TRUTH ~ by Man’s Will or God’s Grace?

So then it depends not on human will or exertion,
but on God, who has mercy.

Romans 9:16 ESV

As deists, Voltaire and Diderot attacked Christianity—“their primary weapon aimed at the church was ‘truth’.” (Dr. Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language*)  “We think that the greatest service to be done to men,” said Diderot, “is to teach them to use their reason, only to hold for truth what they have verified and proved.” What did these men know of “truth” in their young years of their own “enlightenment?”  What had they proven by their own “reasoning” in their latter years?  What did they have in the end?

Man may create happiness for himself while he is able to think clearly, when everything seems to be in his control, but this does not last. God has proven His work of grace, not only through His written word (which “reasoning” discards), but in the reality of life to its very end.

God proved the truth of His grace to me in 1994 as I, for three weeks, watched my dad gradually consumed by esophageal cancer.**  How could he “reason” for himself what was happening to him?  What was truth to him, at that point of his life?  He had only the mercy (which he had asked for) and the grace of God, which we all experienced together.  He could no longer eat or drink.  He could do nothing but wait for his final breath. He was never on morphine, and so was aware of everything going on around him. He could hear, (until now I had not realized that as a work of God’s grace), and we had those last days to sit by his side, to sing to him, to read the Father’s precious words of truth.  God’s grace was strikingly evident in Daddy’s humility, and his peaceful spirit of acceptance in his last week, and at the end.  He died on Labor Day—his epitaph, “Resting in the Lord.”

For five years we experienced the devastating effects of dementia in Mother’s life. She had no means of “reasoning.”  Nor could we, even though we could still think clearly—clearly in that we could accept that God was sovereign, in control of all things.   Though we could not understand through our own reasoning, we were learning more and more to trust in God’s mercy and grace for what each day would bring. (And we failed many times—for who is prepared ahead of time for such things.)  Her last month was spent in a nursing home, much to our grief; but we were not able to care for her any longer.  I could not “reason” with that.

But, even there, in her last few days, God’s hand of mercy and grace sustained us and held us together.  She had been unresponsive for almost four days.  Jerry and I sat with her those last few hours.  Monday was my birthday, and I prayed, “Father, please don’t let her die on my birthday.”  At twelve midnight the nurses were in and out, checking her vital signs.  The younger nurse asked the older (who was wearing the white cap, and the white uniform), “Shouldn’t we give her something?”  The older nurse answered, “No, she is at peace.”  A few minutes later, as I detected her breathing to be very shallow, and holding her hand, I stood and recited Psalm 23 for her.  When I finished, she took her last breath.  I looked at the clock.  It was 12:38. I could not have willed that; it was God’s grace.

A most recent example is of Ed, 86, still a member of our church, but no longer attending.  He has dementia (Alzheimer’s Disease) and now lives with his daughter, Cyndi,  and her husband in another state.  In her last email she wrote of how she reads the Bible to him, and he will quote with her much of God’s Word, as she reads.  It is not by his “reasoning” but by God’s grace, that he recalls the Word of truth that he has hidden in his heart.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself
restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
This is the true grace of God.  Stand firm in it.
1 Peter 5:10-12 ESV

*Our pastor is sharing this study with our membership.  **”Daddy” was my first book, in which I recorded the working of God’s grace in those three weeks.

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Thanksgiving Day

Olivia’s Thanksgiving Greeting  ~  2007

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Last week as William was bagging our groceries he asked, “Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving Day?”

When I answered, “Everyday is thanksgiving day!” he said, “I wish….”

Not hearing what he had wished, I asked him on our way out, “What did you wish?”

He said, “That everyday was thanksgiving day for me.”

Close enough to whisper the secret, I said, “It can be—in Jesus Christ.”

I had never seen William, and don’t know if he will be there on our next visit, but   enough was said to give him hope. A seed was planted with the prayer that the Lord will water it, and lead this young man to His Word, give him a new heart, and a spirit of thanksgiving for every day of his life.

