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Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Personal God

“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."  Genesis 2:7

Since the beginning, God’s desire has been to have a personal relationship with man. Throughout the whole of human history this drama has been played out against the backdrop of the epochs. The only constant in this equation of the turning pages of history has been God’s faithfulness. Man’s ego-driven attempts to control and overtake other men is and has always led him to the error of the Pharisees. The act of simony is a testament to the egotistical striving of man to gain dominance. The idea that one can purchase spiritual power or prestige, is surely born of this world. The birth pains that Christianity has met since its inception have brought man closer to the place where he can truly know God and understand what He desires of him. Christianity, as a whole moves forward when its people become deeper. Ironically, at a time in Christian history when Christians have access to more literature than ever before, a new wave of superficiality has crested over the church.  As from the beginning of discipleship, this is a leadership issue. For a personal God to form a personal relationship with His people, personal formation needs to be propagated and nurtured in them by mature leadership. Eternity is imminent, time is ticking by steadily and the work that is to be done will not wait. John 4:35 speaks of this necessity, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (KJV).

God’s first intention regarding man has been and will always be the cultivation of a personal relationship. In order for man to have a personal relationship with God, he must first know Him. God is inextricably intertwined in Adam’s being as the Book of Genesis describes. God created the heavens and the earth, but only man did He create in His own image, Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (KJV). God then entrusted man with the exquisite earth that He had created. The word “likeness” in Genesis 1:26 is translated from the Hebrew word dmuwth, Strong’s Concordance # 1823 of the Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, its form is derived from the word damah Strong’s # 1819, and it means: resemblance, model, shape or fashion (Zodhiates, 1991, 31). Man has been made in the fashion of God and given the responsibility to steward the earth.

The Archaeological Study Bible gives insight regarding the garden in which God placed man, “The name Eden might have had one of two origins: the Sumerian word eden which means “steppe” or “open field,” or the identical Semitic word, denoting “luxury” or “delight”(Kaiser, 2005, 6). The Archaeological Study Bible goes on to remark, “Eden is not only the name of the garden in which the first humans resided but also a metaphorical representation of the Garden of God (i.e., Yahweh’s dwelling place; Isa 51:3; Eze 28:12-15; 31:8-18)” (Kaiser, 2005, 6). Isaiah 51:3 declares, For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody”(KJV).  Christ said to the believing thief on the cross, “. . .Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise”(Luke 23:43). The paradise lost at the Fall is the paradise regained at salvation.
Patti

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Markarios

"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him."
Matthew 5:1 NIV
James Tisset, "The Beatitudes Sermon"

In the fifth chapter of the book of Matthew the Beatitudes are found.  This collection of desirable Christian attributes and the ensuing blessing that they bring is an excellent guidepost for measuring our spiritual maturity.  The Greek word Markarios, Strong's Concordance # 3107 is translated as "blessed."  This word is derived from the root mak which means, "a long duration."  Markarios speaks of a happy, blessed, state of being in which one should be congratulated. 

Matthew 5:2 begins, "Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3  Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the Kingdom of heaven."

 The spiritual poverty that Jesus speaks of is a recognition of one's spiritual lacking.  It is an understanding of our own sinful nature and our inability to reconcile our state without God's grace.  The word "kingdom" speaks of coming under the "kingship" of God's authority.  It is a recognition of His majesty and our depravity.  This is the place where salvation is possible and one should never allow oneself to let this recognition slip out of mind.  Therein lies the danger of becoming proud and judgemental.

4  "Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted."

When we truly see our sin from God's perspective, a spiritual sorrow will ensue.  This mourning is what Jesus speaks of in this verse.  When we truly repent and mourn our sinful acts, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and forgiveness will be ours.  Do we mourn our sin and repent before our Father?

5  "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth."

True meekness is not weakness.  Christ's meekness on the cross was not a testament of His lack of power; but truly, it was a testament of His strength. Isaiah 53:7 prophesies of this event,“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth" (NIV).  Meekeness is strength under control, not a lack of it.  The earth is the inheritance of such.  Are we truly meek, do we bless and not revile?

6  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled."
Spiritual hunger is a state of being in which we desire God's will and presence in our lives more than what the world has to offer.  In this hunger, we are driven to go against convention and pursue God with a passion.  Psalm 22:26 speaks of this state, "The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!"  The promise is spiritual fulfillment.  Are we truly hungry for God and seeking Him with our whole hearts?

7  "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."

The Greek word eleemon Strong's # 1655 is translated as merciful.  Its meaning is kind, compassionate, charitable work.  It denotes feeling and action.  The Word tells us to forgive and we shall be forgiven.  In this same stream of thought, when we are merciful to others God will be merciful to us.  Are we truly merciful to the people we encounter?  Allow God to search your heart.  Repent of the sin He shows you, it is hard to accept, but it is far more of a burden to carry with you.

8  "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."

