Words of Life ~ ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE)

Continuing Words of Life A-Z The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian, we are encountering the phenomenal connections of all Words to the center of Christianity, which is Christ, Himself. As we look at both Old and New Testaments we learn what is accepted for true life, Life as God our Creator means it to be. As we study we see that God our Father alone can work what is acceptable for the Life of a follower of Christ.

ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE) in the Concordance H7521
Defines the word (ratsah rä·tsä’)
A primitive root; to be pleased with; specifically to satisfy a debt:—(be)
accept (-able), accomplish, set affection, approve, consent with, delight (self),
enjoy, (be, have a) favour (-able), like, observe, pardon, (be, have, take) please (-
ure), reconcile self.

ACCEPTABLE is used in two references from Proverbs.

“The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.” Proverbs 10:32

“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3

The Lord’s acceptance of His people was based on His own work of bringing them out from the other nations.

“I will accept you…….when I bring you……….and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. (Ezekiel 20:41).

We see in the New Testament the same means of acceptance through the work of His Son for us on the cross.

In The New Testament
ACCEPTED (ACCEPTABLE) 
in the Concordance G1184
defines the word (dektos dek-tos’)(an adjective derived from 1209 (dexomai) – properly, what is received favorably (acceptable), describing what is welcomed because pleasing.

The most prominent reference is from Ephesians 1:6.

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Ephesian 1:6

What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term “acceptance” in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight.   But it is only “in the beloved”  ~  accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing  Rejoice, believer, in this: thou art accepted “in the beloved.” Know by full assurance thy glorious standing. Even glorified souls are not more accepted than thou art. They are only accepted in heaven “in the beloved,” and thou art even now accepted in Christ after the same manner. Charles Spurgeon

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“But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:35

Whereas the Lord brought His people from other nations, now in Christ, He brings people of every nation to “fear Him and work righteousness.”

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

Accepted as holy in the beloved Christ and by His mercies, we are led to present our bodies a living sacrificeacceptable to God (vs. 1) to prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (vs. 2).

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5

When we suffer for His sake and take it patientlythis is acceptable with God (1 Peter 2:20).

Dear Father, mighty to save, holy and merciful, making us acceptable to you in Christ, we thank you and live in praise to you. Continue to renew our minds and prove your acceptable will in and through us. Fill us, as living stones with your Spirit to offer the sacrificial life and the spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to you. Fill us with the Life of Christ that witnesses of your presence to the world around us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

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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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GOD, Who is Here

To quote directly from Francis Schaeffer’s book,The God Who Is There, I would have to read it again. Time does not permit, so I took these notes from the Publisher’s Description.

 More than ever, The God Who Is There demonstrates how historic Christianity can fearlessly confront the competing philosophies of the world. The God who has always been there continues to provide the anchor of truth and the power of love to meet the world’s deepest problems.

It is from this last sentence that I use the title, GOD, Who is Here, in relation to the overall heading, Beyond a Mere Christianity.

While Schaeffer was revealing the shift in Christianity due to philosophy, science, history and the arts, my purpose is not to address the gainsayers, but those who follow Christ and desire a greater zeal for God and the Christian life.

GOD is More was leading to this series of articles as a means of piquing the interest of those who read HIs Word, yet do not really know the greatness of His power in the heart and life.

The only degree that qualifies me to write in this fashion is a DDC (devoted disciple of Christ). Knowing GOD, Who is Here has been a humbling experience over decades of need, searching, studying, in meditation of God’s Word, memorization and personal encounters with a living God who is not just ruling and reigning in heaven. From His throne in heaven, He is revealing Himself to His creatures and present with each one. To speak of these things is beyond my expertise and knowledge, but with prayer, I desire to write simply of how God has revealed Himself to me through His Word, His Holy Spirit and HIs presence and power in Jerry’s and my life. I quote Andrew Murray, who at times apologized for not spending more time editing his work; “The Lord loves to use the feeble for His glory.” Waiting on God

We will present this treatise in three parts:
WHO GOD IS
HOW HE IS HERE
WHY HE IS HERE

WHO GOD IS
From my childhood, there is no memory of anyone speaking of any God, except the one revealed in the Holy Bible. There is only one name of the God of Christianity. He is the LORD GOD, Jehovah, or Yahweh in Hebrew.

“For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” 1 Corinthians 8:5-6

Paul speaks of the necessity for spiritual understanding that is apart from man’s natural comprehension (Corinthians 2:9-16). We will expand on this in the second part.

