Soul Food for Sunday

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.”
Psalm 84:2

 I am addicted to the Word of God.  In it is the power of the life of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The power of the gospel to save (Romans 1:16) is the same power that raised Christ from the death, so that His life would be a continual flow of power in and through His people.  Feeding on His word daily is coupled with the Lord’s Day proclamation in the preaching of His word.  His word goes forth in power to those whose hearts and souls feed on Him.  How can we fast on the Lord’s Day when He has prepared a feast for us from His word?

Sword-Word-God-118735“For the word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any twoedged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Hebrews 4:12

By His Word and Spirit, He searches and knows my heart; He tries me and knows my thoughts, sees any wicked way in me; and leads me in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 138:23-24; 23:3).

 “Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

I need His word ~ the same word that penetrated my being ~ to permeate, and perpetuate the life of Christ in and through me; for His sanctification by the “washing of the water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.”

John 6:63

Through His Word are all God’s promises made and fulfilled in Christ, the living Word.

For he satisfieth the longing soul,
and filleth the hungry soul with goodness
.”
Psalm 107:9

“I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”
Psalm 130:5

“Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth:
but God is the strength of my heart, 
and my portion for ever.”
Psalm 73:25:26

sarasota-tropical-garden-design“And the Lord shall guide thee continually,
and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones:
and thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11

Dear Father, as you bring us this day into your gates with thanksgiving and your courts with praise, open our hearts to your word, that our souls may be fed, nourished, and receiving the bread of life in Christ, your Son, and your Spirit, knowing the abundance of His life within us. Let us this week, in the obedience of faith, be about our Father’s business of life, doing all your will ~ to your glory and our joy.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.  Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

Just When We Thought

We were beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel……

It was mid-2006. Mother had continued to decline in the four years she lived with us. Her physical condition was adding its toll to her dementia. We had done all we could since my dad died of cancer several years before.  While caring for her, we kept two of our granddaughters two days a week ~ a joy and a respite for us and Mother.

But, something had to give.

Her month in a nursing home before she died did not make life any easier. Even so, we hoped this would end our adventures with adversity. No so. Five weeks through the settling of her small estate, Jerry had emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg.

A month later, his leg had to be amputated. After three years of not healing, he had a third surgery to remove the graft inserted for the by-pass.  The stump finally healed seven months later and for a short while he used a prosthesis with a walker. But it is still painful.

For the last two years, he has not driven a car, walked, or worn a shoe because of issues with wounds that would not heal. His heart disease and diabetes are not our best friends.

Why am I rehashing these affairs? One reason is to witness of the fulness of God’s grace during trials in this life and to compare the lives of God’s children to the children of Israel as He delivers us from our bondage to self and sin and brings us through this wilderness to His promised land for us.

A Worse Scenario
God’s people had been in bondage four hundred years when the Lord sent Moses and Aaron to Egypt. Their case before Pharoah to deliver Israel only made their condition worse. Not only were they still required to make bricks, but they had to find their own straw. They could not understand how the Lord was working for their freedom.

“Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. And they said to them, “Let the Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Exodus 5:20-21

Like the people of Israel, we cannot see how the Lord is working on our behalf until we get past a breaking point. Adversity is His means of proving His presence and power in the lives of His children, enabling us to live in the assurance He gives and to praise Him every day.

“My brethren, count it all joy
when ye fall into divers temptations; 
Knowing this,
that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
James 1:2-4

More and more, we are learning what Paul meant when he said, “I have learned to be content.” Jesus becomes more precious with each trial, endears us to Him and excites our hope for eternal life with Him.

It is in the “something has to give” times that He fills us with His grace and shows His mercy ~ growing us in the process to understand the truth and reality of His promises. Christ in you ~ the hope of glory is experienced in every turn of this life, bringing us closer and closer to Him, His glory and His joy.

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

Dear Father, as we are still learning what it means to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray your Holy Spirit to prove us to be yours. Fill us with your grace and make us know your goodness and mercy that follows us all the days of our lives; that we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran
Suggested Reading: TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver

Image: Pixabay

Peace and Contentment

Who today, can write of peace and contentment, first-hand?
This post was meant for the series Contentment and was the most difficult of all, so it did not make it in that series. However, we thought it would fit well as a chapter in Beyond a Mere Christianity. In seeking to share what I know, and what I have discovered from God’s Word, this may have been the one I needed the most. It is one thing to write what I have learned, second-hand, but quite different to share it from experience. I wanted to do more with this post. I do not do the subject of peace justice. Except I write a book, I cannot cover it all. So I pray the Lord’s blessings for what we offer here.

