• IP addresses are NOT logged in this forum so there's no point asking. Members are encouraged to install GOM or HOLA or TUNNELBEAR for an added layer of protection.

    The SEX forum is HERE so please stop asking.

Just sharing.

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
He Spoke in Parables
He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'

Matthew 13:11-15 NIV

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The Parable of the Growing Seed

And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Mark 4:26-29 ESV

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And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

Matthew 13:3-8 KJV

__________________

What kind of soil is your heart?
What kind of fruit are you bearing for Him?

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.”

Song of Solomon 5:11

Comparisons all fail to set forth the Lord Jesus, but the spouse uses the best within her reach. By the head of Jesus we may understand his deity, “for the head of Christ is God” and then the ingot of purest gold is the best conceivable metaphor, but all too poor to describe one so precious, so pure, so dear, so glorious. Jesus is not a grain of gold, but a vast globe of it, a priceless mass of treasure such as earth and heaven cannot excel. The creatures are mere iron and clay, they all shall perish like wood, hay, and stubble, but the ever living Head of the creation of God shall shine on for ever and ever. In him is no mixture, nor smallest taint of alloy. He is for ever infinitely holy and altogether divine.

The bushy locks depict his manly vigour. There is nothing effeminate in our Beloved. He is the manliest of men. Bold as a lion, laborious as an ox, swift as an eagle. Every conceivable and inconceivable beauty is to be found in him, though once he was despised and rejected of men.

“His head the finest gold;
With secret sweet perfume,
His curled locks hang all as black
As any raven's plume.”


The glory of his head is not shorn away, he is eternally crowned with peerless majesty. The black hair indicates youthful freshness, for Jesus has the dew of his youth upon him. Others grow languid with age, but he is for ever a Priest as was Melchizedek; others come and go, but he abides as God upon his throne, world without end. We will behold him to-night and adore him. Angels are gazing upon him—his redeemed must not turn away their eyes from him. Where else is there such a Beloved? O for an hour's fellowship with him! Away, ye intruding cares! Jesus draws me, and I run after him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Why There Is No Remission Of Sin Without Sacrifice


The sacrificial system pointed to Jesus Christ Who would eventually be the once-and-for-all sacrifice for all those who would trust in Him.
Reasons for Offerings
There is such difficulty in determining a central theme of the Pentateuch but I believe that the five major offerings are of such great importance for the following reasons. First of all, the fall of mankind had severed the personal fellowship that Adam and Eve had enjoyed and had been blessed by in the Garden, and when sin entered in, God naturally could not dwell where sin is present for he is too holy to abide in the proximity of uncleanness. Therefore, the centrality of the purpose of the offerings reveals how sin required a blood sacrifice showing just how offensive and grotesque sin is.

Although these offerings could not take away sin but simply covered them (Heb 10:11), they clearly show that sin is costly and that restorative measures are necessary to atone for such offenses. These offerings are a shadow of the redemptive plan of God which was fulfilled in Christ at Calvary (Heb 10:22). The burnt offering symbolizes the totality of Christ’s offering to make us at one with God as it satisfied the wrath of God through Jesus Christ. Leviticus 16:17 reveals that until an atonement is made, one cannot even enter into the “holy place” until he has made “an atonement for himself, and his household, and for all the congregation of Israel,” and atonement required the shedding of blood (Lev 16:18).

The Hebrew word for atonement is “kaphar” is the same word used for “to coat” or “cover with pitch,” and even the secondary meaning is to “cover over”, “pacify,” or “propitiate” and was the same word used for the pitch that the Noah’s ark was to be covered with.1 As the flood waters symbolize God’s judgment, the “kaphar” (pitch) was used to keep the waters (God’s judgment on sin) out while covering those inside from death.

Cleansing Sacrifice
This theme is continued into the Old Testament since the offerings of Leviticus are shown to be fulfilled in Christ by the author of Hebrews but is also systemic throughout the Old Testament, perhaps no more clearly revealed than in Isaiah 52:13-15 and 53:1-11. We see His bearing our sins (53:11), and the Lamb slaughtered in our place (53:7, 12), thereby having His righteousness imputed to us (2nd Cor 5:21; Isaiah 53:11) so that we could enter into God’s presence (53:12).

