HUMILITY in the Life of Jesus ~ Chapter 3

“Are you clothed with humility?” Andrew Murray leaves us with this question in the third chapter of Humility. To understand what he is asking we must look carefully at this most important chapter in his book.jesuslavalospiesasusdiscipulos1 PDF
I am led to ask another question, “What does real humility look like?”
We find the answer to both questions when we look into the inner life of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we seek something of the Lord wholeheartedly we find and experience the blessedness therein.   In Jesus’ state of mind and heart it is this beauty and blessedness of heaven that we see.   His nature and disposition was that of the one who came to serve the will of His heavenly Father and the men he came to save; so that He might work in us the same mind, heart and disposition.

Isaiah 53
I suggest that during this month we read Isaiah 53 ~ the prophecy of the promised Messiah. A daily meditation would help us to understand this as the prophecy of Jesus Christ. His life, His humility, His actions were lived with the recognition that He was to fulfill this prophecy.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:11-12

….From His childhood Jesus knew He “must be about His Father’s business.” Luke 2:49
….In His baptism He was identified as both servant to the Father and to man, “to fulfill all righteousness” in obedience to the Father and to take on the ministry of our redemption. Matthew 3:15
….In the calling of His disciples to testify of His character and His mission of the Father’s will and kingdom he showed them, “I am among you as he that serves.” Luke 22:27
“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
….To witness of the purpose and power of His life He said, “My meat is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34
….As the good shepherd He said, “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  John 10:15
….His constant direction to the apostles was toward the destined hour; And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51
….At the last supper He washed his disciples feet, and, as he shared a cup of wine, said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20
….In the garden of Gethsemane he struggled in his flesh with sweat drops of blood and prayer; and then in the state of humility said, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Matthew 26:39
….In surrender to the authorities that spit upon Him, reviled and questioned Him he fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, “he answered him nothing.” Luke 23:9
….On the cross “he was numbered among the transgressors.” Luke 22:37
….In His final words, “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” and “It is finished,” we see the will of the Father and our redemption accomplished through His life and His death. Luke 23:46; John 19:30

I have always heard that we should exclude the pronoun “I” from our writing and our conversation. It is interesting that Jesus’ statements include a lot of these pronouns; but they are all seen behind the words “not” and “nothing.”  

“I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will” (John 6:38)

“I do nothing of Myself” (John 8:28)

“I seek not Mine own glory” (John 8:50)

Description of True Humility
You will find in this chapter the following descriptions of the humility of Christ and His people. Look for and underline these and note how these relate.

Consent   ~ to let God be all
Surrenders ~ Himself to His working alone
Entire subordination
Essential nature and life ~ of redemption
Resigned Himself
Given myself
Entire self-renunciation
Absolute submission and dependence   ~ upon the Father’s will
Giving everything to God ~ honor and glory that is due to Him
State of mind, spirit and disposition
Self-denial ~ to which our Savior calls us
Empty vessel ~ which God must fill
Being and doing nothing by ourselves   ~ that God may be all
Perfect resignation
Full consent ~ to be and to do nothing of ourselves
Death to sin and self
A channel ~ through which the living God can manifest the riches of His                                                wisdom, power and goodness
Life yielded to God ~ that He might work in it.

The Relationship and the Power
This relationship that we see between God the Father, and God the Son is the example of our relationship with Jesus Christ. This life he came to live and to give us. The redemption that He purchased by total obedience to the will of the Father is His means of restoring us to a life of humility ~ the only true relationship between man and God.

We learn from Jesus’ life that humility for His followers is not a one time response to the good news of our redemption, but like him, it is His heart, mind, spirit, and nature working in us always.
Jesus was one of a kind, the only begotten of the Father. No other person will have the same purpose that He had; but we have the same Spirit working in us, the same power, to bring us to die to ourselves, so that we may experience a true relationship with Him.

What does real humility look like in us?  The reality of humility is first, our being overwhelmed with the greatness of His redeeming love, (Preface) and what He went through to save us.  Only then can we sacrificially offer ourselves to God for Him to accomplish His purpose in us.  It is giving up our own plans so as to be His servant to men; beginning where He has placed us; continuing to seek His kingdom and His righteousness, His guidance and plans.

If we cannot yet see this in ourselves let us focus on the example and the power of this heavenly nature in God, the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. We must continue to study God’s word and the life, the love, and work of Christ.

We may ask ourselves if we are clothed with the humility of Christ. Beyond this we must ask fervently for his nature and disposition.  Even if we think this life of humility is too high for us we must remember that it is His work in us, not ours.

“It is the indwelling Christ who will live His life in us, meek and lowly. We must long for this, above everything, seeking this holy secret of the knowledge of the nature of God as He works all.
We must set aside our ordinary religion to secure this, the first and chief of the marks of Christ within us.”

