Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The country song, Sixteen Tons, was written and recorded by Merle Travis in August, 1946. Based on life in the coalmines of Kentucky, the song was one that I remembered from my childhood. It included the lyrics, “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

When I woke yesterday morning to another birthday (two short of eighty years), many thoughts crossed my mind and ended with this one, using the words “another year.”

How many years do we need before we realize how indebted we are for all God does for us? Biblically speaking, I thought my life might end after my seventieth birthday. But, the Lord had different plans than I knew. Even before then I owed my whole life to Him, but with each subsequent year, He so blesses us to see and to bless and praise His name; to live with a thankful heart.

I am indebted to Him for His creation of me, and His plans for me before I knew Him.

I owe Him for giving me the knowledge of Himself through His Word and the power of His Spirit.

I am indebted to Him for opening my eyes to see my sinfulness and my need for a Savior, for His forgiveness; indebted to Christ, His Son, for the debt He paid for my sins.

I owe Him for a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life in His Spirit.

I thank Him for making me His child, taking me by the hand, and continuing to guide me with His Word and Spirit through this wilderness.

The more He blesses, year after year, especially through the difficult times, the more I owe. The more He gives, the more I know I can never repay.

56-78
I am indebted to Him for a husband for 56 of 78 years; for two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way. There are friends, pastors, teachers and others who have been a blessing to us, whom we can never repay.

We could go on praising Him for the next seventy years and would be even more indebted.  His blessings never end, and His promises are forever and ever. And, more is to come. We can never stop His blessings from being poured out upon us, and these only samples of what awaits us for eternity.

Dear heavenly Father, even as I give all to you, it will never be enough to repay you for all that you are, all that you have done, and are doing in my life. Thank you for your mercy and goodness that you cause to follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in your house forever. In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Christ in the Heart of a Caregiver

Today marks our fifty-sixth anniversary. If you knew how we started, and what we had to work through, you would wonder how we made it this far. Had it not been for the Lord Jesus Christ, I would not be here, and being a servant to my husband would not have been an option. During this last valley we have been going through, the question has been asked, “If you knew what you know now, would you have married Jerry?”

I was honest in answering, “No, I don’t think I would.” My vision of marriage was like most other twenty-two-year-olds. He was the man I wanted to spend my whole life with, but no thoughts of ill health for either of us was in my mind. I was selfish then, and had I known, I would not have committed to such a marriage that would require being a servant for the rest of my life.

The True Meaning of Life
Years of learning the true meaning of life brought me through different stages of serving others, then to the point eleven years ago, with his amputation, to the reality that I would be Jerry’s caregiver for the remainder of his life.

It was before then that the Lord changed my heart and my life, so that I would be willing and ready to give my life to serve Jerry, “as unto the Lord.”

Unless the Lord brought me to this place, I would never have known the joy of being His servant.

With this said, I want to share how our Lord Jesus Christ dwells in my heart, strengthens and supplies all our needs “according to His riches in glory.”

Promises From God’s Word
References are from Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16-17; and Colossians 1:11.

“To them (His saints, His people) God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27

This is the means of our hope ~ Christ living within, in whom is all our hope for now and for eternity.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—…” Ephesians 3:16-17

This is my life. Two main areas of service are Jerry, first, and then, Home. Everything else falls into the category of Other.

Christ is the center of all, shouldering all for me that Jerry needs.  He is our strength and shield.

Under the Almighty arms of Jesus are all we need for the care of our home. And according to His will working in us, we are enabled to care for the other things. Some of these may be ongoing; others may be on the spur of the moment. Except for posts on this blog, writing was put on hold this year. According to His will, and in His timing we will continue publishing our books.

When asked, “How do you do what you do, joyfully?”  ~ Joy and praise are part of a life of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. Sacrifice for Jerry and others is the only reasonable response.

Gracious Father, thank you for this opportunity to witness of your grace in a world that seeks its own desires. We praise you for choosing the role of servant and caregiver for me and making it a joyful experience. Thank you for the fruitful years that you have provided for Jerry, for me and our family. We praise you for your continued wisdom, strength and grace for the days ahead. We never know where you will lead us, but we are assured of your presence, even as you have always dealt bountifully with me. Thank you for Christ, your Son, who lives within us, and in whom we live, as we dwell in the secret place of the most high, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Keep me humble in HimIn Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen,

images: Google

Hidden Treasure

“As a child I had a recurring dream of walking a dirt path, and seeing the reflection of the sun on something in the dirt. Reaching down I discovered a penny. (When I was a child we picked up lost pennies.) As I picked it up, I found other pennies. Picking up the pennies, I found nickels underneath, and then dimes, and quarters and half-dollars in the dirt. The more I picked up the more I found buried in the dirt.

I could not understand this dream until,  as an adult, the Lord brought me into His Word. Then, I began to understand the treasures that are hidden there. The more we take, the more we see and desire and receive. As we continue to look to the path and take what He gives, more of the riches of God’s covenant and kingdom are revealed.

Jesus said, “It is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It is His pleasure to open these treasures through His Word, that we may know the heritage that is ours.

In 1993 a year after my new birth, I began writing what our heavenly Father was teaching me of our inheritance through Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1: 3-4) I began writing a little book called The Legacy. It speaks of a will written by an ancestor who wanted to bequeath His fortune to future descendants. The Legacy speaks of itself through me of how God was revealing His love and kingdom to His children who would be born of His Spirit.

