This is THAT Church

This excerpt from TOZER: MYSTERY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT reveals A.W. Tozer’s vision for the local church. He preached this sermon to his own congregation about his expectations of what the local Spirit-filled church should represent and declare. At first reading, MY vision was expanded for local congregations. As you read these excerpts from this sermon, I pray it enlarges your vision for your local body of believers. It is my hope that each reader is as inspired as I am. Keep in mind that Tozer lived 1897-1963. It is now 2018 (at this writing), and I have found such a congregation to whom I have united 2. They look and act like the 1st Century Church. In fact, Holy Spirit spoke a confirming Word of Exhortation this very morning, and as soon as I heard the Word, “This is THAT church”, my mind went back to this sermon which I first read in 2011.   Be encouraged; I am. ~ag

TOZER ON THE LOCAL CHURCH

[excerpts from Chapter 10, pgs.129-142]

‘DON’T BEG GOD FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT’

 “…wherever Jesus is glorified,
the Holy Spirit comes…”.

Tozer-OnHolySpirit[pg.132] …when we give God His place in the church, when we recognize Christ as Lord, high & lifted up, when we give Holy Spirit His place, there will be joy that is not worked up. It will be a joy that springs like a fountain. So, that will be one characteristic of a Spirit-filled church. There will be a joyful people & it will be easy to distinguish them from the children of the world…

A church that is Spirit-filled will be useful to the race of man. …to the whole community. Because we are here, everybody ought to be better. …the neighborhood should be better because we are here. …A Spirit-filled church is useful to the neighborhood, useful to the sons of men, even the ones who are not converted; and it will be influential among the churches. I would like to see this church become so godly, so Spirit-filled that it would have a spiritual influence on all the churches in the whole city. …Paul told some of his people, “your Godliness and faith is talked about through all Asia Minor.”  It is entirely right that I could hope this in you, that I hope that we become so Spirit-filled. Walk with God, learn to worship and live so clean and so separated that everybody will know it and other churches in the city will be blessed because of it. ….
There is no reason why we should not be a people here so filled with the Spirit, so joyfully, singing His praises and living so clean in our business & home & school that the people would know it… Whenever you have a Spirit-fill people, you have a people that can live well and die well. …

Old Balaam wanted to die the death of the righteous, but he would not live the life of the righteous. …And a Christian ought to be able to live the life of the righteous. And a Christian ought to be able to die well; they should be able do that if nothing else.

There are some who won’t feel at home in a church like that; and if your hope is to have everybody and his brother on his mother’s side to just sit around and glow… it just will not happen that way. …There are some people who just do not want that kind of church, and I will name them now. [They are the] people who put on religion as a Sunday garment… [and the ones who] …have a wonderful way of disengaging. …on Sundays, they go and polish off their religion. Then evening… they put it on the shelf, and then on Monday they live the way they want… Now, nobody like that wants to hear me preach. Nobody. …I won’t surrender to that kind of thing, and I won’t surrender to that kind of people. …

The cross of Christ is revolutionary. And if we are not ready to let it be revolutionary in us, we are not going to like a church that takes the things of God seriously and let it cost us anything, control us in any way.  …A Spirit-filled church that practices the belief of the New Testament: and goes constantly to the grassroots and roots out everything that isn’t of God, keeps growing & …walks with God & obeys the truth & loves each other…

Now who are they?

Those who have a leading ambition to get rid of their sins. If you have not…, you will not like to hear me preach very often or long. …. There are some people that are overwhelmed with the desire to get rid of their sins. Those people will be happy among us. …Their only ambition is to walk with God and to follow (Jesus)…

Those who have learned to recognize the voice of the Shepherd… will be at home in a Spirit-filled church.The people who have learned to hear (His) voice can recognize it (and) are always at home where everything centers on Him. Jesus is all in all.

Then there are those who are sensitive to the invisible presence. …He’s a sheep who loves his Shepherd. He stays awfully close to the Shepherd.   ….

This is what I believe in: Jesus Christ; clean living; joyful, radiant, happy worship; good sweet fellowship and kindliness; patience & endurance & honesty; the missionary outlook & good decency; and a separation from all things that are wrong. Above all things, worship The Lord in the beauty of holiness, and learn to know the wondrous sound of the Shepherd’s voice.

That is what we stand for, that is what we believe in. That is what we are preaching.

~*~

In closing, I reiterate: The success and realization of a vision for any local body of believers depends upon everyone’s degree of dedication & sacrifice to walk in God’s grace AND to pray for each other so that none become tempted &/or deceived. It takes us united as a body as well as the ‘keeping’ of our personal relationships with God. With that said, I want to share 2 more quotes by Tozer:

“If you major on knowing God
and cultivate a sense of His presence in your daily life,
and do what Brother Lawrence advises, ‘Practice the presence of God’ daily
and seek to know the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures,
you will go a long way in serving your generation for God.
No man has any right to die until he has served his generation.”

