Bound by Grace

(The Danger of Freedom posted yesterday was an introduction to this article.)

His grace is sufficient in all of life for all He wills us to do and for all our physical needs. It is this sufficiency of the Lord, our God, that the title Bound by Grace was written and shared with other believers thirty years ago. He is the Everlasting One, the Creator of the ends of the earth – who neither faints nor is weary…. But giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.

It was His marvelous grace given one morning as I was in physical pain that prompted my heart to dwell on God’s will and His grace. The limitation of physical movement was sometimes the only time God could reach me – the position in which I was prone to really listen to Him and see beyond my point of view. But, oh, how wonderful were His revelations during those times and also, today.

In searching the meanings for the word bound in the dictionary, I thought I would find at least two. Many of you may have discovered that when we are on a treasure hunt, we usually find more than we expected – such is the Kingdom of our Lord.

We found four definitions with other words relative to the word bound. We will touch on each one as the definition relates to God’s grace – remembering that GRACE originated with God as unmerited and undeserved mercy and favor.

A. BOUND n. 1. a limit. 2. The territory on or limiting lines
1. To limit. 2. To border on another area; adjoin. 3. To demarcate.
The word BOUNDARY is a noun defined as something that marks a limit or border.

The picture came to mind of the lines drawn by a surveyor – lines that define our property. They enable us to know the limit and the borders of where we live.

We and our neighbors know our boundaries. Within these boundaries, there is a sense of freedom, security, and peace. We live, work, play, and invite others to enjoy the place set for us within these boundaries. We, in God’s kingdom, are given a place much like our physical home. We, in agreement with the surveyor, allow God to define His spiritual bounds (boundaries) within our physical boundaries – the unseen operating in that which is seen. He sets the limits and lines border between His kingdom and the kingdom of the world.

Defining the Boundaries
It is in the grace of our heavenly Father that He defines the boundaries between His kingdom and the world and sets the standards for enjoying these bounds. Those who have submitted to these limits and borders know the freedom, security, and peace set for them in and by God’s grace.

The thought came too, of keeping children within the properties where they live. Small children without knowing the dangers, sometimes venture beyond those limits if their caretaker is not there to restrict them. It is the grace of a loving Father that is able to keep His eye on us at all times. Under His care, we are assured we will not go beyond our boundaries. He keeps us and limits us for our sanctification and purification, to know His holiness and His deliverance in times of temptation. In the arms of grace, He sweeps us up and holds us when we venture too close to the boundary line (1Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 13:20-21).

When someone or something gets too close, He shields by His grace from the predators of the world. To allow us beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE would mean that He does not care for His own children. These boundary lines prove His love and His keeping for us. To think that death or injury to one of His children is to be beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE is to call the grace of God unjust. Like the sky, His grace is always there, working even in death, injury and difficult situations. In any circumstance, His arms of grace are able to enfold and bind us even more closely to Him.

Imagine a child who falls (even within the spiritual boundaries, physical mishaps occur) and always seeks the tender — the caretaker – for comfort and for instructions against falling again. God’s grace draws us to Him, as He comforts and heals.

Knowing our Limitations
As we get older, we learn our limitations and accept with respect and adoration what the experience of His grace teaches us – not to fear the things of this world, but to fear Him.

The fear of God is meant to alert us to what happens when we are not submissive and obedient to the limit and border of His grace.

It is His grace to which we are bound and that of His own doing, not ours. By His grace, we are saved – by knowing Him to whom we are bound — through faith in Him who has bound us to Him through His Son, Jesus.

Without a knowledge of the truth about our heavenly Father, it is possible to take His grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1) – even testing our limits. (This is testing God — Mt. 4:7) We may be deceived as we stand on the property line and listen to someone outside our limits, but He knows the deceivers and He knows His own children.

Lines of Demarcation
The word demarcate means a line of solid definition with no questions. Just as a surveyor gives a paper with the lines clearly drawn for our property, God’s grace is clearly defined by His Word, revealed by His Holy Spirit for guidance in seeing and understanding the lines set. We do not have to argue with our neighbor – within God’s kingdom or in the world.

Each child within God’s kingdom knows the line of demarcation. This line was clearly drawn for us in Christ at the cross. We are free in the spiritual boundaries of grace to move about in the physical world knowing what is off-limits, living daily according to the grace extended by the power of His will, wherever we are. In Christ, we are given God’s power to resist the temptations that surround us.