There was an open door, and a humble heart desiring only what Jesus Christ can give. We praise the Lord for the short times in our lives when we can witness of His grace to others; and leave the results to him.

“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;” 1 Corinthians 1:4-5  

A Ray of Sunlight

One ray of light after the rain——one small bloom, waiting for full light of His glory.

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

Though the dermatologist expected it to be cancer, the mole removed from the back of my arm was benign.  I praise the Lord as I wait for healing in the next few weeks; and to know what His plans are for Jerry and me.

If it be His will for complete healing, strength and wisdom, I will finish the book, Worship That Springs from the Heart of God ~ A Sheep’s View; in which case I will not be keeping a steady post on this sight until it is complete.

The Lord bless you and keep you, and cause His face to shine upon you…..”

~ Fran

GRACE ~ The High-Octane

In the quietness of the morning it seemed that I could hear the faint sound of a motor.  It was still dark outside, too early for the sound of lawn maintenance that we often hear early in the day.  I lay in bed wondering if this sound was outside, or in the house (running water, furnace, etc.) The only conclusion was that the sound was inside my head.  (Surely, you have heard such a sound. If not, you will when you’re old.) The sound is gone now, but it brought to mind the thought that there is a power within the world that keeps it going.  Since it encompasses, and works within the whole of the universe and creation it is beyond our comprehension, beyond our finding out.  It is revealed through various means—God’s Word, His Spirit, our circumstances, in relationships, in quietness, and in upheavals.

Without God’s mercy His wrath would have already been poured out upon the whole earth.  Since the flood He has promised this mercy until He has accomplished all His will on the earth.

Mercy, or Mercy and Grace?

 What is the difference in God’s mercy and His grace?  My understanding of the two is that mercy is “not receiving what we deserve.”  God has not destroyed the earth and all its inhabitants at one time, so that He may bring into His kingdom all those for whom Christ died—-that He may save a people for Himself; accomplishing His purpose for creation and His glory.   Mercy for some is living a good life here on earth, though they may not inherit the kingdom of God.

Grace is “receiving what we do not deserve,”CHRIST!  No one is born into this world deserving life in Christ. (Romans 8:2) It is freely given according to the counsel of God’s own will.  (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 1:11)

Mercy for some is to save us from our sin—not to leave us where we are, but to take us to something else.

Regular or High Octane?

As “regular” gas fills a vehicle and facilitates its movement, so, mercy may get us through this life, enjoying our own success and pleasure—our own life.

Grace, on the other hand, is the high-octane power of God within a man to move him in the life and joy of Christ here on this earth, continually filling to His praise and honor, and future glory, moving us onward and upward to the unknown heights of heaven.

Mercy is for earth or water movement only.  Grace is for God’s people, the power to raise us beyond this world to His glory.  When the apostle Paul spoke of being God’s “workmanship” he had no inkling of the extent to which a ship could rise—from this earth— and beyond to the glory of God and His presence.

Grace, which comes from Christ alone, is the only means whereby man can be lifted from this world to the next.  Grace is the means of God’s preserving this world, its turning, its beauty, its movement within, its working according to His own pleasure.

This world will turn on its axis until all God’s people are on board.

              AND THEN—THE GLORY!!!!!!

An Everlasting Covenant

Twelve years ago, through the following devotional, the Lord opened my heart to the truth of the following verses.  This “everlasting covenant ordered in all things, and sure” is to this day “all my salvation, and all my desire.”

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

“I have made a covenant with my chosen.”  Psalm 89:3.

