Friday, June 29, 2007

WORTHY is The LAMB !

Worthy is The LAMB !

Worthy is The LAMB that was slain !

Worthy is The LAMB that was slain to receive
power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.

Blessing and honor, glory, and power be unto HIM that sitteth upon the Throne
and unto The LAMB for ever and ever.

THOU+ are worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honor and power:
for THOU+ hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

HalleluJah! For The LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH !

Weep not: behold, the LION + of the Tribe of Judah, the ROOT + of David,
hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.

THOU+ are worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof.
For THOU+ wast slain and hast redeemed us to GOD by Thy Blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation and hast made us unto our GOD kings and priests and we shall reign upon the earth.

Holy, Holy, Holy LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,
Which was, and is, and is to come.

HalleluJah ! For The LORD GOD OMNIPOTENT REIGNETH!


These Revelation Lauds are found in chapters 4 and 5 ... and in the mouths of the four and twenty Elders and 4 Living Creatures who are before the Throne of the Living GOD. They never cease their lauds; why should we?

These lauds are part of my First-fruits, the first prayers of the day. I like to acknowledge exactly Who+ The LORD really is, what exactly HE+ accomplished, and what HE+ is about to do next!





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Monday, June 25, 2007

MAKE YOUR OWN PRAYER BOOK .... ....for individual worship times at home...

Psalm 93

93:1 The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty;
the LORD is clothed with strength,
wherewith he hath girded himself:
the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.

93:2 Thy throne is established of old:
thou art from everlasting.

93:3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their waves.

93:4 The LORD on high is mightier
than the noise of many waters,
yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

93:5 Thy testimonies are very sure:
holiness becometh thine house, O LORD, for ever.

We do not need to be spoon-fed by the ministers and pastors. We must learn to worship, to pray, to return to the LORD throughout the day, stopping our duties and chores for a short period of time. It corrects the vision, straightens the heart, and brings about a closeness with the LORD. In order to do this, use the Psalms and Scriptures and lauds from the ancient church and compile your own, individual book of prayers, psalms, and spiritual songs for your times of private devotions. If you home-school or have a household, copy them for each one plus visitors and put them in those flexible 3-ring-binders available in most stores.

The times of prayer that the early church followed was this: first fruits, for morning prayer, for the Apostolic prayer times of 9 a.m, noon, and 3 p.m, for evening prayer, for completion of the day (complines). These times of prayer were originally based on the Ancient worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. They sang certain Psalms at certain times of the day. They offered certain, specific prayers at certain times. There were antiphonals ( responsive, answering back and forth) readings and hymns. We can do this also.

The Episcopals, Anglicans, Lutherans and United Methodist (in the 50's, not now) all have books of common prayer. These contain the order of worship that is generally followed during public service.

If you look at these prayers, praises, psalms and hymns contained in the above standard books of prayer, you will see that they are NOT blasphemous.. i.e., no Mary worship nor veneration of saints... and their prayers incorporate lots of Scriptures.

It is easy to compile your own, however, as we have done at the Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD. In our research, we discovered that the Early Christians handed down some STANDARD HYMNS or lauds that were not long. They have been retained by some of the high church groups. A few have been retained by the low church (i.e., less formal) groups.

NO CHURCH GROUP has the monopoly on these ancient, early lauds and hymns that have been in the Christian church since its beginning. Do not let the Latin names (or Greek names) of the titles scare you; the English translation of the titles will do just fine. In other words, they can be used by all Christians. We use several ourselves.

However, having said that, some of the high churches have done some things that are exemplary and quite in keeping with the early church. They have done some things that help us towards the worship of The LORD JESUS CHRIST.

We found that the Roman Catholics, for example, always put the Gloria Patri at the end of a Psalm or Scripture passage, when quoted or sung or chanted. The Gloria Patri belongs to every Christian; it is NOT the sole possession of the Roman Catholics. It is a worthy praise:

Glory be to The FATHER, and to the SON +, and to the HOLY SPIRIT; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever, shall be. World without end. Amen.

