Onward and Upward

(Repost from 2017 following Sunday’s sermon. Click on reference for audio and video.  Phil. 3:12-16

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 changes 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 send me a message on our CONTACT page. 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.

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness,
who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Cor. 4:6

Jesus, The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

(Our pastor’s sermons, praise, and prayer for the week.)

Jesus Accused of All Our Crimes.  Luke 23:1-12The Promise of a Righteous King  Jeremiah 23:1-8

Praise God our Father for sending THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS into the world, the righteous King who justifies us by his cleansing blood and imputed obedience, the King who sanctifies us by his Spirit so that we share in the “fruits of righteousness” through union with him (Phil. 1:11).
Praise our Savior for coming into the world as the King of righteousness, and humbling himself to accept the charges against us, stand good for our crimes before the just Judge, and made full satisfaction to obtain our redemption.
Hallelujah, what a Savior! What wondrous love, lively hope, and an immovable anchor within the veil of God’s presence.
Mighty King and loving Savior, help us to serve you today with thankful hearts, love you for your love, devote ourselves to your praise, speak your truth, and expect you to be faithful.
What a privilege to be a Christian! Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

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Godly Contentment

If you were with us in 2017, you may
remember our series on Contentment.

We have edited, revised, and published these posts as chapters in our newest book. Godly Contentment is seventh in our series Little Books about the Magnitude of God.

Never in eighty years have I seen these truths so desperately needed. I have been reviewing these for my own encouragement since January.  Our cover image (as well as our header) is a personal photograph by a sister-blogger, Heidi Viars – Wings of the Dawn. 

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 3 – The Essence of Contentment

Faith Leads to Contentment
Faith affects our senses as we “grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29).

Faith becomes the bridge, the means to the whole of God’s kingdom. Here is where we connect faith and contentment, contentment being the seventh and complete sense in communion with the Father.

Our Father uses faith to bring us out of the state of oppression through adversity. We would rather say that His presence and power lift us above the adversity and brings us to the state of contentment. We do not escape adversity, but in it, we learn to live in conformity to the image of Christ. His Word and faith in His Word train our senses. By these, we accept and live unmoved by our circumstances. We practice keeping our focus on God, our Father, and our hearts centered in Christ and His promises, as the Holy Spirit leads us.

Godly Contentment is available on Amazon and soon through other distributors.
Proceeds are designated for missions and charity. Paperback      Ebook
Fran

Yet I Will Rejoice

From the writings of the prophet, Habakkuk, we learn of God’s judgment upon His people.

The Lord’s words are recorded in Chapters 1 and 2. Well-known promises are interspersed between God’s judgment and Habakkuk’s response in Chapter 3.

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
Hab. 2:4

“For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.”
Hab. 2:14

“But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
Hab. 2:20

 “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid:
O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make known;
in wrath remember mercy.”

Hab. 3:1-2

And, as God’s people, in this generation, let us remember the source and the joy of our salvation. Neither are derived from good health, prosperity or anything of this world.

In times of adversity, we must consider what God is saying to each of us. We cannot point the finger at others. Let us use this opportunity to search our hearts, and in faith and repentance “humble ourselves before God and men.” (Andrew Murray, Humility)

Gracious Father, God and ruler of heaven and earth, give us wisdom and grace to turn our hearts to you. Revive your work in us and make us witnesses of your mercy ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Scripture Tunes ~ Habukkuk 3:17-18

 

GOD IS GREATER THAN

GOD IS GREATER THAN
our circumstances;

HIGHER THAN
our expectations;

BIGGER THAN
the universe;

MORE POWERFUL THAN
death:

&

NEARER THAN
our very breath.

“IN HIM WE LIVE AND BREATHE AND HAVE OUR BEING.”
Acts. 17:28

AND WE ARE IN HIM WHO IS TRUE, IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.
HE IS THE TRUE GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE.”
1 John 5:20

Dear Father, interweave between my human thoughts the truths and the authority of Your Word.  I thank you and praise you that Your Words are Spirit and Life to me.  In Jesus’ precious and powerful name Amen
Fran

Image: Google

 

Staying In The Ship

“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”   Acts 27:31
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Paul’s last voyage was not a pleasant one. From Caesarea he was being sent to Rome as a prisoner to be tried before Caesar. The storm encountered was causing the ship to break apart as it ran upon the rocks near the beach of Malta.

Before running aground, where the bow stuck and the stem was being broken by the surf, the prisoners could have escaped by throwing out the anchor and letting down the lifeboat. This could have been Paul’s chance to avoid being carried to Rome. But, he knew what was happening was within God’s plans for him.

The following night, after Paul was arrested, “the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11

Then, during the storm, Paul stood to encourage all who are in the ship, “Take heart for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, Do not be afraid Paul, your must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:22-26

Paul trusted God’s plan for him; he trusted His Word, and he was obedient to the will of God. His was the example of the obedience of faith he preached in the gospel to the Roman Christians.

