Category Archives: Following in Faith

Abiding in His Love

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But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2Corinthians 4:7-11

I’ve written it before, and I think it needs to be the reminder in our home right now.  Praise God for the glory of His word to teach us, build our character, shape us, and connect us to Him.

For the love of God is eternal, unconditional, just and perfect!  May we always remember, live by, abide by and stand firm in His word.

A Little Perspective

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.   2Corinthians 1:3-4

In studying JOB, I have come to understand more clearly the value of trusting God, His Word, and His mercies that are offered to His flock.  Calling out to him over the last year, whether my day was filled with pain or exhaustion, I admittedly had moments where I complained over my circumstances, yet I also knew and had faith that God had a plan.  I was comforted in knowing that He would utilize my situation to His glory and that nothing I go through in this world is too great when I have Him by my side.

I have a picture with a beautiful poem about the Lord carrying us in our times of trouble and the picture has one set of footprints walking in the sand.  Although I enjoy the concept of Him carrying us through this life, I think I would rather consider Him as a partner walking beside me like a seeing eye “friend”.  Pointing out obstacles, directing my footsteps, guiding me down the path of life leading to His narrow gate.  Nurturing me along the journey so that in the end He will be glorified.

One of our questions in our study asked whether we have ever encountered God in a way that transformed our understanding of or attitude toward Him?  We were then asked to share the experience and tell how our view of God was changed.

My answer was yes and I went on to explain.  Our move to our current location was not an easy transition.  We moved to a state that we had never stepped into, knowing absolutely no one, and to top it off it was in the winter.  We lived in a two bedroom apartment for two months while we sought out our current home.  The kids had school and were making friends, my husband had work and new relationships to nurture while I had a realtor once a week.  My days were very lonely.

I had left behind a volunteer position at the kids school that kept me working every day as the school librarian, room mom for one class, a bible study that I had been a part of for 10 years, childhood friends, college friends, family and ladies that I had befriended after our third move.  My involvement with our church included VBS, women’s ministry, fundraisers and the meal delivery service for our brothers and sisters within the church that I was in charge of.   I  was running with kids to Karate classes two days a week, baseball three days a week, dance classes 3 days a week, boy scouts  and brownies every other week and our weekends were spent at a cottage.   To say that I was busy is an understatement.  In fact, one of my friends gave me a mug for my birthday that said, “Note to self:  Stop volunteering for stuff”.

In my loneliness, I found that going to the Lord was giving me encouragement.  In my times of human weakness, however, I sought out to find purpose for myself in our new town.  I thought I needed to be a part of something, other than just looking for a house for the family.  So after a month of spending one day a week cleaning the apartment, grocery shopping and doing laundry, another day going out with the realtor, and the rest of my week spent sitting alone reading the word of God, I went in to our new church and requested a list of activities and groups that our family could be a part of.  I distinctly remember breaking down in tears in front of the secretaries.  Not sure what else to do, they presented me with a list of people to call and activities that may interest us.

One by one we reached out, seeking out purpose, more for myself than the rest of the family.  After all, they were meeting people and making friends.  I was the one who was trying to find my niche.  Each time we reached out, we hit a dead end.  Either the groups were full or after receiving information we decided that the group was not what we were interested in.  Once again, I remember finding myself in tears.  As our second month approached, we had found our house and we were waiting for it to be completed as it had been a new construction.  One more day would be added to my loneliness as I no longer had my day with the realtor.  Another moment of tears.  I remember asking God why and I also remember complaining.

One day, as I was reading His word, I was struck by the time I had to be with Him.  I’m not sure exactly what took place, however, I felt this peace that I had not known since our move.  I came to the realization that prior to our move, my time with Lord was when I could fit Him in, between projects and activities.   I scheduled my time with Him based on what worked for me.  In the two months of being in the apartment I realized that all I had was time to spend with Him.  He had become my best friend, my caretaker, and my encourager.  He was walking beside me and was giving me comfort in my times of loneliness.  I was not alone, I just didn’t have perspective.