Thus, at the Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD +, we end every Psalm or Scripture reading with the Glory be... [ the Gloria Patri ]. We try to make a distinction as we follow the church calendar between the Psalms and lauds we worship with in the morning and evening. At morning, for instance, we focus on the might and majesty of The LORD and we pick the Psalms which reflect WHO HE+ IS and what HE+ is coming to do. There are many, many passages to choose from, so let The LORD lead you and your household in compiling your own home Prayer and Worship Book.

Instead of your minister or pastor spoon-feeding you, you will become a strength unto him to help feed the flock who won't feed themselves. You will become closer to The LORD and your household will come into order. Conviction for even petty sins will fall upon all in the home and repentance should follow. All will be covered not only by prayer, but by THE EFFECTUAL PRAYER OF A RIGHTEOUS MAN.

This is one way to effectively sow to the spirit, to take up the cross and die daily to your Self, and follow HIM+.







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Friday, June 22, 2007

Every son endures CHILD-TRAINING ... That is, discipline



Everyone of us ...

recognizes the value of training exercises: they hone the skills and make us stronger. Concentrated exercise in ANY area is thorough and methodical ~ routine, if you will~ bringing the body and mind into focused movement or practice. Exercise hones the concentration. This is to train the muscles to respond correctly and effectively and

to ignore the distractions.

Exercise is needed as much for the Spiritual Man within us as our physical man needs training. For most of us, our Spiritual muscles are flabby and nigh unto atrophied (useless). We cannot focus on reading The Word or prayer or simply being still before The LORD without our minds raring up like untamed stallions.


We remember that the Apostle Paul, who stood firmly against legalism, also brought his own fleshly man into submission unto The LORD. In the Greek, (I Cor. 9:27) the language is quite vivid, quite forceful. Paul says he does not fight beating the air, but rather he beats his body (black and blue! "... striking it under the eye") and leads it captive, making it ready to serve.

He does this so that he himself would not become disqualified.


This same Apostle who staunchly set free the churches from legalism ALSO did not count himself as having already attained the status of being fore-ordained to the resurrection of the dead.

NO !



He pressed on toward the mark for the prize. He exhorted others to follow his pattern. Paul defined believers who have become the enemies of the cross of CHRIST like this:

they mind earthly things.


What is lacking in our church today is the disciplining of our spirits... discipleship...applying holiness training to our walk with CHRIST JESUS. Our walk should go beyond church attendance and fellowship and beyond Bible studies. As good and as necessary as all those are, they will not take us deeper with CHRIST if we avoid RESPONDING TO HIM+ IN A DISCIPLINED MANNER.


HE+ is looking for FRUIT, not HIS+GIFTS...


No, it is not written that we MUST practice discipleship. But for myself, I'd be afraid that my one little talent would be taken from me if I did nothing but attend church, fellowship, and Bible study. The HUSBANDMAN comes looking for the fruit of our union with HIM+, not the gifts of grace which HE+ has bestowed to help us walk. Since HE+ has given us every means to enable us to beat our Selfs back and live for CHRIST, we will be held accountable for not doing so.


The fear of The LORD is good; it helps us know for a certainty that HE+ watches our spiritual labors and which gate we continually choose to enter... the narrow or the wide. The fear of The LORD helps us to know that HE+ will trim us ...yes, even us! ... off the TRUE VINE+ if we do not bear fruit. The fear of The LORD is good, for we know


HE+ is no respector of persons.








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MIRANDA (part 2)... so run that ye may obtain the prize... the battle against Self...

What exercise does for the muscles,
Spiritual discipline does for the
New Creature in CHRIST.
Discipline gives him clout to stand
against the old man.
It gives the New Creature a distinct advantage in the battle against the Self-nature ( i.e... Self-rule, self-love, self-serving, self-pity, self-indulgence, etc.) Notice that Miranda's spiritual discipline has extended into all areas of her life.

Miranda ,Part 2

Miranda is sometimes afraid that she lays out too much money in books, because she cannot keep from buying all practical books... that... describe the inward holiness of the Christian life. But of all human writings, the lives of pious persons and eminent saints are her greatest delight. In these she searches as for hidden treasure, hoping to find some secret of holy living, some uncommon degree of piety, which she may make her own.

