Reserved and Preserved

English was my favorite subject in school. I was fascinated with words, their meanings and how they fit together with other words to form sentences; from there to weave thoughts into paragraphs and articles to share with others. And so, after I came to love God’s Word, I continued to learn of the life that He gives us through His Son, and to find more and more words for sharing this life with my family and friends. Such is the case with what is reserved and preserved in this life with Christ.

In 1 Peter 3:3-5 we read:

“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,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

We learn from Peter’s letter that God our Father, by His abundant mercy has given us new life ~ a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

This new life is given here and now with the promise of an eternal  inheritance reserved in heaven for us.

This new life comes with a double promise: not only is the inheritance reserved in heaven for us, but we are kept here on earth by the power of God until we receive this inheritance revealed in the last time ~ when Jesus returns to claim us as His own.

The apostle Paul refers to this in 1Thessalonians 5:23-24.

 “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 calleth you, who also will do it.”

This is to fulfill what is spoken in Ephesians 1:3-6

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”

It is His plan, having chosen, predestinated us unto the adoption of our inheritance, according to the good pleasure of His will, ~

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” ~ in Christ His Son.

The inheritance was reserved before the foundation of the world.

The writer of Hebrews makes reference to the calling that is ours in Christ.

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus ……. whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Hebrews 3: 2, 6

There are more, so many more references, from God’s Holy Word that can be woven together to share the wonderful life that is ours, now and forever, through Jesus Christ. We must take His Word as His covenant to us as His children ~ His everlasting covenant that cannot be broken. We claim His promises and the life of Christ by faith as He writes them on our hearts ~ what is reserved for us who are being preserved for Him for eternity.

Dear Gracious Father, what is exceeding abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine, you are reserving for your children, joint heirs with Christ. We praise you that we cannot be separated from our inheritance, preserved in Christ, made to sit in heavenly places with Him, sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession when you will claim us as your own. Work your witness in us, as those who belong to you, that we may live as those who are rich in the life of Christ. Make it evident so that others will ask us what is our hope and joy in this life. Give us your own words that reveal this life to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
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Bountiful Compensation

How many times I have quoted David’s words, “The Lord hath dealt bountifully with me” are without number. Today I was brought to a new understanding of how bountiful the Lord is toward His people. It seems that His dealing bountifully with us is experienced more in the difficult times. It is as if by all the heavenly blessings He gives, He is compensating for the troubles that we go through; as our first parents robbed us of our original legacy, leaving us in a state of sin and misery. He gives mercy when we deserve His wrath; grace and more grace beyond what we are worth; love, joy and peace that we can never know apart from the power of His Spirit within us.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:3-6

The compensation is much greater than anything we have lost. The heavenly blessings are ours in Christ, His Son, who is our life, and as He promised, it is life, abundantly. We can give up everything here, even through persecution, and He blesses beyond all that we can ask or imagine.

In Psalm 142:5-6 David seems to be speaking from the experience of the Lord’s care. He was trusting Him to again deal bountifully with him when he was in the cave; Saul in pursuit.

“I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.
Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.
Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.”

Psalm 116:7  is another reference to the Psalmist’s experience of the Lord dealing bountifully with him.

Psalm 119:17 is David’s prayer that the Lord would again deal bountifully with him.

The apostle Paul speaks of this in how we live and use what we have been given.  If we sow bountifully, giving sacrificially, the compensation will be bountiful in what we reap.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”
2 Corinthians 9:6

As we trust and receive all the heavenly blessings that compensate for the lack in this life, we live joyfully in the care of our heavenly Father, who loves us and gave His Son for us, a bountiful compensation for our need of a Savior and Lord, now and for eternity.

Dear Father, we cannot thank you enough for first knowing our need for salvation, a salvation that is more than sufficient for all who believe. You do not leave us to fend for ourselves, but know that you supply abundantly all that we need ~ from your riches in glory. We praise you for dealing bountifully with us; that we can experience the abundant life that Jesus came to give. We praise you, that though this life takes us through what sometimes seems impossible, you never fail to be with us, prevailing through us and blessing us beyond comprehension with eternal things. These are worth the loss of all temporal things. Thank you for loving us and caring for us as your beloved children. Enable us to share the bountiful life that is ours in Christ, your Son. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Seasons of Grace

“To every thing …….. a season.”

“A time to be born” ………  A time to know.

“A time to die” …….. And then to grow.

To sense the touch of the Gardener’s hand.

With His strength and love ……. to stand,

And feel the rain upon our face;

To live in the sunshine of His Grace.

