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I really like Mike’s reference to the Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity:
* to accept the things I cannot change

* the courage to change the things I can

* and the wisdom to know the difference

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;

trust that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen

Reinhold Neibuhr
~~~

In particular, I like this part of the prayer: "accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it"

We cannot change the sinful world, nor are we called to escape the pain of this sinful world through the "insanity" of behavior which binds us to sin and weakness.
~~~

I found this quote from a book entitled, “The Twelve Steps for Christians” which is a meditation on the Serenity Prayer:

“Our success in handling new problems is linked to our willingness to thoughtfully take action, while remembering to let go and turn it over to God.

Our faith grows as we learn to relinquish control and allow God to be the director of our lives.

The process is gradual, regenerative, and neverending. We slowly become more God-centered as we learn the true meaning of God’s love, our surrender, and spiritual serenity.

Paul captured the heart of this Twelve-step process when he said,
‘Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:13-14)”
~~~

Regarding the Twelve step process, I heard this quote which really spoke to me: “Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”

The “same thing over and over” which is repeated refers to any behavior which keeps us bound in weakness or sin instead of learning to break through and overcome through the Lord Jesus.

I also want to share another quote from book entitled, “The Twelve Steps for Christians”:

NOTE: The twelve-step process as we know it today began with a distinctly Christian group, called the “Oxford Group”

“The Oxford Group’s teachings rested on the following six basic assumptions:
1. Human beings are sinners
2. Human beings can be changed
3. Confession is a prerequisite to change
4. The changed soul has direct access to God
5. The age of miracles has returned
6. Those who have been changed are to change others”
~~~

VERSES FROM TODAY’S READINGS about CHANGE THROUGH GOD

2 Chronicles 14 (NKJV)
5
He also removed the high places and the incense altars from all the cities of Judah, and the kingdom was quiet under him.
6
And he built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest; he had no war in those years, because the LORD had given him rest.

2 Chronicles 16 (NKJV)
9
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”

NOTE: We need to BEGIN with surrender and doing things God’s way, and then FINISH the same way as we began

Romans 9 (NKJV)
16
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

NOTE:
GRACE, received and acted on through the surrender and obedience of faith, IS THE ONLY MEANS FOR CHANGE

Psalm 19 (NKJV)
7
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;

13
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression.
14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight,
O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

NOTE:
We can only obey God’s Word through GRACE and SURRENDER to God's Word. Then, we can access God’s authority in Christ to overcome and do God’s will.

The belief and meditation in our hearts and the words we speak allow our faith to be nurtured and to grow strong in God.

