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Archive for the tag “encouragement”

Loved by God…

…a sanctified sinnerJuly 17 2018

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  The most recent session of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” has visited the spectacular grace revealed in the Scriptures on the subject of “God’s Electing Love.” 

Discussion questions always accompany the study sessions, and I typically dig deep into them. The online study participants are always encouraged to share their answers on the Ligonier Connect community portal where other fellow participants can comment and interact with us.

Each session has a theme verse for the topic. The topical verse for the session entitled, “God’s Electing Love” follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

—Ephesians 1:3–6

The particular discussion question which provoked my little grey cells to address dealt with the relationship between being a sinner chosen by God’s grace to be set apart for holiness and that of actually living as one sanctified by God’s grace while yet a sinner:

In what ways can sinners be holy as He is holy? Do you ever struggle with your own sanctification? In what ways have you progressed in this area of personal holiness?”

Before I could even form a thought on this question, I was driven back to the Scriptures to meditate again on the truths which my little grey cells tend to blur in the daily dust kicked up in the “helter-skelter” of the “ME” kind of life this side of Heaven. Laying hold of the Scriptures and feeding richly on the spectacular grace of the God who is the Ever living King of the cosmos cut through the accumulated “cataracts” on the eyes of this  mind He gave me and exposed the reality of being set apart by His own grace.  In realizing again that I am loved by God through His own electing grace, He “killed me softly” with His Word. What follows are the reflections on the subject of “God’s Electing Love” and the treasures which I found in His Word, both new and old…

There are two ongoing struggles in my life in this dusty existence, while yet being called out in the dust to live as one who knows the redemption from it by God’s grace. The first struggle is to remember that I am LOVED BY GOD and all that is wrapped up in that spectacular love package. The verses I have explored in this exercise are a few which ignite the fire of reality in my little grey cells and my bones and a longing to love God back. These are a few of the passages from the Word of God for my mind’s struggle to REMEMBER in this world of deceptions:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” Deuteronomy 15.15

“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’.” Isaiah 43.1

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’.” Jeremiah 31.3

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10.27-29

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15.16

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14.25-27

“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; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2.9-10

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1.2-4

“…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1.14-16

  • Created in His image and likeness to belong to Him;
  • redeemed from my corruption and the corruption of this world to know Him and to LIVE as one alive and not perishing.
  • To know His Kingdom and to declare it—to LIVE as one who belongs to His Courts, His Service, His Royal children, lieges and loved ones.

Because I am loved by God, these are the things that the Holy Spirit reminds me about this spectacular sanctification of which I am privileged to live in Christ Jesus; and it is for Him and for His glory that I live and enjoy this calling.

The second struggle is a “good fight” (1 Timothy 6.11-13) as a sinner sanctified by the holiness of God and by His love. That “good fight” is YIELDING to the counsel, conviction, and correction of the Holy Spirit, and it is truly spiritual aerobics and a full and ongoing “cardio” workout.  Because I am loved by God, feeding on the Word of God and prayer without ceasing stays my mind on what is really real and true in a world of deceptions bombarding from every side. Because I am loved by God, by His grace, I am learning increasing tenderness to the conviction of sin and an increasing hatred for any “darling” sins which I admit to resisting and hesitating to surrender to Christ’s authority to cleanse; and I am learning the terrible effects of quenching the Spirit of God’s convicting work (1 Thessalonians 5.19) and the  grief such obstinacy brings to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30). I am learning an ever increasing desire for the transforming and renewing of my mind that I would not “let sin reign in my mortal body,” and that I would “not present my members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin,” but present myself “to God as being alive from the dead,” and my “members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6.12-13) Because I am loved by God, there is that longing to more glorify God by living a “Romans 12” and a “Micah 6.8” and a “1 Thessalonians 5.16-18”  life as Christ who lives in me—the “good fight”Soli Deo Gloria!

