Covenant Living and Giving

Life Beyond a Mere Christianity is possible in covenant with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

God relates to His creatures only through covenant.

“All true theology is based on some form of a divine covenant. The Christian religion must be understood covenantally, for that is how God has chosen to relate to man, whether in the garden or after the entrance of sin into the world. The goal of all divine–human covenants is summed up in the words found throughout the Bible: “I will be your God and you will be my people, and I will dwell among you” (Ex. 6:729:45Ezek. 11:202 Cor. 6:16Rev. 21:3).”  What is a Covenant?

A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties. There is an initiator, one who is responsible to reveal the covenant to another person. We can do all we can, thinking we live in relationship to God, with little success, until we understand how God initiates His covenant with His people. With the initiation, He provides the conditions and the means to live in covenant with Him. Just as He chose to create us without our help, He has chosen us as His people; presents His covenant to us with promise to fulfill every detail and draws us to Christ by His Holy Spirit. We enter into covenant with Him by faith, believing that He has the power to complete all that is specified in the covenant.

His is a covenant of grace, requiring no work of our own; a covenant of redemption through Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the conditions; a covenant of love between Him and His people. This article cannot do justice to the subject of the covenants that were made to Adam (a covenant of works), everlasting covenants to Noah (Genesis 9:16), Abraham (Genesis 17:7) Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and David (2 Samuel 23:5), and fulfilled by the life and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20-21). His Holy Spirit continues to complete the Father’s covenant in and through us for the promised inheritance that is ours through His Son, our Lord and Savior.

Covenant living and giving is possible when we know the person who has the power to fulfill all the conditions for both sides. There is much to be said about life in covenant with our heavenly Father through His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit. I cannot in my own words express how the father of our faith, Abraham, lived in covenant with our heavenly Father, but if you have ever wondered how and why God could ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son, please take the time for the following message. I pray that, as I was, you may be moved to live and give as our Father and our Lord did for us. Don’t miss a blessing ~ please check the link below.

Abraham’s Fiery Trial

Dear Father, I pray that you would speak to other hearts through this sermoneven as you did to mine. Teach us what it means to live in covenant with you, to give all to you, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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A Holy, High and Heavenly Calling

If we are to live Beyond a Mere Christianity, we must understand that Christianity is not man’s idea, it is a calling from God. From the highest heaven, God created all things for His own purpose; in HIs plans He brings us into a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. He rules and reigns through His Son, and by His Holy Spirit calls us to follow Him; to know Him and to live for Him.

A Holy Calling

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Timothy 1:9

It is a holy calling, from a Holy God, who calls us to a separation from the world to live holy before Him (1 Peter 1:15) and to serve Him in His kingdom. We cannot work for this relationship, but He, by His own purpose reveals His grace to us in Christ. This was determined before the world began, made possible through His Son, and administered by His Holy Spirit.

A High Calling

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

The apostle Paul knew the calling of a Christian to be the high calling of God in Christ, where Christ sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father, ruling and reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. This high calling is beyond our earthly thinking, and comes from above.

A Heavenly Calling

“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 3:1

The writer of Hebrews 2 spoke of Jesus being made like us, partakers of flesh and blood, made a High Priest for us, being tempted Himself, so that He can succor those who are tempted(Hebrews 2:17-18).

The Purpose
What is the purpose of His calling, and what are the expected results? We find this explained vividly in Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica. To get the full impact of this calling and the end result, we need to read Thessalonians 1. Here Paul writes, describing their patience and grace through the endurance of persecution and tribulation.

This calling includes the testing of our faith by those who do not obey the gospel.

“that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer (2 Thessalonians 1:5).

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:” 2 Thessalonians 1:11

This holy, high and heavenly calling begins and ends with our Lord God in heaven; with His intentions to create and redeem a people with all the good pleasure of His goodness

“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:12

Paul speaks of the reasons we are called:
Called to be saints (1 Corinthians 1:2) into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9); into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12):

Simon Peter makes reference in the following:

Called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9); that we should inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:9); called to His eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10); to glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

The Work of Grace
Look back to the Holy Calling in 2 Timothy 1:9 in the previous text ~ “according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” In every generation He is calling His saints, and by His grace, working faith in us with power not only to believe but to suffer for the sake of His name and the gospel.

The common denominator, Christ Jesus, is found in every reference to God’s holy, high and heavenly calling.