Otherwise, if we meditate and speak unbelief, our faith will become weak and useless.
~~~

FINALLY, earlier this morning I was greatly challenged and ministered to by these verses with comment from the Greek about BREAKING and LOOSING.

May we all, through the surrender and obedience of faith, find our answer in the Serenity Prayer -- the courage to change the things we can change.

Christ has given us the courage to change what we can—which is ourselves.

Then, we can--as a living witness of Christ Powerful Love--share our testimony with others.

BREAK, BIND – LOOSE è receive, act on what JESUS ACCOMPLISHED ONCE FOR ALL

Matthew 5:19
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
GREEK: LUO - you loose – past tense

Matthew 16:18, 19
18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
19
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [NKJV note: will have been bound… will have been loosed]
A. GREEK: DEO – you bind – past tense
B. GREEK: DEO – be bound – past, perfect tense

A. GREEK: LUO - you loose – past tense
B. GREEK: LUO - be loosed – past, perfect tense

The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated.

Jesus' last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI ("It is finished!") is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely "It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time."
Matthew 16:19 (Amplified Bible)
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth [NOTE] must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth [NOTE] must be what is already loosed in heaven.

[NOTE] Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation: "The perfect passive participle, here referring to a state of having been already forbidden [or (a state of having already been) permitted]."

Matthew 18:19-20
18
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
19
“Again I say [Again, assuredly, I say] to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.
20
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

verse 18
C. GREEK: DEO – you bind – past tense
D. GREEK: DEO – be bound – past, perfect tense

C. GREEK: LUO - you loose – past tense
D. GREEK: LUO - be loosed – past, perfect tense

The perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated.

Jesus' last cry from the cross, TETELESTAI ("It is finished!") is a good example of the perfect tense used in this sense, namely "It [the atonement] has been accomplished, completely, once and for all time."
Matthew 18:18 (Amplified Bible)
Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth [NOTE] must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth [NOTE] must be what is already permitted in heaven.

[NOTE] Charles B. Williams, The New Testament: A Translation: "The perfect passive participle, here referring to a state of having been already forbidden [or (a state of having already been) permitted]."

Vance

Romans 9:1-24

Israel

In Romans 9,10,11 Paul deals with Israel - Past(9), Present (10), and Future (11).

Why?

The people reading Romans think:

'Got it. We are all sinners, all are condemned. God provides Solution - Righteousness through Faith in Christ. We become justified. Sanctification process begins through Power of the Holy Spirit and process will be completed in heaven. Once justified there will be No condemnation, and No separation.

Sounds good, but what about Israel? God made promises and covenants to them. Israel let down God often, and rejected Christ? We see no blessings in Israel - they are occupied and definately not a glorious country.

Maybe God changed His mind. Israel did not hold up their end of the bargain, maybe they have lose out. If this is true, and God changed His mind about Israel, why can't He change His mind about Salvation and us Christians?'
======================================================
Paul answers this concern beginning here in Romans 9 with Israel's past.

Who better to teach than Paul. Paul was a student of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and knew the scriptures. Paul is now a Christian, and an apostle appointed by God, but Paul has deep roots with Israel.

Paul begins by saying he is speaking the truth, and by identifying with Israel in an intimate way. His early life was immersed in Israel and the temple. Paul would give up his Salvation if it meant Israel could be redeemed.

Whoa! It is one thing to lay down your life for someone, but to give up "eternal life", that is heavy. This lends the aura of "utter sincerity" to what Paul is about to say.
======================================================
Paul lists seven blessing of Israel:
"adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ.."

adoption as sons:
Ex 4:22
"Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son" NIV (idea being preeminent - superior to or notable above others)

Hosea 11:1
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
(God loved Israel so much he delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt - or is this what the verse means?)

Matt 2:15b
"And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." NIV (God loved Israel, His preeminent son, so much that He wanted to deliver them from bondage - but it was the bondage of Sin. To the Jew first, then the Gentile.)

Glory: could mean the Shekinah Glory, but to me it means the glory that comes from being a witness and testimony to God - like it was to Rahab.
======================================================
God's Sovereignty

Children of the Promise
God could have let things go their natural course. Ishamels's descendants included, and Esau's descendants be the line of Israel.

But God stepped in so that it could be shown that it is not by the natural order of things - "not by works but by him who calls". If God had not said, 'not this one, but him', people can say - it's a nice story, but how do we know it is God's plan. By divinely choosing out of the natural order of things - God's stamp is evident on His plan.

Some have a problem with:
"Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." How could God hate Esau, and while it is a literal translation, I am not sure it is the best contextual translation.

"Morris cites examples where hate clearly seems to mean something like “loved less” (Genesis 29:31, 33; Deuteronomy 21:15; Matthew 6:24; Luke 14:26; John 12:25). Yet he agrees with Calvin’s idea that the real thought here is much more like “accepted” and “rejected” more than our understanding of the terms “loved” and “hated.”

All in all, we see that Esau was a blessed man (Genesis 33:8-16, Genesis 36). God hated Esau in regard to inheriting the covenant, not in regard to blessing in this life or the next." - David Guzik
======================================================
Well that hardly seems fair, seems unjust of God to push aside Ishmael, and deny Esau his legacy by birthright.

Vs. 15-16
"For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy." NIv

We can't plan it:
Prov16:9 In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

We can't earn it:
Eph 2:8b-9 it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Once saved, we cannot even do it:
Rom7:18b For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

It is not about: me, we, you, or any individual; it is about God. It is through Christ and in Christ that we advance in the spiritual walk. This is all about God's Glory.

This is a humbling concept. If this is tough to swallow - I am with you. Before I was a Christian, it was all about "me". Since becoming a Christian, pride or thinking "I could fix things" in people is a huge stumbling block in the sanctification process. It is funny though - God keeps finding ways to humble me.
======================================================
Well, if it is all about God, then why blame man? We just march to his tune. Why should some take the rap? Doesn't seem fair.

It is God's plan, who are we to question it?

Is 55:8-9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We can't understand it, and won't until we get to heaven, but Paul throws a hypothetical in here:

Since God is just, if he meted out justice - this whole earth, human thing would have been trashed a long time ago.

But if God did that - it might glorify his justice and righteousness, but it says nothing to his attributes of "mercy and grace". Much less the fact, you and I would never have existed.

Maybe God waited and had patience, so that there would be justice, but some would be called to be "saved". When it is all over, God's glory would be enhanced by the objects of his mercy knowing that it could have been them destroyed. The saved were not condemnend, and it was by his Grace and Mercy prepared in advance for those he called.

God is "fully" glorified when all his attributes are glorified.

Although Paul is talking about Israel, he finds a moment to remind the readers, that God's plan is for Jew and Gentile.



God is my Rock, God is my Redeemer? I love those words “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I know that quiet often the words of my mouth and my thoughts are not pleasing to God. However I know He loves me and will never forsake me. God knows my heart is in the right place, but there is room for improvement. Thank you for these words they are a reminder to me to try and keep control of my tongue, and my thoughts. This is possible if I keep God close to me. Have a blessed day. Peggy Williams

hey just read some of this blog and signed up... wanted to say, thanks for making the bible come alive in a blog.. and thanks for making it feel accessable and as though im not the only one doing this!!!! peace! Cheryl

2 Chronicles 14:1-16:14

So often I here, “If God would just do this for me I would always follow Him,” or, “If I see a miracle I would believe in God.” But day after day in our readings we see men who do the right thing but do the believe the right thing after seeing, experiencing and benefiting from God’s wondrous blessings and divine intervention. Do we as believers behave in such a way that our underlying motives for our actions drown out not only our words but cancel out any benefits by way of cause and effect that would come our way if we only did the right thing for the right reason?

May we all run our race in such a way that we cross the finish line.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Mike,

I don't know why but neither alcohol nor drugs has ever been attractive to me. Maybe because I grew up seeing people doing horrible things while under the influence. I just have to know what’s going on around me and be able to react.

Ramona

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