One Month to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words

For the past three weeks I have been processing for publication the first book I wrote twenty-two years ago. Two years before, in 1994, I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my father. It was this time of year, last of August and first of September, that we learned he had esophageal cancer.

“He can go at any time, and I would not count on more than a month.”

I documented in a desk-top publication for family and close friends what was evidenced as the Lord’s presence during his last three weeks. There were no computers for consumers then, so I typed what was still fresh in my mind and heart; cut and pasted every page and took the little book to a printer. It was simply titled, Daddy.

During this formatting, which our granddaughter Kourtney retyped for me a few years ago, it seems I have relived this event that was a turning point in my life; at least one of the great ones. My dad “rested in the Lord” on Labor Day, after eighty-five years of struggle for peace.

Even so, those years were fruitful as he worked hard and long hours to find his place in the world. But if he could return and recount those years, he would say that he only began to live as he was dying. I witnessed it. I was there to see how God took a helpless dying man and gave him life and peace beyond understanding. It was at his bedside that I learned how to trust the only One who gives life; to live now as if living forever in the presence and power of my heavenly Father. It was there I began to learn to live my life for others. It was then that He started writing His love story on my heart and of which I continue to write. Fran

One MONTH to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words is available on Amazon.

What We Will Leave Behind

As Jerry and I continue to age, getting closer to the end of this life, we seem to think more of the next life than this one. We are more in preparation than ever before. This brings me to the consideration of what we will leave behind when we exit this world. As we share this list, we ask that you not be put off by the first things, but bear through until the end, as we hope you may be blessed to see what the Lord is doing in our last days.

The first things are concerned with the physical life that we now experience. There are other things not listed, but enough is enough.

Uncertainties and perplexities

Regrets

Pain ~ Choosing a below-the-knee amputation almost twelve years ago, Jerry has had continual soreness and pain in that upper leg. Other health issues have prevented seeking remedies for this pain.

Unhealed wounds and everyday change of bandages. He has been receiving treatment for a diabetic ulcer on his foot since the first of last year.

Bloody sheets and shirts, He is on three blood-thinners that cause unusual bleeding from his arms and chest at any time during the day or night.

Bills and pills

Sin and the evil of this world

Spiritual warfare

Sorrow in losing loved ones. Grandparents, parents, brothers, twenty aunts and uncles in my own family and their spouses, two nieces, and cousins on both sides have gone before us, plus friends. The most recent event was the loss of our four-week-old great granddaughter in February.

The most important things we will leave behind are things the Lord has given in the middle of the chaos. These far outweigh the first things we have listed. These we will also take with us. These are eternal. There is much more than what we list here.

God’s Word (1 Peter 1:23)
As we wrote in our last post. God’s Word is eternal. We are birthed by it spiritually, and live by it ~ it is forever in us, written on our minds and in our hearts. We grow by it. It grows in us and bears fruit now and for eternity. His Spirit, who inspired the Word to be written and preserved it for us, leads us by it. As Jesus said, “My words are spirit and they are life” (John 6:63). We speak these words now, and they bear fruit for eternity. What we have spoken and written here will remain for God to use for His own glory when we are gone. It will not return to Him void but will accomplish all for which He sent it.

God’s Presence and Power (Hebrews 13;5)
God was here before we came. He will remain to continue and finish His work in all His children.

God’s Love (Ephesians 2:4-5)
The love that penetrated and permeates our heart, soul, mind and strength is being passed down to family members, members of the Lord’s family and to others. (1 John 3:1-2)

The Joy of the Lord (John 15:11)
His joy is an eternal joy. He gives it here. It spreads and never ends.

God’s Peace (John 14:27)
His peace was brought to earth through His Son, Jesus Christ and has continued by the power of His Holy Spirit in His people. This peace will be ours here and eternally, but not ours alone; we have our portion as part of the family of God which will bring us into His presence.

God’s Blessings (Ephesians 1:3)
He showers His abundant blessings upon us during the difficult times that spill over onto any who know us.

Patience and Perseverance (James 1:2-3)
All that He gives is experienced in and through all that we endure while here on earth.

Our Testimony  (1 john 5:10)
We leave behind the witness of all the goodness that we experience in the middle of the trials and adversities. (Psalm 107:8)
The Lord, as He is preparing us in this life for eternity with Him, witnesses of His grace and power in all that we encounter.
All that we endure here will pass away. Finally, with all the dross removed, the proof that we belong to Him shines forth for His glory.

