Every morning Nancy will take Rachael through a workout regimen. It is painful but Rachael knows that it is what is going to keep her from contracture of her muscles. Today, she was able to control her left arm. We have not seen this before. As an added bonus, at the start of the video, she moves her right arm down to her side.
We have much to be thankful for. We just received the medicaid waiver that will help with keeping Rachael in Rehab, her Insurance ceased support for rehab as she was not making big enough gains. This waiver will provide Nancy with help and the ability to get out of the house for several hours and even give Nancy, Hanna and myself 7 hours a week to take a break together while Rachael is watched by a professional health care worker. It is another new normal! We hope to see you at the benefit as the expenses don't stop the current needs as shared in the previous post.
You might wonder how anyone can endure the pain Rachael goes through, endure the extreme effort that it takes to care for her and tend to her. This verse may help to explain.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How do we endure?:
"let us also lay aside every encumbrance" The word that is translated 'encumbrance' in this verse is the Greek word for tumor, a weight or burden. What heavy lumps are we carrying? If I am burdened then my eyes are on the burden and I am not looking where I am going. I am thinking about it, focused on it, spending time on it. It is a weight that slows me down. Do I spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about my burdens? Maybe it is something that is not so bad. It could be something culturally acceptable like spending untold hours on Facebook, watching TV or playing video games.
- Can you maneuver as well through the Bible as you do through your video game?
- Can you recite people and reports from the Bible as well as the latest episode of your favorite TV show?
- Do you seek Facebook for the details on many other lives, diligently scrolling down your wall reading all the tidbits but call the book of Judges boring?
Encumbrances- we have to choose to put these things off in favor of His Kingdom. We need to regularly take a look at our day and make the majority of our time talking, teaching, reading, praying or mediating on His word.
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
If today, this Thanksgiving Day, you were asked or you ask your believing spouse or your believing friend what they are finding in His word, will there be a solid answer? Or will there be a tightening of the stomach and a rushed babble of a response as they scurry for a fig leaf to cover the conviction?
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:4
Abiding does not mean a visit. The branch can't break off for a bit, dally about as it wills and then connect back to the vine and bear fruit. It is constant abiding. If right now you are trying to justify the time in a day, the interruptions, the duties etc, stop! Rachael's care is a physically exhausting effort that moves from task to task throughout the day. Yet, each morning Nancy takes time and abides in His word. Throughout the day she muses on it, prays and discusses it. We talk or text about the blessings, what the Lord has revealed, what we are challenged by, all of it. It is intertwined in our daily discussions like a strand in a cord of three. Yes there is much to do but the abiding is intertwined throughout the day, not just during 'Jesus time' or only on Sunday. I encourage you to stop justifying, just abide. Do your best to abide. Let God's grace extend to you from His will and not your schedule.
"and the sin which so easily entangles us" Sin starts as a thought and turns into an action against God. (James 1:15, Genesis 3:6,) We are not Sin proof. As we have 'So great a cloud of witness' from the Old Testament that demonstrated saving faith, so much more are we surrounded by the traps leading to sin. The words "easily entangle" are busted out from the translation of the Greek word euperístatos-meaning to surround! From Hebrews 11 we have a cloud of witnesses that surround us from the reports of faith to demonstrate what faith can do in light of sin. On the inverse we have a physical and current world that tries to surround (euperistatos) us with the potential to sin.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16
Read that "ALL that is in the world" Friends, we are surrounded by sin and the potential to sin, and so by the enemy, as were Elijah and Elisha:
Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17
First Elisha only saw the surrounding enemy and felt the weight of fear of a huge army "Alas!" and then he sought quick counsel from 'the man of God' "What shall we do?" That is an excellent prayer to pray when you are surrounded 'God, what shall I do?' Elijah's prayer opened Elisha's eyes to the spiritual realm and just who was surrounding whom.
If you are adopted by God, being that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9), you have that help available to you to lay aside the sin and the encumbrance.
By being saved you have "Chariots of Fire" to help you battle the sin that surrounds you. If you believe. Hebrews 11:1 lets us know that we do not need Elisha's eyes to see for Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. I don't need to see chariots of fire to know they are there. Faith opens the eyes of my heart to know.
Yet, there are sins that can become such a weight to us. We need to realize that our sin, no matter how bad we think it is, has been taken care of at the cross. In the days after Christ, the Jewish Priests stilled carried out the Mosaic Law of sacrifices for sin.
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;
12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
13 waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. Hebrews 10:10-13
Once I realize my sin, I need to confess it to the Lord, and repent, or turn away which if sincere are pretty much simultaneous. I may need to make amends with another as part of my repentance but as far as Jesus is concerned He forgave me at the Cross. When I am encumbered or have unrepentant sin, it gets in the way of my relationship with the Lord. I am still saved if my confession of Christ was true, but until I put off those things that are in the way or holding me down by their weight, I am not able to stay focused on where my focus needs to be.
We need to seek holiness in our lives and keep our minds and hearts from sin and proximity to sin by abiding in Christ.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 1 Pe 1:13–16
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
and in so doing we will apply the precepts of our Lord as given to us in His word, the Bible.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; John 2:3-4
We need to choose to do abide. When we mess up, we do not need to carry the guilt. Jesus died once for all. That sin was foreseen by Jesus and He died for it. Done. If we have unrepentant or habitual sin in our lives or are carrying around these tumors of troubles or traps, we are not in a tight relationship with our Lord and we are not going to endure, we are not abiding.
By putting off the encumbrances and the sin, we can endure! We are free from the weight of the encumbrance as we have help and sin because it was already dealt with at the cross! We are free indeed! With our nose in His word, we will develop a stronger relationship, a tighter bond and more understanding of his simple and pure nature. The fruit of abiding? Obedience. If I am abiding, I don't have to strive for holiness, it happens. Holiness Happens. We will have help when we are surrounded in this world by the enemy. We have one greater than the enemy with us.
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
We are surrounded by the witnesses of past and the witness of the Holy Spirit in us to the fact that if we have faith in Christ, we are going to endure. Endure for what? For the joy set before us in being in Glory with our Lord:
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus, the perfect example of faith in action. He endured the terrible suffering, and though He is God, He felt every shard of the the whip, every plucked hair from His beard, every thorn stabbing His skull and every nail in his body. He did so for the joy set before Him. We have His example. We can endure because up the not to distant road, is Christ! Live and in person and eternity with Him. So we have these simple tidbits to help us get through the tough times and endure:
- Remember examples of faith and the results of that faith. We are surrounded by those reports.
- Know that you are surrounded by the options of encumbrances and sin in this world vs. remembering what faith in Christ can do.
- Choose to abide in Christ.
- Your sin was forgiven at the cross, don't carry around guilt, repent and continue the race.
- Keep your eyes fixed on Christ.
In the end it is stated so simply by Jesus
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
As confirmation to what I was doing, sitting here writing out what I considered to be a word from the Lord, Nancy said after dealing with several issues today, "the only reason I can get through this is I know that one day I will be with Him in heaven."
That is how you endure.
Abide, fix your eyes on Jesus and you will endure.
I am so thankful for what Jesus did for us on the cross. Though there is so much to be thankful for this day. It is all wrapped up in Him. How wonderful that we have such a great joy set before us as to be in the presence, forever, with the author of our faith!