Intent, Tender a​nd Tenacious

It has been a blessing to see how two current series are dovetailing. We are bringing Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian into our chapters of Beyond a Mere Christianity. We are finding the language of God’s kingdom fitting and powerful to take us beyond the ordinary Christian life.

Our Word this week is AFFECTION, seeing that it relates to what we love most and set our minds on. This word and its meaning work to establish the intents of our hearts. With this as a beginning, let us look into the life of our Lord Jesus Christ to understand how a believer follows the Master.

Latin for the prefix ten means to hold and to stretch. We will look at how this works in the words intent, tender and tenacious.

INTENT
(
mind, understanding, will; manner of thinking and feeling) see a deeper meaning as we understand it, considering purpose, goal, attention, etc. here.

Hebrews 4:12 speaks of the power of God’s Word that searches our hearts. 

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God detects the deepest affections of our being. When the Word of God quickens us to a new birth, the intents of our hearts are changed from the natural desires of the flesh to “make us his workmanship” (Ephesians 2:1-10); to desire and love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as our self.

Instead of following our own path in life, in faith and repentance, we deny self and follow hard after Christ. What is this path of righteousness in which He leads us? We will know this as we look into the intent of our Lord’s heart when He came to earth.

He was conceived of the virgin Mary to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Because of His love for His Father and for those he came to save, He lived with one intent, to do the will of the Father (John 5:30) knowing he would lose none of those whom the Father had given Him (John 6:39). There was an intensity of His affection for His Father and for us.

“For the love wherewith He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

“He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

~ “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:42 Timothy 1:9).

The covenant of redemption was made between the Father and the Son before creation. By the power of His Word and His Holy Spirit, He would reveal and fulfill this covenant here on earth in and through His people whom He would bring to love Him. His everlasting love through Jesus Christ was revealed on the cross when He shed His precious blood for our redemption. When we hear and read His Word, the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts of His people to initiate affection toward Him so that we turn and follow that which we love.

TENDER
In the Old Testament, the same word for tender is used for compassion, mercy, pity.

The Psalms speak often of the tender mercies of the Lord.

“The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:9

Jesus knew His purpose for being here; His affections were set on His Father and His people, those for whom He came to live and die, but nothing and no one could change His character of grace and mercy while He was here. He showed a righteous anger toward the religious leaders who were “blind, leading the blind,” but He showed tender mercies toward the “sheep who were being led astray.” He healed all that were sick, cast out devils, spoke truth to all the multitudes, and loved those who would eventually join their hearts against Him and shout, “Crucify him!”

He knew no one could come to Him with the affection, love, and intent to endure with Him except the Father draw them to Him. And we remember that only one of those was at His feet as He was dying on the cross. His true character was shown even in His compassion in healing the ear of one who came to arrest Him.

When He was dying, His tenderness for His mother was shown as He looked down and committed her care to John. His love for humanity was expressed in His dying words, “Father, forgive them.” He understood that none of us know what we are doing; that was His purpose for living in complete obedience to the Father, then giving that perfect life as a sacrifice for the atoning of our sins. He finished the work He came to do so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace in His name for reconciliation through His shed blood for us; for new life to follow Him with great and precious promises ~ beyond a mere hope ~ to live as He lived.

TENACIOUS
Though Peter and Satan, himself, tried to keep Jesus from His appointed mission, He did not waver, but “when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51

“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,” Matthew 20:18

Jesus knew when His hour had come. The hour of darkness (facing death and taking our punishment upon Himself) was His destination here on earth in order to save His people. He spoke of His death, but His disciples did not understand until after His ascension and the Holy Spirit’s coming at Pentecost.

Colossians 2 and 3 speak of our relationship with Christ and how His work of redemption affects our living.

Colossians 2 teaches us that we are “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” Colossians 2:12-13

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
Ephesians 3:1-4

We set our minds, our affections, and our goal on the glory He has prepared for us with Him. With the same intensity as He went to the cross, we hold to our purpose for being His disciples. We stretch ourselves forward and upward in our calling with Him.

As we continue to follow Him, we are tenderhearted toward others, even when they misunderstand who we are in Christ.

In the same spirit of tenacity, we continue to follow His lead until He has finished His work in us here.

