Daily Sanctified by Grace (September)

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by Rachel Abernathy

They crawl like termites from the woodwork. How many I actually see, however, varies. Easy days exist–days when the termites seem docile and I flick the sporadic one away. Or, I cover them up with a pretty white curtain.

Some days are harder. The termites writhe from every visible, and invisible, corner. They swarm with fury. I don’t expect it, their viciousness shocks me, and I falter. Try as I might to deny them, I can’t always casually brush them away. They crowd upward for everyone to see.

Sin is like those termites. Our hearts are so sinful and yet we don’t realize the magnitude of our sin. (Jeremiah 17:9) Occasionally, one day in a million, it all breaks loose. We’re shocked at what we see. We’re disgusted at ourselves.

That’s a good sign.

God chooses the most unlikely people as His own and promises peace to the humble; peace to those who know that they’re terminally ill and completely incapable. (I Corinthians 1:26-29, Mark 2:17, Matthew 5:3-5, Ephesians 2:8-9) Christ came to heal the sick, not the healthy. (Mark 2:17)

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)

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Without Christ, we are dirty, rotten, vile, garbage. You may describe our fallen hearts with any word that describes something evil. (Jeremiah 17:9, Isaiah 1:5-6, Ephesians 2:1-3, Mark 7:21-22) And ironically, that’s the beautiful thing. God, despite our wretchedness, chooses us for perfection. (Ephesians 1:3-8, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) We cannot fully value the sweetness of fresh fruit until after we taste a rotten apple. Likewise, we cannot fully value God’s love for us without seeing our total helplessness first. We can’t grasp the beauty, the majesty, the incomprehensibility of salvation and grace without staring into the darkness of our own depravity. (Romans 3:20)

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

Still, through the darkness, Christ’s call holds us even tighter. When those nasty termites crawl into the line of sight, Christ is working His Salvation in us. We become more like Him with each termite that He points out and squishes. (I Corinthians 1:30, Hebrews 12:5-6,10)

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)

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Sanctification is a process. Today, saved but not yet saved, we sometimes seem to drown in our imperfections. That’s when we grip His perfection even tighter. We cannot be perfect, but He already is. (Romans 7:15-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21, I Peter 2:22)

In God’s eyes, we’re already justified by the Perfect Sacrifice’s blood. (Hebrews 10:14, Romans 5:9) One day, we’ll trade our “faith in Him for the sight of Him.”  (Hebrews 11:1, I Peter 1:8, I John 3:2, Tony Buford) And in eternity, there will be no more termites ever again. (Romans 8:30, Hebrews 12:23)

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

_______________________

All my sins and slips! – James Smith

I found that sin always wounded my conscience, and caused me much trouble of soul; nor could I again obtain peace, or enjoy comfort–but as I looked afresh to the blood of Jesus, and felt its cleansing efficacy within.

Never could I, never can I, be glad that I have sinned. Yet the grace of God, taking advantage of my weakness and folly–has wrought sweetly in my soul afterwards. And blessed, forever blessed, be the name of my Lord and Savior–He has sanctified my sins to me, for my real benefit!

1. My sins have made me fly unto Him afresh, as into a strong tower, in which the righteous are safe at all times.

2. My sins have brought me to feel my own weakness, and to see the desperate wickedness of my heart–in a way and manner which otherwise I could not.

3. My sins have revealed to me the fallacy and folly of trusting in my own heart at all.

4.My sins have made me more cautious, and kept me crying to Him for strength against temptation.

5. My sins have given me an opportunity sweetly and powerfully to prove the efficacy of the blood of Christ to cleanse from all pollution.

_______________________

-Rachel Abernathy 
{Guest Writer}

Rachel (18), a homemaking trainee, practices writing and photography from Missouri.

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A Walk in Light, Joy and Obedience (September)

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By Martha Joy

In 1 John we read, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1:6,7; 2:3)

We, as Christians, desire to live in the light, to serve and love God with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30), and to bring glory to His name. What does this entail? What, really, does “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:31-33) mean?

My goal with this article is to study some of these ideas, through His word, and Lord willing, explore the true definition of being a Christian – living for God.

Try closing your eyes while walking. You might go along fine for awhile, in your own eyes, but to others you’ll probably appear to be stumbling, and walking in a crooked line. Now open your eyes – the glorious light! It guides our way and we can see clearly to step over things and walk in a straight manner. While light is “physical,” it’s also spiritual.