Gracious Father, who has called us, according to your purpose and the precious grace that works in the hearts of those whom you call, we thank you. We praise you that you save us and call us to a life beyond any mere thoughts of faith that man can speak of; a faith that enables us to suffer for your sake and to endure to the end. Your Son, our Lord, Savior and High Priest calls us to follow in His footsteps. Do your work in our hearts to see beyond this world to the place of our calling and glorify your Son in us. In HIs precious name we pray. Amen.
Fran

Words of Life ~ ACCOMPLISH

The Hebrew word for accomplish appears many times in the form of the word “made.”  When God made the firmament, He accomplished what He had planned before the foundation of the world. The same word is used in Genesis 1:11 for yielding fruit after its kind. The Greek word for accomplish is used only one time in the New Testament but also used for fill, filled, fulfilled, full, fulness and complete.

The Old Testament H6213
Defines accomplish ʻâsâh(aw-saw’)
A primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application:—accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, be at, become, bear, bestow, bring forth, bruise, be busy, X certainly, have the charge of, commit, deal (with),

To see all Hebrew references: blueletterbible.org

The most well known in the Old Testament is Isaiah 55:11.

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Several verses refer to the wrath of God that He would accomplish upon the disobedient and ungodly.
“He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.” Ezekiel 6:12

Daniel 9:2 speaks of seventy years the Lord would accomplish in the desolations of Jerusalem.

In the New Testament G4137
Defines accomplish plēroō (plā-ro’-ō)
to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram(a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute
(an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: — accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply. Greek references: blueletterbible.org.

The only reference to the word accomplish in the New Testament is from the scene of transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

“Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.”  (Luke 9:28:31).

When Isaiah recorded 55:11, would he have known that the Lord was speaking not only of His written word, but of His Living word, Jesus Christ, who would accomplish all He would send Him to do?

When God the Father planned His creation, it was with the power to accomplish His sovereign will.
1. God the Father completed His Creation, resting on the seventh day.
2. God the Son fulfilled the means of Redemption and rested on the seventh day; now seated at the right hand of the Father and upholding all things by the word of HIs power.
3. God the Holy Spirit is now revealing and fulfilling the plan and purpose for all things in the fulness of time (Ephesians 1:10).

We need not doubt but His Word and work will accomplish in each of us all His will in every generation until all is fulfilled ~ to His glory and our joy.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you that you accomplish all your sovereign will. What you planned before the world began has gradually come to pass according to your timing. Most gratefully do we thank you that when you sent your Son, your Living Word, He accomplished all you sent Him to do. He fulfilled your covenant of redemption for us. When He said, “It is finished” He accomplished fully and completely the means of eternal life for us. Teach us through your Word, and by your Holy Spirit, do your work in each of us. In Jesus’ holy, powerful and precious name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

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Words of Life ~ ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE)

Continuing Words of Life A-Z The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian, we are encountering the phenomenal connections of all Words to the center of Christianity, which is Christ, Himself. As we look at both Old and New Testaments we learn what is accepted for true life, Life as God our Creator means it to be. As we study we see that God our Father alone can work what is acceptable for the Life of a follower of Christ.

ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE) in the Concordance H7521
Defines the word (ratsah rä·tsä’)
A primitive root; to be pleased with; specifically to satisfy a debt:—(be)
accept (-able), accomplish, set affection, approve, consent with, delight (self),
enjoy, (be, have a) favour (-able), like, observe, pardon, (be, have, take) please (-
ure), reconcile self.

ACCEPTABLE is used in two references from Proverbs.

“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.” Proverbs 10:32

“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3

The Lord’s acceptance of His people was based on His own work of bringing them out from the other nations.

“I will accept you…….when I bring you……….and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. (Ezekiel 20:41).

We see in the New Testament the same means of acceptance through the work of His Son for us on the cross.

In The New Testament
ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE) 
in the Concordance G1184
defines the word (dektos dek-tos’)(an adjective derived from 1209 (dexomai) – properly, what is received favorably (acceptable), describing what is welcomed because pleasing.

The most prominent reference is from Ephesians 1:6.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesian 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight.   But it is only “in the beloved”  ~  accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing  Rejoice, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner. Charles Spurgeon

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“But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:35

Whereas the Lord brought His people from other nations, now in Christ, He brings people of every nation to “fear Him and work righteousness.”

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

Accepted as holy in the beloved Christ and by His mercies, we are led to present our bodies a living sacrificeacceptable to God (vs. 1) to prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (vs. 2).

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

When we suffer for His sake and take it patientlythis is acceptable with God (1 Peter 2:20).