I remember thanking Him for all that He was doing for me and my family.  For giving us all that we needed.  Even though we were in a two bedroom apartment and ate dinners at a table in the living room by the couch.  We all have said that they were the best two months we’ve ever had as a family.   As a family, we grew closer, enjoying our time together since we didn’t have any extra curricular activities vying for our time.

I would say that during that time I encountered God as I had not known him before.  The focus in my years prior to our move were spent trying to do all the good in the world, doing all that I could for my family and for others.  I spent time with him when He fit into my schedule, praying while I was driving and in my quiet time upon waking and before bed.   After our move, I had refocused my attention, turning my daily schedule into a time of continued worship of Him.  To my pleasant surprise, my Heavenly Father was there waiting for me and He met with me giving me peace, understanding and perspective.  He didn’t ask me to wait until He had time in His schedule, He was ready and willing to offer mercy, grace, and love when I needed it the most.

Rather than seeing Him as a Holy God who was too busy to notice whether or not I took time out for Him, I realized He was a Holy God who is a jealous God that needed me to take that next step in knowing Him.  I was transformed!  I don’t mean that I became a christian at that point, I knew I was a christian and had been for many years.  I was however, growing in my knowledge of Him and who He truly was.  Humbled by His time with me and my recognition of His Almighty character, I prayed that He would lead me and open doors when He was ready for me to once again serve outside of the home.  I said that prayer in church one night and at the end of the service a woman approached me asking me to be a part of a prayer group.  Timing was everything.  Once again, I thanked Him, knowing that all He wanted me to trust in Him and His plan for my life.   Each experience I have endured since the Lord called me by name has helped me to grow closer to Him and has given me new perspective.

In watching Bethany Hamilton in Soul Surfer recently with my daughter, I am reminded that sometimes we need to be in a different place, focusing on something other than ourselves to gain perspective.  Not unlike what God did with JOB.  JOB had his own thoughts and considerations in defending himself pridefully with his friends, yet it took God’s audience with JOB to show him a new perspective that included who he was in comparison to who God was.   Isn’t that so like the life of a christian?  When we stray from the herd, our shepherd uses His staff to to gently remind us of our place in the flock.

I challenge you reader to look at your current affliction and look for opportunities to give you a new perspective.  Preferably, allowing God to be a part of that process.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.  2Corinthians 4:7-11

 

Rejected or Rejoicing?

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Wearily pulling myself out of self loathing yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with a friend whom is no longer able to walk and is finishing out her young life knowing that she is fading away into the arms of her savior.  I was so blessed and refreshed by the visit, that I had to ask God’s forgiveness for the moments prior to our time together.   After all, I  had been questioning what good was going to come of such a visit when I was so tired from battling my pneumonia for the last 3 weeks.  I did not feel like smiling, I just wanted to sleep and rest in the comfort of my living room.  Venturing out into the cold was not appealing, even though I had an errand I had to run prior to the visit.  I pondered forgoing the errand and the visit.   It’s amazing how God uses times like those to touch our inner being, reminding us that there is so much to do and so little time for the joy of the Lord to be shared with others.  I came home physically tired, yet spiritually uplifted.   My original intention of visiting my friend was because I thought I was going to bless her, yet, God blessed me instead with a sustainable energy that kept me going for the rest of the night and He reminded me of the grace of humility.

There is no place for self loathing or a self serving attitude for Christians who know Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you , declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”      Jeremiah 29:11-14

For the last year, life has had it’s ups and downs with my diagnosis of Lyme Disease.  The loneliness of having a physical disability is only known by those who are also afflicted with such circumstances.  For this reason, I was determined that when I felt better, I was going to start weekly visits with my friend whom I had neglected prior to my own illness.   I remember having the need to visit her, however, I am embarrassed to admit that time was filled with so many other things to do that I never made the time.  I was just too busy, plain and simple.  Isn’t that so like our society today?  We spend so much time doing so many great things that have such little value.  Yet the things that mean so much, we brush aside thinking they are not of great significance.

