Totally Accepted

images-195I have read and re-read this article many, many times.  It’s your turn to bask in this blessed truth.

This message assures us that God not only deeply loves us but He totally accepts us.  Sometimes, I think we say, yah, I know God loves me, but I wonder if knowing that He also accepts you drives that truth to a deeper level.  In a world filled with rejection –  which I imagine you’ve had at least some experience with – being totally accepted is awe inspiring.  What an amazing God we have!

 

ACCEPTANCE by Miles Stanford

The Importance of Acceptance

There are two questions that every believer must settle as soon as possible. The one is, Does God fully accept me? and, If so, upon what basis does He do so? This is crucial. What devastation often permeates the life of one, young or old, rich or poor, saved or unsaved, who is not sure of being accepted, even on the human level.

Yet so many believers, whether “strugglers” or “vegetators,” move through life without this precious fact to rest and build upon: “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6).

Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ. “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). The peace is God’s toward us, through His Beloved Son — upon this, our peace is to be based. God is able to be at peace with us through our Lord Jesus Christ, “having made peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20). And we must never forget that His peace is founded solely on the work of the cross, totally apart from anything whatsoever in or from us, since “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Our faith becomes a fixed attitude, once it begins to rest in this wonderful fact. Then it can be, if necessary, “rejected indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious” (1 Peter 2:4 ASV). This is the steadying influence most believers are in need of today. A century ago, J.B.Stoney wrote:

“The blessed God never alters nor diverges from the acceptance in which He has received us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Alas! we diverge from the state in which God can ever be toward us as recorded in Romans 5:1-11. Many suppose that because they are conscious of sins, that hence they must renew their acceptance with God.

“The truth is that God has not altered. His eye rests on the work accomplished by Christ for the believer. When you are not walking in the Spirit you are in the flesh… You have to be restored to fellowship [intimacy], and when you are, you find your acceptance with God unchanged and unchangeable [1 Pet. 3:7; 1 John 1:9]. When sins are introduced there is a fear that God has changed. He has not changed, but you have. You are not walking in the Spirit but in the flesh [Rom. 8:5,6]. You have to judge yourself in order to be restored. ‘For this is my blood of the new testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins’ (Matthew 26:28). But if your sins are not met there, where can they be met? ‘Now where remission of sin is, there is no more offering for sin’ (Hebrews 10:18). God has effected the reconciliation; He always remains true to it. Alas! we diverge from it; and the tendency is to suppose that the blessed God has altered toward us. He certainly will judge the flesh if we do not [1 Cor. 11:31], but He never departs from the love which He has expressed to the prodigal, and we find that when the cloud (which walking in the flesh produced) has passed away, His love–blessed be His Name–had never changed.”

The Basis of Acceptance

God’s basis must be our basis for acceptance. There is none other. We are “accepted in the Beloved.” Our Father is fully satisfied with His Beloved Son on our behalf, and there is no reason for us not to be. Our satisfaction can only spring from and rest in His satisfaction. It is from God to us, not from us to God. J. N. Darby was very clear on this:

“When the Holy Spirit reasons with man, He does not reason from what man is for God, but from what God is to man. Souls reason from what they are in themselves as to whether God can accept them. He cannot accept you thus; you are looking for righteousness in yourself as a ground of acceptance with Him. You cannot get peace whilst reasoning in that way.

“The Holy Spirit always reasons down from what God is, and this produces a total change in my soul. It is not that I abhor my sins; indeed I may have been walking very well; but it is ‘I abhor myself [apart from Christ].’ . . Until the soul comes to that point He does not give it peace — He could not; it would be healing the wound slightly [Jer. 6:14;8:11]. The soul has to go on until it finds there is nothing to rest on but the abstract goodness of God; and then, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31b).?”