Here is why David blessed the Lord’s name because he (and we) can be redeemed from the pit (Psalm 103:4) by the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 103:3; 130:4) which in Christ can blot out our sins (Psalm 51:1) and cleanse us (Psalm 51:2) and make whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7), but it is not by our effort but by an effectual work of God Himself who cleanses the heart (Psalm 51:10) after repentance and confession (Psalm 51:1, 3), knowing that sacrificial offerings really couldn’t take away sins (Psalm 51:16-17). Since God has forbidden the drinking/eating of the blood because the life is in the blood, we see the importance of blood in relation to its need for life because sin is mentioned 17 times alone in Leviticus 15 and 9 times in chapter 16.

Offerings Symbolism
There are five major offerings mentioned in the Bible, but I want to go outside of the Book of Hebrews to apply how the offerings are revealed in Christ that reflects the offerings in commanded in the Book of Leviticus. For example, the “sprinkling of blood” is mentioned (1st Pet 1:2), which must have been a familiar term to Peter because blood was thrown at the altar (Lev 17:6), then sprinkled on the mercy seat (Lev 16:14) and intended for the people (Lev 16:15), which was representative of Christ’s blood (1st Pet 1:19) with the purpose of putting our own flesh to death (1st Peter 3:18), and cleansing every one of our sins (1st John 1:8), and by His blood being justified and thus, spared from the wrath of God (Rom 5:9).

The propitiation by Christ’s blood that’s taken by faith was spoken of by the Apostle Paul (Rom 3:25) and is strikingly similar to that mentioned in the Hebrew word “kaphar” for covering, pacify, or to propitiate for, and the Greek word “hilastērion” relates to an “appeasing” or “expiation” and is also, very interestingly, used for the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies “which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement” like Noah’s ark was covered with pitch. [2]

Paid in Full
Even the peace offerings (Lev 3) required blood, and by the offering of Christ, this allows us to have peace with God (Rom 5:1) and having no more condemnation (Rom 8:smile:. Outside of these books and chapters mentioned, no single chapter of any book in all of the New Testament mentions the necessity of the shed blood more than Hebrews 9: The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies only by means of the blood (7), but today it is not by the blood of animals but by Christ’s own shed blood that we can enter into the Holy of Holies (12) which means being in the presence of God, and since animal’s sacrificial blood (13) didn’t really cleanse but covered, we needed perfect sacrificial blood which was supplied by Jesus Christ (14).

This was the sacrificial blood of the original covenant that God commanded (20) that was required to be sprinkled on the tabernacle, altar, and the vessels (21), which was a lesson that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (22). The high priest had to repeat what Jesus would do once and for all time, and with His own blood (25). Since the priests work was never done there were no chairs to sit on, but Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father since this requirement is completed, paid in full, or as Jesus said, “It is finished” or literally “paid in full.” The Greek meaning of the word is “teleō” which means to “bring to a close,” “to finish,” or “to end,” or as some translations have it, “paid in full.” The shadow is overtaken by the Real Substance, the Lamb of God. The shadow was inferior but the Light that caused the shadow in the first place is now hear (John 1:4-9).

Conclusion
The Old Testament sacrifices were a bloody reminder of how costly sin is and how difficult it was to atone for. The tremendous amounts of shed blood were to help remind the nation of Israel that sin is costly….it requires a life, and today it reminds us of just how costly it was for God to save us. God grants life through repentance and faith, just what Jesus said was necessary (Mark 1:14-15), but it also required the shed blood of Jesus Christ, so if the sacrifices teach us anything, it’s that sin costs us…and for those who have trusted in Christ, it cost Jesus His own life, but since He was sinless, the grave couldn’t hold Him (Acts 2:24), and neither can it hold us if we’ve trusted in Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 11:25-26)? That’s a very good question isn’t it? How will you answer it? Do you believe this?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
The God of all comfort
I love you, O LORD, my strength.
The LORD is my rock,
my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.

He is my shield and the horn of
my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

Psalm 18:1-3 NIV

__________________

Cast thy burden upon the LORD,
and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22 KJV

__________________

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NASB

__________________

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27 ESV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.”

