Signs of Love

(August, 2010, six months before starting this WordPress blog)

Sitting in front of this new computer that bears no name—only a logo—I have determined that I will not fall in love with this thing. Thankfully, this is not the same temptation I had several years ago when we purchased a used Lexus.  It was a simple, clean-lined automobile but beautiful in my eyes from the moment I saw it, sat in it, and drove it.  Its satin ivory color was similar to this machine.  We purchased it at the Toyota dealership near us. Jerry and his brother returned it when it continued leaking oil and could not be repaired. I so wanted to keep that car because of its design and its special interior features.  Although I was not the least interested in the used gray Infiniti they brought home in its place, it has been a comfortable, dependable vehicle I have been blessed to drive for many years . The infatuation with the other car is revealed whenever I see others of that same model.  I can spot it anywhere. The Lord must have given me the experience so that I would know my proneness to such temptation.

Love at First Byte
Since we bought this no-name computer I have yet to speak to anyone who has not said that they “love” theirs.  Those who have family members with these machines also say that their brother and daughter “love” theirs.  For some it may have been love at first byte.  Understanding that when a person speaks of a thing that they “love,” it is much the same way in which the word “luck” is used; words that we hear often we seem to make part of our vocabulary.   We hear Christians speak of their being “lucky” instead of thinking or speaking of God’s sovereign goodness and blessing.

It used to be that the signs of love were seen on a person’s finger.  Former infatuations may have preceded and fallen by the wayside before that special person came into our lives with whom we covenanted to love “until death do us part.” Temporary signs are seen in a bouquet of flowers or other special gifts; and in faces that light up when we see or speak of the person we love; and in the wedding invitations and the ceremony.  But years of commitment through the hard times are the true signs of love in a marriage.

As I continue through this wilderness  into which our first parents brought us, I see many signs of love for the things of this world but not many signs of love for the things of God.  I hear much spoken of things that we love here on this earth, but not many things spoken about the things of God and heaven.  The signs of love for these things among the brethren of Christ are evident to unbelievers who love the same things.  A scripture reference in Revelation speaks of “the mark of the beast on the forehead or the hand,” and the “merchants that buy and sell,” even “the souls of men.”

Our heavenly Father has never said that we cannot have, or enjoy the earthly things, but to recognize that they are blessings from Him.  Knowing what our temptations would be, He has not only instructed us in how we are to look at these things, but He has given us a Savior and His Holy Spirit to work in us the deliverance from loving what is temporal, perishable, and corruptible. Neither of us is exempt from the temptations, and few are able to resist the things that we face everyday, whether they come by name or logo.  If we can’t afford to buy them, we are tempted to covet them.

When our last computer died, I had hoped for this special computer which our pastor used and spoke of, (although I never heard him say that he loved his); but because Jerry was leaning toward a PC to replace the other one, the Lord enabled me to accept his leading.  It did not matter what kind we bought, except that it be of equal quality as our last one.  As the Lord worked through our pastor and Jerry to give us this one, I am committed to pray that it will not become a love object but the blessing that He has given for me to use for His glory.

I pray that as I become familiar with this machine that I can use it for the hallowing of His name, to speak of His kingdom, His grace, His love, and His glory, according to His will. I pray that it will be used to bring others to know and love the one who knows and loves us with an unfathomable love, our Father who has our “names written in the palm of His hand,” and in “the Lamb’s book of life;” and to know the Son, Jesus Christ, who, through His sacrifice, has given us the signs of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to remember His love, forgiveness of sin, and the eternal inheritance that He has promised us in His Word.

I pray that we, together, will continue to “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”—that knowledge through which we are given “all things that pertain to life and godliness”—for His glory and our joy.

Fran 8/31/10   (Unedited excerpt from Growing Up and Growing Old, Gracefully)

Words of Life ~ APPOINT

We find in our study of the word APPOINT the concept of the authority of one over another. There are two persons or things involved. One who has the authority and the power to accomplish appoints someone or something according to his wishes. Beginning in the Old Testament, it is God who appoints and accomplishes what He desires.

