What Day is Today?

Jerry and I have our “senior moments,” sometimes asking, “What’s today?”  Since we no longer observe a five-day workweek, we often forget what day it is — except today.

TODAY IS THE DAY THE LORD PLANNED FOR US TO BE WITH HIM;

A DAY He set aside to be different from other days;

A DAY for the gathering together of His people,

A DAY for His glory, and His worship;

A DAY for His Word to be proclaimed, and received, in power.

A DAY OF SALVATION.

I praise the Lord for every day, but especially for this day, of all days.  It keeps me centered and focused on Him, and remembering the reason we are here.  Everything starts, revolves around, and progresses from this first day of the week. Imagine the central force of God’s power in this day through Jesus Christ, His Son, the impact that it has on the whole week, and all time.

Today is the day He prepares us to go into the following work week, refreshed, and renewed in His Spirit and truth, projecting us to the next Lord’s Day, and to that final rest in Him.

It is the Christian Sabbath, established in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As Lord of the Sabbath, He brought the beginning of new life for His people and a day of celebration on the first day of the week.

Today is the day we are brought to, and receive, the Lord’s Supper, which is a time of the renewing of the Spirit, and the continuation of our salvation.

According to a quote from an unknown source—our forefathers called today “The Lord’s Day.”  Our great-grandfathers called it “The Sabbath.”  Our fathers and most of the world now call it “Sunday.” The first given evidence for a differentiation, between traditional Jewish “Shabbat” observance and the religious observance of the first day of the week, appears in Acts 20:7 where the disciples met and “broke bread” together.  The Apostle John also refers to the “Lord’s Day” (“kuriake hemera”) in Rev. 1:10. “Kuriake,” meaning “Lord’s,” later became the Greek word for Sunday. Wikipedia)

Let the world have this day as a Greek Sunday for its own pleasure. But, we set this day apart from all others and all things for His name’s sake.

TODAY IS THE LORD’S DAY

A DAY OF GRACE FOR HIS PEOPLE ~ FOR HIS GLORY

LET US REJOICE IN HIM.

“In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right are pleasures evermore.”

Psalm 16:11

Gracious Father, pour out your Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of those you have drawn to your Son. Fill us with your Spirit of grace to know you through our Lord Jesus Christ. Draw us closer to Him and you, today, through worship and your Word. Continue to grow us in grace and knowledge of Him as we begin this week in celebration of our eternal life in Him. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Heavenly Overtones

Music is designed with a melody that runs throughout the whole piece.  Other parts add harmony.  The melody is the beginning, and the ending.  It is what holds the piece together.  Lose the melody or make it a monotone—the same tone over and over— and it ceases to be music.  Overpower the melody and the music loses its meaning.

Music is a sound that began in heaven with God, our Father and Creator.  It is a major means that He provided to help us worship Him—“Holy, Holy, Holy”—one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost, is sung by the angels in heaven. (Isaiah 6:3  and Revelation 4:8)

Anthems are compositions for music that include all parts —melody, harmony, and sometimes, what is called a descant.  A descant is a part that is sung by a higher range of voices.  It is not meant to overpower but provide an extra lift to the other parts.

Together all the parts speak to the senses to lift the spirit and the heart toward God.

Some of The Psalms that we sing from the Trinity Psalter have descants.  If you have never sung The Psalms you have not only missed hearing the command of the Lord in Ephesians 5:19, but also the blessings that come with them when they are sung.

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music.

(For centuries The Psalms were sung in all the churches.  They are God’s Word sung in worship to Him.  But most churches for the past two hundred years have thrown them out in the same way that the true gospel has been pushed aside.)

And for the most part, all we hear is a monotone—the same thing over and over.  Melody and harmony have been replaced with the performances of one person’s voice or drowned by instruments that overpower the melody.

Hymns have been replaced by compositions that have no harmony—difficult to sing and remember—and have separated generations of families.

