Friday, July 27, 2012

Matthew 5:9, Blessed are the peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
A peacemaker is someone who, rather than making war, makes peace.

A peacemaker is not only someone who brings a peaceful influence to a strained situation, although that is one important part of their role, but rather someone who takes the ingredients of a situation that may or may not have already begun to over-boil, perhaps adding a few special ingredients of their own, and making peace from what could have before only led to a charred and unappetizing mess for all involved.

I need to focus more on those times when I see tensions rising and the waters of life beginning to boil so that I can pray, calm down, pray some more, then roll up my sleeves and do what I can to keep temperatures in check and cooking on track so that we can serve the Lord a full course meal of our praise and ministry from every corner of our lives that will be pleasing in His sight and sit well on His tongue.

We have all been made sons and daughters of God through the Spirit of adoption [Romans 8:15; Galatians 3:26], but those who desire peace; love peace; those who are the peacemakers, THEY are the ones who are blessed and shall be called sons of God.

It is in my opinion that by nature anyone who truly believes in Christ and has accepted His gift of salvation must be or have become a "peacemaker" to one extent or another (regardless of if they are always the ones actually making any peace.) To me it just seems that if one has accepted forgiveness and desires after God some part of them must also desire and love and long after peace. It is fundamental to our lives in the Spirit, even if in the flesh we are often the ones to destroy the peace rather than build it.

However, how much more blessed are those who are not only peacemakers in their most inward and hidden parts, but who love peace with the entirety of their being, seek it, and are willing to struggle and grow by the Spirit through the anger, discontent, wildness and peacelessness possessed in the flesh; chains which we carry but are no longer bound to, that through the cross Christ broke and freed us from once and for all and has promised that through the Spirit those chains are not only broken, but by his power from us can be taken.

How can I be a peacemaker, blessed to be called a son of God?

God please teach me to show greater grace when wrongs are done and to confidently sow the seeds of peace into even the most tense of situations. Teach me to turn to you, my rock and my foundation, so that I would stand solidly in your peace and radiate it; to look to you when angers flare for the wash of your calm Spirit; that I would be one who actively seeks peacemaking for your glory amongst the children and to be your example amongst the lost. You have saved me, but please keep sanctifying me; I love you and want to honor you, may I be ever more like you.

Written March 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Acts 17:28, in Him we live and move and have our being

"for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'
Hallelujah, praise you God! You have held together all things. The matter of our bodies and the form of the very air we breath. By your power consists the sky, it's physical form of a gaseous space and it's visual breathtaking blue. Your hands hold the specks of dust dancing in the light of the noon day sun and the explosive bright and burning sun itself.

You held together the hands of those who beat your Son; it was by your will the reality of those whips and thorns which marred his flesh did not unravel before the eyes of his mockers. Your strength nailed him to the cross; it was you who held him hanging there. None took his life but Christ laid it down and you raised it up.

His murderers pay their price for the wrongs they willed to do, but it was by your will justice came on one who would receive the debt from those unable to pay.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. KJV

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NKJV; NIV; TNIV; HCSB

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. NASB; ESV

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. NLT

Nine major translations and none differ in any notable fashion for the words they chose in portraying this verse that captivates the truth of our salvation.

The payment for sin is death, that which is deserved and only right and good. Yet the gift of our God is a release from that which is deserved and the receiving of that which we could never deserve. (and what is a gift, if truly a gift, but a free gift? If not free then how a gift? What price or requirement does one lay on a gift? If a price has been paid in the receiving than there has been no gift given at all, but rather an exchange. A gift is not a gift simply for being called a gift, there needs to be more to it than that.) Though death on earth, no death in heaven, a resurrection of bodies to a resurrected world, a new earth, and an eternal life in, and through, and most wonderfully of all, with our Savior and Lord Christ Jesus the king, who was with God in the beginning, and through whom all things were made - without whom nothing was made that has been made.

