“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

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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No One Prayed as Jesus Prayed

Our pastor’s Monday morning email. This was after the Lord’s Day worship.

“Watch and pray, that you do not enter into temptation.” May the Lord strengthen us by his Spirit to be faithful as our Lord’s kingdom of priests, for we are raised with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:5-6). And the rule of God’s kingdom is to ask, seek, and knock. The Lord was present in Zion, his church, yesterday to bless and receive our worship, for he takes pleasure in those who fear him. Our Savior was present by his Spirit to proclaim the name of his Father and sing praises in the midst of his congregation!

Believe God’s promise. Appreciate and fear God for what he does when his people gather together as the church and believe his promise. Praise God for the renewing work of the Holy Spirit, an open and friendly throne of grace through our Savior’s resurrection, enthronement, and meditation at the right hand of the Father. Rejoice in God’s grace and seek the Lord’s strength — no good thing will he withhold from those that walk uprightly. Let us follow the Lamb this week, especially on our knees.”

The following is his sermon from Luke 22:29-36. Hear why Jesus prayed as He did. And let us pray in His name for His deliverance and strength secured for us in His submission to the Father’s will.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Something Greater than Christmas is Here

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” Gen. 1:16

From the beginning of creation, God has proven some things to be greater than others. Without considering a lot of other comparisons, such as wealth, health, talents, etc., let us look at this time of year known as Christmas.

Many who live for the holidays end the year hopeless and depressed. For many, a warm fuzzy feeling turns into a prickly spur. When Christmas is over, most return to their abnormal lives.

Whether we observe this holiday as with the Roman Catholic Church and Christ in its Mass ~ or in gift-giving within family traditions, we are missing something greater. Far beyond the thought of the birth of Christ two thousand years ago, there is a reality that escapes us.

As hard as we try to ‘keep Christ in Christmas,” we miss Him because He is hidden in the lights, the glitter, the shopping, and the entertainment. Aside from what has become known as Christmas, there are blessings made null and void by man’s traditions.

What man has set up for a celebration is not enough to satisfy the hearts and needs of men. Only our creator knows and has planned a greater life than we can ask or imagine.

Many will not be gathering this season with family. Many have lost loved ones this year, but even for those who will celebrate with their families, let’s consider what is greater ~ what God our Father has prepared for us as heirs of His kingdom.

What can be greater than Christmas? What if it is observed by the traditions of the church and all is joyful and in unity with our fellowmen?

Once-a-year joy is nothing compared to the year-round joy in Christ.

Union in Christ between His people is not relegated to one season a year.

Greater than Christmas is our relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit. 

We do not have to wait for gifts once a year. His gifts are given every day ~ love, joy, peace, comfort, hope. and more.

He is no longer a baby we can put back in a smelly stable.

He is no longer a man hanging on a bloody cross.

Christ cannot be brought down by hocus pocus in the Roman Mass to be crucified over and over. (transubstantiation)

Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, ruling in heaven and earth, blessing His people ~ dwelling in the hearts of men who worship and obey Him.

Greater than the Temple and Soloman ~ In Christ’s Own Words

  “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” Matthew 12:6.

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:42

There is none greater than the Father and the Son who created and upholds all things by the “word of His power ~ sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Heb. 1:3

He is still fulfilling His purpose for being here ~ to save His people from their sins, This is the “good news” every day.

Oh, how much we forfeit by settling for what seems good. The best and greatest of life is hidden in Christ for those who daily seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

The life of God, which in the incarnation entered human nature is the root in which we are to stand and grow. It is by the same almighty power that worked there and from then on to the resurrection which works daily in us. Our one need (now) is to study, to know, and to trust the life revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours. Humility ~ Andrew Murray

Gracious Father in heaven, send your Holy Spirit to reveal your Son as the eternal gift for man every day, now, and forever. For your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Articles: Before there was Christmas, cultures celebrated this time of year in other ways. See here and here)

Image by congerdesign.

How Bright the Star of Bethlehem

Did only three men see the star over Bethlehem? Might others have looked seeing nothing more than an ordinary light? The world never knew it was there.

What did the wise men see but a star that led them to “the light of the world”?

In the beginning, before there were stars, a sun, a moon, or anything visible, “God said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light” piercing the darkness so that His creatures would see the heavens and the earth He would so wondrously make.

Pillar of Fire

He provided the special light of His presence for His people when He led them out of Egyptian bondage. 

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.” Exodus 13:21

At night, while there was darkness on the Egyptian side, He provided light for the Israelites “so that the one did not come near the other all that night” (Exodus 14:20).

Light in the Heart

He is still providing light for His people today. 

For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Cor. 5:6-7

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27) is the light that pierces the darkness of our own hearts and through us, into the darkness of the world.

 “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life,” Phil. 2:14-16

Eternal Light

More important than water or food, when our heavenly Father created the heavens and earth, he provided an eternal light ~ the most important thing for life. The first light is the same light that has been with His creation since the beginning, through the wilderness, to the light of Christ that takes us in death to eternal glory with Him.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Jn. 1:4

“The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,
for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”.
Rev. 21:23

Gracious heavenly Father, as the world is unable to comprehend the eternal light, we pray you would shine this light into the hearts of men, today, to reveal through Jesus Christ, your Son, the knowledge of your glory. Pierce the darkness by your own presence and power. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Suggested Reading: What the Holy Bible Says about LIGHT