Being Conformed to the Image of Christ

And we know that all things work together
for good 
to them that love God,
to them who are the called
according to his purpose.”
Romans 8:28

The answer to years of prayer for our oldest grandchild, Ansley, was witnessed two days ago.

She grew up in a Christian home, attending church with her family, (the oldest of four sisters). In sixth grade she made a profession of faith, but was not baptized. Through high school she strayed from God and her roots of faith. She and Dustin married and, after their first daughter Samantha was born, she wanted the same Christian home for her daughter and step-son that she remembered as a child. But, it wasn’t until a crisis at the age of 25 that she was led to repentance, renewal of faith and baptism.

In January, our daughter Emery was born in an emergency C-section due to complications in the eighth month; she passed away in February after four weeks of fervent prayer. It was during this time that God proved the promises of His presence with us. Without faith in Him, I don’t know how anyone can survive the loss of a child, but I have complete peace knowing she is, without a doubt, in heaven with Him. While Emery was in the NICU, I put my complete trust in God, and  I knew I couldn’t wait any longer to make my faith public through baptism.”

And so, we continue to see the Lord working His goodness in our family. Of our six grandchildren, Ansley is the last one to be baptized. We still wait and watch how He is working in each one. But we must remember not only Romans 8:28 ~ that God works everything together for our good ~ but the reason for all things that happen in our lives, which we find in the verse that follows and explains His goodness.

“For whom he did foreknow, (those who are called according to His purpose) he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29

As disciples of Christ, we follow in His footsteps, taking up our individual crosses daily (Luke 9:23) accepting the trials in our lives as our Father’s means of making us like His Son and so preparing us for eternity with Him (Romans 8:18). Ansley’s is a gracious testimony of God’s Word and His Spirit, working through times of crisis to bring us to Him, to teach us and prove His promises, whereby we grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and are being conformed to His image.

Our gracious heavenly Father, how can we thank you? There are no words, no expressions of our faith, that can match your overwhelming love, by which you bring us to you, to love you, to worship, trust and obey you. All is the power of your Word and the work of your Spirit in our hearts and lives. You are the God who hears the prayers that you put in our hearts, and who answers them to your own glory and our joy. We praise you, we adore you, we love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Impact of One Act

A greeting card we received ten years ago stands on our computer desk. We received it from someone we did not know, who wrote, “Dear Fran and Jerry, We have you on our “permanent” prayer list and have been fervently praying for you regularly.”
A neighbor of ours had asked prayer at her church for Jerry, after his leg was amputated. The card was sent from someone who knew of his slow process of healing, saying, “We are so thankful for your Godly example in dealing with adversity and staying so faithful to trust in our Sovereign Lord. We will continue to lift you up! For His glory, Sarina and Michael Roth
This card was among many others, with emails from those who were praying, encouraging and supporting us during that difficult time, but this one stood out from all the rest because it came from a sister-in-Christ that we had never met.
It was over three years, and a third surgery, before Jerry’s wound from the amputation was healed. For nine years I kept the card in a special place. Last year, after I published TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver, I took the card out of the envelope, read the message again, and was led to find Sarina on Facebook. I contacted her to let her know how much her card had meant to Jerry and me, that we were still blessed by reading it. I told her about the book and sent her a copy. In the process of our communication, I learned that Sarina is a photographer and creator of her own greeting cards (perhaps another reason this card was so special to us).
Since our connecting on Facebook, she and Michael were involved in a motorcycle accident. Both sustained injuries, both are recovering, but Sarina cannot yet use her hand for her photography. My prayers for her and Michael are fervent and daily for their healing.
When she sent her card to us so many years ago, she had no idea how her act of compassion toward us would impact our hearts and lives.
Jerry and I were actually impacted by two acts. First, Sarina prayed.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
Then Sarina, in an act of kindness to us, encouraged us by letting us know that she was praying.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Colossians 3:12
We should never doubt that an act of kindness, no matter how small, will make a difference in someone’s life, and that kindness be returned to us when we least expect it.
 Dear Father in heaven. We praise you for working in the hearts of your people to care for one another. Thank you for revealing your love everywhere, especially in our kindness to others. Thank you for the blessing of Sarina’s card so many years ago, that proves a love that recycles, and truly is evident “all around us.” I ask for your continued healing for Michael and Sarina; for Jerry, as he still needs our care, and your mercy for all in need of healing. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~ Fran

A Crucial Seven Weeks

Seven weeks from today America will have a new president.  Those who voted for the winner will be happy. Those who voted for the loser will realize that their candidate was defeated, and their hope is gone.  Others have had no hope in either one.  These may remain confused and uncertain about the future of our country.

These seven weeks are crucial to the campaigns of the candidates. They are also crucial for us as God’s people. We, His children, who have an inheritance in His kingdom, have much at stake. We will never lose our legacy to that eternal kingdom, but we face the possibility of losing the freedom to continue to worship and express our faith here in this nation.

God, our Father can do all things without us, but He delights to include us in His campaign.

While the candidates and their supporters continue to rally, what should we do? We need to be aware of God’s will for each of us, not simply to say, “the will of the Lord be done.”

We Must Rally Around the Throne of Grace

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16

It is by His grace that we are able to pray to our heavenly Father, as we seek His kingdom and His righteousness for this nation. We are called to pray in all circumstances, for His will and His glory. 

If you have not already planned or been led by your own pastor for a six-week prayer and fasting vigil, we encourage you to suggest it for your church. Don’t wait until after the election to pray. Don’t wish later that you had prayed. We’ll still need to pray, afterward, but we will know that we did all that our heavenly Father wanted us to do at this crucial time. After the election, we can rejoice and praise the Lord that His will is done, regardless of the outcome.  We can live in the hope and trust that He still rules and reigns over all; no matter who is president of this nation.

happy-is-he

Consider the Psalmist words, as we look to our only hope.

“Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,

Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
The Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord raises those who are bowed down;

The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The Lord shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!”    Psalm 146:3-10

Dear Father, draw us to your throne of grace as you campaign for your kingdom’s rule in our hearts and lives.  Bring us to examine our faith and know that our hope is in you alone.  Let us praise you always, regardless of the circumstances of this life. In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.
For a guide to prayer for the next six weeks, please consider our last post ~ A World in Crisis.

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