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Forgiveness is powerful. The person who forgives extends mercy and peace, while the person being forgiven receives absolution and another chance.

When it comes to our relationship with God, we can know that He forgives us when we repent with a contrite heart.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)

Yet, so often, we limit the empowerment that comes from God’s forgiveness. We heap our past mistakes on our shoulders, allowing ourselves to be weighed down with guilt, shame and frustration. God doesn’t want us to wallow in our mistakes, stuck in a rut of hopelessness and fear. He doesn’t just forgive; He wants to cleanse.

“‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’” (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)

I tend to picture a cute lamb with pure white fleece when I read this verse. But that’s not how our sins look. Instead, they’re unruly, obtrusive and ugly — nothing like an innocent lamb. And, realistically, that’s not how a sheep looks after a few months of living in the real world. Its fleece gets long, matted, dirty and cumbersome.

So, how does that wool create beautiful clothes, blankets and rugs? You can’t just take the wool straight from a sheep and create a masterpiece. The process requires a few steps first, and God uses a similar cleansing process with us.

1. Shear the sheep.

When processing wool, a shearer first needs to carefully cut the fleece away from the sheep’s body. The shearer must know exactly where to cut, how to position the sheep and how to calm it down. Meantime, the sheep is uncomfortable, scared and, ultimately, exposed.

But this step is necessary to remove the fleece that would otherwise weigh the sheep down. In the same way, God wants to shear the sins that burden us, obscure our vision and trip us up. We can trust Him as the shepherd to know what to cut away and to take care of us in this vulnerable time.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.” (Psalm 23:1-2 KJV)

2. Grade and sort the wool.

The next step is to sort the sheared wool into sections based on quality. Wool has different value depending on where it originated from on the sheep’s body. So, wool from the shoulders might be used for clothing, while coarse wool from the legs might be made into a rug.

Likewise, God examines and directs our lives so we can best fulfill our potential. He sees how one chapter in your story can be used to develop a ministry, or how a rough part of your life can become a powerful testimony. He can even use the parts of you that nobody, including you, considers valuable.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)

3. Clean and scour the wool.

This is when the cleansing process really starts to heat up. Sheared fleece contains dirt, oils, sweat and fecal matter — all of which can make up to 50% of the fleece’s weight. At this point, the fleece has the potential to be valuable, but it’s not quite ready. The wool needs to undergo a treatment with hot water and soap. It soaks and soaks, and then it is squeezed and squeezed. It might even have to go through the process again.

God does the same thing with us, as He washes away our impurities. It might feel like you’re drowning, or suffocating or waiting endlessly, but you can trust God. He won’t scald, crush or abandon you.

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7 NLT)

4. Card the wool.

The wool still isn’t ready, though. It needs to be combed through with metal teeth to separate the individual wool fibers and remove leftover impurities. After the fibers have been broken apart and smoothed, they can finally be spun together into stronger strands of yarn.

We might experience “combing” times when it feels like we’re being torn apart, bruised and broken. It might be hard to believe this is part of God’s plan to develop us, but He’s in control.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 KJV)

You are not defined by your past mistakes. Your sins have been removed and erased. You have been forgiven. What’s more, you have been cleansed, so walk in freedom!

 

BY JEN ENGLISH

You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/

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  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1 KJV)

    God used visions and dreams in the Bible to reveal His plan, to further His plan, to put His people in places of influence, and to provide information that was unavailable elsewhere. In fact, the Book of Acts tells us that the Holy Spirit induces dreams.  Acts 2:17-18 describes entire households who prophesy, see visions and dream.

    Our families were designed to dream! Taking time to evaluate, plan and develop a vision for our family will help us prioritize so we can design our home with purpose.

    What do we want to be focused on right now as a family? What do we want to do in the future? What legacy do we want to continue and leave behind?

    The Bible is filled with principles like these that provide us with a blueprint for designing our dream home:

    • Designed to Surrender.

      God is the Master Architect of the family. In our homes, Jesus Christ must not only be present, but He must be preeminent. We want our children to understand that God is the greatest reality of life, not just in church on Sunday, but that we value His presence and His purpose every day, in every way (Deuteronomy 6:5).

    As a family, explore ways to invest the talent and treasure God has entrusted to you – volunteering; going on a missions trip; sponsoring a project; or developing your skills to honor God.
    • Designed to Support.

      God commands us to build our homes on Godly character and sound doctrine (Proverbs 4:1–2, Deuteronomy 6:4-9)The Bible instructs parents concerning children that we are to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Spiritual nurturing maintains the environment where our children learn to understand the ways and the Word of God. This is how “the Lord builds the house.”

    What special qualities or talents do you see in your children that you want to nurture? Are there some character traits you would like to see your children develop or strengthen?  What needs do you see in your children’s behavior, faith, or education that you can help cultivate?
    • Designed to Serve.

      Families were designed to represent Jesus Christ. The Bible says, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV).

    When God gives us a dream for our family, it will always be connected to His master plan – the building of His family “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9 AMP). God will not give us a self-serving dream separate from what He wants to do in the world. His plan is to use our family for His dream!

    Does your family have a vision that will affect the present AND the eternal? Are you teaching your children that they have a God-ordained destiny (Jeremiah 29:11)? Are you adding fuel to their dreams or snuffing them out (Genesis 37:10)?

    Ask God to give you His vision for your family so that you can be part of the most important dream of all.  Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3 KJV). This is our ultimate dream home “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10)!

    Reposted with permission from Reflections.

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    Since the beginning of time, God has desired a close, special, intimate, personal, one on one, relationship with mankind.