“And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness (which you possibly have never yet tasted) can come into you.”

What in Jesus’ words or life has overwhelmed and humbled you?

Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for condescending to us in the person of Christ your Son, revealing His humility, without which we would never have received your forgiveness and reconciliation. In your love for us and your desire to bring us to yourself you gave us your Son, who willingly gave Himself to you and us. Thank you for making us your own through your plan of redemption. We praise you for your marvelous grace; and pray that you would continue by the same power of your Spirit that was working in Jesus to work His humility in us, conforming us to His image.
“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Prickly Pear Tree

The trees with white blooms that  are donning our landscapes this time of year  are Bradford pear trees.

From a distance one tree can appear to be a solid mass.  After the blooms the tree has dark, glossy leaves through the summer; and in the fall the leaves turn to autumn shades and even some of them to a deep maroon.  It is no wonder that this has become a popular tree since it was introduced in America in the 1960s.

We have a volunteer in our yard that grew from a seed from one of the trees in our neighborhood. We never wanted this tree in our yard.  We tried digging it up twice but it came back, and is now nearly 20 feet tall.

Like anything that appears so beautiful from a distance you may not know what is behind and underneath.  Get close to a Bradford pear tree and you will notice a distinct odor.  Get even closer and you will notice the prickly thorns.  They have shallow, but tough roots that can spring up anywhere around the tree.   And these trees do not stay beautiful forever.  After 20 or so years they become top heavy, and split off, sometimes right down the middle. Then there is the expense of cutting the tree down.

These trees remind me of human beauty that is only skin-deep.  If you get closer you will find shallowness, and thorns.  Human beauty without fruit is lifeless; you can look but derive nothing from it.  In time it will break from its own heaviness; and in the end it is good for nothing but to be cut down.

 

The Pear Tree with Fruit

Unlike the Bradford pear the pear tree that bears fruit is not beautiful to look at; but it can still be bearing fruit in its old age, seemingly struggling to bear up under the weight.  Beauty and youth are not what counts in the kingdom of God, but endurance and fruitfulness.  This is proof of the kingdom of God within us. 

The roots run deep, as Christ dwells within the heart; as we are rooted and grounded in His love, comprehending with all saints the breadth, the length, the depth, and height, and knowing the love of Christ, that is beyond knowledge, being filled with His fulness.  Ephesians 3:17-19

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
and as a root out of a dry ground:
he hath no form nor comeliness;
and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” Isaiah 53:2

“O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalm 34:8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:
and every branch that beareth fruit, 
he purgeth it,
that it may bring forth more fruit.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit;
so shall ye be my disciples.”  John 15:1-8  

Father, please bear the fruit of your Spirit through us today. (Galatians 5:21-22)
In Jesus name I pray.  Amen

Related Articles: 

The Fruit of Grace
The Beauty of Grace in the Eyes of the Beholder
 
Adorned with Grace

“COME” and “GO”

I have heard the message from Matthew 28 on the Great Commission  in different places, from different pulpits, from tracts, television, from different pastors, etc.?  It is always accompanied with the sense of guilt.  The last time I heard it was no different, but my response to it this time brought me to the Lord in prayer, to ask forgiveness for where I may have failed to share Christ, and for further help to be the witness He wants me to be.

As I hear the command,  “Go,” the thought of going seems to be the last thing we are to do.  In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus’ message was “Come, and find.”  how-can-the-bible-help-meBefore we can “Go” with any kind of witness we must have “Come” first to Jesus, in humility, to find rest for our own souls.  We must know this rest that is in Him.  We must first have been born of His Spirit and be fruit bearers of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and temperance. 

The commission to “Go,” to make disciples, and teach them what they had been taught, was given to those who had been with Jesus; during His ministry, His suffering, His crucifixion, His resurrection and ascension.  They were a motley crew until they knew without doubt who Christ was.  They deserted Him, but were brought again to see that He indeed was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Savoir of the world.

I do not mean to say that the commission was to them alone; or to pastors alone.  These were not the only witnesses of Christ and the good news of salvation; these were not the only ones who taught in His name.  The point is that when we have first “come” to Christ, receiving the gospel, born of His Spirit we “go” wherever He leads us, whether to the mission field, or simply where He places us daily.   We share what He teaches us in our daily living; He draws others to Himself through us.

Freedom from Guilt
What does God’s word say about guilt and fear?