 

“…the cross of Jesus Christ always changes that path (of the norm),
always gets in there
and makes a man (and woman) change his life.”

 

 

CITINGS-REFERENCES-SOURCES

1– TOZER: MYSTERY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, A.W. Tozer, 2007, Bridge-Logos Publ., Paperback, 180 pgs. 0882703420 (ISBN13: 9780882703428)
[Original Title Tozer: Mystery of the Holy Spirit]
Picture- Goodreads

 2– Wings Of Love Family Center, Industrial Rd. El Dorado, AR—Pastor Rex McDaniel.

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RISING TO A LIFE OF VICTORY

[From Agreenwalt journal notes dated 2017-0117.]

PERSONAL VICTORY DEPENDS UPON:

  • HOW WELL YOU KNOW & TRUST GOD

    God is always our destination; His ‘deliberate’ plan(s) will always draw us ever-closer to Himself. Our part is to ‘deliberately’ get to know Him and the working of His love better and better, which usually means getting out of our personal comfort zones and entering His presence even when our personal schedules seem too crowded to do so! (Refer to Paul’s prayers for the Church, and use your faith to BELIEVE HIS LOVE. He has a plan for YOU!)
    Col.1:9,10-NLT “We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your lives, and we ask him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and you will continually do good, kind things for others. All the while, you will learn to know God better and better.”
    Phil.1;9,10-NASB “…that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent…”

  • HOW WELL YOU KNOW THOSE WITH WHOM YOU WALK

    Acts-2-42-clip-artThe logos of God’s Word is about relationships; primarily, the Bible speaks of God’s relationship with His man. On the other hand, God also commands His man to love his neighbor as much as self. In the New Testament, God emphasises that His children show love one towards each other.
    The Greek word for the real relationship between His people is ‘k
    oinoniawhich refers to fellowship and communion between two or more persons. It is about being “like-minded”, but the relational idea carries a deeper understanding of KNOWING one another resulting in a bond from working side-by-side towards a common goal. This word is reportedly used 20 times in the New Testament. The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, (NIV) “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word, ‘ya`ad’, is used to express this type of fellowship of walking together with like-mindedness. It is translated as “having met” in Amos 3:3 and “betrothed/engaged” or “in agreement/assembled in the same place” in the other passages. These two words express the deep relationship God intends for His Church. In fact, He expects this unity among believers! (Ps. 133:1-3; John. 17; Eph. 4:1-3)
          When we know the heart-intentions of our fellow-laborers (co-workers, partners, spouses, etc), we will not mistake their actions as evil towards us and/or our goals for the work. Therefore, Satan will be less likely to use our friends and loved-ones as weapons formed against us, especially in our own minds. The pace of unity is a key factor when “walking together”. Do not allow misunderstandings to become weapons of distention between those with whom you labor~ KNOW their hearts!

