The Two Great Wonders of the World

Had our first parents understood the purpose of their creation, the beauty and wonder of the world itself might be the greatest wonder ~ and all men may have come to know the Creator as the greatest wonder of heaven and earth.

But, the enemy of God gave God’s creatures a different idea of greatness, and the quest for man’s greatness was instilled in the heart of man. God and His creation were separated as a result of man’s disobedience to His Word but this did not change God or disrupt His plans.

He has continued to reveal His greatness and the greatness of man. And here is the difference. Disobedience and sin against God have continued and the evil in man has become one of the great wonders of the world. Isn’t it amazing that we have not destroyed the earth and ourselves? Even more amazing is that God has not destroyed us all.

God, our Heavenly Father revealed His mercy through His Son, Jesus, as the greatest wonder for all time. Jesus spoke of His greater greatness as compared to Solomon and Jonah in Matthew 12:41-42.

“But God, who is rich in mercy” continues to reveal His love to the world, having shown His mercy and great love through the sacrifice of His Son. He is saving a people for Himself, enabling us to live as light in the middle of this “evil and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:14-16) to show the greater of the two wonders.

Evil seems to be the greatest wonder ~ open to the whole world, prevalent, and accepted by the majority of the world.

Only those who have experienced the richness of God’s mercy and “the great love wherewith He loved us while we still sinners” know what is greater and more wonderful than the world can see. Praise and rejoicing are the responses to His greatness and wonder that will be carried from here throughout eternity.

He calls us to acknowledge His greatness above all others with His promise to reveal the wonder of His greatness to the whole world at His second coming.

Which wonder is the greatest to you? Be grateful and tell others if you are caught up in the wonder of our God’s mercy, love, and grace.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5

“Keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21

Father in heaven, shine the light in our hearts to reveal the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Show us your mercy. Work the wonder of your grace in and through us so others will see your presence and the power of your great love in us ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

The following video by R.C. Sproul initiated my thoughts for this post. No man is worthy of God’s love or mercy. We all deserve His wrath, but He chose to show His mercy to some. And we who know His mercy live in gratitude that it is His idea and work in us, not our own.
Fran

 

Motivation and Humility ~ A Sheep’s View

As the Shepherd continues to lead in “paths of righteousness,” I must not lag behind but keep close to Him to see where He is leading. 

But I see other places. “Lord, that looks good.” 

To the sheep, He says, “That is not what I have planned for you ~ I have something better.”

As we continue, I hear voices calling from different directions. They speak louder than the Shepherd, promising help and success.

The Still Small Voice
This new stage is like no other. For fifty-nine years, I learned to listen to one human voice my Father had given me on this earth. Now, He is teaching me to hear clearly only His “still small voice” in the middle of this wilderness, through His Word and prayer. I understand why the apostle Paul directed the early church to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

I am better understanding why we are led to praise Him “all day long” (Psalm 35:28Psalm 44:8).

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

Outdated and Vulnerable
In any weak moment, there is a temptation for me to give in to the flesh and say, “I can’t do it anymore. I am too old. I am outdated and vulnerable to every influence I hear and see.” I am beginning to understand what Jerry meant when he said he had lived past his expiration date.

Having just come out of quarantine ~ my daughter and her family had COVID (grateful they were mild cases) ~ I desire to go forward ~ to know and do “the will of the Father.”

From watching motivational videos this past week, I agree, if I want glory to my own name, I can go for it and succeed. I still have enough zeal to achieve whatever I set my mind and heart toward. But I learned years ago, as a full-time caregiver, true success comes only through a life of humility.

“Humility is the bedrock of true success.”

Be Still
We can set our own goals and achieve whatever we want but we fall short of what God can do in and through us. His plans, His presence, and power are seeded in the life of His children who are zealous for the work of His kingdom ~ those who are about “the Father’s business.” We are still dust in the hands of our Creator. Dirt cannot think of what it can accomplish. It can only “be still” with what is planted ~ and wait. It cannot even cherish the seed.

The seed is fed and watered, and the life in the seed breaks through the shell, sends roots downward, and stems upward looking for the light from which it was planted. It blooms and bears the fruit of the seed planted. The plant becomes the life in the dirt that glorifies the gardener. Eventually, the dirt is no longer seen but covered over becoming one with the plant. The plant glorifies the gardener and the dirt is enriched to grow more fruit.

