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Friday, June 18, 2010

Amish raking hay
We passed this scene yesterday along Stumptown Road here in Lancaster County. What initially caught our attention was the dog that was following along beside the team as the farmer raked his alfalfa. But a second component of the photo so instructive and inspiring is the father and son working together.

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"The New Self"

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:1-10).

Coffee makerIn an age of microwaves, fast food, text messaging, same day delivery, and other such instant wonders, we're accustomed to having what we want when we want it.  For many years Brooksyne and I have been early morning risers and habitually fill the coffee pot to start our day.  Part of the waking up experience is hearing the gurgling noise and smelling the aroma of fresh coffee grounds brewing.  It's ready in a matter of only about five minutes and yet I find myself going back within a couple of minutes to see if it's ready.  That's why they made pause 'n serve features for impatient folks like me who just can't wait to pour his first cup of coffee in the morning!

In our Scripture portion today Paul talks about the instant changes that come to those redeemed from their sinful way of life.  When we "take off our old self" and "put on the new self" we experience instant and radical change:  once alienated from God we are now friends with Him, once doomed for hell now our future home is heaven, once desiring to live for self we now seek to please God.

The apostle Paul lists a host of sinful attitudes and behaviors that are not compatible with the changed life of a believer; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying. These sins reflect the "old self with its practices."

We, as believers, "have taken off our old self with its practices and have put on the new self."  This aspect of redemption includes transformation in our personal ways. We are to take off the old and put on the new. This suggests an active participation in the process of transformation. This is not to be theologically confused with works/righteousness; that is attaining our right standing with God through good works. Our righteousness is attained by grace through faith. But as we have been redeemed through God's grace, we are now to "find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10) and "live a life worthy of the calling we have received" (Ephesians 4:1).

Today's text teaches that this new self "is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." "The new self, which is being renewed" gives indication of a process, not an instant overhaul. Our culture wants instant and positive results when dealing with unpleasant or undesirable circumstances.

Miracle cure pillLast week after Brooksyne suffered for 8 days with a severe attack from the poison ivy weed she finally broke down and got a prescription for her rash and subsequent pain.  Within hours the itching ceased and within a couple days the rash began to dry up.  But I have a relative who had a similar experience about a month ago, has seen two doctors who have been unable to help him, and he continues to suffer from his condition. 

Sometimes there are quick remedies, often times there are not. There are those who "check out" Christ and the church and after a couple of weeks or months move on to some other perceived "miracle cure pill" they hope will make their life better.  I specifically recall witnessing to a man many years ago who said, "Well, I guess I could give it a try for a couple of weeks and see if it makes my life better." Jesus spoke of this phenomenon in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.

But we are all in the process of "being renewed" which may seem very slow to us.  The Bible teaches that faith in Christ results in an immediate transformation the moment that we earnestly believe.  This is the aspect of our salvation that is past which saves us from the penalty of sin.  The Bible also teaches the aspect of our salvation that is future when we are saved from the presence of sin.  This will take place when we are called to heaven.

We are also experiencing an ongoing aspect to salvation in being saved from the power of sin.  This is the sense of "being renewed" that the Apostle Paul refers to in our daily verse.  We may at times get impatient regarding the pace of this renewal.  Some matters in our lives just aren't working out as we expect or as quickly as we would desire.  But God calls us all to faithfulness and steadfast obedience.  Based on the authority of God's Word we are being renewed!  In the midst of this renewal let us "be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:2).

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, as we die to self and live unto righteousness we recognize that there will be sacrifice, struggles, and even setbacks on our earthly journey.  Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil that seek to tempt and sway us and become a stronghold in our lives. Your Holy Word continues to guide and sustain us; it renews our spirit, and it strengthens us in our weaknesses. Since we have taken off our old self with its practices and have put on the new self, day by day, we are being renewed in Your image.

A Slice Of Our Life Yesterday

Tiger lilies along Harrisburg Pike, Lancaster County PA
All throughout our area the beautiful orange blooms of the Tiger Lily are abundant. We sure enjoy this view along Harrisburg Pike near Salunga, PA. Harrisburg Pike is an old highway alongside the railroad tracks with patches of bright orange lily blooms lining both sides.
You have to get off the main highway (283) to see these!  
Here's a close-up photo of these flowers.

Horse in pasture
We sure enjoy passing scenes like this.
This horse came over to greet us as we drove up.

Deer mount of couch
Yesterday I peeked into an office to greet Mike Stillman, a friend of ours, and looking toward his desk saw he was not in. But out of the corner of my eye I was startled to see this. It appears to be a deer receiving counseling while relaxing comfortably on a soft pillow! (Actually Mike is a hunter and this mount was not yet placed on the wall.)

Sprayer in Lancaster County PA
We always get a kick out of approaching a crop sprayer on the highway; they look sort of like giant grasshoppers coming right at you!  These machines are used to spray crops and they leave tracks in the fields like this. When I first moved to Lancaster County in 2001 and saw these tracks I thought it was evidence of some disrespectful teenager horsing around in the farmer's fields!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.) 

"Change My Heart O God"
 Video  Eddie Espinosa

"I Want To Be More Like Jesus"  Video  Keith Green

"Make My Life A Prayer To You"  Video  Keith Green  This is an actual video of Keith singing one of his powerful songs. Includes a short message and prayer at the end.

"He Who Began A Good Work In You"  Video  Steve Green

Our opening Amish field scene was taken at the junction of Monterey and Stumptown in eastern Lancaster County. I have long been intrigued at the derivation of the name "Stumptown"!

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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