[From Agreenwalt journal notes dated 2017-0117.]



    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…”


    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!


    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. 


    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!



      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)

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
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.


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.

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!

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. I heard Pastor David Rials say, “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
“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.”  

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

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…

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.

Pastor David Rials is the lead pastor at Northpoint Church, El Dorado, AR.

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.




GIVE-Up, In, or ALLFACT: Life in this world can be difficult. All of us get to points at which we must either muster up courage to go on or give up. Of course another choice is to compromise and give in, relieving the pressure for a period of time. However, the trial will almost always returns in a more forceful attempt to get you to quit altogether.
TRUTH: Faith in Jesus Christ GIVES HOPE in all circumstances to endure them~ His grace is sufficient to not only carry us through but to strengthen us for whatever lies on the other side! His love never fails; trust it.

“Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory. And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.” 
~ROMANS 5:2-5, The Voice Bible