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Archive for the tag “Cross of Jesus”

Preparing the Way

As we contemplate Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I want to draw your attention to the waiting time. Have you ever noticed when God gives a promise, it usually doesn’t happen right away? Abraham and Sarah waited twenty-five years before the promised child arrived. Noah had to wait 120 years before the first raindrop fell. The Israelites lived in the land of Egypt for over 400 years before they got sick and tired of being oppressed by their slave masters and cried out to God for deliverance. God waited forty years for Moses to be ready to lead the people out of Egypt. Once they were led out, it took forty years before they took possession of the Promised Land.

From religious scholars we are told that it was 400 years of silence from the last Old Testament Prophet until the voice of the Lord spoke to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist. A baby would be born to Zechariah and Elizabeth to prepare the way for the Lord fulfilling prophecy concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus. The Old Testament prophets prophesied the birth of Jesus and the anticipation grew year after year. But when He arrived on the scene, only a few recognized Him as God’s promised One. It was foretold about His death and His resurrection, but again, no one understood what this would represent to all of humanity. The promise was fulfilled and the sting of death would be removed for all who believe. Promise after promise – and it all came true.

God is faithful in His promises. The silence though is unnerving to us. It erodes our confidence. It causes doubt to arise in us. Did we really hear from God? Noah built a boat on dry land! Abraham and Sarah decided God meant something else; after all she was in her sixties when the promise of a son was given to them. So they took matters into their own hands to fulfill God’s promise to them. But that was not the promised child. God said what He meant. Elizabeth too had a promise of a birth in her old age. Really? This makes no sense to us; yet, God is faithful to fulfill His promises in His time for His reason and in His way.

Then there’s the birth, life, ministry of Jesus written for all of us to read and believe. Prophecies are meant to be fulfilled in God’s will, in God’s way and in God’s time. And we still wait on the fulfillment of more prophecies to come. The Bible is full of promise. It’s full of hope. We are told that Jesus will return one day and receive the church – His bride. And we wait. Like the people of old who didn’t recognize their Messiah, will we lose sight of the promise? After such a long wait, generation after generation; complacency and doubt sets in. God has taken forever to send the promise, maybe He’s forgotten. But we know that’s not true. To God, a thousand years is like a day. His timetable is not ours.

Every time we are waiting for fulfillment, God is still at work. God continues to move things in place in order for everything to be right for the promise to be fulfilled. During the 400 years of silence, the language had to be common throughout the known world; roads had to be built for easier travel; military peace was given throughout the land to make the way for the Word to travel when the time came. God was busy preparing the way. I believe He is still preparing the way for the next event in His eternal plan.

It may seem God is slow in fulfilling His promises. We may have to build a large boat. Or we may have to live in the desert to grow to our potential for God’s purpose. Or there maybe roads that need to be built or nations that need to be lined up to God’s plan. God is always working, even when we hear nothing but silence. Maybe the silence is for us too. Maybe He is preparing our hearts for the promise to be received. Maybe there’s a reason that we cannot fathom right now, but we can be confident in our God – He always comes through – no matter what. His will, His ways and in His time. Just look to the cross of Jesus as proof. He is faithful and He loves you beyond any reason. Count on it and trust Him to fulfill His Word to you. No matter what you’re waiting on; if you have a promise from God, He will fulfill it. And we can count on Jesus coming back. Are you prepared to meet Him?

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. 2 Peter 3:14-15a (NLT)

A Different Standard

Growing up, I lived in the shadow of two older sisters. I lived more in the shadow of my middle sister since I had some of the same teachers she had in school. My parents didn’t do the comparison game with me and my sisters, but sometimes I wondered if my teachers did. My oldest sister and I call my middle sister the “perfect” child. To my knowledge, she never got in trouble; she had perfect grades in school; and she was always happy (except when I didn’t clean my side of the room). My sisters call me the “spoiled” child. I tend to disagree with their assessment of my finger-wrapping ability, just as my “perfect” sister would disagree with her angelic status. We always have a good laugh when we debate the evidence.

Over the last week in the Armor of God study, Priscilla Shirer instructed us on wearing the breastplate of righteousness. I must say, I am not righteous. And my sisters would agree with that! This is not a natural tendency for any of us. We have a fallen nature, and no one lives up to the standard God set by His own holiness and righteousness. Priscilla wrote this is perfect righteousness (pg 73). “Even the most good-natured among us, on our very best day, fall woefully shy of God’s expectations.”

