The Fullness of God in One Body

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
as the manner of some is.

Hebrews 10:25

What happens when we neglect corporate worship?

A part of the body of Christ is missing.  Imagine that one of your fingers separated itself from your body or could decide on its own that it would not respond to you?  Usually, more than one member neglects to attend worship on the Lord’s Day.  So, imagine a finger, a foot, and one of your organs missing.  You are hindered from a full capacity of life. Jerry’s left leg was amputated twelve years ago.  He still enjoys life, but he will tell you that it is not a full life.

So, too, the body of Christ comes short of what it needs to operate at its fullness.  True — worship is planned and carried on for those who are there, but let’s imagine what worship looks like when the whole body is present and actively participating in the worship to which He calls us.

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you (everybody) the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
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:
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. Ephesians 1: 15-23

The church—each member—has its calling, as an heir of the riches of His glory.  It is our inheritance, as His saints. What Christ has secured in heaven is for all His body.  His fullness fills all members with all that we need to rule with Him in His kingdom. Christ as the authority and head over all things has given dominion and power to the members of His body.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16-21 expresses the same truth.

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
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,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

He is speaking of all believers, all members, of the body of Christ.  In this prayer, Paul is praying that our heavenly Father will give His Spirit–according to the riches of his glory to do the work in the hearts—in the inner man —–for what purpose? That they may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which is beyond (human) knowledge.

Can one member receive all?  Can one heart conceive of the love of Christ? No! It was never meant to be. It is beyond any one of us to know—to comprehend—such a love.  Christ, who is the fullness of the body, sends His Holy Spirit to fill each heart with its portion—its small measure. (Ephesians 4:16)  For who could hold such knowledge, such love as is ours in Christ.  It is His working to give each the portion of our inheritance allotted and to bring that measure together with the others.

When we neglect to meet with the other saints we not only fail to bring what we have received, but we miss the knowledge that we would have received from the other members. Some part of the love of Christ is withheld from the body, and we go lacking that which we could have received.

And so the members of the body of Christ go through the following days, weeks and years, wondering why life is not what it should be.  We are hungry and thirsty for something good, not understanding that all the fullness of life is in Christ; that our hunger and thirst will never be met outside the whole body of Christ, and we are withholding something that someone else needs. As members of one body, let us exhort one another for the faithful attendance to His worship and His Word.

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love
one toward another, and toward all men,
even as we do toward you:
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable
in holiness before God, even our Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.”

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

Father, we need the gift of your Holy Spirit to fill and stir each of our hearts with a measure of Christ’s love. Move us to bring that portion to our worship today so that we may all know the fullness and glory of your presence. In Jesus’ name, I pray and thank you. Amen.
Fran

Images: Google

Words of Life ~ ASSURANCE


This word in our list of Words of Life A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian follows on the heels of our last post ~ God’s Utmost for My Highest. We don’t plan the order of these but rejoice at how He brings some of our posts so close together. By the revelation of the Holy Spirit, through the life and work of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have the assurance of His plans for our salvation and His keeping us here, now, and eternally.

Old Testament H983
Strong’s Concordance defines ASSURANCE, betach beh’takh; security, safety
The same is used for the words secure, safety, safely, safe, hope and confidence.

Deuteronomy 23 is a record of God’s blessings and curses to Israel. The blessings are for those who hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. The curses are for those who do not obey Him. They have no assurance of life.

“And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:” Deuteronomy 28:66

God’s work of righteousness by His Spirit within us is peace with definite and infinite effects in our lives ~ quietness and assurance forever.

“And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” Isaiah 32:17

New Testament G4102
Strong’s Concordance defines ASSURANCE, pistis pē’-stēs
The same is used for the words, faith, belief, and hope.

It is reasonable to say that we have more references of assurance in the New Testament because of the fulfilled work of Christ for us. Again, in the following verse, we see the connection between righteousness and assurance.

“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Acts 17:31

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;” Colossians 2:2

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:5

The writer of Hebrews speaks of the assurance of hope and faith.