Luke 24:16

The disciples ought to have known Jesus, they had heard his voice so often, and gazed upon that marred face so frequently, that it is wonderful they did not discover him. Yet is it not so with you also? You have not seen Jesus lately. You have been to his table, and you have not met him there. You are in a dark trouble this evening, and though he plainly says, “It is I, be not afraid,” yet you cannot discern him. Alas! our eyes are holden. We know his voice; we have looked into his face; we have leaned our head upon his bosom, and yet, though Christ is very near us, we are saying “O that I knew where I might find him!”

We should know Jesus, for we have the Scriptures to reflect his image, and yet how possible it is for us to open that precious book and have no glimpse of the Wellbeloved! Dear child of God, are you in that state? Jesus feedeth among the lilies of the word, and you walk among those lilies, and yet you behold him not. He is accustomed to walk through the glades of Scripture, and to commune with his people, as the Father did with Adam in the cool of the day, and yet you are in the garden of Scripture, but cannot see him, though he is always there.

And why do we not see him? It must be ascribed in our case, as in the disciples’, to unbelief. They evidently did not expect to see Jesus, and therefore they did not know him. To a great extent in spiritual things we get what we expect of the Lord. Faith alone can bring us to see Jesus. Make it your prayer, “Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may see my Saviour present with me.” It is a blessed thing to want to see him; but oh! it is better far to gaze upon him. To those who seek him he is kind; but to those who find him, beyond expression is he dear!
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Blessed Humiliation

Servants are people who care for others. True servants actively look for ways to help others by listening, watching, and paying attention. Servants are sensitive. They can tell when someone is hurting or in need. Servants know how to help others so that the one being helped does not feel demeaned or used. Serving is done for the benefit of others, not for the benefit of one's self. Servanthood is not a one-time experience; it's a way of life-one that takes a lifetime to learn. You don't become Mother Teresa in a week. True servanthood becomes more possible the more we hang out with Jesus, read about him, think about him, and talk about him. Jesus set the example. He not only washed the disciples' feet, he gave his life for them.

By the way, servanthood is also hard. And humiliating. And awkward. And difficult. But it's also blessed when you do it. Jesus said so.


Someone Just Like You:

The small-group leader had told Daryl he would really enjoy helping at the Special Olympics this year. Daryl thought, Oh, what the heck. I've never been around mentally challenged people before. I don't think I've even talked to someone with Down's Syndrome, so it might be cool. Daryl showed up for the Special Olympics and was introduced to Ellie, a young high school girl with Down's. Daryl took a liking to her immediately and took it upon himself to be her personal servant all day. Ellie had entered three races-the 50-, 100-, and 200-yard dashes. The first two went okay. Ellie didn't win either of them, but didn't seem to mind.

As the day wore on Daryl's experience with Ellie became more difficult and tiring. Daryl found it hard to understand Ellie when she talked-and she talked all the time. She became stubborn and uncooperative, even rude. To be honest, Ellie started to irritate Daryl, but he decided he could tough it out for one more hour, until Ellie's last race ended. Ellie was very tired and very irritable when the last race was announced. She alternated between refusing to move and crying. Daryl felt helpless and frustrated. He became short with her: "Ellie! Quit being a jerk and whining. You signed up for the race and you're going to honor your commitment." Ellie reluctantly agreed and did fine until about halfway through the 200-meter race. Suddenly she stopped running. The rest of the runners stopped, grabbed her hand, and tried to get her to run with them. Ellie refused. The rest of the runners finally went on.

Daryl was fed up with Ellie now. He walked over to her on the track and, without thinking, yelled at her, "Ellie, you are really acting selfish. Stop being so uncooperative!"
Ellie looked at him as tears slipped silently down her face. "I'm sworrrry, Daryl. I.I.don't feel so gwood." As Daryl turned back to her, she suddenly lunged forward and vomited all over the front of him.

Daryl couldn't believe how disgusting and awful this experience had turned out to be. Obviously angry, Daryl helped Ellie clean up, then he cleaned himself off and left as quickly as he could. He couldn't wait to get home and take a shower. The whole drive home he was thinking, Yeah, servanthood is great. You try to help people who don't want your help, won't cooperate and then throw up all over you. Fine, I did it once. Never again.

When Daryl got out of the shower his mother was standing at the door with the portable phone. "Phone call, Daryl. Says he is the father of Ellie, whoever that is."
Oh great, Daryl thought, now I'm going to get a lecture from him. Daryl grabbed the phone, "Hello?"
"Hello, Daryl, this is Don Sykes, Ellie's dad. She wants to talk to you."

