In The Spirit on the Lord’s Day

What must it have been like—exiled on the Isle of Patmos,
because of his testimony for Christ? (Revelation 1)

John had no live band to lead him in worship, no accompaniment, no artificial light, no props, and no company. But he had his past experience with the Lord Jesus, the memories of living and walking in His footsteps, and the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The testimony for which he was exiled was the same power that was constantly with him.

He was chosen and prepared to receive such visions as he was given, and to put it in writing to be preserved for us.  John’s visions recorded in the Book of Revelation are not your everyday experience, or even a weekly example, of a worship that any of us can expect or hope for here on earth.  But it does serve to bring us to an understanding of the special day that the Lord’s Day became for His people.

It is a day to which we look forward, in anticipation of more of the revelation of the Spirit in our lives and our worship, when we are alone with the Lord or gathered with His people.  The same Spirit, by which we are born into His kingdom, is the same Spirit that leads to greater heights of understanding and finally to His glory.  He is the same presence and power that opens our minds and hearts to Christ, so that we desire to hear His voice, to see that just one, high and lifted up.  Being the center and focus of all our desires and worship, He is all that we seek.  We avoid all hindrances and distractions that take our attention away from Him, His Word and His plan for His worship.

The Holy Spirit and His Word (truth that is in and of Christ) lead us to cast all our crowns before Him, to humble ourselves before Him in silence, praise and adoration.  The same Spirit of which we are born, led, live, and walk, directs our hearts to Him, and reveals the things of God that He will never show us otherwise. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16)  This is worship in Spirit and truth. (John 4:24)

The power of His Word will separate us from the world, its methods, sounds, and designs, and by His Spirit bring us to discover Jesus Christ in a new light.  Who does not desire to see the lightnings, thunderings, and earthquakes that prayer and true worship bring to this earth—of which we are in such great need?


“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom
which cannot be moved,
let us have grace,
whereby we may serve God acceptably
with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

Dear Father, fill us with more of your Spirit, especially today; lead us, open our eyes and ears and our hearts to  what you have prepared for us.  Show us great and mighty things we have not known—things that will enable us to bear witness of Christ in all that we do; even it means separation from everybody and all that we know.  Lead us to seek Christ, to live for, and worship You, and Christ alone.  In His name, we pray and praise you. Amen.

After the Storm ~ Peace

Jerry and I are just coming through another one. Though still not where we hope to be (Jerry has not walked since January), as we wait for a reasonable recovery, we are resting in the will of the Lord where we are now.

We have been through many storms such as these, and expect that we may go through others before we get to the end of this life.

He has proven that storms are good for us (Romans 8;28-29).

They take us away from our home base.
They scatter our hopes for anything in this world.
They bring us in touch with people we have never known, some who have been hit worse than we have.
Through these times, He gives us hope and encouragement for others we meet, and find others whose hope is in Him.

We experience the Lord’s presence like no other time in our lives.

Just as Jesus’ disciples looked to Him and He spoke to the storm, He is with us through it and speaks peace to it in His exact timing.

Peace is never as real and powerful as when He brings us through.

Our love for Him is never stronger than when He endures with us.

Our joy is never greater; our faith never deeper planted in Him than through these times.

The sun is never brighter than when we come to a resting place in Him.

Our faith increases during these times.

Endurance, hope, strength, grace, and wisdom grow through these adversities.

The doors of heaven are opened for us, beyond our circumstances, to see the One who created us and redeemed us for Himself, so as to keep us by His power for eternity with Him.
The peace of our Lord is promised to all who endure the storms of this life for a life beyond this one.
He does not allow us to be overcome, but enables us to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

Gracious heavenly Father, we give you thanks for your grace, power and presence with us during the storms of life. You have always been faithful to keep us through all our circumstances, no matter how difficult they seem. There are many who are struggling. Please be with these; guide them and give them peace. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Related post: God is Greater Than

images: google

Deliverance from Oppression

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“Surely oppression drives the wise into madness,” Ecclesiastes 7:7

Oppression is not an ordinary subject of conversation, nor one that we spend much time thinking about; but it has become a primary thought for me, which has grown to greater proportions of my thinking in the last three years. It came to a point just a few months ago ~ at the point of deliverance; and I have just begun to know what to write about this subject of which most are not aware.  I am not speaking here of the new birth that is ours in Christ at conversion, but beyond this, to a realization of where we live, even as Christians, in the world today; in the deliverance from the spirit of oppression that pervades and rules this world.

