Blooming Among The Blaze

It seems the wintering left long ago with the winds howling in despair,
While fragrance of blossoms filled the air. 

The simmering summer seems to keep amidst the daze, 
And, yet, I sense the flowers will keep blooming among this blaze.  

Oh, I yearn for the leaves to begin their falling,
I close my eyes and see them drifting  and swirling,
Ever shading the ground’s eternal covering. 

 

Goldenrod (Asteraceae) field and a Red maple (Acer rubrum), autumn: Vermont
I sense the flowers will keep blooming among the blaze.

 

SOURCES
Picture– https://goo.gl/images/5B5ZRD
Poem– Blooming Among The Blaze–an original, introspective poem by agreenwalt, 2017-1015.
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“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!

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.

 

The Grace Pendulum Swings Both Ways

How does one lose salvation? Is it possible for one to become UN-“born-again”? What can separate us from the love of God? Does God ever disown His children? How important is God’s grace to your faith, your eternity?

Today, there is a liberal Pop-Grace Message out in the world being listened to by “itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). “Liberal” being the literal, strategic scratch, it tells the Body of Christ that confession and forgiveness of sin is no longer necessary. In short, Pop-Grace gives its congregations a license to sin, making holiness obsolete as a requirement to living the Christian life. However, God’s Word clearly addresses the subject of sin differently concerning ‘the world’ and ‘the church’. His way to treat a lost sinner is like one who is in need of a physician~ caring for him, presenting the ‘cure’ for his diseased heart. God is sterner in the way to treat a brother who has fallen into a sinful lifestyle; He tells us to forgive, but to separate ourselves from him and not to associate with him until he repents. (Mt.18:15-21)  In John’s latter writings, he implores The Church to live holy lives. He also reminds them of God’s faithfulness to cleanse and forgive any sins they may haphazardly commit.  The Voice Bible’s commentary on 1 John dispels the ‘pop’ view best:

The word “sin” has virtually disappeared from modern conversation. Afraid of sounding judgmental, we call sin something else—a mistake, an addiction, a tendency, a bad decision—and ignore it as normal and natural behavior. But John is calling the church to a radical holiness where those in the church will regularly remember their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Each sin, small and large, injures us or someone else; it imprints on our soul, makes us imperfect, and separates us from the perfect God. If we confess our sins to God each day, then He will purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him. [VOICE]

For some time and much to my dismay, I have heard teachings on the opposite, conservative end of the Grace Pendulum which leave me just as perplexed by their philosophy as I am by the more popular. This end may appear more stable and conventional, but somewhat misleading. Its teachings are based upon the judgment that “faith keeps us connected to God” which is true at face value, but they take the verse beyond the limit of the contextual meaning by defining faith in connection to “works” in the strictest sense. I refer to this end as the “Working Grace Message”.

The followers from the ‘working’ end have a certain train of thought and use The Word as the basis for their ‘faithful conclusion’ about salvation. They begin with the truth of “faith comes by hearing the Word” (Ro.10:17). Secondly, they adhere to another truth, found in the book of Acts about the importance of devoting time to fellowship with like-believers and the studying of the “Apostles’ teachings”~ the only form of New Testament available to The Church at the time.  Their reasoning seems to be if one cuts himself off from Christian fellowship, he will turn to corrupt worldly friends who will lead him astray, eventually “losing” his way, ending up in Hell (1Cor.13:33).  Thirdly, they perceive the passage “faith without works is dead” found in the book of James as a literal translation meaning that if one is not known for his charitable good deeds, he must not be “saved”. Mainly, this falling from grace theory comes from a misinterpretation of The Vine teaching in John 15 where it says unfruitful branches will be cut off and thrown into the fire. On the contrary, “the cutting away” does not refer to damnation, but to a “lifting up” as in intervention of sorts for a time of healing and restoration. Time and space limits my expounding any further so I urge you to study the entire passage both in context and in depth. The source I found most helpful on this subject is “Secrets of The Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson. Some even go as far to say that those without fruit do not lose salvation, but was never in God’s graces?!

The Grace Pendulum is swinging in full force these days, and is gaining momentum. From one end it swings by a great grace with a little faith to the other where it’s energized by a little grace and great faith, with both sides getting its followers into Heaven by “their own understandings”.  The ‘popular end’ guarantees Heaven with a grace blanket covering and the ‘working end’ ensures Heaven IF you “do” life right! I believe to some degree that the teachers who build doctrines from both ends are sincere, but as one pastor put it: “One can be sincere and still be sincerely WRONG!”