I know the peace that is “the fruit of the Spirit” of God (Galatians 5:22). I can share no other peace than what God has given me through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). It has been tried and I have many times been lacking; not because I do not have peace, but because it is not a natural trait. It will always be tested while we live in the midst of chaos.

Here, we will pose some questions and attempt to answer from the Word of the Lord.

How do peace and contentment relate to each other? There is no Biblical reference that combines these two. Since we have written many other posts on contentment, we will document what we know of peace, seeing that the two are similar, understanding that one compliments the other. If we have the peace of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, we will be content in His peace.

The Source of Peace
The question is not, “what” but “where and who is the source of peace?” Peace comes from the Lord, our God, who originally created all things for peace in His kingdom.

He is still the source and the giver of His peace.

“The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:26

“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

We are “led forth with peace.” Isaiah 55:12

He has “made a covenant of peace, an everlasting covenant with His people.” Ezekiel 37:26

“He keeps in perfect peace those whose mind is stayed on Him and trusts in Him.” Isaiah 26:3

“Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. Isaiah 26:12

He promises His people a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places; Isaiah 32:18

Peace is associated with His light. Isaiah 45:7

He creates “the fruit of the lips; ‘Peace.’” Isaiah 57:19

He extends peace to His people “like a river,” Isaiah 66:12

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

He reveals his “abundance of peace and truth.” Jeremiah 33:6

HE IS THE GOD OF PEACE   

 “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:33

 In letters to the early churches, the apostle Paul included greetings from the God of peace Romans 15:33, Romans 16:20, 2 Thessalonians 3:16

He is “the God of hope that fills believers with joy and peace.” Romans 15:13

As the God of peace, He established the everlasting covenant through Christ. Hebrews 13:20 and sanctifies and preserves His people until Christ returns. 1 Thessalonians 5:23

PEACE OF GOD
The peace of God “rules in our hearts,” Colossians 3:15

 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 PEACE FROM GOD
Paul spoke of “grace and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ to the saints and brethren“ in Romans 1:7, Colossians 1:2, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3.

John spoke of “grace, mercy, and peace, in truth and love.” 2 John 1:3

PEACE WITH GOD
There is only one reference to peace with God, which comes by faith, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE
There are many references that associate peace with righteousness.

The most familiar may be Romans 14:17

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

The Psalmist speaks of peace that comes by righteousness. Psalm 72:3

“Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10

“the righteous flourish; with abundance of peace.” Psalm 72:7

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32:17

 And “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18

Hebrews 12:11 says that “chastening yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Paul instructs Timothy to “follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

WISDOM AND PEACE
Peace is the result of wisdom.

“For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” Proverbs 3:2

“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:17

The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, James 3:17

GOSPEL OF PEACE
Paul speaks of “our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15 and “the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace! Romans 10:15

GOD’S LAW AND PEACE
Those who love God’s law have “great peace: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119:165

Great peace comes from the Lord as we are taught by Him. Isaiah 54:13

Gracious Father of grace and peace, we thank you for giving us your Son that we may be brought to you in His peace; that we may live in peace with you and Him through the power of your Holy Spirit. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may live in this peace, content with whatever you have chosen for us as you prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Artice: The Peace of Christ at Christmas
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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

Image: Google

The Stress-Taker

There are many stress-makers in the world, but only one Stress-Taker.

As with most people, stress was an integral part of my life as a child and into my young married life. But, at a very young age, I was given the knowledge of how to handle the stress that comes from this world. At the time, I did not realize what God had given me, so, could not use this knowledge. He gives the gift and treasure from His heart to ours. It starts in the mind and takes root in the heart as He nurtures the seed of His Word in us. Even before He gave me a new heart and a new spirit for a new spiritual birth, the seed of life was doing its work. Humbling and preparing a fertile heart for His Word to take root was His continual work.

Words from Many Sources
Words from any source can fill a void and produce the fruit thereof. Much more so, the Word of God is the most powerful to do its transforming work in the mind and heart of man. Never underestimate the work of God’s Spirit to bring forth the fruit of His Word when we spend time with Him in His Word; when we teach our children the rudiments of true life that are recorded there.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

The child may be a senior citizen before the Lord brings the fruit of the seed He plants in his heart.

Continuing in His Word
Over the years, the Lord has written more of His Word in my mind and my heart, but the ones I remember from so long ago are preeminent in my thinking and in my life.

Psalm 23 and Psalm 100 were two that I have treasured since childhood ~ more precious and more powerful now than ever.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 100 is one of our album of Scripture Tunes, and helpful to teach young children to remember this Psalm. We are working with a musician to record accompaniments for these.

In the meantime, here is Psalm 100, vocal without accompaniment.

