Soaking in Grace

Over the decades we have learned what agents are effective for certain needs.
Jerry and I should have bought stock in The Clorox Company when we first married almost fifty-six years ago, since it is the most powerful solution for mildew and especially for bloodstains. If I can get Jerry’s tees and the sheets before the blood sets in, it will rinse out with cold water. But usually, they end up soaking in strong bleach water. His blood thinners are good for A-fib and other heart issues, but even a slight brush of the skin or a simple scratch causes unwanted bleeding.
As I was applying a little more bleach to some stains this morning, I was reminded of the power of God’s grace, in which I have learned to soak.  He brings me to His Word, and while I spend time there, His Spirit does His work to cleanse any stains from my heart, to revive my spirit, and brighten my hopes and joy in Him. He takes as much time with me to work His desired effect. I stand in wonder of His grace in my life and others who cherish His Word and spend time in communion with Him. He brings forth in us praise and adoration. The effectual working of His grace in our lives shows His humility and holiness ~ the witness of His presence and power to others.Gracious Father, you alone know our hearts and what we need to prepare us for your glory. Yours is the power of cleansing the devastating work of sin. Your grace alone is effectual to cleanse a leopard’s spots, making us holy in your Son, Jesus Christ. Have mercy upon us today and while shedding abroad your love in our hearts, let it spread to those around us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole
I want Thee forever to live in my soul
Break down every idol, cast out every foe
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow
Refrain
Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow
Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat
I wait, blessèd Lord, at Thy crucified feet
By faith, for my cleansing, I see Thy blood flow
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow
Lord Jesus, Thou knowest I patiently wait
Come now, and within me a new heart create
To those who have sought Thee, Thou never saidst no
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow
Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
Apply Thine own blood and extract every stain;
To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
James L. Nicholson 1872
Image

The Price of Contentment

For the world, contentment cost nothing more than what money can afford.
A divine contentment was purchased by the blood of Christ; for those who are His followers, born of His Spirit. The love of God was revealed for His children by the death of His Son; purchasing and redeeming us from the bondage of sin and death (Romans 8:2). We are born to a living hope by His abundant mercy and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; to an inheritance in Him that no one can take away (1 Peter 1:3-4).
It is a legacy that we do not deserve, could not pay for, nor earn by any good work.
Not to be content with the finished work of Christ that assures and provides a pardon from sin, and an abundant life in Him, is to doubt this free gift of His own righteousness for us and to live without Him.
“You Are Not Your Own”
“You have been bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God so loved us, desired us, sired us and made us His own, to lavish His grace, His provisions, His protection, His goodness, His own life for us, in us, and through us. To His own glory He has shined His light into our hearts to shine through us His grace, mercy and power. He has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) through Christ His Son (Romans 8:32).
He has given all for us to reflect His presence, His goodness and His wealth in and upon us. He has spread abroad His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us (Romans 5:5).
Our Response to His Sacrifice and Mercy
In response to His sacrifice and mercy in taking our sin and punishment upon Himself, Paul urges, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Here is the reality of a life of contentment according to His will. His sacrificial death works through us for a sacrificial life devoted to serving Him and others while He is preparing us to share His glory. True contentment cost Jesus His life, and it costs us ours. He denied Himself for us to give us eternal life in Him. To experience this life of contentment we deny ourselves for Christ’s sake. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Galatians 2:20 
Understanding the Terms of Sacrifice
Eternal life in Christ begins when we are born of His Spirit; a new heart and spirit are joined to Christ from that moment. Eternal life is not experienced just when we die, but here, now, and forever. The new birth, faith and repentance separate us from the world’s way of life. We are no longer our own, being conformed to this world, but sanctified, being transformed by the renewing of our minds, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ until He calls us home to be with Him.
Jesus paid the price for our contentment. Presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice  means that we have received, understand, accept, and enter into the covenant of life that is ours in His death and resurrection.
Gracious Father, We thank you for your covenant of redemption and grace made with Christ, your Son, before the foundation of the world. We praise you for the work of your Holy Spirit in revealing and fulfilling your covenant with us. Enable us to know the power of Christ’s resurrection through the continued work of the gospel, bringing us to submission and surrender of all that we are, so as to live in covenant with you, in Christ, now and forever. In Jesus’ name we pray and thank you. Amen.

Jesus’ Donkey

Have you ever seen a donkey standing out in a field? I am not familiar with donkeys but whenever I see one, it seems to be waiting for something or someone to direct it.

