Appointments

Yesterday, as I was thinking of all the medical appointments we have had for Jerry these last six months (sometimes five a week), it became clear that we are constantly making appointments for the things that pertain to this life. All are to minister to our needs, as we desire wellness and what will benefit us physically. In addition to these, most calendars are filled with various appointments for children and the family, for education and amusements.

In the middle of these thoughts, I realized that the day was wearing on, and I had not had the time that I needed with the Lord. Our heavenly Father seeks those who worship Him in spirit and truth. I knew He was seeking me to come away from my busyness as a caregiver and a keeper at home, to spend time with Him.

Then I considered that if we can make appointments with everybody else, we ought to schedule more time in each day with Him.

How much time, we may ask, is needful?

Think about how much time we spend in our other appointments, whatever is required for lab work, for a doctor’s evaluation or treatment or for any other concern and relationship. We would do well to do an evaluation and comparison. Considering eternity in relation to the short time we have on this earth we should be spending more time on that which is eternal, especially with our heavenly Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ in prayer and in His Word; sometimes in quietness, waiting for Him to lead. The more time we spend with Him, the more precious it becomes, and the more natural it is to plan these times, and even spontaneously to be drawn to Him.

God’s Appointments
Consider that just as office personnel call to set up appointments for us, God has set up certain appointments for His creation.

He appointed seasons (Numbers 9:3 , 7,13 Psalm 104:19; Jeremiah 5:24).

He appointed cities of refuge (Joshua 20:2).

He appointed a place for his people (2 Samuel 7:10).

He appointed rulers, kings and the Levites for service in the temple.

He appointed prophets (Nehemiah 6:8)

He appointed the foundation of the earth (Proverbs 8:28).

He appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth (Jeremiah 33:25).

He appoints over the kingdom of men whomsoever He will (Daniel 5:21).

He appointed the end time (Daniel 11:27).

He appointed times, days and bounds (Job 14:5).

He appointed a law for Israel (Psalm 78:5).

He appointed a kingdom to the apostles (Luke 22:29).

He appointed times and bounds of men’s habitation (Acts 17:26).

He appoints our afflictions (1 Thessalonians 3:3).

He appointed His Son heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).

He calls us to meet with Him to consider the more important things that pertain to eternity with Him.

He is not only the Great Physician, but a financial advisor, a consultant for all things, and Judge of all.

We do well to set all our appointments according to His.

Gracious Father, forgive us for focusing on ourselves, appointing times and things only for ourselves, and leaving little time for you. We praise you for your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, your Son, who finds us, and draws us to you through Him. Call us regularly for the times you want with us. Let nothing keep us from our appointed times with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

“Well done, good and faith servant…”
Matthew 25:21

Related article: Onward and Upward
Related article: Man’s Calling
Suggested reading: GOD is Our Goal

The Impact of One Act

A greeting card we received ten years ago stands on our computer desk. We received it from someone we did not know, who wrote, “Dear Fran and Jerry, We have you on our “permanent” prayer list and have been fervently praying for you regularly.”
A neighbor of ours had asked prayer at her church for Jerry, after his leg was amputated. The card was sent from someone who knew of his slow process of healing, saying, “We are so thankful for your Godly example in dealing with adversity and staying so faithful to trust in our Sovereign Lord. We will continue to lift you up! For His glory, Sarina and Michael Roth
This card was among many others, with emails from those who were praying, encouraging and supporting us during that difficult time, but this one stood out from all the rest because it came from a sister-in-Christ that we had never met.
It was over three years, and a third surgery, before Jerry’s wound from the amputation was healed. For nine years I kept the card in a special place. Last year, after I published TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver, I took the card out of the envelope, read the message again, and was led to find Sarina on Facebook. I contacted her to let her know how much her card had meant to Jerry and me, that we were still blessed by reading it. I told her about the book and sent her a copy. In the process of our communication, I learned that Sarina is a photographer and creator of her own greeting cards (perhaps another reason this card was so special to us).
Since our connecting on Facebook, she and Michael were involved in a motorcycle accident. Both sustained injuries, both are recovering, but Sarina cannot yet use her hand for her photography. My prayers for her and Michael are fervent and daily for their healing.
When she sent her card to us so many years ago, she had no idea how her act of compassion toward us would impact our hearts and lives.
Jerry and I were actually impacted by two acts. First, Sarina prayed.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Then Sarina, in an act of kindness to us, encouraged us by letting us know that she was praying.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12
We should never doubt that an act of kindness, no matter how small, will make a difference in someone’s life, and that kindness be returned to us when we least expect it.
 Dear Father in heaven. We praise you for working in the hearts of your people to care for one another. Thank you for revealing your love everywhere, especially in our kindness to others. Thank you for the blessing of Sarina’s card so many years ago, that proves a love that recycles, and truly is evident “all around us.” I ask for your continued healing for Michael and Sarina; for Jerry, as he still needs our care, and your mercy for all in need of healing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~ Fran