Ecclesiastes 3:2; Luke 9:24           F.R. 1995

For Emery Elise Bourchier
January 18 – February 15, 2018

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Chasing Butterflies and Blowing Bubbles

(This is an older post that I needed to read and remember as Jerry and I continue to deal with difficult issues.)

Another year ~ and in these latter years I now realize that I am in my second childhood ~ butterfly-net-clipart-A_Girl_with_a_Butterfly_Net_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100224-130807-147053and loving it.

This morning my thoughts were brought back to years ago when our home was a busy hub. On one of those days Jerry and I were sitting at the dining room table, observing an eventful scene at the kitchen counter between my mother and our youngest granddaughter, Emma. as they were eating ice cream.

Mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was living with us, was crying, and saying that she needed to go home. Emma had her hand on Mother’s knee and was talking to her. This three-year-old child was consoling a ninety-one-year old woman, who was listening and responding to her encouragement. I wrote about the incident as I related a young child’s understanding of what it means to want to go home.
Jerry and I could not remember the words, but only that it was an extraordinary, moving experience. Scan 152400000
Olivia was in the back yard chasing butterflies.Scan 152400002  I had just brought her home from kindergarten. She ministers in her own way.

My second childhood seems to be between a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Writing has become the main outlet for my witness to the grace and glory of my Lord. There are times when I get down to the nitty-gritty, really serious stuff that the Lord gives me, but it is difficult to keep at it until it is finished. He has done much for me, in me, with me, around and through me over the years. Much has been finished, but there is still much that lacks completion.

At this age my life is somewhat correspondent to my writing. Childlikeness is good, but always needs a goal, guidance and discipline, which comes from the heart and hand of our Father. The joy of life in Christ seems at times as if I am enjoying the things I used to do with the grandchildren ~ chasing butterflies, and blowing bubbles.Scan 152400001 But the Lord is not through with me yet. This is the second time around ~ and now I need to get back to the ice cream.

Gracious Father, thank you for your patience, your mercy and your grace with your children.  You know how weak we are, and how much we need you.  Thank you for the days and the years of guiding, of teaching, of training.  Thank you that no one can snatch us out of your hand.  Thank you for a love that is the homing device by which your Holy Spirit draws us home to you.  In Jesus’ name I thank and praise you.  Amen.

Joy and Contentment

How can I experience joy and contentment during these grueling times? How do I write about joy and contentment in the middle of uncertainty? I don’t know how, but I must. It is part of our work for Christ and His kingdom. It is during these times that He proves His joy in us.

He teaches, and by working His will in us by the power of His Holy Spirit we live, not according to our circumstances, but by our focus upon Him and His calling on our lives. There would never be true joy or contentment if we did not know Him, but Christ in us is the reason for our joy and contentment, no matter how difficult our days.

It has been this Year of Contentment (2017) that He chose to prove an even greater working than before with more trials. Without them we would never know how precious and powerful is His presence with us. His Word is not only powerful and active but also filling and fruitful in the worst of times. From these thoughts we venture to share what His Word says about joy. Please take time to read and meditate on these truths and let them settle in your heart. They will mean more to us than our comments. His Word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path of joy through this wilderness. It is His joy that keeps us content even through the worst of times.

We started this series on contentment stating that all contentment is a gift from God and His Spirit working in us. Joy begins with Him, as with all that describes His kingdom and our relationship with Him, He rejoices over us with joy.

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Even as He initiates joy, there is no true joy apart from Him. Our joy is in Him.

“neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.Isaiah 29:19

Jesus speaks of the “good and faithful servant: who will enter into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21

“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” Psalm 43:4

“for the Lord had made them joyful
(Ezra 6:22).

“Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” Psalm 149:2

Joy in Our Salvation

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

We have joy in God “through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” Romans 5:11

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” Psalm 35:9

 Joy of the Holy Ghost
Joy is fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”
1 Thessalonians 1:6

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17

The God of hope fills with all joy and peace through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

The Joy of Christ is a Full Joy

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
John 16:22

“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Joy Through God’s Word

Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: Jeremiah 15:16

Paul’s joy would not be abated during his last days of persecution, but it would carry him through the remainder of His ministry for the gospel.

 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Suffering and Temptation

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3

Paul spoke of exceeding joy in tribulation.
2 Corinthians 7:4

He prayed for the Colossian church that they may be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” Colossians 1:11

Simon Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:13

James wrote about “joy through various trials (James 1:2).