None took his life, but he laid it down; by the authority of God his Father his life was his to lay down and his to take up again though having already lain it down. [1 John 3:16; John 10:17-18]

That God, that Jesus who gave his all and paid the price which only he could pay, the humble and exalted mighty Prince of Peace reached down to us, as a straw doll made in the likeness of man so too man made in the likeness of God, and having reached down Jesus took our hands and held us close filling these old straw bones once dead with a new and eternal life; by the adoption of the Spirit filling us with his Spirit and making us new creations in Him. [2 Corinthians 5:17 / alternate translation]

In God, sons; in Christ, brothers and heirs. [Romans 8:14-17]

I want to know more of the brilliance and mystery of God's mighty work in this world, and will be reading Christian literature addressing the wonders of God's creation and how much greater it is than we will ever know through science, seeing more of the world and from that seeing how much, much more only God really understands. He made the world and everything in it; He gives to all life, breath and all things; and in Him we live and move and have our being. I want to increase my wonder of God by knowing more and better knowing how little I know, by understanding the mysteries of his creation and seeing how many more there are.

I want to explore your mighty works that they might be revealed, that I might better see your glory! In that by you all things consist, the ocean sways, our human figures dance and my lungs fill with breath, what depths are the riches of your praise that from your mighty works I would be allowed to draw? [Proverbs 25:2]

Written April 27, 2012

When I look into the painted sky
I see so many colors
They're all a part of your design
It's such a brilliant display

I love the way the stars shine for you
And every single mountain bows down
I love the way the universe is singing your song
So I'll try to sing along

Looking up into the dark blue night
I'm in awe of your power
The way the moon pulls the ocean's tide
You are never contained - "Sing Along", by Sixteen Cities

Monday, July 23, 2012

Acts 27:17, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him

". . . so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though His is not far from each one of us;"
And what a beautiful thing it is. The Lord of heaven and earth and every created thing living or dead came down and touched broken man to save him from his own wayward nature. Sending Son to die as payment and Spirit to bring life to we who were already dead, the Creator of all things built a bridge that closed the gap of separation brought about by our own disobedient natures so that any willing to walk by the narrow road, desiring more than the cares and fleeting desires of this world, could come to Him, the Judge, seeking forgiveness; and find that their sentence for all wrong doings, for sin, has been paid for and God's wrath and judgement poured out on another, undeserving, who sacrificed Himself for us so that both the justice and mercy of the perfect and loving God would be brought about in full righteousness and truth.

More than this, having forgiven, the only God adopted as children those who were once lost and enemies of His divine and perfect nature so that they would be more than debtors and slaves bought with a heavy price by the sacrifice of Jesus, who is God and was sent by God, being Himself the eternal God, to come into the world in the form of man and free us from our own imperfect fallen natures, doing what we could never do, living a perfect life without sin, and accepting as one undeserving of death the death of a transgressor, a criminal, that of the cross, an execution, and more than these the judgement and wrath of a God who, though loving, being perfect and just, would act in imperfection and deny His very nature by allowing crimes and wrongdoings to go unpunished.

Seeking forgiveness we are forgiven, and the God of Creation receives not as debtors and therefore servants those who cry out to Him; but rather, by adoption, we are received as undeserving children through His Spirit and our dead souls are given new life, and in death we have no fear for the greater death which comes after. Before the judgement seat we are found as saints, His perfect children, whereas the unrepentant, those who in this life spat in the face of their Hope, the sacrifice and death of Jesus; the Spirit who convicts, offering truth and salvation; and God Himself who chose to make us more than stones and dirt by giving freewill and the freedom of choice and whom in freedom the unrepentant reject and blaspheme, will be judged as God who made all things finds just.

We come before our Father in heaven as loving children who were first loved, just as a child with their earthly father, and we thank Him for being a God so far beyond us yet willing to step close and wrap us in His arms, whispering, "Sweet child, you were unloved and yet I love you. Come with Me you who had no home and I will give you rest. You will be Mine and I will be yours, in this short and imperfect life I will guide you by the hand, I will be with you in your joys and your sorrows; in death I will receive you to a new place eternal, where joys are many and sorrows will not be known, and you will know Me as I have always known you. Come away from the fallen world, you do not yet know the lack of its satisfaction and have not yet seen the better things I have for you. You do not yet see Me but soon you will see fully. I have drawn close to you; wrap your arms around me and I will never let you go, for though you have not seen it long have my arms been around you, able to carry, yet you were unwilling."

Though eternal He has made Himself not far from us.

