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Blog Entries posted by Ragamuffin_John

  1. Ragamuffin_John

    Songs & Hymns
    A song, after reading verses 26-56 from Luke 1
    Why are we so blessed
    that the mother of our Lord said “Yes”,
    submitted t’angel Gabriel, sent
    to a virgin near Jerusalem?
    Why are we so blessed
    that every heart within a baptism’s lept
    at the mention of the name, “Jesus”,
    obeying belief as good, accomplished?
    The Gospel is best news
    when embraced by those who never knew,
    who never saw, touched—returned a coo,
    yet to mercy said, “Let it be so!”
    Why are we so loved
    by the Ruler over House Jacob?
    ‘Tis the marvel of every generation
    steeped in the mother of our Lord’s lesson.
  2. Ragamuffin_John

    Songs & Hymns
    A short hymn, after reading 1 Thessalonians 3.   Verses 11-13 are quite striking.   There are two more chapters to go, and Brother Paul is so keyed up with joy that he launches into a blessing and prayer for the Thessalonian believers.
    In the lyrics below, I picture a congregation singing the words before a service’s benediction.
    For now we really live,
    when we stand firm in the Lord!
    How can we thank our God enough?
    Each testimony is joy.
    The good news of our faith,
    good news of mutual love:
    cause to pray each night and day
    that we may meet again.
    Now may our God and Father himself
    and his Son clear the way!
  3. Ragamuffin_John

    Poetry - Songs
    (after reading Matthew 20:26-34.  Note how this Scripture narrative describes activity at Jericho)*
    The risen Ransomer is with us!
    How easy to give God his due!
    Caesar, an outside reminder,
    Yeshua, Companion we know. **
    “Aware of God” is much like saying,
    “I sense a dad and a mum.”
    Adoption, as real as creation,***
    moves doubt’s mountain-imaginations.^
    We’ve yelled, “Son of David, have mercy!”,
    been trumpets for a Jericho march. ^^
    We’re glad that reliance breaks silence, ^^^
    Lord, You tore down our blindness to impart
    sight to our eyes and our living,
    for holy ground feet, heel and arch, +
    everywhere we walk receiving
    mercies from a Ransomer’s heart. ++
    * https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+20%3A26-34&version=NIV
    ** https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A18-21&version=NIV
    *** https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+4%3A4-5&version=NIV
    ^ https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+11%3A23-24&version=NIV
    ^^ https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=joshua+6&version=NIV
    ^^^ https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+19%3A35-40&version=NIV
    + https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+3%3A1-6&version=NIV
    ++ https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/7-great-bible-verses-about-walking-in-the-light/
  4. Ragamuffin_John

    Songs & Hymns
    (a short hymn I wrote after reading John 3:16-17)

    For God so cherished the earthbound
    that He gifted us with His One Son,
    allowing any who would embrace Him now*
    forever-life and love.

    For this, Creator-Christ came,
    with a mission without jailer cuffs,**
    to make sabotage of Satan’s reign,^
    restoring us in the crush.^^
    * John 5:24 ~ I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life.

    ** Romans 8:1 and Romans 8:14-15 ~ Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus ... because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.

    ^ Ephesians 6:12 ~ For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
    C.S. Lewis - "Enemy-occupied Territory"

    ^^ 2 Corinthians 5:17 ~ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; The old has gone, the new has come!
    Significance of "Crush" in Genesis 3:15

    Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
  5. Ragamuffin_John

    Songs & Hymns
    Lately, the cadence of my daily hikes has become a tempo for lyrics—as between steps, I think about a passage of Scripture.

    How we love your Word, oh Lord! It truly “…[pierces] even to the dividing soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”^ Such awareness from You is Light for us.^^ We encourage one another “…with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” These, we sing to the Lord with heartfelt music.*

    Yesterday, thinking about Philipians 4:8-9 spurred a hymn of sorts that I chicken-scratched after my hike:

    The Scripture passage (KJV):
    8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

    The hymn:
    Think on these things,
    the cherishable, of Heaven and earth,
    hold, gently the reins,
    save it for the chariot’s burst.**
    Think on these things,
    the deepest cleansings of the heart,
    where neither moth nor rust find
    dimension of any art.+