God could just as easily have called us his donkeys instead of his sheep. But there are only a few special donkeys; many special sheep.

There are two donkeys mentioned in the Bible. It seems they were created to be “beasts of burden.” In the Old Testament Balaam had a donkey that could talk; he warned him and saved his life (Numbers 22:22-35).

Balaam’s donkey was probably older, beaten down under the burden of his master.

Jesus’ colt was waiting for his master when the disciples found it and took it to Jesus.

As the gentle master He rode the colt through the gates of Jerusalem.

There may be much that we could learn from the scenario of the Triumphal Entry that we now call Palm Sunday, but one in particular comes to mind this morning.

There are times when we may feel like nothing but a donkey (you many call it whatever you please) but that is not how God created us. The oppressor would have us believe that we have to carry the burdens of the world; that we have no worth except as the scum of the earth. We, as His children, were born in His image, redeemed by the blood of Christ, and directed by His Word and His Holy Spirit to bear His image and the fruit of the Spirit of Christ.

Would we have been honored to be Jesus’ colt? Yes, but that honor was predestined for one only. That colt carried Jesus into the fiercest battle that anyone can wage ~ the battle against Satan and our sin. He won the victory a few days after, and since then calls us to Him to fulfill His purpose in each of us. The memory of the first verse held in my mind since childhood is in Matthew 11:28-30. He has not redeemed us to ride us, but to free us from our bondage and to share our lives here while preparing us for His glory. In meekness He is able to fulfill His will in each of us as we tell others of Him and His victory in us.Dear Father, Thank you that each Lord’s Day, you call us to come in worship to Christ, your Son, who has won our hearts to serve Him and to be a part of the battle against the oppressor in our own lives and the lives of others. We praise you that our calling is not to tread through this life alone, but in unity with Christ, our master, and His other sheep. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

image
image
image

The Conclusion of What Matters

How amazing these last three days have been, and how blessed to see how God carries us through what He begins in us to where He wants us to be. When I write it is usually because I need to learn something new, or to confirm and shore up what I have been learning. Such is the case with the last post, What Matters?

The following are quotes from those who responded to the question.

Gail replied, “how we treat each other”

Jean, summing up her answer, which is worthy to be considered by us all, and in the same path that the Lord has been leading me as we have contemplated this question: “Peace with the Lord, this relationship of continuing to learn of His grace and mercy; He is our life as a loving Savior and Father, a faithful God. He is all in all.”

David expressed the desire for his family ~ “the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that he has experienced.”

Andi: “preparing ourselves and others for the second coming of Christ; happiness and protection for children and grandchild.”

Lee: “resting in the finished work of Christ”

Joey: “God and people, in that order”

Kim: “knowing Him”

Gadol: a personal matter for “fulfillment of purpose, vision, call and will of God”

These were all good answers that attest to another thought.
What matters depends on who and where we are at any given time in our lives. It depends on our circumstances and our relationships. From these thoughts let us find a general answer that applies to all children of God, living as joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. What matters to us will be different than what matters to those of this world, who do not claim an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
What matters to those outside the kingdom are the things of this world, their possessions, their families, themselves. We will not list those things here, but let’s follow on to a conclusion of what matters to us.

What matters to us as God’s children can be summed up in one word, overall.

GOD matters ~ first, because He is our creator and redeemer, He has given us life twice, and continues to sustain us as His people, preparing us to share His glory, eternally.

God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in each of their roles matter in every life, in every circumstance, in every relationship, as He becomes our main relationship and unites us in relationship to others of His family.

Prayer matters because this is His gift to us as His children and the means of communion and contentment with Him that carries over into our relationships with others.

God’s Word matters because He teaches from His Word what matters in our relationships. Love might be the first thing that comes to mind, but love alone, in how we perceive love, may not be enough. We see the manifestation of love in humility, commitment, faithfulness, discipline, accountability, patience, kindness, forgiveness and other marks of Christ’s nature and disposition in us. These apply to our relationships with the Lord our God and with others, even if they are not of the “household of faith.”

It matters that we keep the same obedience to the Lordcomposure, confidence, and self-control with those who are of the world.

This brings to mind another matter, that of light. No one can live without light. This light is given for new birth into His kingdom through the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel matters to us and to His church for the matter of our salvation.
We need a certain time of physical darkness, for rest and sleep, but spiritual light is needed for the darkness of the mind and spirit. This too is given us by His Spirit in His Word so that we know how to live in this world, holding forth ‘the word of life” that is ours in Christ.