Sad today, most believers actually reason just the opposite — from themselves to God. When all is going well, and God seems to be blessing, then it is that they feel He loves and accepts them. But when they are stumbling, and everything seems dry and hard, then they feel that He does not love and accept them. How can this be? There is nothing about us to commend us to God, our acceptance being in Christ, plus the fact that most of our true spiritual development comes through the dry and hard times. Thank God, He has accepted us in His Son, and upon this fact we must rest our faith. As in justification, our acceptance is by grace alone.

In his classic, Romans Verse by Verse, William. R. Newell presents some penetrating thoughts regarding this grace:

“There being no cause in the creature why grace should be shown, the creature must be brought off from trying to give cause to God for His care.”

“He [the believer] has been accepted in Christ, who is his standing!”

“He is not on probation.”

“As to his life past, it does not exist before God: he died at the cross, and Christ is his Life.”

“Grace, once bestowed, is not withdrawn: for God knew all the human exigencies beforehand: His action was independent of them, not dependent upon them.”

“To believe, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the great secret.”

“Rely on God’s chastening (child training) hand as a mark of His kindness.”

“To ‘hope to be better’ (hence acceptable) is to fail to see yourself in Christ only.”

“To be disappointed with yourself is to have believed in yourself.”

“To be discouraged is unbelief — as to God’s purpose and plan of blessing for you.”

“To be proud, is to be blind! For we have no standing before God, in ourselves.”

“The lack of Divine blessing, therefore, comes from unbelief, and not from failure of devotion.”

“To preach devotion first, and blessing second, is to reverse God’s order, and preach law, not grace. The Law made man’s blessing depend on devotion; Grace confers undeserved, unconditional blessing: our devotion may follow, but does not always do so — in proper measure.”

Have we been afraid to really believe God? Have some even been afraid to allow others to really believe Him? We must never forget that

“God’s ways are not always man’s ways. To some men constant peril is the only spur to action, and many religions and psychologies are dependent on fear to keep their disciples in line. Fear, too, has a place in Christianity, but God has higher and more effective motivations than fear, and one of these is love. Often fear after a while produces only numbness, but love thrives on love. To promise a man the certainty of his destiny may seem, on the human level, like playing with fire; but this leaves God out of the picture. Those who have the deepest appreciation of grace do not continue in sin. Moreover, fear produces the obedience of slaves; love engenders the obedience of sons.” [1]

… “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

—————————————————————————————————————————————

Grace Fellowship International news – July, 2017
Edited with brackets and subtitles added – J.B.Woodward
This article is from a chapter of Miles Stanford’s book, The Complete Green Letters.
[1] J. W. Sanderson, Jr.
“Miles J. Stanford (1914 – 1999) was a Christian author best known for his classic collection on spirituality, The Green Letters, published in 1964.” (Wikipedia).
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Grill-It-2-Skillet

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Want to grill something one night and make a quick skillet dinner with the extras the next?  That’s what I call Grill-It-2-Skillet cooking.

These are some of my favorites:

 

Grilled Dinner Day 1                                                                    Skillet Dinner Day 2

Grilled Beef Steak (such as Sirloin or Tri-Tip)                            Steak Gyros

Grilled Chicken (boneless, skinless breasts or thighs)              Chicken Fajitas

Grilled Salmon (fillets or patties)                                                 Salmon Fettuccini Alfredo

Grilled Fish (such as Mahi Mahi or Cod)                                     Fish Tacos

Grilled Sausages                                                                             Sausage Jambalaya

bon appetit

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Greek Chicken with Red Peppers and Asparagus

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This is a very flavorful way to make a healthy chicken and vegetable dish.  I made this for a work potluck many moons ago and a friend asked me for the recipe.  But, as usual, I had never written it down.  So, in an attempt to give her the recipe, this is the version I came up with.  Enjoy.