By this means Miranda has her head and her heart so stored with all the principles of wisdom and holiness, she is so full of the one main business of life, that she finds it difficult to converse upon any other subject; and if you are in her company, when she thinks it proper to talk, you must be made wiser and better, whether you will or no.

To relate her charity, would be to relate the history of every day for twenty years; for so long has all her fortune been spent that way. She has set up near 20 poor tradesmen that had failed in their business, and saved as many from failing. She has educated several poor children, that were picked up in the streets, and put them in a way of an honest employment. As soon as any labourer is confined at home with sickness, she sends him, till he recovers, twice the value of his wages, that he may have one part to give to his family as usual, and the other to provide things convenient for his sickness.

In a family seems too large to be supported by the labour of those that can work in it, she pays their rent, and gives them something yearly towards their clothing. By this means, there are several poor families that live in a comfortable manner, and are from year to year blessing her in their prayers.

If there is any poor man or woman that is more than ordinarily wicked and reprobate, Miranda has her eye upon them; she watches their time of need and adversity; and if she can discover that they are in any great straits, or affliction, she gives them speedy relief. She has this care for this sort of people, because she once saved a very profligate person from being carried to prison, who immediately became a true penitent.

There is nothing in the character of Miranda more to be admired than this temper. For this tenderness of affection towards the most abandoned sinners is the highest instance of a Divine and God-like soul.

Miranda once passed by a house, where the man and his wife were cursing and swearing at one another in a most dreadful manner, and three children crying about them: this sight so much affected her compassionate mind, that she went the next day, and bought the three children, that they might not be ruined by living with such wicked parents.

They now live with Miranda, are blessed with her care and prayers, and all the good works which she can do for them. They hear her talk, they see her live, they join with her in psalms and prayers. The eldest of them has already converted his parents from their wicked life, and shows a turn of mind so remarkably pious, that Miranda intends him for holy orders; that, being thus saved himself, he may be zealous in the salvation of souls, and do to other miserable objects as she has done to him.

Miranda is a constant relief to poor people in their misfortunes and accidents: there are sometimes little misfortunes that happen to them, which of themselves they could never be able to overcome. The death of a cow or a horse, or some little robbery, would keep them in distress all their lives. She does not suffer them to grieve under such accidents as these. She immediately gives them the full value of their loss, and makes use of it as a means of raising their minds towards God.

She has a great tenderness for old people that are grown past their labour. The parish allowance to such people is very seldom a comfortable maintenance: for this reason they are the constant objects of her care: she adds so much to their allowance, as somewhat exceeds the wages they got when they were young.

This she does to comfort the infirmities of their age, that, being free from trouble and distress, they may serve God in peace and tranquillity of mind. She has generally a large number of this kind, who, by her charities and exhortations to holiness, spend their last days in great piety and devotion.

Miranda never wants compassion, even to common beggars; especially towards those that are old or sick, or full of sores, that want eyes or limbs. She hears their complaints with tenderness, gives them some proof of her kindness, and never rejects them with hard or reproachful language, for fear of adding affliction to her fellow-creatures.

If a poor old traveller tells her that he has neither strength, nor food, nor money left, she never bids him go to the place from whence he came, or tells him that she cannot relieve him, because he may be a cheat, or she does not know him; but she relieves him for that reason, because he is a stranger and unknown to her.

For it is the most noble part of charity to be kind and tender to those whom we never saw before, and perhaps never may see again in this life. "I was a stranger, and ye took me in," [Matt. xxv. 43] saith our blessed Saviour: but who can perform this duty, that will not relieve persons that are unknown to him?