B. BOUND adj. 1. Confined by bonds. 2. Under obligation. 3. Enclosed in a cover or binding. 4. Certain.

There is a house on our property and within these walls, we have shelter, heat, clothing, food, and all our physical needs – according to God’s grace.
Without these walls, these things would deteriorate, blow away, melt, freeze or be stolen. We require the confinement coupled with the freedom to walk in and out of the structure according to His will. The confinement is good and works for our good.

Our Obligation
This work of grace is on our behalf but there is an obligation. It must be maintained; with regular cleaning and repair. A house is enclosed to protect us from inclement weather and those who are not BOUND BY GRACE. Our faith is not in the houses that our heavenly Father provides but in Him the giver of all that we need.

God’s grace is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. He (God) was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) so that we might be brought by His grace – not that we might just come back anytime we wanted to on our own but by God’s grace, to  be drawn to Jesus and therefore bind us to Him. He finds us and brings us to the Shepherd (Jn. 6:44-45, 63-65). The bonds are seen in the arms of the cross and in the blood of Jesus and His love that bought us.   And because He has twice owned us – by creation and by redemptive grace—we are not our own. We owe all to Him. We are under obligation to Him for our physical and eternal life.

But He does not call in the debt which we could never pay. We are not billed but we have received a statement, sealed with His own blood – PAID. The covering and the binding are the bountiful mercies of God with the blood that washes whiter than snow, and makes us His own, sanctified and purified, holy and blameless, keeping our soul, mind, and spirit until Christ comes again (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

BOUND BY GRACE, our sins are covered and we are given power beyond our own nature over sin, never desiring to be loosed from our Creator and Redeemer.
We wear the mantle of praise and are anointed with the oil of gladness. The binding of God’s grace is woven through our whole being. We are certain that what He promises in the salvation of Jesus Christ is true—that the power of redemption works for our binding every moment of every day. He does not loose what He Himself binds to Himself. No one can snatch us out of His hand (Jn. 10:28-29).

C. BOUND v. 1. To leap forward; a spring. 2. To advance by leaping. 3. To bounce.

As we are BOUND BY GRACE, the Spirit of God creates His own energy. Within that which is willingly bound to Him, He is free to exercise the maximum of His grace. We are limited, but He is not. When our spirit is bound to His, something happens that we cannot explain. He creates a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). He puts a new song in the heart that is bound to Him.

Eternal life from the Father to the child who lives continually in His presence – BOUND BY GRACE – knows no limits of His power, which we will discover in the last part — Free to Love.

Gracious Father, the God of all grace, who has called us to your eternal glory through Jesus Christ our Lord, we thank you and praise you for such a precious grace that does a powerful work in our hearts and lives. Fill us with your Spirit; continue keeping us and growing us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

A Panoramic View

How blessed we would be if we could see in God’s Word a panoramic view of Him working from beginning to end —the Alpha and Omega— through it all to bring the first and the last scene together.

How blessed we are to be in the middle as God’s people—the body of Christ—to take it all in; turning from page to page to behold His glory, His kingdom, at work in His people; His strong arm upholding His sovereign will and authority over life and death, His hand holding and molding each heart and life taken out of the degradation of sin.

How blessed we are to be turned by the power of His own Holy Spirit to see Him greater than all the circumstances of the human will and the power of the enemy combined; triumph shared with His people for eternity.

This is a view that comes through a lifetime here on this earth. The view is so breathtaking that we cannot bear it except slowly and as God, the Father, in the wisdom He gives through the righteousness and atoning work of Jesus, His Son, prepares our hearts by His Holy Spirit to conceive of Divine reality—“enlightening our eyes” to see what He allows our ears to hear.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

The tour through His Word is conducted one-on-one so that we do not miss anything that He has for each of us. It is the preparation for that which will come in eternity ~ from glory to glory ~ so that we will share in His glory forever.

The glory of God is hidden in Christ and it will take an eternity for us to behold.

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:19

Dear Father in heaven, we praise you for all that you have prepared for us, what our physical eyes cannot now see; what our ears cannot yet hear; the glorious life for which we are being prepared. Continue to work by your Holy Spirit, in light of the truth of your Word, in our minds and hearts to look beyond this present world to the glory that awaits us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

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Beyond a Mere Christianity

Mere Christianity was a compilation of C.S. Lewis’ beliefs, in which he set aside definite doctrines. He stated, ”at the centre of each (religion) there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.” 