  • HOW WELL YOU ALLOW GRACE TO WORK IN YOU

    heb12-2-crossAs children of God we are instructed in His Word to do everything unselfishly, with actions that demonstrate “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” and do all things with an attitude as if we are working for Jesus, Himself. (1Cor.16:14; Ro.5:5; Col.3:23) To do this, we must keep ‘agape’ as the main motive in all our tasks just as Jesus did when He walked this earth. Jesus kept His purpose in mind, in everything He accomplished by leaning on Holy Spirit to help Him deal with the people in the daily problems that arose and the minor obstacles that could have otherwise led Him off His path~ the plan of redemption depended upon it! He persevered by keeping His eyes onthe joy set out for him” and “endured the cross” (Heb.12:2). Let’s define “daily problems” and “minor obstacles”.
          ‘Daily problems’ are those circumstances and/or physical ailments which have the potential to affect your emotions and moods which can in effect keep us from accomplishing that day’s goals. Jesus kept His emotions in tact; He angered and sinned not even when He caught the people violating the temple. In other words, we keep the flow of grace at work in us by keeping a check on our love walk towards others!
          ‘Minor obstacles’ are more personal in nature. They are those areas in us that we have remained undisciplined and continually tempt us into wrong behavior, usually by reacting in a wrong way to people and/or the situations. Temptation is always a trap set by Satan, set with an alluring bait. Traps are set hidden so that the prey doesn’t see it until right upon it, if at all, and then, it snaps shut! Learn to recognize the ways Satan has of trapping you; use this knowledge so that he cannot trip you up again on that “minor obstacle”~ make him change his bait!
          Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:41, “The flesh is weak”. The Message paraphrases the entire verse which also gives us the answer this way: “Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger. There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”  
          Prepare NOW for the next temptation by deciding NOW how you will “act” when you face it. The biblical reference for this mode of action is found in the book of James (chapter 1). The passage refers to “tests and trials”, but certain situations also tempt us to react in ungodly ways instead of responding in a “right way”. If we prepare by setting our hearts to respond rightly to those things (or people) that irritate us, then we are halfway to victory before the trial comes.
          For example, one of my pet peeves is when people result to passive aggressive behavior, perhaps to deal with their own pet peeves? The day I realized how often my reactions caused me to trip/miss the mark (sin). Frankly, I was weary in having to repent on a regular basis!  So, I ask TheLORD to help me make a new plan for when I encounter those traps. Then, I made a decision to follow through. I DECIDED to: 1)SMILE! I will smile instead of reacting with ugly words; I will smile and say nothing! I will be enabled to smile each time by remembering that it’s only a test and that I have chosen to walk in love because “love covers all sin”. 2)PRAY. I will pray that the right & godly response be revealed to me and for the grace t respond accordingly.  3)GIVE THE GODLY RESPONSE. I will respond in the way that Holy Spirit guides me, even the answer is, “do nothing”. I choose to obey His instruction even if the ‘right response’ seems (to me) to reinforce their passive-aggressive behavior. 4)TRUST GOD. I will pray for the person(s) involved whenever they cross my mind and trust God to deal with them in His own way.  
          Temptations are a test to our faith levels, a test on how much we have allowed The Word to change us. The advice I want to inject here is to pray a prayer of consecration on a regular basis. I usually fall back on David’s prayer found in Psalm 51. Allow me to suggest it as a starting point. The Father’s answers to my praying this type prayer is always eye-opening for me, giving one more opportunity to prune another “minor obstacle” from my life that has been hindering my total victory. 

  • HOW WELL YOU RISE UP

    Even though the righteous falls seven times, he rises again.” (Pro.24:16) The number ‘seven’ always refers to a completeness in quality, a perfected result. The word, ‘rise’, in this context is about rising up after “falling” into traps by evil plots set up against you. Therefore, we can infer that this verse refers to the truth that the righteous win in the end with a completed and perfected work on their behalf. (Jms.1:4; Phil.1:6) The righteous are able to get up again and again because of the grace God gives His own. The strength of the righteous is God’s strength working in them. God’s love never fails them.
          I suppose I need to define what is meant by “the righteous” in this context. It includes those who willingly choose to follow God’s ways and live by faith. Abraham had righteousness allotted to him because of his unfailing faith in God’s promises. Net Bible’s note about the Genesis verse explains it as God’s response to Abraham’s “evidence of steadfast commitment.”  In other words, Abraham’s committed loyalty in obeying God’s ways was a lifestyle that he lived in search of the promises made to him!
          We always have a choice in how we conduct our lives. When the ‘Children of Abraham’ reached the promised land, Joshua told them, “Choose this day whom you will serve… As for me and my house, we will serve TheLORD.” (Joshua.24:15, NRSV) New Testament believers are “the righteous of God in Christ”, “born of incorruptible seed” into the very family of God! As such, we are expected to live victoriously by allowing Holy Spirit to work in us. We can only develop fruits of righteousness by allowing Him to do His work~ allowing the work of the zoe-life of God in us to come to the surface. Again, it’s a choice. 
          Choosing to RISE UP and live this way, will guarantee that your ‘falls’ will have no ill effects on His work accomplished through you; you will have victory in the end as long as you continue to rise above the falls. Always remember the strength found in the JOY of your salvation, and regain your peace! (Phil.4) And, always be willing to help your co-laborers rise up so you can continue your “walk together”.

Micah7-8Finally, do not allow past failures to haunt you. Use these life experiences as measuring points; they are your faith-to-faith moments when you get up and reset your focus on the road ahead. Rise up, put on your armor, lift up your shield of faith, and SAY to your taunting mind:
“Even though I may fall, I will rise. 
I shall never stay down; I will not quit. My God is the lifter of my head. I choose to live a victorious life because I am the righteousness of God in Christ. My steps are ordered of TheLORD. I will rejoice in Truth and Righteousness. I practice righteousness by exercising my faith in all situations. The power of His love is ever changing me. I cry out for more of Him and He answers my cries. Impatience has no place in me. I wait upon TheLORD and He renews my strength as the eagles’.  I lift my voice in singing His and I dance in His joy. I will trust Him because His love endures forever. He is gracious and merciful to me; my hope is in Him alone. It is by His wisdom my house is built and by understanding it is established. AMEN!

