“Before the World Was”

“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself,
with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

John 17:5

This verse from Jesus’ prayer to His Father in John 17 gives only a glimpse of God our Father and His Son together before the creation. We have to study the whole chapter for more details of their union as one. Even so, words, even Jesus’ Words, limit the glory to which He refers.

“Before the world was,” there was only their glory ~ their oneness and their love for each other. They planned to share that glory with those who would be created in their image

It would come through the fulfillment of their covenant of redemption.

“But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10)

Jesus speaks of His and the Father’s glory several times during His prayer to the Father in John 17. By the time we get to the end of His prayer, we are caught up in a limited vision of this glory so as to long for the same oneness they had together ~ the oneness He prays for His people. The degrees and the oneness of their glory are to be shared with us in His timing. (We will speak of this later in our study, An Excavation of John 17..) Rejection of God’s Word by our first parents and disobedience to His will removed any possibility of our seeing His glory on this earth.. The truth by which He is bringing us together and sanctifying us in Him now is preparing us for His glory.  

We do not have the tools, nor could we by a lifetime of digging into the Scriptures, know the relationship God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ had before they created the world. The glory they had together is unsearchable. In God’s Word, we get only an inkling of what their world was like before they made the lower heavens and the earth. This universe is only a means for us to desire to know who they are and what they can do. We have to continue reading and searching the Book He has given us and pray for spiritual enlightenment of the things He wants us to know.

Moses asked to see His glory in Exodus 33:18.

“And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, Exodus 34:6

“But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock.  So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:20-23

His glory is revealed to us through Christ in His mercy, graciousness, longsuffering, abounding goodness and truth

The love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father is the essence of their glory which we cannot see with human eyes but will see and know when He comes again to deliver us from the darkness and suffering of this world.

As we continue our study of Jesus’ prayer, He will unearth more of His glory, joy, and love, that we may begin to understand what it means to be “perfect in one” through Christ’s atonement.

“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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Hebrews 12:2

What was the joy that enabled Him to endure the cross for us. Was it not the anticipation of returning to the oneness of love, joy, and glory with His Father and bringing us to them?

 “But if we hope for what we do not see,
we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Romans 8:25

Gracious Father, knowing that you have planned all things for your glory, I pray for your Holy Spirit to continue to reveal all you want us to know of you, your glory, and your kingdom. We praise you that you chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before you, in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Yourself, according to the good pleasure of your will, to the praise of the glory of Your grace, by which you made us accepted in the Beloved. We praise you for the glimpses of the glory you are revealing through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

The Scriptures MUST be Fulfilled

Our pastor’s blessings for the week.

“The Lord has kept his promises, for “the Scripture must be fulfilled.”

He has strengthened us out of Zion, built his church by the Spirit, made his word fruitful and prepared the soil for more growth, beautified the meek with salvation, visited his vine, kept his covenant, defended his dwelling place, and worked gloriously to make the mountain of Messiah’s kingdom the highest in the earth.

As we saw in Luke yesterday, we often cannot see what is right before us — what God has spoken is absolute, trustworthy, and more reliable than anything we see with our eyes.”

Below are links to his Sunday sermon.

Download Audio – link below.

https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=418211347243057

The Power of God in His People

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
 may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation
 in the knowledge of him,
having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,
 that you may know what is the hope 
to which he has called you,
what are the riches 
of his glorious inheritance in the saints,” 
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power
toward us who believe,
according to the working of his great might.
which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead 
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, ”
 Ephesians 1:17-18

As with most of Paul’s phrasing in his letters, his prayers are long, also. He desires for the church the same revelation of Christ that has been given to him, and so he speaks of his prayers for them in the first and third chapters of Ephesians.

            He always gives thanks for the believers in the early churches and prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory would give them: 

“The spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him;”
Ephesians 1:17

Under this one heading, he explains how the Spirit by which the believers have been sealed (1:13) works wisdom and revelation in them. First, he prays that the eyes of understanding be enlightened so that they may know three things about God, the Father. 
            He builds on each one to bring the believer to see Christ in his glory and the church as the fullness of him here on earth. (1:23)

“The eyes of your hearts enlightened that ye may know (these things)”

1.  the hope to which He has called you.
2.  the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
3.  the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe

1. The hope to which He has called you.       
Paul has written earlier in this chapter of the dispensation of the fullness of time (1:10) when God shall gather together in one all things in Christ, “having chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (1:4). As new Christians, they were still learning what it meant to be adopted into God’s family (1:5). They did not yet know the wonder and glory of this supernatural birth through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. They needed to know and grow in their new birth.