In John 8:31-32 Jesus speaks to believers who are not true followers.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

When the law of the Spirit of life in Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death Romans 8:2 the life in Christ is a new life in us, free from guilt.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

If we fear talking to others about Christ we need to be diligent to make our election sure.  (1 Peter 1:10)  Simon Peter in his letter to the early Christians reminds them that they have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness in the knowledge of God, the Father and Jesus Christ.  Paul writes to the Philippians.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life.” 
Philippians 2:13-16

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13

The Personal Commission
Bible_Study

Before we have the true sense of what it means to “Go” we must come and stay awhile with Jesus.  We must sit at his feet to receive the good portion of grace and faith that is allotted to each of us. For some it is exciting to talk about a new faith.  Discouragement can come when we hear the words, “I don’t want to hear it.”
Long term witness becomes our life as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We have the witness in ourselves of the truth of Jesus Christ. (1 John 5:10)

Witnessing to others of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is not something that is meant to be a dread or drudgery.  Talking to others about Jesus Christ is our whole life because He is our Life.  Christ in us is our hope of glory.  (Colossians 1:27) It is who we are in Christ.  Christians who believe, who are true disciples of Christ, those who are “the called” are those who have “come” to Christ and have studied Christ.  We have been caught up in Him and taught by Him.

It is not a dread or fear to talk about PeopleTalkingwhat we love.  The world naturally shares what they believe and love.  And so do we; but supernaturally.  It is not we that speak but the Holy Spirit of mercy and grace ~ the same truth that He spoke to us, and that brought us to Christ.

All that Christ means to us will out, to people we meet.  We cannot hide it.  The Word of God that is a light to our path and a lamp to our feet cannot be hidden.

When we rejoice in the Lord, making our moderation known to all men we are witnessing to the gospel.  When we have any concerns we make our requests known to Him in everything, with prayer and supplication; with thanksgiving.  And the peace that passes understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Let us, as His redeemed, continue to rejoice, request, rest, and remember that we were bought with a price; so that we would testify of His great salvation.  Those who are His will hear, and by His Holy Spirit, come to Him.

Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.
Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”

Let us understand what it means to be His disciple; to come to and after Him, denying ourselves, taking up our own crosses daily, to follow Him.  (Luke 9:23)

Fill us Lord, with your fullness
that we may overflow with your grace.

Dear Father, thank you for showing us that this is not our work but yours; just as you spoke your word to us you speak it through us wherever we are.  Thank you for making us your own that through us you call others to new life in Christ.  Please continue to bless us with your fullness, bearing the fruit of your Spirit through us as your children.  Speak through us today to someone in the wilderness who will hear and come to Christ. For those who cannot yet speak of Christ, fill them with your Spirit,  with your truth.  Give them the joy of your salvation.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ Part 3

LIFE in Christ for those Left Behind

To the family, parents, and friends I-Will-Come-to-You-by-StudioJRUof one who has committed this final act I want to share God’s comfort.  Such a death can bring grief that is sometimes greater than what is experienced in losing someone by natural means.  Telling you that you are not alone will not help to make this easier for you.  While there are many other families and friends who have experienced this same kind of loss this does not alleviate your suffering.  It is a personal loss as is any loss; as if it has happened for the first time.  God has given each of us a heart that feels and experiences the joys and sorrows of this life.  For some, like your loved one, sorrow may have been all that they knew.  Or perhaps, though a happy child, as far as you knew, he or she had influences in their life that you did not know about.  One such turn of events can trigger a direction that they cannot comprehend or overcome.  (We speak later of this to those whose children have tried unsuccessfully to end their life.)

If you are a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, I have already addressed your position in part 1 of this article.  The same Spirit of Christ that has saved you is the one who will speak to your heart through your loss.  He is the one who will bring you through this tragedy to overcome your grief.

Overcoming Guilt
Christ is the same shepherd and provider who will bring you past any guilt that you may have. The parents of suicide victims often ask, “Why did I not know what was going on with my son or daughter?”
“Why did I not see the signs?”
Or if you did see signs, and didn’t know what to do, you may still have to live with this for a while.  I say for a while, because whatever you are dealing with is part of your relationship with the Lord God, your heavenly Father; and He will enable you to overcome to the point of ministering in His name through this tragedy.

The actions of those who take their own life affect the lives of those they leave behind.  Their thinking can poison your thinking.  Satan can use the death of others to damage our own lives; to distract and take our eyes off God’s plan and goal for us.
With so many deaths recently, either by suicide or cancer, my focus on God and my other writings have been threatened; and these were not personal family or friends.

Lee felt badly when she heard about her friend; she had planned to call and get together with her last week, but had not been able to.  I felt guilt from what I thought I could have done for our neighbor’s son.

In all my thinking and praying I realized that we are not God, and we are not responsible for what others do to themselves or to us.  Even when we have done all we can, some cannot be reached so as to stop their torment and desperation.