"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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
" [the words of Jesus, written in the book of John, his personal testimony to the life of Jesus, chapter 3; reference: "John 3:16-18"]

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [the words of Jesus, written in the book of Matthew, his record of the life of Jesus, chapter 11; reference: "Matthew 11:28-30"]

I will be prayerfully posting the above to facebook and writing it out to place in envelopes and give to my friends who do not yet know Christ in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him.

Written April 26, 2012

Michelle's study of Acts 17:27

Friday, July 20, 2012

Acts 17:26, their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Even in the most uncertain times.

Paul says in Romans 8:28, "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

It's not that "all things are good", but rather that "all things work together for good".

We preach no prosperity gospel.

The good message we have been given is that which was carried by Paul: from his brethren the Jews five times receiving 39 lashings, three times beaten with rods, once stoned and three times shipwrecked. Journeying often he faced perils of water, robbers, and the enmity of countrymen, his fellow Jews, and gentiles alike. Perils while in cities, wilderness and sea. He faced false brethren pretending to know Christ. For the gospel he was wearied, toiled and went without sleep often, at times naked and cold. [2 Corinthians 11:24-27]

It was the gospel carried by John whom Jesus loved, the beloved disciple, when exiled to the island of Patmos as an old man.

Ours is the gospel proclaimed by those 11 disciples who had to face the death of their Christ and with it their hope, only from it to grow beyond despair and find an even greater as they came face to face with their savior once again, having risen from the dead.

When we exercise we push our bodies to the limits so that they grow stronger and the load which can be managed before hitting our limit increases.

Sometimes God puts us through the hard times and experiences, allows us to experience our limits, so that our faith will grow stronger through a greater dependency on him.

It's easy to depend on God when our world is crashing down around us; but when everything is right as rain? When the sun is shining and the birds are singing and it's the perfect day to go lay in the hammock and take a nap?

Those days are a blessing from God, but it can be so easy to lose sight of him in the midst of them.

Although preaching to unbelievers we are assured by Paul's words that, regardless of circumstances, God hasn't been taken by surprise at what is happening. He pre-appointed the good times AND the bad; the boundaries of our dwelling whether a large house or a small apartment, even if we have no place to lay our heads [Luke 9:58], has been known by God and decided upon before time began.

I will set aside a half hour tonight to pray about things to come after I return home, mainly about my living arrangements and finding a job, but also wherever the Lord leads in prayer; that He would keep reminding me everything falls within his plans and that nothing catches him by surprise. Wherever I end up, I will be in the Lord's hands.

Written April 25, 2012
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As a praise report, I have since gotten a job working part time with my friend's dad and think the circumstances for getting the job, as well as the time I spent searching for a job, all fell together rather . . . 'divinely'; but you know, maybe that's just me. With flexible hours I'm able to help out at church as much as I like while still spending some time with my family, and even though I'm not making a ton of money with the hours I work, but should have enough saved to meet my first school payments and cover initial (and I mean very initial) living expenses come September.

On that note . . . if you would, please pray for me to find a place to stay and work, or more accurately the right sort of place to stay and the right sort of work, while attending the School of Worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The first semester starts the beginning of September and I am submitting my application tomorrow (or mailing it off anyway); all that is left is to record a sound sample (voice or instrument), transcribe my application questions (typed for editing and revision) onto the form (paper and pen) and send them off (envelope and stamp)!

I suppose before anything else you could pray for my application to be accepted too. (Perhaps prayers that I would stop thinking parenthetical monologues on inane details are in some way entertaining for you all would also be in order. Just kidding! I'm sure you all are rolling on the floor laughing right now. Because I'm hilarious. Totally. ;)

If you happen to personally think of any living arrangements or job positions opening up that might just possibly be an answer to prayer I wouldn't at all in the slightest be bothered by your sharing of this information. In fact, I might say thank you and shout hallelujah.

The school is located at the edges of Costa Mesa, CA and Santa Ana, CA; both cities are in Orange County and right next to Newport Beach. Anything come to mind for you? If you've been in the area but don't know of any employment opportunities I would still love to hear your recommendations for taco joints, parks, the best grocery stores, etc; basically anything that would be helpful for getting settled in, or maybe just fun stories about the place. What have been your experiences while living there or visiting, and what would your recommendation be for someone moving down there?