We are all born into a sinful state.  Are we honest and ethical people?  Ask God to purify your heart.  It is His heart to do so.  Having our spiritual eyes opened and our hearts pure before Him, we are promised that He will reveal Himself to us.

9  "Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God."

Within our own realm of influence, are we peacemakers or chaos makers?  Do we diffuse situations that may erupt or prompt them to do so?  Allowing peace to lead us will surely bring about peace following us.  To be called a son of God. . . let peace reign.

10  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Persecution has always followed the true followers of Christ.  When we are persecuted for our beliefs, tempted and tried by the world, and assaulted mentally by the enemy, we are instructed to rejoice that we are found worthy to suffer for Him.  The kingdom is truly ours, and it is God's good pleasure to give it to us.

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that as we read and compare our lives to the Beatitudes that You show us our sin so that we may repent of it and be closer to You.  Thank You for the grace to do so.  I pray that You touch us and heal us of our wounds and pain and bring us into tomorrow more healthy and Godly people.  Amen.

Patti

The Spirit Filled Life Bible  pages 1410-11.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If There Be Any Virtue

Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Pic from beautifulfreepictures.com
This admonition has become increasingly more difficult to follow in the current climate of media.  It seems that everywhere you turn there are negative images.  It can become quite disconcerting if you allow your mind to linger on them.  Most of the population would never be an eyewitness to a murder, yet we see hundreds of them per year on TV and in movies.  The trend of violent video games and vulgarity in movies meant for children is appalling.  Our psyches are being glutted with these unlovely images and the result is desensitization.  What we focus on and take in to our minds is the thing that we will ultimately become.  We must intentionally turn to the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy things.  If we ate poisoned food continually, our bodies would be sick and die, we are doing the same to our minds.  

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that You divert our attention to the pure things in life.  I pray that You remind us to be aware of what we are taking in and thinking about.  Please guide us into all truth.  I love You and praise You. Amen.

Patti

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Colossians 4:2
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." 
NIV


Pic from freepicturesweb.com

Lord, in Jesus' name I come before You in humility and thankfulness and praise You for the gifts that You have given.  Lord, thank You for Your Son Who You gave for our redemption.  Thank You for His obedience unto the cross.  Lord, thank You for the freedom to worship You in Spirit and in truth.  I pray for our brothers and sisters in countries that do not have this freedom of worship.  I pray that You strengthen and protect them.   I pray for the martyrs who have gone before us, for those who have held open the door for our understanding.  I thank You for those who have died to further the cause of the cross.  Thank You for the service men and women who are fighting and have given their lives for our freedom.  I pray for Your peace to flood the earth, and bring together the nations in Your name.  Thank you for the blessings that You have provided to me, I pray that You guide me in using them to bless others.  Lord, I pray for the hungry and cold, that You use my hands and heart to reach out to them.  I pray that the spirit of generosity flows from Your people and floods the dryness of the world.  Lord, I pray for those who have lost loved ones and must go on without them.  I pray that you comfort them and cover their hearts.  I pray for those who are ill and lonely, I pray that You fill them with health and joy.  Father thank You, I love You and praise You.  Please hear my prayer.  Heal us, Lord and we shall be healed.  Thank You for loving us in our weak and sinful state.  Thank You. Amen.

Patti    

Monday, November 21, 2011

Don't Fret







The pages are turning
     Like time flying by
Old letters and photographs
     Your smile makes me cry

If I could only tell you
     How much God loves you today
He's written you a letter
     Just so He can say. . .

Don't fret, just leave it all in My hands
     Don't let this moment slip away
Not yet, just hold on to Me
      Just leave it all in my hands

God's love never changes
     The truth remains the same
He loves you, He died for you
     And He's coming back again. . .

Don't fret, just leave it all in His hands
     Don't let this moment slip away
Not yet, just hold on to Him

Just leave it all in His hands. . .

Original Song Lyrics Patricia Paige Harrison

Monday, November 7, 2011

Please Forgive me. . .

Ephesians 4:32
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."



Have you ever forgiven someone only to have the issue come up again?  Forgiveness is the crux of Christianity.  Matthew 18:20,21 records a conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (NIV).  The King James version renders verse 22 as, " Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." The Greek rendering of the words  hebdomekontakis hepta or seventy times seven reveals that the answer that Jesus gave was in accordance with the question Peter asked.  Seventy-seven times is hyperbole for as many times as it takes.  Seven is the number of perfection in scripture.  We must forgive as we have been forgiven. Matthew 6:15 instructs, "But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."  Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God.  Forgive, if it comes up again say, "No, I have forgiven this situation as God forgave me."  Do it seventy-seven times or as many times as it takes.  The enemy has a vested interest in keeping us in unforgiveness.  If he can keep us bound, we can't move forward in God's plan for our lives.  Forgive, not because you feel like it or you want to, but because you know that is what will set you and others free. 

