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.

Words of Life ~ ABLE

ABLE may be one of the most powerful words in the English language. In God’s Word, it conveys meaning applicable to God in His greatness and power, and shows the weakness and utter dependence of man. This word, from Words of Life ~ A – Z ~ the Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian, dovetails into Weakness and Meeknessour last chapter in Beyond a Mere Christianity,  .

From ABHOR, to ABIDE, we come to another of our list of Words of Life ~ ABLE

In The Old Testament
ABLE in the Concordance H320
defines the word (yaòkoòl  yaw-kole’)
A primitive root; to be able, literally (can, could) or morally (may, might):

Two examples of ABLE in the Old Testament:
The first relates to man’s inability, then compared to God’s ability.

In Numbers 11:14, Moses admitted to God, “I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.”

In Daniel 3:17, we have the words of the three Hebrews about to be put in the fiery furnace.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”

In Daniel 6:20, the king speaks to Daniel after the Lord delivered him from the lions.
“And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

In the New Tesament
ABLE in the Concordance G1410
“defines the word (dunamai doo’-nam-ahee)
Of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible:—be able, can (do, + -not), could,
may, might, be possible, be of power.

The power of God is defined in the following references.

References to men who not able.

Not able to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28)
“many shall not be able to enter in at the strait gate (Luke 13:24).
“adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist wisdom ( Luke 21:15).
“no man is able to pluck us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29).
“nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).
“no man is able to open the book  (Revelation 5:3) “who shall be able to stand? (Revelation 6:17)

References to what God’s Word is able to do.

“the engrafted word is able to save our souls” (James 1:21).
“the holy scriptures able to make wise” (2 Timothy 3:15).
“word of grace, which is able to build you up and to an inheritance (Acts 20:32).

References to what God enables us to do.

able ministers of the new testament” (2 Corinthians 3:6)
able to comprehend the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).
“able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).

References to what God is able to do.

“able of stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Matthew 3:9)
able to heal a blind man (Matthew 9:28).
able to perform what He promises (Romans 4:21).
able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:21).
able to keep that which is committed unto HIm against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12).

“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,” Ephesians 3:20

Gracious Father, able and willing to make yourself known, even if through the stones you created, we praise you for all power that belongs to you. We thank you for enabling us as your children to comprehend with all saints the love of Christ for us, enabling us to stand against the wiles of the devil to witness of your promises, your presence and power of your Holy Spirit among us; to keep us and to present us faultless through Christ before the presence of your glory ~ all for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

    Scripture Tune Jude 1:24-25

 “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
v

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Weakness and Meekness

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

When I began this article, there were seven young boys and their soccer coach still trapped in a cave in Thailand. They knew that they could not save themselves, to get through the water that had blocked their passageway. Four were brought through the waters by an international team of rescuers, but the others waited. (As we publish, all have been rescued.)

Could they have shared their thoughts as they waited, no doubt they would admit their weakness in saving themselves and their total dependence on anyone who could save them.

In our natural state, human pride pretends to be strong, rather than admit its weakness. It is in cases of despair that men will admit their weakness, and in meekness, cry out and accept help from anyone who can save them.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10

The apostle Paul followed in the footsteps of the Master as he endured the hardships of the Christian life. He admitted his weakness, but rather than let his weakness keep him from his work of the gospel, he endured in meekness as he counted that “the power of Christ rested upon him.”

As a disciple of Christ, he suffered in his “infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distress” (2 Corinthians 12:10) for the sake of Christ. If the only result of his suffering was endurance, we might not be impressed, but he understood the reason for his weakness, so that he would experience the “strength that is made perfect in weakness.” His pleasure was through his suffering as he experienced the strength of Christ in his weakness. When the little “I am” is submitted to Him, the great “I AM” proves His strength.

Beyond a mere Christianity, the sum total seems to be: weakness plus the power of Christ equals pleasure in the presence and power of Christ, no matter the circumstances. No wonder Paul lived a life of meekness, in total dependence on the Lord.
He understood the Master’s words in John 15:4,“without me you can do nothing.”

 This “power of Christ” that rested upon Him was the humbling of the Lord in his weakness, enabling him to submit in his weakness to the strength of Christ. Even in prison, he and Silas worshipped; prayed and sang praises unto God.

“I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

Paul understood the role of the creature in relationship to our Creator. He made us weak, so that we would need Him. When He left our first parents alone to their free will, He proved they were unable to take care of themselves and to fulfill their purpose. It is only when we come in our need to the Savior, in weakness admitting our nothingness and need for Him, that He can save us and be all to us that our Father planned for Him to be. We must in meekness, in true humility, come to Him and experience the difference He makes in our lives. If we mumble through, thinking we can accomplish anything on our own, we miss the true nature of the Christian life. To be humble is the only means of going beyond a mere Christianity to discover the power of Christ and His abundant life within us.