Before Daryl could react, Ellie was on the phone. She was crying softly. "Uh, Dwaryl, I want to thank you for helping me today. Nobwody ever do that for me. I'm sworry I wasn't bery nice. I didn't feel gwood." Daryl wasn't feeling well himself. "But I guess you know I wasn't fweeling gwood. I throw up on you." Then she began to cry, "I sworry, Dwaryl."

Daryl was trying to hold back the tears himself. "It's okay, Ellie. I'm sorry for getting so mad at you."

"Oh, it's okay, Dwaryl," Ellie said. "I forgwive you. Lots of people get mad at me, but you didn't get mad like they do. Would . . . would you be my fwiend?"

Daryl was now very choked up. "Yes, Ellie, I would like to be your friend."

Suddenly Ellie began to squeal and laugh and clap. "Oh, goodie. You know what Dwaryl? I ownwy throw up on my fwiends."


Read It:
John13:2 4-5 12-17
See that guy on his knees washing the grime from between your toes? That's the Son of God

Life Hint
If being a servant was fun and easy everyone would be doing it. God chose you for a reason.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your strength.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your
heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children,
and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when
you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

__________________

We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Psalm 78:4-7 NIV

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Train up a child in the way he should go,
even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 NASB

__________________

And now a word to you fathers. Don't make your children angry by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction approved by the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4 NLT

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But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:14,15 NIV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it.”

Song of Solomon 8:13

My sweet Lord Jesus remembers well the garden of Gethsemane, and although he has left that garden, he now dwells in the garden of his church: there he unbosoms himself to those who keep his blessed company. That voice of love with which he speaks to his beloved is more musical than the harps of heaven. There is a depth of melodious love within it which leaves all human music far behind. Ten of thousands on earth, and millions above, are indulged with its harmonious accents. Some whom I well know, and whom I greatly envy, are at this moment hearkening to the beloved voice. O that I were a partaker of their joys!

It is true some of these are poor, others bedridden, and some near the gates of death, but O my Lord, I would cheerfully starve with them, pine with them, or die with them, if I might but hear thy voice. Once I did hear it often, but I have grieved thy Spirit. Return unto me in compassion, and once again say unto me, “I am thy salvation.” No other voice can content me; I know thy voice, and cannot be deceived by another, let me hear it, I pray thee. I know not what thou wilt say, neither do I make any condition, O my Beloved, do but let me hear thee speak, and if it be a rebuke I will bless thee for it.

Perhaps to cleanse my dull ear may need an operation very grievous to the flesh, but let it cost what it may I turn not from the one consuming desire, cause me to hear thy voice. Bore my ear afresh; pierce my ear with thy harshest notes, only do not permit me to continue deaf to thy calls. To-night, Lord, grant thine unworthy one his desire, for I am thine, and thou hast bought me with thy blood. Thou hast opened mine eye to see thee, and the sight has saved me. Lord, open thou mine ear. I have read thy heart, now let me hear thy lips.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Feeling Left Out

Just sitting down to write this chapter made us feel a little sad. It makes us sad because we know how much it hurts to feel left out. And if you're feeling that way, we want you to know we understand how you feel because we've both felt that way before. We've also talked to lots and lots of middle schoolers who feel that way, too. Feeling left out is no fun. We may not know the exact reason why you're feeling left out, but we do know a few of the common reasons why it happens:

Middle schoolers are selfish. Most kids your age are way more worried about their own survival, popularity, friendships, and so on than they are about yours. Because being in middle school is so tough, it's pretty common for middle schoolers to overlook the needs of their classmates because they're just too busy looking out for their own needs. In other words, sometimes people leave out other people not because they're trying to be mean or hurtful, but just because they aren't thinking about the other person at all.

Middle schoolers move in herds. What we mean is that most kids your age like to hang out with and spend time with other kids who look, act, and dress like them, and who do the things they like to do. It's super-easy for them to leave out other kids if they don't believe they have a lot in common with them. There are lots of other reasons, but those two are probably the biggest. So what do you do when you feel left out? Well, to be honest there's no easy answer to that, but here are a few thoughts:

Be yourself. Don't try to be somebody you aren't, just to fit in. Trying to change who you are will usually backfire on you. The people you're trying to fit in with
can tell you're trying too hard, and they may end up leaving you out even more.