God’s Word is such as a father would write in His own written will to pass on all the wealth that he has to his children. Those who read and study, meditate, and take to heart in faith what is written, will discover that this wealth is indeed meant for them individually and corporately with other members of the household of faith ~ those whom God births into His own family. He desires us and sires us according to His own will and His timing, in different generations. He brings us through His Word and Spirit to know Him, to be born of Him, to believe and repent, turning in faith to receive all the promises of His inheritance, and to live the abundant life that is ours through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no life that can compare to this life. It fulfills God’s purpose for our creation and redemption and becomes a delight for us as His children.“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we come to this garden that He has prepared for His children we find all our delight in Him. This is His ultimate purpose. God is our goal. His purpose is to satisfy us to the fullest in Himself. His desires become our desires.” The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY

Dear Father in heaven, how can we know you, your promises of the life that is ours in Christ, your Son, without your calling, and giving us a new heart and spirit to hear and respond? We praise you for your power to give us physical life and spiritual life through your Holy Word, making us your own children. Thank you for the delight we have in you. Nothing compares to the treasure of your Word and the power of your Holy Spirit to activate your Word in us. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

Fran

image: Google

Grace Greater Than Any Sin

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Grace Greater Thank Any Sin or Circumstance

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

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

Do we forfeit His grace when someone offends us?

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

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

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

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

Grace That is Sufficient for All Things

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

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

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

But, Not TODAY

There are things I need to do;
But, Not TODAY

I need to do laundry;
But, Not TODAY

I need to clean house;
But, Not TODAY

I need to shop;
But, Not TODAY

I need to reply to emails;
But, Not TODAY

I want to meet a friend for lunch;
But, Not TODAY

Yard work needs to be done;
But, Not TODAY

Cooking needs to be done for Saturday’s family reunion.
But, Not TODAY

This day is the gift of one day out of seven for me to spend with the Lord, to celebrate His atoning work; the day He provided for me to acknowledge my rest in Him; a day different from all others, in preparation and practice for that day when He, my Lord, shall return, to take me with all His family to that eternal rest with Him.

He has something each Lord’s Day for us, a special blessing that is different from the blessings on other days. I do not want to miss what He has prepared for me.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for giving us your Son, the Lord of the Sabbath, to lead us in your path to a perfect day of rest. By the power of your Holy Spirit, engage our hearts today to worship you through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We bring all that we are, spirit, soul, and body, as a living sacrifice to you. Let this day be holy unto Him in honor of His great love and sacrifice for us. In His name, we pray. Amen.

The Lord is in His holy temple;
The Lord is in His holy temple;
Let all the earth keep silence.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Keep silence, keep silence, before Him.
Habakuk 2:20

The Power of God’s Holy Will

Contemplation abounds as I consider this title.

When the title The Power of God’s Holy Will came to mind, I had no idea where it would lead. Would this be an article or a book? I had no clue as to what to write. Waiting and praying, meditating on the different facets of this title left me unsure, except as the Lord would give me bits and pieces of the meaning of it.

The scope of God’s power covers more than is possible for any human to think, much less write. God’s holy will is beyond our knowing and writing, except when He reveals it or fulfills it in us.

We know what was God’s will for creation, because He did it. We know what His plans were in the first generations of creatures because we have the historical records. But, no one knows the reality of God’s will before it happens. We have prophecies that have been fulfilled, so we know those were God’s will. Some are still unfulfilled, but even in these, there are different interpretations as to how and when they will be fulfilled.

We are told in the Old Testament that we will know if a man is a true prophet, if what he says comes to pass. Until it does, we are not sure if the prophecies are God’s will.

By faith we believe what God’s Word says, based partly on what He has done already.

How did the prophecies and their fulfillments happen? Were these dependent on men? What power did they have to make God’s will happen? – None, whatsoever. The same power that revealed the prophecies to men is the same power that brings His will to be done. And there is no thwarting His will. His power and His will cannot be separated. Within His sovereign will is the power to reveal and fulfill.

A Circle of Subjects

In the process of these thoughts there have been other things circling, so as to see a relationship.

The study of Humility has been for me an ongoing process for years, especially since the publication of our study and review of Andrew Murray’s book Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness.*

We have seen much interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in the last few weeks, even as we wrote four particular articles on this subject, and have heard questions and comments from others.

The subject that came into the circle, resulting in the following diagram, is Holiness.

So, what does all this mean?

It is simple if we follow the diagram clockwise. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent is the power to reveal truth, wisdom and knowledge of God’s will in His Word, and to fulfill God’s will. God’s will is clearly revealed for us through Jesus Christ His Son, who came in humility, bringing humility from heaven to us. The Holy Spirit works the humility of Christ in us for one purpose ~ for our holiness. His power works through our humility to make us holy.

Christ lived a holy life and died to make us holy; to bring us to the Father as His image bearers. This is the bottom line, the purpose for all that God did for us, does for us, in us, and through us.

We are given new life in Him, to conform us to the image of His Holy Son, so as to make us compatible for eternity with Him.

Preservation and Sanctification

We used to make blueberry, strawberry and pear preserves, using the old-fashioned method, adding sugar to the fruit, and slowly cooking until it boiled down to the consistency we wanted. In the same way, the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us boils us down to one thing ~ HOLINESS.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see the Lord:”
Hebrews 12:14

It is the power of the will of God that preserves us, keeping us humble and holy, making us examples of His own work for others.

This circle never stops, but is a continual working. We can say all we want about God’s holy will, but we miss the point of faith and salvation, the revelation and fulfillment of His will, if anything is more important or a substitute for holiness. Jesus died for nothing less than holiness for His people.

 “Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself
a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27

 “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul
and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Dear Father in heaven, God of all grace and peace, holy and faithful, revealing your will to us, your people, by the power of your Holy Spirit through your Word and in us ~ how could we ask for anything more than to be conformed to the image of your Son, made holy to share your glory. You call us to holiness, to witness of the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. Fill us with your power to do all your will in humility and holiness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. In His precious name, we pray.

Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility*


image: Google