And we desire that every one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.” Hebrews 6:11

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22

Heavenly Father,  we acknowledge there is only one assurance of hope and faith ~ that which you work in our hearts. Bless us with your Holy Spirit as you reveal the gospel in power among us. Knit us together in love, in full assurance of understanding, that we may acknowledge the mystery of your great salvation for and in us by your grace and for your glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

The Danger of Freedom

This is an introduction to our next post — Bound by Grace — an article written thirty years ago. We will be adding a second part –Free to Love, looking at who we are when we think we are free without God, and then to the beauty and power of God’s grace and liberty that  He gives through His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you ask different people what it means to be free, you will get a variety of answers. For a non-believer, freedom means that they are answerable to no one, able to do whatever they want without restrictions, especially without God.

What is the danger in this kind of freedom?

Imagine intersections without traffic lights and roads without speed zones. If everybody had this freedom, who would be safe? Everyone would have the license to destroy other people who get in their way.

The danger of freedom applies to a Christian as well as a person who has no faith in Christ. Many think all men have a free will with the ability to choose right from wrong, even to believe or not to believe in Christ. After years of thinking I had chosen Christ as my Savior, my thinking changed. Studies in God’s Word uncovered truths I had never heard.

Beginning in Genesis, I came to understand how God proved man is not capable of choosing what is right. Left to themselves, Adam and Eve showed that without the continual presence and leading of their Creator, they had no wisdom or knowledge to make the right decision. There was no protection from the danger in their own territory. Instead of being free, they became servants of Satan; the human race came under his bondage and except through  Christ, live in rebellion against God.

Jesus Christ is the mediator sent from our heavenly Father to restore us to Him – to bring us to that relationship He had planned for His Creation. Without our total dependence on Him, we will never live in true freedom. Without Christ, we are in danger of our own deceptive thinking and without protection in this world. Satan is always waiting for us to make our own decisions without knowing or wanting God’s will for us. God’s will according to His law is the only free will and the only law that matters to us as His people.

Tomorrow, we will look at what it means to be — Bound by Grace— and the liberty that is given in His kingdom to the children of God — followers of Christ.

Dear Father in heaven, we thank you for the freedom that is ours in Christ, based on the laws of your kingdom and the power of your Holy Spirit to reveal, enforce, and fulfill all your will in us. In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Words of Life ~ ANCHOR

We ended 2018 with AMEN. How gracious our Lord is to give us ANCHOR as our first of Words of Life for 2019.

Although ships are mentioned in the Old Testament, the word anchor is only used in the New Testament. The first three references are found in Acts and as an anchor used in the ship in which Paul was a passenger.

“Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day.” Acts 27:29

ANCHOR G45
Strong’s Concordance defines agkyra ä’n-kü-rä, A metaphor. Any stay or safeguard

The fourth reference is used figuratively. Because of Paul’s own shipwrecks, he could very well be the author who used the metaphor in the book of Hebrews.

 “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

 His covenant blessings with Abraham were confirmed by the oath given through Christ for eternal salvation. The promise and oath are the two prongs of the anchor.

“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;” Hebrews 6:17-19

An anchor cast into the bottom of the sea cannot be seen. Neither can Christ be seen, but our faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

The soul in this life is either anchored to the world, its promises, and pleasures, or to Christ who is God’s fulfilled promise and our hope to the end. He has entered heaven as our high priest and holds us to Himself. God has made us sit in heavenly places in Christ. And Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). This is why we set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-3).

Dear heavenly Father, you promised eternal life and fulfilled that promise in Christ, your Son, who is our hope of eternal life. Your sure and steadfast anchor keeps us through even the violent storms of this life. No one can move this anchor; no one can snatch us out of your hand ~ this to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Related Articles: Staying in the Ship         Laying Hold of Eternal Life

Covenant Living and Giving

Life Beyond a Mere Christianity is possible in covenant with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

God relates to His creatures only through covenant.