~*~

EPHESIANS 6:10-17

      Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places. And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. Yes, stand—truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, 15 and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. 16 Don’t forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (VOICE)

OTHER SOURCES
Biblegateway -Ephesians 6 (Voice, AMPC, TLB, MSG)
Bible Versions:
NLT~New Living Translation;
NASB~New American Study Bible;
NIV~New International Version
NRSV~New Revised Standard Version
Voice~ The Voice Bible
AMPC~ The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
Pictures:
Micah 7:8
Acts 2:42
Hebrews 12:2

 

“That” Is Personal!

Jesus died to save you from THAT!

“From ‘that’ what?” you may ask.

The truth is Mary gave birth and called her son Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” [Mt.1:21]  ‘Sin’ can be defined as anything that interferes with anyone getting to know God better. In that case, any bad habit we have that interferes with anyone else drawing closer to God is a “that” (a sin).

“… we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and run with endurance the race set out for us,
keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
…he endured the cross, … has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
… so that you may not grow weary in your souls and give up. …”
Heb.12:1-4 (NET)

So, according to the writer of Hebrews, “that” is the sin, what some might call a ‘bad habit’, which “so easily hinders” YOU in your progress towards becoming more intimate with God (NLT)—Yes, “THAT” is personal!

This saving truth may be made clearer in reading these words by Charles Finney1Finney-PrinciplesofUnionwithChrist

“Jesus Christ saves His people not only from hell, but also from their sins… YOU have no Savior if you are not saved from your sin in YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE.”
“Jesus Christ…is not only a justifying Savior, but also a purifying Savoir… He saves from hell only upon condition of His saving from sin.”
“YOU must know by your own personal experience what Christ meant when He said, ‘YOU are already clean because of the word I have spoken to YOU!YOU must know His love and know that YOU are washed clean by the shedding of His blood.”

And, by the Words of The LORD, via Ezekiel:
“For, here’s what I’m going to do: … gather you from all over, and bring you back… I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands… I’ll be your God!” Ez.36:24-28 (MSG) 

Yes, “that” is a personal thing to God; He provided a way to salvation FOR YOU so you could become personally His! Accepting Jesus’ salvation from hell gives YOU the ability to embrace and personally confess salvation’s Truth:

Jesus was crucified in MY place to die in MY place as a sacrifice so MY sin could be forever forgiven. He, now, sits at the right hand of The Father’s Throne so I CAN sit in Heavenly places. Jesus defeated sin’s hold on ME and His grace is sufficient so I CAN LIVE FREE FROM SIN while here on this earth.

 

SOURCES
1
Finney, Charles G.  “Jesus My Savior”, Chapter 2, Principles of The Union with Christ, Charles G. Finney, Louis Gifford Parkhurst Jr., Ed., Bethany House Publishers (1994).

2 John 15:13

Picture:  goodreads.com

Bible Versions: NET- New English Translation; NLT- New Living Testament; MSG- The Message Bible.

A GOOD, RIGHTEOUS MAN…

The following is my rephrase of Proverb 12 with a focus on the attributes of the “righteous man”. However, I have gleaned from numerous Bible translations available to me at the time of this writing. Therefore, the phrasing in some cases are not my own, and I have not intended to present them as such. As a mother and grandmother, my intent in taking on this endeavor and making it public is to encourage young men of faith to ‘stand’ stronger for Christ in their everyday lives. May every reader be blessed! ~ag

pr0-12-3

According to Proverb 12, a good, righteous man… 

1) … is not stupid; he gladly receives correction because he loves knowledge.

2) … obtains favor from The LORD.

3) … has “deep roots” that make him stable in all his ways. He cannot be uprooted; he is steady because he is established in the faith.

4) … chooses a wife of noble character and appreciates her help that comes from a good reputation.

5) … makes and follows justly-advised plans.

6) … speaks faith-filled, life-giving words which protect him from the need of rescue.

7) … “stands firm”; he establishes his home on the unshakable Rock of Salvation.

8) … is commended for his prudent wisdom (good sense).

9) … understands that pride comes before a fall, and remains humble before his God. He doesn’t concern himself with notoriety; he knows his God as his source for all things needful.

10) … shows kindness by regarding for the needs of his animals. [The Voice Bible commentary on v.10: “Those who are righteous treat their animals humanely…”—A person in a positive relationship with God stands in a right relationship with His creation. How we treat animals may mirror our souls—not just the pets in our home, but the pets in our neighborhood and the animals in our food supply. One who is truly right with God considers the needs of His creatures.]