    Think on these things,
    integrity, by justice weighed.
    Let veracity
    encourage in a principled way.
    May praises ring
    when truth, in thought, holds sway!
    Think on these things:
    the Peace of God arrayed.
    ^ Hebrews 4:12
    ^^ Psalms 119:105
    * Ephesians 5:19
    ** That is, we are stewards of what God has revealed, whether via the Scriptures (and it historically fulfilled), creation, etc. Therefore, we are mindful of this, even up to our homegoing (by whichever mode, even that “sweet chariot”)
    + Matthew 6:19-20

    Except where noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Any bold, underlined, italicized and punctuation is mine, as well as any bracketed text within the Scripture.
  6. Ragamuffin_John

    Poetry - Songs
    A hymn melody came to me this morning, when I pondered the opening words of Ephesians 2:8, For by grace are you saved through faith.    And, so these words, for a new song (Psalms 96:1; Ephesians 5:18-20)

    His mercies go before me,
    his good will to arrange.
    Just how the steward and sovereignty
    accomplish, God’s to say.
    We know our humble part,
    How faith is seed to make
    us see the Kingdom of the Christ
    whose mercy meets our praise.

    His mercies go before me
    our trust need never lag,
    for gift is good as Giver gives
    and his, a treasure, stays
    as testament to cleave
    to me as Wisdom’s way,
    heart and thoughts laid at his feet,
    thus instruments of grace.*

    [the rest added per Jonjovi’s idea below👍]
    ”First love” comes by grace first,**
    from Christ who calls to save.
    The opened gift pours forth works; 
    submission such craft craves.
    Where does our faith find birth,
    that good grows in our wake?
    His mercies, so before me, planned:
    intentional always!
    * Hebrews 4:12; Romans 12:1-2
    ** Revelation 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9
  7. Ragamuffin_John

    We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (KJV – 2 Corinthians 5:8).
    And now?   A Better Resurrection is pending.

    Albino leaves
    snowflaking the woods,
    done defying decay,
    stems’ only hooves,
    allude to a judgement
    before we all bow.
    The green if remembered
    shall later regrow.
    Absent of color,
    once possessed good,
    now without preservation,
    unjarred in the woods.
    How many tomorrows
    has the albino withstood?
    The borealis above,*
    what leaves left in hope.
    * Aurora Borealis
  8. Ragamuffin_John

    Brace, my soul, for landing
    this is not dream nor lore,
    for you shall awake on grace fields
    if not gone to our Lord,
    where yet there is a harvest,
    there’s work for your blessed sleep.
    In trust we repose for sound rest,
    in confidence we reap.
    Believe, with each step passing
    amongst the wheat and tare,
    for mercy calls for waiting
    for God to choose and share.
    Thus marvel that His coming
    awaits changing hearts to care,
    that He within His Sonship
    would seek out the sinner.
  9. Ragamuffin_John

    After reading Hebrews 2:9-10:

    9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
    10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

    Sometimes, oh my soul, you view the grace of God as solely what flows to you and the Body of Christ. But this is only part of the flow. The first part, actually planned from eternity, was that grace would be bestowed on Jesus the Son of God, so that He might faithfully become the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
    By the Grace of God the Christ tasted death
    for everyone, same mercy extends
    now to those who bow in reverence
    to the Author whose testaments are lettered love.

    Grace is more than a point flowing from pens,
    the act of Atonement is where it began,
    so the Cross, and the grave, and Christ’s Resurrection
    build a bridge to our hearts, to where mercy extends.

    The sufferings of the Son Man,
    sign of sin made null by the Second Adam.
    All that flows afterwards is this favor to us!
    Our works? The brandishing of His grace in love!
    Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Any bold, underlined, italicized, and bracketed and footnoted Scripture are mine.
  10. Ragamuffin_John