God’s plans for us may be that we go through the storms and waves of this world. The relationship we are in may break up, and seemingly all hope is lost, but in faith, we must stay in the ship. Our relationship with God may encounter upheavals; our fellowship with other believers may run aground, but we are called to obedience to stay in the ship and endure through the entire course, even if that means that we are heading toward the end of this life.

Paul survived his last voyage with other prisoners and soldiers. Undoubtedly, they were non-believers, not knowing the promises or power of God to save His people. Paul is the example for us, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation to shine as lights in the darkness.

Cutting Away the Lifeboat

“Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.” Acts 27:32

God is able: and He promises in His Word never to leave us nor forsake us. At times He may have to cut away the ropes of anything that might help us to abandon ship.

His church is that great ship that is often run aground, but He has not forsaken her. Many leave the ship, and often have a difficult time finding it again.

Marriage and family units are vessels that have to bear the storms. Many find these relationships on the rocks, but when we rely on God’s promises, His presence and power as Paul did, we experience His working through the upheavals. He can restore these ships, sometimes to better relationships than they were before.

We may be the only one with faith, courage, and perseverance to stay with the ship, knowing the God to whom we belong and worship. We may be the only light that God chooses to save a whole family from darkness and disaster.

We accept this reality with humility, not pride. It can be a heavy burden for us, but in time it will produce the joy that He intends for us. Wherever we are is where God places us; to testify of Him.

Sheet Music: Be Still My Soul
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The Christian Sabbath ~ A Sheep’s View

I approach this subject as I do all others concerning the kingdom of God. I am as a sheep led by that great shepherd of the sheep, the Lord Jesus Christ; and also a servant of the one who has saved me from the slaughter. No longer one who leads and teaches, now I see only Him and His teaching; if perhaps documenting for a legacy what I have seen and continue to see of His kingdom here on earth ~ a prelude of that which is promised for eternity.

We refer to the Christian Sabbath as the Lord’s Day since through Christ’s death and His resurrection is the sure hope of a new life and eternity with Him. He established a new day of rest in Himself. He is our Sabbath; He is our eternal rest. He is Lord of the Sabbath; and He established His own day when He rose in victory over sin and death and ascended to the throne with all power in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18)

The Lord’s Day and Worship
The Christian Sabbath ~ the Lord’s Day ~ was established for a different worship than the seventh day. The seventh was established under the law, for a day of rest (not for public worship) that was limited until the law of grace was brought to us in Christ. We no longer observe the Sabbath in the letter of the law in fear of the Lord’s wrath, bringing sacrifices of dead animals for atonement. We worship with the law written on our hearts and minds.

How we worship on this day depends on how we view the Lord’s Day. As sheep, recipients of the life of Christ and delivered from the former sabbath we bring our praises and thanksgiving to Him. We see worship on this day as an integral part of private and family worship on other days; a bringing together what we have experienced during the week of His presence and His power of salvation.

The Bridge to Eternal Rest
To know Him, His love for me in His suffering and sacrifice is to love Him. To love Him is to love His day. To understand this day and to see it from His perspective we have to know Him personally, as Lord and Savior; to follow Him through the week to what we know as the eighth day and the first day. The end of the week flows into the Lord’s Day, ending in a perpetual praise and worship; beginning a new week in obedience of faith to Him and His word; and preparing for the next Lord’s Day.

It is His day as He has become our bridge to the eternal sabbath.  “The word Sabbath seems to have derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep. Its theological meaning is rooted in God’s rest following the six days of creation (Genesis 2:2-3).”  (The Bible Dictionary)

The fourth commandment means more to the Christian than it did to the Israelites because we see it as the forerunner of the Christian sabbath. It was observed in remembrance of  God’s work in creation and His salvation for the Israelites.

They were required to offer bloody sacrifices through the priests offerings for atonement for their sins. Those sacrifices were abolished when Jesus, the Lamb of God was sacrificed once and for all time, for all His people in every generation from every nation.

This is the new day, through His sacrifice, that we remember and keep holy unto Him. God, the Father rested from His work of creation. Jesus Christ, the Son has rested from His work of redemption; and now sits in victory as our merciful and faithful High Priest interceding for us at the right hand of the Father until we are there at rest with them.

We rest in Him and His work now, as the Holy Spirit leads us in a continual worship in preparation for that eternal rest and worship.

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn
toward the first day of the week,
came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.
 And, behold, there was a great earthquake:
for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
And the angel answered and said unto the women,
Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Matthew 28:1-6

Dear Father, open our eyes to see the living Christ. Let us by your Spirit know you; in obedience of faith worship you in spirit and truth today, and throughout this week know your presence and power. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

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Love the Lord? Love His Day

As simple as it may sound, I love the Lord’s Day because I love the Lord.

It is, and has been for centuries, the day of celebration of the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. As our heavenly Father rested after His work of creation, and set aside the seventh day as the Sabbath, so, we rest in Christ and set aside the new day of worship on the same day of the week that He rose in victory from the grave, creating new life for His people.

