The Pit and the Wilderness (Part 2)

In this last part of The Pit and the Wilderness, we look at Discovering the Promises, The Hidden Blessings, and The Sustaining Power of His Spirit.

    Discovering the Promises     

 I am a stranger in the earth:
hide not thy commandments from me.”
Psalm 119:19

When we look at the words that John wrote to those who followed Christ, we see the promises that are ours through our pilgrimage here.  In the same sentence before “the whole world lieth in wickededness,” he said, “And we know that we are of God.” 1 John 5:19

In the previous verse, he said,

We know that everyone who has been born of God
does not keep on sinning,
but he who was born of God
protects him
, and the evil one does not touch him.”

He has brought us out of the pit. We can travel the remainder of our journey with this assurance.

Paul knew and experienced the promises.

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:13-14

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

Galatians 1:3-5

Simon Peter shared these promises.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.“ 2 Peter 1:3-4

Hidden Blessings

Many say that we fail to obtain these blessings because they are hidden from us in our disobedience.  Our heavenly Father does not waste anything ~ just as Jesus did not give His life to suffer and die in vain but to effectively save all His people (Matthew 1:21).

How can God’s blessings be refused?

He is able ~ exceeding abundantly able ~ to bring His own children to receive what He has prepared for us (Ephesians 3:20; 1 Corinthians 2:9) He is God. He is the Father. He is not disappointed ~ rather He rejoices over us because of His own work (Zephaniah 3:17). He prepared before the foundation of the world what He brings to pass according to the power of His Holy will.

We can pray to God the prayer of Isaiah 64:1

Rend the heavens and come down, as the melting fire burneth,
to make known your name among the adversaries
.”

But we also, as His people, praise Him with Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who 
in Christ, has blessed us with every spiritual blessing
in heavenly places.

These blessings are for His children who live daily in the wilderness, through His Word and Spirit, enduring with faith and persevering to the goal.

God does not hide the blessings from us ~ we find them as we continue on our way. They are seemingly hidden in our circumstances. They turn up where we might least expect them. This is the experience of living faith that He works through us.  Through every trial, He is waiting to bless us.

Sustaining Power of His Spirit

 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors.
My soul cleaveth unto the dust:
quicken thou me according to thy word.

Psalm 119:24-25

His Spirit is every moment sustaining us. These thoughts of hope and assurance have remained with me since that vision of the pit. There have been moments of trial in which my paths have taken me through valleys, sometimes to the mountaintop for a special time with Him but these were temporary.

As I continued on my way, the pit was revealed again and again, sometimes on each side with only room to walk, as over a narrow bridge, so that I could almost feel a hand on my leg; other times as if on a tightrope extended above the openings.

Other times I have had to cross great streams that would have carried me away except that He was holding on to me and carrying me across, or holding me as I was carried downstream.

There have been paths through tunnels,  blackness surrounding me ~ at times having little more than a faint light ahead ~ but as I continued, the light became brighter.

There have been days so dark that it seemed as if I was in a dungeon with no light at all, with only the hope that He would bring me out in His timing.

It is during these times that I remember ~ this darkness is nothing compared to the darkness of the pit from which God has brought us, and of even greater darkness that is yet to come for those who are not His.

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth
.”
Matthew 25:30

His grace is truly sufficient for all times and for all trials (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

As we continue through this wilderness, we who are in Christ will encounter the enemy at every turn, but we are assured that we are not alone. God is always with us.

And I saw an angel come down from heaven,
having the key of the bottomless pit
and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:1

Thank you, Lord, for the wilderness.
In Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

Fran

Suggested reading: God is Our Goal

Image: Pixabay

Treasury of Light and Truth

Keeping our last post within reading limits, I left out an important under-truth, thinking someone would read and add to what was posted. Here is the part we posted.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light
of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6

Paul had mentioned in vs. 2-4 ~ though by manifestation of the truth the gospel may be hid from the lost…

“...the god of this world hath blinded
the minds of them which believe not,

lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ,
who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Now, here is the dynamic part.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the excellency of the power may be of God,
and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

It is the Father’s LIGHT and TRUTH in and through His Son given to us to believe. There is nothing in our darkness to bring the light into our hearts. By His Word and Spirit, He alone has the power to open our minds and make Christ known in these jars of clay ~ it is the excellency of His power only that does this spiritual work in us.