Throughout the Bible the concept of light vs. darkness is mentioned numerous times. Jesus told us in John 3:20&21 that everyone practicing evil hates the light and do not come to the light (lest their deeds should be exposed). But, he who does the truth comes to the light. The light is so desirable, as it gives us brightness, guidance and joy!

In our spiritual walk we need that guidance and help, that brightness to guide our steps, and that joy in life, to keep us pressing on. But where can we find this light, the one that gives us hope? Jesus said, in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

What peace and joy to know that our Savior – Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God – is a light to us! Through him we are saved from our sins – by his death on the cross – and have hope of eternal life!! What a gift!

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If our Father – by the death of His son – has given us the hope of living forever and has saved us from our terrible, fleshly sins, what ought we to do? We should worship and serve Him (Matthew 4:10b) – and obey His commandments which He has placed before us.

I hope and pray, dear friend, that you will choose the life of constant commitment and service to our YHWH and joy in serving Him and living in the light of the world: God’s son. For God saved us from our sins and it’s His desire that we serve and obey Him – what a small price for us to pay for eternal life!!

After coming to the light, confessing our sins, and being baptized, how can we continue to live out God’s will and serve Him?

What a blessing it is to have the Bible. In it we find God’s commandments, instruction, correction, and refreshment. The life of Jesus is an amazing story to study – to ponder how he came to the earth and fulfilled God’s will. He taught his disciples, giving them God’s commandments so we should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21-24). Jesus spoke in parables, yet He gave his disciples understanding (Mark 4:11).

Disciple means “taught or trained one.” Parables are also sometimes difficult for us to fathom, but coming to Jesus, adopting him as our teacher, we find understanding. For after all, he is the light of the world, as we studied earlier! With Jesus as teacher, we are seeking to be his disciples – to be taught and trained by him! How can we be that unwavering disciple of him – one who’s always sitting at his feet, as Mary, gleaning from His truths?

Jesus said, “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” (Jn. 6:57). So, let us feed on his words – for he is the bread of life (Jn. 6:35) – which we find in the gospels, obeying God’s commandments.

Try reading through the gospels, asking for God’s insights as you read. Read carefully, pondering on each commandment and even make it a point to write down each one, to go over later and practice.

I would like to point out the importance of obeying God’s commands. This is the fundamental way by which we become disciples of Jesus: by obeying his Father’s commands. 1 John says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (See also James 2:18:26)

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Also Jesus talked about losing our life and forsaking all to follow him. In Matthew 6 he said to “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things [food, drink, clothing] will be added unto you.”

Often life gets us busy in everyday things and we stray away from our primary focus. We might enjoy photography, reading, rubber stamping, gardening, or star gazing and while some of these can be quite exciting and if used to glorify God, wonderful, if it draws us away from our focus on YHWH, that is wrong! He wants our whole focus, He wants our full aim to be living for Him. For after all He saved us, through His Son! He deserves our ALL and that is what He requires of us – to live for Him. For Jesus said that “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14; emphasis mine)

Will we be one of those few? Colossians 3:1-4, 5a says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth.”

We are to not value our life on this earth, except as a life that we can use for God’s glory. We are to turn our life over to Him and live holy, purely for Him. We are to be disciples of God’s son and follow under his light – abiding in the true vine and bread of life: Jesus the Christ.

He plainly stated in Luke 14:33, “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” What a powerful verse.

So then, let us turn from our self-minded focus – and walk the life of a disciple of Jesus, obeying his commands, and abiding in God’s love.

May God bless you as you seek Him and seek to be followers and walk as Jesus walked.

~Martha Joy
{Guest Writer}

Martha Joy (16) lives with her sweet family on a farm in the SE, where she enjoys goats and other animals, photography, gardening, leatherwork, playing the fiddle, writing and more. Her desire above all is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and live the humble and joy-filled life of a disciple of the son of God. Visit her monthly magazine blog.

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Scripture Memorization Testimonies! (August)

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By Allison 

[This is the fourth article in a series that we will be posting this month, focusing on the importance of Scripture memory.]

It is my desire that you have been encouraged in your memorization journey this month.  I have always found it helpful to hear from other young ladies who have walked the road before me sharing their stories.  So that is what I would like to do now.