There is, yet, another trajectory to this ‘swaying’ pendulum. A position on grace where a hot air has blown the timing of the bob out of control, now encircling the world~ where grace never rests at all~ Universalism! This horde waves their “ALL ROADS LEAD TO HEAVEN” sign in the faces of the masses. In other words, they preach no grace or savior required! They seem to ignore most of the Old Testament and the New Testament teachings altogether. This fact leaves me speechless to say anything further on that subject. So there you have it; my quick, condensed version of the ‘grace’ swingings and goings on out there.

Whoa! Stop the pendulum! Exhale. Sigh. Breathe. Now, let’s consider a few pertinent questions. Does our faith keep us connected to God? Absolutely! Should the Christian lifestyle demonstrate faithfulness AND grace? Absolutely! Will we get just rewards in Heaven for the good works we do? Absolutely! Are we to live sinless lives; is it possible? Absolutely, on both counts! However, our salvation is not dependent upon any of these ‘absolutes’; we are simply “saved by grace through faith”. Is it not obvious that we should be asking the important question of where is that “amazing grace” we all so often sing about? Our individual faith is important, but let us remember it is God’s gracious plan which made it happen, and He continues making it available to whosoever believes!

pendulum-praying-hands
By faith in the redemptive work of The Cross, we have peace with God; Jesus has brought us to this place of grace. [Ro.5]
The pivot is what gives the pendulum balance. It is in the middle where the cord is in its “equilibrium” position, where it is stabilized, where it is at REST! So, let all of us who want to be full of grace decide to be like Jesus Himself~ full of grace and full of truth. Let us land at Grace’s pivotal point, right in the middle, the place where grace does rest, where love of God and faith in Jesus reside. David Rials, my pastor, says, “Love and faith are the pivot of grace.” I agree. Grace and faith are equally important when initially presenting salvation’s plan to the ‘The World’. AND (that’s a big ‘and’), God’s Word has something else to say about salvation other than how to get it. It has a lot to say about what it actually IS!

Salvation IS a new birth. Salvation IS restoration to a relationship with Father-God by being spiritually BORN into His family. “Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2Cor.5:17)  A commentary in The Voice Bible explains the ‘new birth’ and our reconciliation to God this way:

The power of sin and death has been eclipsed by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit breathes life into our mortal, sin-infested bodies—thanks to what Jesus has done for us. By sending His Son in “the likeness of sinful flesh,” God judges sin finally and completely. The sins of the world are concentrated and condemned in the flesh of Jesus as He hangs on the cross. So now there is no condemnation remaining for those who’ve entered into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  [Voice, Ro.8

The same power that raised Christ from the dead NOW makes alive your mortal bodies. ~Ro.8:11

 The truth of salvation is simple. The life of God IN US sustains us NOW and will throughout eternity. You see, even though I was raised in a denomination that does not believe in “once saved, always saved”, I gave my heart to Jesus in one that teaches otherwise~ a teaching of an ‘Eternal Grace’. Labeling myself as nondenominational all my adult years, I still lean towards the Eternal Grace ideology I learned there. I keep to the belief “nothing can pluck me from the hand of God~ nothing can separate me from His love”.  I trust in His saving grace to keep me. I trust His enabling grace to make me strong, to stand in face of adversities. I trust in His forgiving grace when I meet up with temptations. I trust the grace I found in the blood of Jesus flowing from The Cross that speaks “mercy” and tells me I am “the righteousness of God in Christ” when I “miss the mark of the high calling”. It is that eternal grace which gives me the confidence and boldness to go into His holy presence where I find even more grace in times of need.

~ ♥ ~
John 17:1-5
JESUS PRAYED THE NIGHT BEFORE GOING TO THE CROSS:
“Father, the time has come. Reveal the glory of your Son so that he can give the glory back to you…  …I have come bearing the plentiful gifts of God; and all who receive Me will experience everlasting life, a new intimate relationship with You (the one True God) I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to and fulfilled the mission.  And now, Father, reveal my glory as I stand in your presence, the glory we shared before the world began.”  
(LB; VOICE)

~~ ♥ ~~
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. …
… “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
~Ro.1:17,NLT

For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself,
no longer counting men’s sins against them but blotting them out.
…We are Christ’s ambassadors.
…pleading with you, receive the love he offers you—be reconciled to God…
~2Cor.5:19-20,LB

If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins,
He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises)
and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness]
and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness…
~1John 1:9,AMP

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching
and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
~Acts 2:42,NASB

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us
from the love of God
demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when
he died for us.
~Ro. 8:38-39,LB

 ~ ~ ~ ♥ ~ ~ ~ 

NEETER NOTE: For a deeper understanding of ‘GRACE’ and sanctification, read about SANCTIFYING GRACE~ (I like that terminology!). A quote from that source reads: “The doctrine is chiefly associated with the followers of John Wesley, founder of Methodism, from Wesley’s understanding of sanctifying grace. The doctrine is defined in Wesley’s book, “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection”… Christian perfection is commonly referred to as “going on to perfection”. … Perfection is the process of sanctification which is both an instantaneous and a progressive work of grace….” May I also suggest other ‘works of grace’ on the subject? For further enlightenment, I recommend Grace Works by Dudley Hall and any writings by Phoebe Palmer, The Mother of The Holiness Movement.  Grace be unto you, my dear fellow searchers.