From the beginning of time, as Creator, God is the authority, we and His creation are appointed according to the power of His holy will.

Old Testament  H7896
Strong’s Concordance defines APPOINT, shiyth shēthto; put, set
The same word is used for make, made, shew, laid; the first use of put in Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of salvation.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

God appointed conception for Eve in the birth of Seth Genesis 4:25

And for the birth of Isaac.

Is any thing too hard for the Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Genesis 18:14

 Rebecca appointed to be the wife of Isaac.  Genesis 24:14 
 for all the cattle of Egypt died. Exodus 9:5
for the children of Israel to keep the Passover. Numbers 9:2|
for cities of refuge  Joshua 20:9

During warfare
Men were appointed with their weapons of war Judges 18:16  and appointed signs, Judges 20:38

Kings were appointed to rule over Israel, 1 Samuel 25:30

The Levites were appointed unto all manner of service of the tabernacle of the house of God. 1 Chronicles 6:48
Prophets were appointed, Nehemiah 6:7

Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? Job 7:1

He appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: Psalm 78:5|
He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going downPsalm 104:19
He appointed the foundations of the earth Proverbs 8:29
He appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Jeremiah 33:25
at the time appointed the end shall be Daniel 8:19
Habakkuk speaks of an appointed time for the vision,Habakkuk 2:3

New Testament G4929
Strong’s Concordance defines APPOINT, syntassōsün-tä’s-sō
To put in order with or together; arrange b. to constitute, I,e, to prescribe

In the New Testament, we see the authority of Jesus given by God, the Father.

Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Hebrews 1:2

Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. Hebrews 3:2

Jesus’ appointments for His disciples

He appointed seventy and sent them two and two to every city ahead of Him. Luke 10:1

And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; Luke 22:29

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. Matthew 28:16

He appointed all things for Paul; his ministry; Acts 22:10; his afflictions;
1 Thessalonians 3:3; appointed
 a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 2 Timothy 1:11

Jesus’ appointments for men

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointedand the bounds of their habitation; Acts 17:26

for the revelation of faith appointed of the father Galatians 4:2

For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:27

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Acts 17:31

There are those who are appointed to stumble at the word; being disobedient. 1 Peter 2:8

Dear Father in heaven, what a blessing to know that all things are under your authority by which you have appointed all according to your will. We praise you for revealing your grace to us through Jesus and His authority as heir of all things through whom all things were made. Make us know the assurance of all you have planned for your people. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

A Special Day of Grace ~ for God’s Eternal Glory

Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
Fear before Him, all the earth.
Psalm 96:9

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

O worship the King all glorious above.
O gratefully sing his pow’r and HIs love;
Our shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.”
Robert Grant 1833  ~  Based on Psalm 104

Free to Love

(Introduction The Danger of Freedom and Bound by Grace brings us to this last post on the matter of freedom.)

When God sent Moses to Egypt, He had a single purpose for delivering the Israelites from their bondage. Like Adam and Eve, acting in rebellion against Him, they had been taken into captivity. For seventy years they had been in slavery (the same number of years they had rebelled against God’s Word in profaning the Sabbath).

It was an act of God’s grace, through Moses, that they were led out of Egypt to serve Him, to worship Him, to be brought into a land of promise – a new land where they would know the freedom God wanted for them.

Shortly after given this freedom from their hard labor, they rebelled against Moses’ leadership, even asking to go back to Egypt. They did not trust God to provide for them. Neither did they worship Him according to His will.
At Mt. Sinai, the multitude influenced Aaron to make a golden image and sinned in their idol-worship. They never experienced the reality of freedom. It was only the second generation that survived and entered the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership.

The Law presented at Mt. Sinai, was not written in stone for their freedom. It was God’s means of showing them and future generations His kingdom of love. Through His law, He planned to bring to Himself a helpless and hopeless people who knew they could not live in full obedience to His Law. Even as He proved Adam and Eve helpless without His continual presence and leading, so He proved man cannot live in obedience to His will except by His continual power spiritually working in them. In Ezekiel 36:26, He promised He would displace the stony heart of man with a new heart and spirit.