Dear Father, how precious is your light of truth in Christ. How can we see Him except you shine the light of the gospel in our hearts? Have mercy upon our blindness and save us from the god of this world. In Jesus’ name, I pray and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Fake News

This article may not seem to relate to the topic of Contentment, which we have been spotlighting this year, but as we look at what the world offers, we see how people are influenced to believe things that not true, and miss out on the things that are true.
We see this in how the “gospel” is presented in different forms that seem to come from God’s Word, but they either leave out a main ingredient, or give what is not relevant to the salvation of the soul. It is through the gospel, the “good news” of the love of God in giving His Son to die for our sins, that He is able to “deliver us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
It is in the power of His Holy Spirit that He convicts us of our sin, and delivers us from the power and guilt of sin. His power is the greater power that within us, frees us and turns us in repentance and faith to a life in Christ that fulfills our every need.Because of a misunderstanding of the meaning of repentance, and whose work it is, many are “turning” to a different gospel which states that “the finished work of Christ” is all we need, and does not require confession of our sin, or turning from it.
An example of this “gospel” will clarify how it supposedly works.
A few years ago there was a fifteen-year-old boy in our church who was attentive to Jerry and me. At times in our conversation, I would ask him what he thought about the sermon he had heard that day relating to salvation. He told me that he could not accept Jesus because he was not ready to give up his sins. He enjoyed the things a young man enjoys in this world, including his thoughts about girls. I told him that I would pray for him. I continued to pray for him, and a few months later, I was surprised one morning when he and his brother were baptized. Afterward, I asked him what happened to change his mind.
He said that his dad told him that he did not have to give up anything, just believe that Jesus died for his sins and be baptized; then, you’re “good to go.” Soon afterward his parents, whose family had been members of our church for five years, sent this “gospel” in an email to all church members, with accusations that our ministers were preaching heresy.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

My original document has more references. If needful I will do a Part 2. I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about this controversy, but to go forward and upward in our quest for the kingdom that is ours in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews 6:1 spoke of this.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
A related article, Onward and Upward, was posted last week, which comments prompted this article.
Dear heavenly Father, it is easy to be swayed and deceived regarding our relationship with you. I pray that you would, by your Holy Spirit, give new hearts and spirits, birthing your children into your kingdom, so that there is true joy in Christ. Bring conviction of sin and the need for repentance to new life in your Spirit. We need your Almighty power to overcome the false teachings that we hear today. Enable us to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord. Let us speak truth by your word and Spirit to lead others in your truth.    In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~FRAN
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Onward and Upward

Often I think of life as a simple “spiral.”
It circles, and as it turns, advances a little at the time.

Nothing is required for us to move in a downward spiral.
A natural downward spiral begins when we are born into this world. Our minds are set on things of this world, which draw us and drag us down. We are unable, of our own volition, to change our direction. Life never stays the same, and nature itself, by its gravity, keeps pulling us to its depths and the impending death that waits for us.

Those who are born into a culture that teaches Biblical principles may hear of God’s grace and His means of changing our direction, but we are at a loss to apply these principles in our own power.

The Bible teaches us that the direction of our lives change when we are reborn of the work of God’s Spirit in our heart and spirit (Ezekiel 36:26).   God gives us a new life through His Son, Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit within us turns us, from the power of the downward spiral. By His kindness He brings us in repentance and faith to Himself (Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4). He continues through this life to bring us onward and upward, and to eternity with Him.

