IN CHRIST WE CONQUER OURSELVES

IN CHRIST WE CONQUER OURSELVES

This past Saturday, I found myself in a place that I have never been before. I had a verbal disagreement with a friend that got so heated, that I vowed to never have anything to do with the person again. I felt I had been hurt so much by this friend, who in turn felt just as strongly, that they too had been greatly hurt by my actions. Yet, though both of us were eager for the other person to appease us and address our hurts, neither of us was willing to apologize. So, we went our separate ways: angry; hurt; indignant.

Then the Lord spoke directly into the depth of my soul through the sermon the next day in church.

My entire life, I have gauged my limits (emotional, mental, and physical) on what I believed “I” could bear; “I” could understand; “I” could tolerate, “I” could change; On what “I” was deserving of or not deserving of; the things “I” could give. It was always based on “me, me, me” or “I, I, I”. Yet, every single day, I walked around proudly calling myself a Christian; saying I “walked in Christ”, praying for God to direct my steps. Claiming that I no longer live for myself, but live for Christ.

But the Lord revealed to me through His Word on Sunday, if I truly live in Him; if I’m truly emulating Him, then how can everything I do or don’t do still be centered around me? How can I continue to base “my capacity” on “me”.

If “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength”, then, how can I place the words “I can’t” before anything that I declare???

If as a Christian, I ask God to forgive me my trespasses “AS” (meaning simultaneously) I forgive those who trespass against me, how can I find it difficult to say “I’m sorry” or refuse to speak to someone??!

If I am being as selfless as Christ was, who died for my sins, how can I not endure suffering on account of my fellow man? Even suffering at the hand of my fellow man?

I don’t know why anyone else suffers with these issues, I am here today to tell you why I have always suffered with these issues:

I have always given to people as much as I believe I receive from them. Or, I have reciprocated what I believe that they have given to me. Bottom line, I’ve always had a threshold based on what I believed was my “limit” where people are concerned. Therefore, if I believed I was being treated unfairly, in response, I would either pull back my affections, or become defensive. But God told me that He has instructed me to stop measuring my threshold based on what other people do or don’t do; say or don’t say; give or don’t give. He told me to look to Him for the reciprocation that I required from people. The Lord instructed me to give as is required of me in every situation I find myself. He instructed me to be give of myself in friendship; give of myself to my spouse; give of myself in service; give of myself to “my neighbor” no matter how they treat me; and most importantly, to do all of this giving to my fellow man with no expectation of reciprocation from anyone except Him!

We often apply this bible verse:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

very literally. We apply the slapping to confrontation, the tunic and cloak to the taking of material items, the miles to effort and service and the borrowing to finances. inasmuch as they can be applied literally, they truly apply to everything a person can regard as unfair and unjust treatment of themselves. Think about it, they are all situations where one would naturally be compelled to consider and protect themselves, and/or expect the other party to consider them and change their behavior.

That is and has been my greatest cry of injustice to my spouse, my friends and to anyone who has anything to do with me. I am deeply offended when I don’t feel “considered”. It makes me feel cheated, slighted, neglected, and abused. But this weekend, the Lord instructed me to completely do away with my expectation of consideration. “Desire to do my will” He said to me.  “Do my will. ‘I’ will consider you”!

The realization; the assurance; the source of the promise; and the administration of it by the Holy Spirit, broke me down. Everything I had always used to “sustain” myself, came crumbling down like a deck of cards.

I was broken. Completely.

It was in that state of brokenness; in that very moment, on that very spot, that I surrendered myself to Christ. I surrendered myself in the nakedness of my imperfections; in the nakedness of my weakness and inability to change though I have tried time after time to do so. In my tears, I said “Lord, I surrender myself as I am. Please, help me do it as YOU require, not as I require”.

It was also in that very moment; on that very spot, that He too, began to rebuild me.

