Susan L.

  "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgement; because as He (Jesus) is, so are we in this world." 1 John 4:17 NKJ
  "And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgement, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world." JCB
  There's no such thing as coincidences. Our small group studied these passages. They were blogged about yesterday and, lo and behold, here is 1 John 4 containing today's affirmation.
  The Lord has blessed me with a gift: freedom from my generalized anxiety about everything and anything. I keep writing it, saying it, because the over the last few months, the wonder and joy in such a profound peace keeps surprising me! It pops up like a laughing Jack-in-the-box. It is unlike anything I've ever experienced. The be-on-guard-cause-something-bad-is-going-to-happen watchfulness is gone. Poof!
  My meds are still part of my daily regimen because they are important to my wellness. It's no different than if someone uses insulin to control diabetes. This healing has eradicated the issues the meds, on their own, could not help with. I need to walk in this brand new me for at least a year before considering making a change.
  Even so, there's a feeling of permanence in this healing. It's not a blip, or a reprieve from the struggle to just get by. It's a forever done deal. My human cautiousness, is well, being human. :)

  Lord, I can't thank You enough. For everything. Even the dark days on the Black River.
  Even though I am wrestling and even stumbling over the big ideas of what being a follower of Jesus means; even though there is plenty of room for improvement, hope and a solid assurance that my quests, my Triple T's will be answered, feeds this newfound confidence. There's so much ahead to explore and embrace and celebrate!
  Oh, Lord, there's a gazillion questions! It's okay to have questions! Even doubt is okay. Guide me into truth. In Jesus' name. Amen!
  And once again I am surprised how wonderful it is to imagine a future. Lifelong depression in its various forms stole that ability from me. It's even more wonderful knowing that the future God has planned for me far outweighs anything I could imagine.
  "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involved torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him (Jesus) because He first loved us." 1 Jn 4:18-19

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Affirmation #58 by Susan L.

  "I am complete in Christ." Colossians 2:10

  In home church we discussed 1 John 4. It's all about love and the perfecting qualities of God's love. It's a verse that makes me squirm in discomfort. It's also a verse I've struggled with because of this:
  "But he who fears has not been made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18
  Ergo, I fear. A lot. Therefore I am not perfect. I have felt condemned, inadequate, and unworthy whenever I've read this particular passage.
  On Tuesday, for the first time, I heard the compassion I believe this sentence was written with. I could almost see John's tears as he wrote it down so many years ago. I heard the grace of God in the spaces between the words, filling the gaps. I felt the sorrow that human understandings of love hinders my ability to embrace a Love that is beyond comprehension. It is beyond most of the "love" experiences I have had in this ole world.
  It has brought me a great deal of peace.
  Because it's okay if I mostly don't get it. Today, anyways. My prayer is that one day I will.
  This sets me free to live in the identity of who I am a this very moment; to be the person God predestined me to be right now. Fears and all. I don't have to wait until I think I am perfect or acceptable to Him because, if the truth be told, that will never happen as long as my feet tread the dust of the world.
  In the end, even though I get hijacked by fears, I no longer have to be afraid.
  Today, in this very moment, with each breath, with each tick of the second hand on the clock, I am complete in Christ. Tomorrow, after learning more, surrendering more, I am complete. And in the next hour and the next day and the next month, I will be completed all over again.
  Completion isn't a destination. It's a gift of freedom, of security, of living in and through the love of God.
  Wow. This is one of those forever changed moments. Thank You, Lord for lifting a weight from my heart.
  "For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority." (JCB) Col 2:9-10

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

I am Comforted Jeremiah 31:13 by Susan L.

  I've been doing some thinking, some Triple T's, about how perfect love casts out fear.
  We had our church's AGM two Sunday's ago. There were two men sitting directly behind me. Both of them are tall and well built. Having them there had my senses on high alert, my body ready to spring out of danger. It's silly. I know both of them quite well. They are kind and caring. So why did I feel threatened by their presence behind me, out of sight? Even the hair stood up on the back of my neck it was that intense.
  I admit I was extremely tired and feeling rather vulnerable because of it but these unwarranted, unwanted reactions have bothered me ever since.
  Lord, how do I feel safe? How can I ever feel safe when my body hijacks my emotions especially around men? Even my step-dad is regarded with extreme caution. It must impact my relationships with my sons as well.
  How can I grow to love all men (and women, too) with Your perfect love?