Lord, in Jesus' name please show us the areas of our lives that we may be harboring unforgiveness.  Please give us the grace to forgive as many times as it takes.  Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be Your child and to live in Your light.  I pray that Your Holy Spirit fills our hearts and lives with Your glorious presence and enables us to shine to this dark world.  Amen.  I love You.

Patti 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reflections

"However, as it is written:  “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived,” the things God has prepared for those who love him." 
I Corinthians 2:9
NIV
I've been feeling rather reminiscent lately.  It seems that around every corner I catch glimpses of yesterday.  The sharp smell of burning leaves transports me back to my autumns past, and the glinting sun reflecting on the calm water reminds me of days long gone and the memories that they hold.  We collect the pieces of our lives and display them in curio cabinets and picture frames to remind us of the people and things that we love.  It isn't difficult to get lost in the wave of memories that they contain.  Recently I went for a walk on a local beach and a barrage of memories swept over me.  In that very spot over the years, I had swam as a teenager, watched my daughter play in the sand, cried my eyes out, laughed with friends and wistfully watched sailboats cross the sound.  The most bittersweet of memories are the ones of people who have passed on.  Longing to see them and speak with them again brings tears to my eyes even now.  It is so easy to get overwhelmed delving into these shadows of the past.

Isaiah 64:4 is the scripture that I Corinthians 2:9 refers to in the phrase, "However, as it is written. . ."  This scripture reads, "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him" (NIV).  God understands that our pasts are just that "passed."  We can't change the things that have gone before.  Try as we might we can't change ourselves.  It may seem that we make some superficial adjustments; but honestly, without God's indwelling Spirit anything that we can do ourselves is just skin deep.  When we give our past and present to God in repentance and salvation He ensures us a glorious future.  We are given the opportunity to live our lives in His presence now, and to spend eternity with Him in a heaven that we can't even imagine.

I pray that you accept God's offer of eternity.  His intention is and always has been an intimate relationship with man.  This truth is traced through the Bible, from the Fall of man in Adam, to the redemption of mankind in Christ.  He loves you. That is the beginning and the end.

Sincerely,

Patti            

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley



I have been furnished with a free copy of this book by Booksneeze.com in return for the writing of this review. I have not been paid otherwise, and all opinions stated in this review are my own.




The Grace of God by Andy Stanley is an insightful and well-written book that traces the subject of grace through the scriptures. Stanley is an author, pastor and founder of North Point Ministries, Inc. located in the Atlanta area. He has written numerous books in the Christian genre and is a strategic church planter through North Point Ministries. Stanley gracefully lays open the topic with intelligence and humor. This writing is deeply challenging; although, completely relatable to our modern everyday lives.

Stanley broaches the subject of law vs. grace in Chapter Four of The Grace of God. Of The Decalogue, Stanley remarks, “The Ten Commandments do not stand in contrast to grace; they are introduced within the story of God's grace” (Stanley 2011, 53). The author goes on to confirm that “God's law is never given to establish a relationship; God's law is given to confirm an existing relationship” (Stanley 2011, 64). How freeing it is to have the truth of grace, which is so easily confused, pinpointed in such understandable terms. After digesting this book one is left with an undeniable understanding that regardless of our striving, each of us are flawed human beings, existing in a fallen world, with an extraordinary God Who has bridged that crevasse by His Grace. Fleshly pride can not breathe in the atmosphere of this truth. I would recommend this book to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of God's relational intention toward humanity.

Stanely's stance on grace is supremely healthy, it leaves one with the feeling of a warm hug from our heavenly Father.

Reverend Patricia Paige Harrison

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't Miss The Moment

Matthew 25:13
 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

Pic from freepicturesweb.com



There is the most amazingly beautiful tree in a church yard that I pass on my way home from a nearby town.  I noticed it as the leaves turned a vivid apricot, orange color that dances on your eyes like a blazing fire in the afternoon sunlight.  The tree is located on the highway, so I couldn't pull over to take a picture of it.  I told myself that the next time I passed it I would make a point to stop in a safe place to get a picture.  Only a day later, as I approached the tree, I was sad to see that half the leaves had fallen off and the remaining ones had turned from blazing to dull.  I had missed the moment.

This reminded me of the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13, "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’  “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’  “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.  “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour."

God has offered us eternity.  It is ours for the accepting.  We have this moment to prepare, to accept Him.  We never know if this would be our last chance.  I pray you accept the offer and not miss the moment.

Patti



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Garden Enclosed

    You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. You are a garden fountain, a well of flowing water streaming down from Lebanon.” Song of Solomon 4:12-15 NIV
Listen to the words that God uses to describe the love that He has for you. The lush portrait that He paints of His Beloved is illustrative of His extravagant love for us. The Song of Solomon is popularly attributed to be written by Solomon in 900 BC. Some scholars believe that it was eponymously, or written in the name of Solomon, by some other ancient writer. This theory is put forth due to some verses that compare and contrast the writer to Solomon; although, this in itself, is a technique used by writers to accentuate a point, and is not strong evidence that Solomon did not write the book himself. Other scholars have argued that several of the words used in the book are Persian, which would indicate that the work was written in the postexilic period or after the Babylonian captivity. Regardless of the authorship or dating, this allegorical book is God breathed and very telling about the love that He has for us and our necessary response to Him.