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4-5 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 T lemon juice
1 t oregano, dried
1 t basil, dried
2 t garlic, crushed
1/2 t lemon pepper
1/2-1 t salt (to taste)
3 T extra virgin olive oil plus 1 T for coating the casserole
1 red pepper, sliced
8 or so asparagus spears, cut in half
1 can tomatoes, diced in rich juice
2-3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

Cut chicken in half lengthwise.  Lightly coat bottom of a large casserole dish with 1 T extra virgin olive oil.  (I use 2  medium sized dishes so the chicken has more space for vegetables.)  Lay chicken breast pieces in the bottom of casserole.  Leave a little space between chicken pieces.  Sprinkle chicken with the next 7 ingredients.  Fill the spaces between the chicken with the red pepper slices and asparagus spears.  Spoon tomatoes over chicken and sprinkle with feta cheese.

Cover.  Bake at 350º for about 40 to 50 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with brown rice, whole grain bread or roasted red potatoes.  And, of course, a few Greek olives on the side.

Signature Recipe by Luanna Diller, RD

images-192bon appetit

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Your Muchness

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Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your muchness? 

Do you ever question your value?  Your personal worth?  I think most of us would say, yes, at times we do.

It’s no wonder we struggle emotionally.  As Earl Jabay, a mental hospital Chaplain has said, “No small part of the problems of those who receive treatment for emotional problems is that they have lost their sense of identity.  As one put it, ‘I am looking for a feeling of somebodyness’.”  

Muchness.  Somebodyness.  Identity.  Worth.  Value.

images-185What is your value?  You are worth the very blood of Jesus!  God looked at you in your need and He offered Jesus, His only Son.  There is no greater value He could place on you but the value of His Son.  God’s value of you is never in question so a low sense of value must always and only be from Satan.  You have the choice to refuse that lie and to believe what God says about you.

You were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.  1 Peter 2:10

The answer to human problems is a Person, the Person, Jesus Christ.  His identity (in exchange for our old identity) makes us somebody.  A new identity has been given to us.  We are God’s own people.  Christ’s kind of people.  We belong to God.

In Christ, our muchness is secure.  We are somebodies.

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Lean On

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

I’d driven by this same sign on the side of the highway a dozen times.  A simple white sign with black letters, quoting Acts 16:31.  And every time it stirred something in me.  Not the part about being saved, that I was already sure of, but the part about believing on.  It was that word on.  Why on?  Why not in?

Apparently, there is a word epi in Greek that can be translated in various New Testament passages as on and upon.  The same word is used in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon Him.”  In each instance, it means “to lean your weight upon.”  When I’m worried or concerned or feeling anxious and I imagine leaning all my weight on Jesus, instead of carrying all those concerns myself, there’s a certain sense of calm and peace.

This picture of “leaning your weight upon” is the same image we have of John “lying on Jesus’ breast” in John 13:25.  And in Mark 4:38 when Jesus is in the boat, “asleep on a pillow.”  These images of reclining and resting are of leaning one’s weight on something or Someone.

Remember that trust exercise that was popular quite a while back?  The one where you stood and leaned backward, falling into the arms of someone who would catch you and stop you from crashing to the floor?  (And I’m sure you also saw some of the spoofs where someone does crash to the floor!)

images-9Well, Jesus never, ever lets you fall.  He is always there.  He never leaves you.  Which means, He is always there to lean your weight upon.

He invites us to rest our weight on Him, as much and as often as necessary.  In some circumstances it my be a moment by moment leaning.  Some days it may be an attitude of faith we commit to, to just lean ourselves upon Him this day.

Whenever I lean my weight on Him I find that it’s comfortable there.

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:10-13, KJV

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Desires of the Heart

Bible with heart pagesEvery year, in the Bible study I attend, we share what we are asking God for in the New Year.  Throughout the entire year we pray for each other for these things as well as other needs.  Just to be clear, this is not a ‘name it and claim it’ thing.  This is about asking God that His will be done (Matthew 6:10) and that He give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) and that these desires find a meeting point with His will.  We can’t force our heart’s desires to happen but we can lay them out to God and believe that in His infinite wisdom He will direct our paths (Psalm 23:3).  

What are the desires of your heart?  In other words, in the deepest thoughts of your mind, in your emotions and your inner self, what do you pursue and want with eagerness and intensity?  Write them down. 