11) … doesn’t try to live out idle fantasies, but understands the principle of cause and effect, and works his purpose towards abundance.

12) … desires that his root flourishes, produces so that his success blesses others.

13-14) … escapes trouble by faith-filled words of praise, emphasizing the God-given promises which produce as surely as “the work of his hands rewards him.” [see v.6~ Faith speaks!]

15) … “listens to wise advice.”

16) … is not quick to show “his annoyance”, but instead, responds with empathy and a willingness to guide with practical wisdom and skill in order to give good counsel. [meek and “prudent”(Strong’s #7919)]

17) … has an honest testimony that represents Truth.

18) … is not harsh, but speaks deliberate, encouraging words that can heal a broken spirit.

19) … speaks Truth.

20) … reaps joy as a promoter of peace.

21) … is blessed by things meant for his harm being turned for his good—“No harm befalls the righteous.”

22) … delights The LORD because of his faithful truthfulness and honesty.

23) … doesn’t flaunt his knowledge; he uses discernment on when to speak and when to be silent. In other words, “The wise man sits back and listens while the foolish man tells all he knows.” (unknown) [see v.16]

24) … is not lazy; he leads with diligent hands.

25) … doesn’t worry, nor listens to negative reports—he is careful what he hears! (Phil.4)

26) … “is cautious in friendship”—uses discernment in choosing whom he allows to be his friend, but is always a friend to his neighbors. [“Bad company corrupts…” ~1 Cor. 15:33]

27) … “prizes his processions”, not allowing them to go bad by neglect—he is grateful.

28) … has eternal life.

~~ ♥ ~~

SOURCES

Picture: Proverbs 12:3 nlt | by Bob Smerecki .

Bible Versions:  Amplified Bible, Emphasized Bible (aka Rotherham), Jerusalem Bible, Message Bible, Net Bible, New International Version, New Living Translation, Revised Standard Version, Voice Bible.
(Disclaimer: To the best of my recollection, this list contains the Bibles I read concerning this study. However, it may not be all inclusive.)

 

It’s Insanity!

insanity-doing-same-thing-dogball

Insanity:
Doing the same OLD thing (again),
expecting NEW results.
~ag

Defining ‘insanity’ as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” is often attributed to Albert Einstein. In looking up the spiritual aspect of the word ‘insanity’, I ended up with the term, “BACKSLIDINGS” which refers to a turning back from, defecting, a state of faith-LESS-ness. It comes from a root word meaning ‘to return’, a turning away from God’s ways and revert back to sinful ways. In other words, backsliding is “to LAPSE” in the practice of spiritual obedience and responsibility. Reverting back to the old sinful life is INSANITY! I mean, really, exactly how well did it work out for you the first time?
In Jeremiah 3:22, Come back to me, you wayward people. I want to cure your waywardness…” God regards backsliding as a condition that requires HEALING! The word translated ‘cure’ (Strong’s #7495) is the Hebrew word meaning “heal”. The Message paraphrase reads: Come back, wandering children! I can heal your wanderlust! Say: “We’re here! We’ve come back to you. You’re our own true GOD!” 

(VOICE)Eternal One:
Come back to Me, My faithless ones, and I will heal your faithlessness.

God was asking them to repent and go back to living His ways. He says to His people, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” This word ‘heal’ in the Hebrew word refers to recuperation and mending, not only of the personal emotional distresses caused by sin, but also of a restoration back to a state of blessedness. God is faithful to His faithful people!

BAPTIZING “THE CHURCH”

A NOTE CONCERNING BAPTISM IN MATTHEW’S GOSPEL

baptism-Ro6

As “THE CHURCH”, we need to re-think our requirements about baptizing converts. When it comes to ‘baptizing’, shouldn’t JB (John, The Baptist) be our model?! JB required evidence of repentance as a prerequisite to being a candidate for baptism. His call to “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” [Mt.3:3,NIV ] was preparation for salvation through repentance. He preached (Mt.3:2), “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (NASB)…Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near (NLT)…Change your life (MSG).” Only when the people showed evidence of living Godly ways, and only then, did he allow the people into the baptismal waters. He baptized them with water as a sign they had “cleansed” their lives through repentance (see v.7-11 below).

In verse 11, JB says, “the one coming after me is more powerful than I am… (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”. The reference to “baptize with Holy Spirit” is a reference to the actual NEW BIRTH at the point of Salvation. The old spirit man dies and a NEW SPIRIT comes into existence IN YOU! Note that ‘fire’ is a term to mean a total purification would take place, not just a ‘washing’. The salvation Jesus brings* does not just wash sins away, it rebirths every “whosoever” who believes and confesses~ brings forth evidence! 