The thought of oppression usually comes when we hear of the holocaust. Christians associate the word with the Israelites’ bondage in Egypt. In other countries beyond the United States we hear of oppression, but we don’t consider the idea of oppression as pertaining to our own lives.   We live in a free country where we have the liberty to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, and say what we want to say. We can choose our own circle of friends and the sounds we want to hear, or we can choose isolation and silence. Either of our own choosing makes it seem as if we are free. But my purpose in writing on this subject is to make aware the truth that, in this world we are all under oppression. Until we are delivered from oppression we will not understand this truth. It is when we are free that we can look back and see where we were.

An example that comes to mind is that of the Pharisees, when Jesus opened the eyes of the man who had been blind from birth. Jesus had come to heal the sick of heart and to open the eyes of the blind. The Pharisees did not know that they were blind and so, could not be healed. They were unaware that they were oppressed and that they were oppressors.

My meditations in Galatians have helped to bring some thoughts together on this matter of oppression. Paul’s salutation to the churches in Galatia is “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….” (Galatians 1:3) Who considers that we all live in this same evil age? This is the bad news of oppression; but the good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ is still delivering His people. He came once and for all time to save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”Psalm 9:9

Sin and Oppression
So, how are we associating sin with oppression? We shall attempt to show the twin effect of the two. Oppression can bring about sin; and sin can bring about oppression. It is a vicious cycle, but one that we need to understand. When we are delivered from the power of one we are delivered from the power of both. They both stem from the fallen nature of man. No one is exempt, no matter how free we think we are.

The extent of this matter, like many others that come to mind, cannot be covered in a single article. So far we have the biblical references that speak of oppression and deliverance from it. These alone are eye opening. Deliverance from oppression begins by definition, seeing where it began, where we are individually in the state of oppression, how it is perpetuated, how we are delivered, the reality of deliverance, and the deliverance of others.

We will end this introduction with the definition. (Mirriam-Webster)

Oppression: noun

  1. a. Unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power
    b. Something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
  2. A sense of being weighed down in body or mind

I welcome your comments. If there is interest I may share with other posts on this subject.

 “In righteousness shalt thou be established:
thou shalt be far from oppression;
for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”
Isaiah 54:14


Dear Father, thank you for another blessed day of your grace and peace. We praise you for delivering us from the power of darkness and translating us into the kingdom of your dear Son. Let us with true freedom in Christ share this good news with those who are still in bondage. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Humility and Sin ~ Chapter 8

To benefit by all that Andrew Murray wrote on this subject we must each read this for ourselves. What I am attempting to do with this review of chapter 8 of Humility (PDF) is to combine this with Romans 5:12-21 after the preaching of our pastor’s August 31 sermon.

After studying Murray’s concerns for our humility we see the main purpose for his writing the book. He is trying to get us past our sin in Adam to our relationship with Christ in His gift of righteousness and grace.

We can never forget that we are sinners saved by grace but we do not continue in our sin, nor do we habitually draw attention to ourselves seeing only the sin side of man. If we understand Paul’s writing in the letter to the Romans we are reminded of the depravity of man by which the sin of Adam plunged the whole human race. But more, and far above this reality, is the continual teaching of the greater work and nature of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, in whom we are raised from death in Adam to life in Him.

Disobedience, sin and death came through the first son, Adam, even before the law; before God told other men what they should and shouldn’t do. We who live, after the fact and since the law was established, share in the life of another Son, an obedient Son; through whom forgiveness, and righteousness is ours. But do we believe this and by faith receive this gift; and after it is received know and live this life that is in Christ?

Grace and Humility
As Murray points out, using Paul as the example, true humility is not being humbled because we sin. True humility is living in light of the grace that has saved us from our sinning, while still remembering that we are sinners, saved by God’s grace. We are not saying that we never sin, but that we are no longer under its power. We do not continue sinning as if Christ has not saved us from it. When we understand this we will increase in faith and the humility of Christ.

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“The very essence of grace is to deal with and take away sin, and it must always be so. It is not sin, but God’s grace showing a man and constantly reminding him what a sinner he was, that will keep him truly humble.

I fear that there are many who have sought to humble themselves by strong expressions of self-condemnation and self-denunciation, and yet have to confess with sorrow that a humble spirit, accompanied by kindness, compassion meekness, and forbearance, is still as far off as ever. Being occupied with self, even amid the deepest self-abhorrence, can never free us from self. It is the revelation of God, not only by the law condemning sin, but by His grace delivering from it, that will make us humble. The law may break the heart with fear. But it is only grace that works that sweet humility which becomes a joy to the soul as its second nature.”

