Bound by Grace

(The Danger of Freedom posted yesterday was an introduction to this article.)

His grace is sufficient in all of life for all He wills us to do and for all our physical needs. It is this sufficiency of the Lord, our God, that the title Bound by Grace was written and shared with other believers thirty years ago. He is the Everlasting One, the Creator of the ends of the earth – who neither faints nor is weary…. But giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increases strength.

It was His marvelous grace given one morning as I was in physical pain that prompted my heart to dwell on God’s will and His grace. The limitation of physical movement was sometimes the only time God could reach me – the position in which I was prone to really listen to Him and see beyond my point of view. But, oh, how wonderful were His revelations during those times and also, today.

In searching the meanings for the word bound in the dictionary, I thought I would find at least two. Many of you may have discovered that when we are on a treasure hunt, we usually find more than we expected – such is the Kingdom of our Lord.

We found four definitions with other words relative to the word bound. We will touch on each one as the definition relates to God’s grace – remembering that GRACE originated with God as unmerited and undeserved mercy and favor.

A. BOUND n. 1. a limit. 2. The territory on or limiting lines
1. To limit. 2. To border on another area; adjoin. 3. To demarcate.
The word BOUNDARY is a noun defined as something that marks a limit or border.

The picture came to mind of the lines drawn by a surveyor – lines that define our property. They enable us to know the limit and the borders of where we live.

We and our neighbors know our boundaries. Within these boundaries, there is a sense of freedom, security, and peace. We live, work, play, and invite others to enjoy the place set for us within these boundaries. We, in God’s kingdom, are given a place much like our physical home. We, in agreement with the surveyor, allow God to define His spiritual bounds (boundaries) within our physical boundaries – the unseen operating in that which is seen. He sets the limits and lines border between His kingdom and the kingdom of the world.

Defining the Boundaries
It is in the grace of our heavenly Father that He defines the boundaries between His kingdom and the world and sets the standards for enjoying these bounds. Those who have submitted to these limits and borders know the freedom, security, and peace set for them in and by God’s grace.

The thought came too, of keeping children within the properties where they live. Small children without knowing the dangers, sometimes venture beyond those limits if their caretaker is not there to restrict them. It is the grace of a loving Father that is able to keep His eye on us at all times. Under His care, we are assured we will not go beyond our boundaries. He keeps us and limits us for our sanctification and purification, to know His holiness and His deliverance in times of temptation. In the arms of grace, He sweeps us up and holds us when we venture too close to the boundary line (1Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 13:20-21).

When someone or something gets too close, He shields by His grace from the predators of the world. To allow us beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE would mean that He does not care for His own children. These boundary lines prove His love and His keeping for us. To think that death or injury to one of His children is to be beyond the BOUNDS OF GRACE is to call the grace of God unjust. Like the sky, His grace is always there, working even in death, injury and difficult situations. In any circumstance, His arms of grace are able to enfold and bind us even more closely to Him.

Imagine a child who falls (even within the spiritual boundaries, physical mishaps occur) and always seeks the tender — the caretaker – for comfort and for instructions against falling again. God’s grace draws us to Him, as He comforts and heals.

Knowing our Limitations
As we get older, we learn our limitations and accept with respect and adoration what the experience of His grace teaches us – not to fear the things of this world, but to fear Him.

The fear of God is meant to alert us to what happens when we are not submissive and obedient to the limit and border of His grace.

It is His grace to which we are bound and that of His own doing, not ours. By His grace, we are saved – by knowing Him to whom we are bound — through faith in Him who has bound us to Him through His Son, Jesus.

Without a knowledge of the truth about our heavenly Father, it is possible to take His grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1) – even testing our limits. (This is testing God — Mt. 4:7) We may be deceived as we stand on the property line and listen to someone outside our limits, but He knows the deceivers and He knows His own children.

Lines of Demarcation
The word demarcate means a line of solid definition with no questions. Just as a surveyor gives a paper with the lines clearly drawn for our property, God’s grace is clearly defined by His Word, revealed by His Holy Spirit for guidance in seeing and understanding the lines set. We do not have to argue with our neighbor – within God’s kingdom or in the world.

