God is at His Best in Times Like These

The most difficult the times, the closer our Heavenly Father draws us to Him.
When things are well with us, we are prone to forget Him.

 “Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
he is gracious,

and full of compassion, and righteous.”
Psalm 112:4

He waits to be gracious to us. In times like these, He opens heaven and His sanctuary to us, drawing us ever so close.

Dear Father, send your light and and by your Spirit, lead us to seek you, your kingdom and your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

In Times Like These

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
both sure and stedfast.”
Hebrews 6:19

Now in our eighties, Jerry and I have never known anything close to what the world is experiencing now. For over a week, I have been singing the hymn In Times Like These.

Searching for the composer and the story behind this hymn, I found it was written by Ruth Caye Jones, a pastor’s wife and the mother of five, living in Pennsylvania during World War II. She was distressed by the headlines of her Pittsburgh newspaper. She saw the World War II causality lists and she knew the Allies were making slow progress through the boot of Italy. Supplies were rationed at home, and everyone was living under incredible strain.

(Jerry was six years old and I was three at that time. I was born in 1939, when the war started, and I remember where I was when it ended in 1945. Jerry and I felt part of the aftermath of the depression of the late 1920s. But I had never heard of the pandemic of 1918 until I read about it two days ago.)

“Opening her Bible to 2 Timothy 3, Ruth studied the page and pondered the opening words. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. A song began composing itself in her mind. She jotted some lyrics on a small pad in her apron pocket. A series of notes also played in her mind. Only later did she realize they came from the old clock on the mantle with its iconic Westminster Chimes. Soon the notes and music congealed to become one of the most beloved Gospel songs of the 1940s and 1950s,

Ruth’s song may have been inspired by 2 Timothy 3:1, but it’s based on her knowledge of another verse—Hebrews 6:19, which says: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Robert J. Morgan

Many of my thoughts during this time could be the source of articles on times like these, but I hope to share the encouraging ones for God’s people as minutely as possible. Not many of us can focus too long at one time.

Soon I want to look at the effects of times like these, how we can keep our focus on our Heavenly Father, thrive as His people even under the strain, and to share important and encouraging messages from pastors who are leading their flocks through this dark time.

Our Father in heaven, You are answering life-long prayers in ways we never expected, seeing and hearing things that are difficult to understand. We need your Holy Spirit to know how to pray. We are seeking your kingdom and your righteousness more and more. Draw us closer to you and help us to exhort one another to a deeper faith in you ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

“Thy Will be Done”

How often do we pray the third petition of the Lord’s Prayer with our whole heart?

Sometimes we need to look at familiar things with new insight.
As God’s children, we are prone to wander from what we have heard most of our lives. Or we may think we have it down and experienced it already.

Hearing these sermons for the last few weeks as our pastor is preaching through the Gospel of Luke, some of us are being awakened to look again ~ more closely at what Jesus was teaching His disciples.

View this sermon on the third petition and you may sense the need to hear the sermons on the other petitions as well.

Dear Father, please bless those who hear the preaching of your Word with the same convictions and renewal of your Holy Spirit in their hearts and lives. as you have blessed me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

Rich and Intentional

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that,
though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor,
that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
2 Corinthians 8:9

Do you ever dream of winning the lottery? I would not know what to do with the money that is at stake. Even now, at the ridiculous $300,000,000, those who buy a chance to win have no idea how they would spend the money. A few may think they would do good and help others, but how many suddenly became wealthy and were so mesmerized they could not even plan what to do.

Even as some who are wealthy in temporal things waste what they have, some rich in spiritual abundance lack wisdom to use what we have. As God’s children, we must be taught to recognize the inheritance we have in Jesus Christ. We have to see the enormous wealth of eternal things and bring to our Father the interest He has invested in us.  We must study and show ourselves approved to receive more. We must be fruitful and multiply.

As these have been my thoughts concerning what it means to be fruitful, I am learning more and more that the gifted life of God’s children is intentional. He does not expect us to waste what He gives.

Jesus gave His life, intentionally, to save His people, to deliver us from our wasteful lives, and to make us a productive vine in His vineyard. He is sanctifying His people through His Spirit, bringing His church to serve Him in the world today.

Following are references to the riches of His glory, His grace, His mercy, His goodness, His wisdom and knowledge.

“And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Romans 9:23

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

“the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” Ephesians 1:18 

“the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” Colossians 1:27

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Ephesians 1:7

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Ephesians 2:4

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Romans 2:4 

For the last two months, He has been working in my mind and heart, to bring me to see how I am to intentionally be a living sacrifice for Him. As a result, I am spending less time on the computer and more time in His Word and prayer. It has been a blessing to be part of the WordPress Christian community since January of 2011, but I am no longer able to read and comment on everyone’s blog every day.

My blogging will be sporadic, and only as the Lord gives me specific things to share. My main intention is to be Jerry’s caregiver. My primary writing will continue to be through our books. Please pray that we will be fruitful as He, in Christ, blesses us all with all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3).

