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Friday, October 3, 2014

Foggy morning in Lancaster County PA 10/2/14
A foggy morning scene in Lancaster County.

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"Dead To Sin"

"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh" (Romans 13:14).

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

Sleeping cat Brooksyne and Ester saw a cat lying in the field behind our home. It was visible from our deck and had not moved for hours. They took the dog out to investigate. When she lurched at the cat it still did not move and they assumed he (or she) was dead. (Note: photo to the left is not the same cat!)

We periodically glanced at the cat for several hours to see if it might move, but finally I felt it was time to dispose of the "dead" cat (after all, who wants to watch or smell a decaying animal?) I grabbed a shovel and proceeded toward the cat, but when I got close the cat's eyes opened and he looked right at me. Next he saw the shovel and scrammed into the woods! I reckon the cat reasoned, "I'm not that dead!"

Figuratively speaking, God has called us to be dead to sin much like the cat in our story appeared to be dead to those around him. Today we have on our hearts several situations we are encountering in the course of our service as chaplains. We want to help people accept Christ and to get on the right path in life or in many cases equip them to grow in their walk with the Lord as believers. In yesterday's message we shared Bible teaching from a quote posted on a bumper sticker that states, "Sin would be less attractive if the wages were paid immediately." People often make wrong choices and yet don't always face the consequences i
mmediately. In a corollary truth when making good choices we don't always see the benefits immediately. In both cases there is an indeterminate amount of time between reaping and sowing.

Our daily verse presents a vital daily principle for the believer,
"In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Notice its call to action and obedience on our part. "Count yourselves"; that's a daily decision and commitment we need to make. Other translations render the passage, "reckon ye also yourselves" (KJV) and "consider yourselves" (Amplified). The single Greek word this translates is "logizesthe", which conveys the sense, "to do this continually"." 

F. B. Meyer writes, "Reckon that you have died, and whenever sin arises, to menace or allure you, point back to the grave, and argue that since you died in Christ, you have passed altogether beyond its jurisdiction, for you have yielded your members as weapons of righteousness unto God. And having been crucified with Christ, you now no longer live, but Christ liveth in you (Galatians 2:20). Let it become your daily habit to place the grave of Jesus between yourself and all allurements of the world, the flesh, and the devil."

Sin is a harsh taskmaster as illustrated by this little poem which would be a good one to memorize:

Sin will take you farther than you ever thought you’d stray
Sin will leave you so lost, you think you’ll never find your way
Sin will keep you longer than you ever thought you’d stay
Sin will cost you more than you ever thought you’d pay

Later in Romans Paul calls believers, "to offer your bodies as living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1). It's been said that the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps jumping off the altar! How true. We need to regularly apply the truth expressed in our daily verse. A volitional choice to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let's make that choice today.

Consider this:
Before our regeneration
We lived in sin and loved it;
Since our regeneration
We may lapse into sin but we loathe it.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer:
Father, we thank You for Jesus' death on our behalf making it possible for us to be forgiven and walk in newness of life. Our sin nature no longer dominates, but our spiritual nature becomes the driving force behind our thoughts, our actions, and our conversation. In earnest we seek to bring forth abundantly good fruit which brings praise and glory to You, Father. Seeking personal attention, applause, or praise for our fruit would be gratifying the desires of our sin nature turning our good fruits into rotting, infested, and stench-filled fruit fit only for the waste pile.  Because we love righteousness and loathe sinfulness we never want to live the reverse order again. Help us when we do fall and uphold us so we can stand against the enemy and not lapse into doing things the "old familiar" way. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Reader's Note:  Yesterday we shared a video about the origination of the song, "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus". David Penley, a Texan friend and seminary professor observes: The song, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" has long been one of my favorites. The video about how it was written was especially meaningful to me. The part of India he was talking about in the video is Nagaland. I had a student from Nagaland several years ago, who did his Masters degree in our program. His family and ours became friends. He stayed and did his doctorate, and I served as his supervisor for that. Today he is president of a Christian college in Nagaland. He invited me to serve on his college's board (which I still do), and I went to Nagaland to teach at his college a few years ago. He told me the story of how his people used to be headhunters, and I went to museums that included this part of their history while I was in Nagaland. He also told me the story I heard in the video of how those committed missionaries gave their lives to bring the Gospel to them. Today it is the most Christian part of India. The people were all so loving and friendly. They are the most gentle and caring people you could imagine. What a difference Christ makes! I was blessed to hear how this song I so love is connected to these people I have come to so love.

Yesterday morning our local journey took us intentionally through Lancaster County back roads on our way to our chaplaincy posts. When possible, and if I have the time, I never take the same road twice preferring to explore new areas.

Lime Valley covered bridge, Lancaster County, PA 10/2/14
Approaching the Lime Valley Covered Bridge in southern Lancaster County, PA.

Lime Valley covered bridge window 10/2/14
A photo through the window of this covered bridge looks like a framed landscape picture!

Lime Valley barn and farmhouse 10/2/14
Penn Grant Road farm and barn
After driving through the Lime Valley covered bridge we saw this.
(Click on photo for larger view and see the yellow chairs on the deck overlooking the bridge.)

Tobacco shocks, Lancaster County, PA 10/2/14 (Click to enlarge)
Tobacco shocks
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Amish roadside stand with children, Lancaster County, PA 10/2/14
It seems every other Amish farm has a small roadside stand; some with just a few varieties of produce, others with large carts of produce and flowers. And there are still other large homemade structures that are filled with many shelves of fresh and home canned produce.

Strasburg Pike barn with quilt, Lancaster County, PA 10/2/14
This eye catching barn on Strasburg Road has a huge quilt design made of several panels attached to its side.
(Click on photo to enlarge)

Brooksyne taking photos from van, Lancaster County, PA 10/2/14
Oops! Brooksyne was not the intended subject of this photo but I (Stephen) decided to keep and post it since this is most often the way we capture our Lancaster landscape and people photos as we travel to our different chaplain spots. I'm doing the driving and Brooksyne is snapping the camera. (This time the mirror got in the way and ended up capturing a "selfie" of the photographer.)

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Precept Austin commentary notes on Romans 6:11. (This is an outstanding resource for serious Bible students.)

"I Surrender All"  Video 

"Knowing You"  Video  Graham Kendrick

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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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