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Seeing Yourself - By Pastor Thomas Engel

Have you ever been to a carnival where it has those mirrors that are bent in different ways?

Depending where you stand in front on them, the mirrors can make you look short and wide or tall and thin.

It’s fun to look at yourself in different ways.

On my phone, I don’t have any pictures. I’m not a person who takes selfies because I don’t think I’m very photogenic.

I’m never sure how to hold my mouth when it comes to smiling. When the person says on the count of three say, “Cheese!” I say “cheese,” but I think I look weird. Maybe I need to say something instead like “Bologna.”

It just so happens on the news this week that a study shows how 5.9 percent of men think that they do not take a good picture.

I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum.

How do you see yourself? Do you take a good selfie?

Well, let’s start off how you see yourself in the morning right after you get up. You take a look in the mirror and say, “Ugh!” Not a time to take a selfie for your Facebook profile. Does it take a shower and a few cups of coffee before you start looking and feeling like you can meet the day?

When you come home after a day at work, can your loved ones at home tell by your face what kind of day that you’ve had?

Often, we wear our state of mind and feelings on our faces. By looking at us, another person will ask, “What’s wrong?” or ask, “Why are you so happy?”

Life’s situations can leave us thinking many kinds of thoughts and feeling all kinds of emotions, and they often show on our faces and in our attitudes.

Even when talking on the phone, your friend might say, “You are sounding stressed.”

In a way, what we are thinking and feeling about our current situations affect our overall condition. Things in life happen, and we react to them.

Those reactions are natural.

But, how true is it that what we are thinking and feeling in any moment is giving us the complete picture of how we are?

Not to minimize any moment in our lives, especially when we are going through a deep loss, but, at any time, we do have a lot of good going for us.

Really, when looking at it all in a certain way, we are perfectly well all the time.

If we were to look at ourselves in this certain way. I wonder how we would be seeing ourselves in any given situation that comes our way, any situation from the most tragic to the happiest.

It’s in this way that we can see ourselves in all of our situations.

Before we talk more about this certain way, we need to see more about our situations that come into our lives.

The reason that we need to talk about how situations is that they can get deep.

In the Old Testament Reading, here is what God says about situations: “When you go through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not go over you: when you go through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flame will have no power over you.”

These verses remind me of what St Paul says about situations: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I

am to be content. I know how to be

brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger,

abundance and need.”

Also, he says in a pointed way,

“We are afflicted in every way, but not

crushed; perplexed, but not driven to

despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;

struck down, but not destroyed.

Do you see a common theme here?

How about we use some secular sayings to sum things up? Some sayings like, “I never promised you a rose garden.” “Into everyone’s life some rain must fall.” “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.”

We don’t need Scripture to tell us that life has its tough times. Life can throw at us some hard stuff.

Ask anyone on the street if life has its ups and downs, and I’m sure any person will say, “Yea, life can dish out all sorts of things.”

God was speaking to the Nation of Israel when he talked about going through water, rivers, and fires.

Looking back at their history of slavery, wandering through the wilderness, and fighting enemies, we can assume that they knew about hard times.

God told them that they would go through hard times, and those times might get deep to seem like that they are drowning you and burning you up.

Any day of life tells us that we will go through some kind of hard time.

Another saying here, “It never gets easy, does it.”

And, we might know that we will probably get through these hard times.

If we look back at life, we see that we have gotten this far.

So, it makes sense that we will keep making it through.

But, doesn’t it seem that troubles keep coming?

Don’t we get the thought and feeling at times that a day will come that we can’t handle?

Don’t we still live in fear that something will come along that will consume us?

Is there something out there that will grab us and pull us down that we can’t get back up?

I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like I’m getting burned up.

We know we go through hard times, but how sure are we that we will always get through whatever kind of time that we are going through?

Let’s do a confidence check right now, or since we are in this place of faith, let’s do a faith check.

How are you seeing yourself as a person who believes that you will get through whatever life situation that you are in right now?

How are you seeing yourself that come what may that you will get through it?

It’s not that I’m trying to get us to imagine the worst that can happen, but in looking at the world as it is, reality is looking overwhelming right now.

We try to come up with solutions that will get us out of our messes.

I have to admire the human spirit, but we are limited and that is what can cause fear to come as we do see hard times that are rather deep.

St Paul says he has secret how to get through all of what comes his way.

We hear of that secret today.

St Paul knew he could through anything because he was seeing himself as God saw him in Christ.

When we are talking about all there is to fear in life, I think we will say things like, illness, loss, despair, hardships. toils, struggles, and death.

A little bit of a long story going back to shortly after creation about how all these hard things and death came into the world.

For our purposes here today, I won’t go into the details now, but I think we know it’s all the result of sin.

Sin happened, and there were the hard results of sin.

Here’s the secret:

St Paul says this about it all:

“For his death was a death to sin, but his life now is a life which he is living to God. Even so see yourselves as dead to sin, but living to God in Christ Jesus.”

So, in all of our situation in life, how do we see ourselves?

We see ourselves as living to God in Christ Jesus.

In living to God in Christ Jesus, we have all that Jesus won for us by his death and resurrection.

In Christ Jesus, we have his victory over all that wants to harm us.

Take a minute here and see yourself in whatever struggle that you are having.

Then ask yourself how are you actually seeing yourself.

Are you seeing yourself with St Paul’s secret?

Do you see yourself as a person who is dead to sin and alive in Christ?

As much as I want to believe in the human spirit and ingenuity, the world is in a mess.

As I look at my life, I identify with St Paul. I have some up and downs going on.

As you look at your life, I hope things are going pretty well for you, but my guess that you are having some issues with something, and I hope not too deep, but even if the issues are deep right now, how are you seeing yourself?

Let’s do this.

Let’s get in on St Paul’s secret of seeing ourselves as alive to Christ.

We see ourselves having all that Jesus has come to bring us by his life, death, and resurrection that gives us victory over all that wants to harm us.

With no doubt, we get in deep in our situations sometimes, and the world is deep right now in hard times.

So, let’s do this, and by faith we can do this quite well, see ourselves as we truly are, alive in Christ Jesus, and then, let’s see what happens in our lives and in the world.

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