No Strings Attached

Many will say that if God is sovereign and that He has predestined everything then we are no more than robots or puppets. We may use this description for those who live by the dictates of our world’s culture, but never to describe those whom God calls His own people. Robots and puppets have no mind and no heart for God or others.

When God created man it was so as to be close to him, and to give to him all of His love, joy, and peace. This relationship all depended on the creature’s faith and obedience to the word of God. When God breathed into man His own Spirit He gave all of us His life, to be passed down from generation to generation. That power of His Spirit and life for us was annulled when the first man and woman disobeyed, proving that man needs, and cannot live without, the presence and power of our Creator.

Until Christ came man was destined to live on his own, under the curse of the law of God, without any power for us to obey. Christ was the Son who obeyed and then gave His life as a substitute for us, so that we would receive God’s Spirit again and be reconciled to Him. It is His Spirit that gives us a new heart that willingly seeks and obeys God’s Word.
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There are no strings attached, but only the sweet Spirit of Christ, His Son, who lives in our hearts, enabling us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him.

We willingly give ourselves to whatever draws us, whether to the things of this world, or to the things of God. God, our heavenly Father, draws us by His Spirit and His written word to Himself, and to all that is eternal. Those who know Him, desire to desire what He desires for us, and willingly give ourselves to Him. He woes us, and continues to draw us by His overwhelming love and grace.   He needs no physical attachments, only a humble heart and spirit, which from His own heart and Spirit, He works in us.

Jehovah appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for your eternal plan for us to live with you now and forever.  Thank you that you did not leave us alone in our sin; but that as a God of mercy, who loved us before the foundation of the world, now through your Word and Spirit, in your timing and in your way bring us to yourself through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord and Savior.  In His name we pray.  Amen.

Relation Ships

There are three words within the word “relationship” representing three different facets of a relationship.    imagesWe see the word “ship” as the most prominent word. Within the ship are people who relate to each other; and between these there is relation.

There are friendships, fellowships, memberships, partnerships, leaderships; and also relationships of marriage and family; parents with children, etc. In the spiritual realm there is a lordship and worship.

A ship is a means of transportation, a vessel that holds and carries one or more persons from place to place. A ship represents a unity of heart and spirit.   Two people in a ship usually have something in common. In a long lasting relationship the two are of the same mind, with the same desires, the same purpose and the same plans. Their destinations are the same.

Our neighbors have recently booked a passage on a ship for a fall cruise. They will not own the ship but will pay to enter the ship that will take them on a week’s voyage wherever the ship has planned to go. Relationships are not always cruises to beautiful and pleasant shores. But, we pay for these in our commitments to those with whom we are in a relationship. Marriage and family require a covenant vow of our money and time, and all our resources.

 Abandoned Ships
There are relationships that have been abandoned because one has changed his/her mind, plans or destination. One may have entered a different relationship. They are now relating to someone else with whom they have more in common.

Sometimes ships need to be abandoned, when plans and destinations have changed.
An example is when one has become a Christian and is following Christ and the other is not.  If the unbeliever is not interested in the direction that Christ takes us the believer cannot safely continue in the relationship. There cannot be two captains of one ship. The two may still have similar interests, but the lordship changes for one,  charting a different course than the unbeliever.   These relationships usually end on the rocks, sometimes after years of struggle in trying to keep the relationship afloat. Or believers are influenced by the unbelievers to abandon their faith.

Evaluation and Repairs
Marriages may begin to sink because other ships seem more attractive, or one simply loses interest in the one that they are in. Relationships of marriage and family need to be brought into the harbor, for evaluation, repairs and renovations. Others need to accept that the ship is going in a different direction than was planned, seeing the need for change of heart and mind.

While marriages are joint relationships, a partnership so to speak, God’s plans for this relationship requires the husband and father to be in a relationship with Him, so that he may know how to captain the relationship with his wife and family. He must first know the lordship of Christ and submit to this relationship.  Wives in relationship with God are given the plans and the means of submission to His plans under the leadership of the husband.

God’s Word, the manual for repairs of the ship needs to be sought, and obeyed. Both husband and wife need to enter into the relationship of prayer with the heavenly Father to seek His plans, means and power for renewal.

A Lifetime Relationship
In the case of lordship and worship, we have to repent and in faith submit to God’s will if we are to enter into a relationship with Him. He is the captain of all our ships, whatever relationship this may be. This one relationship determines all others for us. A circle of relationships will have the Lord, Jesus Christ at the helm. We can depend on Him to bring us through all the rough waters safely and victoriously to that glorious worship that He has planned for us.

(In Part 2 we will look at the context of a relationship.)

