The Path to Glory

The path to heaven and eternal glory with God, which is presented by some today, is unreal.  Even in the name of Christianity most of it is only “hype.” Another four-letter word that I see plastered all over the Internet describes how people feel about what they read and hear.  The apostle Paul used the word “dung” (which is more graceful) to describe the things in this world, things that have no link to heavenly things, but are simply earthly.  Compared to the real thing they are but waste, worth nothing.

But in order to get past the earthly, and the dung, we have to address it.  It is a reality.  We have to see it for what it is, and know how to deal with it.   How do we know what we are dealing with, and how do we get through it.  It is all part of the understanding of the path that God calls us to.

“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory
by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10

The path to glory, by some, is paved with good intentions.  When the veneer cracks and crumbles they and their followers, like the Kohathites, (Numbers 16:32) will be swallowed up.  They want people to be a part of their ministry and so they make everything inviting; promising comfort and ease in joining their ranks.  Some hope for others a good life and try to make it look easy for them.  They have not yet understood, nor can they lead others in this path.

This path is not a “glory path” here on this earth. God, our heavenly Father does not promise us a path back to the Garden of Eden, but one that leads to Gethsemane.

Hidden and Narrow

“At that time Jesus answered and said,
I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, 
because thou hast hid these things
from the wise and prudent,
and hast revealed them unto babes.”
Matthew 11:25

It is a hidden path.  Only those to whom the Father reveals the Son and draws them to Him will find the path. (John 6:44-45)

 It is always in following Him that He leads us to it.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few there be that find it.”
Matthew 7:13-14

The path begins through a gate so slim that we can take nothing with us.  More so, there is a compression of all that we are that enables us to get through.  Humility, faith, and repentance empty us of our baggage, and shrink us to the size we need to be.

It is a narrow path.  This is the path that Jesus describes to his disciples.

He says that only a few will come to Him. The multitudes won’t lead us to it. The crowded path leads to destruction. The path to glory is not a wide path, but one that we most often will have to walk alone; not that others are not on the path, but there are times when they will not understand what we are dealing with or going through.  Some are new to the path and coming after us. Some are ahead of us and we may be too slow for them; we only get in their way. For the most part, only Christ can understand and lead us through.

Not Our Choosing

It is never the path we would choose for ourselves.  We would choose the easier way, but if we are to follow Christ, it must be His way or not at all.  This is why many cannot find, know, or walk this path here on earth.  We must know our calling in Christ to be one of suffering and sacrifice for His name’s sake—for “righteousness’ sake.”

It is a walking path, not a bike lane or busy highway; we have no motor vehicle, only feet and body for the endurance; for proving of His own grace and power in our perseverance.

What God teaches us is — the path to His glory is difficult.  He has said it; and His saints are witnesses to the fact and experience that it is a struggle to endure the pains and trials of the Christian life.  It does not get easier as we get older; we simply require and experience more of God’s grace and strength.

Steep, Rocky, and Dark

The path is steep, sometimes turning like a spiral, leading round and round, onward and upward. It is rocky; it seems that things are literally thrown into the path.  There we stumble and oftentimes we fall—right into the dung. There are times when it seems that we cannot take another step; our arms get so tired; or when we can no longer walk, the wheels on our chair get bogged down and won’t turn.

It is sometimes dark, with only the Word of God as a “light for our path, and a lamp for our feet.” It can lead to the top of a mountain, where the sky is the bluest; the air is the freshest, and the aroma as heavenly as the very presence of God.  Other times it leads to the valley, or through a tunnel where all that we have is a glimpse of light at the end; other times we are led into a cave where all is black, and the only thing we can do is sit still, and wait.

Unless you are on the path that we describe, and you know the purpose in all your struggles, and striving, stop and examine where you are.  Stay with us for Part 2 to look at the promises that are posted on this path to encourage us and bring us gracefully, triumphantly, and gloriously into the presence of God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, here and for eternity.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples,
and exhorting them to continue in the faith,
and that we must through much tribulation
enter into the kingdom of God.
Acts 14:22

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The Voice of PRAISE

The voice we use to cry to the Father is the voice He gave us to talk to Him and praise Him. More are the references in God’s Word of praise than of crying.

In fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (1 Jn. 1:3; Phil. 2:1) our voices are changed because our heart, spirit, and mind are changed. No longer do we need to cry to our Father but the remainder of our time in the wilderness is used to praise Him, to pray for others and cry out to them with news of the blessings of His kingdom, inviting them to join our family.

“He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:19

We are brought through the ages and stages of this wilderness life as His people to praise Him. His people in the Old Testament were delivered from their enemies to be His people, to worship and serve Him.

The Voice and the Choice

Our voice is obedient to our hearts and minds. Before we knew our Father and were brought to live in His fellowship, our voices were speaking the things we saw and heard in the world. Before the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ is shined in our hearts, the god of this world blinds and prevents people from knowing God. (2 Cor. 4: 3-6) We naturally spoke the things he put in our minds. From our physical birth, the spirit of oppression ruled our heart and spirit. All we knew was to complain, cry, to lash out in anger and violence. Our voices indicate the state of the heart — whether of fury or grace. 

The stony heart was chiseled with the nature of rebellion and disobedience. Sin was the voice of the world since the beginning — until Jesus came, set up His kingdom and changed us. With the “new heart and the new spirit” (Eze. 36:16) we have a new tablet on which our Father writes, by the Holy Spirit impressing upon us His nature and the life of Christ. (2 Cor. 3:3) This new heart is the eternal heart given us in Christ. (Jn. 17:3;6:68) The Holy Spirit speaks through our spirit to renew and transform our minds and lives in preparation for eternity with Him. (Roms. 8:15-1712:1-2)

His voice through His Spirit and His Word presents a new way – a new path that is irresistible. Pride sometimes presents the thought that a person is able to make this choice on his own. But just as we did not choose to be born physically, we are unable to turn away from the Father who loved us before creation – before He sent Jesus as sacrifice for us. Because He loved us before the world was (Jn. 17;5), He sent His Son to reconcile us to Himself and make us His own. (2 Cor. 18-19)

Those who refuse or doubt and spurn His love proves they do not belong to Him. These will continue in their rebellion, crying and complaining through the remainder of their wilderness experience and for eternity.

Our voice is the indicator of our destiny for eternity.

Quite different is the voice of God’s people from the world – the voice of continual praise. Just as He chose the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, He, in Christ, has chosen us for His eternal nation.

In Simon Peter’s first letter he describes us “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices (of praise) acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:4-5)

Here is His creating a people out of this world to “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ.” (see also Heb. 13:15)

After explaining the difference in those who are of this holy priesthood and those who refused Christ (“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.”) he describes the house of our Father and His Son.

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. (1 Pet. 2:9-10)

How can we not praise Him if we remember the darkness of this wilderness from which He has delivered us. But more so, the thought of His qualifying us “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light, (eternal fellowship with Him) delivering us from the power of darkness and conveying us to the kingdom of His Son. (Col. 1:12-14)

We live and praise Him because we are His children here, now, and forever.

 Imagine what might happen if all God’s people joined in one voice of praise, across this land and around the world. Would not heaven be opened to pour out His blessings upon us.

Gracious Father, we praise you because you are worthy to be praised and you bring your own praise through us to yourself. You will not fail to bring your children up in your own nurture and admonition. Enable us to spend our energy not for our cries and complaints but for praises, thanksgivings, and witness to others of your great love and care. Draw others to yourself through us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran

(Chapter from OUR FATHER HEARS ~The Voice of Daughters Crying in the Wilderness in progress)

Suggested Reading: Presription for Praise God is Our Goal

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Conspiracy, Controversy, and Consolation

After a holy day when it seemed the whole world joined in the celebration, let us look at the reason for our Lord’s death and resurrection and why we should be observing every Lord’s Day as a holy day.

Is there a conspiracy in the world? Yes!

The controversy concerns the identity of the conspirators and when and where the conspiracy began. Consolation is for those who live in peace, while enduring the conspiracy and the controversy.

Our sovereign God, Creator of heaven and earth,  has been, and always will be in control if the conspiracy, the controversy, and the consolation.

