“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.

 
 
 

 

 

Where Jesus Is

We are excited to publish our granddaughter’s first art book Where Jesus Is.

Today through Friday, you can download and share the kindle version free.
Next week it will be listed for $5.99.
It will be available soon in paperback and hardbound.
We hope to do versions for men and children and audio.

Used as a means for memorization and meditation, we trust the Holy Spirit to use God’s Word in and through us to conform us to His image.

Daily doses serve to prepare us for the rule of Christ within us.

One volume is not enough to express all Christ is and does in us ~ this is only a beginning. Volumes II and III will be available later, Lord willing.

Please pray that we, as God’s children and followers of Christ, will use this little book personally, and with our families, to arm ourselves against temptation and the powers and principalities of this world. He lives forever ruling in heaven ~ and by His Holy Spirit and Word within us, we are His kings and priests in this world. 

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Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

(Repost from 2011)

Two months ago I called my nephew for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop his hemorrhaging, the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”

Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst. The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we went, again prepared for a funeral. My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was cut off from his legs and feet, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days, he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was “ridiculous.”  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheelchair — the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath, and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own, he had to be moved with a lift.

I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day, he still did not know that I was there.

Days later, my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.

We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a lift; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab, and watching his toes gradually shrinking.

Thursday when I visited him, I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.

This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”The Fall
From the time of Adam’s disobedience, God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all were destined to be invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sin” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense.

If my brother could “will” it, he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God, his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”

We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time, and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.

(The above article was posted ten years ago. My brother lived for five months after his gallbladder surgery, transported from rehab to a nursing home and from there back to the hospital where he died. His heart could not endure the necessary amputation of his toes.

We all learned much of God’s grace during those months. He led us by His grace to encourage my brother through his pain and tribulation. Losing my father with cancer, my mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, and enduring the years after Jerry’s amputation has given me the experience of the Lord’s valid grace. I have learned, especially in the last eight months, how very helpless we are.

We cannot help ourselves, but His grace is sufficient for all our needs, beginning with grace for the great salvation that keeps us close to Him for all times and eternity.)

Gracious Father, thank you for your amazing grace through Christ that saves us, dead in our sins and trespasses, keeping and bringing us through this world of trial and temptations with the hope of eternity with you. In Jesus’ name, I praise you. Amen.
Fran

From our Pastor’s Heart

We always receive encouragement to start our week after the Lord’s Day worship. The following is the blessing of this week’s email.
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How lovely is God’s dwelling place, those upon whom he has placed his name, made his temple by sovereign, quickening grace, and beautified with salvation, his precious church! I count worshipping with you the highlight of life and pray that you were encouraged by being with the Lord and his people. Much of what we obtain from the Lord in worship is determined by what we seek in the days leading up to worship — the world or Christ? To see his beauty and splendor must be our aim. Then and only then can we be wise and courageous in fighting against the devil, suffer patiently, and have the heart to seek strength from our Savior constantly in prayer, for we have no strength or wisdom but what he gives to us. May our blessed Savior be more and more our life and joy, our peace, our wonder, and the Advocate upon whom we constantly attend in worship and fellowship, joyful service, and in the hour of need.

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Let us in His Word and prayer prepare this week for worship next Lord’s Day.
Fran

Why I Need the Church

Praying this morning on the eve of another Lord’s Day, praising God, my Father, desiring His name to be hallowed, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, and His will to be done here on earth, it was with worship in mind.

Tomorrow He will meet with us who are gathered in the name of our Lord on the day of our Lord, January 10, 2021. This Eve has become a day of preparation for me, remembering that every day is the day of our Lord for over two thousand years. But, specifically, the first day of the week belongs to Him. According to His atoning work, we, who are His by grace, plan for this day to honor Him. He is the beginning of eternal life for us through His death and resurrection.

So, what difference does it make if I honor Him on His day? And what happens in this celebration of His atoning work of grace? New thoughts came to mind as I prayed for Chris, our pastor. He has specifically asked for prayer that He may preach more faithfully, more pointedly, and more Christ-centeredly. Daily praying for the Holy Spirit to work in Him in His preparation to preach the word in power, we pray more fervently the day before for the sword of God’s Word that will pierce our hearts. We pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare our hearts to receive the truth of His Word and that it will find its resting place to root and grow and produce its fruit in and through us as His children.

 This means more than just saying “Amen” to what we hear. A prepared heart comes to listen to what our Father has given His servant for us. If we “have an ear to hear,” we will take in what He intends to reveal of Himself. The truth in the power of His Word will change our minds and hearts and conform them to His.

So, why do I need to be in church? The church is the place for gathering God’s people to honor His Son and receive the eternal life He came to give. It is the place of His worship and His Word. I need to know and hear from heaven the Father/Creator and Redeemer of my soul. The church was His plan, not man’s. We need under-shepherds who know Christ and the life He came to give His people, who are filled with the Holy Spirit, and who feed His sheep with the manna from heaven.