This is the story from a young lady about how she first began memorizing: “I grew up in a Christian home, so my parents always had me memorizing Scripture from a young age.  In middle school, I started Awanas, which is a Bible program that involves much memorization.  However, the thing that prompted me to start memorizing of my own initiative — not because my parents or pastors told me to — was because of my pastor’s testimony.  He talked about how he had memorized Philippians and how now, whenever he counsels people, he always turns to Philippians because he knows it so well and it’s on the forefront of his mind.  That story made a huge impact on me — I wanted to know the Bible like that and have that help for witnessing to others or even when battling temptations personally.”

Another daughter of the King shares how she has been encouraged through Scripture memory: “For me personally, it’s encouraging to know scripture because my sister and I can talk about things in the bible and verses we’ve learned and encourage each other or help each other with questions we have.”

Emilie shares why she believes we should memorize Scripture: “Memorizing Scripture will make God’s word more available to you – you may not always have a Bible with you when you’re at that party and someone asks you about what you believe in or you just need a verse to remind you of something. Constantly reading and rereading Scripture to memorize it will make you mull over it more, and certain words and phrases you only skimmed before may pop out at you. Most importantly, it allows the Holy Spirit to constantly have “weapons” available in your mind to battle the sin inside. Books be taken away, but not your mind.”

“The more you practice memorization the easier it really does get.”

One 23-year-old shares her struggles with memorization and how God has helped her overcome them: “Sometimes I get behind on reviewing verses; they just build up until I have so many to review that it is really discouraging to think about it.  Because of this, there have been a couple times I took a really long ‘break’ from memorizing.  But God is faithful and when He sees that the time is right He encourages me through other peoples’ testimonies, through reading the Bible, through sermons, or other mediums to get back to memorizing.  Lately He’s been showing me a more practical side of memorization–being able to use promises of the Bible in praying for people–which has kept me motivated so that the review doesn’t pile up.”

The same girl tells about her discovery while memorizing God’s Word: “Well, people say that the more you memorize, the easier it becomes.  I never realized the truth in that until I had been memorizing for a while.  I was finishing up the book of James, and for about a week I was taking 50-minute long walks and memorizing as I walked.  I was memorizing 12 verses at a time that way!  That’s when it hit me–when I first started memorizing, there’s no way I would have been able to do that.  So the more you practice the easier it really does get.”

Here’s an inspiring story of how memorization impacts our every decision: “The most significant time I can think of was when I was looking for guidance in making an important decision.  I had already made a choice that I thought was in accordance with God’s will, but this particular day I just felt very unsettled in that choice and felt very strongly that I had to fast and pray all that morning until I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what God’s will was.  So I went to a nearby park and spent all morning there, praying and thinking and writing and reading the Bible.  At one point as I was writing out once again the pros and cons, a Bible verse that I had memorized a couple weeks before came to mind.  I decided that when I was finished I would look it up and read the context, as it really seemed to have nothing to do with my situation.  But when I did look it up and read in context, God was really able to speak to me through that passage, and I left the park around noon with a certainty about what choice I needed to make.  And God was able to give that to me because of that verse I had memorized.”

Allison offers these words of encouragement: “Stay strong! The benefits of memorization far outweigh those of relying on a paper Book. You will benefit immensely in your spiritual life, as well as benefitting others. Never give up on God. If you are having a difficult time, persevere. As you memorize, it becomes easier and easier as you get to know God’s Word more deeply. Be it memorizing, reciting, studying, or simply reading, you will never regret a single moment spent in His Word.”

Finally, “Do not quit! It is easy to quit, but very hard to re-start. And Ecclesiastes 12:1 tells us to “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth…” If we wait until we’re grown-ups, we’ll only have less time, money, etc. And always do it to Christ’s glory!! “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).”

I pray that you have been inspired and equipped this month.  I echo the words above, don’t give up!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

~Ashley (15)
{Guest Writer}

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Bonus Tips – How to Memorize Scripture (August)

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By Allison 

[This is the third article in a series that we will be posting this month, focusing on the importance of Scripture memory.]

I pray that your memorization journey is going well so far. Today, I want to share with you some additional tips to aid you as you climb the difficult road of memorization toward a closer reunion with your heavenly Father.