SOURCES
Bible Gateway: https://www.biblegateway.com/

“Secrets of The Vine” by Bruce Wilkinsonhttp://catalog2.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&Search_Arg=2001001853&Search_Code=STNO&CNT=100

Picture: Praying Hands by George Hodan (public domain)

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

Christianity Today:  http://www.christianitytoday.org/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/

Bible Versions: VOICE~ The Voice Bible; LB~ Living Bible; NLT~ New Living Translation; AMP~ Amplified; NASB~ New American Standard.

 

 

Reflecting Refracted Light

What we ever receive is only a mere refraction of what The Giver has to offer.
What we ever receive is only a mere refraction of what TheGiver has to offer.

What we ever receive is only a mere refraction of what The Giver has to offer~ We can, however, enlarge our capacity to receive more of the offering. We must, first, expand our vision by allowing in more light and then reposition ourselves past our own zenith so we can see beyond the horizon. Then, and only then, are we enabled to reflect what we have received. ~ag(2015-0220)

~ ♥ ~

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning*.”

~Jms.1:17, NKJV

“But all things,
when their true quality is seen,

are made clear by the light:
because everything which is made clear is light.”
~EPH.5:13,BBE

“If you are filled with light,
with no dark corners,
then your whole life will be radiant,…”
~Luke 11:36, NLT

“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.
The Voice was and is God.
…His speech shaped the entire cosmos.
Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him.
His breath filled all things with a living, breathing light…”
~Jhn.1:1-5, VOICE

“The unspiritual self… can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit.
There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness.
Spirit can be known only by spirit–
God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion.”
~1Cor.2:14, MSG

~ ♥ ~

SOURCES:
*NetBible Note-
Jms.1:17 “variation or shadow of turning” (referring to the motions of heavenly bodies causing variations of light and darkness).

Dictionary.com -‘refraction‘- 

Picture– unknown; public domain

BIBLE VERSIONS: NKJV- New King James Version; BBE- Bible In Basic English; NLT- New Living Translation; VOICE- The Voice Bible; MSG- The Message Bible

Shortcomings and Recovery

“To be aware of one shortcoming* in oneself
is better than to be aware of one thousand in someone else.”
~ANONYMOUS

Recently, a Facebook friend whom I have known since high school posted the above quote*. She copied it from an AA recovery website of which she is a member. Keep in mind that ‘shortcoming‘ simply means “an imperfection or lack that detracts from the whole”. My friend and countless others have recovered from their their common ‘shortcoming’ to regain the essence of their lives.

The quote reminds me of  Matthew’s (7:1-5) and Luke’s (6:27-49) summaries of Jesus’ teachings about dealing with people mercifully, about not judging our neighbors when ‘we’ have not yet taken care of our own flaws.  Flaws such as addictions, bitterness, and other sins stemming from selfishness are the very imperfections we usually see in others, but somehow the same seem less obvious when looking in the mirror.  However, The Bible encourages us to examine ourselves and to seek God’s instruction in order to overcome the areas we “come short”. The Good Book calls this process ‘sanctification’.

Sanctification is gradual; it comes from faith-to-faith and glory-to-glory. It is a process which begins in each of us at our rebirths (new birth)  and continues until we reach our total glorifications when we meet Jesus face-to-face. However, we don’t all grow at the same pace. Therefore when dealing with others’ shortcomings and they with us, we find ourselves in need of a little love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. As well and more often than not, this life requires a whole lot of long-suffering before the growing process is finished. These essential attributes are referred to as “Fruit of The Spirit”. The are developed in us as we allow Holy Spirit to lead us through this life, teaching us God’s ways of dealing with each other and as we worship God in “spirit and truth”, getting to know Him better.  The “fruit” simply describe God’s character, His nature, His essence of life. In other words, we become more like Him, more like Jesus!

GRAPE CLUSTERS-Carmenere_grapes_close
“What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–” GAL.5:22
Jesus tells us that as long as we stay connected to Him (The Vine), we (the branches) will grow this fruit, abundant crops of it, enough to share with our neighbors. It is beneficial that we all grow in sanctification; it brings peace into the world in which we live and glory to The Kingdom of which we belong!

