The Path to Glory (Part 2)

Which is the right way to heaven?  How do we find this path whereby we share in God’s glory?  It isn’t at all where or what we think it might be.

It is the same path our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, took, the way that was laid out for Him.  And if we are to “come” to this path—the only way to heaven—it must be “after” Him. (Luke 9:23) He said clearly that the only way is by “self-denial”—taking up our own cross to “follow” Him.  It is not a matter of, “But, wait Lord, until I have done “my thing;” when I have made a name for myself; then I think I might be ready to start on this path. Then I might have an interest in your glory.”
No, there is a cost to enter through this “strait gate”—my life, my own desires, my own glory.

The disciple is not above his master,
nor the servant above his lord.”
Matthew 10:24

 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus
shall suffer persecution.”
2 Timothy 3:12

Bitter and Sweet Promises

The promises that are given in this way to God’s glory are both hard to swallow, and pleasing to our senses.  Our heavenly Father knows how, and has planned, to direct us and minister to our needs.  On the way, and at the end, are great and precious promises that others will never know or understand because they have not yet entered through this strait gate that leads to the narrow way.

As we look at these promises from God’s Word let us meditate on the connections between Christ, our suffering with Him, and the results.  For example, in the following we are promised that we shall have tribulation; with it—in Christ, we are promised peace, and victory in overcoming the world.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.1 John 5:4

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” 
1 Peter 4:12-14

The Heirs of Glory

The path is laid out for, and revealed to God’s children.

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God
.”  Romans 8:17-19

The Humbling and Proving

 This is the time of testing and proving, here on this earth, of those who are His.

 “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.”  Deuteronomy 8:2-3

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” 1 Peter 1:7

 His Presence and Power with Us

He promises all that we need for the way, though long and tedious it may be.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

 “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.
Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.”  
Psalm 32:6-8

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”
Psalm 73:22-24

The Nature of Those On This Path

God, our Father uses His own children to draw others to the path.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.”
Philippians 2: 12-15

The Holy Bible, God’s Word, is our guide book.  The Holy Spirit is our constant companion and help in time of need.  Through prayer, and in Christ, we are never alone, He is our  joy and the assurance of our safety and endurance to the destination to which He has called us.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
bringing many sons unto glory
Hebrews 12:2; 2:10
Music: My Grace is Sufficient for Thee

The Path to Glory

The path to heaven and eternal glory with God, which is presented by some today, is unreal.  Even in the name of Christianity most of it is only “hype.” Another four-letter word that I see plastered all over the Internet describes how people feel about what they read and hear.  The apostle Paul used the word “dung” (which is more graceful) to describe the things in this world, things that have no link to heavenly things, but are simply earthly.  Compared to the real thing they are but waste, worth nothing.

But in order to get past the earthly, and the dung, we have to address it.  It is a reality.  We have to see it for what it is, and know how to deal with it.   How do we know what we are dealing with, and how do we get through it.  It is all part of the understanding of the path that God calls us to.

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory
by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

The path to glory, by some, is paved with good intentions.  When the veneer cracks and crumbles they and their followers, like the Kohathites, (Numbers 16:32) will be swallowed up.  They want people to be a part of their ministry and so they make everything inviting; promising comfort and ease in joining their ranks.  Some hope for others a good life and try to make it look easy for them.  They have not yet understood, nor can they lead others in this path.

This path is not a “glory path” here on this earth. God, our heavenly Father does not promise us a path back to the Garden of Eden, but one that leads to Gethsemane.

Hidden and Narrow

“At that time Jesus answered and said,
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
because thou hast hid these things
from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes.”
Matthew 11:25

It is a hidden path.  Only those to whom the Father reveals the Son and draws them to Him will find the path. (John 6:44-45)

 It is always in following Him that He leads us to it.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.”
Matthew 7:13-14

The path begins through a gate so slim that we can take nothing with us.  More so, there is a compression of all that we are that enables us to get through.  Humility, faith, and repentance empty us of our baggage, and shrink us to the size we need to be.

It is a narrow path.  This is the path that Jesus describes to his disciples.

He says that only a few will come to Him. The multitudes won’t lead us to it. The crowded path leads to destruction. The path to glory is not a wide path, but one that we most often will have to walk alone; not that others are not on the path, but there are times when they will not understand what we are dealing with or going through.  Some are new to the path and coming after us. Some are ahead of us and we may be too slow for them; we only get in their way. For the most part, only Christ can understand and lead us through.

