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Can a Leopard change his spots?

Written by Robin Gonzales
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you are like me, you grew up hearing the phrase “Can a leopard change his spots?”

This is something I have even used myself when describing someone who was cheating or being deceitful in some way.

It was not until recently when we were studying Jeremiah that I discovered the phrase actually came from God’s word. Jeremiah 13:23 (NIV).

Can an Ethiopian change his skin or a leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.

What was God trying to say? Is he saying if you are a sinner, you will always be a sinner–there is no hope for you? NO!

We are sinners and will continue to make wrong decisions until the day we leave these fleshly bodies, but Jesus is our source of hope. He paid the price and took on ALL of our sins so we could have a relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

God is trying to make a point. As humans, because God gave us intelligence and the freedom of choice, we think we have the power and ability to govern our own lives and we are self-sufficient apart from God. When in fact, we are reliant on God for everything. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the sun that rises and sets each day.

Reflect on this quote from A. W. Towzer’s book, The Knowledge of The Holy, “Probably the hardest thought of all of our natural egotism to entertain is that God does not need our help. Commonly, we represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His benevolent plan to bring peace and salvation to the world, but the God who worketh all things needs no help and no helpers.”

Without God we cannot even produce the desire to change our character let alone do anything good for anyone else as Philippians 2:13 (AMPC) tells us.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

Paul puts it like this in Romans 7:15-18 (AMPC)

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]. Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

My intention in this writing is to give you hope. For me, it gives me confidence in knowing God himself is working in me to create the desires. It is God producing the power and making a way for me to live out His plan for my life. Knowing He takes an interest in me at all is pretty amazing! 

I am forever grateful He did not leave me where he found me, He sees my heart and knows me better than I know myself.  God is not limited by time or space.  I love that He can see the finished product of me!

God has provided all that is needed, but the choice is still yours and mine. God can change anything!

EXCITING NEWS!

Excellent resource to document your personal Bible journey after a sermon, small group, devotional, etc.

Several have requested a Bible study journal to assist them in their independent study through books of the Bible. We have heard your need and have been diligently working on providing this for you. Exciting news–this is now available AND you have two selections!

Here is the primary information about each option:

Beautiful lined notebook supporting deeper understanding of Scripture when studying the Bible independently. The journals will introduce readers to a simple Bible study method entitled A.M.P.S.

A- Attention                  Allowing God to focus your attention
M- Meaning                   Studying Scripture for full contextual understanding
P- Perspective of God   Pausing to hear and consider the LORD’s point of view

S- Saturation                 Applying Scripture into your current circumstances and daily living

100 pages

2 pages explaining the AMPS format

6 x 9 with soft cover and good quality white paper contents

Fits easily in tote, purse, backpack, etc.

Amazing gift for friends and family

Floral option: http://bitly.ws/uKS8

Black botanical option: http://bitly.ws/uKSd

Something in the works…

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)

Maybe the title should say…something in the words once you here what is coming!

Let me beginning by saying, this book illustrates an imperfect writer striving to point others to the one and only perfect author, God!

After writing Crown the Sword, I honestly never dreamed of writing another book. I know, I know the book ends with the words “until we meet again”. Maybe I thought God would have me writing short devotion books or something of that nature.

I have started this book several times and then stopped. It didn’t feel just right or the direction was off somehow. He kept drawing me to it though. I knew God wanted me to write about being intentional with Scripture and tips on increasing a relationship with Him and infusing of His Word. Are you kidding God? I am not an expert on anything, especially this!

All I can share is my experience and discovery. I can witness to my own journey in reading, studying, and applying the Bible. It turned my life upside down. I went from being a surface level believer to a God fearing, sold-out lover of Him and His Word. When I finally surrendered to His authority, the living resource I found through Biblical text changed everything. It even birthed the Refining ministry!

I have accepted the fact that God has called me out and asked me to step into a spiritual maturity ministry helping others go BEYOND, to the best of my imperfect ability. Look, I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to share my experiences and gained knowledge. The LORD has impressed upon me the importance of helping others discover effective ways to read, comprehend, pray, and infuse Scripture on an individual level. He wants every believer to be fully equipped, including YOU!

The book is in its rough draft form currently. I would ask you to pray for the days ahead and its revision. Pray that each word within this writing will encourage others to go BEYOND their current Scripture intake level whether it be an occasional visitor or daily reader. May it be an invitation to go BEYOND what people say about the Bible to letting GOD speak a personal message directly to readers through His Word.

If you on own a quest to find an individualized plan to in-depth Bible study and desire to sit at the feet of Jesus absorbing His perspective above and BEYOND all else, this might be the book for you.

May the journey from rough draft to full publication be directed by the hands of the Almighty Father only. Please pray for a hedge of protection in the process because this will impact someone’s life in the days ahead.

Until we meet again…

Noting the Promises of God

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (NIV)

In all of your earthly relationships, who do you place the most trust in? Do the words loyal and faith describe their character? Do they primarily have remarkable follow through with their promises to you? Have they or will they let you down at some point?

I once was advised by a church leader to never have expectations of humans, then I would never be disappointed by them. Well, as much as this appears logical, how could one ever develop an intimacy and deep friendship with no expectations?

I am of the opinion most people choose their circle of friends, you know-those beyond acquaintances, based on trust and dependability. Why would you ever entertain a close association with someone if you didn’t have some type of faithful expectations? How could you truly believe what they said or promised if there wasn’t some level of trust?

Good news-you never have to question the promises of the LORD. He is forever constant in fulfilling and has proved this over and over. Just compare Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment.

His character is steadfast. God is the only relationship delivering constant, dependable trust. It is His character-loyal, faithful, devoted, and reliable. What a privilege to call Him friend.

When reading Scripture, search for those promises made directly by the father. These guarantees and assurances furnish hope on a big scale. Why? Because you can count on it, my friend! Believe it, trust it, and know it will happen. They are oaths made by the LORD himself.

These promises enter our minds as only information as we read and discover them. But, if we take the time to study each one intimately, God exposes His love for us and declares truth we can certainly hang our hat on. (Oops, that might have come from my Texas upbringing) It provides an insight of eternal hope and builds an even greater scale of confidence in the creator of our soul, Elohim.

As you find the promises of the LORD in your independent reading, decide what your plan will be.

  • Will you highlight them a different color than everything else in your Bible?
  • Will you write them in a special journal filled with nothing but God’s promises? (I call this God’s victory file. It comes in handy on those days the enemy is larking and working overtime. It helps call him out for who and what he is, a liar!)
  • Maybe you are a prayer journal lover. You can write the verse/s of promises directly in your prayer journal book with complete reference. Then pray out the promise/s into your life and those around you.

These three ideas are only the beginning to honoring the promises of the father. Each promise is a revelation you can expect to happen. They embody a powerful force, capable of crushing the attempts of evil. (Think about Jesus’ responds when tempted by the enemy.)

I would encourage you to devise a promise plan right for you. Determine a method of noting these assurances. Highlight them, write them, pray them, use them to encourage others, and cling to them for a lifetime. You may already have a strategy working for you in this area. How could you possibly enhance it?

You can always trust God’s assurances to be prevailing, mighty, effective, impressive, and everlasting! Who else delivers such guarantees?

Oh yeah, one more thing-have expectations of the Father. They will always be fulfilled BEYOND human standards and in accordance with His immaculate plan. Pinkie promise! 

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