Branches of the True Vine
Jesus teaches how we bear fruit as branches from His life in John 15. This, too, is a lesson on humility. We can do nothing without Him, but if we abide in Him and He abides in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5).

By His grace, in the hands of the Gardener, we are fruitful even through old age.

Whether I think of being a sheep, a branch, or plain dirt, His Spirit and His Word are my motivation to remain humble and focused upon the Shepherd to lead me and the Gardener to do His work in me. Abiding and Fruitful is my goal for 2021 ~ to live passionately for Christ and die humble.

Gracious Father, hallowed be thy name in all the earth. Let us give unto you the glory due unto your name. Let us worship you in the beauty of holiness; fear before you with all the earth. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in us for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

A Year Worse than 2020?

2006 was a different year with different circumstances and the only reason I record the events here is as an archive for our family. So, if you who are reading, don’t like to hear how God brings His children to love and depend on Him more, you may want to skip this post.

The first six months of that year were the last for Jerry and me to care for my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. After four and a half years with us, she died on August 2 and was buried on August 7.

August 9, we learned our pastor and half the families in our church were moving to Tennessee ~ a drastic division in the church.

September 19, Jerry had an emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg.

October 24, his leg was amputated.

November 8, he came home from rehab.

For the remainder of the year, we waited for healing which did not happen until three years later, after another surgery to remove the graft inserted in the by-pass.

We experienced a physical and a spiritual amputation in our church that year that took years to reconcile. Recovery from both came about the same time as we were drawn closer to the Lord.

That was 2006. Fast-forward to 2020. 

On this day, fourteen years ago, I am recalling that day of amputation and the years that followed until Jerry’s death on June 1, five months ago.

Of the fourteen years, he did not walk for the first three years. As we waited for healing, he was fitted for a prosthesis but every time he tried to use it the wound opened.

After the last surgery, he still experienced spasms and pain, soreness and discomfort that he finally accepted. He used a walker for eight years as he was able. He drove again for about five years, until 2017 when he could no longer wear a shoe and resigned himself to a wheelchair for the last three years. During these three years, we knew the Father’s care through our church family and our children and their families.

The date, October 24, 2006, and the anniversary, startled me as I lay in bed this morning. I was frozen as I imagined how he faced that day until after 5:00 P.M. His life would no longer be the same. He was 70; I was 67. We were both still strong enough to face that trial physically. It was not until the week before his death, we understood how strong our heavenly Father had made us, spiritually.

All we lost was for our gain, for eternity.

He did not complain; I did not complain ~ we both learned to praise Him in all things ~ to establish and live by the Glad Rule our heavenly Father taught us. 

In his last days, Jerry would say, “I wonder what it will be like.”

Could he tell us, we might listen and take heed to what waits for us beyond this wilderness ~ and praise Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank you that you gave us a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. You showed us your grace, mercy, and glory in the middle of the worst times in this life. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that lives in your children to declare the love of Christ and your kingdom on this earth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 
Fran

Image: Google

“I Am Not Alone, My Father is With Me”

As I woke up on a Lord’s Day morning a week ago, these words of Jesus from John 16:32 were my words. From my heart and soul, I would say in the reality of His presence and power, “I am not alone. My Father is with me.”

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as He ended His teachings of three years, before His High-Priestly prayer to the Father, then to the Garden of Gethsemane ~ on His way to the crucifixion.

But, we may say, His Father turned His back on Him while He was suffering for our sins, in obedience to His will. Yes, but it was for one time, and so that we may know His everlasting presence with us. He will never leave us, nor forsake us because He looks upon us as His own, now joined to Christ, His Son. We dwell in Him and He, in us, by His Spirit which He has given us (1 John 3:24).

We never fear that He may turn His back on us. He has given His Son as a propitiation for our sins, appeasing His anger, that we never know His wrath. We turn to Him in repentance and faith for the abundant life He gives in Christ (John 10:10).

How blessed to know even when we are alone physically, He is always with us. I have been a sister, a wife, and a mother, but always, I am a daughter to my heavenly Father.

