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The Stuff of Grace
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Subject Topic: Obedience: Failure or Fulfillment?
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the shovel
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Recently, I wrote a 2-part article for Eternity Now's "A Grace Message".  I thought it might stimulate some discussion here: 

Jim

Obedience: Failure or Fulfillment?

"The Apostle Paul speaks a lot about obedience and doing. He often uses lists of behavior to contrast our life before Christ to our life in Christ. Those who focus on behavior miss the point, and transform Paul's letters into a checklist of do's and don'ts. Unfortunately, this forces us to deny huge portions of the actual gospel--ignoring the miracle of being in Christ." --Angie Turner, Canada

"Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (Acts 15:10)

We misunderstand obedience because we overlook the obvious.  Or have we not considered God's declaration that none of his people obeyed or were declared righteous (Rom 3:10-11)?  Contrary to popular opinion, obedience is something that never actually happened under the Law.  Now, don't confuse this with the reality that specific acts of obedience took place during the time Israel was under the law - because they DID!  Instead of dulling the sharp edges, ask yourself how it could be possible that LAW could produce "obedience" when it only reveals sin and DIS-obedience?

Have we missed the significance of God's workings in spite of the Law's bondage?  "Obedience" happened because God put His Spirit upon certain people to do certain things for certain periods of time. For example, Joseph "found favor in [God's] sight, and served him." Why? Because "the LORD was with Joseph..." (Gen 39:2, 4).  Who would question Moses' faithful obedience?  But did you see that God told Moses, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest"? (Ex 33:14). No one is good but God; and God with man is always miraculous.

We have used these and other passages as "scriptural proofs" falsely assuming we're supposed to TRY to be obedient. Then we compound the problem by ignoring the miraculous working of God in the Old Testament writings, the words of Jesus, and the letters and writings of the apostles.  What if the miraculous displays of obedience before Christ were actually SHADOWS of something yet to come?

Simply stated, obedience NEVER, EVER happened by the works of the law!! (Gal 3:21). But then the miraculous happened!!  For upon the stage of failure, Jesus Christ - the obedient one - entered. He wasn't obedient because he TRIED, but simply because the life within him was the Spirit of God.  It is HE who fulfills the righteous requirement of the law in us (Romans 8:3-4).

The obedience which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and revealed in Jesus Christ has been accomplished in you. Your obedience does not come from trying, but springs from the life that has been put within you - for it is the same that is in Christ. "The obedience of faith" is what you have been brought INTO through Christ (Rom 1:5).  If we're stumbling over obedience, we're actually stumbling over Christ, for He is the life of God in man. (1 Peter 2:8)

Next week's grace message will provide you a reason to quit viewing obedience according to your performance and set you free from condemnation!  It will also show you how the gospel sets us free from the game of "partial obedience".

***********************************

Obedience: Failure or Fulfillment?, Part 2

A friend writes, "I still struggle with many of the scriptures that appear to emphasize obedience and works and doing. I felt condemned constantly as a law-breaker, and still condemned as a grace-keeper. I think that I keep expecting my performance will be perfected somehow through grace..."

The interesting thing was that, while on earth, the religious community viewed Jesus as being anything BUT "obedient". They saw him as an evil-doer, a blasphemer, a glutton, an alcoholic, a "sinner's" companion, controlled by the devil, a law-breaker, sacrilegious, as one not believing the "Scriptures", a false prophet and teacher, a liar, a despised man, worthy of death, condemned by God and man, a trouble-maker, a non-conformist, demon-possessed, a heretic, offensive, misguided, destroyer of protocol, weak, confusing, divisive, a ruffian, mentally unstable, despised, forsaken by God, and other such things. And yet, there he was living before them as the one and only "obedient" man who had ever lived.

Jesus wasn't obedient because he TRIED, but simply because the life within him was the Spirit of God. The obedience which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and revealed in Jesus Christ, has been accomplished in you. Your obedience does not come from trying, but because the life within you is the Spirit of God. Paul declared believers have been brought into the "obedience of faith" through Christ (Romans 1:5). Is it any surprise that true obedience is greater, more miraculous than we have understood it to be?

The fact is only Jesus has kept the will of God. When we view our life through law we ALWAYS come up on the short end of the stick. The religious community tried to measure Jesus' obedience according to the flesh and missed it. And we know the condemnation of attempting to measure ourselves by that same standard. There is no life in this viewpoint, and no truth in it either.