Many, by reading the book, have been encouraged to embrace Christianity even as he did. My purpose in writing is to look beyond what he believed, spoke, and wrote, to discover a greater depth, beyond a mere Christianity; for a mere Christianity will not suffice to proclaim and live the legacy God has bestowed on His children. When we try to make Christianity a common faith, we are in danger of dumbing down the power that Christ died to give us. We lose the essence of the faith that is by grace alone, the working of the Holy Spirit for revelation of the truths of God’s Word. When the gospel is watered down so that everybody can believe, we forfeit the wealth that comes only by personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, His Son. Christianity comes at a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ, and requires more from us than we are able to give. To receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit working through new hearts, drawn to and committed to Him. His grace does not relieve us of duty, but binds us to it and fulfills the requirement, whereby we experience this new life, a heavenly life above and beyond what most people know.

Others have written from Lewis’ theme, but from different perspectives. In the following articles (perhaps more) we will incorporate many facets of His kingdom that our heavenly Father reveals to us, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, in and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through as many of these as He will bestow His grace and blessings, we pray He will make clear HIs role as a loving heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and Life; His presence, power, His name, His kingdom and His will. These are His truth, promises and blessings for a people who know Him, fear Him, love Him, obey, worship, serve, praise, pray, and proclaim in power the good news of Christ, who are being transformed as living sacrifices and conformed to His image, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness and temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility and Godliness.

This is to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) in the “fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) ~ “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)  here in this life, as He continues to prepare us for eternity with Him. True Christianity is separate from any other religion ~ and the reality of a holy life in union with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. He reveals Himself to and in us, not as Someone, but as Jehovah, the Lord our God. He sires children of His own who are HIs image-bearers. Though not perfect, we are HIs off-spring through His Son, as He continues to lead us through an imperfect world, shining through us His holiness and humility.

Inexhaustible Goodness
God, Who Is Here
Weakness and Meekness

Endear and Endure
Three Powerful Words in the Chrisitian Vocabulary
The Right Man For the Job
A Holy, High and Heavenly Calling
Covenant Living and Giving
Seeing Is Believing
How Exciting is Your God?

What is Jesus Doing in Your Life?
Good Works
Peace and Contentment

Bound by Grace ~ Free to Love
Abiding in Light and Truth
Surviving in Enemy Territory

Thriving Under Oppression
His Utmost For My Highest
Radical and Riveted
Focus, Love and Rejoice
Arrows in the Hands of a Mighty God

Many Religions
There are many religions ~ religions for the body, religions for the mind, religions for the spirit and soul ~ of man. Nations are formed by their religions. Children are born and grow up in their religions. We live by what we know and are continually taught. Everyone has a religion, even if they cannot express it verbally. The mind of every person is a tablet, written on from their birth into this world.

In my autobiography, I express my birth as if being given a coloring book and a set of crayons. At every age and stage, I was given a new coloring book and a new set of crayons. My mind, heart and spirit took in everything I saw, heard and experienced, so as to live accordingly.  What I read and was taught became my religion. I was given a Bible, learned what was written there sporadically, from sermons in church, Sunday School, and vacation Bible school. The principles were taught in our home, but not verbatim. The golden rule was prevalent, with a general understanding of right from wrong, but not Biblically profound. Neither my parents, nor I, understood anything beyond what you can see and touch, although I had a sense of something more. Anything spiritual was beyond comprehension, and so, not taught.

Difficult times were accepted as normal, with only dim hopes of improvement in this life. “When We All Get to Heaven” was the favorite hymn sung in church, with the accompanying  hellfire and brimstone sermon. 

How I got from there to writing this treatise on a Christianity that is far and beyond anything I learned in my childhood, is based on a powerful act of God’s grace that overtook, overcame, and overrides everything I had been taught. This Christianity of which I speak is not man’s religion but from heaven, from God, revealing Himself as Creator and Redeemer of the human race. He reveals His plans, His work, His presence, His power, His sovereignty in the writings of the Holy Bible. These are all beyond the normal scope of human wisdom and living.

If we read casually, we will reap a crumb or two of the religion we are looking for. If we study hard and often, diligently seeking something to believe and live by, we may see some difference in our lives. We may even sense a religion to share with others. We may worship with others of the same faith, but, in essence, it is still only man’s religion. It is nominal, or what we think of as normal Christianity.

It is what the world sees, and it colors God and the church with only a slightly different tone than the world’s colors. 

Mere living is below the standards of God’s kingdom. It is settling for the world’s goods.  It is negating the faith given from and in a living God to settle for man’s ideas of life. In the days ahead, let us leave these thoughts of man’s mere faith and look heavenward to the Lord, our God and the only true religion of which He is the focus, our Lord Jesus as the center, and the Holy Spirit, among us and within each of us directing all things according to the will of the Father. By His grace, we will complete all that He has planned for these articles. Please pray for us as we pray for you the reader.