Let us look briefly at who God is from HIs Word, remembering that He is more than we can know and understand. We grow in our conception and the reality of who and where He is through continual study and meditation. We pray and wait in faith and anticipation, desiring with all our hearts for Him to reveal Himself.

GOD our CREATOR
Our core belief is in the GOD who is our Creator. We will not waste space to debate the philosophers, scientists and historians. Genesis 1:1 is an emphatic declaration of His role as Creator of the heavens and the earth. How He created and how we are individually a part of the earth He created is simply understood by taking Him at His Word. Believing means that we start with that truth, move on, read more, pray for His Holy Spirit to work faith and truth in our hearts and minds and live according to what we read. This means we must put away any pre-conceived ideas if we come across a contradiction to what we have heard before.

Christianity is not an Old Testament reality, but rather the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Christianity is based, not on how men define it, but how Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and life of the Christian faith, defines it. John 1:1-5 speaks of Jesus being in the beginning as The Word. The Word was with God and was God. He was the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, a promise of redemption for a fallen and rebellious people.

Rather than going into all the different names and characteristics of our GOD, we will look at the mainstream of His being. Christ, the Son of God, was in the beginning, for the purpose of fulfilling the prophecy of man’s redemption.

GOD, our REDEEMER

“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” Isaiah 44:6

Other references in the Old Testament, reveal that Jesus, being the Son of God, in the beginning with Him, was in an active role of redemption before His incarnation.

The LORD God, as creator and redeemer — Isaiah 44:24

The LORD God, redeemer, the Holy One of Israel — Isaiah 46:17

The LORD thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob — Isaiah 49:26

GOD, our FATHER
In Jesus’ life and teachings, He revealed GOD as His, and our heavenly Father. His disciples carried forth this most profound truth of Christianity through the early church’s foundation. The supernatural work of His Holy Spirit produces a new heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26), a regenerating work that is beyond man’s capacity to produce, or to reason. Our heavenly Father desired children to share the wealth of HIs love and glory and sires them according to His own choosing to inherit His eternal kingdom. Living in faith and hope of this legacy is more than a mere, passing thought, but an assurance, as we serve our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ as living sacrifices in His kingdom now.

As we have mentioned already,He is much more than we are covering here and more than we can ever know. Again, we encourage you to commit your life to seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness if you want to know the true and living God. We can never know all there is to know, but we can all be a witness of who He reveals Himself to be to each of us. Please add your personal knowledge in the comment section.

HOW HE IS HERE ~ By His Spirit
GOD is Spirit (John 4:24), not bound to any place or time, with the prerogative to reveal Himself wherever He pleases.

There is no place we can go from His presence (Psalm 139:3-10).

No one can hide himself from God (Jeremiah 23:23-24).

He sees everything, the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3).

Though He is omnipresent (in all places at all times) not everyone can witness to this truth.

We cannot arrive at the truth of our God from philosophy, science, or any other way, but only through His Word. Natural man cannot come to an understanding of truth, because truth comes from God and is revealed by His Holy Spirit. We can read the Bible, which is God’s book, but not understand it except the Spirit of truth interprets for us. Jesus spoke of sending the Holy Spirit for this purpose (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13).

If we read and believe what the Bible says, it will be through the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

Again, we read from the Bible what we believe to be true and live accordingly; this is faith that His Spirit and His Word work in us. Nothing can shake this faith when we know that God is here with us by His Spirit.

By HIs  Promise
His Word is His promise to reveal Himself and to fulfill every promise that He has made to us as His children.

He promises never to leave us, nor forsake us Hebrews 13:5.

He is with us; He is our God (Isaiah 41:10).

We understand through faith in His Word by the Holy Spirit, that He was incarnate in His Son, Jesus Christ. Let us go now to our next truth.

WHY HE IS HERE
GOD is here ruling and reigning through His Son, Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to earth and lived thirty-three years, it was to fulfill His promise and His purpose to save a people for Himself; a remnant, to share His glory. He lived a perfect life in obedience to the will of His Father, so that He would offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. That sacrifice offered, His dying to redeem all who believe, resurrected from the dead, ascending back to the Father, sending the Holy Spirit to rule in each heart, was the plan of creation and redemption.
Christ now sits at the right hand of the Father, upholding all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:1-3).

