Awakening

~~ a Springtime quindecim

by tkbrown
The world slowly opens its eyes,
sleep lazily drifting away--
from a year of treatment trial
to real-life--so far from benign.
Changes await--careless and wise;
whate'er we do, whate'er we say,
the virus spreads 'mongst us still,
and more choose to brave the vaccine.
Beleaguered businesses devise
plans to re-open 'midst the fray;
some return with variant viral
increase showing no let-up sign.
What was is done, ne'er will it be
relived. The things--this day--we see
matter, e'en when we disagree.

Winds of Spring challenge Winter's droll
as temperatures rise and fall.
The "Lion," chased by frolicking "Lamb,"
skitters into the waking woods,
then returns with his empty bowl--
whistling sweetly, utters a call
to Springtime warmth, mimicking clam--
then lowers it to scoop his "goods."
Remnant sweetness drifts to the shoal,
settles against debris strewn wall--
although it did spare Birmingham--
while moving on to other 'hoods.
Awakening is bittersweet
as the month pulses to its feet
when Winter's cold and warmth do meet.

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As Winter draws to a close and Springtime opens her eyes, we all await warmer days with antsy anticipation. A combination of factors makes this "looking forward" even edgier this year: the Covid-19 pandemic, the social distancing and disinfecting protocols to protect self and others, the record-breaking snowfall and temperatures, the toll taken by both the pandemic and the weather. Even as we are hopeful for a year of recovery, health, happiness, and prosperity, we face new challenges in various forms. Look ahead with assurance of the fact: "This too shall pass," (Anonymous).

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Photo Above: by Gerd Altmann @pixabay.com.

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All Things Work Together . . .

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Romans 8:24-39

  • 24 — “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one still hope for what he sees?”
  • 25 — “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
  • 26 — “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
  • 27 — “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
  • 28 — “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
  • 29 — “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
  • 30 — “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified, and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
  • 31 — “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
  • 32 — “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”
  • 33 — “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
  • 34 — “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
  • 35 — “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
  • 36 — “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'”
  • 37 — “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
  • 38 — “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come,”
  • 39 — “nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Source: Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV).

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Notes:

In the eighth chapter, twenty-eighth verse of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul tells us to keep uppermost in our mind the promise: “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Oftentimes, we tend to become discouraged by all the negatives in our lives, and we might complain there are not enough positives happening. The past year is one of the times this might be more apt to occur. Is this something you struggle with? Are you discouraged by all that has happened to you, your loved ones, your family, and your country during the past year? If so, you are not alone. Many others struggle with the same spiritual ailment. Furthermore, it is not a new trial faced by modern-day Christians. It has been here since the inception of Christ’s life on earth and before.

When we are tempted by Satan or one of his many demonic slaves, we can rest assured that nothing they do can harm our soul–unless we allow it. There is an old saying my Mama often quoted: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” (Anonymous). As many have pointed out, words can and do hurt, often for a lifetime. However, Paul is telling the Romans, “If you are one of those who have been called according to His purpose, Jesus life, death, resurrection, and ascension offers hope for life after death through Him becoming “sin”–all of the world’s sin–and the sacrifice of His life in place of ours. All who hear His calling, obey His commands, and continue in His Light have this “hope,” and those who abide in His Way can be assured of eternal life with Him and God the Father.

When we mess up, if we have heard and obeyed the requirements He sets forth in the New Testament, Christ and the Spirit make intercession for us with God the Father. Christ determines who is abiding Him and who is not. If I abide in His Way unto death, I not only have the hope of that gift, He assures me I will receive that gift, and I will be in heaven after I die. If I know I am abiding in Him, I no longer have to hope for eternal life, I can know I will receive it–I can “see” it.

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am a sinner. Because of my sin, I deserve eternal damnation, not eternal life with God and Christ. When I sin, I have the assurance, as God’s child, Christ will make intercession and insure that sin is wiped from my slate IF I repent of that sin and go back to living the way He has instructed. He also has assured me–as Paul states in Romans 8:28–I can know that whatever happens to me in “this life,” it all works together for my good.