Not Our Choosing

It is never the path we would choose for ourselves.  We would choose the easier way, but if we are to follow Christ, it must be His way or not at all.  This is why many cannot find, know, or walk this path here on earth.  We must know our calling in Christ to be one of suffering and sacrifice for His name’s sake—for “righteousness’ sake.”

It is a walking path, not a bike lane or busy highway; we have no motor vehicle, only feet and body for the endurance; for proving of His own grace and power in our perseverance.

What God teaches us is — the path to His glory is difficult.  He has said it; and His saints are witnesses to the fact and experience that it is a struggle to endure the pains and trials of the Christian life.  It does not get easier as we get older; we simply require and experience more of God’s grace and strength.

Steep, Rocky, and Dark

The path is steep, sometimes turning like a spiral, leading round and round, onward and upward. It is rocky; it seems that things are literally thrown into the path.  There we stumble and oftentimes we fall—right into the dung. There are times when it seems that we cannot take another step; our arms get so tired; or when we can no longer walk, the wheels on our chair get bogged down and won’t turn.

It is sometimes dark, with only the Word of God as a “light for our path, and a lamp for our feet.” It can lead to the top of a mountain, where the sky is the bluest; the air is the freshest, and the aroma as heavenly as the very presence of God.  Other times it leads to the valley, or through a tunnel where all that we have is a glimpse of light at the end; other times we are led into a cave where all is black, and the only thing we can do is sit still, and wait.

Unless you are on the path that we describe, and you know the purpose in all your struggles, and striving, stop and examine where you are.  Stay with us for Part 2 to look at the promises that are posted on this path to encourage us and bring us gracefully, triumphantly, and gloriously into the presence of God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, here and for eternity.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples,
and exhorting them to continue in the faith,
and that we must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 14:22

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Abiding in Fellowship with God

I am grateful to be able to share our pastor’s recent sermon from 1 John 2. Abiding and holding fast to Christ is not readily understood or experienced in the lives of many Christians today. This 45-minute message will encourage and strengthen your heart and spirit to experience the fellowship we have with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Or, you can download audio here.

Alone ~ but NOT Alone

How can this be? How can a person be alone but at the same time not alone?
To understand, we must see ourselves as God our Father created us from the beginning.
From Genesis, we learn that He formed man from the dust of the earth, and He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life “and man became a living soul.”

The apostle Paul speaks of the whole man as “spirit, soul, and body” (1 Thess. 5:23)
First God created the body and gave it His breath — His Spirit — which together with his body made man a living being. He breathed life into the physical form that otherwise would have remained  lifeless.
His life, His Spirit, has been the perpetual power given with each person born in every generation. Adam’s wife, Eve, was given life from the same Spirit, but in her body a spirit of her own, her own soul. Together, they produced offspring through the union of their souls and bodies.
Every generation and every individual lives by the same power of God’s Spirit through each one.

Let’s consider another question?
How does God always know where I am and what I am thinking?

“The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart.”
Prov. 20:27

When a person dies, what happens to his spirit?

“For man goes to his eternal home,…
Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.”
Ecc. 12:5-7

“Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.”
Ps. 146:3-4

Alone Physically but Not Spiritually
Considering these references let’s see if we can give a clear understanding to our first question.

Since Jerry’s death two years ago, I have been alone physically. Every room has been silent, only one side of the bed needs to be turned down at night and remade each morning.  I have only one plate to fill, empty, and clean, and only a few clothes to launder – no more pills and bandages, no more bloody sheets, no wheelchair, no moaning, and groaning. But, oh, how I miss his moaning and his dependency on me – not constantly, but still occasionally I miss him and my spirit mourns. 

Overriding this tearing away of the “one flesh” stage of life – overarching this flood that has taken place to establish the next stage — is the assurance of our Father’s presence by His continual Spirit with my spirit.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,”
Roms. 8:16

Our Father created us all through Adam and Eve, our first parents, but because of their disobedience, we are individually born into this world with the sentence of death.
But by His grace, we are given new life – eternal life – through Christ, His Son. His Holy Spirit quickens us, and gives this new life to those who believe and obey Him; we live in the assurance of His presence with us now and forever.  (Eph. 2:1)
His Spirit within us is His means to carry us from one stage to another, through every loss, with victory over our feelings and struggles. He continues to teach us through His written Word of the promises that are ours.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? 
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him 
For the help of His countenance.”
Ps. 42:5

Jesus said to His disciples, “…you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” Jn. 16:32

“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Heb. 13:5; Isa. 41:10

Perhaps my greatest witness of this truth is that “the new heart and new spirit” our Father gave Jerry and me as “one flesh” was not taken from me. Even as He united us together as one in Christ, His Spirit still dwells in me, giving life, strength, and joy to my soul – while Jerry is beholding and enjoying His eternal glory in heaven.