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 2:5

Before the foundation of the world He chose His people to be holy and blameless before Him through the sacrifice of HIs son, so that we would believe and live as HIs children. (Ephesians 1:3-5).

The promise of the Father to send His Spirit was fulfilled at Pentecost after Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:8).
By His Spirit working in us, He is conforming us to the image of His Son, in preparation for eternity with Him. (Romans 3:28-29) In all things that seem unfair and not to our liking, we experience the humbling and meekness of spirit that we need.

We will stop here, but continue His promises and purposes in the articles that follow, especially in What is Jesus Doing in Your Life? It is through these that we will learn more of the truth of Christianity and begin to live beyond our former thoughts and expectations. Writing these articles are the Lord’s means of teaching me what I still need to know. And what a blessing it is to read, study, meditate and memorize His promises, and experience this relationship that He planned for us.

Dear heavenly Father, we understand that your will for us as your children is to know you, Let us continue to know more of who you are as our Creator, Redeemer and Father; to live in anticipation of more than we have experienced, and to be a witness to others of your relationship with us as your redeemed ones, those who are beloved in Christ. Thank you for blessing us with the revelation of who you are by the power of your Holy Spirit. We praise you that you have brought us to you through Jesus Christ your Son, whom we love, even as we love you, and in whose name we praise you and thank you. Amen.

 

Beyond a Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity was a compilation of C.S. Lewis’ beliefs, in which he set aside definite doctrines. He stated, ”at the centre of each (religion) there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.” 

Many, by reading the book, have been encouraged to embrace Christianity even as he did. My purpose in writing is to look beyond what he believed, spoke, and wrote, to discover a greater depth, beyond a mere Christianity; for a mere Christianity will not suffice to proclaim and live the legacy God has bestowed on His children. When we try to make Christianity a common faith, we are in danger of dumbing down the power that Christ died to give us. We lose the essence of the faith that is by grace alone, the working of the Holy Spirit for revelation of the truths of God’s Word. When the gospel is watered down so that everybody can believe, we forfeit the wealth that comes only by personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, His Son. Christianity comes at a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and requires more from us than we are able to give. To receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit working through new hearts, drawn to and committed to Him. His grace does not relieve us of duty, but binds us to it and fulfills the requirement, whereby we experience this new life, a heavenly life above and beyond what most people know.

Others have written from Lewis’ theme, but from different perspectives. In the following articles (perhaps more) we will incorporate many facets of His kingdom that our heavenly Father reveals to us, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, in and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through as many of these as He will bestow His grace and blessings, we pray He will make clear HIs role as a loving heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and Life; His presence, power, His name, His kingdom and His will. These are His truth, promises and blessings for a people who know Him, fear Him, love Him, obey, worship, serve, praise, pray, and proclaim in power the good news of Christ, who are being transformed as living sacrifices and conformed to His image, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility and Godliness.

This is to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) in the “fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) ~ “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)  here in this life, as He continues to prepare us for eternity with Him. True Christianity is separate from any other religion ~ and the reality of a holy life in union with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. He reveals Himself to and in us, not as Someone, but as Jehovah, the Lord our God. He sires children of His own who are HIs image-bearers. Though not perfect, we are HIs off-spring through His Son, as He continues to lead us through an imperfect world, shining through us His holiness and humility.

Inexhaustible Goodness
God, Who Is Here
Weakness and Meekness

Endear and Endure
Three Powerful Words in the Chrisitian Vocabulary
The Right Man For the Job
A Holy, High and Heavenly Calling
Covenant Living and Giving
Seeing Is Believing
How Exciting is Your God?

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life?
Good Works
Peace and Contentment

Bound by Grace ~ Free to Love
Abiding in Light and Truth
Surviving in Enemy Territory

Thriving Under Oppression
His Utmost For My Highest
Radical and Riveted
Focus, Love and Rejoice
Arrows in the Hands of a Mighty God

Many Religions
There are many religions ~ religions for the body, religions for the mind, religions for the spirit and soul ~ of man. Nations are formed by their religions. Children are born and grow up in their religions. We live by what we know and are continually taught. Everyone has a religion, even if they cannot express it verbally. The mind of every person is a tablet, written on from their birth into this world.