As God’s children, we are rich in faith and good works

“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” James 2:5

“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;” 1 Timothy 6:18

Dear Father in heaven, we praise you for loving us; by your mercy, grace, and goodness, supplying all our needs, and making us partakers of your glory. Forgive us for wasting the inheritance of your many blessings. Teach us and enable us through the wisdom and knowledge of you, to know the riches that are ours in Jesus Christ, our Lord and to share what you give with others. In His precious name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

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Food for the Hungry Soul

Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

In my continued study on prayer and intercession, I am amazed at how our heavenly Father answers our prayers when we know why and what to pray.

Two main points of this thing called Prayer are essential if we are to experience answered prayer. And these two  are the essence of Christian life ~ not just for prayer.

Christian living and Prayer are two sides of the same coin. Our petitions are selective and representative of our lives.

Asking from the Heart

As earthly creatures, we speak from the heart the first thing that comes to mind.

James speaks of those whose prayers are not answered because they ask selfishly.

Jesus speaks of answered prayers spoken according to what our heavenly Father promises.

Jesus did not come to earth from His glory in heaven to receive the scorn of sinners, to die, and to open heaven so that we could continue in our selfish state.

There are many facets of prayer. We will consider two in this article. One facet of prayer is the understanding of why we pray. The other facet is knowing what to pray

When we consider who we are in Christ, living to the glory of God ~ whether we eat or drink ~ or pray ~ it is all to the glory of our heavenly Father
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

Our main course of eating should be the Word of God. Our main drink should be the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We know why we pray when we are feasting at His table. We pray for the resources revealed in His Word for His glory and the benefit of others.

The Pipeline of Grace

Prayer is the pipeline of grace that reaches the heights of His glory, whereby we ask and receive what He has prepared for His people. Heaven is the storehouse of the goodness and provisions we need for His life and preparation for eternal life with Him.

We, as His creatures, know what to ask because we know Him. We must know His Word and His promises.  His promises are much more applicable to our needs than what we usually ask.

We ask to be relieved from our troubles. The Lord promises to be with us in our troubles. In His sovereignty, He plans to use our trials and difficulties as His means of grace to draw us closer to Him and to grow us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are called to pray for others. When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored him.

The Storehouse

Getting back to the point and title of this article, we, as God’s people, have access to the storehouse of God’s Word that replenishes and satisfies the human soul.

We speak it in power to others, and it opens the storehouse of heaven when we ask it for others. What we ask in prayer has to do with what He wants to give.

We ask according to His Word, knowing Him and His Word. We pray because our lives are dependent on Him and because we live according to His Word and for His glory.

 It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.
John 6:63

We experience prayer in its true light when we see it from God’s point of view.

Imagine you are God, waiting with glorious things prepared for your people, blessings unimaginable to the human mind. They do not receive because they do not know your great heart and love for them. They do not read the good news you sent them with the order form, or they would come and ask and partake of the glorious bounty you have promised in your Word.

Then Simon Peter answered him,
Lord, to whom shall we go?
you have the words of eternal life.”
John 6:68

Gracious heavenly Father, you have blessed us by your grace to know your goodness and to see your glory. In your Word, you have revealed the greatest gift ~ eternal life through Jesus Christ your Son. By your Holy Spirit, you open our eyes to the promises revealed in Christ. Thank you for drawing us to Him to receive Him, to live in and through Him here, now, and forever. In Jesus’ name, I praise you. Amen.
This will lead us into our next post ~ Words of Life ~ BREAD
Fran

Urgently Knocking

A most unusual discovery in our study of the words “Ask, Seek, and Knock” is that Jesus expresses only one thing for each of these.

In Luke 11:13, He says to “ASK for the Holy Spirit.”
In Matthew 6:33 He commands us to “SEEK the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
In Luke 13:25 He mentions those who wait too late to “KNOCK at the door.”

We must be born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) in order to see, to seek His Kingdom, to knock and to enter His kingdom.

We find in the following verses the diligent seeking and the urgent knocking.

In Luke 11:6-10 is the widow’s persistent asking, seeking, and knocking until the master of the house opens the door to her request.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:25-26

The strait gate leads to the master’s house. But when He has shut the door, man’s knocking and crying, Lord, Lord, will be to no avail.

We who are born of His Spirit will continue to ask Him to lead us. We walk and live by His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25and continue to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Unless we knock at the door of His heart in His timing, He will not know us, and the doors of heaven will be shut.

“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came;
and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage:
and the door was shut.”
Matthew 25:10

When Jesus Knocks

The Book of Revelation records Jesus’ words in the letter to the church at Laodicea.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Knocking indicates a separation (a door that must be opened from the other side) between the person knocking and the person  on the other side. There is a need and the only fulfillment of that need rests in the promise of someone who can provide that need.

Does the door swing both ways? Had Jesus knocked at the door of the heart of those who were left out?