It is important to remember that even when we cannot see His plan God is working in and through every circumstance in the lives of His children and in the whole world, all to His own glory.  We will have to wait until that time in glory with Him to understand how all this works; but then when we see Him face to face, all these matters will fade into the background of His glory.
Again, I point to the need of keeping our focus on God, our heavenly Father, who through Christ will restore balance and order in our lives as He takes us through the grieving process.

restore to me the joy

 Reconciliation and Renewal
This is also a time of reconciliation and restoration in your relationship with your heavenly Father; a time of renewal in the LIFE of Christ.  You may have been lax in your time with Him.  Let Him restore you through meditation in His word, in prayer, and in intercession for others who have lost a loved one.  Sometimes the best way to get through the grieving process is to realize that there are others who are grieving, even other family members and friends of your own child or spouse.

Getting through grief is not meant to be in a hurry, but gradually, with your goal of overcoming in mind, and eventually in sight, you walk hand in hand with the Lord as He brings you through. (See Grace for Grief and The Path of Grief)

Praising During the Grief
Praise is due to God at all times, but not natural during the grieving process.  It is a supernatural trait of God’s children to be able to praise Him in the middle of crisis.
It is, however, his will for us, as we continue to trust Him in all things.  It is in response, not to the tragedy, but to His love, presence and power with us during, and afterward.
Whatever man does or doesn’t do, God is still sovereign.  He is still God, and His word does not change because of the events in this life.  It is His truth that enables us to go on, when otherwise we would be where our loved ones were when they opted out.  Remember, it is the gift of God’s grace that has given us the faith to overcome.
We cannot lose our faith, but it always tested; and we can expect this gift of faith to be strengthened during such times as these.

Again, I use God’s words to Jeremiah for all times.  Expect and trust that through the darkest times in your life He waits to be gracious to you.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Jeremiah 33:3


You are God’s Witness
in Your Loss
As one who has LIFE in Christ you have a hope that your loved one did not haveSatan cannot take this away from you.  Your heavenly Father wants to show through you who He is, and what He does in times like these.  Draw near to Him.  He is the God of all comfort, love, joy, and peace; so that you, in time, will be able to comfort others.

You may be God’s servant and witness, ready and able to help that one who may be seeking Christ in his or her desperation.  As your own faith is strengthened through your  tragedy you may be the one whom God has prepared to lead them to Christ and LIFE.


For Those Who Have Been Threatened
Since beginning this article I have been reminded that all attempts at suicide are not successful.  What does a parent or spouse do in response to their child or spouse who has tried to kill him/herself?  This depends on what you have experienced in your relationship with them before this happened?  Is there a pattern?
Has your child or spouse been rebellious, unhappy, miserable and critical in their relationship with others and their circumstances?   Are they selfish in their nature toward you and others?  Are they vindictive?  Have they threatened in other ways?
If this is their normal way of life the attempt could be a means of keeping you under their control, of threatening your own state of mind and health.

We don’t like to think that others have had a greater influence over our children than we have; but we must remember that the antithesis began in the Garden.  Satan, in rebellion stole the hearts of our first parents, God’s children.  He is still working today in the sinful nature of man, by a supernatural power, in the minds and hearts of those who have yet to be born of the supernatural Spirit of Christ.  Even we who are in Christ cannot escape a culture that supports all these influences.  We must be on guard for our children and ourselves in the spiritual warfare that we face daily.

The Influences
When we release our children into the world everyday for fifteen or more years their lives are going to be conformed to what they see and hear.  We have no idea what they are taking in from the process of public education, the media or personal relationships.  Our only defense for our children is spoken of in Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4.  Even in obedience to these we may not realize the temptations that overtake our children.

Sometimes it seems that the very airwaves are filled with the enemy’s sights and sounds.  The music that is promoted and rings through our atmosphere permeates the sensitive minds and spirits of our children.  Even the music that has lyrics pertaining to God coincides with the music of the world.  We’re not always alert and aware of the words.  The music itself connects with our spirit; and we do not know the power of it.  If you try to take it away you will see how much influence it has.  Our children are brought up with it and will die with it if their hearts are not changed.  Most of the literature, the music, the games, the videos, and the movies out there promote death.  The occult is gradually becoming very popular.  Even the subtlety of it is bringing many children into it; and what does it promote but death?
If they have been on drugs they are susceptible to mood changes; and many are unable to think rationally.

If we know God’s word; if we know the truth; we know that Satan waits to devour our children and us.  He is the god of the world and works to destroy all that God has created for His own.  We also know that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil.  His death was not in vain.  The new heart that we receive through His suffering and sacrifice gives the new LIFE to us with the power of His Spirit for the things of God.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
 For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory.   (Colossians 3:1-4)

Love and Support
You must do all that you can to show your love and support; but eventually, you may need to seek help for your child.  You must give your loved one up to the Lord; seeking His wisdom and grace.  You must, in Christ, maintain your own strength; and by your own peace and joy let your child or spouse know that they cannot take away from you what Christ has given.  You can pray for them and with them to know the love of Christ; but if they continue in this desire to end it all you will not be able to stop them.  You will experience grief, but you will not need to carry a weight of guilt. 