2. The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.   
This adoption (1:5) that Paul speaks of, brings with it an eternal inheritance. As a recipient, he knows the riches of the glory that God the Father gives to His children. He has experienced this inheritance already. He has spoken of this inheritance in verses eleven and fourteen and is praying that they experience more and more the riches of this spiritual inheritance that they received when they heard the word of truth, and trusted in Christ. They needed to understand this inheritance that begins here in their own life.

3.  The immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe.
Now comes the crescendo of Paul’s prayer as he is explaining how revelation, faith and believing, the calling, and the inheritance, are by the greatness of God’s mighty power. This power he explains, ~ “that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.” Verse 20.

  
It is a lengthy explanation that spreads over two chapters.  Paul’s prayer begins in verse fifteen to the end of the chapter, without a period.  
            The same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him at His right hand is the mighty power that quickens the sinner who is dead in trespasses and sin (2:1, 5). This is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward those who believe, our eyes enlightened by this power for salvation. 

Paul could have inserted a parenthesis in verses twenty to twenty-three in which the roles and purpose of Christ and the church are revealed, but it all fits together. It is a matter of wisdom and revelation, and requires study and meditation, for believers to understand how we are related to Christ and the church; and how we get there. 
            Christ having been raised and seated at the Father’s right hand, is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Verses 21-23         
            The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, is the only one who can reveal Himself to us. He does this when he opens our eyes to see his Son, head over all things, and given to the church. His body of believers that He brings to life by the power of His Holy Spirit continues to experience His filling, the inheritance in the saints.

Dear Father, thank you for this prayer that you inspired Paul to write, not just to the early churches, but also for us. We pray this prayer for your people everywhere, that we will experience this filling, and together, this fullness of Christ. Pour out your Spirit upon us for new revelation, for we shall never have all the wisdom and knowledge here on this earth. Prepare us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

(Excerpt from PRAYERS That Bring the House Down)

Mind Control

Humankind seems to be the only creature with the ability to think for himself – but are we in control of our thinking? 

The serpent in the Garden of Eden did not tempt the other animals. Then again, he was not a serpent, per se, but possessed by the spirit of the enemy of God – a fallen angel who wanted to be God.

The animals had an inherited mindset from God. Made in God’s image, the man was to receive by His Spirit at all times direction from God for all we needed and respond in a loving relationship to Him.

The enemy wanted to be in control and have this attention and glory for himself. 
His disguise and deception obtained the control he wanted over our first parents. 

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Gen. 3:6

When they took the bait, the spirit of oppression and deception became the spirit of every human being who would be born on earth. They saw their nakedness, their vulnerability to their world, and the need for covering.

Their minds had been ravished and overcome by a foreign spirit.

Unless we know the antidote and receive the Spirit of God through His Son, Jesus Christ, we have no control over our thoughts, words, or actions.

What we feed our thoughts controls us. And we encourage the spirit of oppression by what we see and hear.

2020 and now 2021 is proof that whatever we hear and read governs our lives. The enemy works through every source of sight and sound and continues to destroy people’s lives.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. 1 John 5:19

Without understanding how we think, we are unable to realize our condition. The world lives in fear and oblivion to how the enemy has a stronghold on our minds and lives.

This spirit lies dormant even in the best of God’s people and can easily be aroused and raise its ugly head whenever it is threatened. We must recognize the difference and use God’s Word to counteract our thoughts against others.

We will remain immobilized until we take God’s Word in hand, open it, read it, pray for His Holy Spirit to inoculate us with its truths, meditate on it, memorize and make it our food and drink.

We must take it to bed with us, wake up with it, love it, and make it the focus of our lives and teach our children how to think and use God’s Word as a defence against the world’s thinking.

Brainwashing is nothing new. We are brainwashed from the moment we take our first breath on this earth. Our minds are programmed to cry out for everything we want and taught how to acquire it, even if by deception or force.

If we do not submit our minds to God’s control, we remain under the control of the enemy.

Our only hope for a reversal for this nation and the world is through God’s Word and Spirit.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Heb. 4:12

Dear Father in heaven, in a season when your people used to gather to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are seeing a culture dead and buried under the hand of the enemy. Give life and raise your people by your Holy Spirit. Put your Word into the hands, minds, and hearts of your children that we may again proclaim the power of a resurrected Savior and Lord. Enable us to go forward in the battle against the enemy of our souls. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

The Power of God’s Word in Jesus Christ

Blessings for the week from our pastor

According to Jeremiah 23, the heaviest burden of all is man’s word: man’s opinions, fears, manipulations, lies, promise of peace and prosperity to the wicked.