A New Covenant
The writer of Hebrews quoted to the Hebrew Christians the promise of a new covenant in Jeremiah 31:33 to the house of Israel. The Law through Moses was the old covenant – the Old Testament revelation of God’s kingdom. The new covenant would be written in their hearts.

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Hebrews 8:8-10, 13

This new covenant — the New Testament revelation — is a covenant of redemption through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. His death was counted as the punishment for our sins – a propitiation (1 John 4:10).

His sacrifice was planned to appease the wrath of God and set us free from condemnation under the law and from the power of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4

The Covenant of Grace
This new covenant is the Covenant of Grace, by which He binds us to Himself and through which, we are delivered from our bondage to serve Him. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that fills His people with the desire and the freedom to obey His written Law. It is the new heart and a new spirit that loves as God loves – a heart that loves His law (Psalm 1) and a spirit that rejoices to live in obedience to Him.

As we are bound to Him through His covenant, we are free to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Every hindrance has been removed that would keep us from loving Him and others.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

  But if you are led of the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:1, 13-18

Those led by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13) understand that the law is written in our hearts; as we meditate on His Law – His Word, we hide it in our hearts so that we will not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). We are not under the law but we live freely under the power of His Spirit to love Him and others; we establish the law (Romans 3:31) by faith in His salvation from the bondage of sin.

Dear heavenly Father, you bought us by the blood of your Son.  You sought us as your lost sheep, brought us to yourself, bound us by your Covenant of Grace, and taught us the law of your kingdom so that we live freely in love and obedience within a corrupt society. Guide us each day by your Holy Spirit. Let us love as you love – for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran
O Wretched Creature That I Am

Images: Google

Bound by Grace

(The Danger of Freedom posted yesterday was an introduction to this article.)

His grace is sufficient in all of life for all He wills us to do and for all our physical needs. It is this sufficiency of the Lord, our God, that the title Bound by Grace was written and shared with other believers thirty years ago. He is the Everlasting One, the Creator of the ends of the earth – who neither faints nor is weary…. But giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.

It was His marvelous grace given one morning as I was in physical pain that prompted my heart to dwell on God’s will and His grace. The limitation of physical movement was sometimes the only time God could reach me – the position in which I was prone to really listen to Him and see beyond my point of view. But, oh, how wonderful were His revelations during those times and also, today.

In searching the meanings for the word bound in the dictionary, I thought I would find at least two. Many of you may have discovered that when we are on a treasure hunt, we usually find more than we expected – such is the Kingdom of our Lord.

We found four definitions with other words relative to the word bound. We will touch on each one as the definition relates to God’s grace – remembering that GRACE originated with God as unmerited and undeserved mercy and favor.

A. BOUND n. 1. a limit. 2. The territory on or limiting lines
1. To limit. 2. To border on another area; adjoin. 3. To demarcate.
The word BOUNDARY is a noun defined as something that marks a limit or border.

The picture came to mind of the lines drawn by a surveyor – lines that define our property. They enable us to know the limit and the borders of where we live.

We and our neighbors know our boundaries. Within these boundaries, there is a sense of freedom, security, and peace. We live, work, play, and invite others to enjoy the place set for us within these boundaries. We, in God’s kingdom, are given a place much like our physical home. We, in agreement with the surveyor, allow God to define His spiritual bounds (boundaries) within our physical boundaries – the unseen operating in that which is seen. He sets the limits and lines border between His kingdom and the kingdom of the world.

Defining the Boundaries
It is in the grace of our heavenly Father that He defines the boundaries between His kingdom and the world and sets the standards for enjoying these bounds. Those who have submitted to these limits and borders know the freedom, security, and peace set for them in and by God’s grace.