Miranda considers that Lazarus was a common beggar, that he was the care of Angels, and carried into Abraham's bosom. She considers that our blessed Saviour and His Apostles were kind to beggars; that they spoke comfortably to them, healed their diseases, and restored eyes and limbs to the lame and blind; that Peter said to the beggar that wanted an alms from him, "Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." [Acts iii. 6]

Miranda, therefore, never treats beggars with disregard and aversion; but she imitates the kindness of our Savior and His Apostles towards them; and though she cannot, like them, work miracles for their relief, yet she relieves them with that power that she hath; and may say, with the Apostle, "Such as I have give I thee, in the name of Jesus Christ."

It may be, says Miranda, that I may often give to those that do not deserve it, or that will make an ill use of my alms. But what then? Is not this the very method of Divine goodness? Does not God make "His sun to rise on the evil and on the good"? [Matt. v. 45] Is not this the very goodness that is recommended to us in Scripture, that, by imitating of it, we may be children of our Father which is in Heaven, who "sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust"?

And shall I withhold a little money, or food, from my fellow-creature, for fear he should not be good enough to receive it of me? Do I beg of God to deal with me, not according to my merit, but according to His own great goodness; and shall I be so absurd as to withhold my charity from a poor brother, because he may perhaps not deserve it?

Shall I use a measure towards him,
which I pray God never to use towards me?

Besides, where has the Scripture made merit the rule or measure of charity? On the contrary, the Scripture saith, "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink." [Rom. xii. 20] Now this plainly teaches us, that the merit of persons is to be no rule of our charity; but that we are to do acts of kindness to those that least of all deserve it. For if I am to love and do good to my worst enemies: if I am to be charitable to them, notwithstanding all their spite and malice; surely merit is no measure of charity. If I am not to withhold my charity from such bad people, and who are at the same time my enemies, surely I am not to deny alms to poor beggars, whom I neither know to be bad people, nor any way my enemies.

You will perhaps say, that by this means I encourage people to be beggars. But the same thoughtless objection may be made against all kinds of charities, for they may encourage people to depend upon them. The same may be said against forgiving our enemies, for it may encourage people to do us hurt. The same may be said even against the goodness of God, that by pouring His blessings on the evil and on the good, on the just and on the unjust, evil and unjust men are encouraged in their wicked ways.

The same may be said against clothing the naked, or giving medicines to the sick; for that may encourage people to neglect themselves, and be careless of their health. But when the love of God dwelleth in you, when it has enlarged your heart, and filled you with bowels of mercy and compassion, you will make no more such objections as these.

When you are at any time turning away the poor, the old, the sick, and helpless traveller, the lame, or the blind, ask yourself this question, Do I sincerely wish these poor creatures may be as happy as Lazarus, that was carried by Angels into Abraham's bosom? Do I sincerely desire that God would make them fellow-heirs with me in eternal glory? Now if you search into your soul, you will find that there is none of these motions there; that you are wishing nothing of this. For it is impossible for any one heartily to wish a poor creature so great a happiness, and yet not have a heart to give him a small alms.

For this reason, says Miranda, as far as I can, I give to all, because I pray to God to forgive all; and I cannot refuse an alms to those whom I pray God to bless, whom I wish to be partakers of eternal glory, but am glad to show some degree of love to such as, I hope, will be the objects of the infinite love of God.

And if, as our Saviour has assured us, it be more blessed to give than to receive, we ought to look upon those that ask our alms, as so many friends and benefactors, that come to do us a greater good than they can receive, that come to exalt our virtue, to be witnesses of our charity, to be monuments of our love, to be our advocates with God, to be to us in Christ's stead, to appear for us in the day of judgment, and to help us to a blessedness greater than our alms can bestow on them.

This is the spirit, and this is the life, of the devout Miranda; and if she lives ten years longer, she will have spent sixty hundred pounds in charity; for that which she allows herself, may fairly be reckoned amongst her alms. When she dies, she must shine amongst Apostles, and saints, and martyrs; she must stand amongst the first servants of God, and be glorious amongst those that have fought the good fight, and finished their course with joy.