Be friendly. There's a verse in the Bible that says one "who has friends must...be friendly" (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV). Sometimes people who've been left out a whole lot start to respond by shutting others out, treating them poorly, and acting like they really don't care. This just results in a crazy cycle of being left out even more.

Be an "includer of others." If you're feeling left out, you aren't the only one. What if you decided to find other kids who also seem to be left out and include them? Pretty soon you'd have a group of friends who no longer feel left out because now you've all been included--by each other. Pretty cool stuff!

Know that you're never alone. We know this sounds a lot like two middle school pastors talking, but remember that even if you feel alone, you aren't. God is with you; he's on your side and he wants to help you figure out this whole middle school thing.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Children - God's Blessing
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.

Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5 NKJV

__________________

Children's children are the crown of old men;
and the glory of children are their fathers.

Proverbs 17:6 KJV

__________________

He gives the barren woman a home,
so that she becomes a happy mother.

Praise the LORD!

Psalm 113:9 NLT

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And said to me, "Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.'

Genesis 48:4 NKJV

__________________

When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Mark 10:14-16 NIV

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.”

Hosea 13:5

Yes, Lord, thou didst indeed know me in my fallen state, and thou didst even then choose me for thyself. When I was loathsome and self-abhorred, thou didst receive me as thy child, and thou didst satisfy my craving wants. Blessed for ever be thy name for this free, rich, abounding mercy. Since then, my inward experience has often been a wilderness; but thou hast owned me still as thy beloved, and poured streams of love and grace into me to gladden me, and make me fruitful. Yea, when my outward circumstances have been at the worst, and I have wandered in a land of drought, thy sweet presence has solaced me. Men have not known me when scorn has awaited me, but thou hast known my soul in adversities, for no affliction dims the lustre of thy love. Most gracious Lord, I magnify thee for all thy faithfulness to me in trying circumstances, and I deplore that I should at any time have forgotten thee and been exalted in heart, when I have owed all to thy gentleness and love. Have mercy upon thy servant in this thing!

My soul, if Jesus thus acknowledged thee in thy low estate, be sure that thou own both himself and his cause now that thou art in thy prosperity. Be not lifted up by thy worldly successes so as to be ashamed of the truth or of the poor church with which thou hast been associated. Follow Jesus into the wilderness: bear the cross with him when the heat of persecution grows hot. He owned thee, O my soul, in thy poverty and shame—never be so treacherous as to be ashamed of him. O for more shame at the thought of being ashamed of my best Beloved! Jesus, my soul cleaveth to thee.

“I'll turn to thee in days of light,
As well as nights of care,
Thou brightest amid all that's bright!
Thou fairest of the fair!”
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
God The Evangelist


We are not really the evangelists…God is the true evangelist, and here’s why.

God Grants Repentance
I take heart in the fact that God is in control of salvation. From beginning to end, it is fully a work of God, but God does use others as a means to accomplish His purpose, and that purpose is sometimes met when God grants them repentance. The Apostle Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (1st Pet 3:9). And God doesn’t use the rich and powerful or even the persuasive of speech. He uses the least regarded and less significant people in the world to share the gospel because He is more glorified in it.

For many years I was ashamed of the gospel, stewing as it were…as a pew potato, but when I considered that we are all ministers of Christ, I confessed my negligence to the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8), but what really changed my way of witnessing was to discover the fact that the power is in the message and not the messenger and that God is the evangelist. God adds to the body of Christ – I do not. It is not our responsibility to save anyone – it is their response to His ability, but it is our responsibility to tell them. If the message depended upon us, then nobody would be saved. My converts have all washed out…but God’s converts are here to stay.

The Power in the Gospel
One of the most revealing Scriptures was Romans 1:16 where the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Later, Paul writes that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1st Cor 1:18). Paul acknowledges that “my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1st Cor 2:4-5).

The gospel is its own source of power because it’s God’s Word, and God’s Word has power to do what He wills it to do (Isaiah 55:11). Paul writes to the church of Thessalonica that, “our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” (1st Thess 1:5). This is what this looks like: the Word of God spoken by a person of God with the Spirit of God can make the children of God for the glory of God. It is “God-centered” because it is God-granted. The Apostle John says it was “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).