God desires that we put Him first in our lives. He desires that we not lift our souls up to any other, which in essence, is idolatry. This concept seems so adverse in the fray of the world. As human beings we crave creature comforts. We covet human relationships, possessions, notoriety and power; while most of these things in and of themselves are not inherently bad, allowing them to come before God in our lives blocks our entrance into the lush garden of experiencing His love in the fullest. Imagine a locked garden verdant and overflowing with fruits and fragrant herbs, a pure fountain waters its enclosure. Contrast this to a garden with its walls broken down, its water source tainted, it is trampled by the world and its foliage withering and dying. Our lives can so easily become like this polluted garden. God wants us to guard our relationship with Him wholeheartedly. Exodous 34:14 admonishes, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” This is not petty jealousy, but God's desire for our hearts to be pure before Him so that He is able to flow through our lives as living water.


Lord, we come before you in humility and prayer, please show us the areas of our lives that we need to release to You. Lord, sometimes it is painful to admit our sins and let go of them in repentance, thank you that it is very freeing and healthy to do so. Lord when our flesh revolts against You when You ask us to let go of something that it thinks it needs, I pray that you cover us and enable us to lay down our idols at Your feet. I know that very often You will restore what we let go of, when we don't put it before You. Thank you for your Word, thank you for your Son. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.



Patti

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sing Praises

Psalm 18:49
"Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name."



The Book of Psalms teaches us much about God's nature and what He desires from us.  The word psalm means, "a sacred song or hymn."(Dictionary.reference.com).  Psalms are valuable for personal spiritual development and encouragement.  The Psalms teach us that our Spiritual God requires Spiritual worship from His people.  Many Psalms translated in the King James Version of the Bible contain a title with Hebrew directive words to show the singers and musicians in what manner the Psalm is to be sung.  Here are those words and their meanings.  I pray that this enriches your reading of the Psalms.

Psalm:  Hebrew - Mizmor  "To be sung with instruments."  57 Psalms with this title
Song:  Hebrew- Shir Pronounced "Shy-ear"  denotes vocal piece  31 instances
Prayer:  An entreaty to the Lord.  5 Psalms with this title.
Praise:  A vocal exclamation of God's goodness.  Psalm 150
Maschil:  Skillful special teaching.  Occurs 13 times.
Michtam:  Musical composition, speaks of atonement and faith.
Song of Degrees:  Sung by pilgrims as they ascended Mt. Zion.
To The Chief Musician:  To be led by the worship leader, shows authority.  55 times.
Neginoth:  Sing song with stringed instrument.
Nehiloth:  Sing song with flute or wind instrument. Psalm 5
Sheminth:  Sing with 8 stringed lyer (harp) by men.  Psalm 6
Shiggaion:  Wild passionate song.  Psalm 7
Gittih:  Music sung while pressing grapes.
Muthlabben:  Dirge for the death of a son.  Psalm 9.
Alamoth:  Sung by women.  Soprano.
Mahalath:  Sing while dancing.

Psalm 55
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, a Psalm of David.

These directive words express that the authoritative leader should play this skillful teaching song of David on the stringed instrument.

Psalm 7:17
"I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high."

Will Praise:  Strong's #3034:  Yahdah To throw, to cast, to speak out, confess, to praise, to sing, to give thanks.  According to the Apostle John, God wants a person to be cleansed through confession (I John 1:9).  This constant acknowledgement maintains a proper relationship with God.  The name Judah comes from the root word Yahdah.  Praise acknowledges Who God is and what He has done for us.

Patti

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Last Piece

Revelation 10:4 "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."   



One of my childhood friends had a United States map puzzle, which we would play with together.  She would dump the pieces out of the frame onto the floor and inevitably she would grab Rhode Island. She would hide it under her leg so that she could place it in the map last to complete the picture.  I really have no idea why she was so enamored of Rhode Island.  Her habit was quirky and slightly annoying, but it was her game and her rules. 

God has given us a plethora of information regarding creation's past, present and future.  So much, in fact, that one could spend an entire lifetime studying His Word and still only barely scratch the surface of it.  He has given us intellect and insight in order that we can come to understand Him and His intention for humanity.  The Book of Revelation, although shrouded in symbolism, speaks massive amounts about the destiny of man and creation.  Revelation 10:4 divulges another truth, "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not."  John the Beloved was made privy to information regarding God's intentions that he was instructed to "write not".  This is very telling about the relationship God has with us.  We are not in control.  We have been given a sacred road map, but a piece, or pieces have been left out.  This may be dismaying to some.  How can we know what to expect?  What can we do to prepare?  The answer honestly is nothing; but, trust God and keep His Word that He has given.  Ultimately, even if my friend had not placed Rhode Island on the map, I knew that it belonged there.  We are not aware of what God is holding back, but we can be assured that it is amazingly awesome and for our eternal best.