Remember to recite the reference before and after you read the actual passage, so that you know where your verse is located in Scripture. If someone questions the validity of your verse, you can get out a Bible and prove to them that God said this.

One of the more basic methods of memorization is simply to read the verse over and over. The key to this whole process is repetition; the more you do it, the better it will stick in your memory. You can write the verse out on a sticky note or pretty card, and then paste them all over the house, in places that you will see them often, like a door, the bathroom mirror, across from the toilet seat, above the kitchen sink, a desk, etc. I’ve also laminated verses and put them in the shower, so that I can make use of otherwise wasted time. Look for little snippets of time like as you are brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes, to use valuably for God’s glory.

Find or make a picture of the verse you are memorizing, and save it as the background of your computer and phone. Make a bookmark out of it, and diligently read it each time you open your book.

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You can also write the verse out on an index card, put it in your pocket (or purse) and then pull it out whenever you have a spare moment, in the car (provided you are not the driver), while folding the laundry, while waiting in line; you get the idea. Elizabeth Elliot in her book Passion and Purity, first published in 1894, said of her future husband, “I noticed him in dining hall lines with little white cards in his hand, memorizing Greek verbs or Scripture verses.” He took this method to heart, and proved attractive to Elizabeth because of his diligence in this area. Remember as you read your memory passage over and over again, to meditate on it and really think about what the verse is saying. I can read something over a hundred times, and still not have it memorized, because I was not paying attention to the words. Before you know it, you will be able to recite the passage from memory.

Another helpful tip is to read the verse five times right before you go to bed and five times as soon as you wake up. When you do this, you put God’s Word as the last thing you think about before sleeping and the first thing you think about when you wake up. It is extremely effective.

Try writing the words in your verse with different colors and styles and then reading it off that card. In John 3:16 you could highlight all the references to God in say, blue; all the references to death or blood, red; all the references to mankind, yellow, and so on. The crazier it is, the better it will stick in your mind. You can write verses using all kinds of wild fonts, colors, and sizes. Consider putting these colorful verses around the house. As you read this card over and over again, it will soon become embedded in your mind.

Writing your verse out is very effective because it involves many of the senses in your body. When you write your verse, you can engage your body (with your hands), your eyes, and, if you speak it out loud, your mouth and ears as well. The more senses you involve in your memorization process, the easier it will be to memorize the passage.

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Write it out multiple times, thinking about what you are writing. If you do not think about what you are writing, then it will not help you stick that verse in your memory.

To make this memory process into something more like a game (and I highly recommend doing this with your younger siblings), write the verse out on a whiteboard or chalkboard, and then erase one word at a time, while repeating the other words in your head. As an illustration, in Colossians 3:16, you could write the phrase, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Read this several times, and then erase “Let” so you say “let” and then read “the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Go on to erase “the” and say “Let the” and read “word of Christ dwell in your richly.” Do this until all the verse has been erased and you’re repeating it entirely from memory.

A final tip in the subject of how to memorize Scripture, is to write out only the first letter of each word in the verse. After you have become fairly familiar with the verse, by using some of the other tips I have mentioned, try reading it using only the first letter of each word to spark your memory. This site will actually convert your passages into just letters with the push of a button. This method is helpful to really solidify the passage in your mind.

Once you have memorized a passage, the journey has begun. There are many things you can do with a passage that you have memorized, including,

Apply it

  • John 13:17
  • James 1:25

Share it

  • Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Pray it

  • Acts 4:24-31

Teach it

  • Ezra 7:10
  • 2 Timothy 2:15

Converse about it

  • 1 Peter 4:11

Meditate on it

  • Joshua 1:8
  • Psalm 1:2

Witness with it

  • Mark 16:15

If you wish to dive into the topic of memorization even more, check out my list of resources here.

I encourage you to explore some of the suggestions I have included above and find your favorites, and then dive in. The more you memorize, the more fruitful your spiritual life will be. Just try it! Do you wish to share with the KBR subscribers what the Lord is doing in your life through memorization? Email me at theindwellingwordministries[at]gmail[dot]com. Next week, I will compile your responses to share with young ladies around the world.

~Ashley (15)
{Guest Writer}


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Five Ways to Memorize Scripture (August)

aug14 2 By Allison 

[This is the second article in a series that we will be posting this month, focusing on the importance of Scripture memory.]