Our Lord God, ruler over His creation, keeps heaven holy, preserving His kingdom for His people – those who live in obedience to the rule of His kingdom.

The enemy uses every means and opportunity to war against God’s kingdom here on earth. This is the spiritual warfare the Christian encounters as we live for Christ and the truth.

The great conspiracy has always been “against the LORD and His Anointed” (Psalm 2). But the final attempt failed as Jesus rose from the dead, victoriously ruling in power over heaven and earth. This victory is now ours over every conspiracy the enemy may use against the Lord, His kingdom and His people.

Even as the conspiracy began with our first parents in the Garden of Eden, so did the controversy. Men want to blame other men as conspirators, not realizing that God’s enemy is not man, but as Paul identifies them.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
Ephesians 6:11-13

Even as the enemy conspires through men to overcome God’s rule on earth, he continues to stir up contention among God’s people for unrest and anxiety, fear, and chaos. People use the sword of God’s Word against each other only to prove their inability to discern the truth.

God is Achieving His Purposes
As God rules over all (Psalm 103:19) He uses the works of the enemy to achieve His purposes.

Joseph’s brothers conspired against him, only that God would use their evil for good. (Gen. 37:18; Gen. 50:20)

The enemy was given permission to make Job’s life a hell on earth, but God used the enemy’s work to refine Job and make him an example for His people (Job 2:6; Job 42).

The religious leaders conspired to destroy Jesus and the truth He came to reveal. but it was the Father’s means to deliver His people (Acts 4:24-28). The conspirators were turned on their heels and the victory of our Lord was executed over death and the enemy (2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-17).

Paul was part of the conspiracy until Jesus confronted Him on the road to Damascus and turned Him to repentance (Acts 9:1-6). Afterward, Paul witnessed God’s working through his afflictions to conform him to the image of Christ (Phil. 3:7-10).Consolation
The enemy was defeated on the day Jesus rose from the dead, He lives forever and we live through Him. (2 Cor. 13:4; 1 John 4:9).

We live in the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. No longer tossed to and fro by the enemy’s lies and upheaval, we can console others with the good news of the victory in Christ.

Even as Isaiah prophesied against God’s people because of their rebellion, he was instructed to comfort His people (Isaiah 40:1). God judged, chastened, and sent His people into captivity. He restored them after seventy years ~ the number of years they had profaned His Sabbaths. God promised comfort through their affliction.

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?” Isaiah 51:12

“And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” 2 Cor. 1:7

“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercies… be of one mind,” Phil. 2:1

We will continue tomorrow with more of God’s Word on comfort.

Gracious Father, we pray that you continue to work in the hearts of your people. Even while we are apart, strengthen our hearts to comfort and exhort one another, to be of one mind, and edify the body of Christ. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Strategy for Times Like These

Few of this generation understand how to face and deal with the issues of this life. Not claiming to be one of the few but needing to know and use what our Creator has promised during these times, I write as I seek His kingdom and His righteousness. Only as we look to and receive His instructions can we discern the times and overcome our opposition.

Life is a constant battle (and has been since our first parents joined the forces of the enemy against God). The antithesis reveals the presence and power of God ~ good against evil. His grace and His glory are continually revealed in every generation whether through individual tensions or worldwide onslaughts.

The origin is the same. We each are dealing with our own thoughts ~ who we are, why we are, and how we are to live. It all boils down to self. Each heart beats to its own battle cry.  Each is bound and instructed by its own thoughts of what we see life to be. We walk according to the flesh. We respond to everything according to our own desires. And we buy, hold to and defend all we think will keep us alive.

This is the reality when the battle becomes prevalent and worldwide. We cannot escape the news of death and degradation when it mushrooms around us, but we can know and respond differently than the multitudes.

“Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

If we are aware of the battle in our lives during peaceful times and have learned to overcome the fleshly war, we are more apt to respond in faith and wisdom in times of crisis.

2 Corinthians has been a constant reminder of the greatest warfare we face. It teaches us that we are captives to the stronghold of our minds ~ thoughts that control us and keep us bound to ourselves and at enmity against God.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Paul spoke these words to the Corinthian Christians, knowing their need to deal with their former lives and their selfish desires. For every Christian, the power of the Holy Spirit works, teaching us through God’s Word, the strategy we are to use when facing the enemy.