This day is the day that I remember His atoning work on the cross for me.  All who are a part of His redeeming work meet together to give unto Him the glory due unto His name. I see this day as a new beginning; starting the new week in Christ and with His people.  Actually, at times it seems that this is the eighth day— ending the previous week with a day of praise for all that He has done —-and the first day, both rolled into one.

Years ago, when I realized that this day is a gift to His people, it became a goal every week for me, a projection from one Lord’s Day to the next, with every day between as a day of preparation for the next Lord’s Day.  As mentioned in another post, each Lord’s Day is a taste of heaven, a prelude to that day when we will be worshipping our Lord eternally.  Then everyday will be a day of rest and worship.

“And upon the first day of the week,
when the disciples came together to break bread,
Paul preached unto them.”
Acts. 20:7

Today is the day that I will celebrate my Lord Jesus Christ, His person, His work; the day that I will praise Him, serve Him, love Him and His people as we meet together; the day that I will “hunger and thirst” for Him and His righteousness, be filled more and more with His Spirit; and be in awe as I hear His Word proclaimed in power.

This day I will, together with God’s people, participate in the Lord’s Supper, “remembering His death until He comes.” Besides all this, He amazes me with great and mighty things I have not yet known, asked, or imagined (Jeremiah 33:3).

Again, I ask that you share your comments about how the Lord leads you on this day.  What difference does the Lord’s Day make in your life, now?  What impression does the Lord’s Day make in your life for eternity?

May you be blessed today as you “delight yourself in the Lord and His Day.”  Isaiah 58:13-14

Dear Lord, fill us with your Spirit today and every day in preparation for each Lord’s Day ~ in preparation for that eternal Lord’s Day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

The Glory of the Lord’s Day

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For many years I have been convicted of what God not only says but what He implies in His own Word, about this day. With the conviction, has come more revelation, more understanding, more commitment, more discipline, and more joy.

In His Word, I see a continual pattern of God’s will, His working, and His way established for His kingdom here on earth. As His children and joint-heirs of His kingdom with Christ, His Son, we not only have the privilege of the written law, but we have the law by His Spirit written on our hearts and in our minds.

He not only reveals through His written Word what He wants us to know about Him and His kingdom but also by His Spirit works it in our hearts and lives.

The Pattern of Rest
The pattern from the beginning of time with His creation is continued through the work of redemption until we are brought to our final destination on what will be an eternal Lord’s Day.

The first was a resting from the Father’s labor; the second, the Son resting from His labor; and the third, a resting for His entire kingdom, as the Holy Spirit works in us, preparing us for that eternal rest in glory.

There is much that I could include in this document, but a lot of it would be what Jesus’ apostles, the early church fathers, the Puritans, the Reformers, and theologians have said. Documented in different Confessions, are the statements of faith concerning the Sabbath. Remember that what I write is all from “a sheep’s view.”

It is part of studying these, especially in the memorization of the Shorter Catechism with Scriptural proofs, that my convictions have been confirmed. Continuing to review these in prayer I seek to know and obey God’s word and glorify Him in this present day.

I share today a scheduled Bible reading from Luke 23:52-56.

“This man (Joseph of Arimathaea) went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.
And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.
And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”

Jesus had finished His work of redemption and His body was laid to rest until the day of His resurrection. It was the day of preparation for the Sabbath. Why was Jesus’ death scheduled for this day?

I have not searched this question, nor do I write here of its significance, except that it was God, the Father’s plan and He established the Lord’s Day in covenant with His Son as the Christian Sabbath, the day in which we would weekly celebrate the risen Lord and Savior.

Those who stayed around after Jesus’ crucifixion was Joseph, one of the counselors, who had not consented to Jesus’ death, and the women who had followed Him from Galilee. The apostles, in fear, had scattered. Joseph asked to take care of Jesus’ body, and the women returned home, and prepared spices and ointments for His burial.

But these would never be used because when they returned after the Sabbath, the law of a seventh-day had been displaced by a new law of life in Christ’s resurrection.

They rested the sabbath day according to the commandment, while Christ was establishing a new covenant for God’s people. He was resting while they were resting, but in a different rest for a different purpose.

Living in Projection of the Eternal Sabbath
Preparation for the Lord’s Day and the practice of it today is in the fulfillment of God’s promises for an eternal sabbath. When we live, projecting from one Lord’s Day to another, we are practicing and preparing for Christ’s glorious return and eternity with Him.

We go through each day of the week, in private worship, and making preparation under this projection, look forward to spending the day in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, as He has appointed in His word.

God had appointed Joseph to ask for and prepare Jesus’ body for burial. We are commanded by Him to observe the day in His honor and in celebration of our new life in Him. We are to worship God through Him and the Holy Spirit in spirit and truth each Lord’s Day.

We take part in the body of Christ, the church, in communion with His risen body, through the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day, remembering His death until He comes again.

Would I have waited to see what or who would have been there for Jesus after His death? How do we now remember His death and resurrection? This is no longer a question for me  but in response to His sacrifice for me, mine is a sincere desire and commitment to spend the Lord’s Day with Him, without any division of time for other things.

How do you prepare for the Lord’s Day?

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