    Each evening God himself walked and talked with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden – until Adam & Eve’s SIN separated them. Sin created a huge gulf or chasm between God and man. But God knew this would happen, so He set in motion His plan to bring salvation to mankind.

    In the meantime, God gave the pattern and instructions for a tabernacle – a portable tent – that served as a place where God could meet with man. The people were required to bring sacrifices for their sins, and God would roll their sins ahead for a year. God would only meet with one man (the high priest) once a year.

    Solomon, and later King Herod, built temples in which the people could worship God. Still, God observed their sacrifices and offerings, but did not have the personal relationship with man that He desired.

    Then God “robed himself in flesh”, and became a man named JESUS. For 33 years, he lived among us – a perfect, sinless man. Now He was living “with” us, but not “within” us! He gave Himself as the sinless sacrifice for our sins when He was crucified on the cross. His death on the cross, and the blood that He shed, built a bridge across the chasm created by sin. Now, man could have his sins forgiven. Jesus was then buried, rose from the dead, and some days later, ascended back into heaven.

    Fifty days later on the “Day of Pentecost”, God poured out His Spirit on the 120 believers waiting in an Upper Room in Jerusalem. NOW, God himself could live within man and commune with man – anytime, anywhere, about anything…  And with anyone that would invite Him in!!

    Where do we find the plan of salvation for the New Testament church?

    1. The Gospels

    The first four books are called “The Gospels”. In them, we find four men’s accounts of:
    Jesus’ birth
    Jesus’ ministry and miracles
    Jesus’ death
    Jesus’ burial
    Jesus’ resurrection

    There is no mention of the church in these books.

    2. Acts

    This book documents the birth of the church on the Day of Pentecost. God poured out His Spirit on the waiting believers, and then through them, reached the world with the gospel.

    3. Epistles

    These were letters written to saints (believers) and churches that had already experienced the plan of salvation.

    Let’s examine the book of Acts:

    • Chapter 1 – Jesus told the disciples to wait in an upper room until His power would come upon them.
    • Chapter 2 – Here is the account of the first outpouring of the Holy Ghost. 120 people were filled with the Holy Ghost (including Jesus’ mother). Peter stood up to explain to the curious crowd what had happened. In his preaching he recounted a quick history lesson and then explained to them that they had crucified the Messiah. They were convicted, and cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter answered with a three step plan of salvation:

    1. Repent,
    2. and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins
    3. and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    This plan of salvation was experienced by 3,000 additional believers on the day of Pentecost, and then the gospel spread to other Jews, Samaritans, and then to the Gentiles.

    Let’s examine three accounts given in the book of Acts that illustrate this plan of salvation experienced by the early church:

    Note in each story:
    How they were baptized (italicized and bold) and
    What happened when they received the Holy Ghost (bold)

    Acts Chapter 2

    1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
    2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
    3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
    4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance
    * * *
    37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
    38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
    40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
    41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

    Acts Chapter 10 

    1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,
    2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
    3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.
    4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.
    5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:
    * * *
    44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
    45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
    46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
    47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
    48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

    Acts Chapter 19 

    1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
    2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.
    3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.
    4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
    5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
    6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

    YOU can experience your own personal Pentecost!

    Then Peter said unto them, Repent,…” (Acts 2:38)

    Repent:

    • means to turn away from sin, and turn toward God
    • to turn from sin…to feel regret or contrition, to change one’s mind (Webster)
    • to go the opposite direction – away from sin, and toward God

    John preached repentance:

    • Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2″
    • “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4

    Jesus preached repentance:

    • “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3
    • “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his (Jesus) name among all nations…” Luke 24:47

    Peter preached repentance:

    • “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38
    •  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19
    • “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Peter 3:9

    Paul preached repentance:

    •  “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” Acts 17:30

    “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,…” (Acts 2:38)

    Baptism is necessary for salvation:

    • “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; …” Mark 16:16
    • “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…” I Pet. 3:21

    Baptism must be in Jesus Name:

    • “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12
    • And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17

    The disciples baptized everyone in Jesus Name:

    • “(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)” (Acts 8:16)
    • “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10:48)
    • “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:7)
    • “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16

    When you are baptized in Jesus Name, your sins are remitted, forgiven, washed away, never to be remembered against you!

    “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.“ (Acts 2:38)

    The Holy Ghost is for everyone:

    • “For the promise (of receiving the Holy Ghost) is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:39

    The Holy Ghost is a necessary part of the plan of salvation:

    • Jesus said “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). This is speaking of water baptism and the baptism of the Holy
      Ghost.
    • Peter said, “…ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38
    • Paul said, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:9

    Speaking with tongues is the consistent evidence that each one received the Holy Ghost.

    • The Apostles & Mary (the mother of Jesus)
      “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas [the brother] of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren….And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 1:13,14, 2:4
    • Cornelius and his household
      “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them…For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.” Acts 10:44,46
    • Disciples of John the Baptist
      “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” Acts 19:6
    • Paul“I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:I Corinthians 14:18

    In summary,

    The scripture reveals 3 facets of salvation:

    Repentance

    Remission of sins in Jesus Name Baptism

    Receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues

    Paul called this “the Gospel”! “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel…how that Christ died for our sins…and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day…” I Corinthians 1:1,3,4

    We experience the gospel when we’ve experienced the plan of salvation:

    Jesus died; We die in repentance
    Jesus was buried; We are “buried in baptism”
    Jesus rose again;  We receive the Holy Ghost & new life!

    When you have experienced repentance, baptism in Jesus Name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, you have been born into the family of God. Jesus is now your Father, and you are His child.

    Paul wrote it this way:
    “…as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters…” II Corinthians 6:16,18

    You are a CHILD OF GOD!

     

    By Brenda Moore
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