The Year of Grace

Standing Against False Teachings; Standing with God Through Grace!

9 “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.” ~ Hebrews 13:9, (NRSVACE)

As a private school teacher, I come across a lot of people who are interested in putting all kinds of rules and regulations on what you should or should not do with the children. Each day is like dogging a bullet. If someone thinks you’re not obeying they call the authorities. How then I ask can we be true to our profession, true to our God, true to ourselves if we are forced to observe things which only serve to complicate the everyday experience? To truly teach others we ourselves must be true in that teaching, and in Hebrews, many people were found to not be true and instead lived lives bound by false doctrine. Grace is found through finding the strength to stand up and do what you know is right and many times that goes against the world which is made up of endless regulations that are designed to keep us bound up, afraid, isolated, and scared of being found false. Grace is found in the teaching which is not bound but free and enlightening meeting everyone’s needs.

The words that should come from our mouths every day should echo this sentiment, “May you grow in the faith with a heart that takes seriously the only true thing which is the grace God so freely gives to us… May God’s grace rest upon you.”  Let us keep the devotion called grace, make our lives an example of God’s grace, and through this teaching be strengthened as we help others also stand up and be strong. Together we are stronger, like many strings woven into a rope, and by the same token apart we are weak and easy to fall too the regulations of the world which is worthless in the end. Show grace in everything you do for all others and grace shall be shown to you. Make this year one to remember through grace allowing your heart to be filled and constantly blessed by God. Pray daily to God, give him your worries and your praise!

Amen,

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Where Peace Begins

Peace Left by Jesus

27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

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Have you ever wondered why some people just seem to never be able to find peace in their lives? Have you ever wondered why they are always sower towards others, nothing is ever fair or just in their eyes, and they seem to enjoy this self-inflicted agony? I’ve known people like this. I’ve seen how they imitate happiness but it never lasts for long. Things that have happened in their lives are never their fault because it’s easier to blame others. Responsibility for their own actions is a foreign idea and never seems to apply to them. So why the misery, why the drama, why do they run so far and fast from peace?

Self-Worth vs. God’s Peace

11 “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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To understand this behavior we first must understand why the human race ignores God’s ministry of Peace. At this point, it would be all too easy to say that we are all sinners. Yes, that is part of it, but not the whole picture. Rather we must dig deeper and look for that character flaw that some people exploit more so than others called self-worth. It works like this, many people have lived hard lives, as children they are subjected to crappie things that are at the first outside of their control. The craziness of their lives become addicting, much like a drug. The older they get the more they are told how worthless they are until they begin to believe it. At some point, they begin to expect the bad in life, and they chose to ignore the good. This becomes a routine of bad choices that cascade one after another. Now logically speaking they know they should strive for peace in their life, but they are their own worst enemy as the choices they make repeals peace. These broken people believe that they do not deserve to be happy as every attempt fails. So they ignore that singular voice within their hearts and run away not feeling good enough to receive God’s peace. They run and hide because the cannot believe that God has a plan for them that includes happiness and peace here on Earth. They cannot believe that God wants to take control!  But I say to you my brothers and sisters who are broken, God wants to instill his plan into your heart and take all the bad and turn it into good which glories His love for you!

Remember that Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.”

Every time I read this I feel at peace. Why? Because I believe with all my heart and soul that God’s peace is everlasting. I believe blindly in the idea that Jesus really said that.  I believe that Jesus is real and loved us so much that he would die to give us a chance at receiving that everlasting peace.

So, why can people like me believe and other people just can’t quite make that leap of faith? Because they believe they do not deserve God’s love, because they expect nothing but the bad in life. The difference is I do not expect to be saved rather I hope to be saved according to God’s word. Whereas, the broken person dwells in the expectation that bad is all they can hope for, which leaves them without hope of salvation. Thus, if you give in to hopelessness then you in truth shackle your life to this world and to the expectations of a life mired in sin! You give up on the hope God has for you, the salvation he won for you, and the everlasting peace he left in your care.