Father in heaven, our Lord and God, we thank you for all that you are, more than we can ask or think, for our Lord, Jesus, and for your Holy Spirit. We praise you for your Word, the truth of your Word, the authority of your Word, for your Living Word, Jesus Christ, commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Speak to the hearts of your children as you dwell within us. Make us aware, through your Word, written and Living within us, of something more than we have been told about you. Give us a deeper understanding of who you are, so that we know whose we are, so that we may continue to proclaim the legacy of your kingdom, to your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Fran

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First Things for the First of a New Year

If ever we begin a new year without focus and direction, we will surely fail to know our purpose, to go through and end the year with any success. As a believer, a follower of Christ, we must start with wisdom and knowledge of Him and His teachings.

He left us with specific directions and expectations. As our Shepherd, He continues to lead us by the written Word of God and His Spirit. He teaches three specific things, first things that we need to know and remember at all times, especially as we begin a new year.

These “first things” are shared in our free ebook, First Things That Last Forever, as an introduction to the series Little Books About the Magnitude of God.

These books were originally written and published to preserve a legacy for our family of what the Lord has taught me for seventy-eight years. They are available here for anyone who desires to know how God’s presence and power work in the best and the worst times of this life. Jesus finished His work, left us His example and teachings, and has sent His Holy Spirit to reveal and fulfill the promises made through Him.

We invite you to begin this year of 2018 with these teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to share them with others.

The Lord bless you, keep you and lead you in the paths of righteousness this New Year.

Fran and Jerry

Gracious Father, as we offer this book to your people, we ask that you lead by your Spirit those who will accept this free offer, even as you offer eternal life through your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. I pray we all will continue to learn to focus on you as our heavenly Father, and what it means to hallow your name; to learn what it means to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and to love you with all our heart, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Bless us as your people in this new year for your own glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Holding On and Letting Go

Since August 29, 1992, the Lord has led me in a different path than the former years ~ with a new heart, new spirit and new life.

We have together chronicled this path, leaving traces, patterns, and clues on the way. We have filled notebooks and file boxes, written letters, emails, blog posts and books with what He has been teaching me.

Celebrating these last twenty-five years has been a joyful experience as we continue through this wilderness in the power of His promises; in faith and the strength of His will to reach that eternal destiny to which He has called us.

At the age of seventy-eight I am near the riverside, having seen and tasted the glory of the Lord through His gift of grace. Through this pilgrimage, we come to a point where we no longer look back but toward the horizon to where He waits for us.

The Lord has these years in His service, been holding me and teaching me to hold to Him and all that He has given. He has shown me His plans for me, and with it the direction and wisdom in which to go, with the assurance to be with me all the way.

These last six months it seems that we have not gone forward but waiting for His instructions. During this time, we have been able to write sparingly through these blog posts. We have enjoyed being a part of the WordPress Christian Community, caught up with reading and commenting on other blog posts.

As Jerry’s appointments have lessened, though his foot is still not healed, we are now formatting and getting PRAYERS That Brought the House Down ready for publication. Thriving Under Oppression is the next project to finish ~ a continual work for the last three years. Our major work is not to promote and sell but to write and publish what we have already written, and finish others that we have started.

All are witness to God’s grace and His Glory in proclamation of the legacy of His kingdom. Under the name of Father and Family Books, these are the testimony of “laying hold of eternal life” to which He calls us. To continue on we must let go some of the things we have been doing these last six months. We cannot keep up the pace of reading and responding to other blog posts if we are to hold on and continue the work God has for us. I have read more blogs than I have written. We will visit as often as we can, but not on a daily basis as we have been this year.

Holding on means with both hands, eyes and face forward to the upward call. Letting go means not spending as much time where we have been.

We will still post occasionally and we are committed to finish our series on Contentment as the Lord leads.

My main role is as Jerry’s full-time caregiver. The Lord provides the time between our duties for writing and publishing. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and His holy will for all that we do in the service of His kingdom. Our books are Christian non-fiction, except for one book of short stories. They are for encouragement for Christian living and spiritual growth as we look to the hope that is set before us. We will post updates as often as possible.

If you are interested in any of our books on Amazon (one is free), remember that profits are designated for missions and charity. The Lord has provided for all our needs so that all our work is for His kingdom and glory.

Gracious Father, thank you for the precious friends you have given us here. I pray for your guidance for us all to continue holding to what you have given us; to let go the things of this world that would hinder our growth and continued progress in the way of your kingdom and eternal life. Show us your ways , O Lord, teach us your paths. Lead us in your truth and teach us. For you are the God of our salvation. On you do we wait all the day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.  

