Which is the True Image?

When I saw the picture on the right posted as “The Best Image of Eclipse 2017” on Facebook Wednesday, I was impressed. When I went back to share it on Thursday, it was no longer there. When I searched Google, I understood why.

Neither of these are a true image of the 2017 eclipse. Brandon, the designer created his own image in 2011 and posted on Devianart. Someone copied the image and turned it so that the light appeared as a cross and posted it on Facebook.

True Image of Christ
This reminded me of all the images of Christ that have appeared throughout many generations. Yet, none of them are the same. Some are embarrassing and blasphemous. There are none that I care to look at. He remains but a silhouette until I see Him face to face.There were no paintings of Him by anyone who saw Him in the flesh. There were no cameras.

Who has a true image of Jesus Christ?

There are as many images conjured up in our own minds as there are painted.

How do we know a true Christian when we see one?

Paul speaks to the church in Corinth of false apostles.

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”  2 Corinthians 11:12-15

There are those who have claimed to be Christ. Jesus warned His disciples that there would be false prophets.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look,
here is the Christ!’or
‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
Matthew 24:23

Dear Father in heaven, give us wisdom to know you and your Son as our Lord and Savior. Keep us from those who are impostors. So fill us with your Spirit and your Word that we can recognize the false images of Christ. Make us true image bearers. Enable us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ so as to share His true image with others ~ for your glory. In His name, I pray. Amen.

Power and Mercy

Power without mercy is like
a locomotive without brakes.

It destroys everything in its path;

And eventually destroys itself.

Power With Mercy
Power with mercy brings things together, unites, and bears the fruit of its own working. Such was the purpose of the coming of Jesus Christ, to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8); to restore what His Father had created in their image.

All God’s creatures have power ~ power that was given when He created the first man. It is a latent power in each of us. How we use it depends on who harnesses it. Jesus Christ gives the Holy Spirit to those who believe in and follow Him so as to turn the power within us by His grace, to live in Him, and through Him. The fruit of His grace through us is mercy toward others, even those who continue under the power of the enemy.

Paul prayed for the first Christians:
“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, (are) being rooted and grounded in love.” Ephesians 1:16-17

being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  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 1:11-14

Dear Father in heaven, as you watch your creatures here on earth, please have mercy upon us. Rend the heavens and come down; as the melting fire burneth, make your name known among the adversaries. Fill us with your Spirit of grace; unite us as your children that we may be light in this darkness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Breakthrough

In February, Jerry and I were waiting in the podiatrist’s exam room for him to have his foot x-rayed. So as to encourage him, I said, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

His response was, “Are you sure it is not a locomotive?”

I said, gently, “Yes, I am sure.”

There was no definite meaning, nor explanation for my words, just sharing the spirit of God’s grace as we have experienced His presence through all our difficulties in the past.

The nurse wheeled him out, leaving me alone with my own thoughts in the cold, tiny room.

The still, small voice to which I have become accustomed in quiet times, asked, “Am I your God?’

Humbly, I answered, “Yes, Lord.”

“Then, trust Me.”

As simple as that, without audible conversation, I knew that however long this new episode would last, the Lord was assuring me of His presence and power with us.

Six Months Later
We have waited, as in times past, for healing, not only for treatment for the diabetic ulcer that podiatrists started in February, but for tests and an eventual stent for an aneurysm in his leg in April, to allow blood flow to the foot. Added to this was another wound from that incision

In July this wound closed after treatment with a wound vac. The same treatment did not work for the foot. This was their last resort after trying provadine, skin grafts, collagen, and foot baths. So, they sent us to the wound healing center thirty minutes away.

In this first visit last week, they took a culture that showed MRSA, a staph infection, for which they prescribed clindamycin. Yesterday, for our second visit, we were encouraged with the wound half the size as last week. The wound specialist believes this to be the reason for lack of healing, assuring us of complete healing soon.

At the outset of this sore, the primary care physician prescribed two rounds of antibiotics, but he, nor the podiatrist did a culture. There were no visible signs of infection while under the care of the podiatrist.

We are not resentful that they did not do a culture, but glad that it was done last week, believing that all things are revealed and healed in God’s timing.

Hidden Infection
This all reminds me of how things can be hidden. Just as we all carry the infection of sin within us, not knowing that we need healing, it manifests itself in different ways. Relationships are broken, families are torn apart, life can be emotionally and physically unhealthy because of hidden sin.

It is when we come to the only one who can do a culture for us that we know our sin, and accept the prescription, believing that He is able to bring total healing.

Jesus Christ came to earth as the Great Physician over 2000 years ago, He was, and still is, our breakthrough.

Gracious Father in heaven, we praise you for all things; for Christ, your Son, whom you sent to reveal our sin and to heal broken lives. We thank you for wisdom given to men to solve physical problems and to provide healing, believing that all healing is from you, for your glory and for the purpose of our serving you, living in praise and thanksgiving for your mercy, your grace, your goodness and power in our hearts and lives. Thank you for the encouragement that Jerry might soon be able to wear his prosthesis, and that we will be able to worship with your people again. We ask for your healing for others who are ill, in need of physical and spiritual healing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

A Whole Day With God?