Each child within God’s kingdom knows the line of demarcation. This line was clearly drawn for us in Christ at the cross. We are free in the spiritual boundaries of grace to move about in the physical world knowing what is off-limits, living daily according to the grace extended by the power of His will, wherever we are. In Christ, we are given God’s power to resist the temptations that surround us.

B. BOUND adj. 1. Confined by bonds. 2. Under obligation. 3. Enclosed in a cover or binding. 4. Certain.

There is a house on our property and within these walls, we have shelter, heat, clothing, food, and all our physical needs – according to God’s grace.
Without these walls, these things would deteriorate, blow away, melt, freeze or be stolen. We require the confinement coupled with the freedom to walk in and out of the structure according to His will. The confinement is good and works for our good.

Our Obligation
This work of grace is on our behalf but there is an obligation. It must be maintained; with regular cleaning and repair. A house is enclosed to protect us from inclement weather and those who are not BOUND BY GRACE. Our faith is not in the houses that our heavenly Father provides but in Him the giver of all that we need.

God’s grace is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. He (God) was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19) so that we might be brought by His grace – not that we might just come back anytime we wanted to on our own but by God’s grace, to  be drawn to Jesus and therefore bind us to Him. He finds us and brings us to the Shepherd (Jn. 6:44-45, 63-65). The bonds are seen in the arms of the cross and in the blood of Jesus and His love that bought us.   And because He has twice owned us – by creation and by redemptive grace—we are not our own. We owe all to Him. We are under obligation to Him for our physical and eternal life.

But He does not call in the debt which we could never pay. We are not billed but we have received a statement, sealed with His own blood – PAID. The covering and the binding are the bountiful mercies of God with the blood that washes whiter than snow, and makes us His own, sanctified and purified, holy and blameless, keeping our soul, mind, and spirit until Christ comes again (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

BOUND BY GRACE, our sins are covered and we are given power beyond our own nature over sin, never desiring to be loosed from our Creator and Redeemer.
We wear the mantle of praise and are anointed with the oil of gladness. The binding of God’s grace is woven through our whole being. We are certain that what He promises in the salvation of Jesus Christ is true—that the power of redemption works for our binding every moment of every day. He does not loose what He Himself binds to Himself. No one can snatch us out of His hand (Jn. 10:28-29).

C. BOUND v. 1. To leap forward; a spring. 2. To advance by leaping. 3. To bounce.

As we are BOUND BY GRACE, the Spirit of God creates His own energy. Within that which is willingly bound to Him, He is free to exercise the maximum of His grace. We are limited, but He is not. When our spirit is bound to His, something happens that we cannot explain. He creates a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). He puts a new song in the heart that is bound to Him.

Eternal life from the Father to the child who lives continually in His presence – BOUND BY GRACE – knows no limits of His power, which we will discover in the last part — Free to Love.

Gracious Father, the God of all grace, who has called us to your eternal glory through Jesus Christ our Lord, we thank you and praise you for such a precious grace that does a powerful work in our hearts and lives. Fill us with your Spirit; continue keeping us and growing us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

Sleeplessness

Being awake at 2:30 this morning is a good time for me to write about the subject of sleeplessness.  I was in bed since 10:00 P.M. so I have slept. After 78 years, I am experienced and have learned to live with the occasional nights when it is difficult to fall asleep; or when I wake up early in the morning.

How we handle each of these episodes depends on how we view this state in our lives. At times, when younger, there were many different things going on that kept me awake; and I would worry, not only about the things, but about the sleeplessness.

I feel led to write about this dilemma. There seems to be an epidemic. There are sleep centers available for this problem.

First, I believe that it is a result of the condition of our world, which is enough to keep everybody awake.  Maybe we should all stay awake and pray for God to “rend the heavens, and come down; as the melting fire burneth; and make His name known among the adversaries” (Isaiah 66:1).

Our culture should not, however, keep us, as God’s children, awake and anxious.

Sleeplessness should not be the norm for the Christian.  Going through bouts of insomnia has been a learning and growing experience for me.  God’s word and Spirit have become more powerful in and through me during these times.  They have strengthened me to survive and thrive even when I have not had a good night’s sleep.  Many mornings I had to accompany with piano for a worship service after only a little sleep.  Colossians 1:9-14 became real as I meditated on Paul’s prayer for those of the early church.  He prayed that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be 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.

Verse 10 in bold print was the word I needed for the day.  Sleep may have sufficed for me to serve, but sleeplessness was a means of grace to lay hold of God’s power. I have experienced more strength from Him when I needed it, than from a regular night’s sleep. 

I can speak here from a time when I was younger, plagued with insomnia; before my conversion.  My whole life was planned around my own desires.  Things were not working in my life as I had hoped.  There was no peace in my heart; sleeplessness was simply my nighttime restlessness.  The days were not much better than the nights.

The Whole Picture
In this short treatise I will attempt, by God’s grace, to address causes and solutions to this problem.  Not being a professional counselor or physician I speak only as I have learned.

How we sleep depends on how we live.  How we live does not depend on how we sleep.  Many excuses come from our not getting enough sleep.  Enough is not the same for every person. Some do not require as much sleep as others.

We should not be envious of those who can sleep anytime, anywhere, at the drop of a hat.  They are blessed in some ways that we are not.  But, we may, in our being awake, be blessed in other ways.  Christ may return while we are awake. Those who are sleeping may miss His first call.

So, at this point, let me encourage you, the reader, to look at your state of sleeplessness as God’s means of doing something in your life that you would not experience, otherwise.  God has a purpose for your insomnia, as for all things.  For the Christian, “everything works together for good, for those who love Him.  For those whom He foreknew He predestined to be conformed to the image of His dear Son  (Romans 8:28-29). God speaks to every dilemma in our lives.  It is all part of His working for our good and for His glory.

Awakeness and Awareness
Remembering that there is purpose in our being awake or sleeping, let’s look at some possible reasons for our not being able to sleep when we want to.  My list over the years have included occasional indigestion or illness, busy schedule, uncertainty, difficulty in relationships, finances, new plans, grief, overstimulation, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, or other unconfessed sins.  Any of these, and others that you may know, easily displace the peace that God gives us as His children, in Christ.

Our awakeness may be the time for awareness of what we need to address in our daily living. God speaks in all ages and stages. We should ask for His wisdom; for what He wants us to know at every stage.  If we are not sleeping, we ask Him to make us aware of what we need.  If we cannot change what needs to be changed we pray that He bring the changes; or enable us to accept what cannot be changed.

We can break down my list and look at everything separately; but we will soon come to the same conclusion.  In everything God has His plans for us.  Awareness of what is keeping us awake is the first step that brings us to the Lord.  Presenting these of which we are aware to Him, wrestling in prayer, we will soon be tired and resting in Him.  Peace comes when all is given to Him.

Awareness of His Presence
It may be that these times are God’s planning for you to experience His presence. In the stillness and quietness of the night there is a solitude with which most people are not acquainted.   It is this sanctuary that God uses when we are not otherwise silent before Him. God can sometimes meet us here, when we are nor available during the day.  It may be to teach us not only to rely on Him for all things, His plans, His will, His way, but to establish a relationship that carries through the day and night.

Many nights I wake and wait for His presence; to know what special blessings He wants to give; for songs in the night come, especially when I am at peace with Him.

I have learned that all that I am is His, my waking and my sleeping.  He never sleeps so we can have that sweet fellowship anytime.  When I stopped fighting the sleeplessness, stopped counting sheep, and starting looking for Him to speak to me I no longer was concerned about sleeping.

Practical Habits
As I have gotten older I realize that patterns make a difference in our days and nights.  Even if we are at peace, trusting God in all things, in obedience of faith in all that we know; how we plan for sleep helps.  I do not sleep well when my evening has been hectic.  Overstimulation of any kind, talking on the phone for an extended time, caught up in a project, or anything unusual, will keep me from sleeping.  Reading God’s promises, prayer before bedtime and the review of a hymn or Psalm that we will sing next Lord’s Day is part of worship before bedtime.

Overeating at dinner or going to bed on an empty stomach are not good habits for me.  What I eat makes a difference.  By this age I know what my body will tolerate. I know my limitations of food and drink.

A dark room seems to be best.  Light tends to wakefulness.  It is similar to prayer, in that we are shutting out the world and any artificial light.  Jerry has always gone to bed earlier, and I get to bed as early as possible.  Establishing a regular schedule makes  it is easier to get up early, even if I don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Even now, I may lie back down and have a nap before the dawn of this new day, Lord willing.  Either way, my day is dependent on His strength, power and glorious might ~ His Spirit in me ~ “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” When we truly understand and experience this truth, sleep does not matter ~ only Christ.

Precious heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer and sustainer of all living things, so make Christ real in our hearts and lives that we rejoice in Him, even in our sleeplessness. In every waking moment, make us to know your presence, use all our time to fill us with your grace. Wrap us in the glory of the one who lived for us, died for us, was raised for us, and now reigns for us, continuing to teach us. Help us to remember this life as preparation for eternity with you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit of love, joy and peace, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

(We are closing our website, Father and Family Books, and concentrating all our efforts here and on Facebook, as we continue to proclaim the legacy of God’s kingdom. Our first ministry of writing (second to caring for Jerry) will still be through the publishing of our books, but we will maintain this blog as a means of sharing what our heavenly Father gives for the edifying of His people. And so, we will seek the blessing from Him as we post in the future.)

As we wrote in an earlier post A World in Crisis (before the election) we now see the scenes of this reality unfolding in our country. Even as God’s people, we wonder where He is and what He is doing.

In the next few posts, I want to document for our legacy as God’s children things that we need to remember so that we see God’s work unfolding in the middle of the chaos of this world. How can we maintain our faith, hope and joy in such times as these?  We are challenged not only to endure; not only to strive, and to survive, but to thrive through all things, in the power, the love, the wisdom and grace of our God and our Lord Jesus Christ.images

Growing up I was often reminded that when we see the devil’s work, we can be assured that God is doing something greater. We are distracted by the physical elements of the world and how Satan works in and through men. God, our heavenly Father teaches us to look beyond what we can see with the physical eye, to catch a glimpse of His greatness and glory. In this we can see the working of His grace and goodness. The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation happened at the same time. There were two kingdoms operating from two perspectives, which is the history of this world, since the antithesis began in the Garden with our first parents.

Let us, as God’s children, be about the Father’s business in the only kingdom that will survive all generations, until in the fullness of time, all things are united in Christ, “things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:10

Dear Father in heaven, we need you, by the power of your Holy Spirit, to reveal your presence and power to us as your children, as we live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.  Give us your love, joy, and peace; shine your light through us to draw others to Christ.  Make us an open door to your kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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Praying For Our Nation ~ Week 5

“In the fifth petition we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins, which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.” Shorter Catechismunknown-1

Forgiveness is a revolving grace that begins with God, working His love and forgiveness in us, and through us to others. Subsequently, we can confidently ask for forgiveness for our own indebtedness to Him, which is more than anyone could owe us. This grace is characteristic of God’s people, those who share space in His kingdom. How can we not love and forgive, when our Father has forgiven us?

Is there bitterness in your heart toward God or another person? Resentment is the spirit of oppression, and the enemy’s greatest weapon, working from within to destroy.

The condition of any single life, family, or nation, can be summed up in the total of our grievances and vengeance against others.

Where is Our Freedom?

We are concerned about our freedom here in America. We are already in bonds to the oppressive spirit that rules in the hearts and minds of men. What we see from those who desire to govern this nation is the same spirit of this nation. We are in need of God’s intervention by His Spirit to bring us to repentance, to lead us in truth and righteousness; to overcome this spirit within us.

Our nation and the world will remain under threat until we learn to live in love and care for our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, and each other. Let us consider and examine our own hearts to know for sure that we have trusted the heavenly Father’s love and forgiveness for us.

Gracious Father,  forgive us of our rebellion, our pride, and covetousness; forgive us our anxieties and unbelief. Forgive us our discontent and impatience; forgive us our neglect and slothfulness. We need you to examine our hearts, to try our thoughts, to know if there is any bitterness that we hold against you or any other person. Reveal your love and forgiveness to us by the power of your Holy Spirit. Bring us to repentance, that we may trust you in all things, to live in peace with you and our fellowman. Heal hearts in this nation and other nations by the peace of your Son, in whose name I pray. Amen.

“O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God.” Daniel 9:19

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MY CROSS

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There was a cross at Golgotha
Where my Savior bled and died;
Where I meet Him face to face
And look into His eyes.

And when I look I see the love
Our Father has for me.
For through His clear, bright eyes of pain
I see E T E R N I T Y ———-

A home where Love and Joy abound
Within the heart of God;
A place beyond what man can dream,
Where no human feet have trod.

God’s children all are there:
There’s room for every one.
He knows each heart; He knows each name.
To Him He bids me, “Come.”

With outstretched hands He calls my name;
Not one I’ve heard before.
He’s not at all as I had thought;
He’s more, oh, so much more.

So gracious as the Father is
My speech will not allow
To tell in human words
What can be seen, even now.

When first I look at God’s own plan
To bring me to Himself
The cross looms high, but then bro’t low
It forms a human shelf.

From heaven He came, and here He stayed
Until His work was done.
The cross I knew was meant for me;
He suffered for His own.

I knew that He released me there
When He bid me, “Come.”
Jesus gives me joy and peace
For now and later on.

Eternity is God’s own life,
Given for my good.
He gives His love to be my own
Through Spirit, Deed and Word

F.R. 1994

The New Nature of the True Christian

The heart, spirit, and life of a Christian are different than an ordinary person’s life. There is an extraordinary, supernatural working of God’s grace that reforms and transforms the center of all things. It is inbred and expressed outwardly by the Holy Spirit of God. It is the life of Christ that is manifest within and without, permeating the whole being and perpetuating forever a new creation through which He reveals His grace and His glory.

0001hAHere we suggest three main factors of a true Christian life that radiates from Christ within us. Love, humility and holiness are the evidence of the new heart and spirit that were promised in Ezekiel 36:26, God’s working of new life in a fallen world.

All that God promised since the fall is being fulfilled by the Spirit of Christ through His people, restoring His image through the life and work of Christ for their salvation and His glory. Knowledge and truth are included in this triangle, as Christ, Himself, is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)  It is in His word, the written word, The Holy Bible, and the living word, Jesus Christ, that we know God, His purpose for our creation and redemption.  It is His means of revealing Himself and the work of grace within us.  By our reading, study, meditation and memorization He shows us what He is doing; throughout our lives revealing and fulfilling His plans for us, in us, and through us.

LOVE ~ the love of God, the Father, is evidence from His own heart and nature given to each of His children. This love, unlike any of our own imaginations of love, is the new nature. It is the root and the fruit of all that God is and does; and works in all to whom He has given the heart and spirit of Christ. Love works in every area of the new life. Through His revelation of our justification, forgiveness and restoration in Christ we see the evidence of His love (1 John 4:10), and the working of this love through us for Him and for others (1 John 3:16).

HUMILITY ~ the humility of the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself to suffer and sacrifice His life for us that we might bear His image, His nature and disposition. Obedience of faith, patience, kindness, and faithfulness are the results of Christ’s humility in and through us. We see His humility and ours in Philippians 2:3-8.

HOLINESS ~ the outward working of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian; a return to God of what He has given; the evidence to the angels in heaven and to the world of the difference in the life of a Christian. This is a purity and a goodness that only God can work in the human life.

“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. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3

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 Psalm 107:8

Dear Father in heaven, what mercy you have shown us, and that you continue to work in us.  Fill us anew today with your Spirit; with the life of Christ, to know and do your will.  Through us reveal to others the magnitude of your grace  ~  for your glory and our joy.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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