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Monday, June 18, 2007

Miranda's Example... putting on CHRIST

A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE
By William Law

In this chapter (8), William Law describes two sisters who were left a small fortune. One sister lives a normal life of the rich; the other sister, Miranda, lives her life as unto The LORD JESUS CHRIST. Here is a description of Miranda’s well-disciplined life. Here are some excerpts [ Part 1].
Online from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at : www.ccel.or/ccel/law/serious_call.html

Miranda is a sober, reasonable Christian…She depends upon the truth of what our blessed Lord hath said, that there is but "One thing needful," [Luke xi. 42] and therefore makes her whole life but one continual labour after it. She has but one reason for doing or not doing, for liking or not liking anything, and that is, the will of God.

She… has renounced the world to follow Christ in the exercise of humility, charity, devotion, abstinence, and heavenly affections; and that is Miranda's fine breeding. While she was under her mother, she was forced to be genteel, to live in ceremony, to sit up late at nights, to be in the folly of every fashion, and always visiting on Sundays; to go patched [i.e., with a decoration, a black patch, affixed to her cheek], and loaded with a burden of finery, to the Holy Sacrament.

She was forced to be in every polite conversation; to hear profaneness at the playhouse, and wanton songs and love intrigues at the opera. She was forced to dance at public places in society’s balls, that fops and rakes might admire the fineness of her shape, and the beauty of her motions.

The remembrance of this way of life makes her exceeding careful to amend for it by a contrary behaviour.

Miranda does not divide her duty between God, her neighbor, and herself; but she considers all as due to The LORD, and so does everything in His Name, and for His Sake.

This makes her consider her fortune as the gift of God, that is to be used, as everything is that belongs to God, for the wise and reasonable ends of a Christian and holy life. Her fortune therefore is divided betwixt herself and several other poor people, and she has only her part of relief from it.

She thinks it the same folly to indulge herself in needless, vain expenses, as to give to other people to spend in the same way. Therefore as she will not give a poor man money to go see a puppet-show, neither will she allow herself any to spend in the same manner; thinking it very proper to be as wise herself as she expects poor men should be.

For it is a folly and a crime in a poor man, says Miranda, to waste what is given him in foolish trifles, whilst he wants meat, drink, and clothes. And is it less folly, or a less crime in me, to spend that same money in silly diversions, which might be so much better spent in imitation of the Divine goodness, in works of kindness and charity towards my fellow-creatures and fellow-Christians?

If a poor man's own necessities are a reason why he should not waste any of his money idly, surely the necessities of the poor, the excellency of charity, which is received as done to Christ Himself, is a much greater reason why no one should ever waste any of his money. For if he does so, he does not only do like the poor man, only waste that which he wants himself, but he wastes that which is wanted for the most noble use, and which Christ Himself is ready to receive at his hands.


How must we, then, appear in the sight of The LORD...

And if we are angry at a poor man, and look upon him as a wretch, when he throws away that which should buy his own bread; how must we appear in the sight of God, if we make a wanton idle use of that which should buy bread and clothes for the hungry and naked brethren, who are as near and dear to The LORD as we are, and fellow-heirs of the same state of future glory?

This is the spirit of Miranda, and thus she uses the gifts of God; she is only one of a certain number of poor people, that are relieved out of her fortune, and she only differs from them in the blessedness of giving.

Excepting her food, she never spent near ten pounds a year upon herself. If you were to see her, you would wonder what poor body it was, that was so surprisingly neat and clean. She has but one rule that she observes in her dress, to be always clean and in the cheapest things. Everything about her resembles the purity of her soul, and she is always clean without, because she is always pure within.
Early morning work...

Every morning sees her early at her prayers; she rejoices in the beginning of every day, because it begins all her pious rules of holy living, and brings the fresh pleasure of repeating them. She seems to be as a guardian angel to those that dwell about her, with her watchings and prayers, blessing the place where she dwells, and making intercession with God for those that are asleep.

Miranda does not know what it is to have a dull half-day; the returns of her hours of prayer, and her religious exercises, come too often to let any considerable part of her day lie heavily upon her hands.

When you see her at work, you see the same wisdom that governs all her other actions; she is either doing something that is necessary for herself, or necessary for others, who want to be assisted. There is scarce a poor family in the neighborhood, but wears something or other that has had the labor of her hands.