Gracious Father, we thank you for the new life you have given us in the middle of this life ~ new life that enables us to focus on our goal ~ eternity with you. We praise you for the “overwhelming greatness of redeeming love” (Andrew Murray’s Humility) that captures us and keeps our hearts and minds centered in Christ, who is our life. Continue to fill up the spirit, soul and body of each of your children with the inheritance that is ours as joint-heirs with your Son, leaving an imprint on those who know us and believe the witness that you express through us. Thank you for leaving your impression on every generation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Images: Google

Time and Space

imagesNot everyone can relate to old age, but we all understand the limitations of this life. Now looking back from the other side of seventy-five I see things differently than before. This side is becoming brighter; God is becoming more real; and life is more than I ever thought it could be. What difference does time make? ~ None unless you know that God is in it.

Time is not what we make it. It all began with God, the Father, as creator. It all belongs to Him. Each lifespan is time that He gives individually for His purpose and plan. In a short time His work in me will be completed. He will move me up to His glory. Another will fill the space that I filled here on earth.  Now, He is still teaching me who He is and showing me what He is doing, in my own life and the lives of others.

The Spaces We Fill
Time is spent in the spaces we fill. If we are where God wants us to be we receive the blessings of His promises while we are here. Being basically sequestered now in the home with Jerry is proving to be the space and the blessing that the Lord planned for us in our marriage.  My years of time spent away from the home looking for fulfillment were years that the Lord could not bless as He might have. The world beacons us. Satan deceives us within our culture to keep us in the dark, from the knowledge and blessing of fellowship and communion with our God. We as wives are tempted and drawn to what we see out there; and miss what He has for us in the home as the help-mate for our husbands.

Years ago I could only see the madness and the sadness of this world. Now I am experiencing the Lord’s gladness in the middle of it all. Jerry and I are no longer able to travel long distances. We venture out to shop one or two days a week; but the highlight of our week is the Lord’s Day, for church and a day of public and private worship that is different from the other days. More and more this is becoming our prelude and practice for that eternal worship that the Lord has promised. During the week we are in His word and in prayer, interceding and in touch by email and phone to those in need of the Lord’s presence, power, mercy and grace. This time with Him is glorious as we wait for His call to “come up higher.”

(The following is an excerpt from A Month to Live ~ A Father’s Last Words)

“At 5:30, Daddy was looking at the large clock on the wall facing his bed. At 6:00 he looked again.

I asked him why he was looking at the clock.

He said, “To see how much time is left.”

He did not look at the clock again.

How can I forget those words? Never before has time meant to me what it does now. Daddy realized in the last days of his life how important time is. His prompting will be a legacy to me; and an ever-present part of my living. I believe, as Daddy learned, that God gives everyone the right amount of time for each life.   The person who waits until he is dying to learn how to live is wasting precious God-given life. Resisting the power of God’s Spirit to make us what He wants us to be is only a prelude to dying.

It is in the last stages that we would give up everything to go back and do it all differently.

Andrew Murray, in “Waiting on God,” writes, “The one object for which God gives life to man is that in them He might prove and show forth His wisdom, power, and goodness.” This little book came to me too late to share with Daddy. He would have benefited from it if he could have read it before having several strokes. (Maybe he did understand when he needed to. He tried reading it, but gave no indication that he could share what he had read.)”

0002tb “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”  
Acts 17:24-26

GOD and Sin ~ A Sheep’s View

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There is no greater impact on the world than these two three-letter words; names that have rung out over the universe since the creation. Yet, most of God’s creatures have no true understanding of who He is. Each of us conjures up in our own minds what we imagine GOD to be; and when we have a false image of Him we, then by own nature, Sin against Him.

As, by His goodness, mercy and grace He has been teaching me who He is, this is an acrostic to help me remember in my old age. This is not to simplify who He is, but in these three words I can see an expansion of all His attributes. We have but to sink into His word, discover, and be raised to a new awareness of what He wants us to know about Him.   As we study and meditate on His Glory, Order, and Dominion we will see Sin in its true light also. While this may become one of the series of Little Books about the Magnitude of God, I use here only a fraction of references for this short treatise.

As horrendous is the sin of man, greater is GOD in His glory, order, and dominion over man and sin.

