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

F.R. 2012
Related article:

Heavenly Overtones

Music is designed with a melody that runs throughout the whole piece.  Other parts add harmony.  The melody is the beginning, and the ending.  It is what holds the piece together.  Lose the melody or make it a monotone—the same tone over and over— and it ceases to be music.  Overpower the melody and the music loses its meaning.

Music is a sound that began in heaven with God, our Father and Creator.  It is a major means that He provided to help us worship Him—“Holy, Holy, Holy”—one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost, is sung by the angels in heaven. (Isaiah 6:3  and Revelation 4:8)

Anthems are compositions for music that include all parts —melody, harmony, and sometimes, a descant.  A descant is a part that is sung by a higher range of voices.  It is not meant to overpower but provide an extra lift to the other parts.

Together all the parts speak to the senses to lift the spirit and the heart toward God.

Some of The Psalms that we sing from the Trinity Psalter have descants.  If you have never sung The Psalms you have not only missed hearing the command of the Lord in Ephesians 5:19, but also the blessings that come with them when they are sung.

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music.

(For centuries The Psalms were sung in all the churches.  They are God’s Word sung in worship to Him.  But most churches for the past two hundred years have thrown them out in the same way that the true gospel has been pushed aside.)

And for the most part, all we hear is a monotone—the same thing over and over.  Melody and harmony have been replaced with the performances of one person’s voice or drowned by instruments that overpower the melody.

Hymns have been replaced by compositions that have no harmony—difficult to sing and remember—and have separated generations of families.

I picture it according to His Word—the melody was begun in heaven with Jesus, His Son—“Holy, Holy, Holy”  from the foundation of the world.  He would not only be the beginning of music, but the melody throughout the span of time here on earth, onward into eternity.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes…”

He was wrapped in our humanity—the melody of heaven was here—to gather around Him those that would add the harmony to Himself, and provide the music for His family, the music that the Father wanted to hear.

“On the same night there were shepherds with flocks of sheep in the field. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”the music and the worship were about to begin.

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them with good tidings of great joy”the prelude—the introduction to the first anthem of true worship.

To all people—unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord”the music begins.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest”the descant.

“And on earth peace.”   Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the melody of heaven, the melody of life, as God has composed it, and plays it for us by His Spirit and through His Word.

“I will declare thy name (the Father) unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  (Hebrews 2:12-13)— the harmony of His familyNow He has a full choir.

The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that we learn throughout our childhood are the anthems that are carried into heaven with us, as we join that celestial choir. Others are added along the way as He gives us a repertoire.  The only soloist is the one who carries the melody—Christ, Himself.

As we live by the Spirit, and walk by the Spirit, He opens our ears to hear the melody, and to follow Him.  Our off-keys and monotones are tuned to harmonize with other voices.  And walking humbly with our Father, in the obedience of faith, loving the Lord, our God, and our neighbor, we are surrounded by the heavenly overtones echoing His praise in heaven and earth. In our devotion to Christ He opens our hearts to hear compositions we have never heard before, especially during the difficult circumstances of life.

I pray that we know the Lord as our strength and song.”  (Exodus 15:2)

I pray that we would experience “the new song” as He fills us with His Spirit.

On the Lord’s Day we go to His House with a great expectation of hearing the melody—a strong and sure foundation for our worship—hearing the other parts, and the distant sound of the descant of the angels in affirmation that our worship is accepted.

I pray that each day we will practice our singing, individually, and in family worship, so that we are prepared for worship on the Lord’s Day—all in preparation for the great day when we see Him and praise Him in all His glory with the angels.

Our Father has composed the music and directs the choir.

Let us sing with full hearts to His glory and our joy.

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Lord’s Day 9/23/07 (Article from Waiting Is Not  A Game~Articles and Stories of Faith.)

TRUTH ~ by Man’s Will or God’s Grace?

So then it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:16 ESV

As deists, Voltaire and Diderot attacked Christianity—“their primary weapon aimed at the church was ‘truth’.” (Dr. Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language)  “We think that the greatest service to be done to men,” said Diderot, “is to teach them to use their reason, only to hold for truth what they have verified and proved.” What did these men know of “truth” in their young years of their own “enlightenment?”  What had they proven by their own “reasoning” in their latter years?  What did they have in the end?

