Book Review ~ The Garden of GOD’S WORD

Book Review by Aaron Cerda

Last year I reviewed a delightful book by Fran Rogers called Two Full Plates. If you missed that review I would highly encourage you to go back and read it. You can find it hereThe Garden of God’s Word is another fine book by author Fran Rogers. Mrs. Rogers is a wife/caregiver to her husband of over 50 years, as well as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, When someone of this stature sits down to write a book, we would all be wise to read it. On a personal note, I read Mrs. Roger’s books slowly (much slower than I read most books) because I want to absorb every word written by this dear saint.

As I sat down to read this book (the first time around) I was immediately struck by the chapter titles. The table of contents lays out a very clear trajectory for what lies ahead. The chapters outline the course which you will read for the next hour or so. It is there that we discover that Rogers will be leading us to discover that scripture Informs, Reforms, Transforms, Conforms, and allows God to Perform His work through us. In other words, to quote the author,

God, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, has done all the previous work ~ informing, reforming, transforming, and conforming us, so that He may perform His own work through us.

This is the message of The Garden of God’s Word — That the Word of God is sufficient to not only inform us of what we ought to believe and how we ought to behave, but it is also sufficient to equip us for this life as we are changed by its words into that which God has promised to complete in us. Mrs. Rogers doesn’t leave room for the ruggedly individualistic Christian who believes that he can reap the blessings of God’s word by sitting alone however, and she gives a wonderful explanation of how the unity of the body is achieved by participating in the life of the Word together:

This is the means of unity in the whole body; as each member studies, learns the truths, and joins in like mind and spirit to portray the image of Christ that is seen there.

As with Two Full Plates, The Garden of God’s Word is written in the wonderfully affectionate manner which you would expect to read from a dear friend. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this extraordinary short book, grab the warm beverage of your choice and take the time to pour over this book as if you were reading it from a longtime friend.Take the words in this book seriously- there is a lot that we have to learn from Fran Rogers as she magnifies the glory of God by unfolding the wonderful garden that is the Word of God.

You can find The Garden of God’s Word at Amazon. The book is available in both paperback and ebook formats — both of which are very (VERY) reasonably priced.