When I am Weak…

spiritual battleI have not blogged for many weeks not because I have been particularly busy. I have not been traveling to far away places and enjoying limitless social gatherings with relatives and friends. Although I have not been busy in the culture’s understanding of what “busy” is nowadays, I have been occupied with living one day at a time–prayerfully, joyfully and thankfully. Truthfully, it has been a fight–a good fight–but nevertheless, a fight to do so. I have not been able to engage in the battle without the mercy of some medication, because the “good fight” I face every night and every day is anxiety disorder. The “good fight” broke out over 15 years ago, and God has mercifully granted me the blessings of an isolated few who have accepted me and prayed for me. He has also provided the blessing of therapists who not only respect but also identify with my Christian Biblical orientation for living in Christ with this kind of infirmity. But I am, after many years in one church, in a new church with new challenges to “connect” and with innumerable “opportunities” to exercise my gifting to serve–and most of all the greatest challenge to finding a sister or brother in Christ who is a local praying friend, unashamed to be my friend, understanding when I cannot join the throng of retreats, church socials, and ministry commitments, and willing to take time to pay a personal visit to our home.

I have not found very much in Christian literature or church counseling publications on the truth of what the weakness of anxiety disorder does to a person who loves Christ and longs to serve Him in the Body of Christ in response to that zeal, consuming fire and love. Today, in my quietness, I came upon this article published by another Christian, one whom I greatly respect, whose articles and teaching I have found at other times and on other topics come from the heart of the Word of God. He is also one whom I did not suspect as being a victim of the “pox” of anxiety. His name is Tim Challies. Some of you may know of him.

After another one of the series of nights struggling to rest without resorting to medication, I yielded to God’s merciful provision and was rewarded with sleep I have not experienced in a long time. Today, I found Rev. Challies’ article entitled “Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety.” He posted it on his blog site in August 2016. I believe today was my day to be encouraged and exhorted in a way no other fellow Christian has had the courage to talk to me. So I am sharing the link with you. Some of you know and experience this “good fight” firsthand;  others of you do not struggle with this weakness, but you have dear ones about whose inexplicable periods of uncharacteristic introversion or perpetual tiredness you are always finding a puzzlement and frustration. Rev. Challies explains it courageously and graciously.  I could not have said it better, but I am encouraged by this offering of his to be forthcoming with others in my family in Christ when I need to decline the many good “opportunities” for the sake of the best which equips me to fight the “good fight.” Here is the link to the article:

Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety – by Tim Challies

I close with a verse from Isaiah 30.15 which has become a living verse, a capable weapon in my “good fight,” and a continual blessed comfort in a culture which is opposed to any such exhortation:

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Made in the Image of God…

photo of man carrying baby

Photo by Alex Smith on Pexels.com

…but not children of God by natural birth.

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  One of the requirements of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” is to dig deeply into what the Scriptures actually say about the eternal love of God.  One overlooked truth about God’s eternal love is that God’s love did not begin at creation. Just as God is eternal, so are all His other attributes–eternal…including that of His love.

Most people might have some difficulty understanding how our status as image-bearers of God by His creation of us has anything to do with His eternal love or the reason why we cannot claim we are children of God by natural birth. I confess that before I studied the second session in the series, my little grey cells had not digested the clear facts leading to a rational dialog on the subject.  Realizing this truth and the impact it bears on the entire plan of redemption has made me love God more for the magnitude of who He is, the immensity of His eternal love, and helped me to help others think about why there is now a difference between being an image-bearer of God and being a child of God.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

QUESTION #1:

In what ways do many contemporary churches today misrepresent God’s eternal love? What sorts of teaching/preaching have you heard that endorses a universal love of God for His creation without distinction?”

My Answer: Many preachers in churches today have lapsed into a Unitarian view of God’s eternal love; and so they tell their audiences that God loves everybody the same way, unconditionally, just as they are—“warts and all.” They go on to exercise their misrepresentation by advancing their propositions that because God created us in His own image and likeness, they say that we are all children of God; ergo, God loves us all without distinction…This grave error in preaching has profound implications for the Biblical facts of God’s plan of redemption and the work of Christ in His atoning death…

         I have to say that I have never heard a preacher delve into the eternality of God’s love as Dr. Sproul has emphasized in this lecture: a vital point underscoring the eternal attribute of love which has always existed in Him who is self-existing—eternally. If anyone would have pressed me on this issue, of course I would have stated confidently that God’s love is a pure and holy attribute of His as eternal because He is eternal; but I am grateful for Dr. Sproul’s clearly spoken emphasis of this truth.

