Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

Hidden Treasure

“As a child I had a recurring dream of walking a dirt path, and seeing the reflection of the sun on something in the dirt. Reaching down I discovered a penny. (When I was a child we picked up lost pennies.) As I picked it up, I found other pennies. Picking up the pennies, I found nickels underneath, and then dimes, and quarters and half-dollars in the dirt. The more I picked up the more I found buried in the dirt.

I could not understand this dream until,  as an adult, the Lord brought me into His Word. Then, I began to understand the treasures that are hidden there. The more we take, the more we see and desire and receive. As we continue to look to the path and take what He gives, more of the riches of God’s covenant and kingdom are revealed.

Jesus said, “It is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It is His pleasure to open these treasures through His Word, that we may know the heritage that is ours.

In 1993 a year after my new birth, I began writing what our heavenly Father was teaching me of our inheritance through Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1: 3-4) I began writing a little book called The Legacy. It speaks of a will written by an ancestor who wanted to bequeath His fortune to future descendants. The Legacy speaks of itself through me of how God was revealing His love and kingdom to His children who would be born of His Spirit.

God’s Word is such as a father would write in His own written will to pass on all the wealth that he has to his children. Those who read and study, meditate, and take to heart in faith what is written, will discover that this wealth is indeed meant for them individually and corporately with other members of the household of faith ~ those whom God births into His own family. He desires us and sires us according to His own will and His timing, in different generations. He brings us through His Word and Spirit to know Him, to be born of Him, to believe and repent, turning in faith to receive all the promises of His inheritance, and to live the abundant life that is ours through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no life that can compare to this life. It fulfills God’s purpose for our creation and redemption and becomes a delight for us as His children.“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we come to this garden that He has prepared for His children we find all our delight in Him. This is His ultimate purpose. God is our goal. His purpose is to satisfy us to the fullest in Himself. His desires become our desires.” The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY

Dear Father in heaven, how can we know you, your promises of the life that is ours in Christ, your Son, without your calling, and giving us a new heart and spirit to hear and respond? We praise you for your power to give us physical life and spiritual life through your Holy Word, making us your own children. Thank you for the delight we have in you. Nothing compares to the treasure of your Word and the power of your Holy Spirit to activate your Word in us. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

Fran

image: Google

Grace Greater Than Any Sin

In 1911, Julia H. Johnston wrote the text of the hymn Marvelous Grace (Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin).

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

The emphasis of grace is taken from the text of Romans 5:20b.


but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”

The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Rome, compares the sin of man (which we inherited from the first man, Adam) to the grace of God (which is His means for our salvation through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ (the second Adam).

Grace exceeds but is not excessive; no more than is needed. None is wasted. Grace wins over any sin of His children, overcoming sin and revealing His grace through us to others.

As I have sung this hymn through my childhood and into my adult life, in relation to Paul’s letter, God has revealed the power of His grace as paramount to the power of sin in my life. The truth of His grace to related to our own sins, and the sins of all believers (vs. 4).

This past week, He has shown me something even greater.

Grace Greater Thank Any Sin or Circumstance

What place does grace play in our relationships to other people, believers and unbelievers?

If His grace exceeds our sin and our guilt; if the blood of the Lamb was spilled; if His grace pardons and cleanses us within, what happens to this grace when someone sins against us, hurts or disappoints us?

Do we forfeit His grace when someone offends us?

Or does this same grace ~ grace that is greater than all our sin ~  remain strong and prove to be greater than anything man can do to us?

If a wealthy man meets a poor man, does the poor man, through his status, take away his wealth?

A wealthy man does not change. He may, in generosity, offer the poor man money, food, or whatever he needs, but the poor man has no power to make him poor.

In the same way, we who are born of the Spirit of God’s grace, made rich in heavenly blessings, do not give up our status as God’s children by allowing the person who offends us to take away our grace. Rather, we respond to those who offend us, or who sin against us, by remembering who we are, in Christ. We, in grace, forgive, pray for them, bless them as we would our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and return good for evil (Romans 12:21). Grace abounds through us, even beyond the sin of unbelievers.

