The Father of Grace and Glory

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ

according to the purpose of his own will,”  Ephesians 1:7

“In the beginning” God was a Father.  Before He said, “Let there be light,” He desired light.  No one can put out that light because it was born of the Father.  For the Father so loved what He was and had that He desired and planned for sons to share in the wealth of His glory. He “so loved the world”  that He created because it was meant to be the realm through which He would reveal Himself, His glory, and His promises.

He could have sired children to share His glory anyway that He desired, but He chose to do it through this realm that we know as “grace “. Now is the day and time of grace.  The glory of this physical world shines brightly for the majority of human creatures.  It draws us to seek our own glory by its sights and sounds, its promises of happiness and success.  God, our Father draws us to His Son, Jesus Christ, whose life is the “light of all men” to see beyond this world to the glory of the Father, and the promises that await His children in the eternal realm.

Just as God the Father is Spirit (we cannot see Him) so is this realm of grace.  It has been provided for us; we live in the middle of it.  We are surrounded by it.  We learn about it by reading God’s Word, which even by His grace He has provided for us.  But, we must read with a heart that accepts it as His Word to us individually.  As sons and daughters we desire to know Him, to love, Him, fear Him, obey Him, worship, serve, praise, pray to Him, proclaim the truth of His grace in Jesus Christ, and live for Him. All of this comes from His own Spirit of grace working in and through us.

Much of how we understand God is based on how we see the role of fathers.  The light of the Father’s grace is mostly hidden because not many earthy fathers know the Heavenly Father.  And the world does not want to recognize any creature having authority over another, but if we are to receive anything beyond what this world offers we must understand the role of the father.  We have a tendency to read the Bible with out own slant, instead of accepting it as a means of God’s grace to inform us of His intentions, His desires, His plans, and the fulfillment of those plans in the different roles that He has created.

Before there can be a son there must be a father.  Fathers are first in origin.  Our Heavenly Father was first and will always be first of all, in heaven and on earth.  He must be first because He started it all.  If we believe this, then we must look to Him, “seek His kingdom and His righteousness,” ask for His Spirit of grace to fill us and guide us, knock at the door of His heart continually, to know Him, and as His children, to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This is the grace that prepares us to share His eternal glory and keep us rejoicing in Him as we wait.

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,

that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

1 John 3:1

(Excerpt from Three Facets of God’s Glory That Every Christian Must See—in process.)

SEASONS of GRACE

“To every thing …….. a season.”

“A time to be born” ………  A time to know.

“A time to die”…….. And then to grow.

To sense the touch of the Gardener’s hand.

With His strength and love ……. to stand,

And feel the rain upon our face;

To live in the sunshine of His Grace.

Ecclesiastes 3:2; Luke 9:24           F.R. 1995

Allowances and Investments

Do you pay your children to work, or do you give them an allowance and teach them how to use what you give them?

After bringing up two children, caring for and helping train four granddaughters, I have become an advocate for the system of allowances. I base my convictions on what our heavenly Father teaches us as it pertains to the system of His grace.

As a Father He adopts us into His family.  We have nothing before then. We could not work for it, and were worth nothing to Him—we were not worth saving or adopting. The allowance of any amount of grace to us cannot be earned. He makes this investment in us, making us a part of His family.

A family that is united in Christ through the head of the family is brought up with the understanding of “grace.”  The father shares with each member of the family what he has worked for, and teaches the child how to spend or invest what is given.  This applies in the area of money, and other resources that are needed for this physical life.

TRUTH                                 TRUST

But more than these is the allowance of eternal things that are given.  Our heavenly Father gives each of His sons “truth.”  He entrusts them with this heavenly commodity, and expects a return on that investment.  By His grace, in love, we put our “trust” in our heavenly Father, who has given us this truth. As part of His family each one is part of a unit of return that strengthens and grows His whole family.  This investment brings dividends for generations to come.

As His sons share His truth with their families this investment continues to grow, as part of God’s plan of redemption.  Generation after generation of those, for whom He gave His Son, live in love and devotion to Him. Wives and children do not break away from the family to go their own way when each one understands the truth of the Father’s grace.

In His truth, living and walking by the Spirit of His grace, we learn how to spend and invest our lives, so that all we do is a return for His glory, and our joy.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation, and believed n him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,

to the praise of his glory.”

 Ephesians 1:13-14

TRUTH ~ by Man’s Will or God’s Grace?