Conversion

19 “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,” ~ Acts 3:19 (NABRE)

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Again, logically speaking the only way out of this hopelessness is to be converted! This means you must die to your sins and be reborn in the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ! Scary sounding… right? Well to the nonbeliever it is the scariest thing they will ever do. Ok, so how do you convert someone who is broken?  Believe me, when I say it’s easier said than done, but it begins with being the example in every aspect of your life, teaching that God’s grace can be found in everything be it in the good or bad things of this world. Yes, being the example by living your faith, practicing what you preach, do what you say, believe with all your heart, mind, and soul in the words and promises of God. To be a witness to others who need help in believing, who need you to be their a road map to faith, and a guide to those broken down and beaten by this world who expect nothing but bad and show them kindness, love, and mercy. Conversion doesn’t happen overnight, rather it takes time for people to hear, then reacts to God’s call. But know God is calling and He is using you to make that connection!

There is hope, there is love, there is mercy, and there is peace in this world. But the peace we all should strive for is the peace of salvation in the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Amen.

My brothers and sisters, if you enjoyed this message today then I invite you to contact me directly at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com. Let’s open a dialog and share the good news with each other.

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Feeding the Multitude

Matthew 14:11-20

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. ~ Matthew 14:13-14.

THE CROWD

God see’s what we need. He see’s not just the physical but also the spiritual needs of every human being. In this God cares for use through grace, and it is this grace we call compassion do we the human race find true healing. The crowd followed Jesus not out of curiosity, but through the hunger they felt deep inside. The spirit within them needed to be feed. This crowd Jesus took compassion upon and healed the sick, but through their faith in him so too was their soul also mended. If you read the scripture just before Matthew 13 you will discover that Jesus had been told about His cousin John being beheaded. It was this which made Jesus seek seclusion. But even in this state of mind of grief Jesus was very much aware of the multitude and of their many needs. It was not His grief which took center stage but it was the needs of the living. Our God loves us so much He puts all other things aside and tends to us filling our heart, mind, and soul with the spiritual food we crave. For our God is truly a loving and compassionate God, one of grace and compassion.

15 “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.’” Matthew 14:15

MAN’S COMPASSION

In this we see the compassion of man for the disciples of Christ noticed only one need, that of the flesh. For the people had by this point been following Jesus for some time, they had not gone home to eat, to take a bath, to tend to their flocks nor had they brought provisions. For the disciples, food took center stage in their compassionate plea to Jesus. But again as mentioned before God see’s all of our needs. So Jesus argued against not sending the multitude home for food, but rather argued to keep them close to tend to all their needs personally.

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” ~ Matthew 14:16.

GOD’S COMPASSION

Let’s take a moment and break this statement down as the disciples must have. There were hundreds of people of all ages. They were all in the wilderness nowhere close to any immediate food source and night was upon them. So to the disciples the question of feeding the multitude became one of,  “how”, shifting from their first concern of, “where”. For in this one statement by Jesus the responsibility then shifted from allowing the people to feed themselves to the disciples feeding them just as God feeds us.  Their confusion and misgivings, or lack of faith in both Jesus and in themselves prevented them from seeing this miracle which was to unfold and replaced it with blindness making it impossible for them to comply and is seen most readily within the comments they make next to Jesus,

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.~Matthew 14:17

BEGINNING OF THE MIRACLE

Here we see two concerns happening, the first is the amount of food, which is to be the disciples dinner. Secondly, the amount of food was not enough so logically it made no sense to keep the multitude with them.  Therefore, what must have struck the disciples the hardest was if they give what they have away then how or what were they going to eat. This disbelief of the disciples is the failing of every human being as we all tend to see the facts and discount the possibility of things we do not or cannot see in those facts. This then leads to lack of faith in God and His ability to see past the facts and pull forth the impossible. This also leads us to forget the love God holds for us, his caring nature, and his want in taking caring of all our needs. These two things lead us to falter and stumble even when we have seen His love in action before as the disciples had. The power which gripped the disciples in this moment was rooted in their inaction to believe in what they could not see, it was their refusal to look beyond the physical or to admit that they could feed thousands with so little food and this instead lead them to question if it could work even with the Son of God present, for this is called the power of doubt.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. ~ Matthew 14:18-19.