You can read more about this review here.
~~~~~~~~~
You can find all our books on Amazon.
Fran

ABOUT (2016)

During the past twenty years that Jerry and I have lived here in Buford, Georgia we have been caregivers for four of our grandchildren, and four and a half years we cared for my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. Only a month after her death, in 2006, Jerry had emergency bypass surgery on his leg because of a blood clot. Then, a month later, due to the failure of the bypass to produce blood flow, his leg had to be amputated.

That was ten years ago, during which time we spent three years waiting for healing; then had a third surgery to remove the graft that was put in during the first surgery.

There has been much to write during the past twenty-five years about God’s grace and goodness to us.

The overflow of His grace has not ceased, nor slowed, but continues for His glory and our joy. We have learned to see all of life under the mighty hand of God, our Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and to look with anticipation to all that He has planned for us. From our secluded habitat, He continues to teach us and has basically made us a three-legged sermon to others, through the media of blogging and just recently, the publication of our books.

We venture no further from home than to buy the things that we need weekly, and to attend church services on the Lord’s Day. Our home located on a short cul-de-sac street has become a haven, somewhat like the lagoon in the image of the header of this blog. We are content living in this little inlet, from which we are able to broadcast the news of what the Lord continues to reveal to us.

Ocean sliderGod’s Grace ~ God’s Glory is a spring where we live. From here there is an ocean, which image is a background for this blog, and the connection to our website, Father and Family Books. There we are, through faith and prayer and our books,  proclaiming the legacy of God’s kingdom, that the truth of His kingdom may spread to the end of the earth, even as Jesus spoke these words in Acts 1:8 to His disciples. With technology, God gives us the means of reaching as far as He has planned for His work through us.

arch end.... of earthVisit our website and get the free eBook First Things That Last Forever. Sign up for our monthly newsletter and get a free copy of Two Full Plates ~ Learning to be a Caregiver. Some of our books are gifts as free eBooks and some are for sale as eBooks and paperback. I especially encourage you to read The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY.  From the outline to publication, this is a sixteen-year working of God through my own heart and life.

Ninety percent of profit from sales of our books will be donated to missions and charity.

As a reader and child of God, you have the opportunity to share His legacy with your prayers and your purchases. Please join us in this venture for His kingdom.

Father, I pray that you will bring others to see and share this work for your glory. Open hearts to engage with others of your family and Christian writers who are spreading the good news of life in Christ and the reality of your kingdom here on earth. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.

A Year of Thanksgiving

1-Thessalonians-5_182014 was a year of humility. 2015 was a year of meditation.   Last year ended with Jerry in ICU after his heart attack, so he and I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital. There were no fireworks ~ just the two of us with grateful hearts celebrating life and God’s blessings as another year was opened to us.

Before then there was no indication of where our concentration should be this year. But, we didn’t have to wait long. This has been a special year to be thankful, even in the middle of emergencies, the everyday perplexities and abnormalities of this life.

In our reading and meditation this week we spent time in one of Paul’s letters.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I had to take the time to let these things sink in, again.

“Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is how I had to stack these. They rest together on the foundation that Christ laid for us. We understand that God, our Father planned through the life and the atoning work of His Son the means in this world for our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. This is not a natural thing.  We all know that in the middle of difficulties, thanksgiving is not our first thought. But, just as we learned in the year of humility, we first desire to do His will, realizing that it is possible with His Spirit supernaturally working in us.  We desire, we pray and continue to pray that He do His will, His work in us. Paul spoke to the Philippian church that it is God who works to will and do in us, according to His own pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We have in Christ this relationship with Him, so as to know His will, and how, by His Spirit, He works it in us. In Christ, we are enabled to rejoice, to pray, and to be thankful.

Whatever the circumstances of this life, nothing is greater than what He has prepared for us in His Son. Through our study and meditation of His Word and the truths of Christ, He continues to grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and through our circumstances to conform us to His image. (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29)

Dear Father, you know how forgetful we are, and how prone we are to complain. Forgive us, and lead us as your people, your family, to be your image bearers.  Thank you for providing the means for us to rejoice, to pray, and be thankful in the middle of a chaotic world. By your Spirit, witness through us to others of your grace and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Related article:  The Glad Rule

The Ultimate Bible Study

It is interesting that as we get older we sometimes return to the simpler things biblewith which we began.  When I first started teaching there were three things I looked for in the text I was studying:
Identification (who are the characters in the text?)
Implication (what is going on in the text between      the characters—what, where, when?)
Application (what difference does studying this text mean to me?)
The truths of God Word were first to be understood in my own heart.
These, by the power of God’s Spirit, taught me what I needed to know before I could teach anyone else.

We can read God’s Word simply because of curiosity— someone we know reads it, talks about it, places their trust in what is written.  Some are new Christians seeking to know how they are to follow Christ and live the new life.  Others are older and continue to thrive on the bread of life.  They love it; they live it, preach it, and teach it.

Before the Reformation only the priests of the Roman Catholic Church had access to the Scriptures, and other people relied on them for their knowledge of God.  Now many people have access to God’s Word in many translations, but have no thought of how valuable it is.  The Word and the power of God that comes with it are available, but few really read and study it for its greatest purpose.  Considering the three things used for previous studies we tend to look for the Application before we have an Identification and Implication.

Why is this? —I think, because we already have a mind-set before we read it.  We have already learned through our own culture, and our human nature—our man-centeredness— to look for where we fit in and how things are going to affect us.  Are we not to read the Bible to learn how we are supposed to live, what we are supposed to say, what we are supposed to do in our relationship to God and others?  Yes, but not at the expense of the truth itself, which much of the time is twisted and distorted to fit our own preconceived notions.  We can easily take God’s Word and make it say what we want it to say, instead of allowing the Word to do its work in conforming us to it.