So then it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:16 ESV

As deists, Voltaire and Diderot attacked Christianity—“their primary weapon aimed at the church was ‘truth’.” (Dr. Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language*)  “We think that the greatest service to be done to men,” said Diderot, “is to teach them to use their reason, only to hold for truth what they have verified and proved.” What did these men know of “truth” in their young years of their own “enlightenment?”  What had they proven by their own “reasoning” in their latter years?  What did they have in the end?

Man may create happiness for himself while he is able to think clearly, when everything seems to be in his control, but this does not last. God has proven His work of grace, not only through His written word (which “reasoning” discards), but in the reality of life to its very end.

God proved the truth of His grace to me in 1994 as I, for three weeks, watched my dad gradually consumed by esophageal cancer.**  How could he “reason” for himself what was happening to him?  What was truth to him, at that point of his life?  He had only the mercy (which he had asked for) and the grace of God, which we all experienced together.  He could no longer eat or drink.  He could do nothing but wait for his final breath. He was never on morphine, and so was aware of everything going on around him. He could hear, (until now I had not realized that as a work of God’s grace) and we had those last days to sit by his side, to sing to him, to read the Father’s precious words of truth.  God’s grace was strikingly evident in Daddy’s humility, and his peaceful spirit of acceptance in his last week, and at the end.  He died on Labor Day—his epitaph, “Rest in the Lord.”

For five years we experienced the devastating effects of dementia in Mother’s life. She had no means of “reasoning.”  Nor could we, even though we could still think clearly—clearly in that we could accept that God was sovereign, in control of all things.   Though we could not understand through our own reasoning, we were learning more and more to trust in God’s mercy and grace for what each day would bring. (And we failed many times—for who is prepared ahead of time for such things.)  Her last month was spent in a nursing home, much to our grief; but we were not able to care for her any longer.  I could not “reason” with that.

But, even there, in her last few days, God’s hand of mercy and grace reached down and held us together.  She had been unresponsive for almost four days.  Jerry and I sat with her those last few hours.  Monday was my birthday, and I prayed, “Father, please don’t let her die on my birthday.”  At twelve midnight the nurses were in and out, checking her vital signs.  The younger nurse asked the older (who was wearing the white cap, and the white uniform), “Shouldn’t we give her something?”  The older nurse answered, “No, she is at peace.”  A few minutes later, as I detected her breathing to be very shallow, and holding her hand, I stood and recited Psalm 23 for her.  When I finished, she took her last breath.  I looked at the clock.  It was 12:38. I could not have willed that; it was God’s grace.

A most recent example is of Ed, 86, still a member of our church, but no longer attending.  He has dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease) and now lives with his daughter, Cyndi,  and her husband in another state.  In her last email she wrote of how she reads the Bible to him, and he will quote with her much of God’s Word, as she reads.  It is not by his “reasoning” but by God’s grace, that he recalls the Word of truth that he has hidden in his heart.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ will himself restore,
confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
This is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.
1 Peter 5:10-12 ESV

*Our pastor is sharing this study with our membership.  **”Daddy” was my first book, in which I recorded the working of God’s grace in those three weeks.

Burdens and Beams

Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

Everyone, in this life, carries a burden on his/her shoulders, and a beam in the eye.  These come with the territory.  Since the Fall this earthly kingdom still has its advantages, but it also has its difficulties, its trails, its tribulation.  Did God know about this ahead of time?  Did he know that Adam would need a place to rest, and food to survive on this planet?  He prepared these ahead of time; He created all things that man would need before He created man “in His own image.”  He knew what He wanted, here on earth, for His people.  He knew what they would need.

Burdens

We each carry the burdens of fallen humanity, either our own or those of others.  God, our heavenly Father, planned for this too—a place to unload; a person who would carry this burden with us and get us through this wilderness.  He came, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, to make Himself known to us; to draw us to Him; to take the load—the burden and guilt and power—of sin “off.”  We still carry other burdens—our own and of others we love—but not alone.  People will say to me,  “I don’t want to burden you with my problems.”  Sometimes they want to carry them alone.  It may be that they don’t know how to unload; or, they don’t know how to express what they are experiencing. We bring the burdens of others to the Lord and we rest these on Him.  I have no power to bring rest to others, but He does.  I can intercede fervently, and encourage with the truths of God’s promises.

While Jesus is the only one who can take the burden of sin away, and the one we should come to first with our problems, He has provided sisters and brothers in Christ within the body of Christ, His Church.  We are together as a body—each of us members of the same body—strong enough in Christ, to “bear one another’s burdens.”