I need the cutting edge of the sword of His Word, not to desire what makes me feel good about myself, nor to be entertained, but to have all sense of pride and deception stripped from my being. I need to be cleansed of thoughts of, and plans for, myself.

Individual reading and study are good, but these are not all we need. We need the “body of Christ” listening collectively to how He plans to shape us into His image.

Christ died and rose again to give us His life, that we may live through Him (1 Jn. 4:9). The more we know of Him as revealed through the preaching of His Word, the more we become like Him, understanding the reality of His dwelling in us and our dwelling in Him (1 Jn. 4:13; Jn. 14:17, 23), Filled with Grace ~ Wrapped in Glory.)

The supernatural, spiritual work in His incarnation, His resurrection, and His ascension is the same divine power working in us through the sword of His Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit working His Word in our hearts and lives.

His sanctifies us individually and collectively.

We must submit ourselves to the weekly preaching of God’s Word to know His transforming power in the days ahead, lest we lose ourselves in the overwhelming chaos and uncertainty of the world. His Word defines who we are in Christ. We must plan, prepare, and anticipate a newness of life in Christ we have hardly known.

Dear Father, we ask for the unction of your Holy Spirit for the preaching of your Word tomorrow. Prepare our hearts to receive what you have given your ministers. Enable us to receive the truth of your Word for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. Let us willingly accept what your Word reveals of the intentions of our hearts, deliver us from our sins, and conform us to the image of Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

One Life Given for Many

It has been four months since the initial post, An Excavation of John 17 ~ Unearthing the Truths of the Atonement.

Memorization and meditation on the first three verses of John 17 revealed more than we expected to find. In each of the first three verses, we had to stop and wonder what we had uncovered. 

We have been telling others what we found and bid all come to see this truth of “eternal life” and how this has come to be.

From the first verse of John 17, we see a three-way relationship. Jesus is the central figure and the mediator in this relationship between the Father and us. 

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son that your Son also may glorify you.’” 

Jesus has finished his three-year ministry of teaching His disciples who He is and why He was here. He turns from the world to look toward heaven, to His Father, His former home, His glory which He had with His Father and to which He will soon return. He acknowledges the preset time, “the hour,” that He will die and give His life (eternal life) as a ransom for those who belong to Him.

as you have given him authority over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him.”

A fundamental truth discovered in verse 2 is to be considered most important in two ways. 

The Father/Creator has given His Son “authority over all flesh.” His life was prepared before the foundation of the world, to be sacrificed and given as “eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him.” Jesus’ authority over all flesh is a distinct rule over all people. This authority relates to the Father’s desires for those who are to receive the eternal life Jesus is soon to give. We find an explanation of “eternal life” in verse 3 but there is more to be understood.

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

We find many references for the words “eternal life” and the word “know.” Eternal life in Jesus Christ is given only through an intimate relationship with the Father and the Son at the Father’s initiation. The Father gives a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) to those He has given to His Son. Eternal life is a different life, making us new creatures in Him and He in us ~ a life that has no end ~ portrayed here by the life of Christ in and through His people. It is the “new birth” ~ the life of the Spirit preparing us for eternity with Him.

Other references speak of those whom the Father will give to Him. (Matthew 1:21John 6:44-45John 6:65; 2 Timothy 1:9)

As we have discovered new facets of His glory, we understand that eternal life is through the revelation and the power of His Word. The disciples received the words Jesus had spoken to them. As we continue digging for the truths of eternal life, we will learn more of the nature and details of this treasure of the powerful life brought to earth in Christ.  

Simon Peter later, when asked if they would leave Him as the others had, replied, “To whom shall we go. You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68

Jesus said in John 6:63, “My words are spirit, and they are life.”It is good that we have come to this remarkable discovery ~ more than we could ask or imagine. We shall report as often as we can of new findings.

Father in heaven, you continue to bring us to our knees in awe and reverence of you and Christ whom you sent. We praise you for giving us to your Son to reveal your grace and glory and the power of your written word and your living Word, Jesus, in whose name, we pray. Amen.

A New Year’s Prayer

The First Petition

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

“Let us give unto you the glory due unto your name.”
“Let us worship you in the beauty of holiness; fear before you with all the earth.”
“I will extol thee, my God, O King, and I will bless thy name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless thee and I will praise thy name forever, and ever”
“From the rising of the sun to its setting, your name is to be praised.”
“With my tongue, I will speak of your righteousness and praise all the day long.”
“Through Christ, I will offer up the sacrifice of praise to you continually, that is the fruit of my lips giving thanks unto your name.”
“For thine is the greatness, and the power, and the glory; for all that is in heaven and earth is thine. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee and praise thy glorious name.”

The Second and Third Petitions

Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
~ through your “everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure.”

“This is all my salvation and all my desire as you are “ruling over all things.”
You have given us “divine power to destroy strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of you, bringing every thought captive to Christ.”