These are the desires of my heart and some favorite Scriptures to accompany them.  I call these my 6 B’s of 2017.

  1. Be positive.  (Philippians 4:8; Colossians 3:1,2)
  2. Be thankful.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:6,7)
  3. Be calm.  (1 Peter 5:7; Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 11:28-30)
  4. Be a blessing.  (Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 4:5)  
  5. Be strong in the Lord.  (Ephesians 6:10; Joshua 1:9)
  6. Be fruitful.  (Colossians 1:10;  Philippians 1:11;  John 15:5)

 

heart scroll

 

 

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Inventory Your Accomplishments

question-markI had no intention of writing a post today but a thought hit me this morning, We’re barely into January and I already feel like I’m behind and playing catch up!  Why!?!  This should not be!

For those of you who, like me, are persistent, goal oriented, always seeking growth and self-improvement, managing your health and maybe even the health of others, your career, your relationships and your LIFE! — who NEVER seem to be content with the status quo — you know who you are.  

January rolls around and you’re all about this year’s goals, plans, things to do, people to see, places to go, your mission, etc.  I get you!  But have you even taken inventory of your most recent accomplishments?  Stop and think about it for a minute.  This is important!  Acknowledging your past successes is a powerful motivator for the future.  What did you accomplish in 2016 that had real value and meaning for you?

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Your 2016 Accomplishments  

What were your successes?  How did you grow?  Where did you make progress?  Write them down.  

Take a moment to bask in and enjoy the reality of your accomplishments.  Feels good, yes?  

 

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As an example, I’ll share a few of my accomplishments:  

  • Lost 20 pounds. 
  • Exercised an average of 26 days every month. 
  • Joined a local women’s support and networking group. 
  • Reconnected with childhood friends and vacationed together. 
  • Aggressively pursued a health care treatment plan for people I care for and saw major improvement.    
  • Increased the amount of time I spent lamp working (bead making).

 

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How do we continue this sense of accomplishment?  How do we maintain this progress?  

For me this is summed up in one word:  Maintenance.  Maintenance is not passive.  Maintenance is action!  How do I personally maintain the progress?  I check to see that I am actually taking action to maintain the progress.  Take a look back at my Daily Habits chart.  These are the things I plan to keep doing. 

What are your action plans?  What small things can you do regularly to maintain your progress?  Write these down and keep them where you can see them often.  

I hope your New Year is off to a successful start. 

May it continue all year long!

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How to Create Healthy Habits

images-167My life-long career has been about guiding others into creating healthier habits.  If I were to pick one essential trait that greatly contributes to changing our health habits and behaviors, it would have to be RECORD KEEPING.  In other words, by recording or tracking the habits you want to improve, you will tend to be more successful.  For example, if you want to eat more vegetables, keep a tally of the number of servings of vegetables you eat every day.  You will see what your current habit looks like and by paying attention to it you will tend to make conscious choices during the day to improve that habit.  To commit to that habit even further, you could set a goal for the number of servings of vegetables you would like to eat each day.  That is just one simple example of how record keeping helps you develop healthier habits.

When I set health related goals, I’m looking for healthy habits that will combat the health concerns that bother me the most.  For me, my objectives would be: maintaining good mental health, controlling my weight, and managing chronic pain.  Remember this will be very personal for YOU and reflects your specific healthy habits that you want to maintain.  What would be your health priorities?  

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Below are the the healthy habits I regularly practice to meet my objectives.  I keep a chart where I can easily check up on myself, that I’m doing the best things I can to stay healthy.  The bottom line is this:  Can I say, yes, these habits are part of my life every day or almost every day?

 

This is what my DAILY HABITS chart looks like.  This is how I TRACK the healthy habits I want to maintain.  I put a check mark or a brief one word comment in the space. 

