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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GOD Is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan for His People

(Fourth in the series Little Books About the Magnitude of God)
Our new book is available from Amazon.

How do you wrap up fourteen summers of study with your grandchildren? The diagram we used to summarize our years together is still on the blackboards (two stacked on the back of the door leading to our prayer room) from five years ago. This book, with the diagram, is the conclusion we came to ~ GOD at the top, our Purpose at the bottom, and His PLAN through JESUS between Him and us, doing His work to keep us and bring us to Himself.

“How many goals do we set in a lifetime? How many do we actually reach? The Christian worldview is one that sees goals based on what has been accomplished for us by our Creator and Redeemer. God has a purpose for His creation. He has a plan. He has set the goal, and by His plan in Christ, brings us to Himself. As we live in anticipation of reaching this goal, it affects all that we think, say and do, making our pilgrimage here a joy and a glory to Him.”
eBook $1.99  Paperback $5.59.
Profits designated for missions and charity.

Dear Father, I pray for your grace to lead those who will read this book to see, to know, and to live in assurance of reaching the goal that you have set for us as your people. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Contentment in Jesus Christ

Posting at 6:24;
awake since 3:34 with thoughts of all the things that are on my two plates for the week,
in addition to the ordinary work that we have to do:
*doctors’ appointments,
*last minute details for publishing our next book, GOD Is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan for His People
*writing this post
*writing a letter for our two-year-old great-granddaughter on the occasion of her dedication next Lord’s Day
*keeping a watch on and dressing the diabetic ulcer on Jerry’s foot, etc.
First and last of all these things is my duty as Jerry’s caregiver.
Yet, God has provided His grace for the other things He has planned for us, all to His glory.

How do we do all that He has planned without bouncing off the walls or ending in a tailspin? Where do we start and end with our list?

God, our Father was content before the foundation of the world with His Son, Jesus Christ.
They were content, together, to plan for Jesus to come to us, to live a perfect life for us, to give His life for us for our salvation.
They are content now with what they have done and what they are doing continually for us and in us.
The Course and the Source

This morning as I look at my two full plates, I see Jesus as the main course for this week and every week. Everything is arranged around Him. He is the physician. He is the reason for writing a letter to my great-granddaughter. He is the source of contentment in the middle of what could be confusion and frustration.

When things seem hectic, the Father says, “Listen to my Son.”
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden.”

He is the Shepherd, keeping and leading His sheep in the way we are to go. imagesIn time we learn that when we get ahead of Him, He lets us go until our impatient steam runs out. Then, we wait for Him to renew, refresh and restore us in Christ, to continue with joy and contentment in Him. At other times He holds us back, and keeps us close until He leads us out in the right path that He has chosen for the moment and for the day.

Some of God’s children live under the oppressive spirit of this world. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Father has given us His Son. The Son has given us Himself for a life of contentment now and forever.

Much more can be said about the contentment that is ours in Christ; perhaps Part 2, later this week.

Please comment on why our contentment is first and foremost in Christ; to add to Part 2.

Gracious Father in heaven, we thank you for granting us all things that pertain to life and godliness through Jesus Christ, your Son. Draw us today to Him; in and through Him keep us close to you, leading us to fulfill all that you have planned for us. Let our contentment be in Him and Him alone. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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