Valid Grace for an Invalid Race

(Repost from 2011)

Two months ago I called my nephew for an update on my brother who was in ICU, following an emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder.  After a second surgery to stop his hemorrhaging, the surgeon told my nephew, “One of his systems is shutting down (they did not know which one, and could not go back in for a third surgery because of the risk with his heart); we will do all we can to make him comfortable.”

Jerry and I drove down that afternoon prepared for the worst. The second week of his stay at Upson Medical we went, again prepared for a funeral. My brother stayed in ICU for three weeks, during which time his kidneys and liver failed, blood circulation was cut off from his legs and feet, he suffered a mild heart attack, was given a form of morphine for pain, and antibiotics for infection. After being moved from ICU to a private room for a few days, he was moved to Roosevelt Rehabilitation Center in Warm Springs.

My nephew had told me about my brother’s toes turning black—gangrene was the result of a lack of circulation.  Their family doctor told us that it was possible that with dry gangrene my brother’s toes would simply dry up and fall off.  My nephew and I both thought that this was “ridiculous.”  We had never heard of such a thing. And I never wanted to see those toes—I had seen enough skin tissue turn black before Jerry had his leg amputated five years ago.

We visited my brother the day after he was moved to Warm Springs.  He was slumped in a wheelchair — the first time I had seen him out of bed. His feet were bandaged, but his black toes were exposed. Though I was standing in front of him and he was looking straight at me he still did not see me.  The shot the nurse had just given him for pain was so that they could get him back to bed and give him a bath, and since he still could not get in and out of bed on his own, he had to be moved with a lift.

I stayed for a while, but the nurse’s guess that he would be awake after his bath was wrong.  He was “out of it” and even though they only gave him a weaker pain reliever the next day, he still did not know that I was there.

Days later, my nephew related to me that he had watched the nurses turn his dad in the bed.  It was easy to hear the sadness in his voice when he said, “Aunt Fran, he’s an invalid.”  We have both come to realize that invalids can still live a productive life with the help of those who are stronger than they are.

We have very distinctly seen our prayers answered.  We did not pray for him to live except according to God’s will.  He would have been merciful to take him to Himself because of his former health problems.

My brother was moved to Providence Nursing Home in Thomaston on his 80th birthday, August 8, where he is still dependent on the nurses and a lift; but he is talking, feeding himself, going through rehab, and watching his toes gradually shrinking.

Thursday when I visited him, I thought again that I could avoid them; but no, I had to adjust his boots for him.  The nurses there have never seen such a “ridiculous” thing.

This thing of which many people have never heard has turned into a work of God’s grace for many to see.  When I visited him this week my brother related to me that “the Lord has kept me here; He must have something else for me to do.”The Fall
From the time of Adam’s disobedience, God’s records show the whole human race as “INVALID.”   We all were destined to be invalids after the Fall.  We are of no use to ourselves or anyone else; least of all to God.  We can’t even turn ourselves. “Dead in trespasses and sin” we are unable to even see, think, or speak anything that makes sense.

If my brother could “will” it, he would be on his feet, walking.  His toes are already in the grave.  But for the mercy and grace of God, his whole life would have been snuffed out.  We have enough evidence—according to the records—that he was at the point of death more than once.

All this has reminded me several times of the sufficient grace  — the powerful grace  — of our Father, His Son, and His Holy Spirit to do the impossible, the thing we cannot do.  We cannot save ourselves.  We cannot give ourselves “Life.”

We cannot even think of what that means, except by the working of His grace to effectually reveal our invalid condition, regenerate a new heart within us for a valid faith and repentance—by His own goodness turning us to Himself through the authority of His Word and the power of His Holy Spirit.

Our family would not choose to go through these episodes again.  I recall saying to my nephew when my brother got through the first week, “God has something to teach us here.”  My brother is not out of the woods yet, but the Lord has given us much of his valid grace to go on for a long time, and a greater desire to experience this grace for the rest of our lives—for His glory and our joy.