You may wonder what you could have done differently with your child or spouse, but at a certain stage you have to let go, believing that you have done the best that you could.  If you have regrets, confess these to the Lord, ask forgiveness, and rest in His grace to continue on; looking always in the future for His wisdom and guidance in your life; and the ability to help them whenever you can.

Reactions to Major Disappointments
If they have never shown any of the above signs, but have had a major disappointment in their life, their attempt may just be a sign that they need extra help to get them through this time.  They will need your special attention; to be assured of your love and encouragement.  Spend time in prayer and devotions with them.  You will not always be with your children during the difficult times in their lives, but this will be an example of how they will personally deal with them and get through them in the future.  As we spoke in the first part of this article about being alone and depressed, you can be aware of these times, engaging your child or spouse in conversation or activity.  Be a sounding board, if that is what they need.  Be aware of their withdrawal and separation from you and the rest of the family.  Follow up with whatever means you have.

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Have they been grounded in the truth of God’s word? Are you?  This may be the time that you can be united in Christ through a joint search for His truths.  A daily time in God’s word, for study, meditation and prayer is needful for a foundation that cannot be shaken in crisis.  Memorization is important, too.  The truths of God’s word written on the mind, and hidden in the heart, are the power and authority that speak when we need faith, assurance and deliverance.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
 
Psalm 119:11

My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
Psalm 119:25

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
Psalm 119:93

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
Psalm 119:165

To Loved Ones Without Christ
I would say the same thing to you that I said to someone who is desperate and considering suicide.  There is comfort for you, too, in Christ.  According to His word, He does not operate apart from His Son, Jesus Christ.  He has given everything that we need that we may know Him, and receive all the blessings that He has prepared for those that love Him. 

I pray that as read this you may consider what I have written in this entire article, concerning LIFE, true LIFE in Christ.

The Bible teaches that all things were created by and through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead.  Colossians 1 says that all things were made through Him; that all things consist in Him; and that in Him God chose that all His fullness should dwell.  In John 1 we read that of His fullness we all receive grace for grace.  In Ephesians 1 the church is His body, the fullness of Him, who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:11 says that in God’s timing He will bring everything on this earth to an end; to a gathering of all His people in Christ, where all believers will live and reign with Him forever in His kingdom.  In all this we see that God has made Christ the beginning, the center, and the end of all things.  All true life, from the beginning to the end, is dependent on Christ.  God makes this clear to those who read and believe and submit to His truth of Christ.  The Holy Spirit supernaturally gives a new heart so that we can believe; and by His own goodness to turn us in faith and repentance to Him.  He leads us to seek His will for us through His word, The Holy Bible, to have communion and fellowship with Him and Christ through prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper with fellow believers in a local church.

Through this tragedy in your life God may be drawing you to Himself.  As He has said throughout the ages to all believers, “This is my Son, Hear Him.”

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
1
John 5:10-12

Again, I pray for all who read this, that God may speak to your heart, and give you His peace that passes understanding, that keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And I know that his commandment is life everlasting:
John 12:50

I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly
.

John 10:10

 Dear heavenly Father, we end this article in praise to You for creating us in Your image.  Having fallen short of the standard and the mark that you had set for us You came in the form of man to redeem us, and reconcile us to Yourself.  Looking back over so many years I can see the paths that you have brought me through by Your own grace.  Had it not been for Your presence, Your power, Your protection; Your provisions for LIFE in Christ I would not be here today.  But in Your plans; through Your love, You now hear my prayer for those who read my witness of You, Your Son, Jesus Christ, and Your Holy Spirit.  Hear our prayer, dear Lord, and save these who are in the snare of the devil.  Give them a new heart and a new spirit  ~ new LIFE in Christ ~ for living in this wilderness until You call them home.
Please hear the cries of these loved ones and walk through this valley with them; by Your light and Holy Spirit bring them out; so as to witness and minister to others in need.
To You be glory, and honor and power.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Grace for Grief
The Path of Grief
The Spirit and Heart of God’s Grace
SELF DESTRUCTION ~ Part 2
SELF DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice

SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ Part 2

LIFE in Christ for Those Who Are Desperate

 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3

As distorted as life may be; as distant as God may seem to you; as distressful is every moment to you in this world, hope in Christ — God’s means of LIFE to us — is the complete extreme of what you are experiencing.  He is able  — NOT YOU — to provide this hope, this new LIFE in Christ.  God has given His own Son to die for you.  He has already DIED for you.  Death is no longer an option for His children.  He has experienced all the agony that is plaguing your life now.  He took all your sins and your burdens upon Himself when He was put to death.  His blood was shed that we might not have to experience eternal death.  He was resurrected that we might live forever in Him and with Him.