 GOD
Glory   Order   Dominion

 Glory

            “And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” Exodus 24:17

         “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.” Exodus 29:43

         “And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.” Numbers 20:6

         “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” Numbers 14:21

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” Matthew 6:13

          “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”   Revelation 4:11

(In this first page in my search ~ from Exodus 16:7 to Joshua 7:19 ~ we find twenty-two references to His glory.)

https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=glory&qs_version=KJV

Order

            “God hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” 2 Samuel 23;5

            “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

 “Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133

           “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.” Psalm 50:21

           “And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them.” Isaiah 44:7

           “For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order.” 1 Chronicles 15:13

            “Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40

Dominion

            “In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. Psalm 72:7-9

            “Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.”  Psam 103:22

          “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.” Psalm 145:13

           “How great are his signs! And how mighty are his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:3

           “And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation:” Daniel 4:34

           “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.” Daniel 6:26

           “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

            “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: Ephesians 1:21

            For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” Colossians 1:16

             To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” 1Peter 5:11

             “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:25

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:6

Sin
Self  in  Neutral

“And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” Numbers 25:3

“Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him”. 1 Kings 1:5

        “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.” 1 Kings 21:25

        “And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him.” 2 Chronicles 12:1

        “And Jehoshaphat his son reigned in his stead, and strengthened himself against Israel.” 2 Chronicles 17:1

         “And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly:” 2 Chronicles 20:35

         “Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.” 2 Chronicles 21:4

         “Now it came to pass, after that Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.” 2 Chronicles 25:14

          And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 36:12

          “For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” Psalm 36:2

         “He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.” Psalm 36:4

         “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22

         “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Psalm 37:35

“Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.”   Psalm 52:7

“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” Jude 1:8

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

                                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Romans 6:4,6,9,11

 “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image
from one degree of glory to another.
For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Dear Father, let us remember your glory, order, and dominion today as we pilgrim through this land that the apostle John said, “lieth in wickedness.” Make us to remember that we are dead to sin and alive to you through Christ, your Son. Let us look up today in the hope of our salvation from sin and its dominion. Thank you that we are under your care, even as you have drawn us to Christ, as our Lord and Savior.   In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

PHOTO BY TIM SLOAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A Bloody Crown, A Bloody Cross, A Bloody Sacrifice

Since posting Three Crosses, Two Crowns, One Sacrifice I have wanted to do this follow-up. In that article images depicted everything clean, as if the cross of Christ was never used. The crowns were those of earthly kings. The precious sweet lamb was untouched, alive in the green grass.

As the church plans to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ this Lord’s Day I am reminded that we seldom think about the events that led to this celebration. Too often we skip the crucifixion and the tomb, forgetting the suffering and the sacrifice that made our salvation possible. Some people can look at blood and gore and are insensitive to it. I, as others, usually avoid it at all costs. Even the sounds of violence from a distance make me cringe. Still others will not consider their need for a bloody Savior. The rich man of the South who said, “I don’t need anyone to die for me,” didn’t know his own heart.

But understanding how we are reconciled to God through the blood of His own Son is necessary ~ if we are to experience the power of His love and grace working on our behalf.

Even as I am studying the humility of Christ this year, I wanted this season to be different, and so am praying, as I write, that the Lord will give me a deeper understanding of His sacrificial atonement. I pray that you, the reader, will receive something of what He is showing me; to know the love that was in the blood that was shed for us; to so let that love fill us that we love Him even more; and as Paul spoke to the Roman church, that we be so humbled by His mercy that we respond by offering ourselves as “a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2) for our God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.”    Ephesians 2:4

A Bloody CrownimagesCharles Spurgeon said in his sermon  The Bloody Crown
Beloved, I always feel as if my tongue were tied when I come to talk of the sufferings of my Master. I can think of them. I can picture them to myself. I can sit down and weep over them, but I know not how to paint them to others! Did you ever know pen or pencil that could? A Michelangelo or a Raphael might well shrink back from attempting to paint this picture! And the tongue of an archangel might be consumed in the effort to sing the griefs of Him who was loaded with shame because of our shameful transgressions.”

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. John 19:2

And the soldiers led him away into the hall, called Praetorium;
and they call together the whole band.
And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns,
and put it about his head,
And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews!
And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him,
and bowing their knees worshipped him.
Mark 15:16-19

Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s Gospels record the scourging and mocking right before Jesus was led away to be crucified. But John’s gospel records (and he was an eye witness) Pilate bringing him before the chief priests, the elders and the crowd before He was led away.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! John 19:5

What did Pilate mean by doing this? He may have thought that all that blood would discourage the Jewish leaders and the crowd, but no; they wanted more. What they saw from Jesus’ beating and the thorns on His head was not enough. They must have his life. They must see Him destroyed; no matter how much blood it took.

They could not know how powerful that blood would be to save His people, and to condemn them. The envy, the anger, the hatred, the malice from the enemy was the very reason that Jesus had to endure such suffering.   God knew what was needed to accomplish our redemption ~ an innocent Lamb, a holy man, Himself in human form. He knew that in the presence of sinful men He would be massacred.