Gracious Father, whose will your Son came to fulfill, make us to know our purpose in following Him. Keep our focus and intentions true by the power of your Holy Spirit. Let nothing of this world deter us from following Him. Keep our hearts tender toward others, enabling us to witness of Christ. Bring us steadfast and immovable in the work of our Lord. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Photo by Wendy van Zyl from Pexels

One Month to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words

For the past three weeks I have been processing for publication the first book I wrote twenty-two years ago. Two years before, in 1994, I had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with my father. It was this time of year, last of August and first of September, that we learned he had esophageal cancer.

“He can go at any time, and I would not count on more than a month.”

I documented in a desk-top publication for family and close friends what was evidenced as the Lord’s presence during his last three weeks. There were no computers for consumers then, so I typed what was still fresh in my mind and heart; cut and pasted every page and took the little book to a printer. It was simply titled, Daddy.

During this formatting, which our granddaughter Kourtney retyped for me a few years ago, it seems I have relived this event that was a turning point in my life; at least one of the great ones. My dad “rested in the Lord” on Labor Day, after eighty-five years of struggle for peace.

Even so, those years were fruitful as he worked hard and long hours to find his place in the world. But if he could return and recount those years, he would say that he only began to live as he was dying. I witnessed it. I was there to see how God took a helpless dying man and gave him life and peace beyond understanding. It was at his bedside that I learned how to trust the only One who gives life; to live now as if living forever in the presence and power of my heavenly Father. It was there I began to learn to live my life for others. It was then that He started writing His love story on my heart and of which I continue to write. Fran

One MONTH to LIVE ~ A Father’s Last Words is available on Amazon.

Words of Life ~ ADD(ED)

The word ADD is used in the Christian vocabulary in a particular way, in that it refers to God’s adding, not ours.

Old Testament H3254
Defines the word ADD yacaph (yä·saf).
A primitive root; to add or augment (often adverbially to continue to do a thing):— add, X again, X any more, X cease, X come more, + conceive again, continue, exceed, X further, X gather together, get more, give moreover, X henceforth, increase (more and more), join, X longer (bring, do, make, much, put), X (the, much, yet) more (and more), proceed (further), prolong, put, be [strong-] er, X yet, yield.  All references.

 Have you ever tried a recipe or a formula in which you added or changed something? You would not expect the results to be as what you may have experienced before.

God’s commandments were given to provide His people a guide to their relationship with Him. His word was enough, with no need for them to augment

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4;2

His commandments were unsatisfactory for the people in Samuel’s day. God was not enough for them. They wanted what other nations had.

 And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” 1 Samuel 12:19

New Testament G4369
Defines the word ADD  prostithēmi (pros-tē’-thā-mē) From G4314 and G5087; to place additionally, that is, lay beside, annexrepeat:—add, again, give more, increase, lay unto, proceed further, speak to any more.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus taught that life in His kingdom meant that we trust Him for all things, to depend on and live content with what God gives. The first thing needed is to find what was lost in the beginning ~ His kingdom and His righteousness. What He adds will always fit our needs.

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Matthew 6:27

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

The same word for add is used in Luke 17:5 ~   increase our faith.

How the Lord Adds to His Church
Jesus taught then and now, through His recorded word, how the life of His followers is given and sustained. All that we have is God-given and maintained by His written and Living word within us. In the early church those “that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Acts 2;41  

 “Praising God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added 
to the church daily such as should be saved.”Acts 2:47 

Why the Law Was Added
The Commandments were added after the promise of restoration and life that would come through our relationship with Jesus Christ

 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”  Galatians 3:19  (Read Galatians 3 to get full impact of Jesus as the seed.)

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”
2 Peter 1:5

We are instructed to add with diligence that by which we are called. (1 Peter 5:10: 2 Peter 1:3) The virtue, knowledge and subsequent attributes are those of our Lord and Savior who, by promise lives within us, by His Spirit working all God requires of us. He is all we need.

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you have brought us full circle from being a disobedient people, wanting to establish our own way of life, to experience the restoration by your grace to know you as Father, Lord, Savior and King of all life. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable unto you through your Son. We need add nothing except: In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Suggested Reading: First Things that Last Forever

Covenant Living and Giving

Life Beyond a Mere Christianity is possible in covenant with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

God relates to His creatures only through covenant.