Beams          “First, take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck                               out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5

How many times have you tried this?  The log has been there since our birth.  It is lodged; it is a part of us; and it prevents us from seeing clearly.  Christ is the only one who can dislodge the beam and remove it.  Why did He not say, “Let me take the beam out of your eye, then you can take the sliver out of someone else’s eye?”  Was it so that we would come to the conclusion that it is impossible for us; so that we all have to come to Him.  We are blind from birth.  Only a new birth—of His Spirit—will give us eyes to see clearly.  “In Christ”—through His eyes—we see others as He wants us to see.  He has made provision through His body—the church—for us to bring others to Him, to His Word.  We come alongside our brethren-in-Christ as “light” for their darkness.  We accept the guidance of others who would, lovingly, as pastors and brothers and sisters, see something we cannot see about ourselves, desiring the continual work of cleansing and sanctification—the working of His grace, and preparation for His glory. (Ephesians 5:26)

Father,  draw us by the power of your own Spirit to Jesus, our Lord.  Lord Jesus, by your two-edged sword pierce our hearts, cut out and remove those things that keep us from seeing you.  Enable us to see you and others in the light of your grace. Amen

The Spirit of Grace ~ Heaven Sent and Heaven Bent

“According to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,

according to the good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.

Ephesians 1:7-9

This morning, before I could think “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,” the Father was pouring out His grace.  Before I could say,  “Abba, Father,”  He was filling my mind with His grace, and by His Spirit, filtering it to my heart.  There is never a day that His Spirit of grace is not working to obtain His end.  Before I am even aware of my wakefulness He has already begun His day of faithfulness—to the last that it lead to His glory.  I forget sometimes that He never sleeps.  His kingdom is on-going in heaven and on earth.

I was reminded that on this date, September 7, 2007, He began pouring out a “river” that carried me away. For 50 days I wrote, in prayer and praise of His grace and glory.*  (The season was almost a year after much adversity.  In August, 2006, my mother died, having lived and shared with Jerry and me her battle with Alzheimer’s disease for 4 1/2 years. Barely had we settled her estate, when in September, Jerry had emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg, due to what the surgeon thought was an aneurysm.  This was not so simple a case.  We waited until October to verify the need for amputation.  We were encouraged before this surgery that he would afterward be able to resume some activity with a prosthesis.)  Those 50 days were in the middle of a four-year period of continual dressing of the wound left from the amputation.  The Lord was working in my writing to verify His working of grace in the past and for the future. (Not to leave you hanging–it was discovered that Jerry’s body was rejecting a graft implanted when he had the by-pass surgery. After a four-hour surgery for its removal, and five months with a wound-care specialist, both wounds were healed.  While he still has limited use of a prosthesis, he can do more for himself, and my time of daily dressing wounds was relieved. The Lord is good, and His mercies are new every morning.

His Word, His Grace, His Spirit, does not dissipate here on earth, and does not return to Him void.  He draws us to His Son, binding and bending our hearts and minds to Himself. We cannot resist His Spirit of grace, in what the Father has decreed.  His kingdom is coming, and His will is being done.

For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”

2 Corinthians 4:15

* “50 Days of Prayer and Praise ~ Articles and Stories of Faith

Centrality of the Covenant

What is central is central, and everything else revolves around it.
(Revelation 4)

As I am writing “Worship That Springs From the Heart of God—a Sheep’s View” it is with a heart fervently searching for this “true worship” that Jesus teaches in John 4:24; the meaning of this worship, and the means whereby this worship takes place.

Believing that “true worship” is for His covenant people, there must be a center in and through which this worship takes place. His covenant of grace is made in and through Jesus Christ.  It is administered in His name, giving all authority and power to Him, and Him alone.  (Hebrews 1:1-4)

Humanly speaking, I see this as a “spin-off.”  The world turns.  Humanity continues to go around in circles, looking for life and fulfillment apart from God.  The Father draws a people to Christ, His Son, through the power of His Holy Spirit, as He speaks through His written word.  These find the center of life in Jesus Christ, “truth” administered to the human heart, “written on the heart and in the mind.”  These hold on to Jesus Christ for dear life, (by faith–we are “in Him” and nothing can take us out of Him) until this world stops spinning, and we find our eternal rest in Him.

PLAN YOUR DAY AROUND JESUS CHRIST, OR SATAN WILL PLAN HIS DAY AROUND YOU.