Dear Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name in the lives of all your children in every stage of this life, your Spirit bringing us to you as you have planned for each of us. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.

(Unedited excerpt from Our FATHER Hears ~ The Voice of Daughters Crying in the Wilderness — in process for publication this year.)

The Voice of PRAISE

The voice we use to cry to the Father is the voice He gave us to talk to Him and praise Him. More are the references in God’s Word of praise than of crying.

In fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (1 Jn. 1:3; Phil. 2:1) our voices are changed because our heart, spirit, and mind are changed. No longer do we need to cry to our Father but the remainder of our time in the wilderness is used to praise Him, to pray for others and cry out to them with news of the blessings of His kingdom, inviting them to join our family.

“He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:19

We are brought through the ages and stages of this wilderness life as His people to praise Him. His people in the Old Testament were delivered from their enemies to be His people, to worship and serve Him.

The Voice and the Choice

Our voice is obedient to our hearts and minds. Before we knew our Father and were brought to live in His fellowship, our voices were speaking the things we saw and heard in the world. Before the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ is shined in our hearts, the god of this world blinds and prevents people from knowing God. (2 Cor. 4: 3-6) We naturally spoke the things he put in our minds. From our physical birth, the spirit of oppression ruled our heart and spirit. All we knew was to complain, cry, to lash out in anger and violence. Our voices indicate the state of the heart — whether of fury or grace. 

The stony heart was chiseled with the nature of rebellion and disobedience. Sin was the voice of the world since the beginning — until Jesus came, set up His kingdom and changed us. With the “new heart and the new spirit” (Eze. 36:16) we have a new tablet on which our Father writes, by the Holy Spirit impressing upon us His nature and the life of Christ. (2 Cor. 3:3) This new heart is the eternal heart given us in Christ. (Jn. 17:3;6:68) The Holy Spirit speaks through our spirit to renew and transform our minds and lives in preparation for eternity with Him. (Roms. 8:15-1712:1-2)

His voice through His Spirit and His Word presents a new way – a new path that is irresistible. Pride sometimes presents the thought that a person is able to make this choice on his own. But just as we did not choose to be born physically, we are unable to turn away from the Father who loved us before creation – before He sent Jesus as sacrifice for us. Because He loved us before the world was (Jn. 17;5), He sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself and make us His own. (2 Cor. 18-19)

Those who refuse or doubt and spurn His love proves they do not belong to Him. These will continue in their rebellion, crying and complaining through the remainder of their wilderness experience and for eternity.

Our voice is the indicator of our destiny for eternity.

Quite different is the voice of God’s people from the world – the voice of continual praise. Just as He chose the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, He, in Christ, has chosen us for His eternal nation.

In Simon Peter’s first letter he describes us “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices (of praise) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:4-5)

Here is His creating a people out of this world to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ.” (see also Heb. 13:15)

After explaining the difference in those who are of this holy priesthood and those who refused Christ (“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”) he describes the house of our Father and His Son.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

How can we not praise Him if we remember the darkness of this wilderness from which He has delivered us. But more so, the thought of His qualifying us “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light, (eternal fellowship with Him) delivering us from the power of darkness and conveying us to the kingdom of His Son. (Col. 1:12-14)

We live and praise Him because we are His children here, now, and forever.

 Imagine what might happen if all God’s people joined in one voice of praise, across this land and around the world. Would not heaven be opened to pour out His blessings upon us.

Gracious Father, we praise you because you are worthy to be praised and you bring your own praise through us to yourself. You will not fail to bring your children up in your own nurture and admonition. Enable us to spend our energy not for our cries and complaints but for praises, thanksgivings, and witness to others of your great love and care. Draw others to yourself through us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

(Chapter from OUR FATHER HEARS ~The Voice of Daughters Crying in the Wilderness in progress)

Suggested Reading: Presription for Praise God is Our Goal

Image: Google

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

I pray for them. I do not pray for the world,
but for those whom you have given me. They are yours.
All mine are yours, and yours are mine.
And I am glorified in them.”
Jn. 17:10-11

In our continued study of An Excavation of John 17, we find Jesus’ prayer to the heavenly Father. Before His crucifixion, He gave His disciples a clear understanding of His union with the Father “before the world was” and His purpose for being here. He did not pray for everybody.

And she will bring forth a Son,
and you shall call His name Jesus, 
for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

It is clear in Jesus’ prayer who was included and who was excluded. 
He said, “I pray for them” – identified in the first three verses and throughout His prayer as “those” whom the Father had given Him. The purpose for the Father giving the men to Jesus, His Son, is so He would give them “eternal life.” (vs. 2)

Jesus specifically states, “I do not pray for the world.