“This was David’s plea and confidence, when, with eternity full before him, he was just going to make his appearance before an infinitely pure God.  This must be our plea also, if ever we would obtain the approbation of our Judge.  After a life of the most eminent holiness, the best of men will have reason to cry out, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord.”  It is true, indeed, the believer will discover some evidences of grace, just to show the child of God, and no more; but all so imperfect, that he dares not ground his expectations on them.  Here the covenant of grace steps in to his relief, wherein he sees ample provision made for the security of his eternal interest: for the covenant is made with Christ and his seed.  It is an everlasting covenant, not only made before time, but extending its beneficial effects through the ages of eternity.  It is ordered in all things, therefore nothing can be wanting in it, either to promote the glory of God, or the salvation of believers.  It is sure also:  depending on no conditions, requiring nothing but what it gives, conferring its blessings freely, and making them sure to all the seed, being established upon better promises.  Happy souls, who are interested in this well-ordered covenant.  May it be all my salvation, and all my desire.”

Thy word, O God, begetteth faith;
From thence our hope doth spring,
Founded alone on what God saith:
My soul, adore and sing.

Thy word is truth, thy promise sure;
Hence faith and hope abide:
True faith in Jesus will endure;
Naught can from Christ divide.
________
(Bogatzky’s Golden Treasury ~ February 8)

I Love the Lord’s Day by Robert M. McCheyne

“The Sabbath was made for man”

DEAR FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN,-As a servant of God in this dark and cloudy day, I feel constrained to lift up my voice in behalf of the entire sanctification of the Lord’s day. The daring attack that is now made by some of the directors of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway on the law of God and the peace of our Scottish Sabbath – the blasphemous motion which they mean to propose to the shareholders in February next – and the wicked pamphlets which are now being circulated in thousands, full of all manner of lies and impieties- call loudly for the calm, deliberate testimony of all faithful ministers and private Christians in behalf of God’s holy day. In the name of all God’s people in this town, and in this land, I commend to your dispassionate consideration the following

REASONS WHY WE LOVE THE LORD’S DAY.

I. Because it is the Lord’s day. -“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice, and be glad in it” (Ps. cxviii. 24). “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day” (Rev. i. 10). It is His, by example. It is the day on which He rested from His amazing work of redemption. Just as God rested on the seventh day from all His works, wherefore God blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it; so the Lord Jesus rested this day from all His agony, and pain, and humiliation. “There remaineth therefore the keeping of a Sabbath to the people of God” (Heb. iv. 9). The Lord’s day is His property, just as the Lord’s Supper is the supper belonging to Christ. It is His table. He is the bread. He is the wine. He invites the guests. He fills them with joy and with the Holy Ghost. So it is with the Lord’s day. All days of the year are Christ’s, but He hath marked out one in seven as peculiarly His own. “He hath made it,” or marked it out. Just as He planted a garden in Eden, so He hath fenced about this day and made it His own. This is the reason why we love it, and would keep it entire. We love everything that is Christ’s. We love His word. It is better to us than thousands of gold and silver. “O how we love His law! it is our study all the day.” We love His house. It is our trysting-place with Christ, where He meets with us and communes with us from off the mercy-seat. We love His table. It is His banqueting-house, where His banner over us is love-where He looses our bonds, and anoints our eyes, and makes our hearts burn with holy joy. We love His people, because they are His, members of His body, washed in His blood, filled with His Spirit, our brothers and sisters for eternity. And we love the Lord’s day, because it is His. Every hour of it is dear to us-sweeter than honey, more precious than gold. It is the day He rose for our justification. It reminds us of His love, and His finished work, and His rest. And we may boldly say that that man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ who does not love the entire Lord’s day. Oh, Sabbath-breaker, whoever you be, you are a sacrilegious robber! When you steal the hours of the Lord’s day for business or for pleasure, you are robbing Christ of the precious hours which He claims as his own. Would you not be shocked if a plan were deliberately proposed for breaking through the fence of the Lord’s table, and turning it into a common meal, or a feast for the profligate and the drunkard? Would not your best feelings be harrowed to see the silver cup of communion made a cup of revelry in the hand of the drunkard? And yet what better is the proposal of our railway directors? “The Lord’s day” is as much His day as “the Lord’s table” is His table. Surely we may well say, in the words of Dr. Love, that eminent servant of Christ, now gone to the Sabbath above: “Cursed is that gain, cursed is that recreation, cursed is that health, which is gained by criminal encroachments on this sacred day.”