Related article: Laying Hold of Eternal Life

A Year For Contentment ~ Continued

We are almost halfway through this year in our series on Contentment. I have personally learned much as I have prayed, studied, and written on this subject. Through these six months we have continued to see the extreme between oppression and contentment. We are writing articles for the blog and working on one of our new books, Thriving Under Oppression. We are seeing how contentment is the work in and through us by the Spirit of the Lord even in the middle of oppression. Please pray for this project, a much needed work of grace for God’s people, for His glory and kingdom in this year of our Lord.

Listed are articles we have posted. Following are titles of future posts. If we have not covered something of interest to you, or you have a suggestion or question for a post, let me know. We are still praying and waiting for the Lord’s leading for each one.

A Year for Contentment
Born for Contentment
The Authority of Contentment
The Essence of Contentment
The Image of Contentment
Contentment With God Our Father
Contentment in Jesus Christ
The Reason and Season for Contentment
The Center of Contentment
The Spirit of Contentment
Humility and Contentment
The Voice of Contentment
The Price of Contentment
The Patience That Leads To Contentment
The Flow of Contentment
Future Posts
Contentment vs. Anxiety
The Lens of Contentment
Joy and Contentment
Peace and Contentment
Contentment vs. Satisfaction
Obedience and Contentment
When Will I Be Content?
The Power of Contentment
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for taking us in hand to explore from one end of the spectrum ~ from the state of oppression in which the whole world lives ~ to the other end ~ the state of contentment to which you call us ~ through your plan of redemption in Jesus, your Son. Please continue to brighten our hearts and our hopes while living in the middle of the oppression. We praise you for such a great love that overwhelms us and brings us in your blessedness in the Spirit of Christ to a life of worship and adoration now and for eternity. Continue to lead us in this divine contentment to share your grace with others; for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The Flow of Contentment

In this article we are continuing our search for divine Contentment, our special topic for the year. Contentment is woven into God’s kingdom, experienced by His people as we live daily by the filling of His Holy Spirit. Our other articles are written to bring us to know the legacy that is ours and to keep us content in His kingdom.
In this post, we want to look at the difference in what God creates ~ a world of contentment ~ and what man creates.
When we look at God’s creation, beginning with the heavens and the earth, we see a flow which man can never create. Between the heavens and the earth, there is connection. We cannot sever where one ends and the other begins.

No Corners

Notice that there are no corners, nothing to stop the flow. God’s intentions are, that the present heavens and earth will be replaced by a new heavens and earth so as to make His people a part of a new creation (2 Peter 3:10-14). By His plan and power, it will be in His timing, so as to show His presence and power over all things.

Continual Light

Though in different parts of the world the sun is hidden so that we may rest and sleep, the light of the sun continues to shine, even casting its reflection on the moon as a reminder of God’s presence with us. So, too, the light that shines in our hearts continues to flow so that we are content with His presence and power in our lives (2 Corinthians 4:6-7).

Water

Water flows from heaven, to the springs in the earth, to the streams, the waterfalls, the rivers, and the ocean. So, too, the Spirit of the Lord continues to fill us with the life of Christ.
Plants and trees grow upward and outward, landscaping the terrain in beauty from one hillside and mountain to another, even as they reach to and praise the Creator. 
So, too, the fruit of the Spirit is continually produced in us, for unity with each other and praise to our heavenly Father and our Lord (Galatians 5:22-23).
None of God’s creation has anything to hide, so we see all things living openly and peacefully, uninhibited by pride and sin. They are content to be a part of the flow, producing what the Creator planned for each one. We, too, are content when we experience the flow of the Spirit of the Lord, producing what He plans for each of us, freeing us from sin and pride, in humility to live as a witness of His work in and through us.

Animals

Animals in their natural habitats are not cornered but live by the cycles of each day, as the Lord feeds them
(Psalm 145:15-16);

even the birds of the air

and the fish of the sea (Psalm 8:8).

 

 

 

Life and Death
Even in His creation He planned for the flow of life and death. He created us to reflect His image in the middle of it all. As we consider His relationship with all of His creation, we can live in the state of contentment, believing that whatever is happening in our own lives, personally, or in the world as a whole, He is with us as we are part of the flow, carrying all things throughout eternity, now and forever, for His glory, our good, and our joy.
Our Father in heaven, continually fill us with your Spirit. Make us to know the fulness of Christ and the contentment that only He can give. Move us in the flow of your power as a witness to a world in chaos and draw others to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, we thank you and praise you. Amen.
A Year for Contentment
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