Dear gracious Father, who has booked a life voyage for us that will extend to eternity, please show us your plans. By your Holy Spirit work in our hearts and bring us willingly to embark upon this voyage with you and the family that you have provided for us. Reveal to us the greatest relationship that we will ever enter and experience ~ the relationship that is ours in your dear Son, Jesus Christ, that will bring us together to the shores of Paradise with you. In His name I pray and praise you.  Amen.

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The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul (Video Series)

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In 1986 this video series was filmed by a younger Sproul.  It is a classic in any Christian’s study of the character of God.  Whatever church you belong to you will be blessed to view these 30 minutes lectures. Go here to view all six.

Below is 5 minute clip from the first lecture, Holy, Holy, Holy.

The Best of God’s Grace

It has been said that a common grace is extended to all of God’s creatures ~ “In Him we live, and breathe, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) This is seen in that He allows us to accomplish all that we can do in this life apart from Him. Even in the daily rebellion and unbelief He holds back His omnipotent hand from a total destruction of all that defies His authority. The best of God’s grace is hidden from the world in the treasury of His written Word, the Bible. It is discovered in the life and work of His Son, His living Word as He reveals Him through the written Word. He draws us to His Word, written and living, by His Holy Spirit. It is the Amazing Grace that John Newton wrote about ~ “that saved a wretch like me.” How many times did I sing this hymn before I knew what it meant?

“I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”

 By this revelation of His grace for our justification God produces the new heart and spirit that brings us to repentance and faith in Christ. This grace adopts us into His family. It is continually poured out for our sanctification, so that we, in a new state of being, love Him and desire to daily obey and please Him. A growing grace within us, like an ever-flowing stream, carries us through this life and death into His eternal glory. It is an abundant grace, an abiding grace, a sufficient grace, a marvelous grace that all who receive it can testify. 00015IDear Father, pour out your grace upon us.  Make us to know your presence and power carrying us through this day in obedience, honor, and glory to you.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen

Related Article: Jehovah Rophi

Meditation is a Moving Experience

What began this year with meditations in Galatians is developing into a treasured experience in God’s Word ~ the written Word and the Living Word ~ more blessed than ever before. This is proving true that the Word of God is active and powerful (Hebrews 4;12).

“Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father,
to whom be glory forever. Amen.”

Galatians 1:3-5

Many other references in the Bible describe the Lord Jesus Christ, his person, his purpose, his accomplished work; and each one is specific as it applies to the needs of man in every generation of this evil age. This present evil age is in reference to all generations until the time of Christ’s return.

Years ago Galatians was a project for memorization and study, but now, in meditation, special and particular verses are even more applicable to where I am today, in sanctification, as I continue to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Through meditations in Galatians there is the reminder that “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
(Galatians 2:20-21)

6958018441f94a21c0baf9365b06c022Like Paul, “Be it far from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

These verses, among others from meditations in Galatians are the gleaning; the fruit, so to speak, of Christ’s work in me and all believers who meditate on His Word. Notice that Paul speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then come with me to meditations in Philippians and the moving power of His Spirit through the written word to experience the Living Word, Christ Jesus.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is quite different in content and intent than his letter to the believers in Galatia. He was writing to correct and protect them. To the Philippians he writes to encourage and support their growing faith and ministry.

He has more space in this letter to witness of God’s working in his own life, although it contains two less chapters than Galatians. In Philippians 3:8 is the moving experience. Paul begins this chapter with telling them to rejoice in the Lord. He carries this call forward into chapter four through the witness of the work of the Holy Spirit in his own life.

He first lists the confidence that he might have in the flesh; in his own accomplishments. In comparing these with knowing Christ he counts these as rubbish, as dung (KJV). (This reminds me of Isaiah’s reference to our own righteousness as filthy rags)

Cause and Effect

 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8

Meditation on this expression “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” has taken root and is bearing fruit. Instead of just going through the motions where I am His Spirit is moving me where He wants me to be. He is leading me from just growing in the knowledge of THE Lord Jesus Christ and sharing the cross of OUR Lord Jesus Christ to knowing Christ Jesus MY Lord.

There is a tremendous difference ~ a life-changing difference ~ from just having a mental knowledge of Christ and actually knowing Christ Jesus My Lord. It is this heart to heart knowing that moves us to live for Him and witness of Him where He wants us. Everything but Christ can be left behind in this present evil age as He brings us through victoriously and gloriously to Himself to share His glory and joy.

Gracious Father in heaven, who has so loved us and sent us your Son to save us from the world unto yourself, grant us your Holy Spirit to do the supernatural work in us to move us in the direction in which you lead; that we may be rejoicing in you and Christ Jesus our Lord ~ whom you have given to be My Lord.  In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Image: flicker.com