OUR GOD…

In all things our God is one of order, He is one who takes great care to account for each instant perfectly calling out each detail of our lives, deeds, misgivings, loves, worries, and triumphs. Our God is one of prayer, giving thanks for what you have for it was so delivered to us by God. Our God is one that provides everything that we need, in every instant that we live for all things belong to God. Our God is one that calls us forward to be His helper, teaching us what we need to know in every facet of our complicated lives. The lesson we see here is that God can do anything for His people, He can move mountains, build empires, create planets, and die a brutal death to cleanse us our sins, for there is nothing our God can not do. In giving the disciples the responsibility of feeding the multitude He teaches them how it is possible within the right frame of mind, heart, and soul to connect to our loving father in heaven who feeds us making the impossible possible.

20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketful of broken pieces that were left over.21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. ~ Matthew 14:20.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD

The miracle was in the belief that so many could be feed with so little food, with the prayer of thanksgiving, and with the compassion of God. For the Lord left no one out as everyone was feed and within this so too did the servants of Christ find that the love of God even extends to those who doubt such as they had. Our God leaves no one out from his gift giving as he keeps everyone in his sights like a good Shepard. Our God is fair and unchanging in his love that he gives to everyone of us. He calls each one of us to Him by name and within this He again knows what we individually need and so He cares for us the same. He leads us not astray but rather holds us close to Him and shelters us from evil and forgives us our sins in the same manner.

Amen

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 Special Note

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 As we head towards the season of Thanksgiving it is important to take note of all that we have to be thankful for. Like the disciples who learned all things are possible through the love and compassion of God so to can we the many sons and daughters of Christ make miracles happen for those who are in need and thus in our own way feed the multitude. I urge you to support inner city children through the gift of education by clicking the following link.

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Trustworthiness – A CASE FOR GOD!

“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” ~ Exodus 15:2, NIV Bible

Trustworthiness – The Want

The word ‘trustworthiness’ is first a want; everyone wants their name to be associated with it. People want others to view them as being ‘trustworthy’ and in that if this word does not appear on the personal description of friends and family then people genuinely get their feelings hurt. Mostly it is indirect comments through general conversation that this word is implied in the good or negative and because of its meaning that we associate with it the word, ‘trustworthiness’ it has the power to build a person up in the eyes of others or assign them to a lowly level on mankind’s social latter. Here is a question I want one needs to think very carefully about; “How many times have you heard your teacher in primary school talk about the importance of being trustworthy?” If you are anything like me you will have heard comments made about this word at least a million times by numerous teachers throughout grade, middle, and upper level school. “Why… I ask?”  Because as kids we do not see this word in all it’s glory, but when becoming an adult it becomes everything. It is how we are judged as caring human beings whether anyone wants to say it or not. So here is another question we need to ponder, “From where did we get this idea about trustworthiness? How did it ever become so important?”

Trustworthiness – The Bible

16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV Bible

When researching the word, ‘trustworthiness’ I found roughly 40 different bible verses which are talking about the meaning of the word whether the word itself was mentioned or not including those used in this post. Trustworthiness first and for most is a descriptor word; meaning that we as people unknowingly through the basic function of the need to survive place people we meet into two different categories. Therefore, because we see others as being trustworthy, (which equates to becoming an ally) or not being trustworthy, (which equates to being a foe), we first search for certain qualities in strangers we meet and or continue to probe for the same qualities in our family members and friends. In the days before religion man needed to know who to trust and who not to trust for the simple sake of survival; pick the wrong person and it could lead to disastrous consequences. In that trustworthiness is the first human assessment ever devised. Likewise, these characteristics bleeds into our numerous religious beliefs as time went on because again the more complex man becomes the more complex this word also becomes and the more descriptions of what it means grows as does it’s importance in our daily lives.

Quick Self Assessment Question: “How many times have you felt someone let you down?” 