At any point, amid the pain and the humiliation from Pilate, the soldiers, and the Jews Jesus could have shown His power and position as God. Even in His physical weakness He could have spoken the word, or called down heaven and destroyed all or part of Jerusalem. (That would happen later.) But, all was part of the plan for our redemption. Jesus could not turn back now. From the sweat drops of blood in the garden, the betrayal of Judas, the forsaking of the disciples, the mocking of the soldiers, and the crown of shame, He was well into fulfilling the new covenant.

He was revealing the necessity for blood, the reality of atonement through His own blood. To endure all for our sake was the true manner of humility revealed to us.

The pain which He had endured from the scourges caused Him to throb with exquisite anguish—but we read neither of tears nor groans—much less of angry complaints or revengeful threats. He does not seek pity, or make one appeal for leniency. He does not ask why they torture or why they mock. Brave Witness! Courageous Martyr! Suffering exquisitely, You also suffered calmly! Such a perfect frame as His—His body being conceived without sin—He must have been capable of tortures which our bodies, corrupted by sin, cannot feel.” Charles Spurgeon

Bloody-Cross-600x450A Bloody Cross

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11

The beatings and the blood on His head did not faze Jesus. He was the central figure in this greatest event in history. It is His story of redemption. The cross, saturated with His blood, is the main scene ~ the turning point for humanity and the gate leading to eternal life with Him. In the last decade I have given up watching mere men do this role in plays and movies. It is but an act. No man but Jesus Christ has done this part. It is better to read and meditate on His word for this reality in our own hearts than to see an imitation.

The cross was the means that God had chosen; that Jesus knew He must bear; it was the implement of God’s love and grace. It is the symbol for us to remember. We wear crosses around our necks.   Most of them are gold and silver. None are bloody. But we must remember the blood of the cross of Christ; His life that was shed for us.

That blood was the blood of the new covenant. The beatings and the bloody crown were only the prelude to our own lifeline. Without the blood of His hands, His feet, and His side there would have been no reconciliation and peace between God and us. I use the words ‘God and us,’ instead of ‘us and God,’ because He is the initiator and the fulfillment of the covenant. We must see the blood, even as He had to see the blood, and therefore passed over our sins.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11

“Mark his brow-they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! . . . But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. ..They lift up the thongs, still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make river of blood to run down his shoulders! This is the shedding of blood without which there is no remission…They fling him to the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air…Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet. . They pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water.   Charles Spurgeon

A Bloody Sacrificeimages

                “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin 1 John 1:7

“After that tremendous struggle, the strength of Love mastered the weakness of Manhood—He put that cup to His lips and never shrank—He drank right on till not a drop was left! And now the cup of wrath is empty—no trace of the terrible wine of the wrath of God can be found within it! At one tremendous draught of love the Lord drank destruction dry, forever, for all His people. Charles Spurgeon

The blood on the crown of thorns and the stain on the cross was the blood of Jesus Christ. The pouring out of His blood on the ground was more than a sprinkling and spoke better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 13:24) There was life in that blood, the life of the Son of God who lived for one purpose ~ to lay down His life, to shed His blood for us.

“It is finished.” It was done according to His everlasting covenant. He was the bloody sacrifice for His people. We don’t have to look at a bloody cross anymore, but we must remember it. Nor do we need a crucifix with a figure of a man with no bloodstains.

He left us with two ordinances to remember His sacrifice; baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need but to be baptized into His death once, but His sacrifice is to be remembered when we come together for worship. Blessed are we who celebrate the resurrection and remember His death with the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.

Peace Through His Blood
Jesus is no longer a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger,  a man on a cross, or wrapped in a linen shroud lying in a tomb. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords living today and forever as our merciful and faithful High Priest; sitting at the right hand of God, having offered the oblation of His blood for His people; making reconciliation for us; and now, as our mediator, interceding for us.

We would be blessed today and tomorrow to read and mediate on the crucifixion of our Lord, so as to come to worship and celebrate this Lord’s Day with a deeper sense of His mercy and grace.

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,
through sanctification of the Spirit,
unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:
Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”
1 Peter 1:2

“The blood is one of the strangest, the deepest, the mightiest, and the most heavenly of the thoughts of God. It lies at the very root of both Covenants, but specially of the New Covenant. The difference between the two Covenants is the difference between the blood of beasts, and the blood of the Lamb of God! The power of the New Covenant has no lesser measure than the worth of the blood of the Son of God! Your Christian experience ought to know of no standard of peace with God, and purity from sin, and power over the world, than the blood of Christ can give! If we would enter truly and fully into all the New Covenant is meant to be to us, let us beseech God to reveal to us the worth and the power of the blood of the Covenant, the precious blood of Christ!”   Andrew Murray

Dear heavenly Father, just as we cannot paint the picture of Christ, your Son, for others, neither can we put into words our praise and gratitude for so great a salvation, performed as planned and executed in your timing and place.  Let the blood of Christ, that is efficacious, doing all that you planned it to do, work in us the power over sin.  Cleanse us and keep us always looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

 

People and Possibilities

Behind every person is a possibility. As I thought of writing this article three people came to mind; all are young men, each in his twenties.