We learn about other things that matter from God’s Word, such as Philippians 4:8: “that which is true, honest, just and pure, that which is lovely, of good report, of virtue (excellence) that which is worthy of praise

What matters to God?
If we continue to think and write about it, we could go on and on, but hopefully we have posed a question that our hearts will consider as long as we live in this world, so that our Lord will continue to teach us what matters in His kingdom, in our lives, and our calling to serve Him in His kingdom. You and I matter to God. At one point this week we had considered that God is over all and that everything matters to Him. How then should we look at everything? Whatever we know and wherever we go, we should consider how God wants us to relate to the people and circumstances in which He places us. As Gadol pointed to the call and will of God, it matters to God how we respond as His people to those around us, in obedience and acceptance to where He wants us to be to fulfill His plan in us.

When looking in His Word for the word “matter” or “matters” we found one reference from the book of Ecclesiastes. Before we end with this, we will add one more to our list, that of wisdom. How does wisdom tie in with Ecclesiastes 12:13?

Since we are in the area of what matters to God, what other things from His Word would you add? What other things matter to God? We have but to read and glean these things that matter to God, our Father and to us.

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you leading us to consider what matters, and bringing us to see that the answers come from you. Thank you for being all that matters and that everything and everyone matter to you. Bring us to understand more and to find our contentment in you and your kingdom alone through the salvation that is ours in Christ. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

image

image

What Matters?

Two days ago, Jerry set a record as we celebrated his eighty-first birthday. He has lived longer than any of the Rogers in his family. His brother died at the age of eighty, and all his dad’s brothers died in their seventies.

During this time, we are preparing for surgery to repair an aneurysm in his only leg, praying for blood flow and healing for the wound on his foot, and considering other things at this age and stage of our lives. Yesterday we were questioning if we should be delving into something we did not understand (while I try to remember what that was, I am watching the wind and rain assault the beautiful dogwood that we have enjoyed the last few days blooming outside the window. How easily our thoughts can change. I can’t remember the thing we were considering two days ago. It must not have mattered.) 🙂

After discussing whether or not, we asked if knowing would matter. That progressed to the question: “What matters?” We have never really asked that question before, so as to discuss and document the answers.

After talking about what we though mattered, I decided to pose this question to our readers. Before stating our answers in this blog, I would like you to share your responses to this question. If you need some time, think about it and come back later to comment. At different ages we may consider one thing that matters more than others. What matters and makes us content when we are young may not matter when we get older.

Let’s leave off the answer “love” for the time being. Love would probably be the first answer for a lot of people; it might also mean something different to each of us.

Please join me in this conversation, to which we will add, after your comments are made.

Oh ~ and please include your age; that matters in our answers. 🙂

Dear Father, I pray that you will give us insight for our answers to this question of what matters in this life. In Jesus’ name I pray. amen.

Humility and Contentment

How do we relate humility to contentment? Think of humility as the Alpha and contentment as the Omega of the Christian life. Humility leads to contentment. There can be no divine contentment without humility. The Spirit of Christ, supernaturally working in the heart and life of God’s children, produces them both.

Pride and discontent are the root and fruit of the natural life.

The new birth brings us with a new heart to a new start ~ the Alpha ~ where He teaches us what He intended in His work of creation. The humility of Christ that enabled Him to give Himself as a sacrifice for us is the same humility that His Spirit works in us; so that through us He can demonstrate the humility of Christ in the world.

Andrew Murray in his book, Humility ~ The Beauty of Holiness,* stresses the need for us to understand the power of Christ’s life and work for and in us.

“Nothing can avail but that the new nature, in its divine humility, will be revealed in power to take the place of the old. It will become as truly our very nature as the old ever was.’’ Andrew Murray

Humility at work in us depends on three things:

  1. The teaching (revelation from the written word and the Holy Spirit) and Christ’s example.
  2. Our convictions, our desires, our prayers, waiting on God in faith for His promise.
  3. The reality of the Spirit of Christ living in us and producing His own nature and disposition.

Humility and contentment are divine traits of God’s kingdom, and gifts of God’s grace to His children. Even as our natural and spiritual births are beyond our doing, humility and contentment are His work alone, and all to His glory.

“Humility is simply acknowledging the truth of our position as man and yielding to God His place. It is the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. Such humility (the humility of Christ) is not a thing that will come on its own. It must be made as the object of special desire, prayer, faith, and practice.” Humility

What Murray says of humility can be said of contentment, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

When all is yielded and we live in faith, for Him to be all and to provide all that we need, contentment will be the result.