We have this divine power available today as real as it was with Paul.

We must recognize the enemy within ~ thoughts that rule. Self has to be brought captive to Christ, in repentance and faith. We must ask and receive His Holy Spirit to bring us captive and teach us through His Holy Word.

We must spend time in His Word and prayer for the necessary instructions. When we overcome the enemy within (pride, fear, and unbelief), we will be confident in facing whatever the odds may be against us.

As we wait in times like these for what may come next, we must prepare.

Just as a soldier learns to use his weapon, we must have our weapon ready. Study and memorization of His Word is necessary for overcoming the enemy.


“Fear not, for I am with you;

    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,”
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

We have the promises and assurance of our Father’s presence and power with us at all times. They are for our consolation and comfort though we may have to endure sickness and death. Christ has been through suffering and death, leading us through the most treacherous of times we could ever face, excluding the eternal wrath of God.

When He wins the battle in us for our souls and minds, we become living sacrifices with all His people, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness to rule in the world.

 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

What promises of God’s Word do you use as a weapon of your warfare?

Gracious Father, forgive us as your people, living at enmity with you. Rend the heavens and come down to make yourself known to the adversaries ~ beginning with us, your children. Turn us from our selfish desires to receive all that you have prepared for us. Be merciful to us and all your enemies. For your glory, and our joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

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The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith

Or, we might use the title, The Immensity and Intensity of the Gospel.
They are the same.
There is no Christian faith without the Gospel.

The Gospel is the means to a life of faith. It is more than just words spoken by men. The good news of Christ is more than men can ask and more than men can imagine. It is the revelation of the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God within the spirit of men.

It is meant to be experienced within the mind, the heart, and the life of men ~ beyond our own doing.

The Christian faith is different than any other faith. It is the only religion that addresses, deals with, and resolves the issues of sin and death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises more than any other ~ promises we can trust ~ greater than any man could plan for himself.

Its immensity is little known because man cannot desire what he has never tasted. We do not taste unless we are drawn to and search God’s Word. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Christian faith to which the Gospel brings His people.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Who can describe such a kingdom?

The intensity of the Gospel and the Christian faith that excels through the Gospel is the working of the Gospel itself by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of men. Yes, I am repeating myself. The Gospel bears repeating even as preachers continue to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10).

It is not puny words of men that fall to the ground, but it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16). It is power to quicken those who are dead in their trespasses and sin, awakening their senses to their sin and need of a Savior.

The power of the Gospel is the good news of Christ raising the dead to life in Him.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;) 
Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5

No minister, worth his salt, will throw out a dry bone to his congregation. Dead men need the meat of God’s Word to live. Those who have been revived ~ made new through the new birth of the Gospel ~ need the continual Gospel to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for the promise of eternal life in Him.

The man of God digs deep into the treasury of God’s Word and presents those treasures to his hearers.

The Gospel works its immensity within the hearts of the ministers of the Gospel.

They must be overwhelmed with the greatness of God’s redeeming love.

They must know the reality of a heavenly Father who, in the covenant of redemption, planned to sacrifice His own Son to secure our place with Him for eternity and the reality of His Son, in agreement with this covenant to sacrifice Himself.

What love! What sacrifice! ~ immensity of grace greater than can be comprehended by mortal men.

This should bring forth an intensity of the Gospel which the man of God cannot keep to himself.

He should be zealous, always ready to present the Gospel wherever He is called, to whoever hears.

Are there such ministers in the world today? Yes! I would not be writing on this subject if it were not so.

Our own pastor, Chris Strevel, is such a minister of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Preaching for thirty years, he holds Christ in the center of every sermon, continuing to unfold the treasures of His kingdom. My heart is weekly quickened, opened and enabled to receive the Good News of Christ ~ His grace and His glory. You can listen or view all his sermons on Sermon Audio. He is presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and Exodus.

Another pastor, Ryan McKee, in Northern Ireland, is younger, but also preaches the immensity of the Gospel with the intensity of Christ. I began watching these services in 2016 when we were unable to attend church for ten months. Five hours ahead, their morning worship is at seven. Their evening worship is at two. Ryan is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel.

