The Eyes of Agony

Looking for that blessed hope,
and the glorious appearing of the great God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:13

Jerry was taken to ER on May 26 where the medical staff did not see a possibility of his surviving. I paced and prayed outside while Lee was with her dad. Then, seemingly better, after I was with him, he was taken to ICU.

As we waited at home, overnight, to hear results from tests and an ultrasound of his heart, my most excruciating thoughts turned to the stark probability of losing the man with whom I had spent the last fifty-nine years.

I agonized, seeing what seemed inevitable ~imagining what my life would be without him.

Then, came the vision of how I would have to let go of what I held dear and precious, the man I loved, especially the last thirteen years as Jerry’s caregiver.

As I agonized over what I faced, I was reminded of the agony of my Lord and Savior.

First, in the garden of Gethsemane, he saw the vision of His cross, sweating drops of blood as He prayed. What awaited Him was the fierce reality of separation from His Father as He would suffer for the sins of His people.

Then, he knew that in order to save us, He would have to let go of His own will and life. He gave way to the will of the Father and gave all to Him for our salvation.

“NOT MY WILL”

“Not my will, but thine be done” is only possible in our lives through the humble, sacrifice Jesus made for us.

As I write this, three weeks after Jerry’s death, June 1, the words, “Not my will” are late in coming. But I must give all to Him, submitting to the will of the Father even as He did. Jesus’ death and resurrection are the means for me to live without Jerry until He brings me to glory with them.

As He leads, I must walk hand-in-hand and heart-to-heart with Him through this valley of tears and agony, keeping my eyes on the hope that is set before me ~ the hope He secured for me on Calvary.

By His grace, Andy, our son, Lee, and I were blessed to be with Jerry the second night in ICU and the last four days in Hospice. It was during those days He was preparing us to see the Father’s will and to hope in His will for our future.

“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.”

Hebrews 12:2

Keep yourselves in the love of God,
 looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ 
unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21

Dear Father in heaven, by the precious gift of eternal life through Jesus, your Son, you have made it possible for us to endure the pain and sorrows of this world. Thank you for the love, mercy, and hope you bestow on us as your children. Let me remember you are my Maker and my Husband and you have made me to be a bride of Christ. Continue to prepare me to share your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

God Has Friends in Low Places

I was sitting in the backyard listening to an audiobook and getting a much-needed dose of vitamin D. Two mockingbirds were darting back and forth just a few feet in front of me. They began making so much noise that it was becoming difficult to hear my audiobook. I knew that they had a nearby nest and were only trying to protect their young from a potential threat. Apparently, mockingbirds don’t understand that a paralyzed guy in a wheelchair doesn’t pose a threat. I wouldn’t have harmed them even if I had the ability because Atticus Finch said that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Then I saw two beautiful bluebirds sitting side by side on the lowest limb of the large live oak tree. These two little birds were just minding their own business. Like me, they seemed to be doing their best to ignore the noise and the antics of the paranoid mockingbirds. Every five minutes or so, one of the bluebirds would fly over to an old birdhouse. Mary’s been meaning to replace that birdhouse because the wood is rotting. After observing this for over an hour, Mary came out and told me that the bluebirds have a nest in that dilapidated old birdhouse.

I thought there must be a severe birdhouse shortage in our area for these bluebirds to have chosen this run-down dwelling to build a nest. It was then that I had somewhat of a revelation about the beautiful and Holy taking up residence in dwellings that are far beneath them. Jesus was born in a smelly stable. There might have been a pair of bluebirds nesting in that stable. The Holy Spirit resides in the followers of Christ:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

I’ve met some rough-looking followers of Christ over the years. Many of Christ’s most fervent followers were once prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts, gang members, murderers, on and on the list goes. And then there’s me… Regardless of how we might look on the outside, we’re all broken down “birdhouses” on the inside. As the Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23).

Yet, this sinless Jesus will put His Spirit in all that ask Him to. Wow!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus was born in a place that most homeless people would have avoided. But, Even if Jesus would have been born in the most magnificent palace on earth, it would have been far beneath Him. It’s as if God chose the lowest of places to emphasize this. Yes, that’s it exactly.