Grace That is Sufficient for All Things

Paul also speaks of grace that is sufficient in weakness and infirmities. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

This is the amazing, marvelous, infinite, matchless grace of our loving Lord living and reigning within us. God’s grace rules and wins over all else.

Gracious, heavenly Father, whose love for us exceeds our expectations, and whose grace is greater than our greatest sins, continue to show the extent of your love and grace through us to others, even when they offend or betray us. Make our relationships and our circumstances the means of revealing your greatness and power in all things. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

But, Not TODAY

There are things I need to do;
But, Not TODAY

I need to do laundry;
But, Not TODAY

I need to clean house;
But, Not TODAY

I need to shop;
But, Not TODAY

I need to reply to emails;
But, Not TODAY

I want to meet a friend for lunch;
But, Not TODAY

Yard work needs to be done;
But, Not TODAY

Cooking needs to be done for Saturday’s family reunion.
But, Not TODAY

This day is the gift of one day out of seven for me to spend with the Lord, to celebrate His atoning work; the day He provided for me to acknowledge my rest in Him; a day different from all others, in preparation and practice for that day when He, my Lord, shall return, to take me with all His family to that eternal rest with Him.

He has something each Lord’s Day for us, a special blessing that is different from the blessings on other days. I do not want to miss what He has prepared for me.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for giving us your Son, the Lord of the Sabbath, to lead us in your path to a perfect day of rest. By the power of your Holy Spirit, engage our hearts today to worship you through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We bring all that we are, spirit, soul, and body, as a living sacrifice to you. Let this day be holy unto Him in honor of His great love and sacrifice for us. In His name, we pray. Amen.

The Lord is in His holy temple;
The Lord is in His holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence, keep silence, before Him.
Habakuk 2:20

I AM a Perfectionist

I AM is a Perfectionist. Remember those italicized words in the King James Version, those smaller words that added clarity to the sentence from the Hebrew translation? I speak here as I have learned from the Great I AM.

I AM is a holy God, a perfect Father, Creator and Redeemer. The realm of His kingdom is perfect, nothing lacking, nothing out of order, no frustration, no oppression, no war, no anxiety, no fear, violence, sickness, death, disappointment or tears. In His kingdom there is no criticism, anger, jealousy, envy, dishonesty, or falsehood. He is surrounded by righteousness, humility, peace, harmony, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and temperance.

The LORD has established his throne
in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 103:19

Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He rules in power, truth, grace, mercy and glory. From His own mind, heart and Spirit He lives and lavishes His own Being throughout His heavens. As a Perfectionist, He created the heavens and the earth, with expectation of having a perfect family bearing His image.

Did He go wrong somewhere? Then He is not a Perfectionist, and He is not able to rule and govern what He created.

Or is all still going according to His plans? Is providence the working out of His holy will?

Human Perfection
If we were perfect, then we would understand His plans and agree that He is perfect.

If we could see the end of all things as He has planned, we would understand His perfection.
We cannot, so we must look to the Perfect One who makes all things perfect.

“The trying of your faith works patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that you may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Special revelation comes by the power of His Spirit in the lives of those who are His children, born of His Spirit through His Word. Within us He enables us to see beyond this world and its imperfections  (the list is too long). We are brought beyond the power of sin to be occupied with God. The heavenly Father, Creator and Redeemer, whose perfect, heavenly love, humbles us, and begins the process of perfecting us by the power of HIs Son and His Holy Spirit, to share His eternal kingdom.

We give up our human perfectionism when we understand that only He can make things perfect, and His plan for perfection was not intended for this earth, but for eternity with Him. The only perfect thing here on this earth is His love. In the end, it will perfect all those who are in Christ, His Son. We are holy and acceptable in Him, now and forever  (Romans 12:1)

Gracious and blessed Father, Perfect in all things, with the plan to perfect the disciples of Christ, your Son: in the power of your Holy Spirit, birth and train us according to your perfect will through your Word. Through us, by transforming our minds and hearts, make known your love to a perishing world . Fill us with your light that pierces the darkness and brings your children to a perfect love, joy and peace, as we wait for our Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran
Related article: The Power of God’s Holy Will

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: .

