Fake News

This article may not seem to relate to the topic of Contentment, which we have been spotlighting this year, but as we look at what the world offers, we see how people are influenced to believe things that not true, and miss out on the things that are true.
We see this in how the “gospel” is presented in different forms that seem to come from God’s Word, but they either leave out a main ingredient, or give what is not relevant to the salvation of the soul. It is through the gospel, the “good news” of the love of God in giving His Son to die for our sins, that He is able to “deliver us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).
It is in the power of His Holy Spirit that He convicts us of our sin, and delivers us from the power and guilt of sin. His power is the greater power that within us, frees us and turns us in repentance and faith to a life in Christ that fulfills our every need.Because of a misunderstanding of the meaning of repentance, and whose work it is, many are “turning” to a different gospel which states that “the finished work of Christ” is all we need, and does not require confession of our sin, or turning from it.
An example of this “gospel” will clarify how it supposedly works.
A few years ago there was a fifteen-year-old boy in our church who was attentive to Jerry and me. At times in our conversation, I would ask him what he thought about the sermon he had heard that day relating to salvation. He told me that he could not accept Jesus because he was not ready to give up his sins. He enjoyed the things a young man enjoys in this world, including his thoughts about girls. I told him that I would pray for him. I continued to pray for him, and a few months later, I was surprised one morning when he and his brother were baptized. Afterward, I asked him what happened to change his mind.
He said that his dad told him that he did not have to give up anything, just believe that Jesus died for his sins and be baptized; then, you’re “good to go.” Soon afterward his parents, whose family had been members of our church for five years, sent this “gospel” in an email to all church members, with accusations that our ministers were preaching heresy.

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

My original document has more references. If needful I will do a Part 2. I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing about this controversy, but to go forward and upward in our quest for the kingdom that is ours in Christ.
The writer of Hebrews 6:1 spoke of this.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
A related article, Onward and Upward, was posted last week, which comments prompted this article.
Dear heavenly Father, it is easy to be swayed and deceived regarding our relationship with you. I pray that you would, by your Holy Spirit, give new hearts and spirits, birthing your children into your kingdom, so that there is true joy in Christ. Bring conviction of sin and the need for repentance to new life in your Spirit. We need your Almighty power to overcome the false teachings that we hear today. Enable us to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord. Let us speak truth by your word and Spirit to lead others in your truth.    In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
~FRAN
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

The Voice of Contentment

Whose voice leads you?
Infants begin life under the influence of parents, and then grow up hearing family and friends. Intermingled with familiar voices, the world speaks volumes of ideas that are embedded in our minds, hearts and souls. Except we are trained in our thinking, we become the voice of the world. Our voices echo what is processed through our minds. Processing includes the foundational ideas from our childhood by which we compare all new information.

What we see, read, hear, and repeat through the years become our basis and voice of truth.

The Voice of the Majority
The voice of the majority is one of discontent.

The voice of contentment is rarely heard and known except from those who hear this voice within them. This voice, however, is not a self-produced voice, but the still, small voice of our heavenly Father and Creator. Contentment is not found in the voices and the noises of everyday life, as we know it. It is the voice of the new heart, new spirit, and new life that is ours in Christ, spoken by the Holy Spirit, kept alive through the reading, and hearing of God’s Word.

The Voice of the Oppressor
The voice of the world is the voice of Satan, the oppressor. If you have been with us from the beginning of A Year for Contentment, you may remember that we started with the two extremes in Born for Contentment. Oppression and contentment are the voices that God’s children hear every day. Either one has the power to drown the other. The voice of contentment must be practiced if it is to overcome the voice of oppression.

God said, “Let there be light. And there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Eve listened to the voice of Satan, the voice of the oppressor, so as to put out the light and to silence His voice.

After the promise of restoration in Genesis 3:15, God sent His prophets to voice His Words. Moses spoke God’s Words to His people.

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19: 5-6

“And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 28:2

These and other passages speak of the blessings and contentment that come to those who hear and obey God’s voice. There are also those that speak of the curses that come to those who do not obey His voice. This is what we see and hear in the world, from generation to generation.

The writer begins the book of Hebrews with these words, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Hebrews 1:1-3

God’s people would not listen to the voice of the prophets. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would not listen to Him and their voices influenced the people. They were accustomed to the voice of the enemy and did not recognize God’s voice through those whom He sent.


Jesus’ voice still speaks today by His Spirit and His Word, and His is the voice of contentment. The voice of contentment is the voice of LIFE, life in Christ. In John 6:63, He said to the people, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

The voice of oppression says, “More, more. Give me more.”

The voice of contentment says, “Christ is enough. He is all I need.”

Repetition
Ministers today must speak warnings against the voice of the world. They are called to be the voice of the gospel, of truth that brings contentment in a world of oppression. Repetition is what keeps either voice alive.

Do we continually listen and share what the world is saying and doing? Does the world need our voice to speak of its oppression? Or do we, as those of God’s kingdom and family, voice His words, words that inform and encourage others by our contentment; a voice that draws others in obedience to Him?

“Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving,
and the voices of those who celebrate.
I will multiply them, and they shall not be few;
I will make them honored,
and they shall not be small.
Jeremiah 30:19

God, our Father has given us voices to speak for Him, to praise and honor Him, and to witness of His grace and glory. Are we using our voices to share what He has given us?

“Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.” Psalm 63:3

“My mouth is filled with your praise,
    and with your glory all the day.” Psalm 71:8

“My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.”
Psalm 71:15

Gracious Father, forgive us for voicing the words and actions of the oppressor. Work in us your voice of thanksgiving and praise, from a heart of peace and joy in Christ our Lord. Enable us to share your kingdom of grace with our family and others around us. While others speak the voice of the world, let us respond with the voice of your kingdom. Fill us with your Spirit of contentment that draws others to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen


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“US” in RighteoUSness

As in life, so, in Bible study and the preaching of God’s Word we sometimes stray off the main path, forgetting where and how we started, and losing sight of our purpose and goal.

So, before I post my notes on Romans 14, I want to again look back to our starting point, and look forward to the purpose that Paul set in the beginning. This will give us a better understanding of where we are in the application of Paul’s letter in this chapter.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17

The first point we remember is that it is the power of God through His own word ~ the power of the gospel by His Holy Spirit ~ that brings us as sinners from our horrible state, to faith and repentance to live in the state of righteousness. In faith the righteousness of Christ is revealed. The nature and disposition of Christ is exemplified in those who believe. The power of God is able to bring His people to Himself with the purpose of our living in “obedience of faith.” This purpose for Paul’s letter to the Romans was stated in the first and last chapters.

“By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:” Romans 1:5

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”   Romans 16:27

The power of God brings us into the state of being “righteous” in Christ. Being “righteous” means that we are not only “right” in Christ, but that we are actively living righteously; seeking and praying to do what is “right” in God’s sight through Jesus Christ, our righteousness. (Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Corinthians 5:21) This is obedience of faith. This active obedience is proof of the gift of faith that is by His grace working in us. Everything focuses and keeps us riveted and holding on to Christ and not our own work or abilities.

With these thoughts before us, focused on Him, let us get back to this path of righteousness with Paul in chapter 14. He has brought the attention to what it means to fulfill the law; of doing what is right, and of obedience to God. He has in the previous chapter zeroed in on this, in the main area by which all our righteousness is expressed.

All of the law was based on love for God and for man. That which man was unable to do by the law was made possible through the power of God in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, man’s ability to love as God means to love, through the law or the gospel, is not possible for man, but only by the power of God working in the lives of those He has brought to faith and repentance through regeneration. This great love that Paul spoke of in Romans 13 is shown to work out in relationships between believers. The love is initiated by God.  In Christ that love penetrates, is spread abroad and forms a new heart, saturates, and perpetuates this love toward God and toward others.

Called to be Servants, Not Judges.
He speaks to the whole church in Rome; to the weak and the strong in faith. The main principle of love makes no distinction in relationship with Christ. When He is the center of the body of believers each one is answerable to Him. The state of righteousness excludes none who are seeking to serve Christ through faith. We live in Christ, in His righteousness, to serve Him and one another. We are clothed with His righteousness so as to exclude all self-centeredness. Therefore, in differences of opinion, we do not strive to make our liberty known, so as to influence those who are weaker in the faith to sin against their own conscience. In private life we may be free to indulge in a freedom not yet known to a weaker brother; but not exercise such a freedom in public; which is to exercise our pride. Neither is free to judge the other for what they do or what they do not do. We are not called as judges, but as servants. To keep another from stumbling we, in love and humility think of Christ first, and what would glorify Him, and by out actions build up our brother in Christ.

The main point in Romans 14 that keeps us on the path of righteousness, progressing in our obedience of faith, is verse 17.

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Where there is righteousness there is peace. If we are actively seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness our life will not be about food and drink. Peace and joy in the Holy Spirit follow the fruit of love that He produces through us.  

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” James 3:18
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Dear Father, you knew our need before you created us. Continue to work in us this love, joy, and peace that is ours in Christ, by the power of your Holy Spirit, for your glory and more joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

The Heart and Beauty of the Gospel

It has been said that one picture is worth a thousand words. While we sometimes need images to help us see a hidden truth there is no image that will portray the word “faith.” Many people look at the cross, but walk away unmoved and unchanged from their thinking. The picture means nothing to them. Some look but reject the truth of the gospel, thinking that they are good enough. They, like the Jews, in response to the good news of a Messiah and a Mediator have established their own righteousness. Without knowledge, they are ignorant of God’s righteousness; His righteousness established in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We, who have been born of His Spirit, given a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life, are brought through conviction and repentance by the goodness of the Lord and the power of the gospel, to see Christ as the end of the law for rightousness. (Romans 10:4)

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Romans 10 gives us the image of CHRIST, the only means of righteousness before God. Christ is the center, the heart, the beauty of the Gospel, its power and its glory. It comes to us through the knowledge of His word. We need nothing else but the truth of the gospel and the Holy Spirit to work His righteousness in us. We do not need to bring anything else down from heaven, or anything up from the dead.

Since Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension we have ample witness to the righteousness that has been supplied for us. We have all that is needed.  We have the gospel that has been preserved for centuries, but the power of the gospel that brings nations to obedience of faith is not in the word itself, but in God’s will and compassion to fill our hearts with grace for believing it; for faith and obedience.

“The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. Romans 10:8-10  Compare the following from Ephesians 2:8-10

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:
it is the gift of God:
 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” 

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Those who have the word of faith in the heart know the beauty of it. We carry it; we confess it, not just to God, Himself.   We preach it in all that we say and do, wherever we go.  We live it to His glory and our joy.

Dear Father, let those who see us and hear our hearts speak, know that all is from you, the beauty of Christ, the center and whole of life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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The Foot of the Cross ~ Ground Zero

Scan 142190000As Jesus was crucified the Jewish leaders looked up and ridiculed Him. He looked down and said, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” By His death He was proving how desperate was man’s condition, with no means of escaping His Father’s wrath, except by a sacrifice given on their part. The purpose was that through Him a pardon would be provided, and eternal life given to those who would believe the “good news” (the gospel) and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

Even as the Jews were in that day thinking they were privileged just by being a Jew, there are people, Jew and Gentile alike, who do not believe; who are blinded to their own sin. Jews, then and now, still hold to their own traditions, thinking that they have the advantage over other nations without the need of a Savior. There are even those in the church, having grown up with Christian parents or with an infant baptism, who are lacking the righteousness by faith that is required for salvation.

Abraham, the Law and Circumcision
In Romans 3 Paul continues to drive home the point that all stand condemned as sinners under the wrath of God. He has stressed the depravity of all mankind; the power of this depravity in oppression and sin, to the extent of denying that which is natural to all mankind. Now Paul addresses the Jews in particular who suppose that their advantage of being children of Abraham, having the law and circumcision, exempts them from the need of faith.   Although Abraham was their “father,” the “father of faith” to whom the promises of the everlasting covenant for all nations was given ~ who came before the law and circumcision ~ they are relying on their position as Jews for their status before God. They are depending on their own righteousness; yet they proved that none could keep the law.

Paul is saying, “No, having the law and circumcision will not save you from your sins, and the wrath of God.” “There is none righteous before God.” “All have sinned” and fallen short of the expectations of God; none can keep His law and live up to His righteousness and glory. Only one has done that; and in so doing able to give His life a ransom; dying so as to be a propitiation for our sins; appeasing the wrath of God, and so taking away the death penalty that we justly deserve.

He is continuing to build upon the necessity for faith in the gospel; the good news is to be believed. God’s word is to be accepted as true. Jesus’ life, His sacrifice, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to the right hand of the Father are all His work on our part. No matter how hard we try we can never keep the whole law; but He did it on our behalf. Faith in Jesus Christ and His work on our part is our means of laying hold of His righteousness, our justification and our eternal salvation.

The law is meant to show how far we are from the kingdom of God. The rules of His kingdom are more than anyone here on this earth is able to keep. The law convicts us of our sin, which Paul said was meant to be our schoolmaster until Christ came.

imagesimagesThe Law and the Gospel Now we have the law and the gospel, the bad news and the good news. (My notes on the Book of Romans as our pastor is preaching through it are meant to help me to sort out the gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ; what it means to me; and how I can document what I am still learning of the phenomena of the Christian faith; a phenomena that requires the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, and none of my own.)

The work of God’s Spirit is to use the law to convict us of our sin. Had we been there in Jesus’ day we would have been part of the multitude that shouted, “Crucify him.” As a Jew we would have probably mocked Him and spit on Him. But, now we also have the gospel, which the Holy Spirit uses to convict us of the forgiveness and righteousness that is ours in Jesus Christ.

imagesThe Cross ~ The Ladder
The power of the gospel brings us to the foot of the cross, the place where man is stripped away of all pretension, pride and unbelief. In Christ we see the righteousness of God given to us, “justified by His grace as a gift; through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:24-26

In Luke 12:49 Jesus is recorded as saying, “I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” On the cross He said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) Jesus’ work on the cross brought to shambles every idea that man has concerning his own righteousness before God. Our good works become ashes at His feet.

Jesus told Nathaniel that because he believed he would see the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (John 1:51) The first rung of that ladder for us is faith. In response to His revelation and regeneration (new birth), with a new heart we come in repentance to the cross of Jesus Christ believing the good news of our righteousness in Him. There is where His blood, His life, covered all the sins of those who believe in Him.

There, when we realize what took place, we will as “all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle” leave the ashes of our own ideas and works. We will in humility, as they “returned home beating their breasts” live in the reality of what our sins cost our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We will not, as some, throw out the law; but, by His grace, we “establish the law” as God’s first means of our understanding the need for the gospel. We see it as God’s rule for life, the standard of His kingdom, which He is building within each of us as He is conforming us to the image of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ ~ that image, that standard, will be complete and perfect when He brings us into His final glory. Now, it is a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path as we continue in obedience of faith toward our final goal in Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father, thank you for the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We praise you for your law on which we meditate day and night, seeking your kingdom and your righteousness that is in Christ, by faith in Him alone.  Thank you for the authority of your word commanded in us by the power of your Holy Spirit, shining that light into our hearts, convicting us of our sin and the salvation that by grace is given to us.  Thank you that it does not depend on anything we can do, but that all has been done in Christ for us. Open our hearts to Him, today.  Let us see Him; enable us in humility and faith to follow and obey.  In Jesus’ name I pray and praise you.  Amen

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Scroll. Bible/cross,

Allowances and Investments

Do you pay your children to work, or do you give them an allowance and teach them how to use what you give them?

After bringing up two children, caring for and helping train four granddaughters, I have become an advocate for the system of allowances. I base my convictions on what our heavenly Father teaches us as it pertains to the system of His grace.

As a Father He adopts us into His family.  We have nothing before then. We could not work for it, and were worth nothing to Him—we were not worth saving or adopting. The allowance of any amount of grace to us cannot be earned. He makes this investment in us, making us a part of His family.

A family that is united in Christ through the head of the family is brought up with the understanding of “grace.”  The father shares with each member of the family what he has worked for, and teaches the child how to spend or invest what is given.  This applies in the area of money, and other resources that are needed for this physical life.

TRUTH                                 TRUST

But more than these is the allowance of eternal things that are given.  Our heavenly Father gives each of His sons “truth.”  He entrusts them with this heavenly commodity, and expects a return on that investment.  By His grace, in love, we put our “trust” in our heavenly Father, who has given us this truth. As part of His family each one is part of a unit of return that strengthens and grows His whole family.  This investment brings dividends for generations to come.

As His sons share His truth with their families this investment continues to grow, as part of God’s plan of redemption.  Generation after generation of those, for whom He gave His Son, live in love and devotion to Him. Wives and children do not break away from the family to go their own way when each one understands the truth of the Father’s grace.

In His truth, living and walking by the Spirit of His grace, we learn how to spend and invest our lives, so that all we do is a return for His glory, and our joy.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth,

the gospel of your salvation, and believed n him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,

to the praise of his glory.”

 Ephesians 1:13-14