The disciples were grief-stricken after Jesus explained to them that He would have to die. He comforted them with there words: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)

The night before the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter cowered before a small group of slaves, denying three times that he even knew Jesus. Weeks later, after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood before a crowd of thousands of powerful Jewish leaders, likely some of the people who condemned Jesus. Peter boldly declared that Jesus is Lord. Then he told them to “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40). I think saying things like that was politically incorrect even in that day. I wonder what he’d say today. Regardless of what he said, his message was effective, and “about three thousand souls” committed to following Christ that day.

Years later, after being arrested by the Romans, Peter was told that he would be crucified if he didn’t renounce Jesus. Contemporary sources write that he refused to renounce Jesus. He told them that he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord and Savior. Instead, he asked to be crucified upside down. They granted his request.

It’s been two thousand years since Peter’s crucifixion. Many have been executed for refusing to deny Jesus. In the face of death, many others renounced Jesus and lived.

What choice would you make if put in this position?

By definition, a true follower of Christ is someone who has the Spirit of God living inside of them. I still think it will be a difficult choice, but if the Holy Spirit is in you, you will say no to this life and yes to eternal life.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Having God’s Spirit living inside of us gives us Unshakable Hope.

Rewritten from a post five years ago.

Godly Contentment

If you were with us in 2017, you may
remember our series on Contentment.

We have edited, revised, and published these posts as chapters in our newest book. Godly Contentment is seventh in our series Little Books about the Magnitude of God.

Never in eighty years have I seen these truths so desperately needed. I have been reviewing these for my own encouragement since January.  Our cover image (as well as our header) is a personal photograph by a sister-blogger, Heidi Viars – Wings of the Dawn. 

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 3 – The Essence of Contentment

Faith Leads to Contentment
Faith affects our senses as we “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29).

Faith becomes the bridge, the means to the whole of God’s kingdom. Here is where we connect faith and contentment, contentment being the seventh and complete sense in communion with the Father.

Our Father uses faith to bring us out of the state of oppression through adversity. We would rather say that His presence and power lift us above the adversity and brings us to the state of contentment. We do not escape adversity, but in it, we learn to live in conformity to the image of Christ. His Word and faith in His Word train our senses. By these, we accept and live unmoved by our circumstances. We practice keeping our focus on God, our Father, and our hearts centered in Christ and His promises, as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Godly Contentment is available on Amazon and soon through other distributors.
Proceeds are designated for missions and charity. Paperback      Ebook
Fran

Surreal Surrender

Our heavenly Father relates to His children at different times in different ways. He uses stronger measures with some than with others.

We are all disobedient by nature, but He knows how and when to bring us in obedience to Himself. He turns some in childhood to know Him and love Him. For others it is in times of crisis that we come to the end of ourselves to see our need for Him.

It is such times as the whole world is experiencing now that many are turning in repentance and faith to seek Him, His will, His kingdom, and His righteousness.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

God’s Authority Over All Things
Many are declaring “conspiracy” in what is happening in the world. As in a former post, we agree that a conspiracy has been the enemy’s work since the beginning of time. But we remember the antithesis is ruled by God, our Father.

He governs in all things to bring about His sovereign will at all times and in all places ~ to the end to declare His kingdom, power, and glory.

We continue to praise Him at all times, in all circumstances. living in obedience of faith under His authority and counsel.

We sometimes need the difficult times for Him to draw us closer to Him. When things seem unreal, we have a place of refuge and safety.

“Before I was afflicted I went astray:
but now have I kept thy word.”
Psalm 119:67

No doubt, when things settle down, many will return to their own ways, but He will have done His work in the hearts and lives of those who truly surrender themselves to Him.

 “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,
and to reserve the unjust
unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

2 Peter 2:9

Gracious Father, we thank you for ruling in power over all things according to your Holy will. Draw us and keep us close to you in these difficult times. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, and by your Holy Word, enable us to help others who are seeking you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Image: Google

“What is Happening?” ~ A Sheep’s View

The Shepherd is passing this way ~ again.

Blind Bartimaeus was on the roadside begging. He heard the multitude following Jesus and asked what was happening (Luke 18:35-43). Jesus responded to Bartimaeus’ call for mercy and opened his eyes so that he could follow Him.

The multitudes today are blind to what is happening around us. We are sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus has passed this way before. In the times of His choosing, He sends His Holy Spirit to call those to whom He wants to show His mercy. We sometimes hear but don’t understand the times and our needs.