Our Joy Is an Unspeakable, Everlasting, and Exceeding Joy

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1 Peter 1:8

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 1:24

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for your joy that is ours through your Son, Jesus Christ, Fill us more and more with your Spirit of joy that cannot be taken from us, no matter the circumstances of this life. Enable us to meditate on your Word, to hide your Word and your joy in our hearts and to live content within your Word, your promises and the great salvation that is ours for eternity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Where Is My Joy?
Lucy Anne Adams
based on Psalm 42

Where is my joy when all around is sorrow?
Where is my light when night is all I see?
Why is my soul in agony despairing,
Where is my hope, my song of victory?

My joy is in the God of my salvation.
His Word will light the shadows of my heart.
So I will hope in God who is my comfort,
Who gives a song of joy when sorrows start.

When I get permission I will post the other four verses of this beautiful song.

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Followers of Christ Have CGCD

We live in an abbreviated society with many associations. We are described and labeled by our distinctions and dialect, our degrees, doctrines, diseases and disorders.

The description of the life of a follower of Christ is a wonderful thing, definitely not a disease or disorder, but a distinction. Let me explain according to the initials CGCD, the abbreviation for Conviction, Guidance, Commitment and Discipline.

Conviction
One becomes a follower of Christ by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Jesus taught His disciples that when He left them to return to His Father He would send the Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of truth. He would supernaturally birth them into His kingdom (John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

A follower of Christ is convicted. As the Spirit woos and wins us, we receive the guidance of the Spirit of Christ for new and eternal life.

Guidance
Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (john 14:6), promised that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all the truth. This is how He becomes our Shepherd.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:12-13

Commitment
The Spirit of truth is the “Spirit of the Lord”
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
He leads us by His hand of mercy to follow Christ, to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to serve Him (Romans 12:1-2).
He leads us to full commitment and obedience to Him, to the truth, and to actively seek His kingdom and righteousness.

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Discipline
With commitment comes discipline as He establishes us as His own. We learn to discipline ourselves as we live under the discipline of the Holy Spirit and His Word.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
Proverbs 12:1

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-9
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11The apostle Paul in his letter to Titus encourages him to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8).

He says of his own life, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3

As followers of Christ we are His special people who gladly accept the description and label as He, by His Grace and His Word, makes us peculiar to the world. No others but those of His family have the life of Christ in them. What a joy it is for people to ask what makes us different, so that we can share Christ with them.

Gracious Father, you have made us precious in your sight. Let us wear the label for your glory. Make your Spirit within us contagious with joy and an excitement that overflows, to your glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran, DDC (Devoted Disciple of Christ)

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The Lens of Contentment

Most people see contentment in good health, relationships, possessions, fashions, the cars we drive and the homes in which we live, many of these indicating the measure of our personal success.

God’s people are given a means of seeing what is different from the world. The new heart and new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3) given by God our Father, come with a lens that changes our focus from the world and our dependency on what we can achieve. Our view is upward, brought to see Him as the giver and supplier of all that we need. We see beyond the world’s offerings to the special blessings that are ours through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The writer of the book of Hebrews leaves an exhortation to God’s people in the last chapter:
“Keep your life free from the love of money.

The world trains our children to seek contentment through what our money can buy.
The followers of Christ are trained to “be content with what you have.”

Why can we be content with less than what the world offers?
~ “for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (13:5)

The giver of all things is more precious than all the money we could accrue in this world.
His presence is greater that any relationship, entertainment or possession offered in this generation.
His love and grace is of more value that anything money could buy.
His blessings are infinite and eternally ours, while the temporal things of this world will either be lost or fade away.
Nothing of this world can compare to what we experience in His supply of all things .

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

There are those who are suffering physically and financially from attempting to keep up with greater expectations than they are able. When they learn of life in Christ, they can let go of the world’s offerings and enjoy Him and what He gives.

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

It was the apostle Paul who said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). He rolled with the pushes, at the same time rejoicing and praising the Lord because He had experienced the presence and power of God. In His calling, devotion and service he was given “visions and revelations” of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:1). As an evangelist/tentmaker he knew the God “who supplies all our needs” (Philippians 4:19). He lived with a “thorn in the flesh” ~ the buffeting of Satan through the religious and government leaders, living the last part of his life in prison because he was content with the Lord’s calling and promises of the gospel. Oh, that we might all say as he did, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Gracious heavenly Father, creator and supplier of all things, open our eyes, turn them upward to see heaven opened as you pour out all that you have prepared for us in and through Jesus our Lord. Let the world see our contentment with you and all that you desire for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Related Post: A Year for Contentment ~ Continued
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