How can this be?

Did He not plan it from the beginning when He created all things. Everything we needed was created before man needed it. All He had planned was ready when He took the dust from the earth, created a form, and breathed His Spirit into it, giving it life.  With all things finished and “good” ~ He created another day to enjoy what He had made. Did He not include the man and the woman in that day of rest? Did they not enjoy each other in fellowship?

But, then, the creatures, getting caught up in the joy of the creation, forgot the fellowship of the Father and created their own fellowship with the enemy. That special day with the God of Creation, the God of Life, was destroyed. Might it have been the seventh day they were out on their own?

That day was refused and abused, even when He was leading the nation of Israel, a special people chosen as His own. They did not understand that the Sabbath was a sample of forever; that seventh day, a reminder of His goodness and grace, was profaned and used for their own purposes.

The Power of Obedience and Observance
A seventh day has remained since the beginning of time for the honor of, and fellowship with, our Creator, and Redeemer. It was important to Him and is still important to His children. When He came to earth, it was to reconcile us, through His Son, Jesus Christ; to restore us to the fellowship that He desires with us. He has provided grace that pardons our sins, reconciles us and gives us the power of the gospel to know and observe the rules of His kingdom. Such love, as displayed in the redemptive work of Christ, serves and enables us to recognize, to acknowledge, and to respond in obedience.

His Holy Spirit dwells within us as His children, born anew through His Son, who, as Lord of the sabbath (Mark 2:28), provided a new day of worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10), in celebration of His resurrection, of His finished work. We are called to this “fellowship with the Father and the Son” (1 John 1:2-3). Jesus has made it possible, through His sacrifice for us.

But ~ A Whole Day?
What was your first thought when reading the title of this post? Did it arouse thoughts of how beautiful such a day would be, or “Do I have to spend a whole day with Him?”
I committed to this, years ago. When we were able to attend worship services, the remainder of my day, other than Jerry’s and my time together, was spent in private worship, reading, study, prayer and meditation, viewing an evening worship online, and playing the Psalms and hymns for the Lord and Jerry. It was a glorious time with my Lord. The next six days were a continuation through ordinary or difficult times, in prayer, study, meditation, praise and thanksgiving for His presence and power with us.

It has not been as easy, without public worship for the last six months, to have the whole day at home without distractions. This too, has been a matter of prayer, and we experience that He is able to direct our way to this fellowship. We, like our first parents, are prone to be caught up in our own interests and amusements, our families’ activities and conversations, leaving Him on the sidelines for another time that we choose.

He has blessed to bring us to discover worship services on Sermon Audio Webcasts; one in particular is in Magherafelt, Northern Ireland. He also leads through meaningful posts online; sometimes in fellowship with others who observe this day as holy unto Him.

The Importance of A Day With the Lord
It is indicative, a shadow of a time that is to come. Worship in one of seven days is an observance, not only of what the Lord has done, in victory over the enemy and sin, but observing a day that is totally different from the others of the week. It is indicative of the eternal fellowship with the Lord; a difference between heaven and earth; between the kingdom of God and the world. It is a day of separation, a day of preparation, a day of practice for the eternal life to come. If we cannot devote one day out of seven now, why would we want to spend eternity with the Lord? The day that Christ Jesus, our Lord, rose from the dead, to secure our eternal rest with Him and the Father, should be the most important day of the week to us as His children. It should be part of our abiding in Him always, rejoicing always, living in praise to Him for His glory.

Where are our thoughts, our voices, our hearts and our choices, our eyes, our ears and our hands on His day? What are we teaching our children on this special day He has created for Him and us?  If ever we join Him in this whole day of worship, we shall become addictive to it, and life will not be the same.

Dear Father, thank you for desiring, for planning, and making a day possible for us to spend time in fellowship with you; to set aside all that we normally do for the majority of the week, from our own pleasure and work. Thank you for reconciling us to yourself through the atoning work of your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Lead us by your Spirit to plan, commit, and lead our families in this endeavor to keep this day holy unto you, in worship and fellowship with you and your children. Enable us to love you more, to see you and know you as you desire us to. Make us to experience your presence and power with us throughout the new week, as we wait for that glorious day that will be the first day of our eternal fellowship with you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sanctify us for it.

Raise us to it.

Work it in us.

For your glory and our joy.

Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt

The country song, Sixteen Tons, was written and recorded by Merle Travis in August, 1946. Based on life in the coalmines of Kentucky, the song was one that I remembered from my childhood. It included the lyrics, “Another day older and deeper in debt.”

When I woke yesterday morning to another birthday (two short of eighty years), many thoughts crossed my mind and ended with this one, using the words “another year.”

How many years do we need before we realize how indebted we are for all God does for us? Biblically speaking, I thought my life might end after my seventieth birthday. But, the Lord had different plans than I knew. Even before then I owed my whole life to Him, but with each subsequent year, He so blesses us to see and to bless and praise His name; to live with a thankful heart.