Each trial and tribulation we endure–and remain in Him as we endure–works with all other events in my life for my good. If I learn from my mistakes, I can also learn from the mistakes of others. I can ask (pray) for guidance when I do not know what I should do in a specific situation. He will guide me to the answer in some way. I may read the answer in something I come across. I may hear someone talking and “say” the answer even though that person is talking to someone else. I can even “know” His will by the fact that I have no choice as to what I do. Someone or some statute tells me what I “must” do. Even when what I am doing appears to be sin to others, if I learn from it and address it through prayer, He makes intercession for me. If the prophets of old were hindered from attending tabernacle by being cast into a dungeon–or by some other means–it was not held against them when they addressed it through prayer to God.

Again, whatever life throws at us, we can know it will work to our ultimate good if we abide in the way Christ set forth. No one else can do it for me, and no one else can offer me forgiveness for my sin unless that sin involved that person in some way. We can rest in peace with the assurance that everything we experience and endure will work together for our good. This is faith in His promise. He said it–albeit through His apostle–but He said it; so, it is true.

God knew before we were ever birthed on this earth, what our response would be to His calling. He is omnipotent. He was, and is, and always will be. His Son is basically His apology to mankind for not having a plan for “all” to be forgiven and live eternally with Him in heaven.

I, personally, appreciate His sacrifice. What more can one do to let another know he/she loves that person? God’s Son died on the cross for MY SIN– not His sin–MINE! How can I ever justify not abiding in His Way? How can I ever “not” want to spend eternity with God and Jesus Christ?

If you heed Christ’s calling and obey the instructions He set forth, you too can be assured of your home in heaven. So, whatever happens here on earth–know there is a purpose for it in God’s great plan for things. Know, that everything will work together for your good, too–if you heed and abide in His Way!

In the book, Acts of the Apostles, chapter 10, verses one through five tell of Cornelius, an Italian centurion. He and his whole house were good people; they gave alms and prayed for guidance. Their faith and Christ-like actions came to God’s attention. As a result, God maneuvered events in Cornelius’ life so he and his house could know what they must do to be a part of Christ’s church and abide in heaven forever. Thus, Cornelius and his whole house immediately became Christians–in the middle of the night–and they became the first “Gentiles” to be added to Christ’s church.

Prior to this time, God’s plan of salvation had only been available to those of the Jewish nation. If a Gentile wanted to be the recipient of that salvation, he/she had to first become a part of the Jewish nation. Then they could be offered God’s plan. Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension changed this. He freely “gave” so that we might “freely live.”

So, if a person iis truly searching for answers, as we see in the example of Cornelius and his household, God will guide that person to the answers, or He will guide others to that person to provide those answers. Then, the choice lies with that person. He/She has the choice to obey or to reject Christ’s teachings. So, the choice that person makes determines their eternal destiny.

I pray that all will want to live with God and Christ in heaven throughout eternity. However, His Word tells me this will not be the case. Many will not believe or obey Christ’s teachings. Even so, I continue to pray all will obey Him.

My hope and prayer is that each of you will have a peaceful and blessed day amid all the turmoil in the world about you. Be Blessed and Stay Safe!

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Photo Above: by Jasmin Ne @Unsplash.com.

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II — The Way He Should Go . . .

~~ a multiple stanza quindecim

by tkbrown
I
A parent gives name to a newborn child
hoping for temperament low-key and mild.
Impossible to foresee the path trod,
they--two--prayerfully implore most high God:
Watch over and keep him on the right track;
when in smelting fire, please hold to his back.
Help him to learn the pathway he should choose
with plenty of room and nothing to lose
so long as he looks for the Lighted Path
and seeks to help others avoid God's wrath.
When he grows weary give lift to his wings,
replenish his strength,  give voice as he sings.
Help him tune in to your heavenly voice;
as he ponders  the way, then makes his choice
give mom and dad a vision to rejoice.
(Written: 10 February 2021 by tkbrown.)
II
As he grows: infant to toddler, then child,
as mom and dad pray for guidance compiled,
lead them through the inspired books of your Word--
reading instruction, insuring child heard
and lives what she learned as their lives portrayed
words of scripture and their actions conveyed
the faith, the hope, and the love from above,
relied upon strength when "push comes to shove."
Show them the way to plant inside his heart
those treasures from God--whose way doth impart--
knowledge and wisdom for life upon earth
to circumvent and give Satan wide bearth.
The foundation instilled in early childhood
will help her to know which pathway she should
take and follow toward her eternal good.
(Written: 18 February 2021 by tkbrown.)