The apostle Paul speaks of the difference of life in the flesh and LIFE in the Spirit in Romans 8.1-2;14-15

“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 as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

Those who are born of God, of His Spirit, have a goal.  This goal is set past this life into eternity.  It begins here but transcends into the heavenly kingdom.  Though this world is all that you can see with the physical eye this is not all there is.  There is existence past this life, through natural death, into an eternal world.  Without Christ as our escort, our shepherd, our mediator, our Savior, we plunge ourselves headlong into our own oblivion.   What we experience as oblivion now will be eternal damnation, death reigning forever. Death will not be an escape.  It will not make things better. Past this life there is no longer any hope.  As long as you have breath there is hope.  Through prayer, seeking answers to true LIFE through God’s word, finding someone who can tell you about Christ and His salvation, and a church where the people love the Lord, His word, and each other you can experience this LIFE in Christ.  There is nothing of any value in this world or the next without Him.

Hope and Patience

“For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered
.”  Romans 8:24-26

We must all come face to face with God,  the goal of every child of God.  It is He as our creator, redeemer, and Father who will bring us to Himself one day.  How will you face Him – – – in His love, or His judgment.  Eternal judgment comes only to those who refuse the love that He pours out to us through His Son.

“And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”  1 John 3:23

Taking our life in our own hands to destroy what God created for Himself is disobedience, a lack of love for Him and others who know us and those we have yet to know.  Leaving this world before He lavishes His love and His goodness upon us is being our own God and refusing what God created for Himself.

We are all a result of what we think, and others have taught us; but new LIFE in Christ transforms us by the renewing of our minds.  In this new birth of God’s Spirit we have a new heart, a new love, a new way of thinking and living.  No longer do we live for ourselves, with our thoughts turned inward, but all that we are and do becomes an onward and upward movement toward God and His heavenly goal for us as His children.

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Life is a spiral, always moving;
either onward and upward to God or downward to an abyss.
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Seek and You Will Find Christ
If you are desolate, and desperate, as you read this, call someone and pour out your heart to them.  If they do not know God, or listen, or encourage you, or help you to find Christ, don’t let them stop you from calling a church near you.  If you have means of transportation, find a church and its pastor; find someone who knows Christ, and ask them to help you.

Jesus said, “Those who endure to the end will be saved.” Our only means of endurance are in Him.  He is our refuge, our strength, our LIFE.

Continue in hope and prayer, reading God’s Word.  If you don’t have a Bible, buy one or go to your local library and find one.  Read the Bible online here. Keep looking, keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking at the door of God’s heart until He answers.
Hear His words from Jeremiah 33:3

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.”  Jeremiah 33:3

I cannot promise you anything.  Only God, who created you because He loves you, can bring you to hope in the promises from His word.  I can only point you to Him and the means whereby He saves us from death to LIFE.  I speak here in my love for Christ who has saved me and given me new LIFE in Him.  I can witness of the difference between His LIFE and life apart from Him.  I understand desperation, loneliness, and depression.  God is able and has delivered many others and me.

scripture Jeremiah-29_11-13 everyday

Of the Bible verses I learned as a child the one that was imprinted on my heart and mind comes personally from Jesus Christ in Matthew 11:28-30.  Take to heart verse 28:

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest.”


Choose LIFE and Wait on the Lord

“Wait on the Lord; be strong, be of good courage; and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”   Psalm 27:14

There is no other hope but Christ only.  Even though you may not believe now does not mean that you can’t or won’t.  LIVE AND WAIT TO SEE WHAT HE HAS PLANNED FOR YOU.  Thank Him everyday for that day as you continue to look and wait for Him.

The following numbers are from Focus on the Family.
They can direct you to help in your own area.
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. —ask for the “counseling department.” 1-800-232-6459
6 a.m. – 8 p.m. to find a counselor in your area  1-855-771-4357

Dear Father, hear our cries for the mind, heart and lives of those whom You have created.  In Your love bring your children to Christ, Your Son, for LIFE; that we might all know, love, obey and live in and through Him the abundant LIFE He died to give.  In His precious name we pray.  Amen

(Tomorrow:  Part 3: LIFE for Those Who are Left Behind)

Related articles:
SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice Part 1
Life in Death
Help for the Suicidal

SELF-DESTRUCTION ~ The Wrong Choice

I started this article last month after imageshearing about a neighbor’s twenty-three year old son who had taken his own life.  I pick this up again after hearing the same thing last week from our daughter Lee, of a friend and former neighbor whom she had known since middle school.