I found a good explanation of Biblical baptism (#907) at NETBible.org:

“The clearest example that shows the meaning of ‘baptizo’ (#907) is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words (‘bapto’ and ‘baptizo’). Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto-#911) into boiling water and then ‘baptized’ (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. “Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. “When used in the New Testament, this word (#907) more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism. e.g. Mr 16:16. ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved’. Christ is saying that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with him, a real change, like the vegetable to the pickle!”
(Bible Study Magazine, James Montgomery Boice, May 1989).

My point?

Jesus said, “GO! Make disciples….” I know of few denominations and even fewer local church facilities that follow JB’s example of established, evidenced repentance as a prerequisite.  However, I am convicted that DISCIPLESHIP classes should be offered as an integral part of The Church’s baptising services. Otherwise, it is a disservice to ‘the world’~ SELAH!

~*~

Mt.3:7-11, VOICE, including commentary-in bold.
But John is not exactly warm to all those who come to him seeking cleansing.

He (JB) told some Pharisees and Sadducees who came for the ritual baptism,… “You children of serpents! You brood of vipers! Did someone suggest you flee from the wrath that is upon us? 8-9 If you think that simply hopping in the Jordan will cleanse you, then you are sorely mistaken. Your life must bear the fruits of turning toward righteousness. Nor are you correct if you think that being descended from Abraham is enough to make you holy and right with God.Yes, the children of Abraham are God’s chosen children,but God can adopt as daughters and sons anyone He likesHe can turn these stones into sons if He likes.”

To be made right with God, one must truly repent.
It means to turn completely away from sin and completely toward God.

“…I ritually cleanse you through baptism as a mark of turning your life around. But someone is coming after me, someone whose sandals I am not fit to carry, someone who is more powerful than I. He will wash you not in water but in fire and with the Holy Spirit. He carries a winnowing fork in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor; He will gather up the good wheat in His barn, and He will burn the chaff with a fire that cannot be put out.”

~*~

Romans 5:20-6:6, VOICE

5:20 “When the law came into the picture, sin grew and grew; but wherever sin grew and spread, God’s grace was there in fuller, greater measure. No matter how much sin crept in, there was always more grace. 21 In the same way that sin reigned in the sphere of death, now grace reigns through God’s restorative justice, eclipsing death and leading to eternal life through the Anointed One, Jesus our Lord, the Liberating King.
6:1-6″How should we respond to all of this? Is it good to persist in a life of sin so that grace may multiply even more? Absolutely not! How can we die to a life where sin ruled over us and then invite sin back into our lives? Did someone forget to tell you that when we were initiated into Jesus the Anointed through baptism’s ceremonial washing, we entered into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through this baptism into death so that just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One, we, too, might walk confidently out of the grave into a new life. To put it another way: if we have been united with Him to share in a death like His, don’t you understand that we will also share in His resurrection? We know this: whatever we used to be with our old sinful ways has been nailed to His cross. So our entire record of sin has been canceled, and we no longer have to bow down to sin’s power.” 

~*~

*For further understanding of the New Birth/Salvation brought by Jesus’ Blood, see the  New Testament letters to the Romans and Ephesians.
Bible Versions: NIV~New International Version; NASB~New American Standard Bible; NLT~New Living Testament; MSG~The Message Bible; VOICE~The Voice Bible.
Picture source: QuotesGram (It is my understanding it is a public domain image.)

Waiting to “Be Courageous”

Sometimes it takes more courage
to stand your ground and wait
than to jump in and save the day!
It takes trust to be truly courageous.
—ag, 2016-0305

“Not yet.… not yet.… not yet.… not yet.… PULL THAT PEACH!”

Those words are from a recent (2015) funny Yoplait commercial which demonstrates the message that waiting for precise moment is essential to obtaining the best results.

 

lion-scarface
“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God…” ~Ps.31:24, MSG

Be strong and courageous in TheLORD. True courage has an attitude; it is called patience. Patience reigns our faith, holds us back from acting too soon. Whereas faith gives us a zealous expectancy of “things hoped for” and our trust in God gives us the courage to carry out His plans with expected zeal, patience controls our zeal. It keeps us from “leaning towards our own understanding”and allows us to “wait upon The LORD” so that we do not get ahead of God’s timing.  In this context, the Biblical definition of ‘strong’ means to persevere or remain consistent by waiting patiently, to stand still. The wait is not a permanent stance; it is staying in a watchful position, to “catch”the right moment, like a lion waiting for the exact moment  to pounce, in order to assure his victory in the end.