I picture it according to His Word—the melody was begun in heaven with Jesus, His Son—“Holy, Holy, Holy”  from the foundation of the world.  He would not only be the beginning of music, but the melody throughout the span of time here on earth, onward into eternity.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes…”

He was wrapped in our humanity—the melody of heaven was here—to gather around Him those that would add the harmony to Himself, and provide the music for His family, the music that the Father wanted to hear.

“On the same night there were shepherds with flocks of sheep in the field. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”the music and the worship were about to begin.

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them with good tidings of great joy”the prelude—the introduction to the first anthem of true worship.

To all people—unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord”the music begins.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest”the descant.

“And on earth peace.”   Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the melody of heaven, the melody of life, as God has composed it, and plays it for us by His Spirit and through His Word.

“I will declare thy name (the Father) unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  (Hebrews 2:12-13)— the harmony of His familyNow He has a full choir.

The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that we learn throughout our childhood are the anthems that are carried into heaven with us, as we join that celestial choir. Others are added along the way as He gives us a repertoire.  The only soloist is the one who carries the melody—Christ, Himself.

As we live by the Spirit, and walk by the Spirit, He opens our ears to hear the melody, and to follow Him.  Our off-keys and monotones are tuned to harmonize with other voices.  And walking humbly with our Father, in the obedience of faith, loving the Lord, our God, and our neighbor, we are surrounded by the heavenly overtones echoing His praise in heaven and earth. In our devotion to Christ He opens our hearts to hear compositions we have never heard before, especially during the difficult circumstances of life.

I pray that we know the Lord as our strength and song.”  (Exodus 15:2)

I pray that we would experience “the new song” as He fills us with His Spirit.

On this Lord’s Day I go to His House with a great expectation of hearing the melody—a strong and sure foundation for our worship—hearing the other parts, and the distant sound of the descant of the angels in affirmation that our worship is accepted.

I pray that each day we will practice our singing, individually, and in family worship, so that we are prepared for worship on the Lord’s Day—all in preparation for the great day when we see Him and praise Him in all His glory with the angels.

Our Father has composed the music and directs the choir.

Let us sing with full hearts to His glory and our joy.

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

O Holy NIght 

Lord’s Day 9/23/07 (Article from 50 Days of Prayer and Praise~Articles and Stories of Faith.)

The Path of Grief

The path of grief begins with a loss, usually the death of a loved one. Since my first post on grief, “Grace for Grief,” I hope that you have followed other posts.  They have been indirectly the beginnings of this path that I believe can be part of your experience to get through and triumph over your grief. (Example: articles on the Lord’s Day.  Part of healing is through our obedience to His commands.  This includes our worship and fellowship with His people.  Grace ~ A Realm, speaks of Christ living in you, to bring you through everything in this life.)

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief.”
Isaiah 53:3

This blog is for the proclamation of God’s grace.  Everything that we write is intended to be wisdom and comfort for those who read.  You will find Jesus Christ, the Lord of grace, in each article. He is the one to follow through this path of grief.  He has been there, and will lead you through. So, even though an article may not have the word “grief” in it, it will still minister to your heart, and be a means of His grace to get you through.

The path of grief is not something we chose to take, but is placed before us.  We must rise up and follow, else we will become stagnant.  Life will no longer have meaning.  There are many cases where the persons left behind grieve themselves to death. They refuse to take the path that will lead them through their suffering. There are others who have by their own hand taken their own life.  In these cases, the reality of life was never in Jesus Christ, but in whatever was lost.

A path is based on promises.  There are signs posted along this way of grace, and He has said that He will always be with you.

A path is going somewhere.  There is an end in mind, and at some point the end will be in view.  Herein is the hope that keeps us going.

A path can take different turns.  There may be resting places at times, before you go on.  These times will test your faith, and work patience, and faith in you.