Humility and Contentment Work Together

“Humility is like the lead in the net, which keeps the soul down when it is rising through passion; and contentment is like the cork which keeps the heart up when it is sinking through discouragement. Contentment is the great support; it is like the beam which bears whatever weight is laid upon it. It is like a rock that breaks the waves.” The Art of Divine Contentment   Thomas Watson

Do we experience divine contentment in Christ? If not, let us look to Him, with conviction of the need for humility, the desire in prayer and supplication, in faith through His Word and Spirit, waiting for this “mystery of grace, which teaches us that as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the consummation of everlasting blessedness and adoration.Humility

Dear Father, how do we thank you for so great a love that displaces our sin and old life with the graces of the Spirit of Christ in us. Let us be so overwhelmed so as to bow in thankfulness and humility for all you have done for us in creation and our salvation. Make us to know the power of your Spirit to humble us; let us wait patiently with a new heart’s desire for all that you have prepared for us. Let us live content and praising you for all things working to your glory, our good and joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

*A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility
image

How the Holy Spirit Works

Continuing from our last post The Spirit of Contentment, and using the following diagram, we will explain how the Holy Spirit works in man to produce the fruit of the Spirit. Scripture explains all the Holy Spirit does, so to fully understand how our contentment depends solely on the working of the supernatural power of God’s Spirit, we will need to spend time in these passages. I love the word “passages” as it pertains to the Scriptures of God’s Holy Word, Through this wilderness on our way to eternity with our Lord, we are spending time in the passages that He has given us, so that we know how to get through with the contentment that He has planned and works in us.
While in one sitting you may not get what we have included here. Please, save this segment and refer to it often, as these passages continually speak to us and direct us. We will only get to mid-point in this post. We will continue in our next post to how the Spirit works through the heart to our expressions.holy-spirit

God’s Spirit With Our Spirit

We are born of the Spirit of God
by His will and Word .
(John 1:12-13; John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:2-3, 23)
The Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
(Romans 8:9-11; 14-17; 23-24)
The second Adam (Christ) is a quickening Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 15:45)

Spirt, Soul and Body

Sanctified wholly, spirit, soul and body; preserved until the coming of Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)
The Word of God, piercing to the division of soul and spirit discerning the intentions of the heart.
(Hebrews 4:12).
A steadfast anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19)
The salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9).
The body and spirit; faith and works
(James 2:26)

Soul and Body

Now returned to Shepherd and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).
The body and soul (Matthew 10:28).
The body, more than clothing (Luke 12:23).
The body and its passions (Romans 6:12).
The Spirit, the body, and life  (Romans 8:12-13).
The body for the Lord, and the Lord for the body (1 Corinthians 6:13).
Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit
(1 Corinthians 6:19).
A natural body, and a spiritual body
(1 Corinthians 15:44).

“Who will transform our lowly body
to be like his glorious body, 

by the power that enables him
even to subject all things to himself.”

Philippians 3;21

Mind
 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

 “Love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”
Luke 10:27
“received the word with all readiness of mind.”
Acts 17:11
“serving the Lord with humility of mind
Acts 20:19
mind the things of the Spirit” Romans 8:5
“to be spiritually minded is life and peace”
Romans 8:6
“transformed by the renewing of the mind
Romans 12:2
mind not high things” Romans 12:16
“we have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2:16
“a willing mind” 2 Corinthians 18:12
“renewed in the spirit of your mind
Ephesians 4:12
“keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”
Philippians 4:7
 “humbleness of mind” Colossians 3:12
“I will my put laws into their minds
and write them in their hearts
Hebrews 8:10
“Gird up the loins of your mind” 1 Peter 1:13
“pure minds” 2 Peter 3:1phil-2-5

Dear Father, it is difficult to stop at this point. It seems we are just getting started, knowing we can never cover all that you are opening to us. I pray that those who read will by your Spirit be given wisdom and understanding into how you work in us as your children. Thank you for trusting me with your Word. By the power of your Spirit, please enable me to carry this over to our next post as we come to the center ~ the heart of the matter ~ how your Spirit works in and through our hearts to bring forth the fruit of your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; even your holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility, godliness, your fulness, the fulness of your Spirit, and the fulness of Christ, who in us is the hope of glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“Seeing ye have purified your souls
in obeying the truth
through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,

see that ye love one another
with a pure heart fervently:”
1 Peter 1:22

How the Holy Spirit Works ~ Part Two

Image