“All true theology is based on some form of a divine covenant. The Christian religion must be understood covenantally, for that is how God has chosen to relate to man, whether in the garden or after the entrance of sin into the world. The goal of all divine–human covenants is summed up in the words found throughout the Bible: “I will be your God and you will be my people, and I will dwell among you” (Ex. 6:729:45Ezek. 11:202 Cor. 6:16Rev. 21:3).”  What is a Covenant?

A covenant is an agreement between two or more parties. There is an initiator, one who is responsible to reveal the covenant to another person. We can do all we can, thinking we live in relationship to God, with little success, until we understand how God initiates His covenant with His people. With the initiation, He provides the conditions and the means to live in covenant with Him. Just as He chose to create us without our help, He has chosen us as His people; presents His covenant to us with promise to fulfill every detail and draws us to Christ by His Holy Spirit. We enter into covenant with Him by faith, believing that He has the power to complete all that is specified in the covenant.

His is a covenant of grace, requiring no work of our own; a covenant of redemption through Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled the conditions; a covenant of love between Him and His people. This article cannot do justice to the subject of the covenants that were made to Adam (a covenant of works), everlasting covenants to Noah (Genesis 9:16), Abraham (Genesis 17:7) Isaac (Genesis 17:19) and David (2 Samuel 23:5), and fulfilled by the life and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:20-21). His Holy Spirit continues to complete the Father’s covenant in and through us for the promised inheritance that is ours through His Son, our Lord and Savior.

Covenant living and giving is possible when we know the person who has the power to fulfill all the conditions for both sides. There is much to be said about life in covenant with our heavenly Father through His Son and the power of His Holy Spirit. I cannot in my own words express how the father of our faith, Abraham, lived in covenant with our heavenly Father, but if you have ever wondered how and why God could ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son, please take the time for the following message. I pray that, as I was, you may be moved to live and give as our Father and our Lord did for us. Don’t miss a blessing ~ please check the link below.

Abraham’s Fiery Trial

Dear Father, I pray that you would speak to other hearts through this sermoneven as you did to mine. Teach us what it means to live in covenant with you, to give all to you, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Image:Google

Words of Life ~ ACCOMPLISH

The Hebrew word for accomplish appears many times in the form of the word “made.”  When God made the firmament, He accomplished what He had planned before the foundation of the world. The same word is used in Genesis 1:11 for yielding fruit after its kind. The Greek word for accomplish is used only one time in the New Testament but also used for fill, filled, fulfilled, full, fulness and complete.

The Old Testament H6213
Defines accomplish ʻâsâh(aw-saw’)
A primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application:—accomplish, advance, appoint, apt, be at, become, bear, bestow, bring forth, bruise, be busy, X certainly, have the charge of, commit, deal (with),

To see all Hebrew references: blueletterbible.org

The most well known in the Old Testament is Isaiah 55:11.

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”

Several verses refer to the wrath of God that He would accomplish upon the disobedient and ungodly.
“He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.” Ezekiel 6:12

Daniel 9:2 speaks of seventy years the Lord would accomplish in the desolations of Jerusalem.

In the New Testament G4137
Defines accomplish plēroō (plā-ro’-ō)
to make replete, that is, (literally) to cram(a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute
(an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.: — accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply. Greek references: blueletterbible.org.

The only reference to the word accomplish in the New Testament is from the scene of transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

“Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.”  (Luke 9:28:31).

When Isaiah recorded 55:11, would he have known that the Lord was speaking not only of His written word, but of His Living word, Jesus Christ, who would accomplish all He would send Him to do?

When God the Father planned His creation, it was with the power to accomplish His sovereign will.
1. God the Father completed His Creation, resting on the seventh day.
2. God the Son fulfilled the means of Redemption and rested on the seventh day; now seated at the right hand of the Father and upholding all things by the word of HIs power.
3. God the Holy Spirit is now revealing and fulfilling the plan and purpose for all things in the fulness of time (Ephesians 1:10).