QUESTION #2:

How would you describe the object of God’s love before He made His people? Why is the work of redemption considered a Trinitarian work? Why would it be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or people?”

My Answer: God’s love is Trinitarian and covenantal; i.e., the covenant love in the plan of redemption, established between the persons of the Godhead from eternity past—in the complete foreknowledge that the fall of man was going to occur.

In Dr. Sproul’s words:It would be a mistake to think that the exclusive object of the love of God is the world or the people whom He is pleased to redeem. The primary object of the Father’s affection is the Son, and that is something that is often overlooked in the study of the Scriptures. It is absolutely true that God loves us, but we need to remember that He loves us (the redeemed) in the Son, and it is because of His great love for His Son that we are included in redemption.”

          And when I meditate on this truth, I see encounters with Christ in clear perspective in the Scriptures on the Trinitarian work of redemption declared from His own lips: “All that the Father gives Me will come to me” (John 6.37); “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6.44); “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15.26); “I say to you, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3.3, 5); “…make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28.19).

          The plan of redemption in this covenant love is for the glory of the beloved Son of God, Christ Jesus (Mark 9.7; 12.6; 2 Peter 1.16-18)—by whom and for whom all that was created is created (John 1.1-3; Revelation 4.11), and for whose glory the redeemed are bought for His possession (1 Corinthians 3.23; 7.22-23), and that in all things He might have the preeminence (Colossians 1.17-19). Glory be to God!

QUESTION #3:

Do you find it offensive or unfair that we are biologically born into this world void of the Spirit of God as children of wrath? How would you respond to someone who says that we are all children of God through creation simply because we are made in His image?”

My Answer: Saying that we are made in the image of God is only saying that we bear His image. In the material world, whose image an object bears is the one to whom that object belongs and is under sovereign subjection—even if that object denies it, it cannot be annulled. Saying that we are children of God is, in reality, claiming that God is our Father. The implications of such a claim mean that anyone who claims it acknowledges the sovereign authority of God as Supreme Patriarch over his life and conduct, and gives himself in loyalty, love and obedience to such a Father and Patriarch… 

          It might be offensive to our feelings, it might be painful to accept, but in fact we must face the real genetic implications of being in Adam and subject to the degenerative and lethal effects of his corruption upon the seed inside his loins. The effect of his rebellion—the denial of God’s sovereignty and the darkening of his understanding of the truth in his mind are real effects of his corruption which spread to every cell of his body—every seed in his loins. While his corruption did not nullify the fact of his being an image-bearer of God, he became a fallen image-bearer, corrupted and adversarial to the very God who created Him to be in His own image and likeness—and in his now-corrupted, natural, humanist state he and all his biological issue are worthy of God’s wrath. As a fallen image-bearer, Adam refused to acknowledge that he belongs to God and is subject to His sovereignty over his life—both the temporal and the eternal.  In his rebellion against God, he exalted his own humanist spirit above the Holy Spirit, and became an instrument in the hands of the Evil One. In his rebellion against God, Adam literally became the father of the children of wrath… “This Is Us,” in our natural, biological state. Adam changed his posture toward God, but God did not change His posture toward Adam and the progeny housed within his loins—as fallen image bearers, in our perverted condition, we still belong to God and are subject to His sovereignty over our lives—both the temporal and the eternal…

           If we are talking about what is “fair” or “unfair” on this subject, we must consider that if a holy God did what is “fair” toward us He would have annihilated Adam and Eve on the spot or pronounced an eternal and irrevocable curse upon them without possibility of remedy even by God Himself. But God is fair first to Himself—to His Trinitarian being—the Father cannot deny His Beloved Son His rightful inheritance from the creation. The Holy Spirit’s life giving breath cannot be quenched. It’s what the Godhead does. Therefore, if we examine the “fair” thing to do in the Father’s love for the Son, and the work of life through the Holy Spirit, it was to provide a way for some of Adam’s corrupted progeny to be made clean, reborn, regenerate. This could only be accomplished supernaturally by the regenerating work of God Himself in the lives of the Adamic seed born congenitally unregenerate—children of the corrupted Adam, no longer children of God. What is “unfair” to our constipated minds is the way this mechanism of regeneration would be accomplished—through the sacrificial death of The Father’s Beloved Son for the children of wrath—the Incorruptible for the corrupt—and the work of faith supernaturally given as a gift by the Holy Spirit to awaken the darkened minds of Adam’s children of wrath to life in God’s Beloved Son.

          All humans have been created in the image and likeness of God, and, as such, belong to God who is sovereign over their lives both temporal and eternal, to ordain what He chooses; but because of Adam’s rebellion against God, being an image-bearer of God in itself no longer qualifies all as children of God. All humans are born as fallen, rebellious image-bearers; no humans are born embracing the sovereignty and ownership of a holy God over their lives. We are not born children of God; we are born children of wrath. Until the regenerating breath of the Holy Spirit works in the heart of a fallen image-bearer of God—by grace through faith in The Father’s Beloved Son—he remains a child of wrath. Only those who believe in Christ Jesus are born anew, supernaturally, children of God…

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

–John 1.12-13

Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear; and may God the Father whose love for His Beloved Son is eternal be glorified by another fallen image-bearer being born “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” by His grace in the work of His Holy Spirit.

Too Good To Be True…

He has made everything beautiful.png

At a recent church membership class we were asked to introduce ourselves to each other, to tell where we were born and a notable thing about that city. Our city is always in the news about the seedy things; but no one reports about the work of the Kingdom of God in this town. Since I have been at McLean Presbyterian Church I have discovered some beautiful secrets scattered all over this area. Some are directly “daughter” ministries of McLean Presbyterian; many are close relatives within the Body of Christ, ministering sacrificially and faithfully to individuals at every season of life in their needs both physical and spiritual. So, Hello, from Washington, DC area, the city that is known for Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, Reformed Theological Seminary, C. S. Lewis Institute, The Lamb Center of Fairfax, Assist Pregnancy Center, Central Union Mission, Project Belong, Casa Chiralagua, Cornerstone School, Bethany House of Northern VA, etc… In the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, Christ Jesus tells John to write letters to seven different Church centers in Asia Minor during the First Century, A.D. I wonder what He would tell John to write to the Church in the Metro DC area. Take heart, there are great things of God that are going on in the Metro DC area, under the noses of those whose world view and preoccupation with a worldly kingdom is tragically fallen–where its dark web lures and traps men who seek to be rulers of the world.

My journey into membership at our new church was completed in March; and both my husband and I have been enjoying being immersed in the substantial teaching on Sunday mornings.  FYI, there’s a link on my page which will give readers access to the sermons at McLean Presbyterian Church.

Solomon prayed for wisdom

As a follow-up to the Sunday teaching in the Scriptures, our pastors usually direct our attention to thoughtful questions to discuss in our local community group gatherings. One question during the series on “The Gospel in Solomon” was this: “If God answered, in this instant, all the prayers you prayed this week what would happen?” Another one was convicting: “Do you pray simply for your life and circumstances to be more comfortable or are you confident that God will take care of that with your heart compelled for His Kingdom?”

Solomon's moment with God

We have been studying the Bible together in the late mornings. I call these times our “second breakfasts.” Technology has been the instrument which has enabled us to engage with the Word and with each other in this department. We have an elaborate, but effective, array which feeds the intercouple surfing webnet into our large screen video display. From that internet feed, we can stream and view and read  the online Bible, daily commentaries from Ligonier Ministries’ “TableTalk” publication. The series has been following the historical books of the Bible. We began in January with Joshua and are now deep into the monarchy under David in 2 Samuel. Our time together includes reading daily portions from the Bible in a plan to read through the Bible in a year. We sometimes choose to select an audio reading while we read the print on the screen; but we also take turns reading the passages aloud—this helps my husband rehab his speech and cognition with the aphasia he battles.

Wisdom-Quotes-3Our time in prayer follows our exploration of the Scriptures and usually responds to the convictions impressed upon us by the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. Prayer is the chief weapon in our arsenal for warfare in times like these. Our unshakeable certainty of the sovereignty of God provokes us to prayer in all things… I wrote in December that many in our country are struggling with loss of home, belongings, livelihoods and loved ones from fire, monster storms and floods. The same is true again as I write this in Springtime. We are learning to pray Kingdom-of-God kinds of prayers as we observe the times, trusting God for the answers–things so great that the skeptics of this age would say they are too good to be true.

One somewhat unexpected development in my prayers has been that as I began the process of application for children’s Sunday school teaching, I realized that I would be premature in making a commitment to that ministry at this time. As I have waited and sought God’s leading and my husband’s thoughts on the subject, I believe God would have me be more available to my husband; in one key area since he is no longer able to drive, that I would be available to bring him to church without conflict of service.  Thanking God for His wisdom and the joy that has come to my soul in this pruning work. Nevertheless, if you would have told me 38 years ago that when my husband and I became old and weaker in body that we would enjoy the manifold blessings God has given us, with peace in our hearts, purpose and re-productivity  in our last season of life together, and joy which no circumstances can rob, I would have said it too good to be true. Thanks be to God who blesses us with every blessing in heavenly places. By His grace we will finish well.

In the meantime, I am continuing weekly with our local Community Bible Study group. We started in September with the book of Daniel, and in January, we began the book of Revelation. We are nearing the the end of the book of Revelation and it has been one spectacular lesson after another. Some studies of these books can get sidetracked into speculations on imagery and symbolism and miss the whole point and substance of the narrative. CBS has handled the study wisely; what a difference it is making in my here-and-now life.

thorns and gold2The early spring razzle-dazzle is quickly turning to the deeper greens on the trees as the leafing matures; and pollen abounds!   The razzle-dazzle of spring and the spectacular  beauty and stunning drama of Christ Jesus in His glorious atoning death and resurrection coming together has been exquisite; it continues to touch and resonate through all my senses and makes me cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Look around you! Spring’s Rising! (a link to one of my recent reflections).

“Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

–Revelation 1.17-18

Glory be to God and may the Peace of Christ be with you.

 

A Perfect Church…

…and other expectations…

I could put many thoughts on this subject in writing to share with everyone who reads my posts; but I doubt any of them would serve anything but to elicit a nod of agreement on shared insights. What compels me to post anything at all on the subject is my studies this morning in Revelation 21 from the Community Bible Study materials.  If you read the chapter in this book of the Bible, you will see a description of the New Jerusalem.

In our group’s CBS Bible study questions we are asked to compare some of the previous manifestations of the glory of God from the passages of Scripture: Exodus 40.34-38; 2 Chronicles 7.1-3 and Matthew 17.1-8.

Here is what I observed: These are all appearances of God’s glory—even for their stunning effect upon fallen, corruptible men—while yet cloaked in a mitigating cover. The very face of God is not revealed, while fallen, corruptible men recognize that it is the Presence of the Glory of God before them and they are undone by its nearness to them. And the moment of glory fades…

In the new city, the holy city of Jerusalem, only the incorruptible redeemed shall dwell and they shall behold His Face in unmasked glory and not die;  but they shall surely worship God face to face, still falling humbly before Him, while enjoying perfect fellowship with Him and one another in His forever Presence.

Another thought question was included in our group’s CBS lesson on Revelation 21; we are asked how looking forward to such a city changes our perspective on today… 

Are you looking for a perfect church this side of Heaven? You might find a very good one, and on some days you might feel like you have stepped across the threshold into the New Jerusalem for the glory of God which falls on your heart at the substance of the unvarnished teaching of the Word of God there… and the beauty of reverent and excellent praise… and the kindness of people who acknowledge your existence in a culture which is wrapped up in itself and its I-phone activity…

But the glory this side of Heaven still fades, just as it did on Mt. Sinai, in the Temple dedication during Solomon’s reign, and on that mountain peak where Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of his disciples…

There are good churches on this planet where the substance of the unvarnished, un-compromised Word of God is taught and lived out from the heart, even if haltingly and “in process;” where forgiveness and accountability to the Word of God has not become an obsolete virtue… And yet, there are Sundays when you might feel dashed expectations because the pastor, for all his gift as a communicator and his humility as a student of the Word in his own life, his sermon did not address your struggle and search for understanding that day… or for all its excellence, the worship team’s rhythm did not match the particular rhythm of your heartbeat that day, because, by God’s sovereign providence, it spoke to others with different needs… I concede that if Scriptural deprivation from the pulpit leadership is a regular, long-term, repetitive experience, perhaps you should be looking for another church. If you are not in a solidly Scriptural teaching church, I exhort you to find one and attend it and take notes on the sermons and study the Scriptures presented…

Even so, if you find yourself pining at times because you hunger for God’s glory to fall upon you and change the stuff in your heart which does not please God–if this stunning “glory work” does not happen in every worship service in your church–the glory fades because we are not in the New Jerusalem.