Let our thoughts be “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue and worthy of praise” as your Holy Spirit brings through us the fruit and life of Christ ~ love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility, compassion ~ your fullness ~ the fullness of your Spirit and of Christ ~ who in us is “the hope of glory” ~ our reason for rejoicing in you always, and with grateful hearts, “letting our moderation be made known to all men.”

You are at hand because we “dwell in you and you in us by your Spirit which you have given us.”
You never leave us nor forsake us, so let us “not be anxious for anything, but in everything, make our requests known to you, and your peace that passes all understanding keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Let us focus on you, our minds and hearts centered in Christ as you do your will in us, fulfilling your everlasting covenant in each of us.

Let me delight myself in you, desire what you desire, and worship you in spirit and truth.

I want to know you, fear you, hear your voice, see that just One, “love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and my neighbor as myself.” I want to obey you, worship and serve you, praise you and pray to you, and proclaim the name of Christ in power.

I want to live for you, so I “present my body” with all its faculties and senses ~ spirit, soul, and body ~ to you “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable in Christ, which is my only reasonable worship in response to your great mercy, to be transformed by the renewing of my mind as you are conforming me to the image of your dear Son.”

The Fourth Petition 

Give us this day our daily bread ~ but first, I “seek your kingdom and your righteousness” ~ “for we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from your mouth.”

I ask this for your people everywhere. Pour out your Spirit upon us. Water the seed you planted in our hearts and bring forth the fruit of your word. (Name those for whom you intercede.) Plant more seed and nurture all that belongs to you ~ to your glory and our joy.

The Fifth Petition

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

“Search us and know our hearts. Try us and know our thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in us” ~ any bitterness or lack of forgiveness for others. (Confess and repent of any sin our Father and His Spirit reveals.)

The Sixth and Seventh Petitions

Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.

Make us salt, light, a sweet fragrance of Christ, and a fruitful vineyard for your name and glory.

I praise you for your wisdom, for “sanctifying us wholly and preserving us spirit, soul, and body, until the coming of Christ. You are faithful, and you will do it.”

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places.” Eph. 1:3

“And let the beauty of the Lord be upon and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of hands, establish thou it.” Ps. 90:17

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray and thank you. Amen.
Fran

Clear the Clutter for a New Year

What is your vision for 2021?

Will the next year be any different than this year of chaos and upheaval?

Can you see clearly what lies ahead?

We must look more than ever with eyes of faith toward the unknown.

We must prepare to face a new year with a renewed and a clearly defined purpose.

We must remove the clutter of our being, clear our vision of the waste we have around us, leaving room for the newness God has prepared for us as His people.

Our rooms are cluttered with things we don’t need; our minds are filled with thoughts that drag us down or keep us in a tailspin; our lives are wasting away with the sights and sounds of the world.

2020 has either opened our eyes to see the condition of our world and our part in it, or it has served to bury us in its avalanche of fear and degradation. We must each survey our own personal environment, pray for wisdom to know where we are in the scheme of things, and respond obediently and passionately to God’s leading.

In response to my own needs,  I have begun~~~~~

I have cleared my desktop, physically and digitally, filing so that if what I am saving is significant, I can come back to it ~ if not, it is out of sight and mind until the time I can go through all my files.

Paper to be recycled is deposited in a bin in the garage ready for weekly pick-up.

Paying bills online has become the norm.

Removing clothes I don’t wear frees space in the closet, plus someone at Goodwill is blessed by my discards.

There are many other ways and areas to de-clutter physically ~ these our hands have to deal with ~ but the most important is to declutter the mind and heart. Our eyes and ears are manipulated by what we see and hear. With the continual onslaught of the world’s condition in our face, we cannot see clearly with the eyes of faith.

We clear our thinking by daily closing our eyes and ears to man’s words and our own thoughts, taking hold of God’s Word, and praying fervently for a steadfast faith in Christ. We must pray for others and ourselves to know our heavenly Father and from Him, the eternal life Jesus came to give. Then we can see clearly the kingdom that rules over all creation and mankind, and live in the hope that is in Him.

And even as the majority of the world lives in oblivion, we have the promise, the presence, and the power of almighty God, our Father, opening heaven so that our focus is on Him and His plans for us as part of His kingdom rule on earth.

This is not a new year’s resolution but the Way of eternal life our heavenly Father has prepared for His children. Are you God’s child? How do you know and what difference does this make? Is your life any different than the life of an unbeliever? What do you want in this new year?

We are not left to ourselves but have the words and power of eternal life through the Word of God, and by His Spirit, we can live victoriously through whatever a new year brings.

Father, we praise you that your grace is sufficient for us to face an uncertain year. We thank you that your kingdom and your Word endures forever through every obstacle and every trial, as light in the darkness of this world. You never leave us or forsake us but supply every need ~ to your glory, and for our joy, In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.