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
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Onward and Upward

Often I think of life as a simple “spiral.”
It circles, and as it turns, advances a little at the time.

Nothing is required for us to move in a downward spiral.
A natural downward spiral begins when we are born into this world. Our minds are set on things of this world, which draw us and drag us down. We are unable, of our own volition, to change our direction. Life never stays the same, and nature itself, by its gravity, keeps pulling us to its depths and the impending death that waits for us.

Those who are born into a culture that teaches Biblical principles may hear of God’s grace and His means of changing our direction, but we are at a loss to apply these principles in our own power.

The Bible teaches us that the direction of our lives change when we are reborn of the work of God’s Spirit in our heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).   God gives us a new life through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit within us turns us, from the power of the downward spiral. By His kindness He brings us in repentance and faith to Himself (Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4). He continues through this life to bring us onward and upward, and to eternity with Him.

There is much more we could say in this short treatise about life here on earth, including sin and evil in this world, which is the reason for the downward spiral. The world has been in this downward deathly movement since the beginning of time, when our first parents turned from their Creator to make and take their own lives, and ours, in a different direction than His.

Are you aware of how you are turning, which way your life is going? Do you want to know this onward and upward movement in your life? Do you want to know the power of God’s Spirit working in you to bring you to Himself? No one can do an about-face, turning themselves. Many have tried, but to no avail. It requires the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working through our spirit to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) This requires a new birth (John 3:3) which only He can give (John 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:3). Regeneration, a new creation, and repentance is His spiritual work in us, and what a glorious experience to be turned and moving in the opposite direction from the world.

If you have yet to know this new life, I pray that you will reach for God’s Word, which He offers to you. Read the Holy Bible. If you have never read before, begin with the New Testament. Ask for His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); pray and pour out your heart to Him. He knows where you are and what you need. Read and pray until He, by His Spirit, turns you to repentance and faith as a new creature in Christ. He gave His life to deliver us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3).

If you have never heard the good news of God’s changing our lives and our direction, and want to hear more I would be blessed to tell you more. You can email me at f.rogers@bellsouth.net. There is oh, so much more of this glorious upward spiral that is ours in Christ through whom we, as God’s children, live.

I will end this post by saying that your wedding day will not be the most wonderful day of your life. Neither will the birth of your children be the greatest experience you can know. There is nothing as wonderful as being born of the Spirit of God and living every day in Christ, in light of His promises and hope. It is the most uplifting experience of this life as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Gracious Father, how can we tell someone what it is like to know you and what life is like as your children? It is impossible to share the width, the depth and the height of your love. You must do the work in each of us. I pray that you would shine your light and the life of Christ through us, and by your Spirit, draw and birth others into your house and kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. 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.

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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.

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Weighing, Measuring and Filtering Our Words

This is a side note from our last post The Voice of Contentment, as we considered the voices that we hear.

Somewhere in the past, I remember hearing or reading that God gives all people a certain number of words for each life. If this was true, many would have nothing to say in their latter years. 🙂

While this statement is not a Biblical reference, it might be something to think about.