God’s word is a burden, but a burden that lifts us up on the wings of God’s promises, in the nail-pierced hands of Jesus Christ, to the throne of grace and mercy, to a reconciled Judge and loving Father, an advocating Savior, and an indwelling Spirit.

Praise God for his word! Our Savior said to hold fast to his word, to the things that we have been taught; then, we shall be his disciples and know the truth and enjoy the freedom from sin, Satan, and death that he has purchased from us (John 8:31-32).

Pray for the whole church of God that his people will everywhere hold fast to Scripture, obey every word of God, and fear not man, “whose breath is in his nostrils and of no count” (Isa. 2:22).

Here is Sunday morning’s message. You will be blessed to view this one as it brings us to a profound understanding of the necessity and power of God’s Word in Christ for humanity.

 

Crooked Paths of Righteousness

We walk by faith as the Lord leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. We do not know where the next turn will take us. The path is a straight path concerning righteousness, but some physical paths take us through unknown areas. We cannot see what is around the bend and would avoid the next mile if we could see ahead. We may even think we are sometimes on the wrong path.

We dare not turn around but continue on believing that our heavenly Father has promised to always be with us. We often are taken through the same obstacles we have experienced before. It seems I am going backward to a few months ago after Jerry’s death

I experienced the sun through my darkness for many months but the clouds have returned and are seemingly lingering ~ the spirit of oppression trying to close in.

I have prayed not just for myself but for everyone I know so as to take my mind off myself. In questioning why we must return to the desolate places, I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”

“as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.” vs.7

Jesus suffered that we might be partakers of His suffering and His consolation.

These times of need bring the comfort of the promises of His Word and His Spirit.

Many such promises I continue to claim and share here of His divine power in and through us.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Our thoughts take us through Phil.4:6 to 4:8

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Phil. 3:6-8

 “But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:;16

In any spiritual battle, there will be conflict between the Spirit and the flesh (Gal. 5:17)

This is why study, memorization, and meditation on God’s Word are essential to everyday living.

” And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor.12:9-10

His grace is revealed in power through His Word by His Spirit within our minds and hearts.

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

“Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory. Ps. 73:23-24

“The Lord is your keeper. The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The Lord will preserve you from all evil.
He will preserve your soul.
The Lord will preserve your going out and your coming in 
from this time forth and even forevermore. Amen.” Ps. 121

I could go on, but these are some that speak to me and keep me close to my Keeper. If you are in need of His presence, I pray these will comfort your heart.

Gracious Father, thank you for keeping me in your Word by the power of your Holy Spirit. Enable me to comfort and encourage those who may be in the same trials I am going through again. Fill us with the faith that is ours in Christ to encourage and pray for one another. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

The Glorious Work of Christ – Finished

“I have glorified you on the earth;
I have finished the work you have given me to do.”

John 17:4

In our study of John 17, we are continuing to uncover the truths of the atoning work of Christ. God planned His covenant of grace before creation. The Father and the Son made this covenant of redemption together to ensure His people would know their  love and share in their glory.

The stipulations of the covenant were fulfilled when Jesus lived in full obedience to the law. Then, in offering Himself as our sacrifice, He became the mediator of the covenant. God, the Father accepted His offering. “And the Holy Spirit undertook to reveal the great salvation and apply it with power to the hearts of those whom the Father had given to Him” (Jn. 17:2). Our Lord Prays for His Own ~ Marcus Rainsford

An Everlasting Covenant
The covenant of grace was promised in the Old Testament. David records in Psalm 89, not speaking of himself, but of the Messiah, chosen from the people and anointed.

Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one,
And said: “I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20 I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,

Also My arm shall strengthen him.
22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
23 I will beat down his foes before his face,
And plague those who hate him.

“But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted.
25 Also I will set his hand over the sea,
And his right hand over the rivers.
26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
27 Also I will make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
28 My mercy I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall stand firm with him.
29 His seed also I will make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.

 He speaks in 2 Samuel 23:5 of the everlasting covenant God made with him.

“Although my house is not so with God,
Yet He has made with me an everlasting covenant,
Ordered in all things and secure.
For this is all my salvation and all my desire;
Will He not make it increase?

God promised to give His Son as a covenant to His people,.

“I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
Isaiah 42: 5-8

And of this Jesus spoke of  Himself.

As a light to the Gentiles
,To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.
am the Lord, that is My name;
And My glory I will not give to another, Luke 2:32

John, the Baptist’s father spoke of Him in Luke 1:68-75

God’s part being to give His only begotten Son: His Son’s part being to glorify him upon the earth; and the Spirit”s part to reveal and apply this salvation and God  revealing Himself by His Spirit in a new covenant character as the God of peace in Hebrews 13:20-21

“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in [b]you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.” Amen.

