by Susan Sampson

This week’s lecture was an answer to prayer in helping me see my sin as God sees it.  When Laurie drew the tree on the white board she was labeling it with my sinful fruit in trying to work harder to be more perfect or okay and in feeling cranky because I feel like a failure.  Feeling inadequate, incapable, less than, and not good enough.  Then showing us how this focus is all completely self!  Which then is a root of pride and idolatry.

I absolutely needed to hear that our adequacy does not come from self and when a “sense of inadequacy comes its meant to catapult us to Christ.”  I experienced all this yet again this weekend as I messed up reading our map on our way to North Carolina.  I immediately felt less than, incapable, and inadequate and was plunged into despair.  I remembered the words in the lecture that “inadequacy is pride” and cried out to Christ to forgive my sin and lift me out of the miry pit!  The power to change our hearts and overcome our sin all comes from the Lord alone!

However, we do participate in the work the Lord is doing in us.  This participation is clearly seen in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  This is why we want to fast. Denying our flesh will help us see our flesh to enable us to dig out the roots of our sins.  Remember our sins are weeds in the garden of our hearts and if we don’t get the roots the weeds always come back.

The greatest bondage can be lifted through fasting and prayer!  May the Lord give us much grace this week as we seek to get serious about our sin all the while thanking the Lord that He loves us and that Christ has already accomplished all of our righteousness for us.  He is the fulfillment of the law!  We are covered by the blood of Christ and now holy in God’s sight.  May we seek to be holy as He is holy.

by Susan Sampson

As I read the devotion from Lesson 7, I was struck by the simple definition of the Gospel, “Not I, but Christ.”  This is why we need to repent.  As Laurie said in the lecture, “that’s repentance — NO LONGER YOU.”  True repentance does not lead to an ongoing indulgence of self.  It does not lead to saying yes to self, the world, and giving into the devil.  True repentance leads to enduring the pain of self-death.  It leads to saying “no” to self, the world, and the devil.  One of the Scriptures the Lord has led me to in rooting out my pride and idolatry in the love of self is 1Tim. 5:6, “but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.”  In fasting, I am seeing more and more how much I give into my flesh, live by my feelings and not God’s Word.

In fasting we are enduring the pain of self-death.  We are saying no to our flesh.  We are reigning the flesh in.  We are walking in a posture of humility by grace in the Spirit of God that lives in us.  We are confessing our great need to the Lord.  Crying out for mercy and asking Him to do what only He can do — lead us to repentance.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  Lord God, please have mercy on us.  By your kindness, lead us to repentance and faith in you.  Give us a holy horror of our sin, a deep sorrow over it, and a complete heart forsaking of it.  Give us the grace we need to cry out to you from the depths of our souls to ask you to do whatever it takes to cause us to live in repentance for the rest of our lives!

by Susan Sampson

May I begin by confessing to you all that if it were not my job to send out the weekly email, I might not take the time to listen to the lecture online.  This is a hugely busy time with my daughter’s high school registration, school supplies, uniforms, back to school day, braces, 1st day of school, new parent orientation, etc…Plenty of human reasons that I don’t really have “time.”  I thanked the Lord this morning as I was listening to the lecture for my job.  I saw what I’m sure is just the tip of how truly weak and sinful I am and His love and provision for me in having my job at Thistlebend, knowing if left to my own devices, I would be in dire straits.  He is keeping me close to Him out of His great love and mercy.  He is our Keeper.  There is no good in us, in our flesh.

What stood out to me was when Laurie said that God made me and “intended” my weakness.  I feel my flesh balk.  I don’t want to be weak.  I don’t like my weakness.  I want to be good.  I want to be okay.  I want to fix my weakness and I don’t want anyone to know I am weak.  Such ugly, vile pride.

But God intends our weakness to bring us to Christ.  If I were not weak, I would not need Him.  If I was not a sinner, I would have no need of a Savior.  I would have no need of grace.  God is glorified when His grace is displayed in wretched sinners.  It is in our weakness that others see God is strong.  May the Lord give us eyes to see that we are completely leprous from head to toe and that this truth would launch us to God’s grace, His righteousness, His power, and His glory and not our own.