Forget Not

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Psalm 103: Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Think of the power God has. Yet he refrains from imposing his power on us. It’s not his way. God doesn’t overpower, manipulate or control. He doesn’t pull “people-things” like guilt trips, emotional blackmail, or threats. His character is so strong, he refrains from exercising the power he possesses, even though the use of his might would accomplish his will.

He permits us to determine who we want, and what we want, with the free wills we’re granted.

He welcomes us to friendship. He doesn’t demand it, force it, or threaten to make things bad for us if we decline. He doesn’t trick us into relationship. His ways aren’t built on obligation or guilt, but on our freedom to accept or decline.

Be with him if we want. Don’t if we don’t want.

If we do choose his companionship, we soon learn he is beyond compare. These things are true of him; he who —

forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases, who redeems our lives from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies our desires with good things so that our youths are renewed like the eagle’s.

The more we accept and delve into relationship with him, the sweeter our harmony. While settling into ever-deepening unity, we find that our faith, wisdom, abilities and potentials steadily increase. Where there is lack, he brings plenty. Where there is insecurity, he brings confidence. Where there is fear, he brings peace.

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

Where there is captivity, he sets us free. Where there is deception or confusion, he becomes the solid rock of truth on which to stand.

He sets the tone of the relationship, always creating an atmosphere of growth. If we require discipline or purification, he subjects us to it for our improvement. If we need mercy and encouragement, he gives that, too. If we need courage and strength, it is made available. Relationship with God is a fertile field in which he plants, waters, and nurtures — always for our betterment.

Yet, all the while his benefits include our ongoing free will. He gives us choice each and every day. Be with him if we want. Don’t if we don’t want. Let him lead us to betterment. Or not. This freedom he’s given us is evidence of yet another of his incomparable benefits —

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

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Fall Afresh

John 14:15-18 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Acts 2:1-2 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.”


Suddenly there came a sound from heaven: The association of the sound of a rushing mighty wind, filling the whole house, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is unusual. But it probably has connection with the fact that in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the word for spirit (as in Holy Spirit) is the same word for breath or wind (this also happens to be true in Latin). Here, the sound from heaven was the sound of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples.

The sound of this fast, mighty wind would make any of these men and women who knew the Hebrew scriptures think of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  • In Genesis 1:1-2, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing over the waters of the newly created earth.
  • In Genesis 2:7, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, blowing life into newly created man.
  • In Ezekiel 37:9-10, it is the Spirit of God as the breath/wind of God, moving over the dry bones of Israel bringing them life and strength.

This single line tells us much about how the Holy Spirit moves.

  • Suddenly: Sometimes God moves suddenly.
  • Sound: It was real, though it could not be touched; it came by the ears.
  • From heaven: It wasn’t of earth; not created or manipulated or made here.
  • Mighty: Full of force, coming with great power.

Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”


Lesson on the Holy Spirit is from: enduringword.com/commentaries/4402.htm

Video is from: “Fall Afresh (Acoustic Version)” by Bethel Music & Jeremy Riddle

Lyrics of “Fall Afresh”:

Awaken my soul, come awake
To hunger, to seek, to thirst
Awaken first love, come awake
And do as you did, at first

Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow
To overflow

Awaken my soul, come awake
To worship with all your strength

Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow

Come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade
Spirit come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade

Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow
To overflow

 

Becoming More

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In support of excellence, strength, abounding good works, fullness of life, and actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be:

Romans 5:1-2 (TLB) – So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) – God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
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John 10:10 (NIV) – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
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John 14:12 (NIV) – Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Raising Expectations

Principal pic for Expectations blog

You may have noticed the focus of this week’s blogs has been on excellence. It’s not because I’m feeling ambitious, confident or successful. Actually, I’m feeling the opposite. That, while noticing articles, interviews, quotes, conversations and TV programs that encourage letting low expectations take over.

Read between much of society’s lines, and we’re told: If you keep expectations low, you’re spared disappointment. If you don’t reach for the stars, you never fall short. If you don’t scale mountains, you won’t tumble down. Expect excellence, miracles, or relief? — Come on, who do you think you are? Find solace, acceptance, and community in majority thinking. Don’t look beyond us; we are the standard. Stay here where it’s comfortable; those who don’t, make us uncomfortable.

Why is that we justify low expectations instead of rejecting them?

I know I am at risk of mine slowly and imperceptibly slumping to settling. My time of relative rest may morph into terminal complacency. I may soon adopt mediocrity or defeat as my lot in life.

Thankfully there are people who don’t discourage excellence, they actively promote it. While I’m not feeling it, I’m soaking in the inspiration from those who are. I hope you’ll be encouraged also.