Dear Father, mighty to save, holy and merciful, making us acceptable to you in Christ, we thank you and live in praise to you. Continue to renew our minds and prove your acceptable will in and through us. Fill us, as living stones with your Spirit to offer the sacrificial life and the spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to you. Fill us with the Life of Christ that witnesses of your presence to the world around us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

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Three Powerful Words in the Christian Vocabulary

If we are to get Beyond a Mere Christianity we must know the language. In 2016, an article titled Three Obstacles to Spiritual Growth listed Words as the main obstacle, followed by Feelings and Influences. I did not realize, until I reviewed that article, that we mentioned the three words we write about here.

I will begin by saying that the majority of those who are professing believers in Christ are not familiar with or use these three words; yet they are significant in what we believe and how we live. Are these words used in normal conversation? No, but, it is necessary for a Christian to know and understand them. We cannot just say, “I love Jesus.” These powerful words give true meaning as to why and how we love Him. If understanding these three words is too much for one reading, you may want to save the article in your files and come back to it as you have time.

Propitiation, justification and sanctification originate with the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. Since these are not man’s words but God’s Words, we need to review them often and meditate on them with the Biblical references. I write this article with the same need as others through every generation to understand:
1. what God planned for His people,
2. how he established His plan through His Son
3. how He executes His plan by the power of His Holy Spirit

All three words end in the suffix “ation” meaning “action or process.”

 PROPITIATION G2434
Propitiation in Greek is hilasmós – properly, propitiation; an offering to appease (satisfy) an angryoffended party.

It is used in 1 John 4 and in Romans 5, both times of Christ’s atoning blood that appeases God’s wrath, on all confessed sin.
By the sacrifice of Himself, Jesus Christ provided the ultimate hilasmós (“propitiation”). (biblehub.com)

Before the foundation of the world, in planning a kingdom and a family for Himself, God our heavenly Father made a covenant of redemption with His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:9). This covenant would provide the work and conditions of His grace, whereby He would reveal His love for His people and by His Holy Spirit, draw them to Himself. Just as His work of Creation, the action and the process of Redemption would be His and His alone.

Why and how does a Christian love Jesus?

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

God shows us His love in all generations through the sacrifice of His Son for us 2000 years ago. He planned to give up His own Son to appease His wrath against us. (Who can understand this love?) He gave His Son to give us life, so that we would live eternally with Him. Someone’s blood has to appease His anger against sin. It will be His or ours. Someone has to pay ~ either us or His Son.  He was the perfect “Lamb that was slain.” Only God could provide such a sacrifice for us.

I remember the word “propitiation” by syllables. The prefix “pro” indicates a professional who is able to perform. The center of the word is “pit” where Jesus finds us. “I” am between the “pit” and “ation” whereby His is the action and process of bringing me out of the “pit.” O, what love that gives all that He is and has. He could give all for us through His death; through His resurrection and ascension He would gain His own life again and give life to all who are drawn to Him in faith and repentance.

There is a connection between PROPITIATION and JUSTIFICATION through the righteousness of Jesus.  Romans 3:24-26 incorporates “propitiation” and “justification” through the sinless life of Jesus Christ that qualifies Him for propitiation that leads to our justification.

”Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

JUSTIFICATION G1347
Dikaíōsis(dik-ah’-yo-sis) fromG1344 aquittal (for Christ’s sake
The act of God declaring men free from guilt and acceptable to him.

 Whereas God planned for the blood of Christ to appease His anger for our sins, He planned through Christ to justify His own actions in pronouncing us “Not guilty” for our sins. It is a forensic term as if applied in a court of law.

Notice in the following references the terms “offences” “judgment” and “condemnation.”

“Who was delivered for our offences and was raised again for our justification.”Romans 4:25

“And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.”Romans 5:16

“Justification is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ. It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:3-9 ). Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law, namely, Christ’s righteousness ( 2 Corinthians 5:21 ;  Romans 4:6-8 ).” Bible Study Tools

We have advanced in our understanding of the connection between PROTITIATION and JUSTIFICATIONNow we are brought to see the connection between JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION~ the work and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.

“The act of faith which thus secures our justification secures also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to licentiousness ( Romans 6:2-7 ). Good works, while not the ground, are the certain consequence of justification 6:14 ;  7:6 ).” Bible Study Tools

SANTIFICATION
Sanctification is not a word found in the Old Testament, but references are made to the things God sanctified, things that were set apart, consecrated as holy for Him; the seventh day, places of worship, priests, etc.
New Testament G37
hagiozo; to make holy, consecrate, to regard as special (sacred) sanctify.