Self-destruction has always been a way out of this world.  But why is this an option?  If you have ever been depressed, confused, or simply not comprehending what life is about, the thought of escape through death may have come to mind.  For some it may have never been contemplated.  But, I have been there  ~ in my thinking during a difficult time in my life. (The Light of God’s Grace) With a heart of gratitude I thank the Lord, my God, that He brought me through that time and past those thoughts to see what I naturally would have never understood about His purpose for our creation.

Whenever I hear of a successful self-annihilation I am not surprised, even if I never knew the person; though I am disheartened and affected for days after.  To have the best life that we can think of in this world does not guarantee a safe passage through it. This world is no less than a pit  — in John 5:19 he describes it  — “the whole world lies in wickedness.”  Even in our strongest faith, at best it is still a wilderness.  We may at times fear the worst without realizing that the worst we should fear is within us.

I have intentionally avoided using the word “suicide” because the word itself does not carry as much weight as the words “self-destruction.”  It has become old-hat in a culture that does not think much about the true meaning of life.  Rather, death is appealing to some, even Job and Jonah; and for others it is provocative, and alluring to the actual point of planning and execution at their own hands.

Self-Murder
Thomas Watson in his writing on The Lord’s Prayer terms it “self-murder,” which puts even more emphasis on one of the greatest tragedies that this world knows.

I was reading the section on the sixth petition, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” only a few months ago, when I heard of the brutal suicide of the mother of one of the members of our church.  Following here is the excerpt.

“Use 3.  Let us labour that we be not overcome by temptation.

What means should be used, that Satan’s temptations may not prevail against us?

(1)  Avoid solitariness.  It is no wisdom, in fighting with an enemy, to give him the advantage of the ground.  We give Satan advantage of the ground when we are alone.  Eve was foiled in the absence of her husband. A virgin is not so soon set upon in company.  “Two are better than one.”  Eccl. 5:9.  Get into the communion of saints, for that is a good remedy against temptation.

(2)  If you would not be overcome by temptation, beware of the predominance of melancholy, which is atra biliis, a black humour seated chiefly in the brain.  Melancholy disturbs reason and exposes to temptation.  One calls melancholy balneum diaboli, the devil’s bath; he bathes himself with delight in such a person.  Melancholy clothes the mind in sable; it fills it with such dismal apprehensions as often end in self-murder.”

There are fourteen other means that he suggests, but these two can describe the nature of those who see no other option.  This second one was etched in my mind, and is a reminder for me in those times when I might again wallow in self-pity.

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Just as the angels in heaven rejoice over one sinner who comes to repentance, so, Satan and his angels must rejoice whenever one person destroys himself.

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The Options
What are the options?  I write this, as every person writes, from my own knowledge and experience.  I write this section, as John wrote his letter, to believers.  (I will speak to unbelievers later.) An unbeliever cannot understand the true meaning of life.  As I understand from God’s word there are only two options in this world  —  LIFE and death.  I capitalize the word LIFE to make it distinct from what the world knows as life.  Simply breathing is not real life.

Our thought-life is what we know of life, and if our thoughts are not changed we are simply moving in a death pattern until we all die naturally.  We all are born into this worldly life with a death sentence over our heads.  We may as well be given a death certificate when we take our first breath — except that some will be saved for eternal life.

God has provided the means for this salvation, a pardon from Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Anyone who has this hope looks to the author and finisher of our faith —who leads us in triumph against the enemy.  He is faithful to keep us and lead us through this wilderness and all of Satan’s obstacles, to His own glory.

crosses_3

LIFE Through a New Birth

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”   1 John 5:4-5

Our nature since the Fall is prone to self-destruction; even by the way we live. It is the mode in which we all exist.  Death is not only part of this world; it is the main part of this world.  God teaches us in His word that this world must be overcome.  The world of death reigns within us until the “life of Christ” rules our being.  If Christ is not our LIFE then Satan has the stronghold in our hearts and minds.
But the apostle Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 10:4-5

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) – one translation uses the term “divine power
 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”

This is the power over death in our thinking and living by the Spirit of Christ.

What I am saying here is not to judge anyone who succumbs to his or her own thoughts and means of death, but generally from the point that God speaks in His word on the subject of life and death.  What I am writing here is to encourage the believer, the children of the heavenly Father.  We never know the temptations we may face.  We may say that we have never thought of taking our own life; and that we never would, but this is pride within us; the very thing that Satan loves about us, part of his own nature.  Even the strongest believer needs the continual shoring up of faith through prayer and His word; and the company and close relationship with other believers.  All of true LIFE is described in The Holy Bible with the companion of God’s Holy Spirit.  It is a love letter to His children leading us and preparing us for the eternal LIFE in a new world. I praise Him that death is sandwiched between His work of creation and His work of redemption in Christ.  Though it is a hard read I like John Owen’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.  In Christ’s death death is overcome for those who believe and know Him.  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:54

LIFE in Christ is a new world in which believers lives daily, with their focus on God.