However, we are indeed righteous. Our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ. It’s an imputed righteousness that comes with the salvation through Jesus Christ. This is Christ’s gift to us by way of the cross. Christ paid our sin debt by the cross, but He also added righteousness to our account (pg 77). Righteousness is credited to our account; it’s an asset we didn’t earn. Nice! A clean slate and righteousness. Neither one based upon our own acts, but all based on the love of Jesus.

We normally don’t think of righteousness in God’s viewpoint. We usually compare ourselves to someone else. I could compare myself to my “perfect” sister. I would have fallen short. But if I applied myself, I could have measured up to her standards. I could have gotten better grades. I could have been more obedient to my parents and followed the rules more closely. When we compare ourselves to others, Priscilla called this comparative righteousness. It is a deceptive practice and can also be disheartening when we fall short of their standards (pg 76). Other people will always give us the wrong standard.

When we put on the breastplate of righteousness, we are putting on Jesus’ righteousness. Righteousness is already in us through Jesus, but we actually have to do something with it. It is part of the fruit we are given to develop. It’s practical righteousness (pg 83). “When you choose practical righteousness, you place a blockade between the enemy and the area of your life he most commonly targets – your heart.” Practical righteousness is an intentional act. It is not just behavior modification but also an internal purification. “You must make a conscious choice to act in a way that is consistent with your new life in Christ (pg 85).”

The breastplate was designed to protect the heart in battles. The soldier had this piece of armor to fight in hand to hand combat. It guarded the vital organs. Wearing the armor gave the soldier a fighting chance against the enemy. It provided to be a life or death choice he made as to whether he wore it or not. We too have a choice to make. The enemy is gunning for us. He has many tools in his arsenal. But thanks to Christ, we too have many tools in our arsenal. We just have to learn to dress properly for the battle.

When we learn to put on the armor of God, we are covered in protection for the day ahead. It’s a matter of reading and applying the truth. It’s our first line of defense against a crafty enemy. We have a measuring stick that’s different than the world’s standards. We cannot compare ourselves to others; the enemy will use that weak thinking every time. But the righteousness we have will attain for us a new life of freedom. No more battles where we are defenseless. We can grow into the full measure of a spiritual warrior that battles the enemy with stronger tools. We have it all available but we have to use it effectively. It’s time to suit up and battle on, warriors!

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

The Day

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. You may be familiar with this verse from Psalm 118. I think I have quoted it a thousand times. However, I never realized the significance of it until Beth Moore taught about the Passover meal one January at the Passion conference. In Matthew 26:30 we are told: When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Wow! If you read Psalm 118 with the thoughts of Jesus leading His disciples through the last Passover He would observe on earth, it is eye-opening. Jesus fulfilled that Psalm on that Day. It was The Day that God chose for that hour when every sin would be wiped away. On The Day, every knee will bow before Him. Some will rejoice in it; others will mourn for they didn’t recognize Him as the Messiah who came to take away their sins.

God set certain days into His calendar which have great significance. He called every Sabbath holy. He set times of festivals for the coming together as His people to remember all He has done. Three of those festivals are significant and must be honored in Jerusalem. The men were supposed to make the trip to Jerusalem. I must say I know very little about these festivals. I didn’t really know much about these fall festivals until this year when the emphasis was on the Blood Moons falling on the festival days.

One day stands out among these fall festivals. The Day of Atonement. Today is the observance of the Day of Atonement. The significance is found in Leviticus 16. If you are like me, you might have breezed through Leviticus when reading through the Bible. There are just too many rules to follow about cleansing and such; do this not that type of thing in this particular book. However, God put Leviticus in the Bible for all of us to understand the depths of sacrifice which must be made for our relationship with Him. We can’t do it by ourselves. There must be atonement for our sins before we can approach His Holiness.

A sin offering must be made on the Day of Atonement. Aaron had to make himself clean before he went in to present the offerings before the Altar of the Lord. Aaron was to cast lots for two goats – one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat (Lev 16:8). The Lord’s goat would be sacrificed as a sin offering. The goat chosen as a scapegoat would be brought to Aaron. He would then lay his hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites – all their sins – and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert (Lev 16:21-22). Does this sound familiar to you?

God told Moses “this is to be a lasting ordinance for you. Because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. (Lev 16:29-31) With Jesus, He fulfilled every detail of this Atonement. We no longer have to have a scapegoat with the sins of the people on its head. Our sins were nailed to the cross once and for all. However, there is significance in the observance of this Holy Day. God said – this is to be a lasting ordinance for you. Deny yourself – a day of rest. Fasting and prayer. A holy day.

There must be significance in this Day. It is God’s holy day. It is the Day the Lord has made; we must rejoice and be glad in it! We celebrate Jesus’ birth and we observe His death at special times, but do we deny ourselves anything on those days? Do we set them aside as holy days? This is the one that God calls us to be set aside; to remember all He has done for us. He has taken away all our sins so that we can have a relationship with Him through Jesus. This is the Day the Lord has made – Rejoice! Be glad for all He has done! Take the time today to remember and honor Him in some way. Fast. Pray. Whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to do today. Do it in the Name of the Lord Jesus – our scapegoat, our perfect Lamb sacrificed for your sins.

The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:27-29

The Lesson

This past week I listened to a couple of messages – one on health and the other was a sermon – both on the spiritual battle that we all face in our minds. They were both on fear. The first message was from Caroline Leaf, PhD.1 She is a brain researcher and lecturer. She has been studying the brain for over twenty years. In her talk, she related that there are two emotional roots tied to our memories – faith and fear. Each memory has emotional components to them. In the brain, there is a place where memory is stored for long-term. When visible seen, the memory storage area looks like trees. The faith-based memories (aka good memories) will look like lush green trees. The fear-based memories (aka bad memories) will look like thorn bushes. Fear creates little thorn growths on the outer edges of our memory trees. (The fear-based emotions cause harm to the body.) I was fascinated with these ideas.

The next message was from Andy Stanley on the N Commandments2– the commandments that Jesus instructed the disciples in order to carry on with His movement. This first commandment in this new series is, of course – “Do not fear.” Jesus was telling His disciples all the time “do not be afraid!” He told them not to be afraid when persecution comes (and it would come). Do not fear man or what man can do to you, but fear the One who has control over life and death eternal. Fear God. We are to respect God. He has authority over life and death; He conquered death through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In the early years of this new movement, they didn’t have a Bible; they didn’t have great instructions to live by – except what Jesus spoke and was passed along. The disciples followed Jesus for three years. They listened; they saw; then they were given the instructions to go to the world and preach the good news. Jesus told Martha when Lazarus was dead in the grave for four days (John 11:25) – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever believes in me will never die.”

When Jesus was resurrected, they believed. Because of their belief, they no longer feared death or feared sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection no matter the consequences of the persecution they would face. They would go before governors and kings; they would be flogged and thrown out of synagogues, but they had confidence in the One who sent them. They became fearless and spoke with the authority that Jesus gave them – no matter what.

One of my own struggles is fear. I needed to hear these messages this past week. For the past couple of weeks, I have been in the place of fear because of my circumstances. But what I realized in the last day or two, if everything was gone and I had nothing – is this life or death? Why am I afraid that I will have nothing? God said He would take care of all my needs. I see persecution happening all over the world today. People are leaving everything behind and fleeing to safer places. They are facing executioners and standing firm until the end. They have nothing in the end, except the One who can save them from eternal damnation. That’s enough – nothing else matters. It’s time to release the fear and know that God is enough!

My pastor concluded his message on Sunday on the wisdom from Solomon found in Ecclesiastes 12:13 – Fear God and keep His commandments (Solomon reminded us that everything else is meaningless). Voids in our lives cannot be filled by stuff or people – God made us incomplete so that we can find our sufficiency in Him alone. Nothing else matters. When fear starts to creep in, I have been recalling a new song I heard recently – “You are a good, good Father – it’s who you are. And I am loved by You, that’s who I am. You are perfect in all your ways.”3 When I remember this, I remember a good Father takes care of His children – no matter what. We are precious in His sight.

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:28-31 (NLT)

1Caroline Leaf, PhD, “My Body, His Temple” teaching series by Life Today

2Andy Stanley, the N Commandments series, Part 2

3“Good Good Father” by Housefires II, 2014

Lean in

My dear Child,

Oh how I love you! I want you to understand the depths of my love for you. I want you to grasp that my love is deeper than any ocean; wider than the expanse of the sky; my love for you cannot and will not change. I loved you before you were born. I loved you back then when you were doing that thing that has you so feeling so ashamed. I love you right now when you don’t feel worthy of it. I will love you no matter what you do or what you say. I want you to understand to the depths of your being that my love for you is unfailing. My love for you propelled me to the cross to take on your sin and shame. I bared the pain and sorrow of the cross so that you wouldn’t have to. There was no other expression that could demonstrate the depth of my love than to die for you. I forgive you for everything that you have done or will do in the future. Believe in me to take those sins and shame from you. Get your heart right with me so that you can experience my depth of love.

Open your heart and let my love heal you. When your heart aches, mine does too. When I see a tear, I shed one too. When I see the joy in your face, I am welling up with joy as well. I want you to know I am with you. I have never left your side. I feel your heart beating next to mine. I know you probably don’t feel me next to you, but I am here. You do not walk alone. I want you to feel my presence today. Seek my face and you will find me. I want to reside in your heart permanently. I want you to experience my joy and peace. Don’t be afraid any longer.

Let me heal those hurts and let me into those dark places. I will heal you and make you whole. I will go with you when the waters are too deep. I will be with you in the dark valleys. I will take care of you when the darkness closes in. Do not be afraid. I have not given you a spirit of fear but of faith. Believe in me. Believe I can do all things. Tell me what burdens your heart today. Talk to me. I am right here listening. Let me into that place that is hurting right now. Reach out to me. Set your heart toward me. Open your ears to hear.

Remember the joy you once experienced. Remember the times when miracles happened. Remember the times when you were rescued. That was me helping you. Think about the times you felt my presence. The memories are there; just remember. Remember those moments of your greatest victories. Remember the times when prayers were answered. Remember the times when you didn’t know how you were going to get out of the mess, and yet you got through it because I was there with you. Remember that all things will come together for your good, even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. Be still with me for just a little while. I promise when you look for me, I will be found. I am willing, and I am able to do immeasurably more.

My Father wants a relationship with you. He sent me for you. I am your salvation and your hope today. I am faithful and trustworthy – not only for your salvation but for your deliverance. Know that I am for you. I have not turned away from you. What you are experiencing today will not keep you from the place I have appointed for you. I know there are obstacles in front of you, and I am prepared to go with you through them. I want to walk with you. Rejoice now for the things that I am doing that you cannot see at this time. Keep pressing into me as I work it out for your good and my Father’s glory. Stay the course. Keep your faith in me and do not lose heart. I have overcome so that you will have the victory! Remember my love for you will not fail you. Stay close and feel my presence next to you today.

Your friend forever,

Jesus

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Getting It

Over the last couple of days, I have been contemplating the cross. It’s Easter time after all. It should be relatively easy to consider these things since devotional material inspires contemplation. I really don’t like to think about it though. It is a cruel way to die. And flogging? A whip with metal or glass shards given to someone for thirty-nine lashes because forty would kill someone? It makes me wonder what mind created such torture devices. How can we be that cruel? Yet, we are all capable of cruelty. Maybe not in that severity, but cruelty can be given in many ways. If I had been in the crowd watching Jesus, what would have been my reaction? Would I have been a follower of Jesus? Would I have been like the women looking on in great sorrow? These are the things I am considering.

But there is one other thing I am considering as well. Love. It is the basis of everything concerning God and Jesus’ actions throughout His ministry. Jesus said “if you have seen me, you have seen my Father” (John 14:9, my paraphrase). Jesus lived out the love that God has for each of us. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that He gave us His Son. Do I really get it? Do you? Paul said in Ephesians 3 “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” It’s more than head knowledge. It’s heart knowledge. It was his prayer that we would understand this love. I want to. I desire it with all my heart. I want my eyes to be open to it.

Jesus had a moment in the garden when He knelt down to His Father and cried out to take the cup of wrath from Him – but only if it was God’s will. God’s will was for blood to be shed so that we could have a new life. Jesus said that: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). Greater love. In His last talk with the disciples, He emphasizes love. His command: love each other. It’s hard to love others. I have someone in my life that is hard to love. Yet, I am commanded by my Lord to love. The only way I can accomplish this Jesus says is to abide in Him. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He knew we couldn’t do it by ourselves. He is the only one who can do it. We are to stay connected to Him like a branch is connected to a vine. When His love is in us, we are enabled to share it with others.

When I consider the cross, I don’t consider the horror of it. I consider the love of it – what Jesus did for me. For you. At any moment, He could have opted out and called legions of angels to His rescue. He could have called fire down to consume those who were doing these cruel acts. He could have stayed the hand of those whipping Him. He could have taken the priests out with a single word. He could have done so many things to stop this, but He said nothing. He did nothing. He stayed connected to the cross for me. For you. So that we could love one another as He first loved us. That’s the power of the cross. That’s the power of the love that He showed us even when we were still sinners. Even for those who whipped Him; nailed Him on the cross – He asked His Father to not hold it against them, because of their ignorance of what they were doing. They just didn’t get it.

When we finally get it, it will change everything! Love. There’s power in it. When we grasp, how wide and long and high and deep is that love, it will change everything. Do you get it? I am finally starting to.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

Blank Page

Over the last several weeks, I have been staring at a blank page. I am not feeling very inspired. I have started out with a few thoughts and have ended up tossing it in the “garbage” can. I don’t know why I am blocked right now, but it’s a bit disconcerting. I know that I am called to write about my story, but I have yet to get down to it. I keep waiting for the words to come but nothing. Not one word seems to be flowing. I have prayed about it – seeking guidance about the blockage. Everybody keeps telling me that the timing will be right when I finally get it written. I just don’t want to be disobedient by not doing what I know I am supposed to be doing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been greatly distracted. My Dad had a few episodes of illness that hasn’t quite been resolved. It has weighed upon me. My Dad is very special to me. My Mom died about six years ago. She asked my sisters and me to take care of Dad, but since he got remarried about four years ago it’s been more a “spirit” of taking care of him instead of a “physical” task. About the time my Dad came down with his illness, I started having house issues that needed my attention. I listen to the news and the overwhelming issues that catch my attention just gives me even greater distractions. It seems that one thing just leads to another. It has given me the sense there are multiple plates spinning, and they are all about to come crashing down.

I have managed to get the blog posts and newsletters written in a timely manner. But that’s just because God is gracious to help me even when I can’t seem to focus. Somehow it all comes together. It would seem that He would do that for the book as well, if I tried to sit down and just start the process. But my head is just a jumbled mess right now. Does anyone relate? I keep thinking that when the weather is bad, I will have ample reason to write. I can’t do anything outside – but the snow needs to be removed from the driveway. The dogs aren’t barking to keep me from writing either since the owners have kept them inside on these snowy, cold days. But I get distracted with doing my taxes, budgeting expenses for the month, reordering supplies, etc; it just seems to be endless with distractions.

When it comes down to it, I think I just have a problem with the subject matter – me. Telling my story isn’t that complicated. The problem is I don’t want to be that vulnerable – to be that open before the world. I know God would like to get the glory of what He’s done in my life, even if it doesn’t seem to be such a big deal to me. He has asked me to share so that it may help someone else who struggles in the way that I have struggled. My story is part of the larger story – the restoration of our relationship with God. He began a good work in the beginning, and He will complete it in the end. My story doesn’t seem to be that great unless I truly look at it from His perspective. There was nothing I could do to restore my relationship with Him. I was far from Him, but He drew me near by the cross of Jesus.

The Bible seems to be just a mass of stories from the first page to the last. But there is only one theme throughout each page – Jesus. I never really contemplated how my story fits into His story, but it does. Every person has a story that fits into God’s story of redemption. We all fall short of God’s perfection, but Jesus redeems us so that we can fit into His story. One day, the distractions will no longer distract me, and I will start the work. The blank page will be filled with the work of Jesus in my life. One day, He will get all the glory. One day, it will be finished, and the work that was started will be completed. The page is blank right now, but it is all going to come together at the right time and in the right way!

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:2-3

Born to Live

For the third time in the last couple of weeks, I have heard a message from the passage of the “lost things” in Luke 15. Okay God, I’m listening! The message this time around was about the Father and also the fact that celebration happens at the end of every parable in this chapter. I have always loved these parables, but this time around it felt like an epiphany. It was all about the celebration in heaven over finding those lost things. Jesus came to find the lost; He came for the sinners of this world. When one person is found or saved from destruction, there is a mighty celebration in heaven going on. I got to thinking about death soon after this message; I guess because I was studying the Cross of Jesus at the time and my Mom’s fourth year in heaven was right around this time. And the thoughts started following concerning death in general.

We are not born to live but born to die. The minute we are born, the clock starts ticking. We all have a death date according to Scripture. We don’t know how long we have to live on this earth. We are born to die; however, Jesus changes things. We are all born physically alive but spiritually dead. Only through Jesus are we born spiritually alive – this is our second birth (see John 3). Once we received the grace of salvation through belief of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we become spiritually alive. At that point we are no longer born to die, but we are born to live. We exchange a physical death for a spiritual life – we will live in abundant life for eternity. We will have some sort of exchange from this life to the eternal life – some would call this a physical death – I would surmise that we really don’t die at all but pass from here to there in an instant. Our last breath here on earth is our first real breath of fresh air ever taken. Isn’t that an amazing thought? We will no longer struggle with this physical limitation, but will truly be living in a new reality!

God has been working on this dying thing (or surrendering) for me for a couple of months now. We are told to die daily to our selfish desires (nature). Now, if I could only do it! After Jesus was resurrected, He went back to heaven so the Father would send us a helper (the Holy Spirit) to live within us. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to live as we should. I know I can’t do it alone. I’ve tried. It’s too hard. My selfishness is too much a part of me. Paul states in Romans 7, we do the thing we do not want to do because of our sin nature that lives within us. The Holy Spirit is at odds with our sin nature. It’s only when we die to the sin nature that the Holy Spirit will help us live in the abundant life. Yes, I am born to live abundantly only after I die daily. Ah ha! Got it.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Romans 6:4-7

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