    Songs & Hymns
    In the Scriptures, the Lord commands us to watch how we think.   This must be an active thinking.  Purposeful.  For example (all references are from the KJV):
    Phillippians 4:6
    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
    Ephesians 6:17
    And take the helmet of salvation...
    This "helmet" means we should think about, consider and at times meditate on the salvation that God the Father so freely offers through His eternal Son, Jesus the Messiah.  When we do so, the after-effect, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, is like medicine for us:
    Proverbs 4:20-22
    20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
    21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
    22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh
    A short hymn to celebrate this:
    Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace
    Whose mind, whose mind is stayed on thee.*
    Thou carest for sparrows aloft to free,**
    How much, much more for man’s liberty.^
    In perfect peace, his perfect peace
    Whose love, whose peace a sound mind brings.^^
    Thou sharest thy glory, ‘tis mystery,+
    Yet real, how real this balm of belief.++
    * Isaiah 26:3; Matthew 22:37
    ** Matthew 6:26
    ^ John 8:31; John 8:36
    ^^ 2 Timothy 1:7
    + John 17:20-26
    ++ Romans 11:30-33; 1 Timothy 3:9
  11. Ragamuffin_John

    New Testament Gleanings
    Matthew 14:13
    13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.
    Why did Jesus seek solitude?   He must have been saddened by the martyrdom of John the Baptist and revulsed by the cruelty of King Herod.   The Messiah should not be portrayed as being so loving that He could not then, and not now hate sin.   God’s holy nature requires that kind of reaction, while his nature is also one of being compassionate to the point of wanting all to come to the knowledge of the truth.*   How do we know that God can simultaneously possess these traits—an ability that is frankly not possible for humans to consistently demonstrate?   We see the answer immediately after Jesus sought seclusion:
    Matthew 14:13-14
    13 Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
    Matthew 14:18-21
    18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
    Despite his need to get away by himself, Jesus still reacted to peoples’ needs with mercy, healing them and providing food for them out of his divine storehouse.
    What happened next?  We often overlook the following, because we marvel at the all-sufficient power of the Son of God.  Yet, in his added-humanity, Jesus still had a need to be uninterrupted:
    Matthew 14:18-23
    22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.
    Oh, we do not fail to see the mountainside praying.   We rightly hold that moment up as an example for what we ought to emulate, to get alone in our “prayer closet” to pray to God and to experience his communion with us.   But do we grasp the stark contrast between the bustle of thousands enjoying the wonderful and miraculous meal provided by the Messiah, followed by him not hearing a whisper?  After all the commotion, there is a silent interlude of solitude.
    When by himself, Jesus likely had his disciples in mind, their blind sides, their weaknesses, and their need to trust him as a miracle worker who is willing to be compassionate.   It was an immediate need, as Jesus must have looked out on the lake and noticed: 
    Matthew 14:24-32
    24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”   28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
    29 “Come,” he said.   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”   31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”   32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
    The disciples’ words changed from “Lord, if it’s you” to “Truly you are the Son of God”.   They had experienced how that the if’s as to Jesus’ person and motivation are excluded.
    Few fish, little faith.  Messiah Jesus showed his disciples that belief in God’s provision will lead to God meeting our needs in unexpected ways.   Very unexpected.   And to solidify that example and focus for their learning curve, Jesus had one more lesson for the disciples when their boat landed at Gennesaret.   Then, they were isolated in the boat--by themselves.    But others had pressing needs:
    Matthew 14:35-36
    35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
    Again, the shift from solitude to compassionate intervention in the lives of people is quick, seamless and impacting.
    Do we embrace God’s purpose for us, as shown above?    The Son of God showed us that this is not just pretty ideas.  This is the intent, the heart, and the express will of God.
    * 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:11 and 1 Timothy 2:1-6
    Except where noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Any bold, underlined, and italicized are mine.
  12. Ragamuffin_John

    Isaiah 51:3 (NIV)
    “The Lord will surely comfort Zion
    and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
    he will make her deserts like Eden,
    her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
    Joy and gladness will be found in her,
    thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
    God's healing for His children is as all-encompassing as salvation itself.   This healing is for the whole remnant of believing Israel, the Church, the believer.   This can have a life-long, calming effect on the believer, for every life has had ruins.   Many lives experience ruins.   Some are headed to ruin, unless they fall back on the grace of God for mercy and protection.   In the Lord, all ruins can be removed, rebuilt, or left as monuments to a greater grace.   The latter being an endowment of blessed vision.+   Whichever way, newness endures.   New structure for "new creations"*
    The most improbable candidates for restoration (wastelands) find their renovation in our Compassionate God.
    When one happily sings, the vibrations of celebration affect the whole body.   This is a healing effect.  The joy of the Lord is meant to be like that.   It is our strength.**   Let the people rejoice.***  All her ruins come under the gaze and grace of God's loving care.
    + Hebrews 11:1
    * 2 Corinthians 5:17
    ** Nehemiah 8:10
    *** Psalm 68:3
    The opening Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
  13. Ragamuffin_John