Any "obedience" we have ever achieved on our own is totally and completely bogus. It never happened! And yet we listen to those who play a "partial obedience" game.  We wonder if they have a good point in asking, "Shouldn't we try to obey?"  What in the world are we thinking - that God grades on a "curve"??!!  Anybody who talks about obedience without referring to the miraculous work of God's Spirit carrying out His will through us by HIS OWN power flirts with hypocrisy.  Such people know not what they propose.

Obedience is not an ATTEMPT to keep - but is the REALITY of keeping - God's will. Trying to view "obedience" according to performance standards will only convince us that it is not happening. True obedience has nothing to do with religious performance, it is the miracle of God with us. When you think "obedience", think of Jesus, because he is our pioneer. He boldly went where none had gone before, and has taken us with him!!

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Alan
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Another HOME RUN Jim!!!     

 

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the shovel
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Quote: Originally posted by Alan on Monday, December 31, 2001

Another HOME RUN Jim!!!     


Thanks, Alan!!! 

Jim

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Sherri
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"No one is good but God; and God with man is always miraculous."

Love it!! 

"Have we missed the significance of God's workings ..."

"... ignoring the miraculous working of God ..."

"What if the miraculous displays of obedience before Christ were actually SHADOWS of something yet to come?"

"... then the Miraculous happened!!  For upon the stage of failure, Jesus Christ - the obedient One - entered. He wasn't obedient because He tried but simply because the Life within Him was the Spirit of God.  It is He Who fulfills the righteous requirement of the law in us (Romans 8:3-4)."

Praise GOD for that!!  : )  This is truly wonderful and beautiful and free-ing and relieving and ... well ... Miraculous!     Love it!!

"Your obedience does not come from trying, but springs from the Life that has been put within you - for it is the same that is in Christ. "The obedience of faith" is what you have been brought INTO through Christ (Rom 1:5)."

Wonderful deep sighhh ... ahhhh!

"... Christ ... He is the life of God in man. (1 Peter 2:8)"

Another deep sigh ....   : )

"... true obedience is greater, more miraculous than we have understood it to be ..."

This is truly WONDERFUL stuff ... the wonderful 'stuff of GOD'!!

THANX!! 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jim... such good food you brought to the table here! It's taken me a while to respond (I'm such a slow reader and learner!)

A while back someone gave this definition of "obedience," in the Godly sense: agreeing with God, So we don't obey some set of rules in order to please God, we simply obey or agree with the completed work of God in Jesus. The obedience is finished because He finished it.

In spite of my believing all this, I know there's still a lot of that "performance-based" junk in me that needs to get out. Thanks for helping me to see clearer.
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the shovel
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Quote: Originally posted by Dave Aldrich on Tuesday, January 08, 2002
In spite of my believing all this, I know there's still a lot of that "performance-based" junk in me that needs to get out.

Hello, my dear friend Dave!!  It is so excellent to hear from you!!  You know, it's our experiences in that nasty and undesireable "performance-based" junk through which our Daddy is revealing His grace to us.  As much as we wish we didn't have to have gone through so much of it, I think it is the contrast that has brought us to the place of seeing it as being so obvious.  He truly causes all things to work out for our good!!

Jim 

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Richard
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Luke 15:16-17  And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the [6] pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

""But when he came to [7] his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

For some of us our stay at the pig trough was longer than others!

I love the story from Luke 15...Not lost sinners, but two lost sons that needed revelation of the one and only life (of the Father) abiding within them, no different than us. 

Richard

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Alan
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Quote: Originally posted by the shovel on Tuesday, January 08, 2002
Quote: Originally posted by Dave Aldrich on Tuesday, January 08, 2002
In spite of my believing all this, I know there's still a lot of that "performance-based" junk in me that needs to get out.

Hello, my dear friend Dave!!  It is so excellent to hear from you!!  You know, it's our experiences in that nasty and undesireable "performance-based" junk through which our Daddy is revealing His grace to us.  As much as we wish we didn't have to have gone through so much of it, I think it is the contrast that has brought us to the place of seeing it as being so obvious.  He truly causes all things to work out for our good!!

Jim 


Jim,

You might have noticed that many of my "off-line" questions to you have stopped precisely due to what you said in your reply to Jim.  The grace of God has made it so obvious to me that all of the theological and Biblical nit-picking just doesn't matter anymore.  I echo what you say about the contrast.  The more I bask in what and who I am in Christ, the more my radar begins to pick up on law based "sactification" theology - even in it's most subtle forms.  Our Christian airways and pulpits are inundated with it.