“It is the indwelling Christ who will live His life in us, meek and lowly. We must long for this, above everything, seeking this holy secret of the knowledge of the nature of God as He works all. We must set aside our ordinary religion to secure this, the first and chief of the marks of Christ within us. And begin to praise God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which a heavenly blessedness (which you possibly have never yet tasted) can come into you.” Andrew Murray ~ Humility, the Beauty of Holiness

Dear heavenly Father, how blessed we are that you call us your own, having saved us in Christ, your Son. We praise you that even meekness is the work of your Holy Spirit within us. Enable us to see and admit our weakness and our need for you, so that we can glorify you even when we are afflicted and in distress, taking pleasure in your presence and power with us always. In Jesus’ name we pray and praise you. Amen.
And the Lord Said Unto Me ~ Scripture Tunes
(Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility
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Overwhelmed by Grace

Years ago, I used this title for another article; it was similar, but different in many ways. It spoke of an overwhelming grace experienced during an earlier time in my life. Jerry and I were still young with both feet on the ground.; we were enjoying what we considered success, our children and small grandchildren; the Lord was doing great things in our lives. We could easily have said, “Then was the best time of our lives.”

We had begun to learn and know God’s covenant of grace. The power of His grace was something fairly new, but it was becoming a great work in my life, a life I had never known. To “grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) was a beautiful thing. The overwhelming grace that He had bestowed grew stronger and nothing seemed to hinder even during the few difficult times.

I don’t know where my former article is stored, but I know that His grace was stored within my heart and mind, so that in these last days they have not been lost. During these last days, when the adversities have become overwhelming, God’s grace is far more, able to temper with the greatest of difficulties in this life. God is Greater Than is an older article posted here years ago. His grace was working then and now, continuing to grow and bearing fruit for His name and glory.

“These are the worst of times, and the best of times” ~ the worst of this world, but the best of heaven, and that overwhelming grace is that by which He will wing us to heights unknown and to our eternal home with Him.

An older hymn sung at our church this past Lord’s Day attests to this grace in His faithfulness to us through all times and all things.

Dear Father in heaven, as we consider all that you have done in our lives, we can but know how powerful is your grace that fills and thrills, and spills over wherever we are. We praise you for such a work, a supernatural work, that only your grace can accomplish. We pray that you will continue to grow us as your people, as a witness of your presence and power through all of this life, however difficult and tedious it may become for us. Believing that all the darkness of this world is meant to be a backdrop for your light and goodness, keep us faithful, loving, and gracious; enable us to stand in the truth of your grace revealed through the life, death and resurrection of your Son, our Lord and Savior ~ in whose name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
Related Article: Why Me?
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Heavenly Overtones

Music is designed with a melody that runs throughout the whole piece.  Other parts add harmony.  The melody is the beginning, and the ending.  It is what holds the piece together.  Lose the melody or make it a monotone—the same tone over and over— and it ceases to be music.  Overpower the melody and the music loses its meaning.

Music is a sound that began in heaven with God, our Father and Creator.  It is a major means that He provided to help us worship Him—“Holy, Holy, Holy”—one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost, is sung by the angels in heaven. (Isaiah 6:3  and Revelation 4:8)

Anthems are compositions for music that include all parts —melody, harmony, and sometimes, a descant.  A descant is a part that is sung by a higher range of voices.  It is not meant to overpower but provide an extra lift to the other parts.

Together all the parts speak to the senses to lift the spirit and the heart toward God.

Some of The Psalms that we sing from the Trinity Psalter have descants.  If you have never sung The Psalms you have not only missed hearing the command of the Lord in Ephesians 5:19, but also the blessings that come with them when they are sung.

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music.

(For centuries The Psalms were sung in all the churches.  They are God’s Word sung in worship to Him.  But most churches for the past two hundred years have thrown them out in the same way that the true gospel has been pushed aside.)

And for the most part, all we hear is a monotone—the same thing over and over.  Melody and harmony have been replaced with the performances of one person’s voice or drowned by instruments that overpower the melody.

Hymns have been replaced by compositions that have no harmony—difficult to sing and remember—and have separated generations of families.

I picture it according to His Word—the melody was begun in heaven with Jesus, His Son—“Holy, Holy, Holy”  from the foundation of the world.  He would not only be the beginning of music, but the melody throughout the span of time here on earth, onward into eternity.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes…”

He was wrapped in our humanity—the melody of heaven was here—to gather around Him those that would add the harmony to Himself, and provide the music for His family, the music that the Father wanted to hear.

“On the same night there were shepherds with flocks of sheep in the field. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”the music and the worship were about to begin.