Her wise and pious mind neither wants the amusement, nor can bear with the folly, of idle and impertinent work. She can admit of no such folly as this in the day because she has to answer for all her actions at night.

When there is no wisdom to be observed in the employment of her hands, when there is no useful or charitable work to be done, Miranda will work no more.

At her table she lives strictly by this rule of holy Scripture, "Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." [1 Cor. x. 31]

This makes her begin and end every meal, as she begins and ends every day, with acts of devotion: she eats and drinks only for the sake of living, and with so regular an abstinence, that every meal is an exercise of self-denial, and she humbles her body every time that she is forced to feed it.
If Miranda were to run a race for her life, she would submit to a diet that was proper for it. But as the race which is set before her is a race of holiness, purity, and heavenly affection, which she is to finish in a corrupt, disordered body of earthly passions, so her everyday diet has only this one end, to make her body fitter for this spiritual race.

She does not weigh her food in a pair of scales, but she weighs it in a much better balance; so much as gives a proper strength to her body, and renders it able and willing to obey the soul, to join in psalms and prayers, and lift up eyes and hands towards heaven with greater readiness: so much is Miranda's meal.

So that Miranda will never have her eyes swell with fatness, or pant under a heavy load of flesh, until she has changed her religion.

The holy Scriptures, especially of the New Testament, are her daily study; these she reads with a watchful attention, constantly casting an eye upon herself, and trying herself by every doctrine that is there. When she has the New Testament in her hand, she supposes herself at the feet of our Savior and His Apostles, and makes everything that she learns of them so many laws of her life.

She receives their sacred words with as much attention and reverence as if she saw their persons, and knew that they were just come from Heaven, on purpose to teach her the way that leads to it.

She thinks that the trying of herself every day by the doctrines of Scripture, is the only possible way to be ready for her trial at the last day.
Miranda, to be continued.





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Saturday, June 16, 2007

But Put Ye On The LORD JESUS CHRIST...

And make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. Romans 13:14




This is the key: Put on The LORD JESUS CHRIST.




But just how do we do this?


First...
we must get Self off the throne. Self always agrees with the wicked one. We start by dealing with our self-indulgences. We begin with a committment unto The LORD to deal with our Self-indulgences. These self-indulgences take many forms and are time-eaters and energy-wasters. You will recognize them by their fruits: do they draw you into a place of quietness with the HOLY LORD... or do they make it harder for you to get still during prayer time or Bible reading time?



Each one of us knows...
our personal areas of self-indulgence. For some, it may be certain snacks... for others, certain recreation or other activities. For some, Self-indulgence may take the form of "good activities" like cooking, cleaning, shopping, or work. Gardening or reading novels or listening to slightly-worldly music may be what is keeping us from CHRIST Himself+. For others, it could even be too much interaction... even amongst Christians!



The wicked one doesn't really care WHAT is used...
to keep us distracted from CHRIST JESUS. So, good or bad, silly or noble, productive or non-productive... any thing will do as long as we indulge ourselves in doing it and keep away from settling down with CHRIST.



Wherefore, we LABOR
that whether present [ with the LORD] or absent [remaining yet in our bodies] , we may be accepted of HIM+.
For we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of CHRIST ...2 Cor. 5:6-11



So... how do we begin this LABOR ?

GO TO PRAYER.
HE+ WILL SHOW THE PRAYING SOUL
WHAT TO OFFER ON HIS+ ALTAR.

After HE+ shows us what these particular "sowings to the Self" are, then HE+ will show us the commitment HE+ wants from us. We then put that commitment into practice and make that Self-denial an offering unto CHRIST JESUS. This may happen many, many times a day, as we practice putting Self to death.

Inch by inch...

...in this small way, we practice dying daily to Self. We practice going to the cross for JESUS ~~joining HIM+ there, as it were. We nail our jesting, our unruly tongues, or Self-indulgences up there, too. We learn to apply this verse to our daily lives:



I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of GOD, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto GOD, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1







NOW BEAR IN MIND:


WHEN WE TAKE SOMETHING "OUT",

WE MUST PUT SOMETHING "IN."