    Old Testament-New Testament Ties
    Messiah Jesus, being the very Word of God, came to fulfill the written Word and be the Word in our midst. The following is an example of how Jesus’ teaching looked back to the Scriptures ("Tanakh"—Old Testament) which the Holy Spirit breathed into the faculties of the writers, for our benefit:

    Ecclesiastes 9:7
    7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

    In this verse, we are given a picture of God’s approval—in the form of a feast. There is favor in what we do. There is joy.

    We are favored when we are in Christ and He in us. There is feasting and celebration in this, too:

    Revelation 3:20
    Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

    And being approved? Mark 10:52 shows us the result of having the approval of Jesus:

    “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

    Ecclesiastes 9:8 illustrates what our actions should be like, in light of God’s approval:
    8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil.

    Messiah Jesus pointed out that the same attitude is needed when we seek clarification of the Father’s favor when fasting:
    Matthew 6:17
    17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.

    This combination of right attitude and action means we should be “righteous” (do justice); it is shown in the exhortation to “be clothed in white” and to “wash” ourselves, so that we have the correct conscience before God and man:
    Hebrews 10:22
    Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
    Except where noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Any bold, underlined, and italicized are mine.
  14. Ragamuffin_John

    New Testament Gleanings
    From Matthew 13:
    Verses 34-35
    34 Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. 35 So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
    “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”
    Verse 36
    Then [Jesus] left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable..."
    Verse 51
    “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.
    “Yes,” they replied.
    It would be wonderful if a Church dedicated, say for one month, a portion of each Lord's Day service to the reading of a parable--or even use the sermon/homily for expounding on a parable.   And after the reading, the pastor/priest could say, “Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked.    To which the one leading could invite the Congregation to say, “Yes,” they replied.
    The first Service which a parable is read, the reader/preacher could emphasize the importance of "understand" in Matthew 13, as used in the Greek text*.      Examples of the word "understand" that are used in this chapter are...
    Matthew 13:13-15
    Matthew 13:19
    Matthew 13:23
    Matthew 13:51
    The congregational response, "Yes, they replied" would be useful in two ways.   Some of those attending might not be believers, so while their response acknowledges an historical event, they are not confessing to have internalized and accepted what they have yet to receive.   Yet, the seed for belief would hopefully be planted by the response.    For believers in the congregation, the response "Yes, they replied" helps them to reflect on their own lives and bring to heart and mind an "I respond" as well.
    * "Understand" - Strong's Concordance 4920
    Except where noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Any bold and underlined are mine.
  15. Ragamuffin_John

    Old Testament-New Testament Ties
    When Jesus rebuked the money changers in the Temple, He was continuing the dialogue which He gave the Prophet Jeremiah to rebuke Judah. Through Jeremiah, the Son of God warned:

    Jeremiah 7:3-4
    3 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”

    What prompted Jeremiah’s stern words? The Prophet goes on to explain why the Lord will not accept the hypocrisy of those children of Abraham who would not reform their ways:

    Jeremiah 7:9-11
    “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? 11 Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you?”

    God uses a catch-all phrase to describe the two-faced idolaters: “den of robbers”. And by the time the three-year ministry of Jesus began, the defamers of God’s character (those who held to a legalistic view of the Law and did not look to the Messiah by faith) were still coming to the Jerusalem Temple with the same “robbers” attitude. This is why Jesus figuratively and literally lashed out:

    Matthew 21:13
    12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’" but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’"

    Jesus was likely not railing against the exchanging of money or the selling of doves. Purchasing and obtaining doves was necessary for those wanting to make sacrifice. Rather, Jesus had had enough of the charade of much of the Jewish leadership and the blind path on which they were leading people. The ones whom Jesus targeted comprised the “den of robbers”. The “robbers” moniker was again a summation of the heart condition that Jesus had come to set free. An example of this litany of indictments is the “Woe to you’s” that Jesus leveled against the Pharisees (Matthew 23:13-33).