A path is mapped out individually for each of us.  Your grief may not be like someone else’s. But know that your heavenly Father in His sovereignty has a special plan and way for you.

A path is sometimes lonely.  Even those who have experienced the same kind of loss may not know how to get through, nor help you get through it.

A path is not a race track; the time it will take to get through will be according to His timing.

A path has places of interest that you have never seen before.  These are pointed out as you take the Father’s hand and walk with Him.

This path of grief is a narrow path.  There is no room to turn around.  When you commit to follow Jesus Christ, He expects your own self-denial for the duration.

“Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for thou art the God of my salvation;
on thee do I wait all the day.”
Psalm 25:4-5

I cannot promise that in following this blog you will be triumphant over your grief, but the promise is from the Father Himself, that in your following Christ, His Son, He will bring you through—to His glory and your joy.

In the grace and love of Christ.  ~  Fran

   
The first opening of our Camellia—the beginning of winter;
Into the depths of the cold season this shrub
which has become a tree
will be filled with these beautiful blooms.

Through DEATH to NEW LIFE

Who in this life desires to face death’s door?  Who has the faith to believe that new life is on the other side?  Those who are in pain and agony may be the only ones who are  truly ready to answer this question.  While in good health we tend to shun the idea; death is not something we like to think or talk about. But we must.

If God is true, then we can look at all of this life in light of His promises.  What does His Word teach us about death?  What does the Bible say about life after death?

What is truth?  What is fiction or heresy?  We must each settle these questions in our own hearts and minds, based on what we have read or heard from other people, our own experiences with the deaths of loved ones, and/or by faith in God’s Word. It is the understanding of these things that enable us to die, or to endure the grief in the loss of our loved ones.

What I believe will keep me steadfast in hope when I face that door. How I live now is preparing me for death to this life and the “immediate passing into glory.” (SC)  Faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ will enable me to accept Jerry’s death if he dies before I do.

God teaches us in many ways—specifically through His Word; but He works in His providence to reveal His intervention in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. My brother was at death’s door twice before it was opened.  Five months ago when he had complications from gall bladder surgery, in ICU for 6 weeks, he was not ready to go; his wife nor his doctor (who was a good friend of the family) were ready to let him go.  He was placed in two other facilities, heavily medicated for pain, paranoia, and depression, before being brought back to the hospital for the amputation of his toes.  This was the final trauma that enabled him to face, and desire this opening and passing through this door.  Death was the only truth, and hope, left. The mystery on the other side was drawing him to embrace his death and to submit to it.

God blessed, during these five months, for my sister-in-law, alone without her husband, to experience His care for her.

My dad died on Labor Day seventeen years ago.  Friday, following that Monday, Jerry’s nephew’s daughter was born—a message that life goes on, even when one is taken from us.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself

and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

There is a death that must take place in this life—death to our own way of life and the desires of the flesh.  The eternal life that awaits the believer beyond the door of physical death begins now.  We experience it here on this earth, in the everyday trials, pain and agony.  New life begins the moment God’s Spirit births us into His kingdom, and it transports us beyond this wilderness into His glory for eternity.  For this truth, and in the reality of this promise, we rejoice now, and evermore in the Lord, Jesus Christ, who has opened this door of grace for those who follow Him.

“I AM THE DOOR…” John 10:9

GRACE For Grief

Where do I begin to write on the subject of grief?  I must begin within the parameters of God’s grace.  To approach anything, to come to a knowledge of things in this life, outside of His grace, leaves us with unanswered questions and  unfulfilled promises.Sunset

Grief is the result of—our response to—the loss of something, particularly  the loss of a family member or close friend.  Grief is the human side.  Grace is God’s side. Grief outside the realm of our Father’s grace will never be properly understood, dealt with, or overcome. Grief wrapped in God’s grace brings us into His own presence, His wisdom, and the comfort of His “everlasting arms.”  To understand grief as our Father sees it will enable us to embrace it, endure it, and triumph through it. It will bring us beyond the grief, in time; where grief is exchanged for His grace. As deeply agonizing is the grief, so deeply His grace works in our hearts to experience His glory and joy.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