I am indebted to Him for His creation of me, and His plans for me before I knew Him.

I owe Him for giving me the knowledge of Himself through His Word and the power of His Spirit.

I am indebted to Him for opening my eyes to see my sinfulness and my need for a Savior, for His forgiveness; indebted to Christ, His Son, for the debt He paid for my sins.

I owe Him for a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life in His Spirit.

I thank Him for making me His child, taking me by the hand, and continuing to guide me with His Word and Spirit through this wilderness.

The more He blesses, year after year, especially through the difficult times, the more I owe. The more He gives, the more I know I can never repay.

56-78
I am indebted to Him for a husband for 56 of 78 years; for two children and their spouses, six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way. There are friends, pastors, teachers and others who have been a blessing to us, whom we can never repay.

We could go on praising Him for the next seventy years and would be even more indebted.  His blessings never end, and His promises are forever and ever. And, more is to come. We can never stop His blessings from being poured out upon us, and these only samples of what awaits us for eternity.

Dear heavenly Father, even as I give all to you, it will never be enough to repay you for all that you are, all that you have done, and are doing in my life. Thank you for your mercy and goodness that you cause to follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in your house forever. In Jesus’ name I thank you and praise you. Amen.

Image

The Power of God’s Holy Will

Contemplation abounds as I consider this title.

When the title The Power of God’s Holy Will came to mind, I had no idea where it would lead. Would this be an article or a book? I had no clue as to what to write. Waiting and praying, meditating on the different facets of this title left me unsure, except as the Lord would give me bits and pieces of the meaning of it.

The scope of God’s power covers more than is possible for any human to think, much less write. God’s holy will is beyond our knowing and writing, except when He reveals it or fulfills it in us.

We know what was God’s will for creation, because He did it. We know what His plans were in the first generations of creatures because we have the historical records. But, no one knows the reality of God’s will before it happens. We have prophecies that have been fulfilled, so we know those were God’s will. Some are still unfulfilled, but even in these, there are different interpretations as to how and when they will be fulfilled.

We are told in the Old Testament that we will know if a man is a true prophet, if what he says comes to pass. Until it does, we are not sure if the prophecies are God’s will.

By faith we believe what God’s Word says, based partly on what He has done already.

How did the prophecies and their fulfillments happen? Were these dependent on men? What power did they have to make God’s will happen? – None, whatsoever. The same power that revealed the prophecies to men is the same power that brings His will to be done. And there is no thwarting His will. His power and His will cannot be separated. Within His sovereign will is the power to reveal and fulfill.

A Circle of Subjects

In the process of these thoughts there have been other things circling, so as to see a relationship.

The study of Humility has been for me an ongoing process for years, especially since the publication of our study and review of Andrew Murray’s book Humility ~ the Beauty of Holiness.*

We have seen much interest in the work of the Holy Spirit in the last few weeks, even as we wrote four particular articles on this subject, and have heard questions and comments from others.

The subject that came into the circle, resulting in the following diagram, is Holiness.

So, what does all this mean?

It is simple if we follow the diagram clockwise. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent is the power to reveal truth, wisdom and knowledge of God’s will in His Word, and to fulfill God’s will. God’s will is clearly revealed for us through Jesus Christ His Son, who came in humility, bringing humility from heaven to us. The Holy Spirit works the humility of Christ in us for one purpose ~ for our holiness. His power works through our humility to make us holy.

Christ lived a holy life and died to make us holy; to bring us to the Father as His image bearers. This is the bottom line, the purpose for all that God did for us, does for us, in us, and through us.

We are given new life in Him, to conform us to the image of His Holy Son, so as to make us compatible for eternity with Him.

Preservation and Sanctification

We used to make blueberry, strawberry and pear preserves, using the old-fashioned method, adding sugar to the fruit, and slowly cooking until it boiled down to the consistency we wanted. In the same way, the work of the Holy Spirit of Christ in us boils us down to one thing ~ HOLINESS.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness,
without which no man shall see the Lord:”
Hebrews 12:14

It is the power of the will of God that preserves us, keeping us humble and holy, making us examples of His own work for others.

This circle never stops, but is a continual working. We can say all we want about God’s holy will, but we miss the point of faith and salvation, the revelation and fulfillment of His will, if anything is more important or a substitute for holiness. Jesus died for nothing less than holiness for His people.

 “Christ also loved the church,
and gave himself for it;
That he might sanctify and cleanse it
with the washing of water by the word,
That he might present it to himself
a glorious church,
not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;
but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Ephesians 5:25-27

 “ And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul
and body be preserved blameless
unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Faithful is he that calls you, who also will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Dear Father in heaven, God of all grace and peace, holy and faithful, revealing your will to us, your people, by the power of your Holy Spirit through your Word and in us ~ how could we ask for anything more than to be conformed to the image of your Son, made holy to share your glory. You call us to holiness, to witness of the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. Fill us with your power to do all your will in humility and holiness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. In His precious name, we pray.

Suggested Reading: A Broad Review of Andrew Murray’s Humility*


image: Google