A Child’s Plea for God

A Child's Plea

  Give me not a god,
a god that I control.
Don’t give me a god
that I can mold.

 Give me GOD, THE LIVING GOD,
who’s free to come and go.
I need GOD, the REAL GOD,
who knows more than I know.

   GOD, Himself, who created Life,
and all living things—
GOD, who lives, and to my life
His own LIFE He brings.

   I  want  GOD, the HOLY GOD,
who has a master plan.
GOD, the GOD who acts in grace,
though I can’t understand.

 Where is GOD, the GOD OF TRUTH,
who tells it like it is;
Though painful it may seem to me,
shapes my heart like His? 

   I see GOD, the MIGHTY GOD,
when I look at the cross,
Who gave His life that I might live,
removing all the dross.

This GOD, THE GOD I’m looking for,
is greater than the world;
Able to do anything,
simply by His Word.

I will wait for GOD, THE LOVING GOD,
THE GOD OF POWER, still,
Who can, in JESUS, fill my heart,
and conform me to His will.
F.R. 1996

  (Poem was written for our oldest grandchild, Ansley, for her fourth birthday. She is now twenty-four, married, and has a two-year-old daughter.)

The Image of Contentment

Let’s remember the main points from this series on Contentment.

  1. Divine Contentment is supernatural, possible only for God’s people.
  2. It is the result of a relationship between God our heavenly Father and His children.
  3. He will teach us and show us what He is doing in us.

In this post we want to meditate on God’s Word and what we learn from Him, concerning His image and how He works His image in us as His children. He is content with His own work in and through us. Therefore, we must learn to be content with what He is doing.

From the beginning He saw that everything He had made was “good.”

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:” Genesis 1:26a

He is still working all things for our good and conforming us to the image of His Son.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;”
Romans 8:28-29

We are being transformed to the image of the Lord as we continue to look to Him for all things.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
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The apostle John and the Psalmist speak of the future when we will see God in all His glory.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.”
1 John 3:2

“As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.” Psalm 17:15

While we wait for His second coming we can be content in our role as a servant, even as He served while He was here.

It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.
Matthew 10:25

Dear Father, You have created us in your image, and given us new hearts so as to fill us with your Spirit and to conform us to the image of your Son. It is enough for us to be like our Master, and to one day behold your face in righteousness and be satisfied with your likeness. Make us content in the work you are doing in us now, by your grace and for your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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Secret Councils

Yesterday, Jerry was sitting on the screened back porch, listening to Rush Limbaugh’s comments about the Presidential Inauguration. I sat with him a few minutes. Mr. Limbaugh stated that there is a bureaucracy that operates in Washington. Seemingly there are those who hold no public office that control everything. We imagine that the wealthy and influential meet in secret chambers to plan their schemes.

We remember that Haman, in the Book of Esther, unknowingly planned his own hanging.

There is the record of God’s council spoken in Acts 4:24-32. The same council that instigated Jesus’ death brought in Peter and John to stop them from speaking of the salvation that God had worked through their scheme (Acts 24:28). After reporting what was said to them, God’s people prayed, and “the place was shaken;” they were “filled with the Holy Ghost” and “spoke the Word of God with boldness.”

Lightnings, Thunderings, and An Earthquake

And there is the reference in Revelation 8:4-5 of the prayers of the saints.

“And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.”the-white-house-1203537

There are two councils here on earth. From the Fall of man, the antithesis has been ongoing. God continues to rule under His covenant of grace, by His own Word and truth. Men, under the power of Satan, rule the other council, according to their plans. But, even this one has always been under God’s sovereign control.

“The Lord has prepared his throne in the heavens;
and his kingdom rules over all.”
Psalm 103:19

He calls us, as His saints, to meet in His secret chambers to offer up prayers so that His council may be made known here on earth (Ephesians 6:18). Places can be shaken, lightnings and thunderings can wake even the most powerful in our nation and the world. We must pray, expecting great things, even an earthquake ~ for our salvation and His glory.