 

A perfect example of my point is found in the story of Peter when he so courageously cut off that soldier’s ear. Jesus had a better plan, but Peter just jumped in to save the day before considering a “better and more excellent way”. Then, as you may remember, Jesus had to correct Peter’s act of haste before continuing to handle the situation. Now, I don’t think anyone would call Peter a fearful man, but in that instant, Peter’s haste was based on a fearful instinct of defending Jesus and his friends. He wanted to change the circumstance in which they found themselves. Fearful situations seem to have a way of compelling us into feats of haste instead of faith.

To further emphasize this thought here is an excerpt from “COURAGE” by Frances J. Roberts.

   There are many places, My child, where only sheer courage will see you through. Prayer is the breath of the soul. Faith is paramount. Love is the essence of pure being. But none of these will suffice in the hour of stress if you have not courage.
…Courage makes perseverance attainable when encouragement is nowhere to be found… when love is gone, faith is wavering, and prayer is difficult.
Courage rises like the delivering angel out of the deep unshaken assurance of the immutability of the character and faithfulness of God… Courage keeps the destination in view and heeds not the intervening obstacles….
…Courage is the simplicity of knowing: God is working out His purposes through every circumstance of my life. His plan is GOOD, and how He chooses to act is none of my business, and whom He uses to bring it about is not my concern.

~~*~~

Joshua 1:9
“Be strong and of good courage;
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”

 Psalm 27:14
“Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous…”
NLT

“Wait {and} hope for {and} expect the Lord;
be brave {and} of good courage
and let your heart be stout {and} enduring…”
AMP

“Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! …”
NetBible

Psalm 31:24
“Put away fear
and let your heart be strong,
all you whose hope is in the Lord.”
BBE

“Be strong and let your heart take courage,…”
NASB

“Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up.
Expect GOD…”
MSG

~~*~~

SOURCES

You Tube— Yoplait Funny Commercial 2015– (link inserted above)

Hebrews 11:1— “things hoped for”

Proverb 3:5 “…leaning not unto our own understanding…”

Hebrews 8:6– “…better and more excellent way…”

“COURAGE”–Roberts, Frances J. Make Haste My Beloved,p. 86-87. Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Ed.

Bible Versions: MSG~ The Message Bible; NLT~ New Living Translation; AMP~ The Amplified Bible; BBE~Better English Bible; NASB~ New American Standard; NetBible~ Net.Bible.org .

 

The Perfect Work of Patience

LET PATIENCE HAVE ITS PERFECT WORK IN YOU
“But let endurance {and} steadfastness {and} patience
have full play {and} do a thorough work,
so that you may be perfectly and fully developed [with no defects]…”
Jms.1:4, AMP

The other day, Honey told me, “You would be much happier (less frustrated) if you were more patient with me.” How wise he is… However, developing patience should not be a goal with such a selfish motive attached, right?! Hahaha…. Impatience with others can cause unkind words to fall from our mouths, in reaction to the feelings of frustration in us. This can, in turn, can cause feelings of inadequacy in our loved ones and discourage them from trying.  I am an encourager; it is my gifting. Therefore, ‘impatience’ should have no place in me. I am child of God; therefore, ‘impatience’ should have no place in me.  Let’s declare it, “Impatience has no place in me!”

“Only love has the power to silence the ego and temper the will. In so doing, it is working patience in the soul. Patience knows no demand. Patience does not relate to and is not impulsed by self-will. Patience is content to be ignored and unrecognized, because it knows the purposes of God are majestic and unfathomable and move in a sphere untouched by petulance…”
[Roberts, Frances J. Make Haste My Beloved, p. 88. Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.]

These words propel me into singing, ♫The Power Of Your Love Is Changing Me1 Changing Me♪♪♪ My Heart Is Open Wide♪♪♪ I’ll Never Be The Same♪♪♪ I’m Calling Out For More♪♪♪ I’m Singing Out My Praise♪♪♪ I’m Pouring Out My Thanks♪♪♪ Lifting Up My Voice♪♪♪ Dancing In Your Joy♪♪♪ The Power Of Your Love Is Changing Me, Changing Me♪♪ ”.  Singing those words is a great meditation tool! By the way, if you have not yet heard the entire song I was singing, I encourage you to find it online–after you finish reading this, of course. But let’s continue our quest towards love’s perfect work.

Many times people have frustrated me and I have not always responded in “lovely” ways. I regret to admit it, but I have lashed out with impatient and sometimes unkind words. However, the love God “has poured into our hearts 2” enables us to change so that we are able to love as He loves.  Even though I have failed many times, God keeps working in me and gives me the grace to get back up and try again.

“Even though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again” Pro.24:16.