We need not doubt but His Word and work will accomplish in each of us all His will in every generation until all is fulfilled ~ to His glory and our joy.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you that you accomplish all your sovereign will. What you planned before the world began has gradually come to pass according to your timing. Most gratefully do we thank you that when you sent your Son, your Living Word, He accomplished all you sent Him to do. He fulfilled your covenant of redemption for us. When He said, “It is finished” He accomplished fully and completely the means of eternal life for us. Teach us through your Word, and by your Holy Spirit, do your work in each of us. In Jesus’ holy, powerful and precious name we pray, thank you and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Image:Google

 

The “Right” Man for the Job

Last year we were blessed to find an air-conditioning contractor who knew how our 21-year-old unit works. When we built our house in this small neighborhood, Jackson EMC was doing a joint project for the geo-thermal system and paid all but $3000. Expecting more than we knew was possible for a unit with an average life of 18 years, we tried one more contractor after the last one did all he could.

Joe from North Hall Heating and Air (I have to give him a plug for those who live in our area) answered our online request for someone who knows this system.

He charged us $45 for a service call, with guarantee to repair. He came a second time with an expert he had known for over twenty years, a friend who was retired after working in the field of geo-thermal systems in huge projects. He sat down with Jerry and me to explain how the system works and why we should be thinking of replacing the unit. While he was talking, Joe was working in the basement. We gently stopped his presentation (thinking of what this was costing us) and asked him to get to the chase. What was his advice at this point? Even if there was a short-term solution, we would eventually need a new unit.

The expert left; Joe came upstairs, saying he had changed a couple of connections. He left with no assurance of what he had done, but with no extra charge. We asked for an estimate for a new unit, expecting the inevitable.

We are aware that in the next year or two, we may be down-sizing again, and we will have to replace the system before we sell our home.

But, since Joe was here the last time, we have had heat for the winter and cool for the summer. This past month’s bill was $118.00, almost unheard of, even for a 2000 sq. ft. all-electric house.

In the middle of our adversities this, as well as other physical blessings, help us know the Lord’s continual care for us. We still need other contractors, including a technician to rid our house of ants and roaches (the one we were using failed after trying for two years).

Where is all this leading; where does this chapter fit to get us Beyond a Mere Christianity?

Our Spiritual House
How far do we go to find the man that has the knowledge and equipment to control the temperature in our physical house? We continue to search until we find the right man for the job.

Who has the expertise to fix what is needed in our spiritual house ~ the outdated workings of the human soul?

There is only one “right” man who knows the heart and the soul; who is qualified to come in to the basement of our lives, to examine, evaluate and estimate the cost of replacement.

The system that provides the air conditioning for our lives is an eternal system, and the continual connection is His own life and Spirit to the Father above.

“but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,” (Romans 8:14-17)

The Cost
This continual comfort comes by His own cost: a holy life in humility and submission to the whole law of God, His “righteousness” as ours, His life given as a sacrifice, His blood shed for the final price. Our final cost ~ our whole life given in exchange for His. This is the life of a true Christian. This is no mere Christianity. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior went beyond anything man could have imagined, even what was prophesied, to bring us beyond what we could ask or think of life.

What should we ask ourselves? Is our desire for comfort in this world based on our physical needs, or do we desire something more, based on what God is able and promises to do?

 Call To Me
We make the calls for our physical needs. He bids us to call Him for all of life.

 “Call to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things
that you have not known.”

Jeremiah 33:3

He knows that we will call when we come to the end of our own resources.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will
give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

We delight ourselves in the Lord when we come to the end of ourselves. And when we find our delight in Him, we desire to desire what He desires, even to the point of suffering for Him.

His eternal comfort and delight is ours when He makes the right connection for us.

There is only one “right” man. No other religion promises what Jehovah, the Lord our God promises. No other has the power to do what the Lord does, for, in and through His people.