    To what end did Messiah Jesus do all this rebuking? It was to bring a wayward people to their senses, not merely to point out sin:

    Matthew 23:37
    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”

    This wrenching communication about God being grieved over the sin of His people was also delivered by Jeremiah:

    Jeremiah 7:19
    But am I the one they are provoking? declares the Lord. Are they not rather harming themselves, to their own shame?

    When God rebukes His people, it is to motivate them to walk in His light, not to abandon them in their turn into darkness:

    from Jeremiah 7:24
    They went backward and not forward.

    Jeremiah 7:3
    This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.

    John 3:17
    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)

    John 10:7-10
    7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief* comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    * The ultimate thief being Satan himself

    Except where noted, Scripture is taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.   Any bold, underlined and italicized are mine.
  16. Ragamuffin_John

    How well unveiled are Noel’s mercies,
    unified in untiring carols
    heard across the towns and cities,
    tied by chords decorating our world!
    A’whirl are hopes, deep aspirations 
    which the Christchild’s birth embues.
    ”Gloria en excelsis Deo!”
    aligns lives to the eternal Good News!
  17. Ragamuffin_John
    After reading John 1:1-34
    Look, the Lamb, look!
    He is like none other.
    A speck of His light
    Heals the eye, blinds accusers.
    Lift up your heads
    For the remnants of Heaven
    Prepare in wonder
    A coming New Jerusalem.
    Unlimited Unction
    Fell on the Lamb,
    Replaced royal robes
    That Glory gave back
    Once Jesus went up,
    Teth’ring God’s heart to man,
    When the Son left a chalice
    Of grace in our hands.
  18. Ragamuffin_John
    (after reading Luke 23:44-56* and Matthew 27:19**)
    Sabbath was coming,
    Christ’s work was done.
    An Arimathean
    Bore witness, placed the Witness in rock.
    His secret devotion
    Was unmasked in a vote,
    He would say “No”
    Before Pilate’s “Yes” groaned.
    The Roman’s wife
    Had warned how a dream
    About Yeshua
    Upset her world scheme.
    But the world would view
    A washing of hands,
    A giving way
    To a coup in Graceland.
    The Galilee ladies
    Went home to rest
    In obedience to the Father
    Whose Son lay wrapped in death.
    Little did they know
    (Though the prophets said much)
    A new day would usher
    In Life after the hush.
    * https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+23%3A44-56&version=EHV
    ** https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+27%3A19&version=EHV
  19. Ragamuffin_John
    Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Carefully consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:7-8 ~ EHV - bold is mine)

    There are many revealing and truth-stamped Scriptures for us to learn from and follow. Verses which follow each other consecutively are particularly cementing in their emphases. Concerning the Scripture passage above, the bolded part is by far and away the most well-known, embraced, and practiced portion. The bolded can certainly stand alone for edification and teaching about the power and nature of God. It is that powerful. Yet and still, there is so much more about verse 8 to consider when it is read in its full context, that is, looked at in relation to the previous verse 7.

    The early Church placed a lot of emphasis on the importance of local church members modelling their lifestyles and piety based on the example set by their leaders. Clearly, this has to do with considering the lives and ministry of pastors, elders, deacons, and so on. Now, we need to ask ourselves, "How is this done?" Certainly, no modelling can be accomplished unless the object, the person of our scrutiny, is in our midst. And so, the importance of fellowship--in the church building and outside of it. Leaders need our support, and this is most highly accomplished when we surround them with our company, our attention, when we apply the principles that they teach us from the Word of God, and through our sincere adaptation of the Godly virtues displayed by our leaders.

    The primary blessing that followers get from imitating leaders, who themselves are obedient servants of Christ, is that the witness of leaders proves the faithfulness of God: it has in the past (yesterday), it will prove God's faithfulness now (today), and this God-given tool will always be true, just as true as God is eternal (forever).

    We need to daily pray for our leaders. We should get to know them so that their faith in Christ and reflection of His goodness can be imitated as well. Getting to know them is probably easier in cultures where respect for elders has been maintained as a cultural norm. Nevertheless, the Church itself is a new society that was created at Pentecost.* The mandate in the NT to respect church leaders, along with the energizing power of the Holy Spirit, gives the Church actual and enticing possibilities for living out the Faith.