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(To be continued: Please tune in again next week for the second quindecim.)

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Photo Above: by Bessi@pixabay.com.

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Charity

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.

How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.

Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.

Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.

Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.

The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-47

43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”

44 – “But I say unto you, 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;”

45 – “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”

47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”

 The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.

A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?

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Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

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Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

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My Morning Do . . . Creative Minds

~~ by tkbrown

I have read a number of posts recently on the topics of hope and gratitude. During times like the world has been experiencing through the Covid19 pandemic, it is important to keep fueling both. It may take some effort to do, but the end result is worth far more than any wrangling we may encounter during our endeavor. Making a daily effort to review our sources of hope and the things we have to be grateful for helps too. Faith, too, helps give the strength and resolve needed during times of trial and adversity. My faith in God and Jesus Christ has pulled me through much in the past; so, I can and do always pull strength from the spiritual resources and values in my life.

It is difficult when jobs are lost, income is non-existent or mostly so. Oftentimes, we do not think to be grateful for our work, but it provides much hope in our lives. Subconsciously, we know, so long as we are able to work or have a job to go to, we can get through most anything. When the monetary needs are met in our lives, it reduces the stress level astronomically.

Sometimes school is our main activity. When this is the case, it is important to view it as our job. Our attendance and learning are fuel for our future work lives. School attendance helps one to be in the habit of getting up and getting out–typically on a daily basis. This prepares one for the daily attendance required in work schedules. Lack of attendance in either results in failure.

Even though the need for some required classes cannot be seen, each has a reason for its inclusion. The most prevalent example I saw during my college years was a lack of understanding for the need to take Algebra. Oftentimes, I heard classmates say it would never be used, but its value is in day to day activities. Most never relate the two, but: 2(a+b) = 2ab is nothing more than, (a = the cost of a can of corn, b= the price of a loaf of bread). When these are added together then multiplied by 2, perhaps we are looking at the cost of our weekly need for these items. Algebra is utilized in budgeting among other things. So, it is important to realize that even though school can be humdrum, it is necessary to future needs.

Hobbies are also a source of strength during times of trial. I love to knit and crochet. The idea of taking a straight piece of string and creating something beautiful and lasting has always been intriguing to me. Sewing has a similar effect. Taking a flat piece of cloth and creating a beautiful dress, blouse, shirt, pants, or suit–even something for the home–is a skill to be extolled. Creativity has no bounds in the needlework hobbies. This also rings true of playing a musical instrument, reading, researching, cooking, painting, photography, and the list goes on.

Having something one values in life makes times like these bearable because the voids can be filled with something vital and useful via our hobbies, work, school, faith, family, etc. If one does not stay busy doing something, the desire to live slowly drains from us. This is seen in severe depression. The hopefulness and helpfulness has been lost and must be found again if the desire to live is to be regained.

If you, or someone you love has lost hope due to the downside of the lockdowns and shelter at home orders, seek help from a professional who is trained to help you through this. Above all, do not lose gratitude for what you have. Most cannot honestly say they have nothing for which they can be grateful. If this is one’s view of things, it is time to make a conscious effort to regain gratitude for what is in our grasp. Make it a part of the daily routine to name things for which you can be grateful. Then, it is important to reach out and engage whatever is within your grasp to fuel a new hope for the future. Don’t give up, keep putting one foot in front of the other until you are through the swamp and can see the other side.

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Photo Above: by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash.com.

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