I challenge you reader to consider your own life and ask yourself this question, “What have I done today that was not for my own gratification?”  If you ask yourself that question and find that you cannot come up with one thing, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and give it a try.  If you are only doing for others so that you will benefit, you have not challenged yourself enough.  Try taking time out of your day to do something for someone that will not have anything to do with benefiting yourself.   Let me explain.  If you partake on a mercy mission for someone else, make sure you are not thinking that it’s for your own benefit or self glorification that you are doing it.   True acts of kindness, love and humility do not come from knowledge, they come from the heart.  Outpouring unconditionally!

Last year there were several wonderful friends who took time out of their days to sit with me or write to me.  The fact that they thought of me and prayed for me was enough, but these women actually took the time out of their busy lives to let me know.  Unconditionally!  From guilt free quilting to those friday pizza nights where I would otherwise have sat here alone.  From e-cards of inspiration to the hand written notes mailed through the post, I was blessed by the giving of their time.  I can only hope that they too felt blessed by the love they shared with this lonely Christian in her time of need for fellowship.

My friend and I sat together yesterday and began reading a book.  Although my friend can no longer read and I am actually doing the reading, our discussions during and afterward were wonderful.  We began the first week with the first two chapters of the book and studying Psalm 13.

How long, O LORD?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  

Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep and the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.   Psalm 13

We both discussed how blessed we are knowing that we had the fellowship with one another, and the fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ.  David, in writing this psalm, felt alone and abandoned by God, yet he trusted in His love.  He knew God was there or he would not have called out to him to begin with, but he cried out for the reassurance.   He just longed for the fellowship and comfort of the Lord to help with the loneliness  that was overtaking his physical being.  Is this any different than how we feel when we are going through trials?  As Christians we know God is ever present and we can trust in His love, yet we long for that physical fellowship.  It’s in our human nature to have that need, and yet, so many are left in their lonely state.

In both of my studies this week, the same question came up, “Why is it so important to establish a right view of God before adversity hits?”  (CBS JOB commentary)   Both my friend and I agree that in our circumstances we could not get through all that humanity and disease throws at us if we did not have trust in the Lord and trust in salvation.  In saying that, it does not mean we will not have tears and that we will not be discouraged at our current situation.  Just as David was discouraged, he still trusted in “steadfast love” which in turn allowed him to “rejoice in salvation”.   Rejoice…

Rejoicing in the everlasting love of a creator who has chosen us to be a part of his kingdom.  Rejoicing in his blessings of family and fellowship with other like minded brothers and sisters who will share in an eternal life.  Rejoicing in the blessing of vision to see that our sorrows are short lived in this world.  Rejoicing that Jesus Christ took upon himself the sins of mankind to save.  Rejoicing in the Hope and Faith of healing and God’s everlasting care in our lives on this earth.  Rejoicing in knowing Him!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”    Romans 1:16-17

 

Waking up to Snow

 

Snow is here.
Snow is here.

The Compassion of the Lord – Isaiah 55

55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
hand I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but sit shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 “For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Joy Through Affliction

 

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Can I somehow relay to anyone through my words how much rejoicing has been going on in my heart the last few months and especially yesterday?  I mean, even though my Lyme symptoms have returned, my joy in Him has not subsided.

Psalm 4:7   You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.

Psalm 71:23  My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

My husband and I have been married for 21 years next month.  During that time we have had many trials, heart aches, and afflictions overwhelm our relationship.  Through every timely attack, we have managed to cling to one another.  Oh, it’s not always been easy, and for the first 12 years it was especially tough in our home.  I remember my early walk with the Lord, knowing and understanding fully who He was, as being a lonely venture.  Lonely in that God’s timing for my husband was not in sync with His timing with me.  I prayed for those twelve years that God would change my husbands heart, that He would show my husband His Word and Grace so that we could grow together.  At times, God likely heard my prayers to be more like begging.  Pleading for the release of my husbands hardened heart so that he would hear God’s calling and crave to know the truth as I was learning it.  Let’s just clearly say, it was a long 12 years and the support from others to continue on was at times quite at odds with scripture and felt more like worldly advice  attacks.