Patti

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

That Do I


"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."
Romans 7:15

Pic from freepicturesweb.com


Several questions naturally arise when broaching the subject of temperament; the most obvious is, what is temperament and how is it discovered?  Subsequently, one may ask how does one's temperament affect everyday life.  Temperament affects how we relate to ourselves, to others and to God.  Proverbs 27:19 says. "As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of a man to man" (KJV).  Inherently we are made in the image of God, we have been given gifts and tendencies for His honor and glory.  Marked by the Adamic Fall, we are distorted by sin; and thus, our personalities reflect both our God-given traits and our sin-twisted flaws.  In Romans 7:15 Paul speaks of his personal struggle with his sin nature, "For that which I do I allow not:  for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I."  Paul knew and understood human sin nature and its ability to assert itself in our behavior.  Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living; but I propose that, the unsubmitted life is the valueless one.  Temperament is a combination of God-given traits and tendencies that intermingle to create unique human beings.  Due to human sin-nature inherited by humanity from Adam, our personalities are distorted and only by submission to God, made possible by the Blood of Christ, are they redeemed.   Temperament may be discovered by the use of personality tests; such as, the one contained in Tim LaHaye's book, Why You Act The Way You Do published by Tyndale House Publishers, 1984. 

Temperament is a complex and rich mixture of traits and tendencies, given to us by a creative and loving Father  and skewed by sin.  The value of discovering and understanding our temperaments, as well as, those of others, is the insight into behavior that is gained through it.  The ability to use our strengths to their full capacity and understand our weaknesses, and submit both to God will surely build a greater maturity in our Christian walk.

Patti

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time

Pic from freepicturesweb.com



Do you think that eternity
                                       ripples as it washes upon
                                                                             the edge of light
                                                                                               
Or do you think it flows
                                     back upon itself
                                                              as it remembers

The shards of the past
                                   washed up on
                                                         Times beach?

Broken pieces of yesterday
                                          hope for tomorrow
                                                                       lingering on the tide

And flowing away again
                                      under a blazing sun
                                                                    Who could imagine winter?
                                    

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Forgiven is Forgotten

Psalm 103:12 
 "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
Pic from freepicturesweb.com

When we come to God in repentance for salvation, all of our prior sins are forgiven.  He casts them away from us, "As far as the east is from the west. . ." as the Book of Psalms tells us.  We have been redeemed, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, when God looks upon us He sees a newborn child.   He sees us covered by Christ's righteousness. Just as any child, we are in need of nurturing and teaching, to grow into strong, healthy and mature adults.  Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and  furthermore, I John 1:10 says, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."  So the cold hard fact is that everyone sins every day.  This may seem like an untrue statement, but it is certainly true.  We may, by God's grace, overcome huge sins in our lives, but there are many ". . .little foxes that spoil the vines. . ." (Song of Solomon 2:15).   Matthew 12:36 tells us,". . .That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Corinthians 11:31 states,"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."How then, can we reconcile our forgiven position, our inherent sin nature, and the weight of being accountable for every word we speak?  These truths are reconciled in the cross.  To acknowledge our own sinfulness, and know that we need God's grace and forgiveness every moment is a very humbling experience.  We must spiritually dwell at the foot of the cross.

Just as we must bathe our bodies to keep them physically clean, we must bathe our spirits in repentance.  Unconfessed sin is sin that we see and understand and will not repent of.  This state blocks the flow of God in our lives.  Forgiveness is key, He forgave us by Christ's blood.  We in turn must forgive others the trespasses that we have incurred from them.  This is not to say that we are validating their behavior toward us, only that we are consciously forgiving as God forgave us.  God understands our hurts and the scars that they have left on our hearts and minds.  He is not going to automatically give up on us because we stumble.  He wants our willingness and desire to please Him out of the love that we have for Him.  We are weak beings that are completely unable to accomplish what He has asked of us on our own.  We must rely on Him continually.  God is not out to get us.  He sent His only Son to die for us so that we may live in and with Him, now and eternally.  Keep your spirit clear in repentance, and remember that in God's eyes, as well as need be in our own, forgiven is forgotten.

Patti


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blessed Ichthys

"And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." 
Mark 1:17
Wikipedia

The Ichthys, or Christian fish symbol; regularly seen emblazoned on cars and Christian merchandise, has deep meaning and ancient roots.  Early Christians would inscribe the Ichthys symbol upon doorways of houses in which they would meet in.  It was a wordless declaration of their identification with Christ, and a signal to other Christians that this a safe place.  The word Ichthys is actually a Koine Greek acronym.  Koine Greek was the common language spoken by the Greek population.  An acronym is a word formed by using the successive first letters of a phrase to develop another word.  Scuba is one such word.  The original phrase that the word scuba was derived from is "Self-contained-underwater-breathing-apparatus."  "ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys) is an acronym for "Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr), which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icthus).        

