Focus, Love, and Rejoice

The words focus, love, and rejoice came clearly from time in prayer, meditation in God’s Word, and in my circumstances. The first word, focus, is included in the title of a book I started a few years ago. Focus, Balance, and Order came during a time when things were difficult to sort through. Still working on this book, my hope is to finish it soon as the Lord continues to show me these three facets of the Christian life. In the meantime, the Lord placed Focus, Love and Rejoice in my heart to experience the outcome of our focus on God our Father, the balance of life through our Lord, Jesus Christ and the order of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

It is the work of a triune God that produces the focus, love, and joy in us as His children. Briefly, let us look at this fruit that shows His work in and through us.

Concentration has never been my nature. The Lord knows my weakness and blesses me to know my need for Him — to seek His presence to accomplish in me what He desires. I would venture to say that we all are distracted by the physical world, with difficulties in training our minds to look to and keep our eyes upward, looking to Him for all things. Focus is not within from birth. Some may say that we are all focused on something.

We, as earthlings, are prone to switch from image to image looking for something new, something different every day. We are easily entertained by whatever comes in view of our senses.

The focus we speak of here is a steady, non-altering gaze that is immovable from its one object.

In the book Focus, Balance, and Order, we survey that on which we focus, the object of our focus. Of course, we will ascertain that it is the Lord God, our heavenly Father who is our focus and why it is must be Him alone on which we set our sight, our desires, our hopes, and our faith. There, the word focus is a noun as is balance and order. Here, focus is a verb, just as love and rejoice. I hope this post will encourage and excite you to pray for me and to look forward to how He will develop this project through me
In the meantime, let’s think of what He wants to work in us as a result of His focus, balance, and order in our lives.

If ye then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:1

Focus
He wants us to focus — to continually keep our eyes — upon Him. We can love and rejoice as we receive His Words by a direct concentration and meditation on Him and His Word. We receive from Him with open hearts and minds. Imagine a thirsty man holding a cup to receive water without focusing on the source. The stream of water is the life of Christ given to us from our heavenly Father by His Holy Spirit. In prayer and through His Word, we direct our hearts and minds to receive the life He gives. But our eyes are on the Father, the giver of all life. Jesus directs us to the Father in His prayer on the mount.

Love and Rejoice
When He says, focus, love, and rejoice, He teaches us that love is the fruit, the life of Christ poured in and through us as we receive it from Him. Both love and joy are His character traits shared with His children. He gives us His love and His joy— the fruit of His Spirit within us. We, therefore, love as He loves, unselfishly. His joy causes us to rejoice.

Most will say they cannot keep such a focus. None of us can. Like humility and all that He requires of His children, He teaches what He wants to do in us. He gives us the desire of His heart until it becomes our heart’s desire. We pray and wait for Him to do His work in us. As Andrew Murray says in Waiting on God — we can afford to wait. These are parts of our inheritance given to enjoy here on this earth and preparation for eternity with Him.

When we learn to focus upon Him, it will not matter what may be our circumstances. Focus enables us to keep steadfast in the life of Christ, not changing our actions based on what is happening around us. The world cannot change our character when we know who we are in Christ. We continue to love the unlovable and rejoice through the most difficult times of this life when we set our affections on Him and the things above.

Dear Father in heaven, we are most blessed when we keep our eyes heavenward, knowing you lead us through the most difficult places by your Spirit of love and joy. Bring us to desire with all our hearts to focus upon you. Make us a channel of your love and joy, we pray, In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

Living Sacrifices

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God,
which is your reasonable service.”
Romans 12:1-2

These verses in Romans 12 cannot be taken out of context but in relation to the whole letter to the Roman Church. Paul gives the means and the reason for His beseeching. Presenting our body (our whole being) is our response to the mercies of God. Afterward, we see the results of the presentation and the commitment of ourselves to Him.

The Reason
Here, Paul brings the believer to consider the truths he has presented in the previous eleven chapters. The key words in this verse are by the mercies of God. Before we do can anything with or for God, there has to be a revelation of Him and the work of His mercy for us.