When it comes to total transformation in Christ, and being “born again”, Matthew 19:25-26 tells us:

“When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Total surrender to Christ is simply an acknowledgement that living in the flesh, in our own strength, of our own way, we are as good as conquered.

But after surrendering and asking Christ to take control, Christ renews our mind so that by His Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. Christ lives in our hearts. We live in Him; in His strength; according to His way. Then, on only then, do we become conquerors.

It is only the Spirit of Christ that can conquer Satan and every force of darkness.

All this “I, I, I” and “me, me, me” has nothing to do with Christ. It is of Satan.

1 Peter 5:8 says:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Ephesians 6:12 says:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Genesis 4:7 says:

 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

It is in our “I” and “me” state that we create avenues for sin to creep in, guided by Satan who waits patiently for the slightest opportunity. So, brethren, if any of our  thoughts, actions, or utterances are not in line with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control, then quite simply, they are not of Christ.

If we feel that are being depleted in a relationship where the other person can’t seem to make us as happy as we’d like to be, the Spirit of Christ tells us to do everything in your power to make that person happy, and look to the Lord for your happiness.

If you find yourself constantly on the receiving end of gossip, rumors, false accusations, jealousy and envy from other people, don’t look to defend yourself to those people, look to God who always protects those who place their trust completely in Him. Then pray for those people, so that they too, may be delivered.

If you are struggling with any shortcoming: low self esteem, depression, anger, self righteousness, indignation, pride, unforgiveness, stirring dissensions, jealousy, envy, covetousness, contention, a judgmental attitude, a critical attitude, a loose tongue, insensitivity, alcoholism, addiction, a lover of strife, selfish, and a host of others, pray to the Lord to reveal your vice to you. This way, you can surrender that vice to God, and then He can begin your transformation.

Brethren, we can’t become conquerors in Christ until we have been conquered in our flesh.

Since my personal testimony is a part of this piece, I just want to share with you that there is nothing more liberating than shifting every single expectation from man onto Christ. The peace is unimaginable. The peace is the immediate reward. The lesson is that I am fully responsible for desiring to obey and taking active steps to obey Christ in dealing with my fellow man. The ultimate reward: It is Christ’s promise to me that as long as I do that, He will personally take care of me, and give me ALL that I need.

It’s a one step at a time process. But the comfort is that in every one of those steps, once we truly surrender, Christ goes before us; Christ goes with us, and He’s always with us no matter what trials come our way. There’s no better feeling than the knowledge of the creator of the entire universe, walks with us personally through every step of our journey.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet.

THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE (Part 3 of 3)

Celestial Church of Christ: Life & The Word of God

3

This three week journey has taken us from an exploration of the cross, Christ’s sacrifice, and what it really represents; to the knowledge of what our debt to Him – our continuous debt- really is. We learned that this debt can only be repaid with Love. Love God. Love our neighbors. Because it is in loving our neighbors that we prove our love for God.

Now, the journey has now brought us to this point. The point of “how”? How exactly do we do this.

I will not be sharing with you today anything that you have not heard preached before. My prayer is that I share it with you in a way that hopefully you have never considered it before.

I’m in my sixth year of writing the Handmaid’s Blog. The sixth year began in September of 2014. The following month, I came to a decision. That I was…

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THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE

THE CONTINUOUS DEBT OF LOVE. (PART 2 OF 3)

Have you ever had someone do you a favor so great, or extend a kindness or generosity that was so overwhelming that you didn’t even know how to begin to pay it back? If you’ve never been in that position, let me tell you, the feeling is one of such great gratitude that even the acceptance of the decline of repayment is too much for one to fathom. Therefore, the concluding sentiment is usually one of “I’m forever in your debt”. And even though we’ve been explicitly told that we dont have to repay the favor, the spirit of gratitude within us continuously seeks out an opportunity to express itsef. In any way possible.