Yes, we practice these wee, private exercises of Self-denial.



But then we must fill ourselves ...

with thanksgiving as we practice. We thank HIM+ for the enabling grace to sow to the Spirit. We think on HIS+ great sacrifice, so that we might be delivered from Self. We intercede for others with the same problems. Of great benefit here is selecting a particular verse or two which pertains to the Self issue. We keep HIS+ Word in mind and close to our heart when dealing with our fleshly Self. Thus, we conform ourselves to HIS+ likeness and image when we sow unto the Spirit.



Now, DO NOT BE CONFUSED.



We are not talking about being austere nor practicing acts of Self-will. That is simply another form of Self-worship. Training our fleshly man to be under submission to our spiritual man (by the Holy Spirit) at all times is the goal.



For instance, a man who we know used to drink a lot. He had many problems relating to his abuse of alcohol. One day, he decided to quit drinking and he did it. The problems related to drinking left; those related to Self-worship stayed. He is no closer to the LORD JESUS CHRIST sober than he was drunk.

BUT NOTE THIS: These steps towards discipleship can only be taken by those who have come under CONVICTION > CONFESSION OF SINS > REPENTANCE OF LIFE > BAPTISM of body and soul > CONVERSION TO CHRIST JESUS. Then, this one, if accepted by HIM+, enters the Covenant of Salvation through CHRIST JESUS the LORD.

Now... to go forward with CHRIST...

Therefore, we practice putting on CHRIST JESUS at the same time that we practice putting the old man to death. This is the way we avoid worshipping our Self will.



...So I fight, not as one beating the air...but rather I beat my body black and blue, striking it beneath the eye, and enslave it, making my body ready to serve (the Spirit, CHRIST JESUS, the Kingdom of GOD) lest not (while) proclaiming to others (the Gospel), I may myself FAIL TO MEET THE TEST, become disapproved, rejected, worthless and unqualified.

Words from The Apostle Paul who labored to press on toward CHRIST, not counting himself as having already apprehended HIM+. OGS Expanded Version. Greek, I Cor. 9:27.








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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Are you GUILTY of Practicing LEGALISM... as defined by Scripture?

"Legalism" is a term found on the lips of many during this church age. Since Scripture contains our standard of righteousness and truth, it seems only reasonable to return to His+ Word to define EXACTLY that term... and to see if we (or others ) are guilty of being legalistic. Thankfully, we do not have to look too far; this is NOT a mysterious nor hidden issue.

Both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle Peter addressed legalism, most notably together, in Acts 15. The issue of legalism found in Acts 15 is thus defined: Circumcision and the keeping of the Law of Moses were necessary to obtain salvation. (Acts 15: 1 and 24).

The Apostles, however, soundly refuted this error both by Scripture and experience. Moreover, ALL the company of Apostles, Elders and Brethren at this Jerusalem meeting confirmed the words of Paul and Peter. With ONE VOICE they tossed out of the church the error that SALVATION was dependent upon circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses.

The Apostle Paul wrote several letters to the churches, in subsequent years, explaining that SALVATION was freed from the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Indeed, the entire book of Galatians focuses mainly on this issue.