 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Hebrews 3:7-12

By His Holy Spirit and His Word, Jesus knocks at the door of our sin and unbelief. He calls us to put away our sin ~ to repent and believe ~ to allow Him to lead us out of the bondage of self and sin.

We cannot seek or knock of our own volition. It must be the work of His Spirit within us drawing us to Christ even as He draws near to us. John 6:44; John 6:63-65

 The Doors of Wisdom

“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” Proverbs 8:34

The Doors of Heaven

They are “the doors of heavenPsalm 78:23,

 In Revelation 4:1, “a door was opened in heaven to John where he saw and recorded what would come to pass.

 Jesus is the Door to the Kingdom of Heaven

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
I am the door of the sheep.”  
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
John 10:7,9

 A Door of Hope

“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:15

The Door of Faith

 “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27

In this brief study of Jesus’ words, we learn that asking, seeking, and knocking are descriptive of the work of prayer by His people, for His kingdom. His Holy Spirit brings us to repentance and faith in Him so that as we continue to ask for His Spirit, we are led to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and to knock at the door of His heart for all He has promised.

We understand that this practice is not just for us individually, for our own needs, but in unity with His people ~ the body of Christ ~ for the needs of others. Intercession involves a greater degree of fervency, diligence, and urgency as we pray continually at His throne of grace.

The prayer life of a Christian is a daily dwelling in His presence. He dines and sups with us continually as He opens His Word and His promises to us and proves His presence and His power in our lives.

In Christ, we dwell in the throne room, in unity with His Spirit ~ knowing His power to accomplish all He desires for our good and His glory.

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together
in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

Ephesians 2:6

We ask what we will because we ask in faith according to His will, seeking His glory in all things, continually knocking at the door of His heart as He intercedes and presents our petitions to our Father.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 Corinthians 2;9

We are continually filled with his grace, nestled in His goodness, and wrapped in His glory. In Christ and Christ in us, we are kept by His power now and forever.

Dear Father, we cannot thank you enough for all you have prepared for us and given by your grace. We are unworthy stewards of your blessings but you have entrusted us with the knowledge of your Word and your will so that we know what to ask, what to seek and where to knock. Continue to draw us to Christ by the power of your Spirit, to dwell in Him and receive your heavenly blessings as well as all our earthly needs. We praise and bless you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fran

Suggested Reading: GOD is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan for His People
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Diligently Seeking

As I continue this search for the meanings of Jesus’ words, I am impressed with the thoughts of fervently asking, diligently seeking, and urgently knocking. We are sharing what God’s Word reveals of diligently seeking in this post.

When Jesus told His disciples to ask, seek, and knock, He had certain things and conditions in mind. Being brought up with the Law and the Prophets, He reiterated the first thing we should seek. He emphasized seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness which we find repetitive in the Old Testament.

Seek the Lord

“If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;” Job 8:5

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee:
my soul thirsteth for thee,
my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land,
where no water is;”

Psalm 63:1

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.” Psalm 105:3

“The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him
(Ezra 8:22).

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found,
call ye upon him while he is near:

Isaiah 55:6

Seek “the commandments of the Lord our God” (1 Chronicles 28:8; “His precepts” Psalm 119:45); “wisdom” (Proverbs 2:4): “knowledge “(Proverbs 18:15)

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”
Psalm 27:4

“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” Ezra 8:21

“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness:” Zephaniah 2:3

“Seek the Lord, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” Psalm 105:4

Seek His Face

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee,
Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”
Psalm 27:8

Seek Peace 

“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” Jeremiah 29:7

” seek peace, and ensue it1 Peter 3:11

Who will seek?

They that know thy namePsalm 9:10

 “such as love thy salvation” Psalm 40:16

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him,
to the soul that seeketh him”.
Lamentations 3:25
 

“the Gentiles seek” Isaiah 11:10

ye that follow after righteousness.” Isaiah 51:1

“the children of Israel and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.” Jeremiah 50:4; Hosea 3:5

How will we seek?

with all their heart and with all their soul;” 2 Chronicles 15:12; Deuteronomy 4:29

seek him with the whole heart.”  Psalm 119:2

“With my soul, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early:” Isaiah 26:9

by prayer and supplications, with fasting,” Daniel 9:3

Seek First the Kingdom of God

The only thing Jesus tells us to seek is the first and most important thing, for with the kingdom of God and his righteousness we will have everything we need.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.”

Matthew 6:33

“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:” Romans 2:7

“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12

“If ye then be risen with Christ,
seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”
Colossians 3:1

“But without faith it is impossible to please him:
for he that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6

“For they seek a country.
Hebrews 11:14; Hebrews 13:14

Our Father in heaven, forgive us for not seeking you as we ought. Thank you for teaching us through your Word how to seek you. We praise you for your Son, our Lord Jesus who teaches us to seek your kingdom and your righteousness above all things ~ and for Paul who teaches us to seek those things above. Fill us with your Spirit and with the power to seek and find you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Suggested Reading: Free Ebook First Things that Last Forever
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