In Romans 11:29-36 we find the capsule of God’s mercies opened–the door–therefore–for Paul’s beseeching the reader to consider and respond. He calls us as brethren–believers and followers of Christ–to bring to God the Father, the gift of His mercies in earthen vessels for His use. When, by His mercies, He gives us new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) and lives in Christ, our only reasonable response is to bring ourselves in dedication and commitment to His service and worship

Peter speaks of God’s abundant mercy that has given us new life in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which according to his abundant mercy
hath begotten us again unto a lively hope
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 
1 Peter 1:3

A Covenant Relationship
We are made holy and acceptable unto God through Jesus’ sacrifice for us.

Before the foundation of the world, the covenant of redemption was planned between the Father and the Son. In the power of His Holy Spirit, through the knowledge of His Word, this covenant–the covenant of grace as we know it–is revealed as God’s plan to win us to Christ, His Son.

We are betrothed to Him through His sacrifice for us.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 12:1-2  show how we are to accept and enter into this covenant with Him. As a wife submits to her husband in the covenant of marriage, we submit to His covenant for life here and for eternity.

It is our agreement with Him that we are His temple, His building, His people, His children.

This is His means to accomplish all He desires in and through us.

“For ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body,
and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:20

Paul’s purpose of ministry to the Gentiles was that they might glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:9).

In Romans 10:3 Paul speaks of those who have not submitted themselves unto Him.

We must be humbled to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice. The proud cannot present themselves; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,
and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”
Romans 6:13

Living Sacrifices for a Living God
Paul speaks to the Thessalonians of how they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 1 Thessalonians 1:9

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:14

For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. Luke 20:38

Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Corintians 3:3

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22

 But if I tarry long, that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15

The Results

“And be not conformed to this world:
but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that ye may prove what is that good,
and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 
Romans 12:2

When we read all of Romans 12, we find the results of the whole body of Christ living sacrificially for His glory. Except for the offering of ourselves to Him, the remainder of the chapter would mean nothing to us.

When we understand the love and mercy in the sacrifice of our Lord, we willingly bring all to Him to do what He wills in and through us. He died, sacrificing all in His death for our salvation. We sacrifice all to Him to live and prove His perfect will in us. He performs His covenant in our lives when we enter into His covenant with Him, agreeing to His working to conform us to His image (Romans 8:29).

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. Romans 7:4 

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

Dear Father in heaven, Only you, by your Holy Spirit, can draw us to Christ. Only through your Holy Word, do we know who you are and your purpose for us. Do your holy, acceptable and perfect will in our lives for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Image and Song
Related Article: Radical Mercy

God’s Utmost for My Highest

 “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians,
and how I bare you on eagles’ wings
,
and brought you unto myself
.”Exodus 19:4

When I add my comments to a familiar work, it is not to belittle the beloved author. Such was the case when I began the series Beyond a Mere Christianity in reference to C.S. Lewis’ book.

I cut my spiritual eye-teeth on My Utmost for His Highest. The thought I intend here with Oswald Chambers’ popular devotional is to share what the Lord has continued to show me through the years. With Chamber’s devotional and my studying all the books that were attributed to his lectures, there has been much more from God’s Word to lead me in my understanding of the difference in what is required of me and what God does, Himself. As I continued in my desire to serve the Lord, Andrew Murray taught me how to walk. Paul taught me to run with Christ. Christ still teaches me how to be still, to wait, to depend on Him for He is my life.

Oswald Chambers died at the age of 43 after complications from appendicitis. Learning this from his biography, I realized even as astute as he was in the Scriptures, he was still a student as we all are in this life. His books were written and published from the notes of his wife who attended his lectures. Again, I am not putting his work down but hopefully, sharing a “greater than” what I learned from him.