(Tomorrow: Part 2  ~ LIFE for Those Who May be Desperate
Next day: Part 3 ~  LIFE for Those Who Are Left Behind)

Life in Death

Beautiful-ButterflySleep did not come easily last night.  My flesh was warring against my spirit.  My joy and peace had been disturbed by yesterday’s activities.  This old soul is no longer able to handle a lot of stimuli; and last night brought to mind many things, good and bad.

It was Emma’s birthday.  The youngest of our six grandchildren, she turned to a beautiful eleven years.  Since we had overslept the morning hour when we usually call I had to keep reminding myself that we still needed to wish her a happy birthday.  Later when we called she had not gotten home from school.

Lee returned my call after work to talk about celebrating on Saturday.  The conversation turned to the latest report from Brad’s uncle Mike, concerning his wife, Brad’s aunt, Zoe, who is dying of cancer.  Her family and friends were talking  about Mike’s Facebook posting about the ordeal they have been going through.  While he has always been private about his personal life he is now speaking freely about things that perhaps Zoe should read.  He speaks so well of her and her Christian faith since he knew her at the age of fourteen.

Jerry has a Facebook account that he never uses, but whenever there is something that we need to know we have access.   As I read I was impressed by Mike’s writings, and, at the same time, my thoughts of losing my family members were beginning to recycle.

During the evening we tried two other times to reach Emma; and it wasn’t until later, after Jerry had gone to bed, that Lee called us from Zaxby’s.  Sadness turned to joy again as we sang “Happy Birthday” and talked to Emma.

As I lay down to sleep my thoughts of Zoe and Emma intermingled ~ thoughts of the older and the younger; thoughts of death and life.

Zoe celebrated her 62nd birthday in January.  Two months later Emma is celebrating her eleventh.  As I have thought about these two girls I remember Zoe from her own witness of life in Christ.  I had never known anyone with this name; and as names have fascinated me I looked up the meaning of Zoe when I first met her.

“Zoe means “life” in Greek. From early times it was adopted by Hellenized Jews as a translation of Eve. It was borne by two early Christian saints, one martyred under emperor Hadrian, the other martyred under Diocletian. The name was common in the Byzantine Empire, being borne by a ruling empress of the 11th century. As an English name, Zoe has only been in use since the 19th century. It has generally been more common among Eastern Christians (in various spellings).”

Because Zoe had done seminars for caregivers she was helpful to me when I knew that we would be taking care of my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease.  Then she and I were in counsel together to help Mr. Roney, a member of my church, when he needed to find help to care for his wife.
She and I both were caring for our mothers at the same time.

Zoe’s body is giving way to death.  She is not walking in the “valley of the shadow of death;” but is now experiencing the darkness of the cavern of death. Christ has lived in her as His own witness. The life of Christ within her is carrying her through to eternal life with Him.

Zoe’s life in the flesh is waning.  Emma’s life is only beginning, and we have seen the same life of Christ within her since a very young age.  She has expressed her faith verbally and through her obedience to Him; in her desire for His word, in prayer and in her relationships with others.  Like Zoe she is comfortable with speaking to others about her faith, and in putting hands and feet to her faith by helping others.
She and her sisters, with Lee, have helped Zoe with cleaning since she has been too ill to do things on her own.

Sony Camera 1st roll 010_2Emma was with us two days a week when Mother was living with us.  Even at the age of three Emma knew how to comfort Mother when she was sad.  She has a wisdom that only God could give.

When Jerry had the three surgeries on his leg, including his amputation, she was as helpful and gracious as any adult would have been.  Nothing was bothersome to her.  She always took these things in stride, even watching the wound treatment and dressings.  She, like her mother, and like Zoe, have many friends.  We all see something rare in her; a life that only God can give; life in Christ, which transcends all of death.

Christ came to overcome death with life. The enemy wanted death for us.  Through it God brings us to Him for eternity.

It is natural that death would keep us thinking about death; but the Spirit of life in Christ brings us beyond those thoughts to think of Him.

We can rejoice in Him even as we think of losing Zoe.  I will always remember her and her part in my own life; and continue to watch what He is doing in Emma and the lives of our family, our church, and within this world; for His own glory and our joy. 

God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
He that hath the Son hath life;
1 John 5:11-12


(As I was writing this Lee called.  I thought she was going to say that Zoe had died.  Instead, her news was about a worse death.  A friend and neighbor she had known since middle school had killed herself.  Because of this and two other suicides of people I knew in the last few months I will share a follow up with another article that I wrote two weeks ago entitled Self-Destruction.)