“All true theology is based on some form of a divine covenant. The Christian religion must be understood covenantally, for that is how God has chosen to relate to man, whether in the garden or after the entrance of sin into the world. The goal of all divine–human covenants is summed up in the words found throughout the Bible: “I will be your God and you will be my people, and I will dwell among you” (Ex. 6:729:45Ezek. 11:202 Cor. 6:16Rev. 21:3).”  What is a Covenant?

A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties. There is an initiator, one who is responsible to reveal the covenant to another person. We can do all we can, thinking we live in relationship to God, with little success, until we understand how God initiates His covenant with His people. With the initiation, He provides the conditions and the means to live in covenant with Him. Just as He chose to create us without our help, He has chosen us as His people; presents His covenant to us with promise to fulfill every detail and draws us to Christ by His Holy Spirit. We enter into covenant with Him by faith, believing that He has the power to complete all that is specified in the covenant.

His is a covenant of grace, requiring no work of our own; a covenant of redemption through Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the conditions; a covenant of love between Him and His people. This article cannot do justice to the subject of the covenants that were made to Adam (a covenant of works), everlasting covenants to Noah (Genesis 9:16), Abraham (Genesis 17:7) Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and David (2 Samuel 23:5), and fulfilled by the life and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20-21). His Holy Spirit continues to complete the Father’s covenant in and through us for the promised inheritance that is ours through His Son, our Lord and Savior.

Covenant living and giving is possible when we know the person who has the power to fulfill all the conditions for both sides. There is much to be said about life in covenant with our heavenly Father through His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit. I cannot in my own words express how the father of our faith, Abraham, lived in covenant with our heavenly Father, but if you have ever wondered how and why God could ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son, please take the time for the following message. I pray that, as I was, you may be moved to live and give as our Father and our Lord did for us. Don’t miss a blessing ~ please check the link below.

Abraham’s Fiery Trial

Dear Father, I pray that you would speak to other hearts through this sermoneven as you did to mine. Teach us what it means to live in covenant with you, to give all to you, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Image:Google

Grace, and Grace Alone

Grace, and grace alone,
could save a wretch like me.
I could not die for my own sins.
Christ had to die for me.
A thousand deaths would not atone
for my eternity;
Christ’s blood, and His alone,
bought my sanctity.

 His light, and His alone,
shined deep within my soul.
The darkness of my heart
was readily exposed.
His Word, and His alone,
could speak new life in me.
My sin is great, but greater still,
His grace has set me free.

His love, and His alone,
drew me to His Son;
In covenant with Him,
to be His very own.
In goodness, and in His alone,
He brought me to repent,
To turn, to trust, to follow Jesus,
whom He had sent.

His power, and His alone,
gives life beyond my dreams;
Life in Christ, the life of grace,
according to His means.
His glory, and His alone,
suffices as an end.
His purpose in heaven and on earth,
for Him; for me. Amen.

(This poem is the result of waking this morning  around 5:00, hearing the steady refreshing rain that has been needful for so long.  The next thing that came to mind was God’s grace, and after a few minutes I got up and began to write. Following are the Biblical references that apply.  I pray that those who read may use one or both to discover and refresh your heart in the truth of God’s grace and His glory.)

Grace ~ Ephesians 2:7-9; 4:7; 2:1-4 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20
Christ’s Blood ~ 2 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:18-20

His Light ~ 2 Corinthians 4:-6-7; Genesis 6:5
His Word ~1 Peter 1:3, 23-25; James 1:18; Romans 5:20-21

His Love ~ 1 John 4: 9-10; 1 John:1-3; John :44-45; Ephesians 1:4-5
His Goodness ~ Romans 2: 4; Psalms 107:8; John 17:3

His Power ~ Ephesians 3:19; Romans 8:1-4
His Glory ~ Psalm 73:24; Romans 11:36; 2 Cor. 3:18;Colossians 3:1-4

F.R. 2012
Related article:

Heavenly Overtones

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

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

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

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

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music (Ephesians 5:19).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father has composed the music and directs the choir.

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

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

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