II. Because it is a relic of Paradise and type of Heaven.-The first Sabbath dawned on the bowers of a sinless paradise. When Adam was created in the image of his Maker, he was put into the garden to dress it and to keep it. No doubt this called forth all his energies. To train the luxuriant vine, to gather the fruit of the fig-tree and palm, to conduct the water to the fruit-trees and flowers, required all his time and all his skill. Man was never made to be idle. Still when the Sabbath-day came round, his rural implements were all laid aside; the garden no longer was his care. His calm, pure mind looked beyond things seen into the world of eternal realities. He walked with God in the garden, seeking deeper knowledge of Jehovah and His ways, his heart burning more and more with holy love, and his lips overflowing with seraphic praise. Even in Paradise man needed a Sabbath. Without it Eden itself would have been incomplete. How little they know the joys of Eden, the delight of a close and holy walk with God, who would wrest from Scotland this relic of a sinless world! It is also the type of heaven. When a believer lays aside his pen or loom, brushes aside his worldly cares, leaving them behind him with his week-day clothes, and comes up to the house of God, it is like the morning of the resurrection, the day when we shall come out of great tribulation into the presence of God and the Lamb. When he sits under the preached word, and hears the voice of the shepherd leading and feeding his soul, it reminds him of the day when the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed him and lead him to living fountains of waters. When he joins in the psalm of praise, it reminds him of the day when his hands shall strike the harp of God- Where congregations ne’er break up, And Sabbaths have no end.
When he retires, and meets with God in secret in his closet, or, like Isaac, in some favourite spot near his dwelling, it reminds him of the day when “he shall be a pillar in the house of our God, and go no more out.” This is the reason why we love the Lord’s day. This is the reason why we “call the Sabbath a delight” A well-spent Sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven upon earth. For this reason we wish our Sabbaths to he wholly given to God. We love to spend the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. We love to rise early on that morning, and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God. How many may know from this that they will never be in heaven! A straw on the surface can tell which way the stream is flowing. Do you abhor a holy Sabbath? Is it a kind of hell to you to be with those who are strict in keeping the Lord’s day? The writer of these lines once felt as you do. You are restless and uneasy. You say, “Behold what a weariness is it” “When will the Sabbath be gone, that we may sell corn?” Ah! soon, very soon, and you will be in hell. Hell is the only place for you. Heaven is one long, never-ending, holy Sabbath-day. There are no Sabbaths in hell.

III. Because it is a day of blessings. -When God instituted the Sabbath in paradise, it is said, “God blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it” (Gen. ii. 3). He not only set it apart as a sacred day, but made it a day of blessing. Again, when the Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week before dawn, He revealed Himself the same day to two disciples going to Emmaus, and made their hearts burn within them (Luke xxiv. 13). The same evening He came and stood in the midst of the disciples, and said, “Peace be unto you;” and He breathed on them and said, “receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John xx. 19). Again, after eight days, – that is, the next Lord’s day,-Jesus came and stood in the midst, and revealed Himself with unspeakable grace to unbelieving Thomas (John xx. 26). It was on the Lord’s day also that the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost (Acts ii. 1 ; compare Lev. xxiii. 15, 16). That beginning of all spiritual blessings, that first revival of the Christian Church, was on the Lord’s day. It was on the same day that the beloved John, an exile on the sea-girt isle of Patmos, far away from the assembly of the saints, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and received his heavenly revelation. So that in all ages, from the beginning of the world, and in every place where there is a believer, the Sabbath has been a day of double blessing. It is so still, and will be, though all God’s enemies should gnash their teeth at it. True, God is a God of free grace, and confines His working to no time or place; but it is equally true, and all the scoffs of the infidel cannot alter it, that it pleases Him to bless His word most on the Lord’s day. All God’s faithful ministers in every land can bear witness that sinners are converted most frequently on the Lord’s day-that Jesus comes in and shows Himself through the lattice of ordinances oftenest on His own day. Saints, like John, are filled with the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and enjoy their calmest, deepest views into the eternal world. Unhappy men, who are striving to rob our beloved Scotland of this day of double blessing, “ye know not what you do.” You would wrest from our dear countrymen the day when God opens the windows of heaven and pours down a blessing. You want to make the heavens over Scotland like brass, and the hearts of our people like iron. Is it the sound of the golden bells of our ever-living High Priest on the mountains of our land, and the breathing of His Holy Spirit over so many of our parishes, that has roused up your satanic exertions to drown the sweet sound of mercy by the deafening roar of railway carriages? Is it the returning vigour of the revived and chastened Church of Scotland that has opened the torrents of blasphemy which you pour forth against the Lord of the Sabbath? Have your own withered souls no need of a drop from heaven? May it not be the case that some of you are blaspheming the very day on which your own soul might have been saved? Is it not possible that some of you may remember, with tears of anguish in hell, the exertions which you are now making, against light and against warning, to bring down a withering blight on your own souls and on the religion of Scotland? To those who are God’s children in this land, I would now, in the name of our common Saviour, who is the Lord of the Sabbath day, address

