Grace to Learn and Live

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,

through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

2 Peter 1:2-3 ESV

“Live and learn” is one of those ho-hum expressions I grew up with.  It is etched in my mind, with the understanding that most of life is trial and error; that we learn most of what we know from our mistakes. How do we turn this around, so that we “learn and live?”  How soon do children learn of God and His Son, Jesus Christ?—by this, I mean, not just a hint, here or there, of God’s existence, or that Jesus is somehow connected to Christmas and Easter; but, children learning, as they are brought up by fathers in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  (Ephesians 6:4)

To be brought up in a Christian home is a gift and act of God’s grace—by this I mean, not just taken to Sunday School and church, but a Christian home where the principles of “life and godliness” are modeled, lived before and with them. How much of His Word, wherein is found this “knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord,” do we as parents have within our own hearts and minds?

 It is by His mercy and grace that we can be “transformed by the renewing of the mind” and so “prove His good, acceptable, and perfect will”  (Romans 12:1-2) for ourselves and for our children.

What does this life look like in reality?  Paul described it in Titus 2:11-14:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Only His “divine power” of grace can do this work in us—for His glory and our joy.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God,

and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

John 17:3

City of God’s Glory

“City of God”  ~  Augustine

“When shall I see that city whose streets are paved with pure gold, in which shall be sung the song of gladness, and through all the streets of which the hallelujah shall be uttered by all.  O holy city!  O beautiful city! from afar I salute thee, I cry for thee, I entreat for thee, I long to see thee, and to rest in thee; but kept still in the flesh, I am not permitted.  O city to be longed for! thy walls one gem, thy keeper God himself, thy citizens always rejoicing, for they exult in the vision of God.  In thee there is no corruptibility, nor defect, nor old age, nor anger, but perennial peace and festal glory, joy everlasting, festival unbroken.  In thee there is no yesterday nor tomorrow, but an unchanging to-day.  Tomorrow is as yesterday, and the long ago is eternally the same.  To thee belong salvation, life, and endless peace.  To thee God is all.  In thee there is no fear, no sadness; each desire passes at once into joy; all that is wished for is at hand, and all that is longed for abounds.

“Sigh for the eternal Jerusalem! whither your hope has gone before, let your life follow.  There we shall be with Christ.

“If you would be armed against temptation in the world, let the longing for the eternal Jerusalem grow and be strengthened in your hearts.  Our captivity shall pass away, our felicity shall come, the last enemy shall be destroyed, and beyond death we shall triumph with our King.”

Capsules and Nutshells

Certain pills when swallowed can cause death.  Are there capsules that contain the ingredients for life?   Is there simple meat “in a nutshell”  that when eaten, cause us to want more?  Are there concentrated truths in God’s Word that establish a pattern, and prove our salvation?

The writer of the book of Hebrews said that God had spoken in the past  through the prophets, but in the last days He had spoken to us through His Son. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

“There are also many other things that Jesus did.  Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.  (John 21:25 ESV)

Jesus’ said in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.  The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Here are a few time-tested words from the Lord Jesus Christ.

                   “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  Matthew 6:33

                    “If you abide (continue-KJV) in my word you are truly my disciples,

                                     and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

                   “Pray then, like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”  Matthew 6:9

                   “Ask the Father….for the Holy Spirit.”  (See Luke 11:9-13)

His Spirit is the “living water” that dissolves the capsule of His Word, and spreads the contents through our hearts and into our lives.  His Spirit is the power of God to break open the nutshell and reveal the meat of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep us seeking, abiding, praying, asking for more, and growing thereby—for the Father’s glory and our joy.

Chrysostom ~ concerning God’s Word:  “It is not the word of man, but of the Holy Spirit, and the least syllable of it contains a hidden treasure.”

Father, open our hearts to receive the truths and life that are in your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  In His name we ask.  Amen

The Riches of God’s Grace




 “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”                   Ephesians 1:7

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with Him freely give us all things.”  Romans 8:32

“Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32


King Ahasuerus offered Esther half his kingdom.  King Herod also, promised Herodias’ daughter  half of his kingdom.  Our heavenly Father has prepared His kingdom for all His children—in Christ.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in Christ, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.”  Ephesians 1:3

“CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY.”  Colossians 1:27

                  O Father, gather us around your throne, that we may see Christ—and Christ alone. 

Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

Two months ago we received a call from my niece in Thomaston, Georgia. My nephew wanted me to call him for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop my brother’s hemorrhaging the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”  Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst.  My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was limited to his feet and legs, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection.  The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we drove down, again prepared for a funeral. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was ridiculous.  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheel chair—the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath; and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own he had to moved with a sling and a lift.  I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it;” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day he still did not know that I was there.

Days later my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.  We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a sling; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab and watching his toes gradually shrinking.  Thursday when I visited him I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.  This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”

The Fall

From the time of Adam’s disobedience God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all became invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sins” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense. If my brother could “will” it he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing that we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”  We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually, and effectively reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time; and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.




A Burst of Grace

Adversities and events of the last several years kept me wondering if Jerry and I would celebrate a 50th year together.  Even as we planned and neared that day on July 28 it was with a little anxiety.  Lee, our daughter, called two days before all the family was to meet in S.C. for the weekend —Olivia had strep, and Emma, her younger sister had broken her arm.  Not to worry—Olivia was getting a prescription for an antibiotic, and Emma had an appointment to get her cast early on Friday morning; in time for them to arrive at our destination before Jerry and I got there. We had a blessed weekend with our family, returning home in time for the Lord’s Day morning worship. (To respond to the questions,  “What do you think about being married 50 years?”  “What is your secret?”  “What words of wisdom would you give us who are younger?” would require another post.)

On Monday my 72nd marker was passed; and for every milestone that I reach, there is a new, or renewed, vision of what may be ahead. When, by God’s grace, he gives another day it is usually accepted with a heart of gratitude, and a determination to know and to do His will that was not evident in my younger years.  We used to count years, then decades; now we “number our days” desiring to “gain a heart of wisdom” for the time we have left here.

These are all days of grace, and even with the grace that is given I often do not have the energy to accomplish all that I need to do.  Fulfilling my role as Jerry’s caregiver, keeping the home, cooking, gardening, shopping, etc. requires something beyond my capabilities.  When I look back on each day at what was done, I know, and praise the Lord, that it was by His grace.

There are special times, that, without any notice beforehand, I have a sudden strengthening to go about a task, and with a glad heart accomplish it with ease. From the first time this happened I described it as a “burst of grace.”  There have not been many; and now I pray for them, so that I can stop looking at something that needs to be done, and cross it off my list.

I think that the Lord may be planning to bless me with another “burst.”  Looking at windows that need to be cleaned, especially the kitchen windows, I see myself doing this.  Over and over, when I am at the sink during the day I picture how I will go about this; and so my prayer is for this “burst of grace” which, when it comes I know it will be of Him, and for Him—for His glory, and for my joy.

Amazed by His grace; caught up in His Glory  ~   Fran