At the bible study I attended weekly during that time, an older, wiser Titus 2 woman who was in our leaders group reminded all of us through a devotional that sometimes we need to release our wants and desires and give it up to the Lord, for as we know all things are in His timing.  That our will was not always His will and that we needed to trust Him.

Wow!  Wait… hold the presses… I knew that!  Yet my daily prayer for 12 consistent years had been pleading my will upon the Lord’s heartstrings.  I was begging for something rather than trusting and praying for God’s will to be done in my husbands life.  Why had I not asked God for my own patience?  Why had I not prayed for acceptance of where God had my husband at that time?  I remember beating myself up about my own prayers and how selfish they were.  I wasn’t trusting God to just do as He needed.  It was that day that I went home and got on my knees and asked for God’s forgiveness in not trusting Him.  I repented for my lack of patience and asked God to give me strength to wait upon Him and His timing for my husband…. If that is what the Lord intended.  I did not know if my husband would ever accept Christ nor if God would ever even call upon my husband to be one of His flock.  I just knew that I needed to trust the plan God had for us and to stay true to Him and all that He is.

Two weeks from the day of that prayer, my husband was asked by a personal friend who he respected, if he wanted to begin a bible study with him.  My husband accepted the invitation.  We went to the store and bought him a study bible and he began studying God’s word.  I kid you not, I stood in amazement.  I have to say that for a period of time, God allowed my husband to continue serving the prince of the earth while also learning about God’s truth.  There was a true battle of good vs. evil at work.  At the final turning point,  the crushing lowest point of my husbands life, he began to see that he could not be of both worlds and the Lord began to strengthen my husbands desire for truth and soften his once hardened heart.  He admittedly prayed about hypocracy and that he no longer wanted the sinful part of his life.  He asked God for help in getting rid of the sins and continued temptations that were trying to overtake him.

John 3:5-8  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is born of the spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

God did not turn a blind eye.  He helped my husband see the errors of his ways, and gave him the nourishment of truth that he so desired.  The ever present Holy Spirit walked with him giving him an unknown desire for learning the scriptures.  As time went forth, the fruit of God’s work in his life was being seen and his life was reflective of a life being lived out to serve our heavenly creator.

John 15:1-11  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that  does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you,  unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

All of those years since, I and others have seen a complete transformation.  Out of darkness came a blessing of light that has touched the lives of so many.   He has over that last 9 years, become the man I prayed for him to become.  He may live in this world yet he too is not of this world.  He was called, he heard, he acted.  He has not taken the gospel for granted.  He studies, he craves the word, and he longs for truth.  All in God’s timing!

John 15:16-17   You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.  These things I command you, so that you will love one another. 

Romans 12:2  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed  by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

You may ask what in the world this has to do with my joy.  Well, yesterday my beloved husband was blessed with the induction of becoming a deacon in our church.  This is not a role to be taken lightly.  For many months our family in Christ has been praying over those being called into this position, and we have been praying that “God’s Will Be Done”.

1 Timothy 3:8-13  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.  Their wives must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.  Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their  own households well.  For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.  

I was asked by several people yesterday how I felt to be a deacons wife.  Honestly, I am not sure I should feel any different.  After all, my husband has been called to a role he is meant to serve in, and I am gladly sitting by supporting him, just as I have been supporting him our entire 21 years of marriage.

Romans 12:3  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself  more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  

If I have to admit to any feeling, it would be joy.  Joy over the transformation  that has carried my husband out of death and into Life.

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God, is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am not overly joyful about titles, yet I am overjoyed at the knowledge I have of where we have been and where we are today.  I am also overjoyed at knowing that God’s timing is perfect, in every way and that my husbands serving heart embraces God’s will.