A WORD OF EXHORTATION.

1. PRIZE THE LORD’S DAY.-The more that others despise and trample on it, love you it all the more. The louder the storm of blasphemy howls around you, sit the closer at the feet of Jesus. “He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet” Diligently improve all holy time. It should be the busiest day of the seven; but only in the business of eternity. Avoid sin on that holy day. God’s children should avoid sin every day, but most of all on the Lord’s day. It is a day of double cursing as well as of double blessing. The world will have to answer dreadfully for sins committed in holy time. Spend the Lord’s day in the Lord’s presence. Spend it as a day in heaven. Spend much of it in praise and in works of mercy, as Jesus did.

II. DEFEND THE LORD’S DAY.-Lift up a calm, undaunted testimony against all the profanations of the Lord’s day. Use all your influence, whether as a statesman, a magistrate, a master, a father, or a friend, both publicly and privately, to defend the entire Lord’s day. This duty is laid upon you in the Fourth Commandment. Never see the Sabbath broken without reproving the breaker of it. Even worldly men, with all their pride and contempt for us, cannot endure to be convicted of Sabbath-breaking. Always remember God and the Bible are on your side, and that you will soon see these men cursing their own sin and folly when too late. Let all God’s children in Scotland lift up a united testimony especially against these three public profanations of the Lord’s day

(1) The keeping open of Reading-Rooms-In this town, and in all the large towns of Scotland, I am told, you may find in the public reading-rooms many of our men of business turning over the newspapers and magazines at all hours of the Lord’s day; and especially on Sabbath evenings, many of these places are filled like a little church. Ah, guilty men! how plainly you show that you are on the broad road that leadeth to destruction. If you were a murderer or an adulterer, perhaps you would not dare to deny this. Do you not know-and all the sophistry of hell cannot disprove it- that the same God who said,” Thou shalt not kill,” said also, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy?” The murderer who is dragged to the gibbet, and the polished Sabbath-breaker are one in the sight of God.
(2) The keeping open Public-Houses-Public-houses are the curse of Scotland. I never see a sign, “Licensed to sell spirits,” without thinking that it is a licence to ruin souls. They are the yawning avenues to poverty and rags in this life, and, as another has said, “the short cut to hell.” Is it to be tamely borne in this land of light and reformation, that these pest-houses and dens of iniquity-these man-traps for precious souls-shall be open on the Sabbath, nay, that they shall be enriched and kept afloat by this unholy traffic, many of them declaring that they could not keep up their shop if it were not for the Sabbath market-day? Surely we may well say, “Cursed is the gain made on that day.” Poor wretched men! Do you not know that every penny that rings upon your counter on that day will yet eat your flesh as if it were fire-that every drop of liquid poison swallowed in your gaslit palaces will only serve to kindle up the flame of “the fire that is not quenched”?
(3) Sunday Trains upon the Railway.-A majority of the directors of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway have shown their determination, in a manner that has shocked all good men, to open the railway on the Lord’s day. The sluices of infidelity have been opened at the same time, and floods of blasphemous tracts are pouring over the land, decrying the holy day of the blessed God, as if there was no eye in heaven, no King on Zion Hill, no day of reckoning. Christian countrymen, awake! and, filled by the same spirit that delivered our country from the dark superstitions of Rome, let us beat back the incoming tide of infidelity and enmity to the Sabbath. Guilty men! who, under Satan, are leading on the deep, dark phalanx of Sabbath- breakers, yours is a solemn position. You are robbers. You rob God of His holy day. You are murderers. You murder the souls of your servants. God said, “Thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy servant;” but you compel your servants to break God’s law, and to sell their souls for gain. You are sinners against light. Your Bible and your catechism, the words of godly parents, perhaps now in the Sabbath above, and the loud remonstrances of God-fearing men, are ringing in your ears, while you perpetrate this deed of shame, and glory in it. You are traitors to your country. The law of your country declares that you should “observe a holy rest all that day from your own words, works, and thoughts;” and yet you scout it as an antiquated superstition. Was it not Sabbath-breaking that made God east away Israel? And yet you would bring the same curse on Scotland now. You are moral suicides, stabbing your own souls, proclaiming to the world that you are not the Lord’s people, and hurrying on your souls to meet the Sabbath-breaker’s doom. In conclusion, I propose, for the calm consideration of all sober-minded men, the following