From “Humans of New York”, an arts and humanities website:

January 19, 2015 -

“Who’s influenced you the most in your life?”
“My principal, Ms. Lopez.”
“How has she influenced you?”
“When we get in trouble, she doesn’t suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter.”

"Who's influenced you the most in your life?"<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
"My principal, Ms. Lopez."<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
"How has she influenced you?"<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us.  She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us.  And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built.  And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."
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Followed by this post today, January 22, 2015 -
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A couple days back, I posted the portrait of a young man who described an influential principal in his life by the name of Ms. Lopez. Yesterday I was fortunate to meet Ms. Lopez at her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.
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“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’ Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff. Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”
A couple days back, I posted the portrait of a young man who described an influential principal in his life by the name of Ms. Lopez.  Yesterday I was fortunate to meet Ms. Lopez at her school, Mott Hall Bridges Academy.</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>“This is a neighborhood that doesn’t necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high.  We don’t call the children ‘students,’ we call them ‘scholars.’   Our color is purple.  Our scholars wear purple and so do our staff.  Because purple is the color of royalty.  I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens.  They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math.   And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome.  When you tell people you’re from Brownsville, their face cringes up.  But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed.”

1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Romans 5:1-2 (TLB) – So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV) – God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV) – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
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John 10:10 (NIV) – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
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John 14:12 (NIV) – Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Gifts Unveiled

We say, “I could never do that.”

Paul Smith says, “What CAN you do?”

Paul the Apostle says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians. 2:10)

An excerpt of a previous post, “Coached to Excel” says,

God knows what you’re capable of. He knows what is still uncovered or undeveloped within you. He knows how to unveil those gifts, and coach your potential to excellence and success.

Hear the coach’s speech: “You are exceptional. Let me show you what you are capable of; what you haven’t experienced yet. You are a diamond in the rough. You have untapped potential within you. We are going to uncover your abilities, talents, gifts, skills, insights, and more. Let me show you how you can gain mastery, accomplish much, and express your strengths superbly. Raise your expectations to match mine. Don’t settle—think excellence. Form habits of excellence, so I can give you success.”

It’s never too late to change attitudes and habits. Think excellence, let God be your coach, and show the world what you can do. We need your distinctive influence and glorious achievements.”


Video credit belongs to John Stofflet, news anchor and reporter, KING TV (2004)

 

Coached to Excel

Originally posted on Cindi Gale:

Consider God’s influence on people’s lives. Consider his influence on YOUR life. Imagine him as a great coach, teacher, or parent. He knows what you’re capable of. He knows what is still uncovered or undeveloped within you. He knows how to coach that potential to excellence and success.

Young Baseball Player Waiting on SidelinesWhat coach, teacher, or parent wants his capable child or player to aspire to something minimal?  What kind of coach of a gifted athlete says, “Well kid, I’m dreaming big for you. I hope you can get off the bench for at least ten minutes during this season.”?

Great coaches, teachers, and parents are adept at assessing our potential and nurturing it to fullness. God, of course, is perfect at it. He knows our potential; he’s the one who put it in us. He never dreams small for us. He is satisfied when we develop all that we were meant to be. He wants us to succeed in a big way. He’s…

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In Awe of Restraint

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Dedicated to all those who exercise restraint instead of revenge, and who stand firm during storms of injustice.


The following is an excerpt from “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman (1925):

Do no take revenge, my friends. (Romans 12:19)

There are times when doing nothing demands much greater strength than taking action. Maintaining composure is often the best evidence of power. Even to the vilest and deadliest of charges, Jesus responded with deep, unbroken silence. His silence was so profound, it caused His accusers and spectators to wonder in awe. To the greatest insults, the most violent treatment, and to mockery that would bring righteous indignation to the feeblest of hearts, He responded with voiceless, confident calmness. Those who are unjustly accused, and mistreated without cause, know the tremendous strength that is necessary to keep silent and to leave revenge to God.

The apostle Paul said, “None of these things move me.” (Acts 20:24 KJV). He did not say, “None of these things hurt me.” It is one thing to be hurt, and quite another to be moved. Paul had a very tender heart, for we do not read of any other apostle who cried as he did. It takes a strong man to cry. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), and He was the strongest man that ever lived.

Therefore it does not say, “None of these things hurt me.” The apostle Paul had determined not to move from what he believed was right. He did not value things as we are prone to do. He never looked for the easy way, and placed no value on his mortal life. He only cared about one thing, and that was his loyalty to Christ — to gain Christ’s smile. To Paul, more than to any other man, doing Christ’s work was his earthly pay, but gaining Christ’s smile was heaven. Margaret Bottome