“Bible memorization is absolutely fundamental to spiritual formation. If I had to choose between all the disciplines of the spiritual life, I would choose Bible memorization, because it is a fundamental way of filling our minds with what it needs. This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth. That’s where you need it! How does it get in your mouth? Memorization.”*

Memorization is definitely an important discipline, but how do we memorize? When we think of memorization, what usually comes to mind is what we call rote memorization, which is just repeating a verse over and over until it is stuck in your brain.

There are several disadvantages to this method, including the fact that it is not very effective, nor very fun. Contrary to popular belief, memorization can actually be fun, especially using some of the methods that I will outline for you here. There are a few basic things you need to know for any memorization, no matter what method you choose to use. First of all, you need to pray. We should pray before completing any activity, but especially memorization because of its difficulty. It is only by the Holy Spirit’s power that memorization is possible for any of us. aug2014

Before you begin memorizing, make sure you have a plan. I find that if I do not outline some goals for what I hope to accomplish, and include due dates, it usually does not happen. Maybe your goal could be to memorize the book of Ephesians in a month. Then you would want to break down that goal into smaller more manageable parts like five verses a day, or something like that. As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

I find that without a proper understanding of what I am trying to memorize, I will never get it. Even before I begin to memorize a passage, I will study it. It is helpful for me to print out the verse/passage on a piece of paper and read it over several times, noting what it says and the key words. Then I go through it and highlight key words with symbols. This helps me to understand what the verse is about. It is also important to note the context of the passage, who said it, when they said it, where they said it, why they said it, and how they said it.

Now to the fun part, the actual memorization.

  1. One of my favorite methods of memorization is to draw pictures for each word, or phrase to help them stick in my memory. A word picture, or rebus, is very simple to make, it just take a little creativity. For example, in John 3:16 you could use the number four to represent the word for. For God, you could use a picture of God. For so, you could use a picture of someone sewing, and for love, you could use a heart. You get the idea. Once you have the whole verse in pictures (the little words like “an” and “in” you can just write), read the verse out loud from that card several times, then try to picture the illustrations in your head as you recite it from memory.
  2. Another method that’s a lot of fun (and good exercise) is to put hand and body motions to the words. The more you get your whole body active in this memorization process, the easier it will be to memorize. To illustrate, Psalm 119:11 would go something like this: “Thy [point up toward heaven] word [hold hands like an open book] have I [point to self] hid [cup your hands as if you had something hidden in them] in mine heart [form a heart with your hands and place it where your heart is in your body], that I [point to self] might not [do the sign for “no”] sin [slap your hand] against thee [point to heaven]. Do the hand motions several times while looking at the verse, and then see if you can repeat it from memory. Make sure you really have it solidified in your head before you move on.
  3. A fun way to memorize while doing chores or other tasks is by listening to the verses you are memorizing. There are several ways to do this. You can record yourself reading the verse, and then listen to that recording whenever you would normally listen to music. You can also listen to an audio Bible (many are available on the internet for free).
  4. Even more effective than that is listening to the verse put into song. Many musicians have put verses to song, if you can get your hands on some of their music. One great online resources is freebiblemusic(dot)com, which offers many verses put to song for free. If you can find no songs for the passage you are memorizing, make something up. You can use a favorite tune, or make up your own. As long as it sticks in your head, it does not matter how bad the tune sounds.
  5. During your memorization sessions, try reading the verse out-loud emphasizing different words. To illustrate, Deuteronomy 11:18a says, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart.” You could say, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart,” and then, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart,” etc. When combining this with some of the other methods I have mentioned, you will have the verse down in no time.

Remember to persevere. You will most certainly face trials from the devil who does not wish you to memorize, because he knows how beneficial it will be to your life. Memorization takes a lot of diligence, a lot of repetition, and a lot of prayer. Include all of these things daily to your memorization life.

Memorization takes a lot of diligence, a lot of repetition, and a lot of prayer.

How are you doing? What is the Lord teaching you about memorization? How has memorization benefited you? What are your favorite methods of memorization? I would love to hear from you! I plan to include your stories in my fourth article, so if you would like to share, email me at theindwellingwordministries[at]gmail[dot]com. I look forward to hearing what God is doing in your life through the memorization of His Word!

~Ashley (15)
{Guest Writer}

 

*Dallas Willard, in Vocatio

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