There is much more we could say in this short treatise about life here on earth, including sin and evil in this world, which is the reason for the downward spiral. The world has been in this downward deathly movement since the beginning of time, when our first parents turned from their Creator to make and take their own lives, and ours, in a different direction than His.

Are you aware of how you are turning, which way your life is going? Do you want to know this onward and upward movement in your life? Do you want to know the power of God’s Spirit working in you to bring you to Himself? No one can do an about-face, turning themselves. Many have tried, but to no avail. It requires the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit working through our spirit to give us a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) This requires a new birth (John 3:3) which only He can give (John 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:3). Regeneration, a new creation, and repentance is His spiritual work in us, and what a glorious experience to be turned and moving in the opposite direction from the world.

If you have yet to know this new life, I pray that you will reach for God’s Word, which He offers to you. Read the Holy Bible. If you have never read before, begin with the New Testament. Ask for His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13); pray and pour out your heart to Him. He knows where you are and what you need. Read and pray until He, by His Spirit, turns you to repentance and faith as a new creature in Christ. He gave His life to deliver us from the present evil age (Galatians 1:3).

If you have never heard the good news of God’s changing our lives and our direction, and want to hear more I would be blessed to tell you more. You can send me a message on our CONTACT page. There is oh, so much more of this glorious upward spiral that is ours in Christ through whom we, as God’s children, live.

I will end this post by saying that your wedding day will not be the most wonderful day of your life. Neither will the birth of your children be the greatest experience you can know. There is nothing as wonderful as being born of the Spirit of God and living every day in Christ, in light of His promises and hope. It is the most uplifting experience of this life as He is preparing us for eternity with Him.

Gracious Father, how can we tell someone what it is like to know you and what life is like as your children? It is impossible to share the width, the depth and the height of your love. You must do the work in each of us. I pray that you would shine your light and the life of Christ through us, and by your Spirit, draw and birth others into your house and kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Conclusion of What Matters

How amazing these last three days have been, and how blessed to see how God carries us through what He begins in us to where He wants us to be. When I write it is usually because I need to learn something new, or to confirm and shore up what I have been learning. Such is the case with the last post, What Matters?

The following are quotes from those who responded to the question.

Gail replied, “how we treat each other”

Jean, summing up her answer, which is worthy to be considered by us all, and in the same path that the Lord has been leading me as we have contemplated this question: “Peace with the Lord, this relationship of continuing to learn of His grace and mercy; He is our life as a loving Savior and Father, a faithful God. He is all in all.”

David expressed the desire for his family ~ “the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that he has experienced.”

Andi: “preparing ourselves and others for the second coming of Christ; happiness and protection for children and grandchild.”

Lee: “resting in the finished work of Christ”

Joey: “God and people, in that order”

Kim: “knowing Him”

Gadol: a personal matter for “fulfillment of purpose, vision, call and will of God”

These were all good answers that attest to another thought.
What matters depends on who and where we are at any given time in our lives. It depends on our circumstances and our relationships. From these thoughts let us find a general answer that applies to all children of God, living as joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. What matters to us will be different than what matters to those of this world, who do not claim an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
What matters to those outside the kingdom are the things of this world, their possessions, their families, themselves. We will not list those things here, but let’s follow on to a conclusion of what matters to us.

What matters to us as God’s children can be summed up in one word, overall.

GOD matters ~ first, because He is our creator and redeemer, He has given us life twice, and continues to sustain us as His people, preparing us to share His glory, eternally.

God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in each of their roles matter in every life, in every circumstance, in every relationship, as He becomes our main relationship and unites us in relationship to others of His family.

Prayer matters because this is His gift to us as His children and the means of communion and contentment with Him that carries over into our relationships with others.

God’s Word matters because He teaches from His Word what matters in our relationships. Love might be the first thing that comes to mind, but love alone, in how we perceive love, may not be enough. We see the manifestation of love in humility, commitment, faithfulness, discipline, accountability, patience, kindness, forgiveness and other marks of Christ’s nature and disposition in us. These apply to our relationships with the Lord our God and with others, even if they are not of the “household of faith.”