Romans 14:16-18    So do not let what you regard as good to be spoken of as evil.  For the kingdom of God  is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved  by men.

Since I know he reads my blogs, I want to add one more thing:

Honey, I love you and am pleased to be on this journey with you.  Together,  we can support one another through all that comes our way with the strength of  Jesus Christ.  I love you!

I know that I am not alone in saying congratulations.  🙂  

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Jim would be proud that you have been a willing servant for He who rescued you out of death to give you Life and that you continue to trust in His will over all that comes your way.  I knew when I saw you helping Jim with his final walk toward everlasting peace with the Lord, that your were meant to serve your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  With this last year being so tough, you never wavered taking care of me.  

Thank you My Love, and yes, I am pleased to say I am a deacons wife!   

 

 

Faith or Works

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“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.” Galations 4:22-24

The question in our study asked to record and explain the two images Paul uses to illustrate how the Law functions. The two images were prison and guardian. How could it be both?

My answer to the how was to consider a plane in a holding pattern. Number 3 in a line of 6 sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off. As a patron in the plane, likely having sat on that plane for about 1/2 hour already at that time, one could feel as though they are in prison. Not able to get out of the seat, not able to use the phone, not able lay the seat back. It is a requirement that one follows the rules of the plane at this time. However, as the pilot, hearing and knowing that the holding pattern they are in is truly a protection from being hit by other planes and that waiting their turn is worth the safety of the crew and patrons on board.

How wonderful that the fulfillment of Christ’s death on the cross set us free from the imprisonment of the law. If ever you’ve read the law laid out for god’s people of the Old Testament you would realize that it’s quite complicated. One could easily feel imprisoned, especially since the Law did not give them freedom, it only gave them a recognition of their sins and their death to them. Only the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his death could provide life. I wonder how many people that call themselves Christians understand this? Being a homeschool mom, I have over the years met and observed many groups/people that practice much of the Old Testament Law. I often wonder if they truly know Christ and understand that there is nothing they can do obtain salvation. I wonder if they understand that the covenant made to Abraham in Genesis, came 430 years prior to the law.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Galations 12:1-3

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Galations 3:17-18

The understanding that we can do nothing to obtain salvation other than through the freedom in Christ is sometimes twisted by unbelievers so that they feel freedom in sinful behavior as long as they claim to believe in Christ. I’ve even heard it said that if someone is a good person and they do good works and have lived a clean life they are saved. Even if the person outwardly has claimed they don’t believe in God. I would argue and have argued that one is not saved through such criteria.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:29-31

So then what freedom does a person claiming to believe in Jesus have? Can he or she knowingly still freely sin? Are the 10 commandments null and void due to the coming of Christ?

NO!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37

Can someone just say he or she believes in Christ and they are saved? How do we know it’s genuine? What about alter calls? I have to be honest in saying that I myself find it hard to judge the heart of another. Just as one of the two thieves on the cross deserved death, he was not baptized, he did not follow the law, yet he believed in Christ, genuinely, and Christ understood his heart. He was welcomed by the Lord unconditionally other than his proclamation of faith. Consider however, he did not have a life further to live. He was dying alongside our Lord. For healthy humans who say they believe, if they are genuine in their faith there is a change of heart and their lives begin to reflect that change.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for this soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels int he glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:24-27

And again in Mark 8:34-36 the above is again repeated. Ending with: “For what can a man give in return for his soul? for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in his adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:37-38

Keeping God’s commandments, and doing good works are all a result of saving faith. The requirement of the Law of the Old Testament as atonement for sins is no longer required since Christ died on the cross. Good works by those who love Him however, still exist as a result of one’s faith in Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothes and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. James 2:14-17

But someone will say to you, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God , and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:18-26

Why has this subject been swarming in my mind this past week? I’m not sure other than to say it is God’s providence that I have a blog to share with others. To write about my understanding of His words and to share what I know with those who may not understand. For we know not the way the Lord may touch the human soul. Through a song, a friend, a family member, a loss, a tragedy, or maybe through a blog.