(Ideally, this would be a grid, but technology was not cooperating with me today.)
7 Daily Habits *
Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thur
Fri
Sat
1.Bible Study & Journal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2. Exercise & Stretch
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
3. Breathe, Relax, Fun
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. Connect with Friends & Family
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
5. Nutrition, Supplements& Medications
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
6. Sleep Quality
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
7. Weight
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

* 7 DAILY HABITS:

1. Spend time in prayer and Bible study; journal the insights and discoveries

2. Make time for purposeful exercise and stretching

3. Practice deep breathing and doing something relaxing and/or fun

4. Spend time with people, socialize, connect

5. Prepare healthy meals, take nutrition supplements and necessary medications

6. Strive for quality sleep 

7. Monitor weight by getting on the scale

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

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Giving More Thanks

images-163Christ is sufficient!  All of God’s omnipotent sufficiency in His saving and keeping power for us is in His Son, our Lord and Savior.  Christ is more than a promise; He’s a fact the eternal Rock of Ages upon whom we may rest everything.  God’s grace is Christ; and the grace of God in Jesus Christ is sufficient.

Are you thanking and praising Him for this?

Your needs for this grace may seem terribly great, great enough as to leave you hopeless.  But Christ and His grace are infinitely greater.  “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”  (Romans 5:20)

So the secret of victory is not praying, but praising; not asking, but thanking.

Our Lord has been waiting for you not to pray for victory, but to praise Him for it — to simply take Him at His word and say, “I thank You, Lord.” 

— Charles Trumbull

Thanksgiving in Hebrew is todah meaning thanks, praise, adoration.  Todah is derived from the verb yadah which basically is lifting or extending one’s hands in thanks or praise to God. Todah appears more than 30 times in the Old Testament, many of these are in the Psalms.  Sometimes it is translated as the sacrifice of praise.

Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.   (Psalm 95:2)

I challenge you to be still for a minute, raise your hands, palms outstretched and begin praising God and declaring Who God says that He is.  Sometimes I just start with A and go through the alphabet stating His attributes.  A: God You are AlmightyB: Timages-158hank You that
You are Bigger than all my problems.  C: You are Creator of all things.  You created me.  D: God, You are my Deliverer.  And so on.  You get the idea.  You are thanking and praising and it will change your perspective.

Why? Why does thankfulness promote a positive perspective?  Because the opposite — a grumbling, complaining, thankless life — is toxic to the soul.

But… A thankful life:

  1.  RESTS in God’s presence.  We are His dwelling place by His Spirit.
  2.  PRAISES our Almighty God. His power is at work within us.
  3.  Lives with a certainty that God’s GRACE is for us.  No problem is so great that God cannot rescue us.
  4.  Knows that we are ACCEPTED.  We have been included in the people of God.

His presence and power and grace are all for us.  We have HOPE.

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Who We Believe We Are

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  For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.               Romans 6:7 Amp

All Christians died with Christ so all Christians have been freed from sin.  Now if they don’t believe they have been freed from sin, they will probably not act like it.  We always act according to our beliefs, according to who we believe we are.  That is why the issue is always IDENTITY.  If you don’t know the truth about who you are “in Christ”, it doesn’t make any difference how much scripture you know and how many discipleship programs you are in or how much you pray or how long your quiet time is or how accountable you are.  — Mike Quarles

We are NEW.

NEW what?  New…  birth, Master, mind, identity and nature, person, life, spirit, creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.  Colossians  3: 9,10

What does ‘do not lie’ mean?  Do not be someone you are not!  You are renewed!  The normal Christian life is holy and righteous because the Holy and Righteous One lives in us.  The old ways of unrighteousness and the deeds and works of the flesh are not your true identity.  When you remain in the old ways you are not living out your true identity in Christ.  The Word says you have been (past tense) renewed and are continually being (present tense) renewed according to Christ in us.

And be renewed in the spirit of you mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  Ephesians 4:23,24

Righteousness and holiness is our standing in Christ.

My conclusion is this:  If I don’t know who I am in Christ, it doesn’t matter what I do.  But, if I DO know who I am in Christ, God will make what I do matter.

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