Jesus did not give the Father’s Word and eternal life to the world but only to those men given to Him. They heard and believed. They received this truth from Him, knowing “the Father and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” (vs. 3)

I have given them Your word; 
and the world has hated them
because they are not of the world,
 just as I am not of the world.” (vs. 14)

I do not pray for these alone,
but also for those who will believe in Me
through their word;” (vs. 20)

We find many references to His prayers. Few others were heard and recorded by His disciples, His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the brief statement at Lazarus’ resurrection are two others.

His purpose for being here was to set up His kingdom and prepare His people for eternity with Him and His Father. Through Him we who once were disobedient, living in and of the world, have become a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. We are a special people to Him, to proclaim the praises of Him who brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light — the people of God.” 1 Pet. 2:9-10

CHOSEN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD

“ just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” (Eph. 1:4-5) 

BEFORE TIME BEGAN

who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,” 2 Tim.1:9

There are many more references that teach the difference in God’s people and the world. (Psalm 1)

Jesus said, “They are yours.” He added, “Mine are yours and yours are mine.” As the Father and Son were one, having the same glory before the creation, the Father has given all to the Son in heaven and on earth. Jesus is glorified in His followers and will “bring many sons to glory with Him” in heaven. (Heb. 2:10-11)

If you believe and follow the humble Lamb of God, you can rejoice that Jesus prayed for you. He continues as our High Priest to pray for us at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We have the same privilege Jesus gave His disciples in The Lord’s Prayer. Many people quote this prayer without understanding its meaning between the Father and His children — those who are born of the Spirit as disciples of His Son. We belong to Christ and are one with Him and the Father.

Heavenly Father, we are blessed to know that you chose a people for yourself. We praise you for revealing Jesus to us, giving us eternal life in Him, giving us a new heart and a new spirit – bringing us to the light and writing on our hearts the truth of your Word. Let us proclaim your name and your kingdom of light in a dark world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

The FEAST

(After a feast with my daughter and her family today, I am reminded of a vision of a feast years ago.)

********2014

For some reason my mind has been on food these last few days, not just on one item and not just on one meal, and not just for a common occasion.  My thoughts have been on a feast, in which I picture this long table that extends out of my sight, with so much food, and with such a variety, it is a smorgasbord that is more than you would ever have time to sample.

This sight affects all my senses.  What I see is an arrangement of colors, textures, and designs.  They all fit together so that we could not describe any one platter of such a banquet. It is a beautiful offering of a majestic kind, fit for a king and his court. The aromas capture my sense of smell, as I am drawn nearer to the table.

I am invited to come closer, to taste the delicacies spread before me.  What do I sample first?  It is all so magnificent, that I dare not spoil the display.  It is too glorious even to touch, but I must.  I am enthralled with the scene.

The questions come: “Who has prepared such a feast?”

“Where do such delicacies grow?  Why have I not seen or tasted such as this before?”

“How is all this food prepared and preserved?  Will it not spoil before it is eaten?”

“I cannot begin to partake of all this by myself.
There is no one here but me.  This is too much for me.  I must go and find others with whom I can share this banquet.  It is too wonderful!”

But, as I start to leave, a voice comes from the end of the table.  “Before you go, taste for yourself, before you bring someone else. Without tasting you will not remember where you have been, nor will you want to come back.”

And so, humbly I approach the table.  I see in the middle of all the other food, and my hand reaches for, a piece broken from a simple loaf of bread, the aroma of which I have never enjoyed before.  Slowly, and gently the bread is lifted to my mouth and the sensation is indescribable.  My eyes are opened to a throne at the end of the table where the King is seated.  Gathered around Him and around the table are all these people who have come and tasted of the feast in the simplicity of Christ, His Son.

The feast is too rich for us now; our palate must be prepared for it. It is designed by the Father and revealed to us by His Holy Spirit who draws us to the center of the table—the bread of life—Christ, Himself.  For now the bread of heaven is enough. He is our sustenance for this earth and our taste of heaven.  The Feast is for the Wedding and heavenly dining with the Father, and Son, in His great glory—for His glory and our joy.

“I am the living bread
which came down from heaven;
if any man eat of this bread,
he shall live for ever…”
John 6:51

“O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.” 
Psalm 34:8

I pray that today we might taste of His divine goodness and bring others to His table.

9/29/07  (from Waiting is Not a Game ~ Articles of Faith, written during the three years that we waited for the wound to heal from Jerry’s amputation.)