Man may create happiness for himself while he is able to think clearly, when everything seems to be in his control, but this does not last. God has proven His work of grace, not only through His written word (which “reasoning” discards), but in the reality of life to its very end.

God proved the truth of His grace to me in 1994 as I, for three weeks, watched my dad gradually consumed by esophageal cancer.*  How could he “reason” for himself what was happening to him?  What was truth to him, at that point of his life?  He had only the mercy (which he had asked for) and the grace of God, which we all experienced together.  He could no longer eat or drink.  He could do nothing but wait for his final breath. He was never on morphine, and so was aware of everything going on around him. He could hear, (until now I had not realized that as a work of God’s grace), and we had those last days to sit by his side, to sing to him, to read the Father’s precious words of truth.  God’s grace was strikingly evident in Daddy’s humility, and his peaceful spirit of acceptance in his last week, and at the end.  He died on Labor Day—his epitaph, “Resting in the Lord.”

For five years we experienced the devastating effects of dementia in Mother’s life. She had no means of “reasoning.”  Nor could we, even though we could still think clearly—clearly in that we could accept that God was sovereign, in control of all things.   Though we could not understand through our own reasoning, we were learning more and more to trust in God’s mercy and grace for what each day would bring. (And we failed many times—for who is prepared ahead of time for such things.)  Her last month was spent in a nursing home, much to our grief; but we were not able to care for her any longer.  I could not “reason” with that.

But, even there, in her last few days, God’s hand of mercy and grace sustained us and held us together.  She had been unresponsive for almost four days.  Jerry and I sat with her those last few hours.  Monday was my birthday, and I prayed, “Father, please don’t let her die on my birthday.”  At midnight the nurses were in and out, checking her vital signs.  The younger nurse asked the older (who was wearing the white cap, and the white uniform), “Shouldn’t we give her something?”  The older nurse answered, “No, she is at peace.”  A few minutes later, as I detected her breathing to be very shallow, and holding her hand, I stood and recited Psalm 23 for her.  When I finished, she took her last breath.  I looked at the clock.  It was 12:38. I could not have willed that; it was God’s grace.

Another example is Ed, 86, who was a member of our church.  He has dementia and now lives with his daughter, Cyndi,  and her husband in another state.  In her last email she wrote of how she reads the Bible to him, and he will quote with her much of God’s Word, as she reads.  It is not by his “reasoning” but by God’s grace, that he recalls the Word of truth that he had hidden in his heart.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself
restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
This is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.
1 Peter 5:10-12 ESV

*One Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words was my first book (yet unpublished), in which I recorded the working of God’s grace in those three weeks.

 

Onward and Upward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healing From the Inside

Ten years ago I learned how to dress a horrible wound that was a result of Jerry’s left leg amputation. The wound left from Jerry’s surgery three weeks ago is somewhat different, but both would be described as an open hole. These kinds of wounds have to be treated and healed from the inside, with medicated packing, so that it does not close on its own and leave a cavity underneath the skin.
This one seems to be more difficult for me to handle than with the amputation; perhaps, because I watched a visiting health nurse do the dressing for several weeks. Jerry and I came home from the hospital this time with simple instructions for cleaning and dressing the incision. But after a week we noticed the difference in the top of the incision from the four inches below.
The next visit to the vascular surgeon confirmed the need for wound care, which she began in her office, and gave me supplies to care for it every day at home, with an appointment for a return visit each week.
My inadequacy for this has kept me awake, but finally, I think I am able to do this without anxiety.
During these last two weeks the thoughts came of how we are all born into this world wounded from the Fall due to our first parents’ disobedience. Though the fault is not ours, we have this hole in our soul that can only be healed from the inside.
Just as jerry cannot care for his own wound, and must depend on me for his care and healing, so we cannot cure ourselves. Our wound is much more serious than a physical one. There is no one who can apply what is needed except our heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to fill the void that sin has left in us all. He is able and promises the witness of our healing from grateful hearts as we submit to His working, His tender care and comfort. He is the great physician and able to bring complete healing of the heart and soul.
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for providing all things pertaining to life and godliness through your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none on earth I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart fail, but you are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. We praise you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

What Matters?