Gracious Father, thank you for your promises that make us your own, not by anything we can do, but because you have desired us and sired us by your will here, and forever. We praise you for revealing your plans for our relationship with you through Jesus Christ, your Son, and for keeping us always in your care, leading us by your Holy Spirit, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.

“On the First Day of the Week”

“Now on the first day of the week ….. they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” Luke 24:1

Where we go the first day of the week will determine how our whole week will go.

Mary came prepared to anoint a dead body. She found instead, a living Savior. Did she expect to leave the spices on the outside of the tomb? Had she even imagined she would not have access to her Lord. She came with all she had to worship Him and found exceedingly abundantly more than she could have asked. He found her seeking Him. She left an empty tomb to tell her brethren He was alive.

If we meet with the Lord of lords on His day, we will want to bring Him home with us for the whole day and be back in His house at the end of the day. We will want to bring others to encounter the living Lord and Savior on His day.

He will be with us the remainder of the week.

And we prepare our spices during the week for the next Lord’s Day. What we take to our worship is harvested from His Word and prayer from one week to the next.

We do not bring our praises and adoration to a tomb. The stone from our heart has been rolled away by the power of the gospel and He lives forever in the new heart and spirit He has given us (Ezekiel 36:26). We gather with other blood-bought souls who desire to spend the day with Him.

If you had not already planned today to be with the Lord and His family, find a church that preaches and lives the truths of the atoning work of Christ. Worship Him in the beauty of holiness, in spirit and truth. If you do not yet know Him, ask the Father for His Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to you in His Word. Worship Him today with His people and look for Him to be with you this week. (If you do not have such a church, send me a message on my CONTACT page and I will help you find one close to you. This may be difficult but I am willing to give you pointers on where to look.)

How we spend the Lord’s Day is a precursor to how we will spend eternity. How precious is the Lord Jesus to you on this day?

Glorious Father, where can we go, but to Christ, for the abundant life you and He prepared for your children before the foundation of the world. By the power of your Spirit, draw your people to your houses of worship today. Speak to us through your Word. Fill us, send us, and spend us for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Husband, Cherish Your Wife

Walk into any “old folk’s home” and you will see very few men.  On the average, women outlive men.  It would be interesting if we could search the hearts of the women in these facilities to see what they remember of their childhoods and their marriages.  From those who can still speak of their own, you hear very little of their joy in marriage.  Most have a complaint against their parents or their husbands.  Few are content. Is it possible that husbands could change this?  No; but God can, through husbands who seek His will in their own lives and their families’ lives.

What can a husband do?  First, you can ask the Lord to show you what you already have. Take inventory of what He has given you.

Is your wife content?  Praise the Lord!  Thank Him that He has given you a gem.  Treasure what you have and ask how to cherish her, love her, and polish this jewel to His expectancy ~ notice ~ not yours, but His.  She is not yet all she will be.   She will need to grow to conform to the image of Christ.   Caring for her will not preserve her so that she will live longer than you, but to enable her to give you the best care possible should you fall into the average pattern.

Remember that your former years together may be an example for her should she become your caregiver.  And should you in the end outlive her, she will be much easier to care for.

The Marriage God Intended
We see in Ephesians 5 the analogy of marriage as it relates to the church ~ Christ and its members (His bride).  This is another treatise altogether, but as a starting point, let’s look at four things Paul mentions for a husband and wife.  I am not using the plural as relating to all husbands and wives, but singular, so as to draw you, the reader, to look at your marriage apart from others you know.

There are good marriages and bad marriages that you could compare, but here we want to settle you, the husband, as one husband, and the person God created you to be and especially to you as God’s son, redeemed by the blood of His first-born Son, Jesus Christ.  I doubt that many who are not born-again believers and disciples of Christ will understand what this is all about.

The four things we will speak of are: 1) Submission 2) Love 3) Sacrifice 4) Sanctity.

Submission

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”  Ephesians 5:22-23

Your first thoughts will probably be, “The author should be speaking to women, not men.”  Bear with me, please.  Think about it.  Christ is the head of the church.  Who came first, Christ, the head, or the bride, (the church)?  Would there be a bride without Christ?  Would there be a church, a body of believers, without Christ’s work of bringing believers together in one accord, for His name’s sake?