As an additional thought, it was my birthday 6 days ago and I gave it to charity:water. Curious? Clicky! Or paste http// up in your address bar! Pleeeaaase~? Receiving support for this fundraiser would kind of be one of the best present you could ever give me right now. (Other than giving a million dollars directly to me I guess, 'cuz then I could give over half and still have my living expenses covered for the year. :D Except I pledged my entire birthday, so I guess if it's birthday money I still wouldn't have those expenses covered for the year. Oh well, receiving a million dollars would still be cool insanely; or . . . I forget what I was going to say. I stared off into space for a second, and now I can't remember. This could be a sign I should get some sleep soon. D:? )

Comment written July 18, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Acts 17:25, as though He needed anything,

nor is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

We are his children who worship in Spirit and in truth.

More than any service or act of devotion, God cares for us, his children.

"More than the song I sing" God desires my everything, and I want to give him it joyfully.

I've been allowing myself to rollover and go back to sleep after the alarms have been turned off in our room, but I'm going to refocus on giving God my day by more intently giving him my mornings.

He isn't worshiped with men's hands, but I can glorify him in the secret hours of the morning by spending time alone with my loving father in heaven in thanks and praise, talking with him and thinking on the wonderful ways he works.

Written April 24, 2012
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"More than what your hands are doing, where is your heart?" - Michelle

Monday, July 16, 2012

Acts 17:24, "God, . . . "

"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.
Paul stood before a variety of men in varying settings.

Before hostile Thessalonicans and fair minded Bereans in the synagogues of their cities, in marketplaces and homes and now in the Areopagus of Athens preaching to Epicureans and Stoic philosophers who every day of their lives were surrounded by a multitude of gods.

Paul was not put off by their being curious for curiosities sake, if they would listen he would preach. It did not matter if they would accept readily or turn angry to bring chains, or mock him for his 'crazed beliefs' of a resurrection.

He didn't speak only to those desiring after God and Son. He spoke to all by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the United States we are rarely called to speak before those who would bind us in chains, torture or kill us for our beliefs.

More often we must speak before those who would roll their eyes and walk away, or laugh in derision. Before friends who won't hurt us, but may turn their backs or never look at us the same if we were to show the true face of a Christian, to display the honest love of an invisible God and the faith we hold in Him.

And it's hard.

And the idea hurts.

And it's lonely.

And more than these it's important.

It's love, the love we have for them and for our God, and it's the true value of our friendship.

When we know we will never die, and cry that they will die truly, why do we keep silent? Why do we stand by and watch as they go down the wide path to destruction? Why do we claim to care for them but won't share our faith? Why do I do these things?

What a selfish love is that!

God sacrificed His Son to die a sinners death and receive the fullness of His wrath, but I won't even risk paying the price of a relationship that, as it stands, will likely last at best a few years.

A relationship that, with a sudden change of circumstance, may end in a few short seconds at the hands of a crashing car.

I'm not trying to be "holier than thou".

I spent my time hiding in a class as the shadow on the wall and afraid to be any lonelier than I already was.

I stood and sang with the school choir without sharing that, for me at least, the words of those old hymnals rang true.

But I don't want to be selfish; I don't want to play the part of a coward, not anymore.

Thinking about all that Paul did faithfully following the Lord, I am reminded that though where I am I can't speak in person, I have left facebook unattended for quite a while and at least one conversation without response where I was sharing the truth, the gospel, the good news of Jesus. Tonight I'm going to spend some time on facebook prayerfully focused on glorifying my God.

Written April 23, 2012
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Philippians 3:16, to the degree that we have already attained,

Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
"to the degree we have already attained. . ."

Today's the second day in a row my IBS wasn't done in time for class.

I was doing better about getting my IBS done on time since coming back from the field, but I hit a snag with a busier schedule these past two days.

That isn't a very good excuse however because others finished their IBS for class.

I need to go back to working on my IBS the night before even if I must stay up a little late rather than trying to find time to do them during the day and look back on my applications since returning to the ranch, because I think I haven't been applying some.

I will also continue updating this blog with my inductive Bible studies after returning home.

Written April 20, 2012
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