“For there is one God,
and one mediator between God and men,
the man Jesus Christ.”
1 Timothy 2:15

Our Father in heaven, Father of lights, Father of glory, having sent your Son, the Lord of glory, we praise you; for your Holy Spirit we thank you; for your wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ and revealed to us in your Word and by the power of your Holy Spirit which we could never afford. We praise you that you planned before Creation to provide all that we would need here and for eternity through your Son, our Lord and Savior ~ all for your glory and our joy. In His precious and powerful name, we pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Christ the Mediator

Sharing our Meds ~ Words of Life

Since turning 82 in April, Jerry has met new doctors and added more meds. He and I have lived much longer than we expected. (His mother died at the age of 59, and his dad, at the age of 71.) Since the wound on his foot has finally healed after eighteen months treatment, he is in physical therapy for strength and conditioning. After not being able to put pressure on his foot, our goal is for him to walk again with a diabetic shoe, an adjusted prosthetic, and a walker. In the meantime, he is being referred to a rheumatologist for further counseling after testing positive for lupus; and to a hematologist for abnormal protein in his blood.

Where does it end? Eventually, we all, excepting for a few, will contract something from this world that will cause our demise.

Jerry is now on twelve different medications that seem to alleviate his symptoms, but it would not be lawful for him to share any of these. He is not sure, at this point, if he will accept any more prescriptions.

In this last age and stage, we want to share different meds, those that are lawful to give others, and eternal; those that do not require a doctor’s prescription.

Medications and Meditations
These words are spelled the same except for one letter; they both are effective, but only one is prescribed by our Great Physician. They are both held in the hand; one to be given to children, continued until death. Both are taken with water; one physically, the other with the Holy Spirit. One is taken by mouth; the other through the spirit, mind and heart.

With every development in Jerry’s physical health, the Lord is here to add meaning to everything, guiding and strengthening with wisdom and grace for every new trial. Beginning this new month of July, and the last half of 2018, we will begin something else new. We will be sharing meditations with medications; a meditation each day as he takes his medications. We cannot and would not want to give anyone the meds Jerry is taking by mouth, but we will share meditations from a source we have in our files.

Words of Life
Several years ago, we began a project titled Words of Life ~ A to Z, The Ordinary Vocabulary of a Christian. Taking from Strong’s Concordance a list of words from the Bible that are common to the Christian faith, we had hoped to publish a simple guidebook (or devotional), unlike the Concordance that includes every word from the Bible.  From abhor to Zion, this would be a highlight of what our heavenly Father would want us to focus on; to meditate and base our lives on. Meditation on His Word is His means of addressing and prescribing His grace and truth to our basic and profound needs; for spiritual strength and conditioning. This would not negate the usual reading and studying the whole Bible, but these are extra blessings for those who meditate on the references that apply to each word.

The first one we share with you today is abhor, with the concept at the start, to use this as a meditation for a week. From this first word to the last, Zion, we find a striking difference in the things of God’s word and His kingdom, and the vocabulary and kingdom of this world. We welcome your comments.

Abhor
In the Old Testament, Concordance H1602 defines the word abhor (ga ‘al) as to detest; by implication to reject.  The word is used in the KJV Bible for abhor, fail, lothe, vilely cast away.  We find this word in the Old Testament relating both to God and man.

God describes His plan for His relationship with the people of Israel in Leviticus 26:11, And I set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.” 

In Deuteronomy 7:26, they are instructed to detest and abhor the “cursed things.”

“Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.

Though the references from the Old Testament speak of the history of God’s relationship with the nation of Israel they are an example for His people today.

David in Psalm 119:163 said:   I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love.”
Here he speaks of the opposite of the word abhor, which is love.
This is echoed in the New Testament in Romans 12:9,

Abhor in the New Testament  (Strong’s Greek 655, from 575 and the base of G4767) is apostygeo, meaning to detest utterly. Apostasy is turning away from the gospel, the truth of God’s word, the act of despising, rejecting and abhorring it.

Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Romans 12:9

As children of the heavenly Father we are to abhor (despise and reject) what He despises.
We are to love what He loves.  To know the difference in the two ~ what He loves and what He hates ~ we must search His word; we must receive, read and love His law.

Dear Father, as we begin to share these meditations, make us to know their full meaning, so that we know how to live in accordance with your word and your will.  Work in us to receive your written word ~ your law for our lives ~ even as we receive Christ, the living word, by your Spirit, to live within us and teach us your law of liberty in Him. For your glory, write your law on our hearts and in our minds so that we will love your law even as you teach us to love you. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.