    Following our leaders is not an abandonment or diluting of our focus on the one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Spirit-led imitation of the faith demonstrated by our leaders is a failsafe in itself, for as the Apostle Paul wrote, Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ (EHV ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1)
    * But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, the people who are God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (EHV ~ 1 Peter 2:9)
    Scripture quotations marked EHV are from the Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) © 2019 Wartburg Project, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
  20. Ragamuffin_John
    (After reading Mark 4:1-34)

    Do, so you can know; till a good soil to understand.
    Tend the Word from parables; get plain truth out of Hand.
    Spurn tricks that make men eager, while Mercy’s unvarnished sayings pass
    By the heart calling for our response again.
    Catch the Wind of God blowing night to day.
    Rise from the fast of feasting on His food in dreams.
    Invoke the vow to follow, the same as yesterday,
    Then bridge into promises carved into the forever of His Way.*
    * Hebrews 13:8
  21. Ragamuffin_John
    At the time, I didn't know it was the Cross,
    At the time, I didn't know it was the Cross,
    That the Lamb was made a curse,
    Took our punishment on earth.
    At the time, I didn't know it was the Cross.

    Over time, I heard the message of the Cross,
    Over time, I heart the message of the Cross,
    From the preaching of the Word
    Where holy people lived sincere.
    Over time, I heard the message of the Cross.

    Then one time, they pled, "The sinner's prayer repeat!"
    Then one time, they pled, "The sinner's prayer repeat!"
    Although it came from simple folk,
    I saw and heard what God's heart spoke,
    When one time they pled, "The sinner's prayer repeat!"

    In Time of times, the Son of Man will make His call,
    In Time of times, the Son of Man will make His call,
    'Cause the trumpet shall announce
    'Come up hither!", to the clouds.*
    In Time of times, the Son of Man will make His call.

    In these times, can we look back to the Cross?
    In these times, can we look back to the Cross?
    I-sai-ah so prophesied**
    The Son's Sacrifice is life.
    In these times, can we look back to the Cross?
    *1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 11:12
    **I wrote this as a folk song and used the British pronunciation for Isaiah ("Eye-zeye-ah"). See Isaiah 53
  22. Ragamuffin_John
    At first I didn’t laugh
    when Bartholomew joked,
    “Let’s pull a 'zealot'*
    carry the packs of these blokes!”**
    I have been in the riots
    Romans harshly have quelled,
    I feel remnants of pain
    In my mind from their steel.
    But Yeshua HaMashiach***
    commands something more,
    that I should surrender
    all angst to His power
    to render, in the end
    all things to Him to judge,
    yet tender my heart
    to forgive all whom He loves.
    * https://www.learnreligions.com/simon-the-zealot-mystery-apostle-701071
  23. Ragamuffin_John
    Confidence in Christ
    Sorry, my eyes are bothering me a bit.  Above, I share a link to a poem I wrote in another website, under the alias of “Quasiblogo”.  Feel free to look at other stuff I’ve written there.
  24. Ragamuffin_John
    Would you visually dash outside your house
    Engage a leper from your couch?
    Or, put your money to where mouth is
    Donate to charities amidst this COVID?
    Defy the "stay" to build the herd
    Or, self impose while the essential learn?
    And when the Church opens its gates
    Will we in heart and mind embrace
    The kiss of peace so long restrained?
    Will we know God has kept His pace
    And been, by Spirit, hither and yon
    To fellowship, coax us along?
  25. Ragamuffin_John
    Honesty And trust in God during the scourge of the COVID-19 virus.   I am reminded of Romans 5:10 (KJV):   “We shall be saved by his life”
    Numbers are shadows;
    People are real.
    Front lines tell sorrow;
    My walls don’t feel.
    We cannot burst,
    There is no balloon to blow up.
    We are faced with a living
    That doesn’t celebrate us.
    Prayer, like an eagle,
    Soar far above
    To a caring Father
    Who gave us his Son.
    We hear your “I know!”
    We see empty Tomb’s stare.
    In hope, we shall walk out
    in Heaven, on earth.
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