  So I don't know if this thought is coming from God but I have to wonder if trusting men, people, is the same as loving them.
  I guess that's the fear part kicking in. Fear of reprisals and condemnation due to my own imperfections.
  Imperfection is a punishable offence. Now there's a core belief that has it all wrong! Thank You, Lord, for uncovering it.
  Boy oh boy do I struggle with criticism. Why is someone critical? Is it because of their own insecurity? Forgive me, Lord for being critical of others. I choose to forgive those who have criticized me. The list is long on both parts.
  I really need the perfect love of Christ to help me here. Not only through embracing His love for others but for myself as well so the voice of the critic will be silenced and unheard.
  This boils down to the fact I am tired of being afraid. It's not just men. It's prevalent in most aspects of my life. Another long list takes shape.
  Thank You, Lord, for grace but most of all this terribly insecure woman needs to feel the security of Your presence in my life. It's been an emotional roller coaster this morning.
  "The young women will dance for joy, and the men--old and young--will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy. I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing. The priests will enjoy abundance, and my people will feast on my good gifts. I, the Lord, have spoken." Jer 31:13-14

Monday, 5 June 2017

I am a Co-heir with Christ Romans 8:17 by Susan L.

  Yesterday was a special day. My son and his wife dedicated their baby girl to Jesus. It was wonderful to witness and was a perfect opportunity to link arms with her other Nana and my mom,  her Great-gramma, to pray a grandmother's blessing over this little, laughing bundle of joy.
  They attend The Meeting House in Oakville. It's the same church my own church follows, albeit our streamed teaching is a week behind. Our small church is in the process of leaving our non-denominational calling behind to become full-fledged members of the Be (formerly Brethren) in Christ family alongside The Meeting House.
  I also purchased a new Bible. (Thank You, Lord, for the freedom to do so.) It's called the Jesus Centred Bible and has easier language to follow than my New King James version. I'll probably use both going forward but will add the honorific capitals when Jesus is referred to as Him or He simply because I feel it is right to do so. I am still a bit old fashioned that way. (Perhaps I need to examine further why they have been dropped from modern Bibles and teachings. Not today, though.)
  Yesterday's teaching was a week early for me but it was a lesson I needed to hear in light of my last post.
  "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures." (NKJ) 1 Cor 15:3-4
  Today's verse is "For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs to God's glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later." (JCB) Rom 8:16-18
  How does all this fit together, my Lord?
  Generations. Inheritance. Family. Community. Connectedness. All of these give overcome, to persevere, to let go and let grow new understandings, new truths and to embrace the full knowledge of just how much God loves His children.
  My own love for all my children and grandchildren is a fraction of His love for me, for us. I love them so much that at times, it hurts.
  Nothing will separate us from the love of God because, "Be encouraged! Your sins are forgiven!" Mat 9:2
  As an aside, part of the teaching included The Gospel in Chairs. It was a powerful visual representation of our relationship with God. It's in The Meeting House's teachings under (re)union, week 4, Separation Solution.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Affirmation #55 by Susan L.

  "I am clothed with Christ." Galatians 3:27

  I find I am being challenged to get all this head knowledge into my heart which I know I can't do. At least, on my own. I admit that once a post is written, the ideas explored tend to wither into the forgotten corners of my mind.
  There has to be a better way to make these affirmations real.
  So what's stopping this from happening?
  Am I finding myself burdened because I should be able to live according to these affirmations? There have been many nudges in the areas where that's not happening. Usually guilt follows especially when I find myself not being very Christ-like. So who, exactly, is doing the nudging?
  Perhaps I am being too legalistic about the whole process.
  Here's the list. Memorize it. Get it. Live it.
  And the greatest legalist of them all chuckles and rubs his hands together in glee. Hint: it isn't God.

  These affirmations are meant to be a daily blessing, not a rule book. I think that's been forgotten over the last couple of months. I've begun to treat these wonderful, life giving words as a daily obligation, a chore, a task. Somewhere along the line, the joy in writing about them up and went.
  I didn't write yesterday because of an internet glitch. My phone, which I use as my internet connection, wouldn't hold a charge therefore it wouldn't turn on. Last night I discovered it was because I'd plugged in the wrong USB cord. I am sure it was divine intervention although it was frustrating at the time because things weren't going according to my routine.
  It has given me a couple day's separation to gain some perspective about what's going on behind the scenes. It makes me glad, in hindsight, that yesterday was an unexpected holiday.
  So where do I go from here?

  Remember, Sue, you started this project to help you understand the meaning of these affirmations.
  How about some grace? It's a lot to learn.
  How about some more grace? Change doesn't happen all at once. It takes time.
  How about even more grace? You are clothed with Christ. He is sufficient for all things and in all things. In Him, in His time, these blessings will become living things, pertinent today just as they were two thousand years ago.
  Be patient, girl, even though you don't necessarily consciously remember everything, each affirmation seed has been planted in your heart and soul. It takes time to grow and bear fruit.

  Lord, forgive me for being so hard on myself.
  "Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe." Gal 3:12-22