The practice and custom of a bride taking on the name of her husband is indicative of the action of a man who loves a woman, woos her, and proves his ability to take care of her.  She takes his name, willingly, submitting to his proposal, entering into a covenant that he has presented to her.  Marriage in this century does not have many good examples, or patterns, to follow.  

Christian marriage is not much different from other marriages of our culture.  This treatise is not meant to go into the various problems but rather to get a picture of what marriage could be and would be if we each see the model and the potential God gives us.

Women are getting this same teaching from other women and many are trying to adhere to this, even in marriages where the husband has no true love for them.  Submission is difficult in any situation, but in marriage, where God meant it to be a pleasant and blessed thing, submission has become an oppressive word. It is difficult for those who truly want to submit, to understand how, when the husband is not able to love and lead her.

Love 

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 

Husband, I implore you to cease from observing marriage from the world’s view, the example, and patterns that pervade our culture.  In this first point of thinking of your wife’s submission, there are three things that apply to you.  

1) Submit 
2) Admit  
3) Commit

Submit yourself to be the husband God wants you to be. Turn to God your Creator and Redeemer. In prayer and humility, submit yourself to the Lord.  You may have done this at other times in your life as a new believer or in commitment to a special work for the church or God’s kingdom.  The first and most important work for you as a husband is to shepherd your wife.  She must see you as her leader and companion through the pilgrimage of this life.  You must initiate this relationship if you want her to submit to you as she should.  The love of Christ for His church is the only factor that we have to bring us into submission to Him.

Even so, your love for your wife will be portrayed in how you cherish her, lead her, protect her and preserve her.  But, you cannot expect her to submit to you if you have not submitted totally to Christ, as your Lord and Savior.  You cannot love her as you need to love her unless you understand the love of Christ for you, and in your love for Him, live in submission to do His will in all things.

Submission should be followed by admitting your failures, mistakes, sins, or misunderstandings about your role as God’s Son and as a husband.  Time in humility and prayer, for the purpose of His searching your heart, will reveal and enable you to see, confess, and repent of those failings, even though they come from ignorance. Admitting, consenting to what He puts His finger on, is second to submission as a means of clearing the way for His working in your heart and life.

Third, committing your way, your will, your life, to the Lord as your head, will give the freedom for Him to lead you, to shepherd you and in turn for you to shepherd your wife.  You are setting the example for her to follow.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2

Commitment to the Lord will include presenting all that you are to be transformed by the renewal of your mind.  This means you must, for yourself and your wife, have a plan for this transformation and renewal; for when your mind is renewed everything in your life will be changed.  God’s Word is the means of His grace for this transformation. Through His Word, Christ will speak to your heart and write on your mind and heart His plans for your renewal.  He will continue to lead you and your wife in the love that He has for you and her.  

He does not marry you ~ through Christ making us His Bride ~ and leave you to yourself, but in patience and longsuffering, bears with you.  Understanding His love, and His strength in preserving you, will make you stronger, more loving, and more gracious.  Here is where the bond of marriage cannot be broken by anything the enemy or the world would throw at you.  Christ is the head, the center, the radius, the circumference, the all of life, for the union He performs.

Sacrifice
When you understand and experience the love of Christ and His sacrifice for you, you will know what it means to sacrifice for your wife.  There is not much I will say here, because I can’t imagine; I can’t get my mind around the sacrifice Christ made for me.  I can’t know what this means for a husband.  Any sacrifice I have made for my husband and family are no comparison to Christ’s sacrifice or to what He asks of a husband.  Each of these is personal and occurs in different circumstances for each one.  

When and where He leads you will bring you up to the task.  Your submitting, admitting, and commitment will prepare you in love to sacrifice for your wife.  Like Christ, you will not have to ask what God’s will is for you. Christ’s love for you will work in you a supernatural love for your wife.

Sanctity

“For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one,” Hebrews 2:11

Jesus sacrificed and sanctified Himself for His bride. He set Himself apart for His people. Such is the oneness of a husband and wife brought into Christ, united in Him. Joined together in Christ, “let no man put asunder.” 

As all of God’s children are one in Christ, how much more a husband and wife in Christ. A true Christian marriage is a shining example to the world of this beautiful union.
Fran

Image: Stock Photos