If you are human then you will have felt others may have let you down almost ever single day you live. Before the bible this led people to disown family members that had made a single mistake in judgment and did something that was considered a taboo, to groups of people being outcast from society because they had a disease, to and including people being murdered for the act of cheating on a spouse. This led man to create societal rules that could be easily followed and maintained. The Bible when first being developed was in fact not a singular book of wisdom, but rather a host of singular writings from a plethora of different authors who wrote about trustworthiness and in most instances of the Bible you will find it is either a command from God to trust Him and His divine judgement or a tool to judge others by. From this humanity also found a way to test everything in nature including God Himself. Therefore, the teaching of the Bible follows the theme of the root word of trustworthiness which is trust, (which equates to trust in God.) It was easier to trust in something that was more powerful, something that could be viewed as responsible for the unexplainable which scared the hell out us. With each new description mankind either adopted the teachings or rejected them always keeping in mind; can one trust what is being taught and be viewed as being accurate? This fight still rages on today in our modern society. We need to trust in something that cannot be proven right or wrong because that is the very foundation of faith, and faith allows man to jump past the fear of the unknown element we face in nature and in ourselves. Thus the Holy Bible and other religious texts from the many different faiths around the world serve this most basic of human needs, the need to trust others, the need to believe in something more powerful, and the need to examine both our relationships and ourselves within those relationships.

Quick Self Assessment Question: “How many times have you felt that you let someone down?”

Again, if your human then you will feel this way almost ever single day of your life. In some way we let others we care about down, we make decisions that let events happen that affect negatively someone we care about, and in this process we generally put ourselves first which again satisfies the need to be either trustworthy to a group or to ourselves. In this way also does the Holy Bible help us feel better about our actions through the process of justifying our actions to both the larger group we associate with and in the singular – to ourselves. Our moral conscience or compass in the end only needs to be justified in our own mind before we can be satisfied with any outcomes of those action we took. The link to religion in this way is best illustrated when we pray for forgiveness because this act helps us to make the jump past our guilt of letting others down. Because God is primarily responsible for forgiving our sins and because we never see Him in the physical it is easier to say that we are forgiven because we felt God say so. But for the hardened sceptic religion also has the work around for the absence of God by endowing a person namely a Priest or Pastor that can also forgive our sins which reinforces the presence of God and in other religions idols sever as this reinforcement. How many times have you heard someone else say this? “I prayed so therefore I am forgiven.”

At this point I want to put in this disclaimer: In no way shape or form and I saying or advocating that God is not real or does not exist, rather I am saying we as human beings us the very idea of God as a tool within our own minds to push down negative emotions we are faced with. In this post the topic is ‘Trustworthiness’, but this same line of logic can be applied to almost ever other human emotion.

God is… in every single way necessary and important to human survival. We need to believe in something greater than ourselves because mankind is flawed. We are not in any way perfect, but in every single way in the eyes of God we can find hope, mercy, love, and forgiveness; all the things we need to be healthy and whole. God fills our spirit with the strength to deal with life and all its happenings. Though we no longer need to prove trustworthiness as our ancestors had too, being trustworthy is no less important. God is the connector and we need His grace and wisdom to help navigate our complicated and complex world. God is the justification when we cannot explain events or cannot see the full plan, especially when we fall from the path we set ourselves on. Because we are taught that we first can trust in God, we can view the world with wonder and excitement because even though bad things will happen we have the confidence that we are not alone and more importantly when others let us down we have a place to run too and be consoled. When we let others down god is ready to take us in and forgive us our sins against our brothers as well because God is love.

Trustworthiness – The Moral Guide

5 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.'” ~ Jeremiah 17:5 NIV Bible

To have your name associated with this word, ‘Trustworthy’ doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect in all things. Because that is completely missing the point of life in general. We are not perfect because we have free will, we make our own choices and suffer the consequences of those choices we have made. So therefore my brothers and sisters I say to you;  “Be true to your heart, listen to God who lives in your heart, and know your not perfect but that is also no excuse for seeking to be better, to be worthy, to be trusted by others namely your family and friends, and most importantly to be trusted by God.” I have found in this life the best way to become trustworthy is by saying what you mean – then doing what you say. There is no stronger example than by standing for your own beliefs and openly practicing those beliefs. But this takes character and a strong understanding of your inner person. So it would not be far for me to tell you to do something without giving you the tools to do it. So beyond simply having faith in God, which many people struggle daily with, I am going to give you a blessing I found while visiting a special friend in Thailand.

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Blessings

Not to associate with fools.

To associate with the wise.

To pay respects where they are due.

This is the highest blessing.

To reside in a suitable location.

To have previously done meritorious deeds.

To have set oneself on the right path (to emancipation).