We have one among us here on WordPress from California. Check Jim’s blog here.

I mention these who are devoted to Christ and His Gospel as they serve God’s people. The Gospel and the Christian Faith are too valuable to take for granted ~ too precious to keep hidden. If you know other local pastors, please let me know.

We should pray for a revival among the ministers of God’s Word in our local churches. Some preach to the masses in conferences, etc. but we need daily, weekly oversight of pastors who shepherd God’s people in the name and power of Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father. Lay it upon the hearts of your ministers to draw near to you ~ to seek the face of Christ as never before. By your Spirit, draw them to your Word, fill their hearts with the zeal for the power of the Gospel. Enable them to proclaim your Word to your people. Open the hearts of your people to hear and to live the Christian faith Jesus died to give. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Five Lessons for Preachers  Charles Spurgeon

Words of Life ~ ASTONISHED

In both the Old and New Testaments, it is the Lord God who astonishes His creatures. There is, however, a stark difference in the use of the word in the Hebrew and the Greek.

The Old Testament refers mostly to the astonishing power of God in His punishment upon His people and other nations. The New Testament speaks of the astonishing life, work, and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek is the same word used for amazed.

Does anything amaze us, anymore?  Or are we simply being amused?  Amusement engages the mind and the heart, appealing to the flesh and its sensations. The more amused, the less we are amazed.

It is amazing what men haved accomplished with the powers that God has given them.  Industry, technology, and giftedness in men, are amazing.  To think of how we communicate, e-mail, and receive documents is amazing to me.  We see all these developments and attribute it to the power of men.  I believe that had Adam been obedient, God would have allowed men to do more than they have, but man’s power has been harnessed by a weaker power since the Fall. It is amazing that with all these powers, we have not destroyed ourselves.  I am amazed that our Father has allowed rebellion to go on as long as He has. Through it all, He reveals His power over all things, circumstances, and time.
We are blessed when the Father opens our eyes to the wonders of His creation, His redemption, and continued revelations through His Word and Spirit. He keeps us in constant amazement.

Old Testament H074
Strong’s Concordance defines ASTONISHED, shamem shä·mām’; to be desolate, be appalled, stun, stupefy

And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.” Leviticus 26:32

“The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.”
Job 26:11

Jeremiah 2:12Jeremiah 4:9 speak of the desolation of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah speaks in the following references of desolation and hissing because of the plagues Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 49:17

“Because of the wrath of the Lord it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” Jeremiah 50:13

Ezekiel is astonished at the captivity of his people.

“Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.” Ezekiel 3:15

The Lord made the desolation of Tyrus a terror before men  

All the inhabitants of the isles shall be astonished at thee, and their kings shall be sore afraid, they shall be troubled in their countenance.”
Ezekiel 27:35; Ezekiel 28:19

“And I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days; afterward I rose up, and did the king’s business; and I was astonished at the vision, but none understood it.” Daniel 8:27

The only reference to the astonishment of God’s grace in the Old Testament is in Daniel 3:24 when King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace.

New Testament G1605
Strong’s Concordance defines ASTONISHED, ekplēssō ek-plā’s-sō; to be struck with amazement, astonished, amazed

The first astonishment mentioned of Jesus was at the age of twelve in the temple sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

“And all that heard him were astonished
at his understanding and answers.”
Luke 2:47

Astonished at His Doctrine
The people were astonished at his doctrine: Matthew 7:28; Matthew 22:33

“And they were astonished at his doctrine:
for he taught them as one that had authority,
and not as the scribes.”
Mark 1:22


And the scribes and chief priests sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. Mark 11:18 

In his own country they were astonished at his wisdom and mighty works, Matthew 13:54; Mark 6:2

And the disciples were astonished at his words when Jesus spoke of the difficulty of those that trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God. Mark 10:24

“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:26

Peter and those with him were astonished at the fish which they had taken. Luke 5:9

Astonished at His Healing
And people were beyond measure astonished at Jesus’ power to heal.
Mark 7:37

At the healing of Jairus’ daughter, they were astonished with a great astonishment Mark 5:42. And her parents were astonishedLuke 8:56

Astonished at His Resurrection

“Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonishedwhich were early at the sepulchre;” Luke 24:22

Astonishment Continued in the Early Church
Paul, on the road to Damascus, trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:6

The Jews which believed were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. Acts 10:45

They were astonished when prayer was answered for Peter’s release from prison. Acts 12:16

When Paul spoke to the sorcerer and caused his blindness, the deputy of Paphos believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. Acts 13:6-12

Father in heaven, who can know you and not be astonished? Open our eyes, ears, and hearts to see, hear, to experience your grace and glory, your greatness, goodness, and power in us as your children. Let us speak of our amazement of your kingdom here on earth and the vision of the glory that awaits us in eterntiy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

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Words of Life ~ APPROVED

The word APPROVED is used only in the Greek New Testament. It is unrelated to the word prove in the Old Testament which means to test, try, tempt.

New Testament G584
Strong’s Concordance apodeiknymi ä-po-dā’k-nü-mē
1. to point away from one’s self, to point out, show forth, to expose to view, exhibit
2. to declare, to show, to prove what kind of person anyone is, to prove by arguments, demonstrate
The same Greek word is used for the words prove, set forth, shewing

 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Acts 2:22

The first mention of the word approved relates to Jesus as being approved of God. The miracles, wonders, and signs were those God did by Him among the people.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Romans 14:17-18

We must be acceptable to God before we are approved of men. Those who are approved of men are those who serve Christ in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.

For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
1 Corinthians 11:19

Paul spoke in his letter to the church in Corinth of the difference in those who are approved and those who were not because of heresy.

 For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth. 2 Corinthians 10:18

We do not speak of ourselves as approved. The Lord commends those who are approved.

 Approved unto God is the result of our relationship with Him as God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we spend time in His Word, we are enabled by His Holy Spirit, to know Him and to serve Him in His kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. To study means to be diligent in our work for His kingdom, knowing the word of truth, living and witnessing of His truth in all that we are and do. Those who are approved, are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which He beforehand ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Just as He approved His own work through Christ, we are approved by His own work in us.

Dear Father in heaven, how can we even know the meaning of this word approved except you bring us to Christ and work in and through us His nature and disposition, conforming us to His image. Stamp on us this word as you seal us with your Holy Spirit.  As your children, a people who love you, let us serve you in righteousness, peace, joy and truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Photo: Gerd Altmann/pixabay

 

The Conclusion of What Matters

How amazing these last three days have been, and how blessed to see how God carries us through what He begins in us to where He wants us to be. When I write it is usually because I need to learn something new, or to confirm and shore up what I have been learning. Such is the case with the last post, What Matters?

The following are quotes from those who responded to the question.

Gail replied, “how we treat each other”

Jean, summing up her answer, which is worthy to be considered by us all, and in the same path that the Lord has been leading me as we have contemplated this question: “Peace with the Lord, this relationship of continuing to learn of His grace and mercy; He is our life as a loving Savior and Father, a faithful God. He is all in all.”

David expressed the desire for his family ~ “the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that he has experienced.”

Andi: “preparing ourselves and others for the second coming of Christ; happiness and protection for children and grandchild.”

Lee: “resting in the finished work of Christ”

Joey: “God and people, in that order”

Kim: “knowing Him”

Gadol: a personal matter for “fulfillment of purpose, vision, call and will of God”

These were all good answers that attest to another thought.
What matters depends on who and where we are at any given time in our lives. It depends on our circumstances and our relationships. From these thoughts let us find a general answer that applies to all children of God, living as joint-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. What matters to us will be different than what matters to those of this world, who do not claim an inheritance in the kingdom of God.
What matters to those outside the kingdom are the things of this world, their possessions, their families, themselves. We will not list those things here, but let’s follow on to a conclusion of what matters to us.

What matters to us as God’s children can be summed up in one word, overall.

GOD matters ~ first, because He is our creator and redeemer, He has given us life twice, and continues to sustain us as His people, preparing us to share His glory, eternally.

God, the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in each of their roles matter in every life, in every circumstance, in every relationship, as He becomes our main relationship and unites us in relationship to others of His family.

Prayer matters because this is His gift to us as His children and the means of communion and contentment with Him that carries over into our relationships with others.

God’s Word matters because He teaches from His Word what matters in our relationships. Love might be the first thing that comes to mind, but love alone, in how we perceive love, may not be enough. We see the manifestation of love in humility, commitment, faithfulness, discipline, accountability, patience, kindness, forgiveness and other marks of Christ’s nature and disposition in us. These apply to our relationships with the Lord our God and with others, even if they are not of the “household of faith.”

It matters that we keep the same obedience to the Lordcomposure, confidence, and self-control with those who are of the world.

This brings to mind another matter, that of light. No one can live without light. This light is given for new birth into His kingdom through the gospel, the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel matters to us and to His church for the matter of our salvation.
We need a certain time of physical darkness, for rest and sleep, but spiritual light is needed for the darkness of the mind and spirit. This too is given us by His Spirit in His Word so that we know how to live in this world, holding forth ‘the word of life” that is ours in Christ.

We learn about other things that matter from God’s Word, such as Philippians 4:8: “that which is true, honest, just and pure, that which is lovely, of good report, of virtue (excellence) that which is worthy of praise

What matters to God?
If we continue to think and write about it, we could go on and on, but hopefully we have posed a question that our hearts will consider as long as we live in this world, so that our Lord will continue to teach us what matters in His kingdom, in our lives, and our calling to serve Him in His kingdom. You and I matter to God. At one point this week we had considered that God is over all and that everything matters to Him. How then should we look at everything? Whatever we know and wherever we go, we should consider how God wants us to relate to the people and circumstances in which He places us. As Gadol pointed to the call and will of God, it matters to God how we respond as His people to those around us, in obedience and acceptance to where He wants us to be to fulfill His plan in us.

When looking in His Word for the word “matter” or “matters” we found one reference from the book of Ecclesiastes. Before we end with this, we will add one more to our list, that of wisdom. How does wisdom tie in with Ecclesiastes 12:13?

Since we are in the area of what matters to God, what other things from His Word would you add? What other things matter to God? We have but to read and glean these things that matter to God, our Father and to us.

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you leading us to consider what matters, and bringing us to see that the answers come from you. Thank you for being all that matters and that everything and everyone matter to you. Bring us to understand more and to find our contentment in you and your kingdom alone through the salvation that is ours in Christ. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

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Contentment With GOD Our FATHER

 As I sit in contemplation, praying how to start this post, the reminder comes that everything we as children of the Kingdom do, starts with GOD. This is a reminder that my thoughts, my words, my actions all play off of this truth that only our heavenly Father can teach us.

This is how I have always taught, especially with my grandchildren for fourteen summers, with the premise, “In the beginning, GOD.” Add to this, the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father …. Hallowed be Thy name,” In these, we learn where to start our thinking. From these, we witness to others who we are, and live what we believe.

What we learn from Him never changes because He never changes. “The world lies in wickedness” (1 John 5:19) “under the power of the evil one” (ESV). And we as His children are all prone to forget that He leads us in “the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” According to His will and the power of His light, He brings every generation through the darkness of this world, each heart, and each person to His designated end. From start to finish, it is and always will be, GOD

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,
that we should be called children of God;
and so we are.
The reason why the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.”
1 John 3:1

The difference is in how we each relate to Him. GOD, to some people, is nothing; purely speculation. He may pass as a thought through the minds of others. But in His kingdom, we relate to GOD as our Father. There is a huge, magnitudinal difference in the minds, hearts, and lives of those who know Him as FATHER. The key word here is “know.”

“Knowing” in God’s Word denotes intimacy; being close enough to live in assurance, without doubt, with the one we know. A child who lives with a father who takes loving care, promises and fulfills his promises, can live content. We are living “with” God our Father. He is not just a supernatural being that has “set His throne above the heavens…His kingdom ruling over all.” He is transcendent so as to encompass all, but He is also, supernaturally, living in our hearts, our minds and our strength.neverthelessHe is always with us. He is GOD to His children when He is nothing to others. He is caring for us in the smallest detail, and the greater things. While the world lives in despair and hopelessness, He is able to supply every need, whether physical or spiritual. If we fail to know, trust and live in light of these truths, then we must set our minds on Him as GOD, in prayer and in meditation on His Word. He is able, “exceeding abundantly able” to “hold us by the hand and guide us with His counsel” to know Him as Father beyond what we can ask or think of Him by His power working in us (Ephesians 3:20-21).psalm-73GOD Is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan For His People is our newest publication (next week). This book is a summary of what I taught my grandchildren and relates to God’s goal for us as His children. He, in His purpose for our creation and redemption before the beginning of time, planned how He would bring us through this wilderness to Himself. He has not, and will not fail, to be GOD and Father to us.

Are we His children? Has He ever failed in His promises? Are we content with Him as our GOD and Father? What more does He need to do for us? Let us draw near to Him; stay close to Him, and we will through all our trials and temptations, learn to be content with Him and all He has planned for us.psalm-73

Gracious Father in heaven, you teach us in your Word what you want us to know about you. By your Spirit of Christ working in us, you bring us to yourself so that you may fill our minds and hearts with your love and grace. You are a Father like no other, who promises all that we need for this life and for eternity. Send out your Holy Spirit today; mark us as your own that we may be witnesses of your promises and the fulfillment in us of all that you have prepared for us. Make us to know you as Father in the middle of a world that does not hold this role sacred; a world that lives in the state of oppression. Thank you for leading us to keep our eyes on you, no matter the circumstances. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

Born for Contentment

Everyone who comes into this world is  “born for adversity.”  God’s children are born for contentment.

Years ago, when our oldest granddaughter started elementary school, I asked her why children were going to school every day. Her reply was, “So that we can get a job, make money, and buy what we want.” She was learning well at an early age what the world teaches about contentment. Now, at the age of twenty-four she is married, has a two-year old daughter and a job. And through adversity, she is learning to be content with what she has.

In this world of oppression, we are taught that we have the power to accomplish whatever makes us happy.  This is not the contentment for which God’s people are born. Let’s leave behind the fallacy that we are responsible for our own contentment.

True contentment ~ divine contentment ~ comes to us by the supernatural power of God, our heavenly Father.  He desired us and sired us for His own pleasure and contentment.

Just as we learn from infancy how to survive physically, we must learn, at His feet,  how to be content in this world of oppression.

Desire to Desire What God Desires

We are reminded of the apostle Paul’s words, “ I have learned…..to be content.” (Philippians 4:11) What God gives us in our new birth is a new heart, and a new spirit with a desire for that which is eternal.

Learning about true contentment is not easy. It is as foreign to humanity as anything we can study or desire. It is beyond imagination, so supernatural that we cannot think about it without being overwhelmed. We are reminded of Jesus’ promise, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”(John 4:14)

rivers-of-living-waterThis eternal life becomes a fountain (Psalm 36:9), then a stream (Isaiah 35:6), then breaks forth into rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). The source is God, Himself, through Christ, His Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit working in the heart to produce His own life. This is what He meant when He said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:21

The new birth is the spring. Growing by the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ brings the blessings of His presence and power, blessings we cannot fathom, or control, at times carrying us away with the flow.

Oppression ~~~~ Adversity ~~~~Contentment

Divine contentment is the opposite end of the spectrum from oppression, as far as heaven is from the earth. Between oppression and divine contentment, the reality of adversity remains part of every person’s life. Divine contentment is God’s blessing and gift of grace, that His children may live content in Christ, in the middle of adversity. It is more than just having what we think we need, but receiving what He has so graciously prepared for us ~ more than we could ask or think.
(1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20)

As we continue to proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom we will share what He is teaching us of this supernatural, phenomenal gift of His contentment.

Dear Father in heaven, many ask why you allow oppression and adversity. Keep us close to you as we are learning your thoughts and your ways concerning our place in your kingdom here on earth. We praise you for the contentment that is ours in Christ, for the legacy that is ours as joint-heirs with Christ now and for eternity. Show us your ways O Lord; teach us your paths; lead us in your truth and teach us.  For Thou art the God of our salvation.  On Thee do we wait all the day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
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