God at Work
The Spirit convicts us of our sins and makes us see our need for the Savior, and this makes us run to the cross for forgiveness, and there, we put our trust in Christ. All along, the Father has been drawing us to Christ. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44), so no person can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. The word used for “draw” is the Greek verb “helko” and means, “to draw or drag,” but as a metaphor, it means “to draw by inward power, lead, or impel.” The exact same Greek word was used in Acts 16:19 when Paul and Silas were “dragged” into “the market place before the rulers.” To be sure, if the Spirit of God does not quicken us, or bring us to life in Christ, we are deader than Lazarus who was four-days-dead!

We need a resurrection to be raised to eternal life, but the Apostle Paul tells us how this happens, writing that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2), but everything changed for us because “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:4-7). By Paul saying we are already “seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” he is saying that by grace we were saved and by grace we were raised to new like in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17). That’s why grace is so incredibly amazing. Lazarus could not have resurrected himself. Jesus didn’t ask Lazarus to cooperate and ask him to at least move a toe or blink an eye. Lazarus needed help.
Fear God or Man More?
We can trust the Word of God to do what it is set out to accomplish by God. Prior to His ascension, Jesus told the disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). There is no way that I’ve got power to go to the ends of the earth, but I can go to the end of my block.

God will provide the power of His Spirit to help us know what to say and when to say it, but we had better understand that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb 4:12-13). The Word does its job and God’s Spirit does the rest, and as the Jewish official said in trying to stop the apostles from preaching the gospel, “if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).

We have the great privilege of turning the world upside down, being named among those “who have turned the world upside down [and] have come here too” (Acts 17:6b). Since it’s a fallen world, maybe it’s that we turn the world right side up. The world just might not recognize it. The fear of man is a stumbling block for many (Prov 29:25), but who should we rather fear? It is God and so we should fear our being negligent in our carrying out the Great Commission, like for me, it was more like the great omission.

Conclusion
The Bible teaches that it is not God’s will that the wicked die outside of trusting in Christ, and even though God is drawing sinners to Christ, they still must choose to believe. We are responsible for our choices and will reap the consequences of those choices. Jesus gives us only two choices; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
All under sin
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

Isaiah 64:6 NIV

__________________

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Galatians 3:22 KJV

__________________

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23 NASB

__________________

For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

__________________

"There is no one so good that he can save himself; Neither is there any so bad that God cannot save him."

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Matthew 24:39

Universal was the doom, neither rich nor poor escaped: the learned and the illiterate, the admired and the abhorred, the religious and the profane, the old and the young, all sank in one common ruin. Some had doubtless ridiculed the patriarch—where now their merry jests? Others had threatened him for his zeal which they counted madness—where now their boastings and hard speeches? The critic who judged the old man's work is drowned in the same sea which covers his sneering companions. Those who spoke patronizingly of the good man's fidelity to his convictions, but shared not in them, have sunk to rise no more, and the workers who for pay helped to build the wondrous ark, are all lost also. The flood swept them all away, and made no single exception. Even so, out of Christ, final destruction is sure to every man of woman born; no rank, possession, or character, shall suffice to save a single soul who has not believed in the Lord Jesus. My soul, behold this wide-spread judgment and tremble at it.

How marvellous the general apathy! they were all eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, till the awful morning dawned. There was not one wise man upon earth out of the ark. Folly duped the whole race, folly as to self-preservation—the most foolish of all follies. Folly in doubting the most true God—the most malignant of fooleries. Strange, my soul, is it not? All men are negligent of their souls till grace gives them reason, then they leave their madness and act like rational beings, but not till then.

All, blessed be God, were safe in the ark, no ruin entered there. From the huge elephant down to the tiny mouse all were safe. The timid hare was equally secure with the courageous lion, the helpless cony as safe as the laborious ox. All are safe in Jesus. My soul, art thou in him?
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Stone of Help


1 Samuel 7:5-13

Then Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you."

When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.

They said to Samuel, "Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines."

Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel's behalf, and the Lord answered him.

While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.

The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."

So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.

Throughout Samuel's lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.