This is the highest blessing.

To have much learning.

To be skilled and knowledgeable.

To be restrained by a moral code.

To have beautiful speech.

This is the highest blessing.

To support one’s parents.

To cherish wife and children.

To earn one’s livelihood without difficulty.

This is the highest blessing.

To be generous.

To live in accord with the Dhamma.

To assist one’s relatives.

To do blameless actions.

This is the highest blessing.

To cease and abstain from evil.

To refrain from intoxicants.

Not to be heedless of the Dhamma.

This is the highest blessing.

To be respectful. To be humble.

To be content. To have gratitude.

To hear the Dhamma at the right time.

This is the highest blessing.

To have patience.

To be easy to admonish.

Associating with monks.

To discuss the Dhamma at a suitable time.

This is the highest blessing.

To practice austerities.

To lead the Holy Life.

Seeing the Noble Truths.

The realization of Nibbanā.

This is the highest blessing.

A mind unshaken by contact with the world.

Sorrowlessness, stainlessness and secure.

This is the highest blessing.

Having accomplished this one is always unconquered,

one goes everywhere in peace.

These are the supreme blessings.

~Maṅgala Sutta, Sutta Nipāta 2.4

THAI DESIGN

Though these blessings are Theravāda Buddhism published in a book called Without and Within and can be downloaded @ www.bia.or.th ; which explains the basics of the faith, all of the ideas have something in common to the basic Christian tradition. Both are teachings of moral qualities a person should desire to have. I believe these teachings are a contributor to how soft-spoken and welcoming the Thai people are in general. These specific blessings will help build ‘trustworthiness’ and personal character and if you seek to make all these things come to fruition that are found within these blessings then in your life I will guarantee that people will see you as a trustworthy person. Side note to following moral code is that people will begin to notice your faith and practice of your faith grow and this will also exude trust naturally, people will want to follow you and learn from you, and if you take on that responsiblity and treat it with the respect it deserves then the true benefits are unspeakable and indescribable for in this you will have attained the blessings above.

I could have easily stated that trustworthiness is simply being trusted by others, but in doing that it would not have expressed the importance of being a person who is worthy of another person’s trust. In this it is hard for me to simply place my trust in a person without first seeing some evidence, but in God I need no explanation nor evidence. I trust in God above all others in my life because simply put people have let me down. How I deal with it and how you my brothers and sisters should deal with it is by first praying to God, asking Him for guidance, understanding, and grace.  Then fall back onto your moral teachings as described above in the first set of blessings which are also found in the Holy Bible, “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” ~ Proverbs 13:20, “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Proverbs 13:7, all of which is a shared belief by most people world-wide. I tell you the truth practice grace and understanding and seek commonalities then there will be peace given to you in all aspects of your life, for that my brothers and sisters is the true goal, peace and harmony in your daily life.

Amen

If you enjoyed “Trustworthiness – A CASE FOR GOD!”, I invite you to stay in contact with me through the following ways and please do not forget to rate this posting below.

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Closing Reminder to Pray

Scott Spinks

Please do not stop praying for our brother Scott Spinks who is recovering from a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body while he was visiting his step-daughter who lives in Bangkok, Thailand. He is feeling much better and is now awaiting to be discharged from the hospital. This is the first time I have been able to meet a person whose relative have asked me to publish a Prayer Request on Listening Faithfully Blog. To Art I just wanted to say it was and is my great pleasure to post on your step-fathers behalf. It is my sincere privilege to have been able to visit you and your family as well this opening week of April 2015 – till we meet again.  I urge everyone to remember the power of collective prayer and to remember to pray for our brother in Christ – Scott Spinks. May the Lord be with him and his family throughout his recovery.

  1. To visit the original Prayer Request Click Here
  2. To stay connected and updated with Scott’s Condition Click Here (My Personal Facebook Page)
  3. To send your prayers please Click Here (Listening Faithfully Community Facebook Page)
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THE PILGRIM SHEPARD

A very honored friend and Catholic Priest; Father Thomas Welbers is going on another Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Below is the general announcement that he published on his blog; The Pilgrim Shepard.

To sign up for this journey with Fr. Welbers please click on the link: SIGN ME UP! 

Meet Fr. Tom!

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