I heard Michael English's, "In Christ Alone" song the other day and for the first time, I understand what it means.  Whether Michael knows what he is saying or not, I know what it means.

Alan

Obviously, I mean't to say, "...in your reply to DAVE..."!  By the way, are you still talking to yourself??

 

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Connie
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Hey Everyone,

 The great Contrast.......

The Light of the World has come into the world and This Light is the Life of men.  It shines in the darkness......it's shining now in me!  Glory to God , it's bright in here!

This Light shines through the Word and  we see this Word, t's present-tense, now, in me!  How can this be?  I don't know.....all I know is that once I was blind, now I see!

All those prophecies supposedly pointing to future 'events' are really proclaiming Jesus Christ, now, in me! It's Him filling all things with Himself.

You're right about the contrast of the old religious junk to the light.  It's like the difference between day and night, but until eyes are opened, how is it possible to explain light to that one who hasn't seen the light?  That's why we struggle with the words, cause talking about the light is not the same as just living in it!

 Love,

Connie

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the shovel
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Quote: Originally posted by Alan on Wednesday, January 09, 2002

The grace of God has made it so obvious to me that all of the theological and Biblical nit-picking just doesn't matter anymore.             Alan


Bro, it totally thrills me to hear of the working of Christ within you!!  Isn't it absolutely amazing how our father continues blowing away those old mindsets that can leave us spinning our wheels in confusion?? 


Obviously, I mean't to say, "...in your reply to DAVE..."!  By the way, are you still talking to yourself??


Hahaha!  Every day, my friend, every single day!!!  

Jim

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the shovel
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Quote: Originally posted by Richard on Tuesday, January 08, 2002

I love the story from Luke 15...Not lost sinners, but two lost sons that needed revelation of the one and only life (of the Father) abiding within them, no different than us. 

Richard


Hello Richard!!  Thanks for bringing out some life in a mostly overused and misunderstood story.  Yes, I love it, too.  And though I relate to both the extremes found in the two brothers I'd have to say that I especially understand the self-righteous "good" boy   who judged the excesses of his wild brother

Many years ago, the Spirit gave me a much different outlook on this story through one of the guys (a good friend) in my Bible study.  I know we can always say "the Spirit" does the revealing, but I'm calling attention to this for a reason.  You see, years later my friend remembered NOTHING about either sharing the insight with me ... or even having seen it in the first place!! 

Here's what he had shared with me:

In studying the so-called "parable of the prodigal son" he noticed that it was the last in a series of THREE stories that all had the same conclusion.  Those three "parables" are:  the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son.  The basic message of each was that the one who lost what was his sought until he found it ... and then REJOICED over the finding of his lost "treasure".

You know what I have discovered over the years?  It has been the Father's heart of rejoicing over those who, as far as I was concerned, "didn't deserve it" that has caused me to realize that I had the exact same need as those I despised!!!  My "lack of rejoicing" over such "sinners" (based on my own fleshly estimation, of course    ) was not a matter of needing an adjustment to my raunchy attitudes, but was simply the result of the old dead life.

But our Father is incredibly wise in stirring those of the "self-righteous" variety (like ME) to jealousy by His wonderful grace toward those who never gave a single thought toward Himself.  I didn't learn "grace" through Bible study (even though I studied a lot), but through the witness of God's Spirit in those who had not "dedicated themselves to seek after God."   Through this wonderful goodness toward those who "didn't belong" I discovered that my old self-righteous heart had never, ever sought after God either!!!  When you discover this reality then you run out of options ... and are only left with Christ. 

Love,  Jim

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Jim, you said:

I think it is the contrast that has brought us to the place of seeing it as being so obvious.  He truly causes all things to work out for our good!!



Yes, Jim, I do see this and I am grateful. If folks could only realize that freedom is a close as simply seeking and finding it. Love your new icons!
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the shovel
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Quote: Originally posted by Connie on Wednesday, January 09, 2002

You're right about the contrast of the old religious junk to the light.  It's like the difference between day and night, but until eyes are opened, how is it possible to explain light to that one who hasn't seen the light?  That's why we struggle with the words, cause talking about the light is not the same as just living in it!     Love,  Connie


Connie, such an incredibly living post!!!  You know, Paul (the apostle) had written to the Corinthians with a similar thought.