The word carries somewhat of a different meaning in the New Testament as it refers to a personal ongoing action or process on His part for His people. While propitiation and justification are one-time actions and already accomplished for all His people, sanctification is an ongoing action and process in making us holy; to live a consecrated life to Him as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

As stated earlier: To show His love for us, God, the Father, planned, and in His timing sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Jesus fulfilled the covenant of redemption (the covenant of grace) living a perfect life in obedience to the will of the Father. He was offered as a sacrifice for us, appeasing God’s wrath against us; was buried, and resurrected, securing our justification.That being finished, He ascended to the right hand of the Father as our High Priest to intercede for us. He sent the Holy Spirit to continue His work of sanctification in each generation until Christ comes again.

Let’s follow the process from Christ’s work on the cross to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives.

“Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.1 Corinthians 1:30

Paul explains sancitifcation of the Spirit in 2 Thessalonians 2:13

“God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:”

Simon Peter uses the same terms in 1 Peter 1:2,

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

 Propitiation leads to justification, and justification through the power of His Spirit in our sanctification brings us in obedience to Christ, the perfect plan of salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:9).

Gracious and holy Father in heaven, how can we understand such a holy love and the power of your love, except as you send your Holy Spirit to do this great and mighty work in us. We praise you for your plans and ask that you continue working in our hearts and lives all that you desire for us ~ all to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Related Article: What are Justification and Sanctification?

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Words of Life ~ Abundant(ly)

ABUNDANT may be the most misunderstood word in the Bible. We may think of an abundance of the things of this life from God, or we may fail to understand the abundance of the spiritual things that God promises. There is one prominent verse in the Old Testament and one well known in the New that uses this word or the word ABUNDANT(LY). As we look at the meanings and how it is used in the Scriptures, we notice that the word originates with God and focuses on God and the Lord Jesus Christ. All that is ABUNDANT comes from God and revealed to and in His people. It is similar in origin to our last word ABLE, as we learned that God is the one who is ABLE, and who enables us.

In The Old Testament
ABUNDANT  in the Concordance H7227
defines the word (marbeh mar-beh’)
By contraction from H7231; abundant (in quantity, size, age, number, rank,
quality):—(in) abound (-undance, -ant, -antly), captain, elder, enough,
exceedingly, full, great (-ly, man, one), increase, long (enough, [time]), (do,
have) many (-ifold, things, a time), ([ship-]) master, mighty, more, (too, very)
much, multiply (-tude), officer, often [-times], plenteous, populous, prince,
process [of time], suffice (-ient).

ABUNDANT is prominent in Exodus 34:6 as God responds to Moses when he asked Him to show him His glory.

“And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”

In a earlier post Inexhaustible Goodness we learned of the abundance and endurance of His goodness.

In the New Testament
ABUNDANT  in the Concordance G4121
defines the word perisson, meaning exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate.
From G4119; (plan, plane) to do, make or be more, that is, increase(transitively or
intransitively); by extension to superabound:—abound, abundant, make to
increase, have over.

The apostle Paul speaks of the abundant grace of the Lord in 2 Corinthians 4:15.

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.”

And in 1 Timothy 1:14:

“And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”

The apostle Peter speaks of the abundant mercy by which we are given new life in Christ.

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

ABUNDANTLY H8317 in the Old Testament :
A primitive root; to wriggle, that is, (by implication) swarm or abound:—
breed (bring forth, increase) abundantly (in abundance), creep, move.

Our first parents were instructed to multiply abundantly in the earth (Genesis 9:7)

Isaiah speaks of the LORD’s mercy to those who return to Him, “for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

ABUNDANTLY  G4053 In the New Testament
From G4012 (in the sense of beyond); superabundant(in quantity) or
superior(in quality); by implication excessive; adverb (with G1537) violently;
neuter (as noun) preeminence:—exceeding abundantly above, more abundantly,
advantage, exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous,
vehement [-ly].

We come now to this most significant verse in God’s Word, from the mouth and life of our dear Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

This is a reminder of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:9.“No one has conceived of what God has prepared for those who love HIm.