Sitting at the beach this week, the October sun barely warm as it was shrouded by long gray clouds, I ruminated on the book that I was reading about grace.  There were several fishermen casting their rods into the surf and I noticed one reeling in a fish.  I began to muse about how it must seem to a fish to at one moment be swimming happily in the salty ocean, the only world it has ever known, and then suddenly be yanked into daylight.  This is very much what the human experience of of salvation is like to a person who has been submerged in the world for their entire existence.  It is like a legend among fishes, "There is a different world up there, no fins, no water to breathe. . . and you know that glow we see, it is actually a huge orb. . ."  Foreign territory.  I felt really bad for the fish as it flopped on the wet sand.  A family went over to inspect it as the fisherman removed it from the hook.  I silently said to God, "I hope he throws him back."  The fisherman did just that, what a reprieve!  To be vulnerable and dying and at one man's mercy be given a second chance!  What a blessed Ichthys.

When new Christians first come into the fold, they are in need of discipleship.  It is our duty to nurture and teach them, in order that Christ is duplicated in their lives.  If this duplication is not taking place we are not fulfilling the commission that Jesus gave at His ascension. Matthew 28:19,20, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." 

Patti

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sky

Pic taken at Assateague Island, Virginia 10/10/11

A gray October sky
                               in such a summer place

Long clouds try
                        but cannot the sun displace

A sweet salty breeze
                                with only an edge of fall

Blows my thoughts away
                                       with the seagull's call


Dreams that never
                            saw the light of day

Smolder like an ember
                                    words I dare not say

Sweetly lying words, promise
                                               I will never leave

Barely whispered voices
                                       upon a winter's eve


But in the grace of summer
                                           thriving healthy love

I will remember winter's dearth
                                                  and praise my God above.

Original Poem by Patricia Paige Harrison 10/10/11

                             

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

2 Corinthians 3:18
"And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." NIV


Pic from freepicturesweb.com

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  A gender, a race--perhaps some crinkles around your eyes that didn't seem to be there yesterday?  Our outer appearance may be the image that the world perceives us by, but who we truly are is more than skin deep.  We all have been born in different situations, with different skin colors, different social expectations and mores.  The defining factor in the life of any human being is the state of their spirit, not the state of their visage.  Identifying oneself with Christ is as simple as believing and asking Him for salvation, and as difficult as giving Him your entire life. God understands our plight.  When we submit our lives to Him, II Corinthians 3:18 becomes a reality in our lives.  I pray that each day you become more and more the image of your Heavenly Father. 

Patti      




Friday, October 7, 2011

Issues of the Heart

"Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." 
Proverbs 4:23 

Pic from freepicturesweb.com

We may feel that our unexpressed desires and thoughts do not affect our outer lives, but this is a fallacy.  Our physical hearts are vital to the health of our entire body; the same way as, our spiritual hearts are integral to our spiritual health.  We know that ingesting poison is detrimental or fatal to our bodies, if we allow it into our systems it will maim or kill us eventually.  What we allow into our hearts is even more dangerous.  The word "issue" can be used as a noun or a verb.  In the sense that it is a noun it means, "Something that is sent out or put forth in any form."  Likewise as a verb, its meaning is, "To send out; discharge; emit" (dictionaryreference.com).  So what we allow into our hearts, will become an issue and will issue forth from our lives.  It is said that the eyes are the gateway to the soul; more aptly, they are the gateway to what we allow into our souls.  Job had the right idea in verse 31:1 when he said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?"  We must consciously not allow ourselves to indulge in things that we know will lead to sin.  Adding sin to loneliness or problems in our lives will not accomplish anything but digging us deeper in the problem.  The enemy would have us believe that lie in order to drag us away from God and entangle us further.  Be careful of what you allow your heart to dwell on, it certainly will become an issue.

Lord, in Jesus' name please show us the areas of our lives that we have allowed wrong thinking to invade.  Please help us to guard our eyes and hearts.  Thank You for Your mercy and grace, for without it we would be lost. Thank You for loving us in our sin, You are our only hope.  I praise You and love You.  Amen.

Patti  

   

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sing Praises

Psalm 47:6 "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises."