The thought came too, of keeping children within the properties where they live. Small children without knowing the dangers, sometimes venture beyond those limits if their caretaker is not there to restrict them. It is the grace of a loving Father that is able to keep His eye on us at all times. Under His care, we are assured we will not go beyond our boundaries. He keeps us and limits us for our sanctification and purification, to know His holiness and His deliverance in times of temptation. In the arms of grace, He sweeps us up and holds us when we venture too close to the boundary line (1Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 13:20-21).

When someone or something gets too close, He shields by His grace from the predators of the world. To allow us beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE would mean that He does not care for His own children. These boundary lines prove His love and His keeping for us. To think that death or injury to one of His children is to be beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE is to call the grace of God unjust. Like the sky, His grace is always there, working even in death, injury and difficult situations. In any circumstance, His arms of grace are able to enfold and bind us even more closely to Him.

Imagine a child who falls (even within the spiritual boundaries, physical mishaps occur) and always seeks the tender — the caretaker – for comfort and for instructions against falling again. God’s grace draws us to Him, as He comforts and heals.

Knowing our Limitations
As we get older, we learn our limitations and accept with respect and adoration what the experience of His grace teaches us – not to fear the things of this world, but to fear Him.

The fear of God is meant to alert us to what happens when we are not submissive and obedient to the limit and border of His grace.

It is His grace to which we are bound and that of His own doing, not ours. By His grace, we are saved – by knowing Him to whom we are bound — through faith in Him who has bound us to Him through His Son, Jesus.

Without a knowledge of the truth about our heavenly Father, it is possible to take His grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1) – even testing our limits. (This is testing God — Mt. 4:7) We may be deceived as we stand on the property line and listen to someone outside our limits, but He knows the deceivers and He knows His own children.

Lines of Demarcation
The word demarcate means a line of solid definition with no questions. Just as a surveyor gives a paper with the lines clearly drawn for our property, God’s grace is clearly defined by His Word, revealed by His Holy Spirit for guidance in seeing and understanding the lines set. We do not have to argue with our neighbor – within God’s kingdom or in the world.

Each child within God’s kingdom knows the line of demarcation. This line was clearly drawn for us in Christ at the cross. We are free in the spiritual boundaries of grace to move about in the physical world knowing what is off-limits, living daily according to the grace extended by the power of His will, wherever we are. In Christ, we are given God’s power to resist the temptations that surround us.

B. BOUND adj. 1. Confined by bonds. 2. Under obligation. 3. Enclosed in a cover or binding. 4. Certain.

There is a house on our property and within these walls, we have shelter, heat, clothing, food, and all our physical needs – according to God’s grace.
Without these walls, these things would deteriorate, blow away, melt, freeze or be stolen. We require the confinement coupled with the freedom to walk in and out of the structure according to His will. The confinement is good and works for our good.

Our Obligation
This work of grace is on our behalf but there is an obligation. It must be maintained; with regular cleaning and repair. A house is enclosed to protect us from inclement weather and those who are not BOUND BY GRACE. Our faith is not in the houses that our heavenly Father provides but in Him the giver of all that we need.

God’s grace is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. He (God) was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) so that we might be brought by His grace – not that we might just come back anytime we wanted to on our own but by God’s grace, to  be drawn to Jesus and therefore bind us to Him. He finds us and brings us to the Shepherd (Jn. 6:44-45, 63-65). The bonds are seen in the arms of the cross and in the blood of Jesus and His love that bought us.   And because He has twice owned us – by creation and by redemptive grace—we are not our own. We owe all to Him. We are under obligation to Him for our physical and eternal life.

But He does not call in the debt which we could never pay. We are not billed but we have received a statement, sealed with His own blood – PAID. The covering and the binding are the bountiful mercies of God with the blood that washes whiter than snow, and makes us His own, sanctified and purified, holy and blameless, keeping our soul, mind, and spirit until Christ comes again (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

BOUND BY GRACE, our sins are covered and we are given power beyond our own nature over sin, never desiring to be loosed from our Creator and Redeemer.
We wear the mantle of praise and are anointed with the oil of gladness. The binding of God’s grace is woven through our whole being. We are certain that what He promises in the salvation of Jesus Christ is true—that the power of redemption works for our binding every moment of every day. He does not loose what He Himself binds to Himself. No one can snatch us out of His hand (Jn. 10:28-29).