Many I talk to are struggling in their faith and growth in the Lord. They seem not able to overcome their doubts and fears.  Some say that they are “hanging in there:” others say, “I am surviving.” Many are depressed and anxious about life.

Where grace abounds there is life, abundant life that overcomes sin and humbles us as we look to Christ, seeing His victory for us over sin. We should be thriving, even in the middle of the madness in which we live. I understand where these are. I too have struggled over the years, prayed, and waited. I am now, at the age of 75 seeing a tremendous growth of the power of God’s grace in my own life, more than I ever asked for; and it is astounding and phenomenal. As Jacob said to God, “I have waited for thy salvation.” It is ordered in His timing and in His way through His everlasting covenant for His people, who are brought to Him through Christ.

A New Level
A few days ago a friend made reference to her daughter’s piano teacher who is taking her daughter “to a new level.” Music students rate themselves as “beginner, intermediate, or advanced.” Not many go from beginner to advanced, but from one level to another as they are trained and practiced in what they are being taught. This can be applied to our lives as disciples of Christ. Does not our Lord Jesus Christ challenge us to a new level of wisdom and understanding of His grace? If so, we will find ourselves more humble than we can imagine. We will be filled and enabled to thrive on the abounding grace and the abundant life that He promised.

As we continue to see our need, to desire this abounding grace, to pray and believe as we wait on Him, He will not fail to fulfill His promises to us, in us, and through us.
Growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now live, should be an ongoing process as we pray, read, study, meditate, and wait. We should be advancing in our faith to higher levels of knowledge and holiness. This is a process working in us that will not exalt us, nor of which we can boast, but rather one that will humble us more and more.

“It is the sinner dwelling in the full light of God’s holy, redeeming love ~ in the experience of that full indwelling of divine love, which comes through Christ and the Holy Spirit ~ who cannot be anything but humble. Not to be occupied with your sin, but to be occupied with God, brings deliverance from self.”


Dear Father, you, the God of all grace, have called us unto your eternal glory through Jesus Christ.  You do not leave us to grow by ourselves.  You know what we need ~ grace and more grace.  Work in us according to your own good pleasure that we may witness of the abundant life in Christ that humbles us and glorifies you.
“Of your great goodness make known to me and take from my heart every kind and form and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility which can make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ name I pray and praise you.   Amen.  

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Obligated And Eager (Romans 1:1-15)

imagesSo as not to lose the main thoughts of the study begun by our pastor yesterday in the Book of Romans I wanted to note and save these ~ not all, but those that we come away with; that apply to here and now, for us.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans described himself as “called” and “set apart.”

He had “received grace and apostleship” for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
His purpose for this grace and apostleship; his calling and being set apart for the gospel of God concerning His Son, was to bring about “obedience of faith” in others who were called. (See The Purpose of Paul’s Letter to the Romans)

This book was written by one “called to be an apostle.” Vs. 1
It was written to those “called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Vs. 6
It was written to those in Rome “loved by God and called to be saints.” Vs. 7

Though not all are called to be an apostle, all who are called, then and now, belong to Jesus Christ; all are loved by God and called to be saints. None are called to be nominal Christians, then to go their own way.

It is a holy, high, and heavenly calling, as noted in Paul’s other letters and in the Book of Hebrews. All are called to live out our faith in obedience to Christ wherever He has placed us.

Paul describes his obligation to those he ministers to as an apostle. He has “received grace” and in his calling as an apostle administers this grace to Greeks and barbarians, to the wise and foolish.

And here with the obligation is the proof of his “calling and receiving.” He is “eager to preach the gospel to those in Rome.” Why was he still preaching the gospel to those whose faith was proclaimed to all the world? It was the gospel that had been preached that brought them to believe the gospel. It is the gospel that keeps us receiving and believing. It is the gospel that keeps us encouraged, obligated, eager and obedient to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 We can easily forget the debt we owe for the mercy and grace that has saved us through Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection.
To keep us in obedience of faith we need, as Jerry Bridges in his book Discipline of Grace, to preach the gospel to ourselves every day.