Pic from freepicturesweb.com
The word "praise" occurs 259 times in the King James Version of the Bible.  It is defined as, "The offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship"(dictionaryreference.com).   Praise is an expression of love and gratitude that we return to God at our recognition of His great love and mercy for us.  When we praise God, it pleases Him; but even deeper, it changes us and reflects our heart position toward Him.  It is not possible for a proud or rebellious heart to truly praise.  Praise erupts from a knowing of our bereft and sinful state and that realization that God sacrificed His Son to rescue us from ourselves.  Sometimes it may seem that praise is limited to the musically or vocally gifted person; but truly, God does not listen for perfect pitch or even meter.  He longs to hear the genuine song of your heart.  Praise is about relationship; when we are in right standing with God it naturally flows.  The first place to check in our hearts if we are not flowing, is forgiveness.  Is there someone you have truly not forgiven?  Unforgiveness blocks our relationship with God.  The next place to look is repentance.  Are there sins in your life that you recognize and will not repent of?  They are not worth holding on to!  Examine your obedience.  Has God asked you for something, in His Word, or personally that you are resisting?  He is merciful and kind, but He does expect us to obey Him.  1 Corinthians 11:31 admonishes, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."  If we remain cognizant of our sin and repent for it, God will not have to judge us for it later.


There are many reasons to praise God, five of which from the Book of Psalms are:
   

His Righteousness:
Psalm 7:17
"I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high."

Our gladness in Him:
Psalm 9:2
"I wil
l be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High."


His Salvation:
Psalm 9:14
"That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation."


His Holiness:
Psalm 22:3
"But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."


His Mercy:
Psalm 106:1
"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever."



Be diligent to keep your relationship with God free of hindrances so that you will be able to fulfill Psalm 34:1 and declare as David did, "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Patti

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Run To Win

1 Corinthians 9:24 "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." NIV

Pic from freepicturesweb.com
Paul compares the Christian experience to a foot race.  This would have been a very distinct analogy to the people of the First Century, who were well familiar with the Hellenistic Olympic Games.  The Olympians trained intensely so as to be the winner and receive the prize.  They would receive a laurel wreath that would be placed on their head and their name would be inscribed in the Olympic records. This was a great honor.  They would receive great accolades--they were very much the celebrities of the time.   

In middle school a friend and I were fierce at Badminton; well, as fierce as two seventh graders can be.  The annoying thing about us is that we skipped, spun, tip-toed and did victory dances.  While our opponents got angrier and sweatier we just smacked the birdie and perturbed them all the more with silly sound effects.  We were all but unbeaten and there was a price on our heads in the locker room.  Sports Day arrived and I signed up for tennis, which I played relatively well.  Brash from winning so many Badminton games, I began my vexing antics again.  I had a different partner and she wasn't so impressed with my amazing tip-toed backhand.  We began losing and by the time I got serious and really put some elbow into it, it was too late.  I had fooled around too long and we lost, I'll never forget the look on her twelve-year-old face.

Eternity isn't a tennis match or a foot race.  The prize is much more dear than any accolades or a wreath.  In order to run the race so that we may win, we must be trained in the Word of God and love more fervently than any athelete trains.  Becoming too confident of our own abilities is a sure-fire way to lose.  As Christians, it is our responsibility to get as many people across the finish line as possible for the Kingdom.  This is God's will and His heart.

Patti


Friday, September 30, 2011

Ever Of Old

"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?"  Numbers 23:19

Pic from freepicturesweb.com

Many people have difficulty reconciling the God in the Old Testament and the New Testament.  The wrath-filled rule giver compared to the merciful grace giver seems rather bi-polar, and has caused many to question His nature.  Albeit this is a superficial view of God's behavior in the Old Testament; as, His love and grace are illustrated throughout the Word.  Marcion of Sinope in AD 144 went so far as to form a heresy claiming that the God of the Old Testament and of the New were separate beings.  Marcion also dissected the scripture and reorganized a revised version of the Bible that fit his theory.  Interestingly, the existence of heresy historically has caused the Church to be cautious and crystallize it's doctrine all the more.  The imprecatory Psalms are another instance of seeming contradiction in scripture.  The word imprecatory is derived from the Latin word imprecatus, and it means "to curse."  Psalm 55:15 is an example, "Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them" (KJV).  This is the antithesis of Jesus directing his disciples to, ". . . Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (KJV).  There is a seeming chasm between what The Old Testament and The New Testament teach.  What is the truth that bridges this apparent gap?  The cross!  Jesus' sacrifice spans the gap and brings us to the place in which we are given the opportunity to step into His imputed righteousness and out of the sin nature we inherited from Adam.  God's first intention was a loving fellowship relationship with man which was marred by sin.  There is no confliction between God's nature in The Old and New Testaments, only the saving grace of Christ's sacrifice.

Patti

          

Thursday, September 29, 2011

As The Stars

Ephesians 2:8
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God."