Yet...the complete picture includes Acts 16...
where Paul himself took Timothy (after the Jerusalem council) and circumcised him "...because of the Jews...for they all knew that his father was a Greek."
Also, in Acts 21, we see James and the Elders...
counseling Paul (vs. 23) to join 4 men "with a vow on them" and to purify himself with them, shaving the head. This was to prove to the believing Jews who were still zealous of the Mosic Law (vs. 20) that Paul was ORDERLY and kept the Mosaic Law (vs. 24).
So... were the Elders contradicting themselves?
No.
It was understoood that these actions had nothing to do with SALVATION. The Apostle did this so that "...unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews" (I Cor. 9:20), as he explains later.
Did Paul cry "legalism" ?
No.
Rather, Paul submitted to the counsel of James and the Elders
so as to work the will of GOD,
as determined by the consensus of the Brethren.
Interestingly enough, Our LORD JESUS CHRIST ,
when reprimanding the Pharisees, also commended them for tithing mint and rue... i.e., the keeping of the Mosaic Law in Luke 11:42. The LORD did this more than once (see Matthew 23:23).
Thus, it appears from Scripture...
that it is okay to observe the Mosaic Law or some of them if you want to do so, as a witness or as a personal matter of discipline.
It also appears that it is okay to observe some if it is the concensus of your group and you are in agreement, in order to bear witness to further the Kingdom of GOD.
It appears that it is okay to observe some of the Mosaic Law to remove potential hindrances from the "hearers" of the Gospel.
This brings us full cirlce , right around, to the Scriptural definition of legalism:
LEGALISM is when the church requires you
to keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved.
Do you know of any church or group or individual who practices Biblical legalism? I don't. What I DO HEAR are the outcries of those who do NOT want to curb their flesh in order to sow unto the Spirit. This is called discipleship.
DISCIPLESHIP is not legalism.
Discipleship is a way to apply training to oneself.
It is training in holiness.
Discipleship practices sowing to the Spirit... when no-one is looking.


This is the training that is sadly lacking in the church today, generally speaking. The lack of true discipleship is showing the church to be threadbare of power, of true enabling grace... the grace that ENABLES us to die daily to ourselves and be strengthened in that daily dying.
Poor, maligned "legalism"...
is a term ill-applied and seldom rightly used ...if one uses Scriptures as the definition of Truth. When the church members come under conviction that their walk is sloppy and bears more witness for the world than for CHRIST JESUS, do they repent and ask The LORD to help them become His+ true disciples... to love not their lives unto the death ?
No.
They reject discipleship as "legalism."
What would JESUS say?
(See Mt 28:19, Greek; Matthew 7: 21, 22,23; Luke 14:26, 33, 35)





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Monday, June 11, 2007

The Pattern of the Early Christians...

The pattern of how the Early Christians --of the first 200 years-- practiced their Christianity is worthy of our attention. It was a powerful church, a church that spoke loudly ... without saying a word. The Early Church of the first 200 years stood unified against the heretics; indeed, their writings against the heresies show us vividly exactly what they believed, how they discerned Scriptures, and how they lived.

Without saying a word, their modest, unfashionable, and plain dress made them visible to and yes, targets in, their unregenerated world. It gave them ample opportunities to witness... both to the hungry souls yearning for the one true GOD and to the haters of GOD.


They spoke to their society wordlessly when they simply did NOT attend the theaters, sports, or events in the public arenas and stadiums. They would not go to the public bath houses. Nudity and nakedness in any degree were avoided. They stood out simply because they did not do the pleasure activities that were common in their societies. Mind you, they did not wear placards nor demonstrate on the sidewalk nor make any public protest; they simply withdrew themselves from attending these events. They knew how to separate themselves from worldliness.


They also refused to berate, gossip, or speak derogatorily of others. They practiced quietness, especially noticable in public. Loose, worldly talk nor jesting would not be heard in their somber interactions. They took the Word literally, that ...we must give an account for every idle word.

They were accused of being Christians, based on such evidence. Even one of the Roman rulers complained that the Christians lived such lives that "they not only feed their poor, they feed our poor also!"


The Christians were accused of not harming anyone, even their enemies. And, they never went to court to sue anyone. Christians would always suffer the wrong, with the hopes that
..."the blood of the martyrs would be the seed of the church."


Society considered Christians uncultured and even a danger to their society's values because they did not attend the common entertainment activities nor sporting events. What a tremendous witness, even though given in a form of accusation.

In this day and age, do we give enough evidence to the society around us that we are Christians... without opening our mouths? Are our values so distinctly different from the world around us that we make society uneasy... that something is drastically wrong?
If not, it's time to seek The LORD and change.

This is why The Order of the GOOD SHEPHERD+ patterns itself after the Early Church of the first 200 years. We follow CHRIST JESUS first; then we look to see the pattern lived out in the lives and writings of our Early Christian brethren.





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