There are Biblical references that speak of our voices and our words. There is much written in the Bible about our tongues, our lips, our mouths and the intentions of the heart in reference to the words we speak. These are all related, but let’s look basically at the words that come from the mind, the heart and the mouth when we speak to others. What is the source of what we, as God’s people, speak?

And what effect do our words have on others?

Joseph spoke to his brothers about his dreams. They “hated him for his dreams and his words.” Genesis 31:8

God gave words to Moses and Aaron to speak to the people. Exodus 10:6-7
Moses spoke the words of the ten commandments to the people. Exodus 24:3;
Moses was instructed to speak words of warning and promises. Deuteronomy 1:1
Joshua spoke to the people “the words of the Lord.” Joshua 3:9

 WEIGHING OUR WORDS

When we speak, let us learn to ask four questions:

  1. Would the words I speak be what I would want to hear?
  2. Would they be a burden on the person to whom I speak?
  3. Are my words necessary?
  4. Would my words be to the glory of God?

Jesus came to speak “the words by which all men will be judged.” (John 12:48) He is the only one who has the authority to judge.

“And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Luke 11:46

“But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.” Jeremiah 23:36

“His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” Psalm 55:2

Words can put a burden on others, even to “torment,” as in Job’s case (Job 19:2)
The Psalmist speaks of “words of trouble and deceit” (Psalm 36:3); “words that devour” (Psalm 52:4); “words of hate (Psalm 109:3) “bitter words like arrows”  (Psalm 64:3); “arrogant words” (Psalm 94:4); “false words” (2 Peter 2:3).

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

“Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” 2 Timothy 2:14

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

MEASURING OUR WORDS

“Jesus, whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” John 3:34

“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverb 17:27

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

FILTERING OUR WORDS

If after weighing what we say, and measuring what we speak, we can know that our words will be edifying to those to whom we speak, and to build up the church as a whole by using God’s Word as a filter. If we listened and read more of His Word we would be less likely to be speaking our own words. We can be sure our words will glorify our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ if we encourage ourselves in His Word. Jerry Bridges in his book, The Discipline of Grace, says that he has to preach the gospel to himself everyday.

“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6); gracious words, pure, like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 15:26; 16:24).

His words are sweet (Psalm 119:103); they give light (119:130). We stand in awe of his words (119:147); there is “hope in His words” (119:147); “words of insight and words of the wise” (Proverbs 1:2, 6) they are “holy words” (Jeremiah 23:9)

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.” Ecclesiastes 12:11

We are to hold fast His words that are hidden in our heart, that He will put in our mouth (Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:4; Isaiah 51:16)

What did Jesus’ disciples say about His words?

The people “marveled at the gracious words that came from His mouth” (Luke 4:22) Peter said He had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Paul spoke of “the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness in 1 Timothy 6:3; “being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6).

What did Jesus say about His words?

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 23:35

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12;48

The early church was encouraged by “the gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17
“not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,”
1 Corinthians 2:4
“in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

Do we consider our words as governed by the Spirit of Christ? Let us make our words a matter of importance for the Father’s kingdom and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our words should be filtered through His Word and prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we speak to others of Christ, the Holy Spirit must be working in their hearts for them to understand the words we speak.

In all our conversations our words should be that which encourages and strengthens our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Let us not waste a moment of His precious time given us here, to share His glory. We can be channels and purveyors “holding forth the word of life” with words that give life, using every opportunity as builders with God of His kingdom on earth. We need not be reticent but with prayer and preparation through His Word anticipate that He will fill up our days with His goodness, His grace and love, laying up treasures in heaven as we spread the joy and contentment that is ours in Christ. We can weigh, measure and filter what our heavenly Father has given us in Christ, and with the abundance share the overflow as he continues to fill us with His fulness.

Dear Father  let these prayers from the Psalmist be our prayers today and everyday.
“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”
Psalm 69:6
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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