In my autobiography, I express my birth as if being given a coloring book and a set of crayons. At every age and stage, I was given a new coloring book and a new set of crayons. My mind, heart and spirit took in everything I saw, heard and experienced, so as to live accordingly.  What I read and was taught became my religion. I was given a Bible, learned what was written there sporadically, from sermons in church, Sunday School, and vacation Bible school. The principles were taught in our home, but not verbatim. The golden rule was prevalent, with a general understanding of right from wrong, but not Biblically profound. Neither my parents, nor I, understood anything beyond what you can see and touch, although I had a sense of something more. Anything spiritual was beyond comprehension, and so, not taught.

Difficult times were accepted as normal, with only dim hopes of improvement in this life. “When We All Get to Heaven” was the favorite hymn sung in church, with the accompanying  hellfire and brimstone sermon. 

How I got from there to writing this treatise on a Christianity that is far and beyond anything I learned in my childhood, is based on a powerful act of God’s grace that overtook, overcame, and overrides everything I had been taught. This Christianity of which I speak is not man’s religion but from heaven, from God, revealing Himself as Creator and Redeemer of the human race. He reveals His plans, His work, His presence, His power, His sovereignty in the writings of the Holy Bible. These are all beyond the normal scope of human wisdom and living.

If we read casually, we will reap a crumb or two of the religion we are looking for. If we study hard and often, diligently seeking something to believe and live by, we may see some difference in our lives. We may even sense a religion to share with others. We may worship with others of the same faith, but, in essence, it is still only man’s religion. It is nominal, or what we think of as normal Christianity.

It is what the world sees, and it colors God and the church with only a slightly different tone than the world’s colors. 

Mere living is below the standards of God’s kingdom. It is settling for the world’s goods.  It is negating the faith given from and in a living God to settle for man’s ideas of life. In the days ahead, let us leave these thoughts of man’s mere faith and look heavenward to the Lord, our God and the only true religion of which He is the focus, our Lord Jesus as the center, and the Holy Spirit, among us and within each of us directing all things according to the will of the Father. By His grace, we will complete all that He has planned for these articles. Please pray for us as we pray for you the reader.

Father in heaven, our Lord and God, we thank you for all that you are, more than we can ask or think, for our Lord, Jesus, and for your Holy Spirit. We praise you for your Word, the truth of your Word, the authority of your Word, for your Living Word, Jesus Christ, commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Speak to the hearts of your children as you dwell within us. Make us aware, through your Word, written and Living within us, of something more than we have been told about you. Give us a deeper understanding of who you are, so that we know whose we are, so that we may continue to proclaim the legacy of your kingdom, to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran

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The Power of Life in the Word of God

We have but to spend time in God’s Word contained in the Old and New Testaments, known as the Holy Bible, to learn how powerful it is. We need to be reminded from time to time because we can slip away from it, as we are distracted by the everyday occurrences of this world. We need it more than we need daily food for the body. Jesus knew this when He was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. It is more than daily nourishment now and for eternity.

“Men shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God
.”

Matthew 4:4

Food for the body expires even as do our bodies.

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
  but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Isaiah 40:8

We have never found anything to replace food for our bodies, but we continue to look for alternatives for the spiritual food God planned for the soul.

I am amazed at websites that intrigue their audiences by their food preparations. But God’s Word needs no special recipes, ingredients or fanfare. To sit down with the Bible in hand is food and joy; more than any physical meal. God is present and shares His heart, spirit and soul with us. We find in it the power of His grace, His glory, contentment, peace, love, purpose and power for living. We are fed from the Master’s table with promise for all our needs and some to spare, to share with others. The power of life in Jesus Christ becomes the power of life in us by His Holy Spirit.

Physical food serves for physical strength, but God’s Word far surpasses all our needs, in all of life and through death. Meat and potatoes will only last until our death, but not afterward. Power from God’s living Word and His Spirit transitions us into eternity with Him.

Dear heavenly Father, Thank you for preserving your Word throughout centuries when men tried to destroy it. Thank you that through it you teach us how you preserve us. We have the promises you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ. He, the living Word, is the power in us for all that you have planned. And in His name we praise you now and forever. Amen.
(Suggested reading: The Garden of God’s Word)

Three Hours of Darkness

For a few hours Monday, there was unity in America, as all people with special glasses were gazing at the eclipse. There were exclamations of wonder and awe. Others were disappointed, expecting more than they saw. We have read only a few articles about the experience. My thoughts ran from how gracious God is to share His glory with us, to His bringing this unity, if only for a few hours. More than this, my thoughts have been centered on another day in history over two thousand years ago, when there were three hours of darkness during the middle of the day. Never hearing a sermon on this, I searched for what Charles Spurgeon had to say, and am blessed that I can share it here. He actually preached on this passage twice. The link to the second one is shared after this one. I pray your hearts will be blessed by this sermon as mine has been.