Two days ago, Jerry set a record as we celebrated his eighty-first birthday. He has lived longer than any of the Rogers in his family. His brother died at the age of eighty, and all his dad’s brothers died in their seventies.

During this time, we are preparing for surgery to repair an aneurysm in his only leg, praying for blood flow and healing for the wound on his foot, and considering other things at this age and stage of our lives. Yesterday we were questioning if we should be delving into something we did not understand (while I try to remember what that was, I am watching the wind and rain assault the beautiful dogwood that we have enjoyed the last few days blooming outside the window. How easily our thoughts can change. I can’t remember the thing we were considering two days ago. It must not have mattered.) 🙂

After discussing whether or not, we asked if knowing would matter. That progressed to the question: “What matters?” We have never really asked that question before, so as to discuss and document the answers.

After talking about what we though mattered, I decided to pose this question to our readers. Before stating our answers in this blog, I would like you to share your responses to this question. If you need some time, think about it and come back later to comment. At different ages we may consider one thing that matters more than others. What matters and makes us content when we are young may not matter when we get older.

Let’s leave off the answer “love” for the time being. Love would probably be the first answer for a lot of people; it might also mean something different to each of us.

Please join me in this conversation, to which we will add, after your comments are made.

Oh ~ and please include your age; that matters in our answers. 🙂

Dear Father, I pray that you will give us insight for our answers to this question of what matters in this life. In Jesus’ name I pray. amen.

The Spirit of Contentment

As we begin this chapter we want to remember the three main things that pertain to contentment.

1.  Divine Contentment is supernatural, possible only for God’s people.
2. It is the result of a relationship between God and His children.
3. He teaches us how He works contentment in us.

From the first point, we consider contentment to be of a different realm than the natural.
It is a divine working of God’s own kingdom here on earth as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.
It is established by the will of the Father for His children through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is a relationship brought about by the revelation and fulfillment of the power of His Holy Spirit.
We have looked at Contentment with God Our Father, Contentment in Jesus Christ, The Reason and Season for Contentment, and The Center of Contentment, all relating to the expectation and anticipation of contentment in this life.
Again, all is based, not on our own working, but on the promises of God’s Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21).

The Power of the Holy Spirit

We look now at the power of the Holy Spirit that makes what the Father and the Son willed and accomplished for us a reality.

How did we come to hear and to know God? How did we first believe?
How do we continue to believe when others scoff and ridicule the truths of God’s Word and His kingdom?
How can we be content in this life without all that the world offers?
How do we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, while others seek happiness and contentment in material possessions or human relationships?

6639130a860b96331bde612f927e440dA Mind-set of the New Birth

This contentment is a heavenly mind-set of those who have been born of the Spirit (John 3:3-8).

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ; His life by the power of His Spirit in us.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (See 2 Corinthians 6-16)

From the beginning of time, the Holy Spirit has been working to bring light into our darkness, to reveal the will and the work of the Father in His children.

This Spirit of contentment is the same as the power that raised Jesus from the dead; the same power that “made alive in Christ” those who were dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-5).
Paul prayed for the early Christians to know of their inheritance in Christ; and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,”  Ephesians 1:19-20

 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’s Working

In many of Paul’s letters He makes reference to the three persons of the Trinity.

” being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14

The Things of the Spirit

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6

If you are in Christ and Christ in you, you have been bought with the blood of Christ. Your body is the temple of His Holy spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24

Contentment is for those who are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18); for those who walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and for those who live by the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Who is not content who bears the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)?

Dear Gracious and Holy Father, who has created us and redeemed us by revealing the good news of Christ and bringing us to Him according to your will, we thank you and praise you for your mercy, and for your grace. Your work of love and compassion has restored us to a right relationship with you, and made possible the freedom in Christ that brings contentment. Continue to teach us from your Word, and by your Holy Spirit write your promises on our hearts and minds. Enable us to crucify the desires and passions of the flesh that we may bear the fruit of the Spirit of Christ. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

See the following posts, beginning with How the Holy Spirit Works.
There were too many references of the Holy Spirit for us to include in this post. What is your favorite that we did not use?

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