It matters that we keep the same obedience to the Lordcomposure, confidence, and self-control with those who are of the world.

This brings to mind another matter, that of light. No one can live without light. This light is given for new birth into His kingdom through the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel matters to us and to His church for the matter of our salvation.
We need a certain time of physical darkness, for rest and sleep, but spiritual light is needed for the darkness of the mind and spirit. This too is given us by His Spirit in His Word so that we know how to live in this world, holding forth ‘the word of life” that is ours in Christ.

We learn about other things that matter from God’s Word, such as Philippians 4:8: “that which is true, honest, just and pure, that which is lovely, of good report, of virtue (excellence) that which is worthy of praise

What matters to God?
If we continue to think and write about it, we could go on and on, but hopefully we have posed a question that our hearts will consider as long as we live in this world, so that our Lord will continue to teach us what matters in His kingdom, in our lives, and our calling to serve Him in His kingdom. You and I matter to God. At one point this week we had considered that God is over all and that everything matters to Him. How then should we look at everything? Whatever we know and wherever we go, we should consider how God wants us to relate to the people and circumstances in which He places us. As Gadol pointed to the call and will of God, it matters to God how we respond as His people to those around us, in obedience and acceptance to where He wants us to be to fulfill His plan in us.

When looking in His Word for the word “matter” or “matters” we found one reference from the book of Ecclesiastes. Before we end with this, we will add one more to our list, that of wisdom. How does wisdom tie in with Ecclesiastes 12:13?

Since we are in the area of what matters to God, what other things from His Word would you add? What other things matter to God? We have but to read and glean these things that matter to God, our Father and to us.

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you leading us to consider what matters, and bringing us to see that the answers come from you. Thank you for being all that matters and that everything and everyone matter to you. Bring us to understand more and to find our contentment in you and your kingdom alone through the salvation that is ours in Christ. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

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What Matters?

Two days ago, Jerry set a record as we celebrated his eighty-first birthday. He has lived longer than any of the Rogers in his family. His brother died at the age of eighty, and all his dad’s brothers died in their seventies.

During this time, we are preparing for surgery to repair an aneurysm in his only leg, praying for blood flow and healing for the wound on his foot, and considering other things at this age and stage of our lives. Yesterday we were questioning if we should be delving into something we did not understand (while I try to remember what that was, I am watching the wind and rain assault the beautiful dogwood that we have enjoyed the last few days blooming outside the window. How easily our thoughts can change. I can’t remember the thing we were considering two days ago. It must not have mattered.) 🙂

After discussing whether or not, we asked if knowing would matter. That progressed to the question: “What matters?” We have never really asked that question before, so as to discuss and document the answers.

After talking about what we though mattered, I decided to pose this question to our readers. Before stating our answers in this blog, I would like you to share your responses to this question. If you need some time, think about it and come back later to comment. At different ages we may consider one thing that matters more than others. What matters and makes us content when we are young may not matter when we get older.

Let’s leave off the answer “love” for the time being. Love would probably be the first answer for a lot of people; it might also mean something different to each of us.

Please join me in this conversation, to which we will add, after your comments are made.

Oh ~ and please include your age; that matters in our answers. 🙂

Dear Father, I pray that you will give us insight for our answers to this question of what matters in this life. In Jesus’ name I pray. amen.

Weighing, Measuring and Filtering Our Words

This is a side note from our last post The Voice of Contentment, as we considered the voices that we hear.

Somewhere in the past, I remember hearing or reading that God gives all people a certain number of words for each life. If this was true, many would have nothing to say in their latter years. 🙂

While this statement is not a Biblical reference, it might be something to think about.

There are Biblical references that speak of our voices and our words. There is much written in the Bible about our tongues, our lips, our mouths and the intentions of the heart in reference to the words we speak. These are all related, but let’s look basically at the words that come from the mind, the heart and the mouth when we speak to others. What is the source of what we, as God’s people, speak?