"For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe." 1 Cor 1:21

A couple things to note about this:

  • Some versions translate "the foolishness of preaching" to "the foolishness of the message preached", but the former is the literal meaning.  You see, it's not just that the message is regarded as foolish by the world (which is the only way it can view it), but what makes God "well-pleased" is that He delivers ("saves") those who have no earthly concept of His deliverance.  In other words, when Paul preached Christ he knew that unless God gave HIS wisdom no one would understand.
  • To view the phrase, "to those who believe", as if it states that "believing" is the one thing "needing to be done" is so far from reality it is absurd!!  My religious training provided me with a calculated "presentation" designed to "make the gospel clear".  The assumption was that if it made sense to the unbeliever then they could believe it.  But this verse states just the opposite.  God saves those who "believe" - not that which "makes sense but instead - the inconceivable.   This "believing" has nothing to do with a common-sense decision to trust someone who appears trustworthy, but has everything to do with a miraculous "believing" of one who appears totally irrelevant to life as it has been understood.

Anyhow, this is what your words of life stirred within me.

Love,  Jim

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ShannonC
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Jim:

I put the word "failure" into the "search" on the Shovel Shack today to see what I could come up with because my emotions are overwrought with FEELINGS OF FAILURE!! !!!

My marriage that I have worked so hard to save is failing.

I'm a failure with finances, I'm failure in relationships, I'm a failure on the "corporate ladder", and I could go on and on and give you a laundry list of my failures.

But somewhere deep in my heart, HE wispers I LOVE YOU and I AM is in YOU and I AM YOUR OBEDIENCE, I AM RIGHTEOUS, I AM the fulfillment of the law.

I love you all,

Love,

 



      

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gregoryfl
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My heart goes out to you Shannon. I wish there were words to make all the hurt go away, but please always know that you are thought about and prayed for and loved as well.



Ron


      

What do you see when you look at me? Not the visible me that your eyes can see. For in Christ I am dead, yet alive and free. Free to be it all, as he lives in me.
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the shovel
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Quote:
But somewhere deep in my heart, HE wispers I LOVE YOU and I AM is in YOU and I AM YOUR OBEDIENCE, I AM RIGHTEOUS, I AM the fulfillment of the law.


Shannon, there is just something so profoundly moving in hearing those words in the midst of the knowledge that I simply can't get around being a failure on so many levels. Thanks for this. :)

Love, Jim


      

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Dignz
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"No one is good but God; and God with man is always miraculous."  the shovel 

i LOVE that! 

"The obedience which was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and revealed in Jesus Christ has been accomplished in you. Your obedience does not come from trying, but springs from the life that has been put within you - for it is the same that is in Christ. "The obedience of faith" is what you have been brought INTO through Christ (Rom 1:5)."

amen!  awesome and encouraging!

"The fact is only Jesus has kept the will of God. When we view our life through law we ALWAYS come up on the short end of the stick. The religious community tried to measure Jesus' obedience according to the flesh and missed it. And we know the condemnation of attempting to measure ourselves by that same standard. There is no life in this viewpoint, and no truth in it either.

Any "obedience" we have ever achieved on our own is totally and completely bogus. It never happened! And yet we listen to those who play a "partial obedience" game.  We wonder if they have a good point in asking, "Shouldn't we try to obey?"  What in the world are we thinking - that God grades on a "curve"??!!  Anybody who talks about obedience without referring to the miraculous work of God's Spirit carrying out His will through us by HIS OWN power flirts with hypocrisy.  Such people know not what they propose." <-- the shovel

gosh that was good!  wow! 

"I think it is the contrast that has brought us to the place of seeing it as being so obvious." <--the shovel

yes!  CONTRAST indeed!  it is a good thing!

gee!  this is as encouraging to me as it was 6 YEARS ago!  can ya believe it?  6 YEARS ago!  phew! 

SHANNON:  aw girl. he is also SUCCESS in you!  failures and successes in this world ... they are so relative!  relative to those who concern themselves with the outward temporal.  who can't relate with that.  we compare ourselves not only amongst ourselves, but also judge according to the standards and expectations of the world, which we are very good at adopting, aren't we? 

we could each and all give our lists of failures, as well as giving lists of each other's failures.    i know, i know not really funny.  sorry 

there are things we fail at that we can learn to do better at if that is what we want to do or is required of us and we are able and willing.  there are things we fail at that we can not make a success no matter how hard we try.  what of those?   how much time, energy, focus and heart do we want to sacrifice concerning them?  we each take whatever time is needed that is unique to us and our needs.  god knows even when we don't.  our hearts support one another. 

