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.)

 

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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.)

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.

 

 

Sin is Sin; God is God

Sin is sin. Half truths are not less ugly and do not hurt less than a BIG lie, and white lies do not create less darkness. There are no little sins. All unrighteousness, any deed violating God’s ‘Law of Love’, is sin. Sin is ugly. Sin hurts people; it leads to death. God is love; His ways lead to life. ~ag

“All who indulge in a sinful life are dangerously lawless, for sin is a major disruption of God’s order. Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin… sin is not part of his program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ… [DON’T BE DECEIVED.] It’s the person who acts right who is right, just as we see it lived out in our righteous Messiah. Those who make a practice of sin are straight from the Devil,… The Son of God entered the scene to abolish the Devil’s ways. People conceived and brought into life by God don’t make a practice of sin. How could they? God’s seed is deep within them, making them who they are. It’s not in the nature of the God-begotten to practice and parade sin. Here’s how you tell the difference between God’s children and the Devil’s children:

The one who won’t practice righteous ways isn’t from God,
nor is the one who won’t love brother or sister.
A simple test.

~1 John 3:4-10 (MSG)