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Luke 6:40
 but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

2 Corinthians 12:9
 strength is made perfect in weakness.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace…make you perfect.

1 John 2:5
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.

The Power of God’s Holy Will

Contemplation abounds as I consider this title.

When the title The Power of God’s Holy Will came to mind, I had no idea where it would lead. Would this be an article or a book? I had no clue as to what to write. Waiting and praying, meditating on the different facets of this title left me unsure, except as the Lord would give me bits and pieces of the meaning of it.

The scope of God’s power covers more than is possible for any human to think, much less write. God’s holy will is beyond our knowing and writing, except when He reveals it or fulfills it in us.

We know what was God’s will for creation, because He did it. We know what His plans were in the first generations of creatures because we have the historical records. But, no one knows the reality of God’s will before it happens. We have prophecies that have been fulfilled, so we know those were God’s will. Some are still unfulfilled, but even in these, there are different interpretations as to how and when they will be fulfilled.

We are told in the Old Testament that we will know if a man is a true prophet, if what he says comes to pass. Until it does, we are not sure if the prophecies are God’s will.

By faith we believe what God’s Word says, based partly on what He has done already.

How did the prophecies and their fulfillments happen? Were these dependent on men? What power did they have to make God’s will happen? – None, whatsoever. The same power that revealed the prophecies to men is the same power that brings His will to be done. And there is no thwarting His will. His power and His will cannot be separated. Within His sovereign will is the power to reveal and fulfill.

A Circle of Subjects

In the process of these thoughts there have been other things circling, so as to see a relationship.

The study of Humility has been for me an ongoing process for years, especially since the publication of our study and review of Andrew Murray’s book Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness.*

We have seen much interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in the last few weeks, even as we wrote four particular articles on this subject, and have heard questions and comments from others.

The subject that came into the circle, resulting in the following diagram, is Holiness.

So, what does all this mean?

It is simple if we follow the diagram clockwise. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent is the power to reveal truth, wisdom and knowledge of God’s will in His Word, and to fulfill God’s will. God’s will is clearly revealed for us through Jesus Christ His Son, who came in humility, bringing humility from heaven to us. The Holy Spirit works the humility of Christ in us for one purpose ~ for our holiness. His power works through our humility to make us holy.

Christ lived a holy life and died to make us holy; to bring us to the Father as His image bearers. This is the bottom line, the purpose for all that God did for us, does for us, in us, and through us.

We are given new life in Him, to conform us to the image of His Holy Son, so as to make us compatible for eternity with Him.

Preservation and Sanctification

We used to make blueberry, strawberry and pear preserves, using the old-fashioned method, adding sugar to the fruit, and slowly cooking until it boiled down to the consistency we wanted. In the same way, the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us boils us down to one thing ~ HOLINESS.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see the Lord:”
Hebrews 12:14

It is the power of the will of God that preserves us, keeping us humble and holy, making us examples of His own work for others.

This circle never stops, but is a continual working. We can say all we want about God’s holy will, but we miss the point of faith and salvation, the revelation and fulfillment of His will, if anything is more important or a substitute for holiness. Jesus died for nothing less than holiness for His people.

 “Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself
a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27

 “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul
and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Dear Father in heaven, God of all grace and peace, holy and faithful, revealing your will to us, your people, by the power of your Holy Spirit through your Word and in us ~ how could we ask for anything more than to be conformed to the image of your Son, made holy to share your glory. You call us to holiness, to witness of the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. Fill us with your power to do all your will in humility and holiness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. In His precious name, we pray.

Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility*


image: Google

TRUTH ~ by Man’s Will or God’s Grace?

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

Romans 9:16 ESV

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

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

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

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

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

Another example is Ed, 86, who was a member of our church.  He has dementia and now lives with his daughter, Cyndi,  and her husband in another state.  In her last email she wrote of how she reads the Bible to him, and he will quote with her much of God’s Word, as she reads.  It is not by his “reasoning” but by God’s grace, that he recalls the Word of truth that he had hidden in his heart.

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

*One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words was my first book (yet unpublished), in which I recorded the working of God’s grace in those three weeks.