O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go


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” . . . with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer” (Isaiah 54:8b).

O Love that wilt not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.

From O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go by George Matheson, 1882.

My Hope is in the Lord


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I heard recently that someone took these thoughts from a sermon: We are worthless, filthy, vile sinners and we are “nothing.”  If we were to cleave only to those ideas, Christ’s death was in vain, and we would be essentially non-effective in sharing the hope of salvation with the unsaved world.

Elizabeth Elliot begins her daily broadcast with these words, “You are loved with an everlasting love.  That’s what the Bible says.”  We have to realize what our condition outside of Christ is and know the we can have new life in Him at the point of salvation.  That in no way indicates that we have now elevated ourselves to be “something.”  It simply means that we recognize that we have value BECAUSE of Christ’s redemption.

                                My hope is in the Lord, who gave himself for me,

                                And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.

                                For me, he died, for me, he lives,

                                And everlasting life and light he freely gives.

                                No merit of my own his anger to suppress,

                                My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness!

Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”  My righteousness is as filthy rags, but His is perfect and complete. We can live victoriously knowing that God allowed us to inherit the righteousness of Christ.  Let’s be obedient to Him and share to hope of salvation with others.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                            

Created Unique to Fit Together


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I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. – Psalm 139:14

 

Are you unique?  It’s no secret that you are.  Just as everyone else!  David even understood that and praised God for doing so.  He used some interesting terms to portray his thoughts.  The main Hebrew term seems to carry a sense of distinctiveness or uniqueness.  So, David understood that he was made distinct from others in his structure, and it was because God made him that way; he knew it in his very soul!

Flipping the pages, or swiping your finger across the screen for some of us, to the New Testament book of Ephesians, written by the apostle Paul, we see that same idea come through in this letter to the believers in Ephesus: we are unique.  To begin the 4th chapter, Paul hints at uniqueness as he urges “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.”  However, he does not stop there.

Though we are created different and have different purposes, we are still “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Paul further explains that there is to be unity between believers when he stated, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

Through the following paragraph in Ephesians 4, Paul further explains that each of us “is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” and that God “gave gifts unto men.”  He gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor teachers for the purpose of “perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith…”  Again, he reminds us of unity.

We are created unique, but told to be unified.  How?  Verse 16 sums it up nicely.  “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”  Using our physical bodies as the image, each part is unique and has a specific purpose and function.  Each by themselves is of little or no use; however, “fitly joined together” and each functioning properly, the body operates smoothly.

Each of us, believers, specifically for this purpose, is unique, no doubt about that; but we each must function in unity with each other to carry out the purpose for which God joined us together: to worship Him and tell others about Him.  We are created unique so that we can fit together not so that we stand out on our own.  To God be the glory!

Inescapable!


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If I am not impressed with the teachings of Buddha, I am perfectly free to reject them.  After all, who was Buddha?  Buddha was a mere mortal who went about, like everybody else, trying to figure out what was what.  If his philosophy does not persuade me – and it doesn’t – I may look elsewhere.

It is different with Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ did more than discuss prophecy – He fulfilled it! (see Jn. 1:45).  Jesus Christ did more than discourse about life after death – He rose from the dead! (see Acts 4:33).  Jesus Christ did more than develop a social theory – He turned the world upside down! (see Matt. 28:18-20) and my life inside out! (see II Cor. 5:16-17).

Sooner or later, you must come to terms with Jesus Christ.

Lead on, O King Eternal


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Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever.  Amen (I Timothy 1:17).

Lead on, O King eternal,

We follow, not with fears,

For gladness breaks like morning

Where’er Thy face appears.

Thy cross is lifted over us,

We journey in its light;

The crown awaits the conquest;

Lead on, O King of might.

From Lead on, O King Eternal by Ernest W. Shurtleff, 1888

How to Live the Christian Life


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If you want to change the alternator in your car, you can go online and watch a Youtube video explaining how to do it.  If you want to make a key lime pie, you can quickly snag a recipe from Pinterest.  If you want to learn the Belarusian language, you can go get a simple book on this subject for dummies.  We are familiar with going to a source for answers to learn how to do things.  Why do we approach the Christian life without going to the Source of instructions?  While the Bible should not be considered simplistic or trendy, the Bible’s instruction on how to live the Christian life is easy to understand and relevant to everybody of all times in all places.  

Many Bible passages give a simple explanation of the basics of the Christian life.  Hebrews 12 gives one such explanation by giving a list of instructions.  These instructions could be grouped as three things that form the basics of the Christian life:

1.     Keep a right focus!

2.     Reject the wrong things!

3.     Embrace the right things! 

What should we focus on? 

Verse one says that we should focus on the examples of those who have lived by faith.  Are you reading the Word of God daily to learn from the examples of Noah, Moses, Deborah, or David?  We don’t focus on their examples if we never read about them and meditate on the Bible.  A second focus is found in verse one.  We should focus on “running with patience the race that is set before us.”  This means that we are to live our Christian life focused on God’s plan for our lives.  Do you go through life with eternity’s values in mind?  A third focus and most important focus is that we are to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”  We are told in verse three to “Consider Him.”  Have you ever looked to Christ for salvation?  Do you focus on Him throughout each day?  Do you praise Him and speak of Him and talk to Him?  Do you do right simply for the right reason—that you are focused on Christ?

What should we reject? 

Verse one says to lay “aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us?”  Verse four encourages us to resist sin and fight against it.  Do you get rid of sin?  Do you get rid of weights that distract you from running your race? Verses 15-16 give some specific sins to lay aside.  These verses tell us to not be bitter against others nor should we be immoral. 