Jerad is dying of brain cancer. Don will soon graduate from college with a degree in History. Darren is married, and needs a full-time job. images Neither of these seems to have a lot going for them at the moment; but let’s look past them to think of the possibilities.

Jerad
Jerad has been given two weeks at the most. What can he do? With his own will and working he can do nothing. He has had to relinquish everything to others for his care. His only hope and possibility is for a miracle healing; or, at his death to “forever be with the Lord.”  The apostle Paul spoke of his possibilities; “to live is Christ; but to die is gain.” He had learned to be content in whatever his condition. Jerad is fighting to live.  This is natural. He sees no other possibilities. He cannot pray for anything beyond what he can understand. Others are praying, but only for what they can wish for this young man.  The possibilities for Jerad are in God’s hands.

Don
Don loves the Lord and history and can speak of what he knows, but it is difficult to understand him. He thinks faster that his tongue can articulate. If you listen carefully you can catch the gist of what he is saying, but we must take the time to hear him. He has never been able to get a job; and when he graduates this year with a major in History he does not yet know the possibilities for sharing all that he has with those who need it. He writes well; so that might be a possibility.  Another possibility is speech therapy.  But, we  pray and wait for the Lord to show us His plans for this gifted young man.

Darren
Darren is a strong, industrious young man, knowledgeable and confident in his own abilities, which he diligently puts to work at every opportunity. His last employer said that he needed people skills.  Like most of us he shares what he knows,  and believes, sometimes when they are not asked for.  This not being part of the job description as an employee, volunteering our expertise can sometimes get us into trouble. I can relate and so, pray and look with great expectation for the Lord’s working in this young man’s life.

God’s Sovereignty
I believe God stands behind all his creation, especially those He has created in His image.  I don’t mean that everybody will turn out well and accomplish great things, but that God has His purpose.  Some will barely make it in this life; some not at all.  But believing in God’s sovereignty we need to see each person with eyes of faith; not in the person, but in God who created them, and sustains them.  We may only see the person, his condition, mistakes and failures. We cannot see what God is doing in the heart, or His future plans for others. We misjudge when we form our opinions before He is through with us all. We misjudge ourselves as God’s children when we use our tongues against others; even though what we see and say may, at the present, be true.

The Love of Christ
Christ has so loved us that He suffered and sacrificed His life for our sins and shortcomings.  
Our work and life in Christ is to love others, pray for them and encourage them in spite of their idiosyncrasies, their faults and weaknesses.  It would be good to take some of these under our wings and help them, but not all are willing to accept our help.    It is easier to love and minster to one who is dying, such as Jerad. It may take a whole lifetime to accept and relate to others; but we must continue to look beyond them to Christ, believing that He will show us great and mighty things we have not known.  Jeremiah 33:3

Beyond Every Problem ~ the God of Possibilities
Each of the young men I have mentioned is humbled by his own problem ~ one more than the other two ~ according the severity of his problem.  If either of these three knew each other, I dare say that only one would want to trade places. Each is experiencing his own problem; but they have yet to realize the possibilities beyond themselves. They have yet to know the God who is beyond every problem ~ the God of possibilities.

I have spoken in this article of the impressions that we have of God and others; and how we think about them and respond to them. This applies also, to the impressions that others have of us; and that we have of ourselves. If I had listened to what others thought of me at the age of twenty my possibilities would have been nil.

Someone that I loved said, “She is not worth killing.” What a statement for a young woman to start life with. They were right. I was rotten, “dead in trespasses and sin;” but the possibilities for life and goodness were in God’s plans. This person didn’t know what my heavenly Father had in store for my future. I am still not perfect, but forgiven, and being changed by His grace; and for His glory I pray and look for what He is doing in others and me. The fruit of love, joy and peace are produced in us by His Spirit.

 “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
Mark 18:27

Dear Father, into your hands we commit those who need special care.  Please take them under your wings; and as you continue to bless us, bless them with your Holy Spirit to work in their hearts and lives to know you and love you, too.  Enable them to see Christ; and in Him all that you have planned for them. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 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