It is Finished

“I have finished the work you gave me to do.”

Altogether finished is the great work the Father gave His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

The “transgression” is finished.

The making an “end of sin” is finished.

The “making reconciliation for iniquity” is finished.

The bringing in the righteousness of God” is finished.

The “everlasting righteousness” is finished.

The “sealing up the vision and prophecy: is finished.

The Scripture is fulfilled, the foundation of the Most High is laid, and the topstone shall be Christ – and you and I, sinners, who believe, are the living stones of the building.

Redemption – finished,

The types and shadows – finished.

Forgiveness sealed and finished.

The separation which sin had made between us and God, and between the members of Christ – finished.

Justification – finished.

The distance annihilated, and those “who were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.’ Our Lord Prays for His Own ~ Marcus Rainsford

From start to finish, it was a work only God, the Son – the God/man – could do.

To reject Christ is to reject His finished work and the love of the Father and the Son for our propitiation.  

‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4:10)

He is glorified when we live in obedience to Him and do the His kingdom work here on earth – and our purpose is fulfilled – To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The Shorter Catechism.

Gracious Father, who has proven your love to us, we praise you for your covenant of grace, fulfilled in Christ, your Son.
Lord Jesus, we thank you for glorifying our Father – your Father and ours – in your finished work for our redemption.
Holy Spirit, we thank you for revealing this great work and fulfilling this promise of redemption in us that we may look forward to sharing in your glory forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fram

Image: Google

“Absorbed in Prayer and Praise”

Everyone is absorbed in something. It may only be “self.”

It is no secret that our minds and hearts soak in what we see, read, hear, and think. Without a desire for what is good and the means to attain it, we are continually saturated with the things of the world. These are our gods ~ second to self ~ and rule our lives. This lifestyle is one of oppression that suppresses all that is good and true and leads to depression and destruction.

But, life does not have to be this way.

God, our Creator, planned a beautiful life for fellowship with Him. Though our first parents rejected Him choosing a life of sin and rebellion, we have a new life provided for us in His Son, Jesus Christ.

He gives us His Spirit and His Word whereby we can know Him and receive all He planned for us. He promises to share his bountiful kingdom with us (Luke 12:32).

Through our study of His Word, we are led by His Holy Spirit to communicate with him in prayer and supplication. He continues to pour out His blessings upon us as we acknowledge Him as our Father and Redeemer.

We Do Not Know How to Pray
Romans 8:26-27  teaches us that though we do not know how to pray, His Holy Spirit intercedes through us. Prayer is a matter of commitment and discipline of time with our heavenly Father, seeking His Spirit, His presence, and His will. He calls us to fellowship with Him in His Word so as to know what we should ask.

We ask, believing what He has promised, thanking Him as we wait for Him to fulfill His promise. When we come to Him, in humility and gratitude for who He is, speaking His Word, and interceding for others, we know He hears us. In the process, our faithful and fervent prayers turn to praise.

“But you are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”

Psalm 22:3

 We cannot but praise Him when we live in fellowship with Him. The more we pray in the Spirit and with understanding of His Word, the more we will praise Him.

Our praise is a witness of Him to others. We can share the joy we have in Him even and especially, through adversity.

The phrase, “absorbed in prayer and praise” is found within the lyrics of the hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns by Matthew Bridges 1851.

Crown him the Lord of peace!
Whose power a scepter sways,
From pole to pole,–that wars may cease,
Absorbed in prayer and praise:
His reign shall know no end,
And round his pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

At times, His presence may be overwhelming ~ it may seem as if heaven is opened to reveal a glimpse of His glory. This is a taste of heaven ~ a precious and joyful communion with Him.

More time in prayer and praise leads to a habitual lifestyle of obedience, continual trust, and dependence on Him. It may take years before we experience the depth and height of this life in Christ, but it is worth the practice and the wait.

Gracious Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Make us know your presence and power as we daily seek your kingdom and your righteousness. Let us not miss anything you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

Facing Christ in our Sin

Praise God for his love and mercy, for sending his Son into the world to save sinners, for the perfect, unassailable, all-sufficient righteousness we have through Jesus Christ’s obedience imputed to us;
praise our Savior for giving the good confession when we have denied God’s claims upon our lives;
praise him for his steadfastness in the hour of severest testing and shame;

praise God
that he is the Judge of all the earth and will do right; watches over us with unceasing vigilance, and is working all things for our good and his glory;
praise our Savior that all authority is given to him in heaven and earth, that he rules over all things for his church, and that his name is the WORD OF GOD who is marching and making war;
praise and bless the Lord that the great and mighty King is our merciful and sympathetic High Priest, interceding for us at the Father’s right hand. Pastor Strevel.