I hope you find your week to be blessed and that you can see Him. May your hearts be stirred to know him more completely through His Word.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1 (The commentary on this verse claims it is addressing a deep spiritual longing to seek the Lord while he may be found. The word Come is all one needs to do in order to find mercy in God. ESV Study Bible Commentary)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Faith or Works

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“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.”         Galations 4:22-24

The question in our study asked to record and explain the two images Paul uses to illustrate how the Law functions.   The two images were prison and guardian.  How could it be both?

My answer to the how was to consider a plane in a holding pattern.  Number 3 in a line of 6 sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off.  As a patron in the plane, likely having sat on that plane for about 1/2 hour already at that time, one could feel as though they are in prison. Not able to get out of the seat, not able to use the phone, not able lay the seat back.  It is a requirement that one follows the rules of the plane at this time.  However, as the pilot, hearing and knowing that the holding pattern they are in is truly a protection from being hit by other planes and that waiting their turn is worth the safety of the crew and patrons on board.

How wonderful that the fulfillment of Christ’s death on the cross set us free from the imprisonment of the law.  If ever you’ve read the law laid out for god’s people of the Old Testament you would realize that it’s quit complicated.  One could easily feel imprisoned, especially since the Law did not give them freedom, it only gave them a recognition of their sins and their death to them.  Only the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of his death could provide life.   I wonder how many people that call themselves Christians understand this?  Being a homeschool mom, I have over the years met and observed many groups/people that practice much of the Old Testament Law.  I often wonder if they truly know Christ and understand that there is nothing they can do obtain salvation.  I wonder if they understand that the covenant made to Abraham in Genesis, came 430 years prior to the law.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Galations 12:1-3

This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it longer comes by promise, but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.  Galations 3:17-18

The understanding that we can do nothing to obtain salvation other than through the freedom in Christ is sometimes twisted by unbelievers so that they feel freedom in sinful behavior as long as they claim to believe in Christ.  I’ve even heard it said that if someone is a good person and they do good works and have lived a clean life they are saved.  Even if the person outwardly has claimed they don’t believe in  God.  I would argue and have argued that one is not saved through such criteria.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Acts 16:29-31

So then what freedom does a person claiming to believe in Jesus have?  Can he or she knowingly still freely sin?  Are the 10 commandments null and void due to the coming of Christ?

NO!  

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

I am praying for them.  I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.  John 17:9

“Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Matthew 7:14

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.  John 6:37

Can someone just say he or she believes in Christ and they are saved?  How do we know it’s genuine?  What about alter calls?  I have to be honest in saying that I myself find it hard to judge the heart of another.  Just as one of the two thieves on the cross deserved death, he was not baptized, he did not follow the law, yet he believed in Christ, genuinely, and Christ understood his heart.  He was welcomed by the Lord unconditionally other than his proclamation of faith.  Consider however, he did not have a life further to live.  He was dying alongside our Lord.  For healthy humans who say they believe, if they are genuine in their faith there is a change of heart and their lives begin to reflect that change.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  do not marvel that I said to you ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows where is wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.  So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:3-8

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?  Or what shall a man give in return for this soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels int he glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.”  Matthew 16:24-27

And again in Mark 8:34-36 the above is again repeated.  Ending with:  “For what can a man give in return for his soul?  for whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in his adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”  Mark 8:37-38

Keeping God’s commandments, and doing good works are all a result of saving faith.  The requirement of the Law of the Old Testament as atonement for sins is no longer required since Christ died on the cross.  Good works by those who love Him however, still exist as a result of one’s faith in Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothes and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  James 2:14-17

But someone will say to you, “You have faith and I have works.”  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe – and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God , and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.  James 2:18-26

Why has this subject been swarming in my mind this past week?  I’m not sure other than to say it is God’s providence that I have a blog to share with others.  To write about my understanding of His words and to share what I know with those who may not understand.  For we know not the way the Lord may touch the human soul.  Through a song, a friend, a family member, a loss, a tragedy, or maybe through a blog.