“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.”
Matthew 27:45

“THIS darkness was not occasioned by any of the natural causes which generally produce darkness. It was in the middle of the day, precisely at noon, that the darkness came. It could not have been caused by an eclipse, for, it being the time of the Passover, we know that the moon was just then at its fullest—at which period no such thing as an eclipse of the sun could possibly occur. It could not, then, have been produced from that cause.

And from the way in which Luke describes it, it does not seem to have been occasioned by the sun being eclipsed by any other body, for if you look to his narrative you will find he seems to say that the darkness came first, and that afterwards the sun became dark. Whether this was through some dense vapor coming over the face of the earth, an intensification of some of these fogs to which we are so accustomed, or whether it was through a miraculous action upon the atmosphere, so that while the sun shone its light was no longer able to reach the eye, we cannot tell, but in some way or other darkness prevailed over all the land from twelve o’clock till three in the afternoon.

We suppose that this darkness came on suddenly and, if so, it must have been most striking. Just in the midst of their ribald mirth, while they were staring at the naked body of their victim and insulting Him with their jests and jeers, wagging their heads, and thrusting out their tongues—just at that very moment total darkness came on!

We suppose it to have been total, or, at any rate, such a gloom as to be a “darkness” which “was over all the land.” We suppose, too, that just as suddenly this darkness was withdrawn. As soon as the Savior expired, just at the moment when He gave His last triumphant shout, “It is finished,” the sun gleamed forth again and the earth laughed once more in the sunlight—for the great trial of Christ, the great struggle for man’s salvation—was then all over! Such a phenomenon must have been most striking. The sudden darkening and the sudden lighting up of the world must have been a thing to be remembered and to be talked of by all who saw it!

As for ourselves at this time, we have not so much to do with the physical causes or with the appearance, itself, as with the spiritual meaning of this darkness. There is light in this darkness, if not to the natural, yet to the spiritual eye, if we have grace to discern it.

That Sacrifice!—the death of Him—
The high and ever Holy One!

Well may the conscious heaven grow dim,
And blacken the beholding sun.”

There is something to be learned, even from the darkness—something to be learned from the light, and something to be learned from both the darkness and the light together. In the first place, there is, we believe—

I. SOMETHING TO BE LEARNED IN THIS REMARKABLE DARKNESS which covered all the land during the sharpest and severest part of our Savior’s agony.

We learn, first, the sympathy of creation with her Lord. There is a singular sympathy in creation between God’s vicegerent on earth, namely, man, and the world. When man was in his integrity, then the earth was fruitful, but when man fell, the curse fell upon the ground as well as upon man. “Cursed is the ground for your sake.” Then the thorn and the thistle sprang up, being sent by God as a token of His displeasure with man. We believe, brothers and sisters, that “the creature was made subject to vanity not willingly,” and that in due time, when sin has been cleansed away; this earth of ours will be redeemed from the curse.

We are looking for the happy and halcyon time when the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the trumpet of the archangel and the voice of God, and then this poor darkened planet shall be washed from her night garments of mist, and shall shine out like her sister stars, the unfallen worlds, praising and magnifying the God who created her! Now if there is this sympathy, as we are sure there is, between the earth and man, much more is there a sympathy between the earth and God—and still more between the earth and that Man who was God as well as man! Observe that when He was born, midnight turned to midday, and when He died mid-day turned to midnight.

When He was born, heaven was lit up with splendor and from angelic choirs the Bethlehem song was heard, while men also rejoiced, because unto them a child was born, unto them a Son was given. But when he died, heaven put out her brightest light! “You sun, of this great world, both eye and soul,” you did—and, perceiving it in midday—midnight, with your face all wrapped as in a mantle for very shame, you did lament Him whom men scoffed and mocked, for you were the chief mourner at the death of the King of Kings.

The earth, then, thus showed her sympathy with the Lord Jesus Christ by her darkness. Remember, too, that she also trembled through her ribs of stone, for there was an earthquake and the veil of the temple was split in two—and even death acknowledged its defeat, for many of the saints that slept, arose. There is a wondrous sympathy, then, between the world and He who made and redeemed the world—and this was manifested by the darkening of the world at the time of His death!