*Meditation*

In the Old Testament, the Israelites sometimes placed a large stone or built a monument to mark where God had done a great work. Those monuments helped them remember God is faithful. The monuments were often given names, as in this story, where Samuel names the spot Ebenezer, which means literally "stone of help."

Think of the moments when God has done great works in your life. In what ways do these experiences serve as monuments to remind you of God's ongoing work in your life?

Think about one of these moments. Did it occur on a retreat or at a camp? Perhaps at a worship service? Did it happen at a really good place in your life? Or did it happen during a really hard time? Name that moment and ponder it for a while.

As you look back at your "Ebenezer" moment, consider what you learned about God in that place. In what ways did God help you in that time? If there were a plaque with an inscription on that monument, what would it say?

In your time of reflection, take that moment and set it up before God as a stone that marks his presence in your life saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped me."
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Pride
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.

It is better to be humble in spirit with the
lowly than to divide the spoil with the proud.

Proverbs 16:18,19 NASB

__________________

To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.

Proverbs 8:13 NIV

__________________

He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife:
but he that putteth his trust in the LORD shall be made fat.

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool:
but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.

Proverbs 28:25,26 KJV

__________________

You rebuke the proud - the cursed,
who stray from Your commandments.

Remove from me reproach and contempt,
for I have kept Your testimonies.

Psalm 119:21,22 NKJV

__________________

You are proud because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. "Who can ever reach us way up here?" you ask boastfully. Don't fool yourselves! Though you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down. I, the LORD, have spoken!

Obadiah 1:3,4 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.”

Psalm 119:53

My soul, feelest thou this holy shuddering at the sins of others? for otherwise thou lackest inward holiness. David's cheeks were wet with rivers of waters because of prevailing unholiness; Jeremiah desired eyes like fountains that he might lament the iniquities of Israel, and Lot was vexed with the conversation of the men of Sodom. Those upon whom the mark was set in Ezekiel's vision, were those who sighed and cried for the abominations of Jerusalem.

It cannot but grieve gracious souls to see what pains men take to go to hell. They know the evil of sin experimentally, and they are alarmed to see others flying like moths into its blaze. Sin makes the righteous shudder, because it violates a holy law, which it is to every man's highest interest to keep; it pulls down the pillars of the commonwealth. Sin in others horrifies a believer, because it puts him in mind of the baseness of his own heart: when he sees a transgressor he cries with the saint mentioned by Bernard, “He fell to-day, and I may fall to-morrow.”

Sin to a believer is horrible, because it crucified the Saviour; he sees in every iniquity the nails and spear. How can a saved soul behold that cursed kill-Christ sin without abhorrence? Say, my heart, dost thou sensibly join in all this? It is an awful thing to insult God to his face. The good God deserves better treatment, the great God claims it, the just God will have it, or repay his adversary to his face.

An awakened heart trembles at the audacity of sin, and stands alarmed at the contemplation of its punishment. How monstrous a thing is rebellion! How direful a doom is prepared for the ungodly! My soul, never laugh at sin's fooleries, lest thou come to smile at sin itself. It is thine enemy, and thy Lord's enemy—view it with detestation, for so only canst thou evidence the possession of holiness, without which no man can see the Lord.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
How Generosity Changes the World…And You!



If we really understood how good things happen to those who are generous, we might all be a little more generous to others.
Blessed by Giving
God often uses others as a means to bless people, and so it is with believer’s who know enough to help when they see the need, but something more happens…sometimes later, or sometimes sooner…the person who gives is blessed. It may not be financial blessings but maybe a new relationship, a new opportunity, or some other blessing that comes unexpectedly. Solomon writes about this subject, saying that “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want” (Prov 11:24). The one who holds tight to what they have cannot receive back from God.

Only open hands can give and only open hands can receive. This means that “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered” (Prov 11:25). Many I know are blessed by giving to others, but they don’t give just so they can get more. They understand that, “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Prov 22:9), and “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Prov 19:17). When you see the generosity of others, you can see for yourself that “Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse” (Prov 28:27). You reap what you sow…but you also reap according to how much you sow.


Sinful Neglect
There is no excuse for the Christian to neglect his or her immediate family. Maybe that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). The Bible clearly teaches us to “look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others”(Phil 2:4). If we ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters, it is just like neglecting Jesus Christ because they’re part of the Body of Christ. What affects them affects Him.