A “perfect church” which is truly a good church will keep you looking forward to “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11.10).

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21.3

Always Christmas; Never Winter…

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh! (John 1.14, 1 John 4.1-3) Glory Be to God!

Mine Eyes Have Seen2

Praying you are all staying well amid the frantic flurry of seasonal activity.

For some of you there might have been an empty chair at your table this year. For those who read this for whom that is the case, I am praying that God is showing you how able and ready He is to fill the empty place in your heart with His magnificent love. Many in our country are struggling with loss of home, belongings, livelihoods and loved ones from fire, storms, floods and mass shootings. As I consider the devastation in the wake of these sorrows, I pray that those among the suffering who know the Lord Jesus Christ will demonstrate their hope and faithfulness to trust in the God who provides for our needs in all circumstances and by their quiet and thankful trust, will strengthen and encourage others. I pray that everyone who benefits from all avenues of humanitarian assistance will realize that it is by the mercies and Providence of God that they receive it—and be thankful to Him: for “The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away; blessed be the Name of the LORD.” (Job 1.21b).

Speaking of Job 1.21b, I took some time off from teaching children’s Sunday School in November, thinking I would have time to just chill out a bit. I felt plenty guilty about asking for some Sundays not to be teaching the children; and I had a sinking feeling in my kishkes (yiddish: inner parts) that the separation would be painful–a new twist on “separation anxiety.” I had no expectation of how busy my heart and soul and mind would be in the stillness. God does some pretty extensive work in a person’s life when she sits down and stops the busy preoccupations with trying to keep up her momentum in ministry. It’s not that I neglect daily time in the Word of God and prayer. Everyone who has known me since I came to faith 30+ years ago knows that the Word of God and prayer are like breathing for me. However, when a time of transition comes to call, it takes some extra time to be prepared for it and to learn courage and discipline to face it and follow through.

One of the aspects of the time of transition was a reluctant and somewhat surprising change in congregations. After 14 years at my church, this change has been painful–increasing my “separation anxiety;” but God is using it to bring about growth in my life.

Be careful what you pray for; I had been praying for growth, and God is answering it “in spades.”

I am learning more and more in this time of transition into a new, larger church body that Christ’s grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12.9). Those who know me and correspond with me regularly via e-mail know that my signature line most often includes the quote from Scripture: 

I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Messiah Jesus my Lord, that I may gain Messiah and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Messiah, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings…”

–Philippians 3.8-10

This time of stillness and transition has been a test as to whether I truly do count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3.8-10). And it has all come at the advent of the Christmas season…

The Christmas season has always been a challenge for me for a variety of reasons, none of which I can describe to fit the post-modern reader’s tolerance for words. I will summarize by saying I owe it all to the Word of God. My studies in the Word of God this year have changed my Christmases forever; this year I have been mining deeply into the truth of Jesus’ coming in the flesh. As a result, the impact on my mind and heart has made my celebration of the incarnation of Christ impossible to contain in one season of the year. The Scriptures say,

“But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!”

–2 Chronicles 6.18.

Well, that’s how I feel about trying to hold the enormity of Messiah’s coming in the flesh to one binge season. The declarations of John 1.14 and 1 John 4.2-3 are greetings that can be shared every day of the entire year. Of course, if you want to say, “Merry Christmas!” along with the words of one or both of those passages, that works, too: because, in Christ it is always Christmas and never winter…

I am praying that the “smorgasbord” of seasonal sensations will not have eclipsed the length, height, depth and breadth of the love of God through His good and perfect Gift of Christ in the flesh.

Greetings at the Feast of Trumpets…

trumpets stained glass 3

Feast of Trumpets – Year of Our Lord 2018

The Second Coming of Christ – Ron DiCianni

Taking this special opportunity to share the joy of anticipating the return of Messiah Jesus. For all who realize the holiness of God, this season brings with it expectation and an exquisite mixture of joy and trembling, as we remember what the Lord Jesus’ work will be upon His second coming…

May all who know Him, abandon the shadows and give Him the preeminence in all things this side of glory… not only for this day, but for every day in your life as you wait His return…

May all who know the Lord Jesus declare the Truth with boldness and grace in a world which is on an irrevocable course to meet His holy appearing…

https://georgetownrose.wordpress.com/fall-feasts-of-israel/

To LIFE in Jesus!

Pray for Awakening!

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…” –Psalm 122.6

 

This Pale Blue Dot…

…We are often asked to step back and ask, In the midst of this chaos of what has unfolded on this pebble, is there a unifying purpose for all of creation? Can it all be held together by something greater than itself?”

–Tony Reinke, Senior Writer, desiringGod.org

…a link to a wonderful article with a spectacular view.

earth from distant view

“This Pale Blue Dot with Eternal Purpose”

“All authority has been given to Me…”

… for such a time as this… 

Jesus commissions disciples

…Jesus the Risen King

(The Gospel Project for Kids – Fall 2017 Quarter)

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 

1 Corinthians 15.3-4

Bible Passage: Matthew 28.16-20

Jesus commissionsAfter Jesus’ resurrection, He spent 40 days reviewing the things He had taught His disciples about the Kingdom of God…

During those 40 days, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people. Many of them wondered if Jesus would restore the kingdom of Israel

Jesus has always been “about the Father’s business:” to declare and increase the Kingdom of God. He told the 11 disciples to go to a mountain in Galilee where He would meet with them…

On that mountain, the 11 disciples could see all the lands they had traveled with Jesus, stretching for miles and miles below them…

Jesus announced to them that all authority in Heaven and on earth belongs to Him. He told them to go tell this to all the nations.


Jesus is the Risen King because He took up His life again…

To show that He has overcome the corruption of this world…

To show that He has overcome the power of our own Nasty I-SIN heart

To show that He has overcome the power of Satan (Genesis 3.15)…

snake_heel

To show that He has overcome the despairs of death and hell…

empty-tomb

To show that He has taken up again His glory

as King over all.

ChristTheKing4

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go…and make disciples…and I am with you always…”

–Matthew 28.18-20

Another Day to Glorify the Lord Jesus…

Just thinking out loud…

Paul Witnesses to Roman LeadersI have been studying the Book of Acts with my friends at Community Bible Study, and this week’s lesson material is covering Acts 25-26. While examining the record of Paul’s defense before Agrippa in Acts 26 I read Paul’s opening statement:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews…” (vs 2).

One of the study questions asked: “Why do you think Paul considered himself ‘fortunate’ to be addressing Agrippa in his defense against the accusations of the Jews?”

This is not the first time in my studies of Paul’s life and witness that I have seen his total surrender to the love of the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. Paul’s life and ministry was both a physical and spiritual battleground every day of his breathing existence this side of Heaven. And still, he wakes up each morning with the expectation that he has another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ–because he loves Him more than all…

…(wait while I weep over my ambivalent, insipid commitment to Jesus)…

spiritual battleAnyway, not so very long ago, in another moment of awakening, I told the Lord that I want that same expectancy in my own life when I wake up every morning–another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ–in my own breathing existence this side of Heaven. And not very long after that, Satan went “nuclear” on me, mustering every weapon in his hateful arsenal to quench that desire… To be sure, it has been a battle of “operation desert storm” proportions in my life, because Satan is not having any of it…

But I wonder if Paul ever had periods of waking up dreading what he might face in his day–whether it be the physical taxing on his body to travel while in pain, or whether it be the undercurrent of dread at facing another mob bent on drawing blood… so much so, that his flame of gladness of glorifying Jesus gutters and flickers in the battles of each day; and that instead of jubilation, his heart is like a ship anchored and held fast to its mooring in Christ while yet battered from within and from without…

god-strength2That’s something of how I feel in my dusty existence this side of Heaven…But I know that Messiah Jesus fights for me, because I am alive today “fortunate” to have another day to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in my own breathing existence this side of Heaven…

Thanking God that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world, as it is written by another faithful one who loved the Lord Jesus:

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

-1 John 4.4

Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?…To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people [the Jews] and to the Gentiles.”

–Acts 26.8,22-23

Glory to Thee, Lord Jesus!

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