(The above article was posted ten years ago. My brother lived for five months after his gallbladder surgery, transported from rehab to a nursing home and from there back to the hospital where he died. His heart could not endure the necessary amputation of his toes.

We all learned much of God’s grace during those months. He led us by His grace to encourage my brother through his pain and tribulation. Losing my father with cancer, my mother with Alzheimer’s Disease, and enduring the years after Jerry’s amputation has given me the experience of the Lord’s valid grace. I have learned, especially in the last eight months, how very helpless we are.

We cannot help ourselves, but His grace is sufficient for all our needs, beginning with grace for the great salvation that keeps us close to Him for all times and eternity.)

Gracious Father, thank you for your amazing grace through Christ that saves us, dead in our sins and trespasses, keeping and bringing us through this world of trial and temptations with the hope of eternity with you. In Jesus’ name, I praise you. Amen.
Fran

Clear the Clutter for a New Year

What is your vision for 2021?

Will the next year be any different than this year of chaos and upheaval?

Can you see clearly what lies ahead?

We must look more than ever with eyes of faith toward the unknown.

We must prepare to face a new year with a renewed and a clearly defined purpose.

We must remove the clutter of our being, clear our vision of the waste we have around us, leaving room for the newness God has prepared for us as His people.

Our rooms are cluttered with things we don’t need; our minds are filled with thoughts that drag us down or keep us in a tailspin; our lives are wasting away with the sights and sounds of the world.

2020 has either opened our eyes to see the condition of our world and our part in it, or it has served to bury us in its avalanche of fear and degradation. We must each survey our own personal environment, pray for wisdom to know where we are in the scheme of things, and respond obediently and passionately to God’s leading.

In response to my own needs,  I have begun~~~~~

I have cleared my desktop, physically and digitally, filing so that if what I am saving is significant, I can come back to it ~ if not, it is out of sight and mind until the time I can go through all my files.

Paper to be recycled is deposited in a bin in the garage ready for weekly pick-up.

Paying bills online has become the norm.

Removing clothes I don’t wear frees space in the closet, plus someone at Goodwill is blessed by my discards.

There are many other ways and areas to de-clutter physically ~ these our hands have to deal with ~ but the most important is to declutter the mind and heart. Our eyes and ears are manipulated by what we see and hear. With the continual onslaught of the world’s condition in our face, we cannot see clearly with the eyes of faith.

We clear our thinking by daily closing our eyes and ears to man’s words and our own thoughts, taking hold of God’s Word, and praying fervently for a steadfast faith in Christ. We must pray for others and ourselves to know our heavenly Father and from Him, the eternal life Jesus came to give. Then we can see clearly the kingdom that rules over all creation and mankind, and live in the hope that is in Him.

And even as the majority of the world lives in oblivion, we have the promise, the presence, and the power of almighty God, our Father, opening heaven so that our focus is on Him and His plans for us as part of His kingdom rule on earth.

This is not a new year’s resolution but the Way of eternal life our heavenly Father has prepared for His children. Are you God’s child? How do you know and what difference does this make? Is your life any different than the life of an unbeliever? What do you want in this new year?

We are not left to ourselves but have the words and power of eternal life through the Word of God, and by His Spirit, we can live victoriously through whatever a new year brings.

Father, we praise you that your grace is sufficient for us to face an uncertain year. We thank you that your kingdom and your Word endures forever through every obstacle and every trial, as light in the darkness of this world. You never leave us or forsake us but supply every need ~ to your glory, and for our joy, In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.

 

 

 

How Is It That You Have No Faith? — Unshakable Hope

I don’t understand why, but many of us enjoy seeing others become frightened. Some of the funniest videos I’ve seen are of grown men getting scared and screaming like little girls. It may be fun to see others get scared, but living in fear is nothing to laugh about. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, […]

via How Is It That You Have No Faith? — Unshakable Hope

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

 

Sharing our Faith in Times of Crisis

We retrieved our computer two days ago after it was in repair for a week. We (the elderly) learned yesterday that we should not venture from home (after I had been to the grocery store for daily essentials).