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them with good tidings of great joy”the prelude—the introduction to the first anthem of true worship.

To all people—unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord”the music begins.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest”the descant.

“And on earth peace.”   Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the melody of heaven, the melody of life, as God has composed it, and plays it for us by His Spirit and through His Word.

“I will declare thy name (the Father) unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  (Hebrews 2:12-13)— the harmony of His familyNow He has a full choir.

The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that we learn throughout our childhood are the anthems that are carried into heaven with us, as we join that celestial choir. Others are added along the way as He gives us a repertoire.  The only soloist is the one who carries the melody—Christ, Himself.

As we live by the Spirit, and walk by the Spirit, He opens our ears to hear the melody, and to follow Him.  Our off-keys and monotones are tuned to harmonize with other voices.  And walking humbly with our Father, in the obedience of faith, loving the Lord, our God, and our neighbor, we are surrounded by the heavenly overtones echoing His praise in heaven and earth. In our devotion to Christ He opens our hearts to hear compositions we have never heard before, especially during the difficult circumstances of life.

I pray that we know the Lord as our strength and song.”  (Exodus 15:2)

I pray that we would experience “the new song” as He fills us with His Spirit.

On the Lord’s Day we go to His House with a great expectation of hearing the melody—a strong and sure foundation for our worship—hearing the other parts, and the distant sound of the descant of the angels in affirmation that our worship is accepted.

I pray that each day we will practice our singing, individually, and in family worship, so that we are prepared for worship on the Lord’s Day—all in preparation for the great day when we see Him and praise Him in all His glory with the angels.

Our Father has composed the music and directs the choir.

Let us sing with full hearts to His glory and our joy.

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Lord’s Day 9/23/07 (Article from Waiting Is Not  A Game~Articles and Stories of Faith.)

Grace Greater Than Any Sin

In 1911, Julia H. Johnston wrote the text of the hymn Marvelous Grace (Grace That Is Greater Than All Our Sin).

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.

Refrain:
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

The emphasis of grace is taken from the text of Romans 5:20b.


but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”

The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Rome, compares the sin of man (which we inherited from the first man, Adam) to the grace of God (which is His means for our salvation through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ (the second Adam).

Grace exceeds but is not excessive; no more than is needed. None is wasted. Grace wins over any sin of His children, overcoming sin and revealing His grace through us to others.

As I have sung this hymn through my childhood and into my adult life, in relation to Paul’s letter, God has revealed the power of His grace as paramount to the power of sin in my life. The truth of His grace to related to our own sins, and the sins of all believers (vs. 4).

This past week, He has shown me something even greater.

Grace Greater Thank Any Sin or Circumstance

What place does grace play in our relationships to other people, believers and unbelievers?

If His grace exceeds our sin and our guilt; if the blood of the Lamb was spilled; if His grace pardons and cleanses us within, what happens to this grace when someone sins against us, hurts or disappoints us?

Do we forfeit His grace when someone offends us?

Or does this same grace ~ grace that is greater than all our sin ~  remain strong and prove to be greater than anything man can do to us?

If a wealthy man meets a poor man, does the poor man, through his status, take away his wealth?

A wealthy man does not change. He may, in generosity, offer the poor man money, food, or whatever he needs, but the poor man has no power to make him poor.

In the same way, we who are born of the Spirit of God’s grace, made rich in heavenly blessings, do not give up our status as God’s children by allowing the person who offends us to take away our grace. Rather, we respond to those who offend us, or who sin against us, by remembering who we are, in Christ. We, in grace, forgive, pray for them, bless them as we would our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and return good for evil (Romans 12:21). Grace abounds through us, even beyond the sin of unbelievers.

Grace That is Sufficient for All Things

Paul also speaks of grace that is sufficient in weakness and infirmities. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

This is the amazing, marvelous, infinite, matchless grace of our loving Lord living and reigning within us. God’s grace rules and wins over all else.

Gracious, heavenly Father, whose love for us exceeds our expectations, and whose grace is greater than our greatest sins, continue to show the extent of your love and grace through us to others, even when they offend or betray us. Make our relationships and our circumstances the means of revealing your greatness and power in all things. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

Today is the Lord’s Day

In my world

In my thoughts

In my heart

In my plans

In my words

In my actions

In my hands

In me.

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride
on the heights of the earth;

I will feed you with the heritage of
Jacob your father,

    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 

Isaiah 58:13-14

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth I desire beside thee.
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:24-25

Dear Father in heaven, you have given us this day to celebrate life in Christ your Son, to set aside the world and our participation in it; to remember and praise you; to worship you. Today we worship in anticipation of the day of our Lord, when He shall bring us to that eternal glory with you. Lead us today, by your Spirit. Though we cannot meet with your people in worship, make us to know your presence with us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.