 

The current popular definition of grace in Christianity is "unmerited favor," while this definition is true, it barely scratches the surface of the implications of grace.  It is very easy to slip into legalism in our Christian walk, the result of this is the feeling that we somehow deserve grace because of our statute keeping.  It is only by God's grace that we are able to consider obedience.  Abram enjoyed a grace relationship with God well before the Ten Commandments were given.  Abram's relationship with God was based on faith, not performance.  This is not to say that we can live any way that we please and rely on grace to cover our intentional sin.  This is about relationship.  If you love and cherish a relationship with another person, you will be faithful to them because of your love, not due to a fear of retribution.  God wants that relationship with you.  The pull of sin on our lives is like a driving current, but we can swim against it.  God knows this, and He has given us His grace in order that we might be able to overcome our sin nature.  Just as Ephesians 2:8 tells us, this grace is not of ourselves; therefore, we have no reason to boast or be proud.  God's grace extended to the sinner, which we all are, is unmerited favor.  It covers the entire spectrum of all of our lives Christian and non-Christian alike.  His grace created us and sustains us and it is calling us to Him.  So much of Christianity is as Colossians 2:21 describes, "Touch not; taste not; handle not." Grace allows us to, ". . .taste and see that the LORD is good. . ." (Psalm 34:8).  By faith, Abram come Abraham received this promise from God, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (Genesis 22:17).  By God's grace and faith we have or can become part of that promise.

Patti 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This Moment

2 Corinthians 6:2
"For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." KJV


Pic from freepicturesweb.com

So often we spend our lives reminiscing about or regretting the past; or conversely, planning for or worrying about the future.  In the passing stream of our lives the only thing we truly hold is this moment.  In this moment we can be untethered from the past and release the future to God.  In 2 Corinthians 6:2 Paul speaks of this truth.  Now is the time that we have the opportunity to submit our lives to God.  Christ frees us from our pasts, as Psalm 103:12 tells us, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us" (KJV).  When we give our future to Him we have no need to worry, only to rely on Him as Philippians 4:6 exhorts,"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."  With the past at rest and the future promised, we are able to praise God for His goodness and mercy in the moment.  In this place we may rest and be healed.  If you allow God to have your now, He has promised to give you eternity.  This is well-worth the trade off.


Lord, I Jesus' name I pray that You enable us to lay all things down at Your feet.  I pray that You cause us to desire the things that You desire.  I pray that You cause us to realize and understand the gravity of our circumstances and the beauty of Your grace.  Thank You for loving us, for we are very unlovely for the most part.  Thank You for the opportunity to live in and with You eternally.  I love You. Amen.

Patti
  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Broad Is The Road

Matthew 7:13
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." NIV


Pic from freewebpictures.com

Have you ever ended up somewhere that you never intended to arrive?  Speaking of an adventerous roadtrip to points unknown, this situation could be invigorating and fun; although conversely, when it comes to sin, you will find yourself wishing you stayed home.  Jesus understands that it is human nature to take the path of least resistance, this broad road will lead you to destruction.  Jesus is the narrow gate that leads to heaven.  Try as we might, there is no other way to reach God.   Jesus speaks of Himself in John 10:1, “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber"(NIV).  Don't allow yourself to be sidetracked and hijacked into taking some other avenue.  Jesus not only is life and the Way to life, He is the guiding factor Who will keep us traveling on the right path.  In John 10:7-10 the thought is continued, "Therefore Jesus said again,'Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full'" (NIV). 
The offer of salvation was bought for us by the blood of Christ, I pray that you accept it and enter through that narrow gate and allow Him to lead you home.

Lord, In Jesus name I pray that You lead us in all truth to the destination that is Your will for each of us.  Please enable us to relate to others with love and compassion as You do.  Please keep us on track by Your grace.  Love You.

Patti


Monday, September 26, 2011

Perfection


"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."  Romans 12:12

Pic from freepicturesweb.com

The scripture speaks much of the perfect.  The King James Version of the Bible renders the word perfect in twenty-five different Strong's Concordance entries; and, it is used one hundred and twenty-three times in the text.  This is quite an array of nuance of meaning.  In Romans 12:12 the word perfect is translated from the Greek word teleios (Strong's Concordance number 5046).  It's meaning is: "brought to it's end; finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, full grown, adult, of full age, mature" (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5046&t=KJV).  This word is an adjective and it describes a work in progress.  A person growing into maturity.  We are being perfected into the will of God by the renewing of our minds and the rejection of worldly standards.  In this place of transformation God recreates us into His image by the inflow of Himself through His Word.  It is not His will that we mix Him with worldliness; which in effect, produces and idol.  It is His will that we unhinge ourselves from the world's set of social rules and follow His.  We need not strive to be perfect in the sense that we are complete in ourselves.  Romans 3:23 tells us, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (KJV).  As Christians, each one of us is a sinner saved by grace, being perfected by God.  This is the place of the cross, if we ever allow ourselves to forget that fact, it is an opportunity for the enemy to cause us to judge others.  We are all on a journey, we began in different places and God is moving us toward Himself.  God's grace is the forward moving vehicle that keeps us continuing on the journey. 

Lord, in Jesus' name I pray that you keep us in Your perfect will.  I pray that You continue to perfect us and transform us into Your image.  Thank You for Your grace.  Thank You for the opportunity to live with You eternally.  Thank You for Your Son and His sacrifice that has bought us the opportunity to be Your children.  I love You and praise You.

Patti
 

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