That verse in Proverb 24 is encouraging in that “seven” refers to a completeness and perfection. No matter how many times Satan attempts to make us fall or how thorough his efforts seem to be, they are null and void because the work of righteousness IN US is complete and perfected. In other words, the ‘falls’ have no ill effect on the work we have accomplished for God’s Kingdom thus far, and we have His grace to continue our journeys. Each fall we may experience can only affect us and our purposes, dreams, and missions to the extent we allow.

Pro24-v16-CharlieBrownLucy-football

Therefore, do not allow past failures to haunt you! Say, “NO MORE!” to the taunting voice of your mind. Let the righteous say: “I’ll get up and I will not quit. My steps are ordered of TheLORD. I rejoice in Truth and Righteousness. The just live by faith; therefore I exercise my faith in all situations. The power of His love is changing me. I call out for more of Him, and He answers my cries. Impatience has no place in me. I wait upon TheLORD, and He renews my strength as the eagles’. I lift my voice in singing His praises and I dance in His joy. I will trust Him because His love endures forever and never fails me. He is always gracious and merciful to me. My hope is in Him alone. It is by His wisdom my house is built and by understanding it is established.”

~ ♥ ~
When we allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives,
He will produce in us:
love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self–control.
Gal.5 (LB)

… God keeps at bringing the work of faith in us to a flourishing finish…
Phil.1:6; Ro.1:17; 1Peter 1; 2Peter 1

Ro.5:52
NASB~ “…the love of God has been poured out within our hearts…”
NLT~ “…we know how dearly God loves us, because
he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

~ ♥ ~

SOURCES
Roberts, Frances J. Make Haste My Beloved, p. 88. Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

1 “The Power of Your Love (Is Changing Me)”, Travis Cottrell, Unashamed Love (album), Released 2003.  http://traviscottrell.com/music/

Media Picture~ I believe the media picture to be public domain; any infringement on ownership is unintentional. The characters in the picture are Charlie Brown and Lucy from the Peanuts Comic, originally drawn by Charles Schultz.

Bible Versions: AMP- Amplified Bible; LB- Living Bible; NASB- New American Standard Bible; NLT-New Living Testament.

 

Immanuel~ Still With Us?

At Christmastime it’s so obvious (hopefully) what we are celebrating & Who we worship, but what about the rest of the year? In December we hear most people sing out “Merry Christmas!”in celebration of the birth of Jesus, or at least personalized versions of a holiday greeting. In January, we bellow out “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”  Our voices may remain “cheery” after the midnight cry, but conversation seems to change from peace and goodwill toward others to resolutions to be a better ‘self’. Where does all the SELF-centeredness come from all the sudden?

What happens in that one week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day? As we begin to pack up all the Christmas décor and store it away until next year, do we pack up all that we say we believe about Christmas into the boxes, too? What remains? When people walk into your house, what do they see? Where are the gifts of peace, hope, and love that we talked about those few weeks? Look around; is there still evidence of your faith? Faith in Jesus as ‘Immanuel’? Is He truly still “with you”?

HarkHeraldAngelsSingLyrics

When the angels sang, “Glory to God in The Highest…” about the “good tidings of great joy”, their joy was not just about Jesus’ birth, but the significance of His coming to Earth~ the incarnation of God in man. He grew in knowledge and statue, and He LIVED A LIFE in order to give us abundant lives full of blessings and joy. So, let’s resolve to live ours abundantly, proving to Whom we belong. When we do, we will find that those gifts of PEACE, LOVE, & GOODWILL are still with us~ and much more.

Let’s make a RESOLUTION TO SING HIS PRAISES throughout this New Year. Afterall, the angels are still singing; He is Immanuel. 

♫♪ ~ ♥ ~ ♪♫

 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

(Listen by clicking.)

 ~ ♥ ~

NOTE:  These post-Christmas thoughts came from my thought process in January 2012, about how people perceive our homes as they enter into our livingrooms. 

THE PRESENT MORAL VACUUM GIVES IMPETUS TO A SPIRITUAL HURRICANE

BE ENCOURAGED!

“We can be encouraged that true revival can change the moral climate of a community and a nation. When God finds a people who have the will and spirit to pray, the courage to preach, and live a life of consecration and holiness combined with compassion He can really begin to work. The hand and touch of God on ordinary people wholly consecrated to Him can make a huge difference…
…There is a great vacuum of death, despair, and darkness in our culture right now. There is a great God vacuum of true spirituality, which means hope springs eternal for an intense spiritual hurricane. Be encouraged.
Let it begin with you.” ~Bert Farias

via THE PRESENT MORAL VACUUM GIVES IMPETUS TO A SPIRITUAL HURRICANE.