What should we embrace? 

Verses 5-11 say that we should embrace discipline gratefully.  Do you respond correctly to things God does to get your attention?  Are you grateful for the conviction of the Spirit of God?  Do you repent when you realize you backslid even a small amount?  Also, we should embrace Godliness.  Verses 12-14 say that we should follow peace and holiness.  According to these verses, if you are not seeing people come to know the Lord, it might be because no man sees the Lord in your life. 

What are the instructions here for living the Christian life?  Keep a right focus!  Reject sins and weights!  Embrace God’s correction and peace and holiness! 

God’s Faithfulness


 

https://vimeo.com/172042139

The above video shows one of the most joyful days of my life.  Our son, our only child, has autism.  Raising him has been quite an adventure with times I was not sure there would be any of me left when the adventure was done!

Times of blackness, times of joy, times of sheer panic for what would become of this child we love more than life itself. 

If you are only able to watch the first ten minutes of the video, at least see the flag ceremony and the processional of this graduation.  They are full of more joy than any graduation I have ever attended!  Let me explain how we got to this day.

Three years ago we left our son in Wisconsin to embark on an adventure away from us—Shepherds College for people with intellectual disabilities.  Every August we drove him to Union Grove; every June we picked him up for the summer.  Then this June he became a graduate of the three year program possessing a certificate in horticulture.

I can only begin to detail the faithfulness God has shown to us in these three years. 

We did not even know that Shepherds Ministries (which my childhood church in Michigan supported all those years ago) had started a college in 2008 until a church friend told us she had gone on ministry trips there.

Then we had forms to fill out, first to enroll Joey, then to secure funding for him to attend the college and to get started in life.

I had forms to fill out to get him SSI (disability), which was denied by the federal authorities the first time we filed because “you have not proven to us you are disabled enough to need assistance . . .”  I had forms to fill out to keep him on my Tricare (military health insurance) as an adult.  I had scholarship forms to fill out with Joey.

Then, as graduation approached, we had forms to fill out to get aid from the state of Wisconsin for Joey to stay in Union Grove and get an off-campus job and apartment with help from the job placement officer at his college and a caseworker at another Shepherds ministry that oversees the transition to independence there in this delightful small town.

In all, I estimate I filled out a pile of papers eighteen inches thick over the last three years, and God blessed and multiplied my efforts greatly. 

I love how the Shepherds motto is “created on purpose, for a purpose.”  This place of so much gentle wisdom has taught me much about God’s grace extended to helpless people.  For all of us were helplessly enmeshed in sin and headed for hell until God intervened.  Some of us have disabilities that readily show; others of us hide them better.  But all of us in the human race are crushed and utterly in need of God’s love, power, and faithfulness.  Praise Him that He extends them to us!!!        

Day By Day


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Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.  For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.  As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth (Psalm 103:3-15).

Day by day, and with each passing moment,

Strength I find to meet my trials here;

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,

I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure

Gives unto each day what He deems best–

Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,

Mingling toil with peace and rest.

From Day By Day by Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1865.

Be Careful Where You Look


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In Luke 4:22b, we find the following words, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”  In chapter 4, the Lord Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted three times by the devil.  After the third temptation we read in verse 12, “And Jesus answering said unto him, it is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”  Jesus as God knew He was God.

After Christ had resisted the temptation of the devil, he entered the synagogue to teach. The Bible tells us that Jesus stood to teach. In verses 18 and 19 he spoke these words,” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering the sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”  Jesus was reading from the book of Isaiah 61:8. Jesus told his listeners that day that this prophecy was fulfilled before them. His listeners then ask the question quoted above, Is not this Joseph’s son?

The world in which we live is still having trouble trying to figure out who Christ is. Unfortunately some still seem to see him as a carpenter’s son, others see him as a good man, and there are even those who would admit that he is a prophet.  The truth of the matter is, He is God.  He is the creator of the world (John1:3). In 2 Timothy 1:10, Christ is called our Savior; and in Titus 2:13, he is called our great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. In 2 Peter 1:11, He is referred to as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The highly educated world of the 21st century seems to be unable to define who this person is called Christ. The answer is very clear when one goes to Scripture. I would like you today, dear reader, to go to the Scriptures and find Christ.

I believe today there are those in even greater number who try to define Christ outside the Scriptures. They will not arrive with the biblical answer by avoiding the Scripture. We are reminded in Colossians 2: 8-9, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of man, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”  Verse nine is there as a wonderful reminder.  It says, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

If you are a seeker today, I trust you are seeking Christ in the pages of the Bible. Someone said that the saving blood of Christ is a theme that runs through every page of the Bible. If you are a believer, and  the philosophies of the world and the ways of modern man have caused you to lose sight of who Christ is, I would take you to Ephesians 2:10. “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” I challenge you, and I challenge myself to focus on the Christ of the Bible. Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Philippians 2:10 says “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.” If you seek Him, I promise you will find Him, and you will know He is God.

Blessed Be the Fountain


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Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he is become my salvation (Isaiah 12:2).

Blessed be the fountain of blood,

To a world of sinners revealed;

Blessed be the dear Son of God;

Only by His stripes we are healed.

Tho’ I’ve wandered far from the fold,

Bringing to my heart pain and woe,

Wash me in the blood of the Lamb,

And I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, Whiter than snow,

Wash me in the blood of the Lamb,

And I shall be whiter than snow.

From Blessed Be The Fountain by Eden R. Larra, 1881.