It’s usually something very great and significant that would cause us to feel such a huge level of indebtedness. Yet, for all that any human being can do for us, how many would go to prison for a crime that we committed? How many would receive a vicious flogging on their bare backs for an offense that we committed? How many would suffer a gruesome death; without protest; without complaint; without objection; that was meant for our sins.

1 Peter 2:23-25 (NIV)

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

So, the question that came to me was; knowing the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, where is that feeling of overwhelming indebtedness? Why is it not as pressing as it would be if a friend gave me money to save my home from being foreclosed on, for instance? Why is Christ’s sacrifice; though we are aware of it; though we belive it, though we attest to it; not as pressing?

So, now, we are aware. The question still remains, how can we possibly repay Him? How can we repay the Messiah; the Savior of the world? Surely we cannot die for Him. So, then, what can we do?

We can express our thanks by way of praise. Speaking, singing, dancing, and praying thanks unto His Holy name. And we do. But, is that enough? Is that all He requires of us?

Brethren, the truth is that there is very little we can do for Christ to repay Him for what He did for us. It’s also important to know that He has asked for no repayment for himself.

He does have a request for us, though, and the request is as simple as it is beneficial.

Romans 13:8 tells us:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

What does loving others have to do with Christ’s sacrifice for us? Is it not enough to be obedient? Is it not enough to share the good news of salvation with others so that they can understand the immense sacrifice that Christ made for us. Is it not enough to abstain from sin and tell others how they need to do the same? “Being like Christ” will surely show Jesus that we are in gratitude for His sacrifice.

The truth about that brethren is that when we try to “be like Christ” in actions, in preaching, in “not sinning”, we will fail. Woefully!

Our actions can never make us like Christ.

Our knowledge of the word and our ability to instruct it to others will never make us like Christ.

We believe obedience is the form of showing gratitude? You’re right. And here’s proof:

Jesus says in John 14:15:

“If you love me, keep my commands.

He also said in 1 John 5:3:

 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.

Therefore, obeying God’s commandments is, in fact, proving our love for Him. So we’re set! Are we not?

1 John 4:20-21 tells us:

 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

So, God is saying that if we love Him, we will obey His commandments. He then goes further to tell us that we cannot say that we love Him, who we have never seen, and yet, not show love to our fellow man, who we see and interract with every day.

One can deduce then, that this requirement of love is very serious.

That Romans 13: 8 says to owe no one anything. Let no debt remain outstanding. With one exception.

The debt to love one another.

We feel this indebtedness toward Christ because we are so eternally grateful for what He did for us. Because our hearts truly desire to show that gratitude, we want to know what we can do.

Christ says we should love.

Love Him, with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

Love continuously. Over, and over again. Our love can never be exhausted. Because God’s love is not exhausted. So, the gratitude never stops, and the debt is never fulfilled. Because as long as we live, there is a reason, and an opportunity to show love to our Christian brethren, to non-Christians, even to our enemies.

We repay God for His love; we repay Christ for His sacrifice, by loving others. It’s that simple.

I’d said earlier that the act of love was also beneficial.

Romans 13:8 tells us that love is the “fulfillment of the law”.

1 Peter 4:8 tells us “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Proverbs 10:12 says “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.”

We fail when we try to “Be like Christ” or “Act like Christ”.  Simply because we have sinful natures, and we will sin. In some way, shape, or form. Guaranteed!

But when we love, as God has instructed us to love, as Christ has demonstrated how to love, we atone for those sins that we are guaranteed to commit! That is why we are urged, over and over again in the bible to love! We are saved in love!

Therefore, we can succeed when we “Love like Christ”.  That is what he requires of us. That is what he expects from us. Because, He knows that it is attainable. It is attainable if we live in Him, and allow Him to live in us.

So, what is the nature of this love that God expects from us. Why are we reminded of the importance of it in so many parts of scripture? How do we feel it? How do we practice it? Why are we not getting it?

Please join us next week for part 3 of this journey into the heart of our God.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless

Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

As always, share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet.