Crying Out Loud

imagesHow often have you as an adult wanted to cry aloud, but could not? Either you were too reserved, too prideful, or not desperate enough. At a certain time in our lives we pass the stage of childhood and forget what it was like to cry. We don’t know how to cry, nor to whom.

What good does crying do? Nobody wants to hear it, not on this earth anyway. It is not the proper thing for a sane person to do. If this is your thinking I pray that you will reconsider what it means to be a child of God. He knows our needs, our weaknesses, our failures, and our helplessness. He has saved us in Christ and brought us to Himself to hear from us ~ not just our praises, but also our cries.

A baby doesn’t know why he is crying. A child of God doesn’t always know why he needs to cry. We find much weeping, as well as joy, in God’s Word. This wilderness is not the happiest place in the universe; and He expects us to cry to Him in times of distress.

 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Psalm 61:2

We should not cry all the time; but in those times when we are overwhelmed He wants to hear from us. His heart is moved, and His Spirit responds to our needs, even when we don’t know what we need. He is able to lead us out of the temptation and danger.

“Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him:
God is a refuge for us.”
Psalm 62:8

When we hold everything inside, or when we turn to some other source, we will not receive what He has prepared for us. Crying and calling to Him are proofs that we trust Him in all our circumstances. More than this, it is during these times of dire need that He reveals more of Himself and His blessings to us. It is through these times that He brings us to know His joy.

0002z5Heavenly Father, draw us to you today.  Enable us to open our hearts to you, to cry to you, and receive what you have for us as your children.  Turn our weeping to joy as you hold us and feed us with the truth of your word.  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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Fight or Flight ~ the Plight of the Discontented Wife

(Warning:  This is an OUCH, and an encouragement.)
As an older woman who has over the years images
taught and mentored younger women, I want to share some of what I have learned from this experience.

Only three of those I mentored were single, but all had an original desire to know and live a full life in Christ. All discipling was personal and biblically based. Christ was the center of each relationship; the prayer was always to seek the Lord’s will in the hearts and lives of each one that I mentored. Some came to me; others I took under my wing.  None were forced,  but each had a seemingly sincere desire to know and grow in Christ.

Each one was unique; and I was amazed sometimes at what the Lord was doing in the lives of those He allowed me to spend time with.

With some, the mentoring stopped at a certain stage because they were not willing to submit to God’s word in a certain area of their lives. They had not fully understood the cost of following Christ.  There are not many women today who are seeking older women for the purpose of knowing how to love and obey their husbands.

The Blight of the Church
In mentoring, and beyond those personal relationships, I write here of what I have observed in the church. Not just younger women, but older ones have been the decision makers for their families. We have had many such families leave our church.  It was well known that the wife was dissatisfied; either with relationships, the doctrine, the programs or activities of the church.

There are many women today who are leaving their husbands for no reason except that they are unhappy with where they are.  Many are being deceived, even as Eve was, by the same spirit of discontent.  Christian women who are not abused and whose husbands have remained faithful are hearing the commercials from lawyers who stand with them in public courts to declare their freedom from any authority over them.

What these do not understand is the oppressive spirit that pervades not only their own lives, but the lives of their husbands, the life of the churches of which they are members, and others with whom they shares their problems.

Where there is discontent, the whole church is affected. We are members one of another. It is like a sickness that pervades the whole body.   Only the work of the Holy Spirit can heal and make the church a healthy church that is able to fulfill its purpose. The practice of church discipline is not known in many churches today, but is effective to a degree. The discontented wife is not excommunicated until her discontent is actively displayed; in the case of railing against her husband and the church, and refusing to repent.

Suggestions For Mentors
Be cautious at what age and stage you become a mentor. Paul warned the church against new converts becoming deacons and elders. The older women, mentioned in Paul’s letter to Titus, would have been those with wisdom and knowledge, and years of experience. Being a friend who is able to listen and sympathize is different from leading another person in their relationship with the Lord; and teaching them to love and obey their husbands.

It is easy for one who is being mentored to become dependent on their mentor. The purpose of mentoring is to direct their way to Christ; to total dependence on Him.

And this is not to take the place of, but directed to, their own personal study of God’s word, personal prayer, the preaching of God’s word and counsel from their pastors.

This time should be limited. After a year, those who are being led should be able to go and grow on their own.  A mentor can remain a friend and available for special times of need.

I have also written from my own experience of having been that discontented wife; and have learned that contentment is coupled with humility. These two, humility and contentment, have been the main things I have desired and prayed for in these latter years; for myself and others. Here is a quote from Thomas Watson in his book, The Art of Divine Contentment

images“ Here was a sore temptation the devil handed over to Job by his discontented wife. Only his grace, as a golden shield, warded off the blow from his heart. “Thou speakest as one of the foolish women” (job 2:10).
Discontent tempts a man to atheism and apostasy.
Atheism is the fruit that grows out of the blossom of discontent.

” A Christian has that which may make him content. Has not God given you Christ? In Him there are unsearchable riches. He is such a gold mine of wisdom and grace that all the saints and angels can never dig to the bottom. Never complain as long as Christ is your Friend. He is an enriching pearl, a sparkling diamond. The infinite luster of His merits makes us shine in God’s eyes.   In Him there is both fulness and sweetness. He is indescribable good. Lift up your thoughts to the highest pinnacle; stretch them to the utmost; let them wander to their full latitude and extent—yet they fall infinitely short of those ineffable and inexhaustible treasures which are locked up in Jesus Christ. And is there not enough here to give the soul contentment: A Christian who lacks necessities, yet, having Christ, has the one thing needful.”