Ephesians 3;20 links our last Word of Life ~ ABLE ~ to this one;

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” 

Paul also speaks of us His mercy that saved us, regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

“Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;” Titus 3:5-6

Simon Peter spoke of the “divine power,” the “great and precious promises” the “divine nature” and life that is preparing us “For an entrance ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:3-11)

Dear Father, we thank you that you began creation with your abundant goodness and truth, passing down your promises of abundant pardon in the Old Testament; this pardon revealed in the New Testament through your mercy and grace in our Lord Jesus Christ, for an abundant entrance into your everlasting kingdom. Truly, this is your Word of Life to us as your children. Let us live and witness of this abundant life that is ours in Christ, our Lord; in whose name we pray. Amen.
Fran
Words of Life A-Z The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian

Endear and Endure

Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives
for the brethren.”

1 John 3:16

If the Lord brings us to the heights of Christianity ~ Beyond a Mere Christianity ~ it will be according to the truth that the apostle writes here. What keeps us from reaching this height? It must be that we fail to perceive the love of God, who, in Christ, laid down his life for us. To perceive is to see with a spiritual reality ~ beyond our physical sight ~ how much He loves us and how He proved His love. We will look in depth in two other chapters at how His great love begins to work in the hearts of His children, but for this one we are led to write of those who, with time and experience of HIs grace, know the presence and power of the Holy Spirit of Christ working His own nature and disposition through them in relationship with others.

Several years ago, with a new birth (John 3:3), there was no real understanding of the difference He would make in my life. Baptism at the age of eleven did not change my heart; self-centeredness was still my nature. Years later, it was God’s Holy Spirit speaking through His Holy Word when He gave me a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) that I longed for the life of Christ within me. Repentance and faith was a work of His goodness and mercy in me (Romans 2:4); the effect of His Spirit in the new heart and spirit within me.

Everything changed on that beautiful day in 1992 when He brought me to Himself, so that I never looked back.

He endeared Himself to me, speaking through the written Word and His Spirit so that I could see Him as the loving Creator and Redeemer that He is. Since then, He has been an ever-present guide and protector of my mind, heart and spirit. He has endured with me through all the trials and adversities we have encountered. The more affliction we experience, the more of His love and care are ministered by His Holy Spirit and the more we are able to see and care for others. We continue to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We could speak of many trials we have endured, but time and space do not permit here. We have published eight books that witness of His presence and teachings.

Most and best of all is how He endears Himself through us to others. At present we are formatting One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words, the story of God’s abundant grace as we cared for my dad during the last three weeks of his life.

Never would I have known that being a caregiver for my dad, for grandchildren, for my mother with dementia and  for Jerry the last twelve years would have prepared me to practice this endearment. We, together, have learned to see the needs of others; to pray for them; to reach out to any that the Lord shows us. We don’t have to look far. Within our own family, and our church family, there are many who need encouragement. Just a word of support and hope is enough for most. These are the closest to us and the ones with which we have developed lasting relationships. In Prayer and In Touch is our email prayer ministry, whereby we stay in touch as we pray for others.

We are enabled to see the needs of others when we go for appointments. We may never see some of these again, but the Lord knows what they need. A smile, a “thank you,” a word of greeting or a short conversation can leave a lasting impression to the glory of our Lord.

It is those who are the closest whose needs we know and with whom we endure through their difficulties, sharing the promises of God’s Word, praying for special needs, taking a meal, etc. Whatever is needful, the Lord provides through us, His people.

We encourage those who are continually experiencing the hardships of this life to see others in need and pray with the desire to know how you can help them. Focus on the Lord and His will in how we can care for others greatly changes how we see our own needs. It is good therapy for the soul to count others in greater need than ourselves.

Is this what John meant in 1 John 3:16? What does it mean to lay down our lives? I believe it means that we first give ourselves to the Lord as the apostle Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 8:5. I have TWO FULL PLATES, but this does not keep me from seeing others in their needs, praying and reaching out when the Lord leads. He always provides more room on our plates for others, and gives the extra strength that we need and extra servings pf joy.

We are, by His mercy to us, called to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to serve Him and others (Romans 12:1-2).

He endured all the wrath and punishment for our sins, so that we as His people would be united in our love for Him and one another; to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).

Jesus now and forever endears Himself to us, and endures with us as our Lord and High Priest. It is when we endear ourselves to each other and endure with one another that we are stronger. As we are united in Christ, members of one body, we stand against the enemy with great power. His Spirit is revealed through those who “in lowliness of mind esteem others better than themselves; who look not on his own things, but on the things of others.” Philippians 2:3-4

Father in heaven, open our eyes and hearts. Draw us heavenward to receive your humility, grace and love that extends to others ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen
~ Fran
The following is from Philippians 2:5-11. Have This Mind is the title of an album of Scripture Tunes recorded in the last twenty-five years.