Overwhelmed by Grace

Years ago, I used this title for another article; it was similar, but different in many ways. It spoke of an overwhelming grace experienced during an earlier time in my life. Jerry and I were still young with both feet on the ground.; we were enjoying what we considered success, our children and small grandchildren; the Lord was doing great things in our lives. We could easily have said, “Then was the best time of our lives.”

We had begun to learn and know God’s covenant of grace. The power of His grace was something fairly new, but it was becoming a great work in my life, a life I had never known. To “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) was a beautiful thing. The overwhelming grace that He had bestowed grew stronger and nothing seemed to hinder even during the few difficult times.

I don’t know where my former article is stored, but I know that His grace was stored within my heart and mind, so that in these last days they have not been lost. During these last days, when the adversities have become overwhelming, God’s grace is far more, able to temper with the greatest of difficulties in this life. God is Greater Than is an older article posted here years ago. His grace was working then and now, continuing to grow and bearing fruit for His name and glory.

“These are the worst of times, and the best of times” ~ the worst of this world, but the best of heaven, and that overwhelming grace is that by which He will wing us to heights unknown and to our eternal home with Him.

An older hymn sung at our church this past Lord’s Day attests to this grace in His faithfulness to us through all times and all things.

Dear Father in heaven, as we consider all that you have done in our lives, we can but know how powerful is your grace that fills and thrills, and spills over wherever we are. We praise you for such a work, a supernatural work, that only your grace can accomplish. We pray that you will continue to grow us as your people, as a witness of your presence and power through all of this life, however difficult and tedious it may become for us. Believing that all the darkness of this world is meant to be a backdrop for your light and goodness, keep us faithful, loving, and gracious; enable us to stand in the truth of your grace revealed through the life, death and resurrection of your Son, our Lord and Savior ~ in whose name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
Related Article: Why Me?
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Expect Great Things

As I was getting out of bed yesterday morning I was given the words “Expect Great Things.” This kind of leading is not unusual, but this one seemed profound, so I hit the floor running. When the Lord speaks, we don’t always receive clarification, just direction. We are reminded of Abraham’s story and his obedience to God’s calling. He did not know where he was going but trusted the Lord’s direction.

Three such words as these ~ “Expect Great Things” ~ carry a lot of weight when we consider the source. No one could have given these words except God, the Father, through the presence and power of His Holy Spirit in me.

Upon first hearing these words, the temptation was to think that God had something special in store for me. But then, the same Spirit brought correction to my first and fleshly inclination. The next thought was for me to focus on the source of the words; not the words, but on God, Himself.

Consulting the concordance for the word “great” we find that God created “two great lights” (Genesis 1:16).

His work of Creation was just the beginning of the revelation of His “greatness.”

He promised to make of Abraham a “great nation” and to make his name “great” (Genesis 12:28).

He did a “great work” upon the Egyptians (Exodus 14:31).

(Every time I go to the concordance, I find more than I intended for one article; enough for another book. So, for sake of time and space, I encourage you to search other references for yourself.)

How do we then, understand these three words? If not for me, then who are they for?

In the end, I was led to realize that God is the great One, doing great things even before the beginning of the world. He will always be doing great things beyond my knowing. Where ever He has chosen, He reveals these great things; to whomever He desires. It is just for me to believe who He is, as God, Creator and sustainer of all things, and Redeemer, accomplishing all things He has planned for His own glory and our good.

In the process of realization, His greatness, through His power of creation, came to mind, His awesome deeds of deliverance for His people, His miracles of incarnation, resurrection and ascension, His redemption for us to whom He reveals His greatness, the new birth by His Holy Spirit and new life through Jesus Christ, His Son, and the continual leading of His Holy Spirit in the lives of HIs people. His greatness is revealed through HIs Holy Word. We read and believe though we cannot always understand.

Is He doing “great things” today? Do we need to ask? Or do we trust His revelation to us as the Great One who does “great things” every day, even though we cannot know or see them. And wherever He is working, His greatness has a ripple effect throughout humanity.

Dear Father in heaven, “The Great I Am,” whose “great love” is beyond our understanding, we praise you for your greatness, for the greatness of your grace and your glory. We are not always the direct recipients of what we would consider “great things,” but knowing you, we believe you are everywhere present and powerful every moment of everyday. Let us forever live in this joy and expectation, desiring to hear where you are now working; knowing this in our own hearts and lives as you are continuing to “conform us to the image of your dear Son” ~ in whose name we pray. Amen.

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What We Will Leave Behind

As Jerry and I continue to age, getting closer to the end of this life, we seem to think more of the next life than this one. We are more in preparation than ever before. This brings me to the consideration of what we will leave behind when we exit this world. As we share this list, we ask that you not be put off by the first things, but bear through until the end, as we hope you may be blessed to see what the Lord is doing in our last days.

The first things are concerned with the physical life that we now experience. There are other things not listed, but enough is enough.