~ ♥ ~

“What happens when we live God’s way?
He brings gifts into our lives,
much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard–things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.
We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.
We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments,
…able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Gal.5:22,23, MSG

~ ♥ ~

Ro.1:17
NKJV

…the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith;
…”The just shall live by faith.”

NLT
This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight.
This is accomplished from start to finish by faith…

MSG
God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith,
confirming what Scripture has said all along:
“The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.

AMP
For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith…

 ~ ♥ ~

SOURCES
*DISCLAIMER– The quote at the top of this post was originally quoted using the word ‘shortfall’ instead of ‘shortcoming’. Perhaps the person used “shortfall” on purpose in reference to occurrences of “falling off the wagon” so-to-speak, but I changed it to make it grammatically correct for this blog posting. I have no way of verifying my thoughts on the original intent of the wording. I quoted it “anonymous” due to AA policy, and my source is not named in order to protect her privacy.

“Shortcoming.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shortcoming&gt;.

PHOTO— By Agne27 at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

BIBLE VERSIONS– MSG– The Message Bible; NKJV– New King James Version;  NLT– New Living Translation; AMP– The Amplified Bible;

“Are You Ready for Some Football!?” (Exercising Disciplines)

The very mention of ‘football’ this time of year will usually get people’s attention and initiate excited responses. But mentioning ‘exercise’ or ‘discipline’ at any given time usually brings a less than response by most; mentioning together probably doubly so? Equally so is only those who have seriously endeavoured to practice spiritual disciplines unto “perfection” will continue reading this sentence?  [Good, you are still with me.] Biblically, ‘perfection’ simply refers to spiritual maturity.

The Greek word for ‘perfection’ is “teleios“, meaning to make perfect; to carry through completely in order to bring to an end; add what is yet needed in order to render a thing full. James tells us the practice of not giving up, acting in shear endurance, persevering through all trials is what will develop such a “perfect spiritual  maturity” in believers (Jms.1:1-8). Of course, one cannot do that without knowing God. Knowing God takes a certain grace, but it begins with self-discipline in the basic spiritual disciplines, a personal effort towards learning God’s ways.

The basic spiritual disciplines are: worship (including singing, clapping, praise, etc in both personal time and congregational settings), prayer (including fasting and intercession), meditation (personally applying The Word that requires a step beyond reading and studying), consecration (self-examination with prayerful attitude leading to confession and repentance). The good news is God does not require us to learn these disciplines all alone. He continually encourages us to make use of like-believers’ insights. He gives us “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers… to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church” (Eph.4:11,12 NLT).  Of course,our ultimate help comes from Holy Spirit, Who lives in us; He is our “helper and teacher” (John 14:26). In other words, God expects us to work with His team to carry the ball to the goal. Using a similar analogy in “We Grow Through Exercise”, Warren Wiersbe expounds on the advantages of personally exercising spiritual disciplines as well as the disadvantages  when there is a lack thereof this way:

     There was a time in church history when believers delighted to discuss the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life, but today anything that smacks of discipline is branded as “legalistic” and alien to the New Testament  emphasis on grace. …[The church seems to be] looking for guaranteed shortcuts to maturity.
     

"WE WON! WE WON!"
“We won! We won!”
Some of today’s Christians remind me of the millions of fans who crowd the sports arenas and stadiums week after week, cheering their favorite teams to victory. After each game, these fans shout, “We won! We won!” when in reality the athletes did both the playing and the winning. All the fans did was pay for a ticket, fill a seat, and make a lot of noise. The spectators are the ones who need the exercise, but they settle for shouting, “We won!” and claiming the credit that belongs only to the disciplined athletes.
     It doesn’t take much effort to to be a successful spectator… the spectators don’t experience the joy that comes with being disciplined, working with teammates, and giving their best; nor do spectators win any awards. Too many evangelical church services are attended by enthusiastic people who buy their tickets (the offering), watch the game (the service), and cheer when there is victory… They know little or nothing about exercising the disciplines that transform spectators into winning athletes who glorify God.
     If you want to be a child of God who does more than watch and cheer, you’ll have to learn the disciplines of the Christian life. You’ll have to become a disciple. Disciples are believers who practice discipline. They understand spiritual exercise. 

 ~ ♥ ~
“…train yourself toward godliness. 
Although training your body has certain payoffs,

godliness benefits all things
—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming.”
1 Timothy 4:7b-8 (VOICE)

SOURCES:
30 DAYS TO DISCOVERING PERSONAL VICTORY THROUGH HOLINESS, by Bruce Wilkinson, chapter 9, “We Grow Through Exercise” by Warren Wiersbe.
Net.Bible.org
Biblegateway.com
VOICE- The Voice Bible
Picture image by Giovanni Gallucci from Plano, Texas (‘burb of Dallas), USA (You+Pics: SMU Mustang Student Spirit) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons