I have been thinking a lot lately about Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. What was he really saying? What implications does this have for my life? What does it mean to have Christ living in me? I want to share some of my thoughts with you.
I have been crucified with Christ– that means when Christ died, I died because I have sworn my allegiance to Him forever. My life is forever tied to Him. His crucifixion impacted me by enabling me to die to self and live in Him, for Him, and through Him in the power of His Holy Spirit
The life I live now is by faith in Jesus– I no longer am in charge of my life. His resurrected life lives in me and leads, guides and directs me.
He gave Himself for me– He laid down His life for me and for you
The implications for those who have received Christ into their lives is beyond amazing. We are loved by Him and His love is consuming. Life in Christ is not stress free but it is free– free from the burden of carrying our problems, free from being captain of our own ship. He is the Captain and He knows just where we need to go. We are not robots but are free to love Him in return and offer our lives back to Him in surrender.
So why is it that we find ourselves carrying around the old dead man (our crucified self) behind us? Because we don’t realize we are free. We aren’t able or willing to believe that our past is forgotten and that the new man (born again) is free from the chains of the old life.
What to do?
Precious friends, believe that God is who He says He is and you are who He says you are. Your new identity in Christ is the high watermark that defines you. Draw from the well of salvation (meaning wholeness and well being) and you will grasp how deep and how wide His love is for you:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger…. No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:35)
It is so easy to rush through life, going through our daily routines and occasionally having to respond to the demand of the urgent. Perhaps we are even doing a great job of making space to spend time with God in the secret place of worship and bible study. And in the busyness of life….. we neglect the things that are not in our ‘daily space’. For me what is out of sight is often out of mind. And that brings me to today’s making space topic– making space in our lives to care for the poor and needy.
Ann Voskamp, well known author of One Thousand Gifts writes:
The greatest steps out into the world never steps away from the poor. In the body of Christ, our lives should be clothed in caring like our bodies are covered in clothing. Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience
And Paul writes:
Dearly beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, gentleness…
Together, let’s make space for the poor, the lost, and the needy. Together we can make a difference.
The beginning of summer…. ah… brings back memories of my childhood when school is out and the lazy days of summer begin. Can any of you relate? Why do we have to grow up and have grown up responsibilities so summer isn’t really lazy any more? It’s more of the same. Or does it have to be?
I made a decision to make space for rest and I am on an all out assault to start this summer season with my new attitude. So I decided to block out some time to write, to read, to visit with friends and family. The first day of my plan failed miserably. My day was packed and the only thing about summer that I was experiencing was the heat! The second day I planned to block out some time to read at the end of the day…… you guessed it. Didn’t work out.
To all you mothers, daughters, sisters, friends out there— it’s time to stop. Get off the treadmill of life and make space to seek God. It isn’t the lazy days of summer that we all yearn for; it is the peace of the Lord that we need. In Him we find our rest. The Psalmist writes: Be still and know that I am God. What we yearn for is internal rest and when we realize that rest, summer will last all year long.
I have heard it said that May is busier than the month of December minus the presents! Especially for mothers with school age children it is a rush-rush-go-go month. I remember those days when it seemed as if all I ever said to my kids was: “Hurry up!”. Since we all have seasons or should I say lives that are busy what can we do as Christians to slow down and enjoy the moment? How can we listen to the still voice of God when the noise of life shouts louder than the voice of God? Here are just a few things I would like to suggest that have helped me as I try to live into this Word: Be still and know that I am God. The word still in Greek means literally to stop, to quit, not to slow down. How is that possible? How do we make space for God in our busy lives?
- Begin each day before your feet touch the floor from a nights rest and say: ” Good morning Lord. Can’t wait to see what we are going to do today”
- Take time (for me better in the am) to read God’s Word and write down how it applies to you. I like to take a book of the Bible and go through it line by line– slowly. I do not try to stick with a read through the Word in a year program (although that is great if it works for you). I read Scripture until I sense the Lord speaking to me (my hearts pumps faster, my heart senses God speaking, etc). I STOP there. Some days I read a whole chapter, some days only a few lines. But I stop, journal and ask the Lord questions about it. Then I meditate on that Word all day long until it becomes alive in me. For those of you who have only a few minutes a day this will work. Using a devotional is also a good tool to read Scripture and meditate on it all day long.
- I pray all day long. I try to listen to His voice in everything and in everyone. God is not limited. He speaks to us through our natural environment, through friends, and in a myriad of ways. I try to be aware of His Presence with me all day long.
- I thank and praise Him as I go about my day. Yesterday for example, I found my missing Ipod which had fallen into a the side of my car seat. May sound silly but I thanked Him. I had been looking for it for months.
- Lastly I try and remember to give God the glory as I go through out my day. I do this by offering back to Him any praise or thanks that comes my way.
Busyness is not our identity. It does not define us. As Christians we are called to be fruitful and the only way we can bear fruit is to abide in the fruit bearing vine, Jesus Christ (John 15).
Today is Memorial day– the day that we remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States armed forces. It originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, Memorial day had been extended to honor all Americans who died in military service. The definition of honor is respect or esteem. Today as we honor those who died in service to our country we remember that they died not in vain; they died defending our nation and upholding our freedom. As Christians we honor them through our prayers not only on Memorial day but daily. As I reflect this morning on their great sacrifice, I also reflect on the truth that Jesus Christ came to earth to set the spiritually captive free; to bring freedom to the captives and deliverance for the oppressed.
Jesus’ Mission Statement
After Jesus began His ministry on earth and was tempted by Satan, he returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. He taught in the synagogues. Then on to Nazareth where he had been brought up and on the Sabbath he went into the synagogue and stood up reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah: The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recover sight to the blind; to release the oppressed… Then Jesus spoke: Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing. Jesus’ mission was to set the prisoners free– those held spiritually captive who were oppressed. And we, as Christians
For the glory of God
were once those prisoners, having been set free from darkness and brought into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).
As we honor our fallen heroes who have laid down their lives for our country, let us remember that Jesus Christ laid down His life for us so that we could be set free from the power of sin and death. We give thanks to our heroes today who have made our nation a safer place and we give thanks to our King who has given us the ultimate freedom in Him.
God bless each and every one of you as we give thanks to the Lord!
I am presently reading a great book on leadership titled: The Top Ten Leadership Commandments. The 5th commandment, written by Hans Finzel, states: Thou shalt have a life. He tells the story about Moses who was so busy he even had to send his wife and children away. He had few margins in his life. Today he would have been known as an overachiever or possibly a micro-manager. Good leaders achieve, but great leaders are those persons who set high goals that are not achievable by themselves, but with a team that has been empowered to fulfill the goals/vision.
Do you consider yourself to be an overachiever? Perhaps you are the type of person who fears losing control. Moses was one of those people. His very wise father-in-law, Jethro, suggested to him that he would burn out if he did not learn to delegate some of his responsibility to capable men. Jethro suggested that Moses get capable leaders to help him lead the Israelites and that the more difficult or challenging decisions could be sent to him. Brilliant. As a leader you must be willing to delegate. The key is to choose capable people on your team to help you. This applies to whether you are a housewife, employer, freelancer, or entrepreneur. We are all leaders. Check out my study on courageous leadership to determine how to lead courageously (www.joanneellison.com)
Take a look at Jethro’s wise words:
Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice and God be with you…… look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens…. (Exodus 18:17)
Great leaders trust the Lord and are willing to let go of control surrounding themselves with capable people who together can help accomplish the goal. What about you? Are you willing to trust those whom God has placed around you?