Childbirth is a Family Affair

Our granddaughter and her husband brought their first child home from the hospital yesterday. We did not have the privilege of waiting at the hospital for her delivery as we had with our six grandchildren. But, Jerry and I were a part of the event as we were there in spirit. Our daughter called us with updates throughout the time of waiting. With every report Jerry felt the pain in his leg that was amputated.

Ansley’s contractions had started on Monday. From her scheduled appointment she was hoping the time for their daughter’s birth was eminent. But contractions were not close enough. After a visit to the hospital she was sent home to wait. Tuesday passed with more pain, but no signs of time for birthing. She and her husband left the doctor’s office again with an appointment for 5:00 Wednesday morning. If things had not progressed as they hoped they would induce labor in order to take the pressure off the baby.

Tuesday night they did not sleep. Neither did I. I was awake off and on, praying continually for the Lord’s intervention; for mercy for Ansley and for Him to bring this baby into the world in His way, and in His timing.

They were at the hospital Wednesday morning with good news that the baby would be delivered before evening. Our daughter, our son-in-law and Ansley’s three younger sisters were there early to wait with them. Our daughter, remembering the four occasions she had gone through labor, was feeling Ansley’s pain. She wanted to tell her what to do, but she had to back off, and leave the room.

Our first great grandchild was born at 1:00. We were there to see them all at 3:00.

10689595_10205562289161019_3481855181802915142_nDuring this recent episode, when I mentioned the title of this article to my daughter, she reasoned that this is not true for all families.  Our children were born, with no one there but Jerry and me, the hospital staff ~ and the Lord. But family events have become more important as we have gotten older; and our family is learning the importance of sharing these experiences.

Spiritual Birth
Perhaps this sharing of family experiences, in births, marriages, and deaths has a connection with God and His family. Before this world began there was a relationship of love, joy, and peace between God, the Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit. What they had together they have since the creation been sharing with His family here on earth. They covenanted together to birth a physical world that would soon be in rebellion and in need of a second birth ~ a spiritual birth.

His Spirit that moved across the face of the waters at the beginning of time is the same Spirit that moves in the spirit and heart of man to give new life. A second birth is required for a new start for true life, eternal life.

The same Light that God spoke into the world over darkness is the light of Jesus Christ given to men.

The same love, the same Word that was in the beginning with God was Jesus Christ. This is the seed that is planted in the hearts of men to form a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life. We have this living word in the written word that by His Spirit brings conception and in His timing He brings this deliverance of a new life in and through us.

There is rejoicing in heaven with every new birth. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:10

 The apostle Paul was a spiritual father in his ministry of the gospel of Christ. In his letter to the Galatians he said, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. Galatians 4:19

It does not happen simply by saying a prayer.  Spiritual birth is in every way a miracle as a natural birth, with the greatest work and labor of love by our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We don’t experience it from a care-free, pain-free experience.  If left to ourselves we would refuse it. But, it is worth the pain and the struggle to be born of His Spirit for eternal life; knowing that we are delivered from the wrath of God, the pain of eternity without Christ.

Laboring for Others
We, who are of Christ, labor with others for the souls of those who will be born into His kingdom. We intercede, we pray fervently, and continually, for this conception and birth to take place in the hearts of our loved ones. But, we cannot make it happen by our own planning. We wait and rejoice in His timing and His way.

When Christ returns we shall all rejoice together for His glorious work on our own behalf and for those of all His family.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away,
reserved in heaven for you,”
 

1 Peter 1:3-4

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your plan for perpetual life here on this earth, until you have gathered all into your fold.  Keep us by your own power until that day.  In Jesus’ name I pray.

God Just Doesn’t Get It

He does not see how wonderful we are
He does not know how intelligent we are.
He does not listen to our opinions.
He does not consider our good deeds.
He does not understand our boasting.
He is not impressed with our accomplishments.

            He is doing His own work.

            He is upholding all things by the word of His power.

            He is managing the universe.

            He is ruling and defending His kingdom.

            He is holding back His enemies.

            He is preventing wars and destruction.

            He is keeping a light on in the world.

            He is providing for our needs.

            He is working in the hearts of the humble.

            He is preparing a people to share His eternal glory.

As high as we can jump is the power we have to get God’s attention.
We would do better to fall flat on our faces, confess our weaknesses, inabilities and failures; and repent of our sin of pride. Then He would see us, raise us up, and bring us to Himself; provide for us, lead us, assure us, and nurture us as His own children.

0002Ue“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
  And do not return there,
But water the earth,
 And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
 And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; 
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
 And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”   Isaiah 55:10-11

Abba, Father, we need you.  Rend the heavens and come down, as the melting fire burneth, and make your name known to the adversaries.  Shine into our hearts the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.  In His name I pray.  Amen.

The Heart and Beauty of the Gospel

It has been said that one picture is worth a thousand words. While we sometimes need images to help us see a hidden truth there is no image that will portray the word “faith.” Many people look at the cross, but walk away unmoved and unchanged from their thinking. The picture means nothing to them. Some look but reject the truth of the gospel, thinking that they are good enough. They, like the Jews, in response to the good news of a Messiah and a Mediator have established their own righteousness. Without knowledge, they are ignorant of God’s righteousness; His righteousness established in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We, who have been born of His Spirit, given a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life, are brought through conviction and repentance by the goodness of the Lord and the power of the gospel, to see Christ as the end of the law for rightousness. (Romans 10:4)

0001Io

Romans 10 gives us the image of CHRIST, the only means of righteousness before God. Christ is the center, the heart, the beauty of the Gospel, its power and its glory. It comes to us through the knowledge of His word. We need nothing else but the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to work His righteousness in us. We do not need to bring anything else down from heaven, or anything up from the dead.

Since Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension we have ample witness to the righteousness that has been supplied for us. We have all that is needed.  We have the gospel that has been preserved for centuries, but the power of the gospel that brings nations to obedience of faith is not in the word itself, but in God’s will and compassion to fill our hearts with grace for believing it; for faith and obedience.

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Romans 10:8-10  Compare the following from Ephesians 2:8-10

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

romans-10-15-beautiful-feet-preach-gospel-peace-bring-glad-tidings-good-things

Those who have the word of faith in the heart know the beauty of it. We carry it; we confess it, not just to God, Himself.   We preach it in all that we say and do, wherever we go.  We live it to His glory and our joy.

Dear Father, let those who see us and hear our hearts speak, know that all is from you, the beauty of Christ, the center and whole of life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Image

Turning Everything Heavenward

Having lost a sister-in-law and a brother-in-law in less than a month has brought me to think beyond my own state of existence to something higher than man and life here on this earth. Such is the case with recording my notes as we continue hearing the   preaching of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Again, Paul’s purpose for writing to the Roman Christians is to bring not just one or two, but, some from every nation, to obedience of faith. It is in the power of the gospel that accomplishes what God sent His Son to do; the Son of God with power (1:4) the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.  For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. (1:16-17). We start with God and continue in a God-centered gospel through the book of Romans.

As we come to the most unpopular and unsettled passages of God’s word (for some) in Romans 9 we must, as Paul, let God speak for Himself. In chapter eight Paul begins writing on the doctrine of predestination. If that is not enough he drives the point home dramatically in the next three chapters, to the point of showing that God has the last word on the subject.  Getting through these we come to chapter twelve; to which we are brought in response to His mercy; to present ourselves, as living sacrifices to Him.

Not a Man-centered Gospel
A man-centered gospel cannot save anyone. It tends to bring God down to our own level and make Him what we want Him to be and to say what we want to hear.

Paul answers this kind of reasoning in his day, not by using his own understanding or his own words, but even as Jesus when He was tempted answered with the recorded word of the Father, words that had already been established centuries before.

In Romans 9:14-15 Paul states, in defense of God’s own choice of who He loves, “Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

Then in Romans 9:21 he puts man in the hands of a potter. A pot has no mind of its own, nor power of its own to decide what shape or for what use it is made.

0001KI

“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth,
but of God that sheweth mercy.”
Romans 9:16

As the creature we are at God’s mercy. Read the book of Romans and any part of God’s word, and our mouths will be shut, until we know His mercy and grace to us.
Then we will be thanking and praising Him for giving us a new heart and a new spirit. A new life beginning in faith and repentance will prove the power of God in our obedience to His word. The Lord our God leaves no room for argument, only the invitation and power to believe and live heavenward, to His glory and our joy.

“And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy,
which he had afore prepared unto glory.”
Romans 9:23

Sheet Music: I Sought the Lord

Gracious and merciful Father, thank you that we live today only as you give us the Spirit of your Son to accomplish the work for which you created and redeemed us. We praise you for your grace and yours alone that has saved us from your wrath and made us a vessel for your own use. Fill us with your fullness that you may pour out your grace and love through us today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The First and Last Commandment

Since learning that all God’s commands are what He promises to do, I now read and understand that His words are meant to bring us to Him in our helplessness, to seek His power to know Him, love Him and obey. In this respect I see the Ten Commandments as relating to how His people live in His kingdom in relationship with Him. His words are words that we live by; not discarded under the law of grace. The whole of His commandments from beginning to end are begun, centered, and end in the one commandment of Love.

The first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” was later stated, in Deuteronomy 6:4-6 as, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord, thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might; and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.” This was the interpretation that Jesus used when questioned by the religious authorities of His day.

The last commandment, “Thou shalt not covet…(list)…anything that is thy neighbors.” From the first to the last, and everything between, God’s commands are based on love to God and love to our neighbor (the second commandment.). They are all bound up in the Lord, our God.

How, then are we to obey such as is commanded from our creator? We, first understand that our God is the Lord, the one Lord who created and demands our love. If we know Him as our Lord, we will love Him. How do we know Him as our Lord? The Lord God who created also redeems us from our sin of disobedience and rebellion, and our enmity against Him.  He promised to give us a new heart and a new spirit; and to write His laws on our hearts and in our minds.

imagesWe love Him only as we experience His love for us. He has shown His love by sending His Son. By the Holy Spirit, the power of His own will and grace, He reveals Jesus Christ as our redeemer, and draws us in the cords of love to Himself. Such a love is effectual to bring about what He commands in our lives. It is the only way that He can fulfill such commands in us.

From the first to the last commandment Christ becomes our Lord, our love, our life.

Our love to our Lord God is the same love we show to others. When we know Him, love Him, and receive all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) from Him we need nothing that others have. We have all in Christ. Instead of coveting what others have our hearts desire, in our love for them, is that they have what we have.

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

 Dear Father, we praise you for loving us in Christ and for opening our eyes to see your kingdom in Him. Thank you for your great sacrifice in Christ that has brought us to obedience of faith by the Holy Spirit which you sent us, by whose power you are now accomplishing all that was planned before the foundation of the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

You Shall Love the Lord Your God ~ Scripture Tunes

Humility and Death to Self ~ Chapter 10

In this Year of Humility we have been learning from Andrew Murray’s Humility (PDF) the meaning, the means, and the working of humility in the Christian life. In this tenth chapter we come to the aim of humility, the end goal, and that is, death. Let us remember where humility originated, and follow its course to the effect it has in our own lives.

Humility began in heaven with God. In Jesus He condescended to the human level, so that He might save us from our sinful state. Christ, in humility and obedience to the Father’s will, with no plans of His own, gave up His position of glory to live a life here on earth, a life that He would share with us. For Him to accomplish this act for our salvation He had to humble Himself in order to die.

climber_offering_help_h_27770948_stdWhat if, in a very strategic situation, you need help? Someone offers, but you refuse, because the terms of the one who is able to help you are not to your liking. You die because you refused what could have saved your life.

What if, in a life-threatening position, you have the opportunity to live, but you cannot let go of something that you are holding on to.

These are both cases that are analogous to refusal of the salvation that is offered in Christ.

Again, think of life that is promised if we not only let go of things that we hold dear in this life, but to give up our own life. Death to self is the only means of true life. And humility is the only means of coming to the end of self. Without humility there is no promise for life.  True humility leads us to die to self. In all this we see that the true life is the humble life that is ours in Christ; now and for eternity.

“Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 16:25

Revelation, Desire, Prayer, Reality
I speak from experience, as I say that humility is not a human trait, but that gift from heaven, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, given to men for the abundant life that He promised those who come to Him. As much as I desire to live the humble life it seems still a supernatural life that I look forward to and pray for. As soon as I think I have a little humility, the oppressive spirit of the enemy assaults, and pride rears its ugly head.
(Oppression is a subject that I am studying and hope to write about.)

In Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Galatians he teaches us that the flesh and the Spirit are at war against each other. The hope (another gift) that we are given keeps us in prayer and more watchfulness against the wiles of the devil. He wants us dead, but not to self.

These truths are revealed to us by the Spirit, regenerating us with a new heart and a new spirit; so that we, seeing our ignorance and pride come to repentance and faith, our first step of humility toward growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. One step leads to another as we desire this humility, pray for it, and by His working, humble ourselves, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.


God Uses All Things for Our Humbling
Every time I read this book I come away with the same impressive statement Murray makes in this chapter. It is similar to Romans 8:28-29. It has made a difference in my life to see everything under God’s sovereignty working through everything whatever He wants to do in my life.

“Accept every humiliation, look upon every fellow-man who tries or vexes you, as a means of grace to humble you. Use every opportunity of humbling yourself before your fellow-man as a help to remain humble before God. It is by the mighty strengthening of His Holy Spirit that God reveals Christ fully in you.”

“But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”
Romans 8:25

Dear Father, you knew when you started all this, that we would need everything from you to make it work to your glory. All that you expect from us is supernatural and beyond our doing; but you have put it into our hearts and promised us, that you are exceedingly abundantly able to do more than we can ask for or imagine, by the power of your Spirit working in us. Thank you for coming down to us that you might bring us up to yourself. Enable us to die to self; to raise up by your divine power to live in praise unto you.
“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 I pray. Amen.

Image