The Apostle John wrote that “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” (1 John 3:17)? That’s a great question. Love is a verb. It’s what you do, and if we fail to do anything, especially if we have the means, then to us…it is sin. Jesus said that “when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:13), but don’t’ do it so you can get paid back later. Those who have little no nothing are probably not going to be able to pay us back, and besides, we don’t give in order to get. Jesus said if you give, just for the benefit of helping others, “you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14).

Old Testament Poor
The Old Testament laws made provisions for the poor of the land. They were allowed to glean the corners of the fields for grain or any that might be left over after harvest (Lev 23:22), but it also says, “you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God” (Let 19:10). These laws were not part of the Mosaic Law but part of the civil law of Israel. Just as there is today, there were poor in the land. Some became poor due to bad choices, but others from circumstances beyond their control. God knew that, and so He said, “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother” (Duet 15:7). God knew that there would always be poor in the land.

The Scripture says as much: “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land” (Deut 15:7). God wanted the Israelites, and I would imagine He wants us to remember where everything we have comes from. The Apostle Paul wrote, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Cor 4:7), therefore, “You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deut 8:18).

Final Judgment

When a believer faces Jesus Christ for the final judgment, it won’t be for their sins, but with respect to what they did for Christ while here on earth. Jesus sees you helping others as doing it unto Him (Matt 25:40). Many will claim to know Jesus Christ on the Day of judgment, but those same many will be turned away (Matt 7:21-23), having either done their works to be seen by others, or having done nothing for Him at all (Matt 25:40). Either way, their fate is sealed if they do not repent and fully trust in Christ. Whatever we do here on earth, God “will render to each one according to his works” (Rom 2:6), and “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Rom 2:7), however, “for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom 2:8).

Conclusion
Generosity is contagious. When you help someone, they might help someone too, and thus, it keeps paying it forward. Like ripples on a pond, our generosity extends beyond what we can even see, and like ripples, they return again to us in some other way. There is no doubt that God blesses those who bless others. When it comes down to it, Jesus says we must “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Eternal God!
Your word, O LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.

Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.

Psalm 119:89-91 NIV

__________________

Bless the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, thou art very great;
thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Who laid the foundations of the earth,
that it should not be removed for ever.

Psalm 104:1 & 5 KJV

__________________

And at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.

Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Daniel 12:1b-3 NASB

__________________

I will sing of the tender mercies of the LORD forever!
Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.

Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.

Psalm 89:1,2 NLT

__________________

Thanks be unto God for His wonderful gift:
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God
is the object of our faith; the only faith
that saves is faith in Him.
 

beensetfree

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
“Their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.”

2 Chronicles 30:27

Prayer is the never-failing resort of the Christian in any case, in every plight. When you cannot use your sword you may take to the weapon of all-prayer. Your powder may be damp, your bow-string may be relaxed, but the weapon of all-prayer need never be out of order. Leviathan laughs at the javelin, but he trembles at prayer. Sword and spear need furbishing, but prayer never rusts, and when we think it most blunt it cuts the best.

Prayer is an open door which none can shut. Devils may surround you on all sides, but the way upward is always open, and as long as that road is unobstructed, you will not fall into the enemy's hand. We can never be taken by blockade, escalade, mine, or storm, so long as heavenly succours can come down to us by Jacob's ladder to relieve us in the time of our necessities.

Prayer is never out of season: in summer and in winter its merchandise is precious. Prayer gains audience with heaven in the dead of night, in the midst of business, in the heat of noonday, in the shades of evening. In every condition, whether of poverty, or sickness, or obscurity, or slander, or doubt, your covenant God will welcome your prayer and answer it from his holy place. Nor is prayer ever futile.

True prayer is evermore true power. You may not always get what you ask, but you shall always have your real wants supplied. When God does not answer his children according to the letter, he does so according to the spirit. If thou askest for coarse meal, wilt thou be angered because he gives thee the finest flour? If thou seekest bodily health, shouldst thou complain if instead thereof he makes thy sickness turn to the healing of spiritual maladies? Is it not better to have the cross sanctified than removed? This evening, my soul, forget not to offer thy petition and request, for the Lord is ready to grant thee thy desires.
 
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