Gracious Father, you have taught us to know you and your Almighty power over all things. We believe that you are able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Unto you be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. In Jesus’ name, whom you have given all authority and power, we pray, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
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The Essence of Contentment

The essence of contentment is distilled from the presence of the Father in His own children. It is a seventh sense that comes from the new birth. The birth of God’s Spirit within us springs up to eternal life with a new heart and a new spirit directing our course of life here, preparing us for the eternal glory with the Father and His Son. Most of us have something of our parents that is reflected in us, some trait or expression.  The same is true of our relationship with our heavenly Father who, in Christ revealed Himself.  We, too, as His children will exhibit His character, when by His Spirit and His written word we become more and more like Him.  He is content to have desired us, and sired us for His own family.

We are continuing to learn and proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom through our books and here on God’s Grace ~ God’s Glory as He is leading and teaching us. We are each given short-term goals but none of us have arrived at His planned destination. We are learning to live in this wilderness of oppression trusting His Word, His presence and His power with us (Ephesians 3:20-21).93854-004-7fcc6b28

The Sixth Sense

We are normally born into this world with five senses. I believe that “faith” is a sixth sense that comes with the new birth. Regeneration brings us in faith and repentance to citizenship in God’s kingdom. There is a sense of new life, a difference from what we lived before. Faith brings a sense of distinction from the old life that we knew. Although it is a new sense of its own, it is connected to the other five senses. Faith is a spiritual sense that comes about through our physical senses of seeing, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

Faith comes by hearing the gospel, the good news of Christ and our redemption (Romans 10:17). We read God’s Word and the Holy Spirit moves with our spirit to know that we are God’s children (Romans 10:17, Ephesians 1:18). We touch and hold His Word as He teaches us (Proverbs 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:16; Philippians 2: 14-16). We “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8; Matthew 4:4). We become a sweet fragrance of Christ (2 Corinthians 2:15). These are but samples of how God uses the senses He created in us to birth us to a living hope and the inheritance that we have as joint-heirs with Christ. (1Peter 1:3-4)

Faith Leads to Contentment

Faith then affects how our senses are used to lead us and grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and conform us to His image (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29).

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

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

Dear Father, Thank you for filling us with your fulness and spreading your love in our hearts; for becoming life to us through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Continue to fill us with your Holy Spirit,and to work your contentment in us.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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The Master Gardener

Let me show you my beautiful garden
Although it no longer belongs to me.
With all my toiling, sun up to sun down
My garden was not meant to be.

Little did I know of the seeds,
Seeds of deception and lies—
Until one day a stranger asked
“Why the despair in your eyes?”

“I’ve tried,” said I to this gentle man.
To water, to nourish,
the seeds which were given to me.
For fear of ridicule at what HE would behold,
I hesitated when HE said, “May I see?”

“I love gardens,” HE said,
“Where comes from the earth.”
The most beautiful of things!”
As I opened the gate and said “Come in.”
I thought I would see him cringe.

For row upon row, stood the harvest of my years.
Fear, distress, and worry, watered by my tears.
“Oh, look there.” HE said,
as he pointed to the corner of the field.
“What a beautiful bud, and a healthy plant.
What delightful fruit it will yield.”

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“But,” I said. “It’s only one—so unlike the rest.
I have given it no time.
I didn’t think it worth my effort.
Neither did I think it mine.

Blown, perhaps, by some distant wind,
From where I knew not of.
Left to itself—it was its own—
With nothing for me to solve.

The others required all of me—
And I’ve given all that I know to give.
With nothing in return—no delight—
No reason for me to live.”

HE knelt beside me in the dirt.
As I crouched and poured out my tears.
From His eyes came the same.
As if HE knew my fears.

“What can I do dear Sir—kind man,
For these, my plants, my friends?
Do you have plants? Do you have a garden,
To which you must attend?”

HE said, “I thought you might need help.
That’s why I came along.
Yes, my child, I have many gardens
To which I belong.

They were given to me
By friends who knew my art
Of taking gardens just like yours
And giving a new start.”

“What will you do with mine?” said I.
“What give you in return?”
“The fruits of my labor.” He said,
“More seed, more beauty
than you could ever earn.”

“What are you saying dear man, kind Sir?
A garden is meant to grow?
What else can you tell me?
What more do I need to know?”

He sat with me then and told me the plans
His Father had given Him
For gardens that flourish, reflecting His care—
Knowing and touching each stem.
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F. R. January 1993

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The Authority of Contentment

Why is contentment so rare in human creatures? It seems that the status quo, even for God’s children, is brokenness. This condition is becoming more and more acceptable as a means of relating to others.

We can all agree that we live in a world of oppression. The world is really not a fit place to live, but we, as God’s people have a directive. God set the mandate for us before time began. (Ephesians 1:4) I heard recently, “We are a distinctive people.” But, this is not a new statement. This is the  Biblical perspective for the Christian church.

God, our heavenly Father is the authority of His kingdom. He rules in holiness, in love, and grace in the lives of His people. By His power He has birthed a family for Himself, growing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ, His Son, who is the first of many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

He came in Jesus to work in us a new life, compatible with Himself. He is teaching us here what His kingdom is like, training us for eternity with Him. By His authority He commands us by His Word what is expected in His kingdom. We will look at four of these in this post ~ those that begin with what we are to “BE.”

We began this series by describing Contentment as a supernatural state of “being.” We will add here that it is part of the legacy of God’s kingdom.

“Being” a joint-heir with Christ has many components. Each part is derived from the same source of God’s grace. The authority that commands us to “BE” is the source that works each part in us. All characteristics of the Christian life are distinctive in that they are beyond our natural abilities. Andrew Murray states in Waiting on God, “what He commands is a promise of what He will do.”

We will look at His commands to “be holy,” “be glad,” “be still,” and “be content.”

We will see how Contentment fits and flows from holiness, gladness, and stillness, and why He commands these for His people.

“Be Holy”

We begin in the Old Testament in Leviticus to see God’s separation of a people for Himself, then in the New Testament the repetition in 1 Peter to those who are separated and made holy in Christ.

In Leviticus 11:44-45 and Leviticus 20:7 we see that He has brought the Israelites out of bondage. He separated them from the land of Egypt, “to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” He is holy, and makes His people holy.

In 1 Peter 1:13-16 he quotes the same command to God’s people in our day. This section of Peter’s letter is titled, “Called to be holy.” Please read this part of his letter to the Jewish Christians. What I find interesting in both the Old and New covenants is the statement, “You shall be holy.” In agreement, we consecrate ourselves, with the mind-set that He will do the work in us. (See also 1 Peter 3:15)

“Be Glad”

Psalm 32:11 is the last verse of the Psalm that begins with the word “Blessed.” I will not take away from your gladness by telling you what is in this Psalm. If you are serious about living a contented life you must read Psalm 32 for yourself. Reading the whole Psalm gives us the understanding of why we are to “be glad.” I would suggest reading it every day for a month and see what happens. Perhaps you will establish The Glad Rule in your home.

“Be Still”

Psalm 32 and Psalm 46 are short Psalms, but packed with the context from which we find memorable verses. Psalm 46 begins with, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” Reading this Psalm to verse 10 gives us understanding of why He instructs us to “Be still.”

“Be Content”

If we have done our homework through the first three subjects of “being,” we will come to a better understanding of this distinctive of Contentment.

The writer of Hebrews 13:5, like Peter, quotes from the Old Testament (Joshua 1:5).

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

a-my-countenanceFrom the first statement of God’s authority in our Contentment, “I am your God” to “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” we have the reason for our Contentment. When we know Him, He will be our Contentment, here and for eternity. Contentment is wrapped up in His written word and His Living Word, Jesus Christ as He works it in us.

Three things we need to remember that carry through this series.

  1. Divine Contentment is supernatural, possible only for God’s people.
  2. It is the result of relationship between God our heavenly Father and His children.
  3. He will teach us and show us what He is doing in us.

The training in the distinctive of the Christian is a life-long process that fits us for Heaven and eternity with our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

This world is not just a wilderness, and a battleground of brokenness, but the place that our heavenly Father proves His authorship, power, victory, and majesty through the lives of His people.

Gracious Father, we praise you that you have chosen a people to be holy unto you, a distinctive family that you are training to be your image-bearers. Fill us with your Holy Spirit to do the work that you command and promise for us as your children. Give the world a different image of your kingdom as we love and reach out to those who are in adversity with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In His name I pray. Amen.

Heaven in a Bucket

The Lord said to me, “At the end of each day bring me all your thoughts from that day in a bucket. This will be your test of how much you have of heaven.”

I found a small bucket, but before the end of the first day I needed more than one. Little did I realize how many thoughts one mind could have in a single day. With three small buckets I approached God’s throne. He sifted through my buckets, asking where I had gotten each thought.

In reply I answered, “That one from a book; that one from a magazine; that one from a friend.”   Others I tried to remember, but didn’t know how they got there.

“There’s not much here of heaven ~ a few words of prayer for a friend, but not much else.” He said.

As I returned home I wondered why there were no more thoughts of heaven in my buckets that day. I decided that I would do better, and have some thoughts the next day that would please God.

I found a larger bucket the next morning and set about to collect what I thought God wanted. Looking in the library I came across the writings of the great philosophers.   As I diligently searched through these I could see the Lord’s pleasure; my bucket was filling up. I felt so good about my new thoughts and myself. Then, I went to talk to a friend ~ who had a brilliant mind and a PHD in science and physics. Before the day was over my bucket was almost full. Let’s see ~ what else can I put in my bucket? There’s an excellent movie playing at the local theater ~ one destined for an academy award. And it was a wonderful movie. My bucket was full.

Well, how did I do today, Lord.”

“You have really been busy,” He said, as He examined the contents, “But I find nothing here of heaven, not even a prayer.”

“If this isn’t part of heaven, what is all this that I thought was so good.” I asked.

“It’s all of the world, dear.” I’ll see you again, tomorrow.”

That night before bed I knelt and acknowledged that I didn’t know what He wanted, but I would try harder tomorrow.

The first thought the next morning was that, perhaps the bucket itself was all wrong. Maybe it attracts the wrong thoughts. So I set out to find the best and biggest bucket I could find for that day’s thoughts. I found the perfect one ~ advertised as the one “that you need for your best thoughts” ~ quite expensive, too, but knowing that this would be what God was looking for, it was worth the price.

But that day dragged on without success. And becoming depressed about what I should have in my bucket, my tears began to fill the bucket. It was almost too heavy as I carried it ~ and it became heavier as I continued crying. The way seemed longer that day, but the closer I came the lighter the bucket seemed.leaky

As I reached God’s throne of grace He smiled, and said, “Seems that you have sprung a leak in that expensive bucket.”

“Why can you smile, Lord, when I feel so terrible ~ and look~ after I searched all day my bucket is empty?”

“I can smile, my child, because you have finally discovered the secret. No bucket in the world will attract and contain the things of heaven. As the creator and ruler of my kingdom, I have determined the kind of receptacle you need, and the thoughts that will fill it.”

As I bowed before Him I asked for this vessel and His knowledge of heavenly things. I submitted, as He said I must, my bucket and all my human efforts of pleasing Him.

He gave me a “new heart and a new spirit” that only “seeks His kingdom and His righteousness,” and makes me continually aware of His presence, spreading His love of Jesus in and through me. Through His Word and prayer, morning by morning He wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. Isaiah 50:4

“By His mercies” each morning “I present myself’” to Him to be “filled with His fullness” all day ~ no longer “conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of my mind. His thoughts are kept and “obeyed” in my heart and life as He keeps me by His own power.

His kingdom is coming and His will is being done, in me, as it is in heaven.

“And the God of peace ….
make you perfect in all things….
working in you that which is pleasing in His sight
through Jesus Christ,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21

(From The Little Boat and other Short Stories of God’s Grace)
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