Uncertainties and perplexities

Regrets

Pain ~ Choosing a below-the-knee amputation almost twelve years ago, Jerry has had continual soreness and pain in that upper leg. Other health issues have prevented seeking remedies for this pain.

Unhealed wounds and everyday change of bandages. He has been receiving treatment for a diabetic ulcer on his foot since the first of last year.

Bloody sheets and shirts, He is on three blood-thinners that cause unusual bleeding from his arms and chest at any time during the day or night.

Bills and pills

Sin and the evil of this world

Spiritual warfare

Sorrow in losing loved ones. Grandparents, parents, brothers, twenty aunts and uncles in my own family and their spouses, two nieces, and cousins on both sides have gone before us, plus friends. The most recent event was the loss of our four-week-old great granddaughter in February.

The most important things we will leave behind are things the Lord has given in the middle of the chaos. These far outweigh the first things we have listed. These we will also take with us. These are eternal. There is much more than what we list here.

God’s Word (1 Peter 1:23)
As we wrote in our last post. God’s Word is eternal. We are birthed by it spiritually, and live by it ~ it is forever in us, written on our minds and in our hearts. We grow by it. It grows in us and bears fruit now and for eternity. His Spirit, who inspired the Word to be written and preserved it for us, leads us by it. As Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). We speak these words now, and they bear fruit for eternity. What we have spoken and written here will remain for God to use for His own glory when we are gone. It will not return to Him void but will accomplish all for which He sent it.

God’s Presence and Power (Hebrews 13;5)
God was here before we came. He will remain to continue and finish His work in all His children.

God’s Love (Ephesians 2:4-5)
The love that penetrated and permeates our heart, soul, mind and strength is being passed down to family members, members of the Lord’s family and to others. (1 John 3:1-2)

The Joy of the Lord (John 15:11)
His joy is an eternal joy. He gives it here. It spreads and never ends.

God’s Peace (John 14:27)
His peace was brought to earth through His Son, Jesus Christ and has continued by the power of His Holy Spirit in His people. This peace will be ours here and eternally, but not ours alone; we have our portion as part of the family of God which will bring us into His presence.

God’s Blessings (Ephesians 1:3)
He showers His abundant blessings upon us during the difficult times that spill over onto any who know us.

Patience and Perseverance (James 1:2-3)
All that He gives is experienced in and through all that we endure while here on earth.

Our Testimony  (1 john 5:10)
We leave behind the witness of all the goodness that we experience in the middle of the trials and adversities. (Psalm 107:8)
The Lord, as He is preparing us in this life for eternity with Him, witnesses of His grace and power in all that we encounter.
All that we endure here will pass away. Finally, with all the dross removed, the proof that we belong to Him shines forth for His glory.

Gracious Father, we thank you for the new life you have given us in the middle of this life ~ new life that enables us to focus on our goal ~ eternity with you. We praise you for the “overwhelming greatness of redeeming love” (Andrew Murray’s Humility) that captures us and keeps our hearts and minds centered in Christ, who is our life. Continue to fill up the spirit, soul and body of each of your children with the inheritance that is ours as joint-heirs with your Son, leaving an imprint on those who know us and believe the witness that you express through us. Thank you for leaving your impression on every generation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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The Power of Life in the Word of God

We have but to spend time in God’s Word contained in the Old and New Testaments, known as the Holy Bible, to learn how powerful it is. We need to be reminded from time to time because we can slip away from it, as we are distracted by the everyday occurrences of this world. We need it more than we need daily food for the body. Jesus knew this when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. It is more than daily nourishment now and for eternity.

“Men shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God
.”

Matthew 4:4

Food for the body expires even as do our bodies.

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
  but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

We have never found anything to replace food for our bodies, but we continue to look for alternatives for the spiritual food God planned for the soul.

I am amazed at websites that intrigue their audiences by their food preparations. But God’s Word needs no special recipes, ingredients or fanfare. To sit down with the Bible in hand is food and joy; more than any physical meal. God is present and shares His heart, spirit and soul with us. We find in it the power of His grace, His glory, contentment, peace, love, purpose and power for living. We are fed from the Master’s table with promise for all our needs and some to spare, to share with others. The power of life in Jesus Christ becomes the power of life in us by His Holy Spirit.

Physical food serves for physical strength, but God’s Word far surpasses all our needs, in all of life and through death. Meat and potatoes will only last until our death, but not afterward. Power from God’s living Word and His Spirit transitions us into eternity with Him.

Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for preserving your Word throughout centuries when men tried to destroy it. Thank you that through it you teach us how you preserve us. We have the promises you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ. He, the living Word, is the power in us for all that you have planned. And in His name we praise you now and forever. Amen.
(Suggested reading: The Garden of God’s Word)

Reserved and Preserved

English was my favorite subject in school. I was fascinated with words, their meanings and how they fit together with other words to form sentences; from there to weave thoughts into paragraphs and articles to share with others. And so, after I came to love God’s Word, I continued to learn of the life that He gives us through His Son, and to find more and more words for sharing this life with my family and friends. Such is the case with what is reserved and preserved in this life with Christ.