To the Discontented Wife
If you are not content with your life, whether a wife or not, search your heart. Does Christ have your whole heart? Do you seek daily His word, and in prayer desire His Spirit to lead you in His word to obedience in all that you read? Does Christ speak to you, leading personally through His word? Or do you live, desiring things your own way, and blaming your circumstances on someone else?

My prayer is that God will reveal yourself to you. Once you are able to see yourself as you are, a sinner who is discontent with God and the life that He has given you, I pray that He would reveal Christ to you as your Redeemer; and enable you to believe and follow Him in obedience to His Word and Spirit. In His timing and His way, as He changes us (and sometimes our circumstances) we are able not only to endure all for His sake, but He gives us joy in the middle of our circumstances, and praise, for our deliverance from the oppressive spirit that has controlled our life.

The God whom we have railed against in our discontent becomes our refuge and our life.

If you are the victim of one with this oppressive spirit, Christ will give you the power of His Spirit of humility and contentment; to resist this oppression and live hopefully and fully in Him.

Dear Father, turn our eyes to you in Christ, melt our hearts and unite us in Him and His church.  Make Him to be our only desire, our hope, our joy, and our fulfillment ~ all to your glory, now and forevermore.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Related articles:
The Plight of the Discontented Woman
 Give Your Marriage at Least Fifty Years

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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.

Graceful Suffering

Blows that wound cleanse away evil;

strokes make clean the innermost parts.”

Proverbs 20:30 ESV

“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggles against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?”

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

“It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline. If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  Hebrews 12: 5-14

These striking words from the writers of Proverbs and Hebrews are truths that are not easy to accept.  So I post these for my own remembrance, (how often I forget), and to share them with those who may not have undergone such trials, or understand the reasoning, the process and end result of suffering. Looking to Christ,”high and lifted up,” keeps me focused as I travel  this “path of righteousness” through the trials and tribulations of this wilderness.  It is the path that He had to take in order to return to the Father.  It was for our sake that He went this way, and now He leads us by His Spirit and His Word to follow Him—all for His glory and our joy.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith, produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and comlete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:3-4

May you be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy.”  Colossians 1:11

A Burst of Grace

Adversities and events of the last several years kept me wondering if Jerry and I would celebrate a 50th year together.  Even as we planned and neared that day on July 28 it was with a little anxiety.  Lee, our daughter, called two days before all the family was to meet in S.C. for the weekend —Olivia had strep, and Emma, her younger sister had broken her arm.  Not to worry—Olivia was getting a prescription for an antibiotic, and Emma had an appointment to get her cast early on Friday morning; in time for them to arrive at our destination before Jerry and I got there. We had a blessed weekend with our family, returning home in time for the Lord’s Day morning worship. (To respond to the questions,  “What do you think about being married 50 years?”  “What is your secret?”  “What words of wisdom would you give us who are younger?” would require another post.)

On Monday my 72nd marker was passed; and for every milestone that I reach, there is a new, or renewed, vision of what may be ahead. When, by God’s grace, he gives another day it is usually accepted with a heart of gratitude, and a determination to know and to do His will that was not evident in my younger years.  We used to count years, then decades; now we “number our days” desiring to “gain a heart of wisdom” for the time we have left here.

These are all days of grace, and even with the grace that is given I often do not have the energy to accomplish all that I need to do.  Fulfilling my role as Jerry’s caregiver, keeping the home, cooking, gardening, shopping, etc. requires something beyond my capabilities.  When I look back on each day at what was done, I know, and praise the Lord, that it was by His grace.

There are special times, that, without any notice beforehand, I have a sudden strengthening to go about a task, and with a glad heart accomplish it with ease. From the first time this happened I described it as a “burst of grace.”  There have not been many; and now I pray for them, so that I can stop looking at something that needs to be done, and cross it off my list.

I think that the Lord may be planning to bless me with another “burst.”  Looking at windows that need to be cleaned, especially the kitchen windows, I see myself doing this.  Over and over, when I am at the sink during the day I picture how I will go about this; and so my prayer is for this “burst of grace” which, when it comes I know it will be of Him, and for Him—for His glory, and for my joy.

Amazed by His grace; caught up in His Glory  ~   Fran

GOD’S GLORY ~ Not Ours

If God had created us for our own glory wouldn’t He have made life easier?  Why does starting, and getting through, a normal day require so much?  And why are we not satisfied and content with all that we do?  Is it not because God, our Creator, planned more for His creation than we are able to understand or to live up to, on our own.

He proved this, by leaving our first parents to themselves.  A day without the constant companionship of the Father left them open to their own imaginations and the temptations of this world, and they failed to live up to the standard by, and for which, they were created.

GOD is His own standard of excellence, a standard that no one can reach.  He must, through His own plan of redemption, bring us into this relationship of Father and child; and in His own timing and means of grace conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Without this we will continue to work for our own success and glory, hoping and trying to “be like God,” and failing miserably.

Only as He does a continual work in our hearts and lives by the authority of His Word and the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit, daily leading, teaching, and bringing us up in “the nurture and admonition of the Lord  Jesus Christ” can we ever know the true purpose for our creation and redemption—His glory and our joy.

“God is faithful, by whom you  were called  into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”                     1 Corinthians 1:9

Now to him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, world without end. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20, 21