SERIOUS QUESTIONS.

(1) Can you name one godly minister, of any denomination in all Scotland, who does not hold the duty of the entire sanctification of the Lord’s day?
(2) Did you ever meet with a lively believer in any country under heaven – one who loved Christ, and lived a holy life – who did not delight in keeping holy to God the entire Lord’s day?
(3) Is it wise to take the interpretation of God’s will concerning the Lord’s day from “men of the world,” from infidels, scoffers, men of unholy lives, men who are sand-blind in all divine things, men who are the enemies of all righteousness, who quote Scripture freely, as Satan did, to deceive and betray?
(4) If, in opposition to the uniform testimony of God’s wisest and holiest servants-against the plain warnings of God’s word, against the very words of your catechism, learned beside your mother’s knee, and against the voice of your outraged conscience-you join the ranks of the Sabbath-breakers, will not this be a sin against light, will it not lie heavy on your soul upon your death-bed, will it not meet you in the judgment-day?

Praying that these words of truth and soberness may be owned of God, and carried home to your hearts with divine power-I remain, dear fellow-countrymen, your soul’s well-wisher, etc.

December 18, 1841.

SCRIPTURES TO BE MEDITATED ON.

1. Sabbath commanded.-Ex. xvi. 22-30; xx. 8-11; xxxv. 1-3. Lev. xix. 3-30. Dent. v. 12-15. Neh. ix. 14.
2. A sign of God’s people.-Ex. xxxi. 12-17. 2 Kings iv. 23. Ezek. xx. 12. Lam. i. 7. Heb. iv. 9.
3. Sabbath-breaking punished.-Num. xv. 32-36. Lev. xxvi. 33-35. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. Jer. xvii. 19-end. Lam. ii. 6. Ezek. xx. 12-26. Amos. viii. 4-14.
4. Day of blessing.-Gen. ii. 2, 3. Ex. xvi. 24. Lev. xxiv. 8. Num. xxviii. 9, 10. Isa. lvi. 1-8; lviii 13, 14. John xx. 1, 19, 26. Acts ii. 1, with Lev. xxiii 15. Rev. i. 10.
5. Rulers should guard the Sabbath.-Ex. xx. 10. Neh. xiii. 15-22.
6. Sabbath in gospel times-Psalm cxviii. 24. Isa. lxvi. 23. Ezek. xlvi. 1. Mark ii. 27, 28. Acts ii. 1; xx.6, 7. l Cor. xvi. 2. Rev i. 10.