With the widespread fear, we sense the need to share our reasons for not being anxious. How can we help others remain hopeful and at peace during these times.

We cannot be out and about but having the means of posting on this blog, we can offer what the Lord has given us. Sustaining us for over eighty years, Jerry and I are privileged ~ blessed ~ to know the presence and power of our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit every day.

Considering the fear many seem to have, we see three possibilities for us as God’s people.

  1. We may never get the coronavirus.
  2. We may have the virus and survive it.
  3. We may die from it and be ushered into the presence of our Lord forever.

Non-believers do not have this hope of God’s grace but this is a good time for us to share the gospel.

For those who might benefit from reading something of our experience of God’s grace and share this with others, we have a free Ebook on Amazon, plus other books available. First Things that Last Forever speaks of Jesus’ teachings of things that are eternal.

Gracious Father, thank you that you never leave us nor forsake us, caring for us and providing for all our needs. Give us spiritual wisdom and understanding for such a time as this. Enable us to reach out to others with the good news of life through Jesus Christ, your Son, in whose name I pray~ for your glory, our peace, and joy. Amen.
Fran

Staying In The Ship

“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”   Acts 27:31
774px-The_Shipwreck_engraving_by_William_Miller_after_Turner

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
Image

Ask, Seek, Knock

Ask, and it shall be given you;
Seek, and ye shall find;
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Matthew 7:7 

As I have been interceding for Bill and Terry these two weeks, the importance of prayer has again become for me a major interest and calling for another search in God’s Word.

I was led to Jesus’ words instructing us to ask, seek, and knock. His words are not just thrown out to us for a random catch. Every word He spoke ~ every word recorded ~ has infinite meaning. If we want to know the depths of His words, we need to go beneath the surface. If we are to understand the full meaning of His words, we must dig deeper into the whole counsel of the written Word for the heavenly substance contained in them. We must search for the legacy that is ours as His disciples.

Thinking this would be a simple 1-2-3-presentation, I started to search and as usual, discovered more, much more than I anticipated. Again overwhelmed with the treasure of God’s Word, we must break this into three parts: Ask, Seek, and Knock.

As you can tell from the title, His message is to teach us what it means to ASK with the understanding that asking, seeking, and knocking are three forms of the same desire to apprehend and claim what is promised from the Giver of all things.

ASK in the Old Testament

In Hebrew ask ~ shâʼal, shaw-al’ meaning to inquire; by implication, to request; by extension, to demand.

God commands us to ask and He tells us in His Word what we are claim from Him as the Giver. He would not tell us to ask except that He waits to be gracious to us and grant our request. The first references are from the Old Testament.

In Isaiah 45:11 the Lord says “concerning the work of my hands command ye me.”

“Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.”
Isaiah 58:2

In Jeremiah we remember the Lord’s counsel.
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16

“They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” Jeremiah 50:5

ASK in the New Testament

In Greek ask ~aitéō, ahee-teh’-o means to ask, beg, call for, crave, desire, require

There are two specific things we are to ask for:
The Holy Spirit and Wisdom

The Holy Spirit

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Luke 11:13

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His disciples as perhaps the first and most important thing to ask, for it is the Holy Spirit that gave men the words from God and interprets them for us. He is the Spirit of truth and guides us into all truth (John 16:13). He reveals what we are to ask.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:26

Wisdom

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5

The following references reveal the wisdom we need.
1 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:3; James 3:17

We ask in faith.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” James 1:6

We ask and receive because we keep His commandments.

“And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
1 John 3:22

We ask according to His will.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” 1 John 5:14

 We know what to ask because we abide in Him and His words abide in us. Here, again, the Holy Spirit works through His Word in us.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7

We ask in Jesus’ name.

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” John 14:13

The power of the Holy Spirit works in us through our asking and receiving.

“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

Dear heavenly Father, I ask that you speak through your Holy Spirit to those of your children who have not yet learned what to ask or how to ask. Bring us closer to you in faith and knowledge of your gracious bounty that is ours in Christ. Keep us abiding in your Word, filled with the power of your Spirit to live in obedience to your will for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
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