In many articles on the subject of grief this verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is quoted. We first understand this comfort in the context of mourning over our sins.  It is the believer, the sons and daughters of the living God, who have experienced His grace.  Those who have already come to Christ in repentance and godly sorrow receive this blessing in all times of loss.  This comfort is already a part of our relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. He is, at all times, and every day, preparing us to lose the things and the people, we love. This does not make the grieving any easier.  We still must go through the pain and agony, but with something the unbeliever does not have—FAITH, HOPE, and the LOVE  of a gracious heavenly Father.  In our loss, and during our grieving, He reveals Himself as He never has before.

Death for the one we lose is a final moment in time and history. There is no more pain, and no grieving in the heart and spirit of one who dies, physically.  There is no loss—only gain—unless the person dies without Christ; then our grieving will be useless for them.

As I have experienced the lose of a niece at the age of 23, my grandparents, 18 aunts and uncles (12 children in my mother’s family; 8 in my father’s), cousins, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, my father, my mother, and now my brother, who was my only sibling, Jerry is now the only one of this family older than I am.  It behooves me to think more clearly, surely, and wisely about this thing called grief.  What is its purpose as it relates to the death of a loved one, family or friend?

The purpose of this series of articles on grief is two-fold: as a ministry to my sister-in-law, and others who have lost a loved one; and as preparation for myself and others who see the future possibility (unless we, as wives, die first).  Particularly we will be addressing the loss of a spouse.

We will write about the purpose in God’s plan for grief, the means of grace for our grief, how to relate to one who is grieving, and how the church is to minister to the widow.

We post this series with the desire and invitation that you join in this ministry with your own comments, and direct those who are grieving to this blog.  We pray that our heavenly Father will speak to us through His Word, through Christ and His Spirit, in the next few articles; that we will hear from those who are in grief now, and from you who have experienced the Lord’s grace during your time of grief.

Grace“Blessed be God, even the Father

of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”

                                       2 Corinthians 1:3

THIS IS THE DAY

  “THIS IS THE DAY WHICH THE LORD HAS MADE:

WE WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.”

Psalm 118:24

My brother died last Lord’s Day, shortly before midnight. Our heavenly Father had done much in the last six months to bring him to this final moment. We, as the family, had been a part of His providence. We all experienced His mercy and grace. Thus He ended the 80 years, and 3 months that He had planned for my brother.

We look no further on this earth for him, but to heaven where he has gone “to be with the Lord,”—the place that He has prepared for His children.

Have I grieved?  Are my brother’s wife and children still grieving?  Yes.  We can only pray that our Father will bring us through this grief, in His timing—to the joy that is ours in Christ.

At the creation God, our Father, prepared a day that we should leave our grieving, and remember Him, who created us for His glory. The Sabbath is the day that we are to remember all that He has done for us in our creation, and redemption.  He set aside, blessed, and hallowed the day that would be a prelude to eternity.

In His timing, He sent His Son; and through His 33 years brought Him through the suffering, and sacrificial death that delivered us from this earthly bondage of sin and misery.

We remember His death for us in the Lord’s Supper.  We celebrate each Lord’s Day as our day of resurrection with Him.

“REJOICE ALWAYS.

PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.

IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS:

FOR THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS CONCERNING YOU.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear heavenly Father, this day—one day out of seven— you prepared for us to be with you. Enable us to look beyond the circumstances of the last week, TO YOU.  By your Holy Spirit, work in us, to remember WHO YOU ARE, SO THAT WE REMEMBER WHOSE WE ARE.  You have promised always to be with us, never to leave us, nor forsake us.  You have given your Son, Jesus Christ, that we may have eternal life with you.  Let us rejoice in Him with exceeding joy.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.