But, secondly, there was in great deal more in the darkness than this. It was surely a rebuke and a check to the insulting cruelty of man! What louder rebuke, though without a sound! What stronger check, though without a voice, could have been offered to that assembled throng? The Roman in his pride, the Jew in his bigotry and the Gentile in his hatred of all that was sacred, were all there—and all did their utmost to pour contempt on Christ! And just in the midst of it they were like the men who sought after a light in Sodom—as if they were all smitten with blindness—they could not find their way! It was all dark round about Him. Now they could no longer scoff at Him. They dared not now say, “Let Him come down from the cross!”

I suppose that during those three hours there must have been an intense silence, or if men ventured to use their lips, they whispered to one another, “What is this that has come upon us? Is this the judgment, and is that man, after all, the King of the Jews, and is this darkness, this darkness which may be felt, the taking away of the light of mercy from our eyes that we may perish in everlasting darkness?” I think I can hear them muttering thus, as some of them found their way to their homes, stumbling and falling to the ground, and others of them coming together for the sake of company to keep up their courage—but all of them sitting astonished in the thick darkness and wondering what it could mean— when a tremor went through all the earth and the veil of the temple was split and even the heathen centurion, astonished by all these surprising concomitants of the death of this crucified man, said, “Surely this must be the Son of God!” It was an amazing rebuke, then, to the wickedness of man which then came to its climax round about the cross.

Was it not also, in the third place, the furnishing of our Savior with a retiring room, not that He might get a shelter, but that He might now be able to do His great work—bear the full weight of our sins and endure the extremities of the divine wrath? I must not say it, but I do think it would have been impossible for human eyes to have looked upon the Savior when He was in the full vortex of the storm of wrath which fell upon Him—and that God, even in mercy to man, shut the door that man’s eyes might not see the Savior in that fearful extremity of misery! It was not meet, when He trod the winepress, so that He should be gazed upon. He must tread the winepress alone in all the fullest meaning of that word, with not even an eye to gaze upon Him! It must be in the thick that He must press those grapes of wrath and stain His garments with His blood.

Oh, brothers and sisters, you can have no thought—it is impossible you should— of the depth of the Savior’s sufferings! The Greek liturgy, when it speaks of Christ’s sufferings as “Your unknown sufferings,” has just hit the mark. They were unknown—unknown to us and unknown, also, perhaps, to lost souls in hell, so dire and so extreme were they! He was shut up in the darkness that He might there alone bear the whole of it.

And was not this darkness, too, intended to be to us a sort of emblem of His state? It is as much as if God had said to us, “You want to know what Christ had to suffer? You cannot know, but that black darkness is the emblem of it.” The darkness seems to say to us, “Oh, mortal, you cannot understand me— those poor optics of yours are meant for another element, namely, for light—you lose yourself in me! You cannot find a pathway in the thick black darkness.”

So Christ on the cross seems to say to us, “My people, you can follow Me to some extent. In some of My paths you must follow Me, but here, as your atoning surety and as the vicarious sacrifice for your sins—here you cannot follow Me. This is not your element— you will lose yourselves here. You cannot comprehend it! It is only I, only I who have endured the wrath of God, and know what it means, who can travel on this road.” Christian, when you are most oppressed in soul with fellowship with Christ, and when you feel that when asked the question, with James and John, “Are you able to drink of this cup, and to be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized?” you could answer, “Yes, we are able”—mind, there is a point where you are not able—there is something in that cup which you cannot drink. There is a depth in that baptism which you cannot know.

Thank God that you cannot know it! Bless the Master that those paths of horrid gloom, where hell’s blackest nights thicken into the most intense infinitude of darkness, you can never know! “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” was not a cry for you, but for the Savior! To be cast out of God’s presence and to bear the weight of sin, is not for you, but for Christ. He has done it for you, and so the darkness becomes a fit emblem to you because you cannot understand it, neither can you fathom nor understand the depths of the Savior’s sufferings.

Once more. Does not the darkness, inasmuch as it is an emblem of Christ’s sufferings, also set forth to us our own condition? I suppose the Savior was, by force of His suretyship, compelled to take the very place which the sinner should have occupied. The plan of salvation is just this, that Christ shall take the sinner’s place and suffer in the sinner’s stead what the sinner ought to have suffered. The very pith and marrow of the gospel lies in that word—“substitution.” Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. We take Christ’s place because Christ took our place! He stood in the place of lost sinners. Well now, the place of a lost sinner is the place of darkness. Outer darkness will be his eternal place, and darkness is his present state—his natural condition—as the Apostle said, “We were sometimes darkness.”

“Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,

When God, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature’s sin.”

So the Savior is made to be in darkness and as man would have had to abide forever in darkness, misery, despair, and hopelessness, so the Savior is, for three hours, denied the light of the sun! He is denied all comfort, denied all mercies—He is left without a glimpse of His Father, or a ray from the light of the sun because He then stood in the place of His people! Ah, Christian, ought not this to make you hate sin, to think that sin thus put you in the dark and would have kept you there, and continued you in the bleakness of darkness forever?

Ought it not, too, to make you hate it when you remember that it put your Lord in the dark, and made Him hang bleeding from His wounds without a light to cheer Him or a glimpse to comfort Him? If, Christian, you do not hate sin when you think of this darkness, surely you must be still in the dark! We gather, then, these few lessons from the darkness, though we are persuaded that there are many more in it. But now we come to—

II. GATHER SOME LESSONS FROM THE LIGHT.  Con’d.
Gracious Father, thank you for the darkness of that day, when Jesus passed through it on our behalf, so that we, as your people, will never have to experience this darkness; your judgment reserved for those who have rejected your Son as the Light of truth that came into our darkness to save us. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

The Three Hours of Darkness ~ Charles Spurgeon’s second sermon on Matthew 27:45

A Year for CONTENTMENT

youre-invited-mingle-before-you-jingle1-1r5pkol-1Knowing my own need, the Lord is leading me in the year of 2017 to continue in my desire and search for the contentment that is found in Him alone. It is easy to read about, to talk about, to search for its meaning and to hope and pray for it. Like “humility” which was our subject for 2014, and “meditation” for 2015, “contentment” has not only to be sought after, but prayed for, desired with the whole heart, soul, mind and strength, and more importantly, waited for with patient endurance.  All of these are possible only by His working them in us as His family in His kingdom.

This is our plan for this New Year, and we invite you to come with us, to help us to discover what the Lord wants and has prepared for us.contentment

Contentment is a subject not only to be studied and pursued, but can be described in many ways. It is the desire of most people, but misunderstood when it comes to knowing how contentment is achieved. Since the beginning of time, we learn that contentment does not come from the things of this world.   Without even using the word or a definition, our first parents experienced what I call a seventh sense (we will look at this later) in the Garden of Eden. They were content, until Satan convinced them that they needed more than God had given them.

We live in the same environment as our first parents, but with a greater need. Contentment is a state of being. No one is born with it. Like the apostle Paul, it must be learned, and the lessons do not come from other human beings. The enemy supernaturally instilled the spirit of discontent, and only one who is stronger than he can deliver us from it.

Divine Contentment

For many years Thomas Watson’s book, The Art of Divine Contentment has been a source of study and delight. You can download free and read with us or download free MP3. Unlike our review and study of Andrew Murray’s Humility, we will not be reading through this book chapter by chapter, but we will use some of Watson’s quotes.

We want you to come with us through this year and to add your comments. We will be posting one, two or three times a week. Not every post will be titled contentment, but relating to it in some way, as we continue our search for this precious state, which our Lord desires for us. He died to deliver us from this horrific power of oppression and discontent, which is opposite from life in His kingdom.

Our posts will relate also to a book that we will be finishing this year. Thriving Under Oppression is relative to the spirit that keeps us from contentment and the life for which Christ has saved us. Soon we will publish God Is Our Goal. This too is relative to the life that is lived here in anticipation of the eternal life that is ours in Christ.  Who knows; maybe this will end up being a book, and you will have helped me write it (Proceeds always designated for missions and charity).

We encourage you to share this invitation with your readers or others you would want to be a part of this movement for 2017.
YES ~ let’s call it a “movement for contentment” ~ long needed for the Christian community.
What effect would our contentment have upon the world?

“Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who in Christ, has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing
in heavenly places.”
Ephesians 1:3

Gracious Father in heaven, it is you who has created us so that we may delight ourselves in you; who has redeemed us and restored us to an even greater estate from which we fell. Only you can bring us from the power of the oppressor to you, to know your presence and power, to work in us supernaturally this contentment for which you saved us in Christ. Draw those that you want to be a part of this year’s blessings as you lead us and teach us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Open our hearts, our minds, our ears, our wills, to you, to our Lord Jesus Christ and your Holy Spirit, so that we do not miss anything you have prepared for us. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.
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