Man’s Inability for Total Salvation
Teachings that turn man from trusting God for total salvation to giving part of that work into the hands of man are my point. Growing up with this kind of thinking always left me needful and frustrated with my inability to perform the spiritual work that is required for this salvation. I loved the teachings of Chambers, whose mother was a follower of Charles Spurgeon, and I continued to desire my utmost for  God. However, the more I studied the Scriptures, the more I learned of my sinful nature, my depravity, and my inability to produce anything that was worthy to bring to Him. My utmost always paled in comparison to what I wanted to do and what I knew He expected. It fell even further below the standard when I began to learn what God promises to do for, in, and through me.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.
Habahhuk 3:19

The Superior Work of the Holy Spirit
When the Holy Spirit did a supernatural work in my life, apart from anything I had tried to do, ask, think, or believe, I was a new creature, with a new heart and spirit, able to understand His Word, His will, and His way, apart from anything I knew I could ever do. Man is not able to do the spiritual work required for salvation; only the power of God’s Spirit within man can do what is needful for reconciliation and renewal in our relationship with Him. A dead person cannot will himself to faith and obedience. Only the power of His Holy Spirit can birth a person into His kingdom. Only as I am led, walk, and live by His Spirit, can I live separated from the world, humble and holy before Him and the world. Only a total salvation can deliver from a total depravity.

God’s Utmost for Me
God planned His utmost for me before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-6; Titus 3:5) through the covenant of redemption made with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). He sent Jesus at the time of His choosing (Galatians  4:3-9) as an utmost sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26) to be a propitiation for my sins (1 John 4:9). Even my faith in His working of mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-10) is His gift of grace. He convicts me of sin (John 16:8) and by His goodness brings me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every day He proves His utmost for my keeping by His power alone (1 Peter 1:1-5). As sanctified and the sanctifier, Jesus is bringing many sons unto glory (Hebrews 2:10-11) by His redemptive work alone.

“But this man, after he had offered
one sacrifice for sins for ever,
sat down on the right hand of God;”
Hebrews 10:12

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost
that come unto God by him,

seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Hebrews 7:25

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me,
that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day.”
John 6:29

Dear Father in heaven, we are humbled that you quicken us from the dead in our trespasses and sin and accomplish your holy will in the lives of your children. Make us aware of our weakness and your power for all things pertaining to life and godliness. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength Isaiah 40:31 Music
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Image 1
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O, Day of Rest and Gladness

The following sermon is the best I have heard on the Fourth Commandment. It was a blessing and stirred in me a renewal of my zeal for the Sabbath. Beginning next week, I will repost articles on this subject from 2011 when I began on WordPress. I pray the Lord’s blessing for you on this, His Day.

O, Day of Rest and Gladness (January 6, 2019) is a sermon by Chris Strevel, our pastor, preaching through the Book of Exodus.

Where Is God?

Unbelievers sometimes ask this question contemptuously, while believers may ask it when overwhelmed by tragedy, trial, and sorrow.

WHERE IS GOD?
Let the Bible tell you.

God is above us.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” Psalm 91:1, 4

God is beneath us.

The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

God is before us.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. Exodus 13:21;

God is behind us.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

God is around us.

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

God is with us.

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10 (Scripture Tune)

Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:20

God is within us.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 1 John 4:13

Take time to meditate on these references and be assured that whatever your circumstances, if you are His child by the birth of His Holy Spirit, the Lord your God is above, beneath, before, behind, around, with, and within you.

Gracious Father, we thank you for your promise to never leave us, nor forsake you; that your presence with us will bring us through whatever we must endure in this life. We praise you that in Christ, we are filled with your grace and wrapped in your glory, now and forever. In Jesus’ name, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran
(If you have read this somewhere else, please let me know. I found this in one of my older journal/notebooks, so I am not positive if it is mine or a copy: I usually note the source of someone else’s work.)

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Necessary Interests

But seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness.
.
.”
Matthew 6:33

The first thought for this post was the title, Unnecessary Interests, as the Lord has been revealing interests that are not for my growth or are a waste of time. There are some that I need to let go, but as He has been leading me to stop looking at the underside of this world and its interests, and to focus on the upper side and the interests of His kingdom, my thoughts turned to where my interests should be.

From our thoughts to our words and actions, we have much to desire beyond normal and common interests. We can compare what is holy to what is unholy; what is common to what is uncommon; what is clean to what is unclean. Our interest in the news of the world keeps us from the interests of His Kingdom. The interests of the world ~ its entertainments and influences ~ impede our journey with Him.