In 1 Peter 3:3-5 we read:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

We learn from Peter’s letter that God our Father, by His abundant mercy has given us new life ~ a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This new life is given here and now with the promise of an eternal  inheritance reserved in heaven for us.

This new life comes with a double promise: not only is the inheritance reserved in heaven for us, but we are kept here on earth by the power of God until we receive this inheritance revealed in the last time ~ when Jesus returns to claim us as His own.

The apostle Paul refers to this in 1Thessalonians 5:23-24.

 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

This is to fulfill what is spoken in Ephesians 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”

It is His plan, having chosen, predestinated us unto the adoption of our inheritance, according to the good pleasure of His will, ~

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” ~ in Christ His Son.

The inheritance was reserved before the foundation of the world.

The writer of Hebrews makes reference to the calling that is ours in Christ.

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus ……. whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3: 2, 6

There are more, so many more references, from God’s Holy Word that can be woven together to share the wonderful life that is ours, now and forever, through Jesus Christ. We must take His Word as His covenant to us as His children ~ His everlasting covenant that cannot be broken. We claim His promises and the life of Christ by faith as He writes them on our hearts ~ what is reserved for us who are being preserved for Him for eternity.

Dear Gracious Father, what is exceeding abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, you are reserving for your children, joint heirs with Christ. We praise you that we cannot be separated from our inheritance, preserved in Christ, made to sit in heavenly places with Him, sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession when you will claim us as your own. Work your witness in us, as those who belong to you, that we may live as those who are rich in the life of Christ. Make it evident so that others will ask us what is our hope and joy in this life. Give us your own words that reveal this life to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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Bountiful Compensation

How many times I have quoted David’s words, “The Lord hath dealt bountifully with me” are without number. Today I was brought to a new understanding of how bountiful the Lord is toward His people. It seems that His dealing bountifully with us is experienced more in the difficult times. It is as if by all the heavenly blessings He gives, He is compensating for the troubles that we go through; as our first parents robbed us of our original legacy, leaving us in a state of sin and misery. He gives mercy when we deserve His wrath; grace and more grace beyond what we are worth; love, joy and peace that we can never know apart from the power of His Spirit within us.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:3-6

The compensation is much greater than anything we have lost. The heavenly blessings are ours in Christ, His Son, who is our life, and as He promised, it is life, abundantly. We can give up everything here, even through persecution, and He blesses beyond all that we can ask or imagine.

In Psalm 142:5-6 David seems to be speaking from the experience of the Lord’s care. He was trusting Him to again deal bountifully with him when he was in the cave; Saul in pursuit.

“I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”

Psalm 116:7  is another reference to the Psalmist’s experience of the Lord dealing bountifully with him.

Psalm 119:17 is David’s prayer that the Lord would again deal bountifully with him.

The apostle Paul speaks of this in how we live and use what we have been given.  If we sow bountifully, giving sacrificially, the compensation will be bountiful in what we reap.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
2 Corinthians 9:6

As we trust and receive all the heavenly blessings that compensate for the lack in this life, we live joyfully in the care of our heavenly Father, who loves us and gave His Son for us, a bountiful compensation for our need of a Savior and Lord, now and for eternity.

Dear Father, we cannot thank you enough for first knowing our need for salvation, a salvation that is more than sufficient for all who believe. You do not leave us to fend for ourselves, but know that you supply abundantly all that we need ~ from your riches in glory. We praise you for dealing bountifully with us; that we can experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give. We praise you, that though this life takes us through what sometimes seems impossible, you never fail to be with us, prevailing through us and blessing us beyond comprehension with eternal things. These are worth the loss of all temporal things. Thank you for loving us and caring for us as your beloved children. Enable us to share the bountiful life that is ours in Christ, your Son. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Stairway to Heaven

In my seventy-ninth year, I no longer use steps without the help of a handrail.

In a recent vision, I was faced with an extremely wide staircase, not seeing where it was leading. It seemed that God had placed me there and expected me to climb the middle of the stairs. As in other visions, I was not given a choice, but a revelation of what the Lord wanted me to see. 

I had no rails to hold, and starting to climb this unknown stairway, I saw Jerry standing next to me, expecting me to hold his hand as we climbed ~ without his prosthesis.

As I took his hand, I saw Jesus taking his other hand. Together, we climbed the stairs, until reaching the top, Jerry received his new leg in heaven. ~ Fran 3/18

As for me, I will behold thy face
in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied,
when I awake with thy likeness.

Psalm 17:15

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God,
and it doth not yet appear
what we shall be: but we know that,
when he shall appear, we shall be like him;
for we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2

“Therefore if any man be in Christ,
he is a new creature:
old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

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