C. BOUND v. 1. To leap forward; a spring. 2. To advance by leaping. 3. To bounce.

As we are BOUND BY GRACE, the Spirit of God creates His own energy. Within that which is willingly bound to Him, He is free to exercise the maximum of His grace. We are limited, but He is not. When our spirit is bound to His, something happens that we cannot explain. He creates a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). He puts a new song in the heart that is bound to Him.

Eternal life from the Father to the child who lives continually in His presence – BOUND BY GRACE – knows no limits of His power, which we will discover in the last part — Free to Love.

Gracious Father, the God of all grace, who has called us to your eternal glory through Jesus Christ our Lord, we thank you and praise you for such a precious grace that does a powerful work in our hearts and lives. Fill us with your Spirit; continue keeping us and growing us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

The Danger of Freedom

This is an introduction to our next post — Bound by Grace — an article written thirty years ago. We will be adding a second part –Free to Love, looking at who we are when we think we are free without God, and then to the beauty and power of God’s grace and liberty that  He gives through His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you ask different people what it means to be free, you will get a variety of answers. For a non-believer, freedom means that they are answerable to no one, able to do whatever they want without restrictions, especially without God.

What is the danger in this kind of freedom?

Imagine intersections without traffic lights and roads without speed zones. If everybody had this freedom, who would be safe? Everyone would have the license to destroy other people who get in their way.

The danger of freedom applies to a Christian as well as a person who has no faith in Christ. Many think all men have a free will with the ability to choose right from wrong, even to believe or not to believe in Christ. After years of thinking I had chosen Christ as my Savior, my thinking changed. Studies in God’s Word uncovered truths I had never heard.

Beginning in Genesis, I came to understand how God proved man is not capable of choosing what is right. Left to themselves, Adam and Eve showed that without the continual presence and leading of their Creator, they had no wisdom or knowledge to make the right decision. There was no protection from the danger in their own territory. Instead of being free, they became servants of Satan; the human race came under his bondage and except through  Christ, live in rebellion against God.

Jesus Christ is the mediator sent from our heavenly Father to restore us to Him – to bring us to that relationship He had planned for His Creation. Without our total dependence on Him, we will never live in true freedom. Without Christ, we are in danger of our own deceptive thinking and without protection in this world. Satan is always waiting for us to make our own decisions without knowing or wanting God’s will for us. God’s will according to His law is the only free will and the only law that matters to us as His people.

Tomorrow, we will look at what it means to be — Bound by Grace— and the liberty that is given in His kingdom to the children of God — followers of Christ.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the freedom that is ours in Christ, based on the laws of your kingdom and the power of your Holy Spirit to reveal, enforce, and fulfill all your will in us. In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

The Day of All Days

All things in heaven and earth‘That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven
and which are on earth, even in him.”
Ephesians 1:10

Here, in a few words, is the “mystery of  God’s will” revealed. This supernatural event will surpass all others. Creation, the incarnation, and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will all pale in comparison to this day that He has prepared for His people and His eternal kingdom.  That will be GLORY for you and for me.

As I look forward to this event, as I live in light of this promise and this vision, LIFE here has a profound meaning. Each day in prayer and Bible study, meditation, and intercession, fellowship, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and proclamation of the gospel, is in anticipation of that day.

Every day is a day of preparation, especially today—THE LORD’S DAY.  Our heavenly Father prepared this day from the time of creation for that final Sabbath with Him. When Christ was raised from the dead the Christian Sabbath was established, not only for celebrating His resurrection and our new life in Him, but for each Lord’s Day to be a rehearsal for that grand and glorious day when He, the Lord, Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“This is the day which the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

Dear Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, make us to know the glory of your presence today, as we seek to worship you in Spirit and in truth with all your saints, here on earth and in heaven—for your glory and our joy. In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen.
Fran
(Original post ~ 2011)
Image: Google