John’s and Jesus’ first message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matt. 3:2: 4:17

Jesus was here to reveal the Father’s kingdom; to bring light into the world and into the hearts of men to expose their darkness and their sin. He brings judgment and chastisement in order to turn us to repentance and faith in Him.

His sheep follow Him when He opens our eyes to see and know Him as the true Shepherd.

Never again can we forget the voice of Him who calls us to be His own. He laid down His life for His sheep so that we may never die but live through Him and be with Him forever.

“Repent, and believe the gospel.” Mark 1:5

“I came to call sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17

“Unless you repent, you will perish.” Luke 13:3, 5

Simon Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized.” Acts 2:38

“Repent and be converted.” Acts 3:19

“Repent of your wickedness.” Acts 8:22

Jesus is passing this way ~ again.

Jesus is calling us by His mercy to hear His voice and follow.

We can call out as Bartimaeus and David.

“After thy loving kindness, Lord
have mercy upon me:
For thy compassions are great,
blot out all mine iniquity” (Ps. 51:1).

Gracious Father, I pray that you bring multitudes to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. Let us hear His voice calling us to repent and follow Him. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Jesus Is Passing This Way

Is there a heart that is waiting,
Longing for pardon today?
Hear the glad message proclaiming,
Jesus is passing this way.

Jesus is passing this way,
This way, today;
Jesus is passing this way,
Is passing this way today.

Is there a heart that has wandered?
Come with thy burden today;
Mercy is tenderly pleading,
Jesus is passing this way. 
Refrain

Is there a heart that is broken?
Weary and sighing for rest?
Come to the arms of the Savior,
Pillow thy head on His breast. 
Refrain

Come to thy only Redeemer,
Come to His infinite love;
Come to the gate that is leading
Homeward to mansions above. 
Refrain
Fanny Crosby  1895

Music:  Jesus Is Passing This Way.
PDF

Related Article: “What’s Happenin?”

Overflow of God’s Word

For the past month, my mind and heart have been deluged with thoughts of encouragement for God’s people. The river of living water Jesus promised from the Holy Spirit has been flowing, bringing to the surface words of truth He has planted and watered over the years. My small basin is not enough to capture what He is pouring out. I share a few of the titles here, praying He will settle me and write through me what He desires. If you have an interest in either of these, please leave a comment.

What is Happening?  ~ A Sheep’s View

What Shall We Do? ~ A Sheep’s View

Repentance and Dependence

Our Greatest Need

Words of Life ~ JUDGMENT

Survival of the Fittest

The History of Hope

Quarantined in Christ

Clean Hands

Love and blessings to all in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Fran

Words of Life ~ COMFORT

As an extension to our former post, Conspiracy, Controversy, and Consolation, we need to look further into the COMFORT  (consolation) that comes from our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit.

The different meanings for COMFORT can be found here.

More than ever, in this generation, we are in need of consolation. As God’s children, we find all we need in the Word of God.

“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” Psalm 119:50

 “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.” Psalm 119:76

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Roms. 15:4

Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God.
Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2
“For I will turn their mourning to joy, Will comfort them, And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.”Jeremiah  31:13
“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.” Isaiah 49:13

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19
Comfort from our Father, and our Lord Jesus, by His Holy Spirit
Our Heavenly Father is the perfect Father, who knows when to chasten and when to comfort. He comforts after chastening brings us to Him in repentance.
Isaiah 61:2 is quoted in Luke 4:10, referring to Christ, the Messiah “To comfort all who mourn,”
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit – the Comforter (paraclete) – as our advocate.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.”Acts 9:31

“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2 Cor. 1:7

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we are comforted, and together, without controversy, in our consolation and salvation, of one mind, endure the same sufferings. We live in peace, edify, exhort and comfort one another.

 “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,” Roms. 15:5

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Cor. 1:3-4

“But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” 1 Cor. 14:3

 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” 2 Cor. 1:6

“Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.” 2 Cor.7:4

 “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.” 2 Cor. 13:11

 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thess. 5:11

Peter’s prayer for the Jewish Christians, was by “the God of all grace,” to be established in their suffering, “exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand” (1 Peter 5:10-12).

Dear Father in heaven, continue to send your Holy Spirit for conviction. In your chastening turn us to see you as our Father who chastens because you love us. Bring us in mourning for our sins to receive your forgiveness and comfort. Use these times of trial for our good and your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.