So, what is the challenge here—for me, in going back to this simple method (but concentrating on the one point of Identification) and for you, as you read this?  After all my years of reading and studying I have come to the conclusion that the ultimate Bible study is to begin with our Bible in hand before the throne of grace, then opening it with new hearts, new minds, new eyes, expressing our need for a new vision of Him.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy,
and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

We are in need of the Father’s mercy.  He has given us a great high priest who knows our infirmities, who sits at the Father’s right hand to intercede for us.  He has promised the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.  (Luke 11:13) As I write these articles/letters/prayers I continue to teach my grandchildren what I think is the most important thing in life, according to the first and great commandment taught by our Lord—that we shall love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor, as ourselves.  (Matthew 22:37:37-40) We cannot love Him unless we know Him.  This is our greatest need, and we can only know Him as He reveals Himself to us.  As we would go “online” looking for information, our main “Search” in the Holy Bible is for God.  He has His own “site” with His own profile.  Throughout His Word, from Genesis to Revelation, the person of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, reveals Himself.

“And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
John 17:3

I challenge you, and myself, to read through the Bible this year with this main purpose – Identify the person, purpose and power of God.  The implications that we find as relating God to man will by His Holy Spirit become evident, and in time will place us in relationship with Him. The supernatural power of God draws us out of ourselves to Him.

The power of the Trinity is the work of our Creator in His creation.  The authority of God’s own Word effectually transforms us by the renewing of our minds.  (Romans 12:1-2)  No longer am I looking for what I am supposed to be, do, or say, but, as I am caught up in Him the Word of God does its work in and through me, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:6,12,14).  As the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) supernaturally circumcises my heart, regenerating, renewing, sanctifying, living out the truth in my circumstances, He is conforming me to the image of His Son.  (Romans 8:29)

If we read and study, seeking to see Him only, to know Him, and what He reveals of Himself, the things we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer—His name, His kingdom, His will,  become evident as uppermost in our hearts and minds.  Instead of being man-centered we can be His God-centered, Christ-focused people, a people after His own heart, in the unity of the Spirit, together seeking to do all His will.

”For the word of God is quick, and powerful,
and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,
and of the joints and marrow;
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 

If we accept this challenge, He can, in light of His beauty and holiness and our great need for His Word to do its work in our hearts, bring us to see ourselves as sinners.  The same authority of His Word  brings the needed salvation, repentance and sanctifying work through His power working in us.  We find that over the centuries, throughout all of history Jesus (God) is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,

according to the power that worketh in us.”
Ephesians 3:20

Those who truly seek Him are drawn to Christ and to each other.  The conversation of His people are more and more about what we have learned from our Father, and our Lord, of His Spirit, His power, and His kingdom, than what we have learned about man and ourselves.  There is an excitement about the new wine, the new things that he teaches us about Himself everyday.  His Spirit, by his Word of power (Hebrews 1:3)  make us a people of prayer, praise and proclamation of our great God and Father, Savior, and Lord Jesus Christ.  Our desire and understanding of the preaching of the Word are continually heightened.

You may have already done this; if not, I pray that you will, with me, take this challenge.  Whenever we read, let us stop, and ask the Holy Spirit to focus the light of our reading on God, what He says about Himself, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He promises to do.  In the Old Testament we may read for awhile without finding any mention of His name, and then suddenly come to where He fits in the events and relationships, and see how He is in control of all things.  In the New Testament we focus on Christ, the Son, as He reveals God, the Father.  What is said about the three persons of the Trinity?  What does Christ say about Himself, what does He do, and what is said about Him?  We may want to jot down in a journal anything new that He reveals of Himself.  We will find many things about Him that we never saw before. Let us meditate on what we read about Him. I believe the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened (Ephesians 1:17) and our lives changed.

I pray that He will erase any pre-conceived ideas, distortions, and false images we have of Him.  I pray that the authority of His Word, by the power of His Holy Spirit, will identify the true and living God to us. (1 Corinthians 2:10, Romans 10:17)  As we continue daily at His throne of grace let us first seek His kingdom and His righteousnessWhere there is no vision—when we are lacking the true and powerful revelation of God— people perish.  Let us ask for faith to believe all that we read about Him. Let us pray that He will transform our lives and reform His church, bringing light into the darkness of this world. (Philippians 2:15-16)

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth:
it shall not return unto me void,
but it shall accomplish that which I please,
and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:11

He promises that we shall find Him, if we each, seek Him with all our heart.  We may not fully understand what we find, but if we accept it at face-value—the truth revealed in His Word and in His Son, Jesus Christ, the living word ~ we, beholding, as in a glass the image of the Lord, shall be changed into His image, from glory to glory.
(2 Corinthians 3:18)

The Bible with its many books is a canon in itself, revealing God and His covenant relationship with man.  We need no other book to reveal God to us, but I believe that what His Spirit and His Word are doing in us is being recorded in heaven. (1 Peter 1:12; Ephesians 3:9-10)  He is making history in us for future generations to know Him—not us, but Christ, revealed in and through us—for His glory and our joy.

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,
which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,
who created all things by Jesus Christ.
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:9, 21

Dear Father, by your grace, let the authority of your word to be commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit; that we may know you, and love you and our neighbor  ~ more and more.  In Jesus name ~  Amen.

Fran 1/08 (From 50 Days of Prayer and Praise)

Grace and Grace Alone

Grace, and grace alone, could save a wretch like me.
I could not die for my own sins. Christ had to die for me.