It is in hearing the gospel that we receive our calling, and know where our obligations and eagerness are directed. As our pastor spoke of this I was reminded again of where my calling is at this time. My obligation is to my husband as his wife and caregiver. As I am writing this he is still sleeping. I am eager to spend the day with him, realizing that the Lord has planned our time together; and all will be to His glory, and our joy.

A Year for HUMILITY

Andrew Murray’s book Humility is a time-honored publication, reprinted throughout the last century and this one.  From his writing we see humility as the least taught and sought, and the most needed virtue of the Christian life; so it is not surprising that God is still leading His children in this area.

Having this book for at least twenty years I have taken it Scan 140020000off my bookshelf occasionally to re-read and pray for God’s working of this virtue in my life.  Not only seeing the need in my own life for this nature of Christ, but studying it, I see how far short I fall of this “cardinal virtue” and how much I need to make it a special request.

This year I plan to do more than just read these twelve short chapters.  By the Lord’s leading and my commitment I have already begun in the Preface to study, meditate and memorize the main points of the truths found here.

Believing that others also struggle in this area, and without it forfeit the blessings that come with it, my review and study will be posted here.  I will be sharing this review only once a month (a chapter a month) so as to keep my other commitments.
This will allow us to become more familiar with the truths of God’s word that He uses to renew our minds and to conform us to the image of Christ, His Son.  I invite you to join me; to see these truths as a reality in your own life.

Unless you want to order your own paperback you can follow the whole text with this PDF, or a copy here from the archives.
The main points for meditation and  memorization in this study will be in bold print.

The stronger points in the Preface  ~

Murray suggests that there are motives –  “three great motives that urge us to humility”  –  which means that it is something that we do not have, and that when we realize the need, will desire it and pray for it.

“The first we see in the heavenly hosts, in unfallen man, in Jesus as the Son of Man.”

“The second motive appeals to us in our fallen state, and points out the only way through which we can return to our right place as men.

“In the third motive, we have the mystery of grace, which teaches us that as we lose ourselves in the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love, humility becomes to us the consummation of everlasting blessedness and adoration.”

This third motive is Murray’s emphasis in his book.  As I have memorized, and continue to meditate on this “mystery of grace” and “the overwhelming greatness of redeeming love”  I see humility as the middle ground between Christ’s initiative (His blessedness) and my response (adoration.)  It seems that this would be the normal Christian life.
Humility is necessary if we are to receive all that God has prepared for us, from the new birth, and throughout our sanctification.  Without it we are ruled by pride, which keeps us from the good things that the Lord has for us.  If Christ truly lives within us, He will give us the desire, and work the nature of humility in and through us.

Murray speaks of the ordinary Christian teaching, that puts “the second aspect of man as sinner in the foreground.”  There seems to be the thinking that “we must keep sinning if we are indeed to remain humble.  Others have thought that the strength of self-condemnation is the secret of humility.  And the Christian life has suffered loss, because believers have not been distinctly guided to see that nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, so that God may be all.  It has not been made clear that it is not sin that humbles us most, but grace.”

“It is the soul led through its sinfulness to be occupied with God in His wonderful glory as God, as Creator and Redeemer, that will truly take the lowest place before Him.”

“If humility is to be our joy it must be understood apart from all sin as a covering with the very beauty and blessedness of heaven and of Jesus.”

“When we see that humility is something infinitely deeper than contrition, and accept it as our participation in the life of Jesus, we will begin to learn that it is our true nobility.
We will begin to understand that (even as Jesus was a servantbeing servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny, as men created in the image of God.

Humility  should be “sought after as the distinguishing feature of the discipleship of Jesus.”

It should be “esteemed as the cardinal virtue; the only root from which the graces grow; and the one dispensable condition of fellowship with Jesus.”

lamb1-150x150There is a call to all earnest Christians to prove that meekness and lowliness of heart are the chief marks by which they follow the meek and humble Lamb of God.”

At the back of the book is a prayer suggestion for those who would be a part of this study.

Dear Father, “Of your great goodness, make known to me, and take from my heart, every kind, and form, and degree of pride; and awaken in me the deepest depth and truth of that humility that will make me capable of your light and your Holy Spirit.”

I hope that you will join me, add your comments, and share your own experience of how the Lord is working in your life this year.  You might want to share this with a friend, or   with the book, use it in a small group.  Let me know if you want to be a part of this review  ~  LIKE,  COMMENT, or email, so that I know to whom I am accountable; and for whom I will be praying this year.  Please pray for me.

In Christ  ~  Fran

Lamb photo –  courtesy of Josette Brouwer