And what effect do our words have on others?

Joseph spoke to his brothers about his dreams. They “hated him for his dreams and his words.” Genesis 31:8

God gave words to Moses and Aaron to speak to the people. Exodus 10:6-7
Moses spoke the words of the ten commandments to the people. Exodus 24:3;
Moses was instructed to speak words of warning and promises. Deuteronomy 1:1
Joshua spoke to the people “the words of the Lord.” Joshua 3:9

 WEIGHING OUR WORDS

When we speak, let us learn to ask four questions:

  1. Would the words I speak be what I would want to hear?
  2. Would they be a burden on the person to whom I speak?
  3. Are my words necessary?
  4. Would my words be to the glory of God?

Jesus came to speak “the words by which all men will be judged.” (John 12:48) He is the only one who has the authority to judge.

“And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” Luke 11:46

“But ‘the burden of the Lord’ you shall mention no more, for the burden is every man’s own word, and you pervert the words of the living God, the Lord of hosts, our God.” Jeremiah 23:36

“His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” Psalm 55:2

Words can put a burden on others, even to “torment,” as in Job’s case (Job 19:2)
The Psalmist speaks of “words of trouble and deceit” (Psalm 36:3); “words that devour” (Psalm 52:4); “words of hate (Psalm 109:3) “bitter words like arrows”  (Psalm 64:3); “arrogant words” (Psalm 94:4); “false words” (2 Peter 2:3).

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

“Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” 2 Timothy 2:14

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

MEASURING OUR WORDS

“Jesus, whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” John 3:34

“But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:7

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12:3

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Proverb 17:27

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:37

FILTERING OUR WORDS

If after weighing what we say, and measuring what we speak, we can know that our words will be edifying to those to whom we speak, and to build up the church as a whole by using God’s Word as a filter. If we listened and read more of His Word we would be less likely to be speaking our own words. We can be sure our words will glorify our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ if we encourage ourselves in His Word. Jerry Bridges in his book, The Discipline of Grace, says that he has to preach the gospel to himself everyday.

“The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6); gracious words, pure, like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 15:26; 16:24).

His words are sweet (Psalm 119:103); they give light (119:130). We stand in awe of his words (119:147); there is “hope in His words” (119:147); “words of insight and words of the wise” (Proverbs 1:2, 6) they are “holy words” (Jeremiah 23:9)

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd.” Ecclesiastes 12:11

We are to hold fast His words that are hidden in our heart, that He will put in our mouth (Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 4:4; Isaiah 51:16)

What did Jesus’ disciples say about His words?

The people “marveled at the gracious words that came from His mouth” (Luke 4:22) Peter said He had “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Paul spoke of “the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness in 1 Timothy 6:3; “being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed” (1 Timothy 4:6).

What did Jesus say about His words?

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Matthew 23:35

“For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38

“The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12;48

The early church was encouraged by “the gospel, not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17
“not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,”
1 Corinthians 2:4
“in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

Do we consider our words as governed by the Spirit of Christ? Let us make our words a matter of importance for the Father’s kingdom and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our words should be filtered through His Word and prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit. When we speak to others of Christ, the Holy Spirit must be working in their hearts for them to understand the words we speak.

In all our conversations our words should be that which encourages and strengthens our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Let us not waste a moment of His precious time given us here, to share His glory. We can be channels and purveyors “holding forth the word of life” with words that give life, using every opportunity as builders with God of His kingdom on earth. We need not be reticent but with prayer and preparation through His Word anticipate that He will fill up our days with His goodness, His grace and love, laying up treasures in heaven as we spread the joy and contentment that is ours in Christ. We can weigh, measure and filter what our heavenly Father has given us in Christ, and with the abundance share the overflow as he continues to fill us with His fulness.

Dear Father  let these prayers from the Psalmist be our prayers today and everyday.
“Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.”
Psalm 69:6
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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