I hope you find your week to be blessed and that you can see Him.  May your hearts be stirred to know him more completely through His Word.

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Isaiah 55:1       (The commentary on this verse claims it is  addressing a deep spiritual longing to seek the Lord while he may be found.  The word Come is all one needs to do in order to find mercy in God.  ESV Study Bible Commentary)

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Past vs. Present

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I admit it, I’m a bible thumper.  I enjoy being in church and when we travel I miss fellowship with those who are dear to my heart, my church family.  I enjoy learning about the history of the gospel, the truth of God’s Word and the approach of which we should all be living out our lives if we are truly sheep of His flock.  I am continually held accountable through conviction of my own sins and am blessed by the knowledge that I will never be perfected in Christ until my redemption through death.

I remember the day I sought out His will for my life and that of my unborn child.  The day I wept in prayer seeking forgiveness for a life spent looking for happiness and “fun”.  Oh, it has been a journey and sanctification can be long and sometimes difficult.  Attending a world wide bible study with over 17 denominations, yes there are many, I learned about reading the bible and how to study scripture.  I learned about how to be a wife and a mother as God intends, a friend, a servant and a daughter to an almighty sovereign Father.  I learned about forgiveness and the blessings that follow and learned about the toll bitterness can take on one who does not seek it.   I have been encouraged in times of trouble, I have been comforted in times of darkness, and I have listened hearing words spoken that I had not before understood.  I remember feeling as Saul must have felt when the scales were removed from his eyes and he became a servant.  I felt as if I had been blind and was finally seeing colors and shapes as they had never been seen.  Things have over the years become clearer and the journey has not been easy.  Taking me from being a nominal christian in the worship of several different denominational churches where my stirring heart to hear truth in a way I could not explain was not satisfied, to the community of which I call home.  A community of like minded believers that see things as I see them.  Where truth comes from God’s most holy word, through teaching that is scripturally sound and thoroughly studied.  Christ has led this sinful mind, body and soul to a place of humbling grace surrounded with unconditional love and forgiveness.  I praise God that I have been led out of darkness and into the light.  I praise Him for His continued watchful eye over my family, grabbing hold the hearts of my husband and children so that generations will share in His kingdoms glory, serving Him together for an eternity.

As we sat in church this morning, I once again felt that society needs to hear truth.   Truth spoken from a pulpit that does not focus on “bringing in the numbers” by pleasing the people, yet a pulpit that seeks to honor the Father on His day with truth from His own book.  Do people really understand why we have the family platform we have?  Do they understand that it was not a man made concept that just took off in tradition?  How many people understand that the bible is the most widely read book in the world?  What is taught on Sundays and any other day of the week for God’s faithful should not just be left at the door step of the building as they leave, it should be carried through out their week and taken seriously.  Hell is real.  Heaven is real!  (And no, I do not watch movies that try to tell me it is, I know it because I read it in God’s spoken word in the scriptures and I feel it in my heart.)  We live in a corrupt world of deception that tries to destroy families and what they stand for.  We as believers in truth and followers of Christ need to stand up for what we believe in and teach our children to be strong in their faith, protecting the Word as God would have us.  He will overcome!

Therefore, I am posting today’s message spoken from the pulpit.  This is a subject dear to my heart as I teach my children about marriage, expectations in relationships and the honor and glory commitment is to our almighty sovereign God.  To Him be the glory!

I pray that you are blessed by the message and that you will be given the ears to hear it as God intends.  If you are a sinner seeking forgiveness, I pray that this gives you hope.  If you are a parent, I pray that it gives you a clearer vision into the scriptures to teach your children.

Please read these first and then listen to the audio.   (If you do not own a bible, please google the verses in ESV.)

Psalm 30:2-3,  Proverbs 5:1-14,  Ephesians 5:22-33 and Exodus 20:14

http://crbc.us/media_events/976-The-Seventh-Commandment

(Courtesy of CRBC.us, and with permission to post.)