For the child of God, known as a Christian, our life here has a definite purpose. The purpose of this physical life is to prepare us for eternal life with Him in His glory. We now live and serve Him in what is known as the Kingdom of Grace; His keeping us, sanctifying us, purifying us; making us compatible for Himself.

 If ye then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 

Colossians 3:1

Necessary Interests for a Child of God
So, what are the necessary interests for a child of God? What raises us above the world’s standards; even Beyond a Mere Christianity?

We must start with an in-depth interest in His Word, where we learn to love what He loves. Here we find the truths of God and the filling and leading of His Holy Spirit to the necessary interests that He wants for us. He teaches us how He conforms us to the image of His own Son

Through His Word, He teaches us how to communicate with Him; to pray for the things He has prepared to give (1 Corinthians 2:9-16).

He leads us in the interests of His other children, of like-mind and heart; to participate in worship and the Word preached within His church.

He brings us to others with an interest in their souls, to witness of Christ to them.

There is much that we could cover here, but we don’t have the time or space. If you are reading with an interest in what is necessary for growth as a child of God, I implore you to take your Bible, shut out any other interests, ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit as you read His Word; to speak to you through His Word; to show you His will.

As He has been speaking to my heart, He has pointed out certain interests that I need to forsake and leading me to more of the interests He has for me. One thing for sure is the desire for me to draw closer to Him.

“Set your affections on things above,
not on things on the earth.”
Colossians 3:2

Gracious Father in heaven, whose name I want to hallow, draw me closer to you, to love you more; to seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be your child and a disciple of Christ. Open my mind and heart to those things of your kingdom and displace anything of this world that would hinder your image and your work in me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Show Me Thy Ways, O LORD Psalm 25:4-5

Related Post: Letting Go
(Suggested Reading: The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE Study)

The Stress-Taker (Part 2)

(The following was somehow deleted from my last post.  So, I add it here as a second part.)

I have been asked during these last traumatic years how I handle the stress. Unless there is time for a broad explanation, I simply say what I continue to say every day ~ “The Lord is good.” But that is an overall statement that only reveals the surface of who He is and does in His goodness. The root of His goodness is hidden in His Word, and through its fruit and seed, planted in the mind and heart of His children.

As a child, Sunday School was not a regular attendance for our family, but Vacation Bible School was a big deal for me. I loved memorization; I still do, along with meditation and prayer. I don’t remember any of the fun we may have had with activities, cookies and Kool-Aid, but I remember the memory cards that were treasures to me. While I can’t recall all the verses I learned, one has stayed in my thoughts, rooted in my heart and borne fruit over the years. I do not remember the lessons connected to the Scriptures, but God’s Word proves true by itself. It is alive and powerful and produces His life in those to whom He gives it. If I had no other of the seed of His Word, it would have been enough. He has planted much more, but this one has borne its fruit many times over.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I did not understand these words as a child. If I had, life would have been much easier; I would have made different choices and I may not have suffered all the stress and caused the stress that I did. Believing that our heavenly Father is a sovereign God who planned all things for us and brings us by His own power to do His will, I live today as witness of His grace and goodness; His producing the fruit of His own Word from the seed He plants.

As a child, I was open to His Word, desiring to please Him, but the stress-makers of this world had their part in shaping my life to sin and rebellion against Him. Nevertheless, in His sovereignty and providence He has proven the power of His Word over my nature of sin. He has brought me through many trials and temptations, failures and mistakes, losses and traumas by His victorious truths and promises. When I stumble still, He is always there to raise me up and keep me, reminding me of His grace and power to take whatever is laid upon me and to give it to Him. He enables me to cast my burdens upon Him. His grace is sufficient, His strength in my weakness, so that I can be content even in my infirmities (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Dear Father in heaven, continue to draw us to Christ through the power of your Word and Spirit. Write your words on our minds and in our hearts and activate them in those times you have chosen, to prove your love and your great and precious promises. Enable us to abide in you and your Word to abide in us, to know your presence at all times. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

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