A thousand deaths would not atone for my eternity;
Christ’s blood, and His alone, bought my sanctity.

His light, and His alone, shined deep within my soul.
The darkness of my heart was readily exposed.
His Word, and His alone, could speak new life in me.
My sin is great, but greater still, His grace has set me free.

His love, and His alone, drew me to His Son;
In covenant with Him, to be His very own.
In goodness, and in His alone, He brought me to repent,
To turn, to trust, to follow Jesus, whom He had sent.

His power, and His alone, gives life beyond my dreams;
Life in Christ, the life of grace, according to His means.
His glory, and His alone, suffices as an end.
His purpose in heaven and on earth, for Him; for me. Amen.

(This poem is the result of waking this morning  around 5:00, hearing the steady refreshing rain that has been needful for so long.  The next thing that came to mind was God’s grace, and after a few minutes I got up and began to write. Following are the Biblical references that apply.  I pray that those who read may use one or both to discover and refresh your heart in the  truth of God’s grace and His glory.)

Grace ~ Ephesians 2:7-9; 4:7; 2:1-4 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20
Christ’s Blood ~ 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20

His Light ~ 2 Corinthians 4:-6-7; Genesis 6:5
His Word ~1 Peter 1:3, 23-25; James 1:18; Romans 5:20-21

His Love ~ 1 John 4: 9-10; 1 John:1-3; John :44-45; Ephesians 1:4-5
His Goodness ~ Romans 2: 4; Psalms 107:8; John 17:3

His Power ~ Ephesians 3:19; Romans 8:1-4
His Glory ~ Psalm 73:24; Romans 11:36; 2 Cor. 3:18;Colossians 3:1-4

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The Beauty of Grace in the Eye of the Beholder

cross“And when we shall see him, there is no beauty
that we should desire him.
We hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Isaiah 53: 2-3

Who can SEE what is heavenly?  Who can experience the supernatural beauty of that which is above and beyond us?  Where do we find the beauty of life apart from ourselves? The human eye cannot SEE what God has prepared for His children except His Spirit REVEALS it to us. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

“But we all with open face, BEHOLDING as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

From the mouth of a layman Spurgeon heard and saw the beauty of Christ in Isaiah 45:22, “LOOK unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.”

Our heavenly Father SAW in His Son what He wants us to SEE.

“He shall SEE of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death.
He bare the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Isaiah 53:11-12

 “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.”  Psalm 50:2

“They shall LOOK on him whom they pierced.”  John 19:37

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Paul prayed for the early church in Ephesians 1:17-18:  “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom, and REVELATION in the knowledge of him: The EYES OF OUR UNDERSTANDING ENLIGHTENED; THAT YE MAY KNOW what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”

“Wherefore SEEING we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God…….LOOKING diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;” Hebrews 1-2, 15

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hst given me, be with me where I am;
that they may BEHOLD my glory, which thou hast given me,”
John 17:24

“Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key, that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see:
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!  ~ Clara H. Scott
Music:  Open My Eyes, That I May See

Father, draw us by your Spirit to your Word, the written and living Word of Christ, your Son, whom you have made to be our Lord, Master, and Life. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

Father of Grace and Glory (Part 4)

To sum up our meditation of Jesus’ revelation of the Father—“our Father” of grace and glory—John’s recollections are used last. John was “the disciple that Jesus loved.” Being closer to John than any other man on earth Jesus perhaps made more of an impact on him than on any of the other disciples.  John is the writer of the fourth gospel, which is more personal than the other three; also, he wrote three letters, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation.  He quotes Jesus’ words in his gospel and in the book of Revelation.

We see in his writings four different facets of Jesus’ words, as He proceeds to unfold the work of the Father’s grace and glory: 1.  His relationship and unity with the Father. 2. Their purpose and work of grace for our redemption. 3. The relationship of disciples to the Father and the Son. 4. The end result—legacy, inheritance, and glory of His children with the Father and the Son.

1. Jesus’ relationship and unity with the Father is revealed in John 8:54-“the Father honoreth me;” John 10:30-“I and the Father are one;” John 14:9- “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” John 14:10-“I am in the Father, and the Father in me. The Father that dwelleth  in me, he doeth the work;”  John 14:13- “the Father is glorified in the Son;” John 15:23-“He that hateth me hatheth the Father, also;” “John 16;28-“I came forth from the Father, and I go to the Father.

2. Their purpose and work of grace for our redemption is seen in John 6:27-“everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed;” John 12:49-“For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave what I should speak;”  14:28-“I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I;” John 15:1-“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman;”  John 16:15- “All that the Father hath are mine;” John 18:11-“The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

3. The relationship of disciples to the Father and the Son is revealed in John 6:37-“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me;” John 6:44-“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him;” John 6:45-” Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me;” John 14:16-“And I will pray the Father and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 14:26 “whom the Father shall send in my name, He shall teach you all things;” John 14:21-“he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him;” John 14:23-“If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him;”  John 15:8-“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples;” John 16:23-“Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you;” 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are;” John 17:26-” I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it;” John 20:17-“I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God;” John 21:21-“As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you;”   Luke quotes Jesus in Acts 1:4, speaking of “the promise of the Father”—that they would “receive power when the Holy Ghost had come upon them” (in the Father’s timing) to be witnesses of the gospel of the Father’s grace.

4. The end result—legacy, inheritance, worship, and glory of the children with the Father and the Son is seen in John 4:24-“true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him;”John 17:24-“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou has given me;” Revelation 2:26-27-“And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; even as I received of my Father;” Revelation 3:5- “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels;”  Revelation 3:21-“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

WHO BUT A FATHER CAN SIRE CHILDREN OF HIS OWN?

Dear Father, make us to know who you are, that we may know whose we are, for your glory and our joy