"But somewhere deep in my heart, HE wispers I LOVE YOU and I AM is in YOU and I AM YOUR OBEDIENCE, I AM RIGHTEOUS, I AM the fulfillment of the law."  <--the sha

that is AWESOME!  talk about support and encouragement! 

i love ya girl! 



      

"afterall, he's not a tame lion"
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Dave S
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ShannonC wrote:

Jim:

I put the word "failure" into the "search" on the Shovel Shack today to see what I could come up with because my emotions are overwrought with FEELINGS OF FAILURE!! !!!

My marriage that I have worked so hard to save is failing.

I'm a failure with finances, I'm failure in relationships, I'm a failure on the "corporate ladder", and I could go on and on and give you a laundry list of my failures.

But somewhere deep in my heart, HE wispers I LOVE YOU and I AM is in YOU and I AM YOUR OBEDIENCE, I AM RIGHTEOUS, I AM the fulfillment of the law.

I love you all,

Love,

 

 So, who is it that judges our so called failures to be failures and our so called successes to be successes?

There is a law or a standard behind both, without such, there could be no judgement upon either.

Failure merely results in self condemnation and success in self-righteouness.

If we are crucified to condemnation and self- righteoussness, we are surely crucified to failure as well as success. These two seemingly opposites are actually bosom buddies working together, to persuade us that we have life according to the elements of this world.

Christ is of a far, far,different persuasion.

Your last paragraph, dear Shannon, is the true witness, within you.  

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luvin
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Shannon I KNOW that there are many here that would encourage you in the faith and speak confidence to you. I have found that even those things are not always the final answer to the hurt we experience when we are up against those who oppose us while  they stand in the law. It is so personal. So hurtful. So STRESSFUL. We ourselves dish out law[sometimes unknowingly] and we are ourselves recieve it. Yet we DO walk in the true grace of God and have our inner-most being wrought in the grace and perfection of God. Everything in the Deciever and those he controls would convince you otherwise. It might bless you to remember that you are "not your own" and that you were bought with a price so that you do not belong to the Deciever or those who belong to the world..but you belong to Jesus Christ just like I do. There are no more hoops..no more things you can change that changes your real you. Marriages get bad, Biz gets hard and shit just gets shittier. One thing is for sure..you are not of them but of Him.

      

It is peace[the kind we long for] to know that my life patterns do not distract or derail the Living God"-Adam

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realrestisbest
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Shannon,

I'm glad that the LIFE has encouraged you in the truth.  But   I know how feelings can seem so strong, that you can become overwhelmed with them.  I pray that he will comfort you and continue to affirm and build you up in him.

 

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Dignz
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you guyz are soooo very encouraging to me!!!   





      

"afterall, he's not a tame lion"
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the shovel
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Yes ... very much so!!

Love, Jim


      

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ShannonC
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Dave S wrote:

 

 So, who is it that judges our so called failures to be failures and our so called successes to be successes? Who Indeed.

There is a law or a standard behind both, without such, there could be no judgement upon either.Amen.

Failure merely results in self condemnation and success in self-righteouness. Wow! Amen!! My heart is singing!!! It is "easier" sometimes to be on the end of juding yourself to be "successful" rather than a failure but it all ends in the same judgment which is not LIFE. Wow, Dave, thank you so much for this TRUTH!!!

If we are crucified to condemnation and self- righteoussness, we are surely crucified to failure as well as success. These two seemingly opposites are actually bosom buddies working together, to persuade us that we have life according to the elements of this world.Again, amen and amen!!!

Christ is of a far, far,different persuasion.Thank you JESUS!!!!

Your last paragraph, dear Shannon, is the true witness, within you.  



      

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ShannonC
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luvin wrote:
It might bless you to remember that you are "not your own" and that you were bought with a price so that you do not belong to the Deciever or those who belong to the world..but you belong to Jesus Christ just like I do. That does indeed bless me!

There are no more hoops..no more things you can change that changes your real you. Marriages get bad, Biz gets hard and shit just gets shittier. One thing is for sure..you are not of them but of Him.

!!



      

ShannonC
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Joined: Jun-21-07
Location: United States
Posts: 749
Posted: Sep-19-08 at 9:28am | IP Logged  

Dignz wrote:
you guyz are soooo very encouraging to me!!!   



Yes!



      

ShannonC
HE IS SO GOOD!
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