Are you a stress-maker or do you point others to the Stress-Taker, our Lord Jesus Christ?

Dear Heavenly Father, how blessed we are as your children, for you to train us in your Word to know you, love you, trust you and obey you. Thank you for loving us, for adopting us as your own; planting your seed, watering and bringing forth the fruit of your own work in us. Teach us to lay all the world’s ills and our concerns at the feet of Jesus our Lord and in so doing, witness to others of His love and care for us, always ready to share your Word of life with them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

One Month to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words

For the past three weeks I have been processing for publication the first book I wrote twenty-two years ago. Two years before, in 1994, I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my father. It was this time of year, last of August and first of September, that we learned he had esophageal cancer.

“He can go at any time, and I would not count on more than a month.”

I documented in a desk-top publication for family and close friends what was evidenced as the Lord’s presence during his last three weeks. There were no computers for consumers then, so I typed what was still fresh in my mind and heart; cut and pasted every page and took the little book to a printer. It was simply titled, Daddy.

During this formatting, which our granddaughter Kourtney retyped for me a few years ago, it seems I have relived this event that was a turning point in my life; at least one of the great ones. My dad “rested in the Lord” on Labor Day, after eighty-five years of struggle for peace.

Even so, those years were fruitful as he worked hard and long hours to find his place in the world. But if he could return and recount those years, he would say that he only began to live as he was dying. I witnessed it. I was there to see how God took a helpless dying man and gave him life and peace beyond understanding. It was at his bedside that I learned how to trust the only One who gives life; to live now as if living forever in the presence and power of my heavenly Father. It was there I began to learn to live my life for others. It was then that He started writing His love story on my heart and of which I continue to write. Fran

One MONTH to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words is available on Amazon.

Seeing IS Believing

God gave us eyes to see the beauty of His creation. It is easy for us to see physically and to be distracted by the things of this world; to settle for the status quo.  But to see Beyond a Mere Christianity requires three things: light, revelation, and new eyes. And these three come from God through His Son, Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit.

At the foundation of the world God said, “Let there be light.” Before there was sun or moon, there was light, simply by His Word. Jesus was identified as the Light and the Word from heaven. He opened heaven for us to reveal the Father/Creator and heaven itself in Him.

All this ~ beyond this world ~ is revealed in God’s Word, the Holy Bible.

There was darkness before God said, “Let there be light.” We cannot see in the dark. So, it is with human hearts.
When speaking to Nicodemus, who came to him at night, Jesus knew His real need, and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” John 3:3

This was a reflection of Ezekiel 36:26 regarding the promise that the Lord would give His people a new heart and a new spirit; taking away the heart of stone and rebellion against Him. With the new heart and spirit come eyes of faith to see what others cannot see; to understand the things of God.

Jesus said to His disciples:

 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” Matthew 13:17

To the religious leaders and others who heard him:

 “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.” John 6:36

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56

 “And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” John 9:39

 “And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.” John 12:45

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

The eyes of faith enable us to endure through the most difficult trials. Stephen spoke of heaven opened to him in his persecution.

“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56

“As one looks and discovers that almost everything down here is in confusion, chaos, and ruins, it seems as though Satan were getting the better of the conflict. But as one looks above, instead of around, there is plainly visible to the eye of faith a Throne, a Throne unaffected by the storms of earth, a Throne that is “set,” stable and secure; and upon it is seated One whose name is the Almighty, and who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). This then is our confidence-God is on the Throne.Though God’s governing hand is invisible to the eye of sense it is real to faith, that faith which rests with sure confidence upon His Word, and therefore is assured He cannot fail.” The Sovereignty of God ~ A. W. Pink

We find in Hebrews 11 a list of those who saw Jesus and heaven with eyes of faith; who endured to the end. And as spoken of Moses:

“By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:27

And these are the promises that the world cannot see.

 “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” John 14:17

“But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.” Romans 15:21

Paul prayed for “the eyes of understanding to be enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Acts 26:18

How we see determines our joy in this life.
To see Christ is to live joyfully in anticipation of eternity with Him, “even in this vale of sin, for he illumines and gives the beauty of grace, forgiveness, and hope. When the curtain of this life drops, it will rise to the sight of his loving gaze, his exalted splendor, his unending, satisfying presence.” The Lord of Glory ~ Chris Strevel

“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

“and we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Gracious Father in heaven, thank you for sending the Great Physician to be your light in our darkness; for birthing us into your kingdom with a new heart, spirit, eyes, and life in Him. Fill us with your Spirit of truth ~ the Spirit of Christ ~ that we may see you and live in light of your glory. This is our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen

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