RISING TO A LIFE OF VICTORY

[From Agreenwalt journal notes dated 2017-0117.]

PERSONAL VICTORY DEPENDS UPON:

  • HOW WELL YOU KNOW & TRUST GOD

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

  • HOW WELL YOU KNOW THOSE WITH WHOM YOU WALK

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

  • HOW WELL YOU ALLOW GRACE TO WORK IN YOU

    heb12-2-crossAs children of God we are instructed in His Word to do everything unselfishly, with actions that demonstrate “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” and do all things with an attitude as we were 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 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. Traps are usually hidden so that the prey doesn’t see it until upon it, perhaps until the trap 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”!
          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.  
          The advice I want to inject here is to pray a prayer of consecration on a regular basis. I usually fall back on, and suggest as a starting point, is David’s prayer found in Psalm 51.  The Father’s answers to my praying this type prayer is always eye-opening for me, giving one more opportunity to prune another “minor obstacle” from my life that has been hindering my total victory.

  • HOW WELL YOU RISE UP

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

Micah7-8Finally, do not allow past failures to haunt you.
Rise up 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!

~*~

OTHER SOURCES
Bible Versions:
NLT~New Living Translation;
NASB~New American Study Bible;
NIV~New International Version
NRSV~New Revised Standard Version
Pictures:
Micah 7:8
Acts 2:42
Hebrews 12:2

 

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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 .

 

“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