Pages

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Vital Concern of Mine

Dear Blogger Friends,

I hope you have enjoyed the book, 'In the Light of God's Love'.  It was so beautifully written, I am going to post it again so you can get it down pat.  As a matter of fact I have read the book fourteen times and I still love to read it or listen to it read.  So if you don't mind, I am going to post it again so you can get it better this time.  It is a vital concern of mine that you are saved in God's kingdom and this book will lead you to the very throne of God it you will let it.  My prayers will be with you as you ponder these pages once again.  May God bless you with each day's reading.

I thought I could repost these posts but I either don't know how or am not able to but if you scroll down through the subjects until you come to 'A New Life', keep scrolling on older posts until it comes up and then you can start there, it is the first page and then scroll up one page at a time, if you want to read several pages you can.

My health has improved a little but the doctor found a murmur in my heart and I won't know for a few days what that entails.  I am still very weak because I am not producing hemoglobin. So I would love it if you would pray for me that I will get my strength back and my heart will be OK. I believe in prayer for healing,so please pray for me if you will.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Grandma Joan

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Greatest of all Gifts

The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam.  It was a revelation of "the mystery kept secret since the world began."  Romans 16:25.  It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God's throne.  From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate.  God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency.  So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16.

This was a voluntary sacrifice.  Jesus might have remained at the Father's side.  He might have retained the glory of heaven, and the homage of the angels.  But He chose to give back the scepter into the Father's hands, and to step down from the throne of the universe, that He might bring light to the benighted, and life to the perishing.

By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin.  It was Satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen.  In taking our nature, the Savior has bound himself to humanity be a tie that is never to be broken.  Through the eternal ages He is linked with us.  "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son."  John 3:16.

The work of redemption will be complete.  In the place where sin abounded, God's grace much more abounds.  The earth itself, the very field that Satan claims as his, is to be not only ransomed but exalted.  Our little world, under the curse of sin the one dark blot in His glorious creation, will be honored above all other worlds in the universe of God.  Here, where the Son of God tabernacled in humanity; where the King of glory lived and suffered and died,--here when He shall make all things new, the tabernacle of God shall be with men, "and He will dwell with them and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them and be their God."  And through endless ages as the redeemed walk in the light of the Lord, they will praise Him for His unspeakable Gift,--Immanuel, "God with us."

Joy in Giving

But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus.  Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give.  "I do nothing of Myself," said Christ; "the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father".  "I do not seek M own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Me."  John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18.  In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe.  All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all.  And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.

In heaven itself this law was broken.  Sin originated in self-seeking.  Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven.  He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire of self-exaltation.  With his own evil characteristics he sought to invest the loving Creator.  Thus he deceived angels.  Thus he deceived men.  He led them to doubt the word of God, and to distrust His goodness.  Because God is a God of justice and terrible majesty, Satan caused them to look upon Him as severe and unforgiving.

Thus he drew men to join him in rebellion against God, and the night of woe settled down upon the world.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God.  That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force.  The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority.  Only by love is love awakened.  To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan.  This work only one Being in all the universe could do.  Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make known.  Upon the world's dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, "with healing in His wings."  Malachi 4
:2.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Gift of Joy

"His name shall be called Immanuel,....God with us."

By coming to dwell with us, Jesus was to reveal God both to men and to angels.  He was the word of God,--God's thought made audible.  In His prayer for His disciples He says, "I have declared unto them Thy name,"--"merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,"--"that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them."  But not alone for His earthborn children was this revelation given.  Our little world is the lesson book of the universe.  God's wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which "angels desire to look," and it will be their study throughout endless ages.  Both the redeemed and the unfilled beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song.  It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love.  In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self-renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which "seeketh not her own" has its source in the heart of God' and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.

In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation.  It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.  It was His had that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field.  "Who established the mountains by His strength."  The sea is His, for He made it." Psalm 65:6:95:5.  It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song.  And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father's love.

Now sin has marred God's perfect work, yet that handwriting remains.  Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence.  There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself.  No bird that cleaves the air, no animal that moves upon the ground, but ministers to some other life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Special quotes for each chapter continued.

Chapter 6.  "It is because selfishness exists in our hearts that temptation has power over us.  But when we behold the great love of God, selfishness appears to us in its hideous and repulsive character, and we desire to have it expelled from the soul.  As the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ our hearts are softened and subdued, the temptation loses its power, and the grace of Christ transforms the character."  MB 118.

Chapter 7.  "There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit.  To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged.  Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast of, not forsaken and rejected of God."  SC64.

Chapter 8.  "The sinner's only hope is to rely wholly upon Jesus Christ...Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love.  They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls.  Salvation is God's free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ's sake alone.  The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ...He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul."  OHC 118.

Chapter 9.  "The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world.  Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us.  He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Savior, who surrounds him with His presence.  Whatever comes to him comes from Christ.  He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense.  Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and 'all things' that are permitted 'work together for good to them that love God.'  Romans 8:28.

Chapter 10.  "He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God's pardoning grace.  In God' forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of infinite Love.  The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner's soul, and from him to the souls of others.  The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace....The ground of all forgiveness is found in the unmerited love of God, but by our attitude toward others we show whether we have made that love our own."  COL 251.

Chapter 11.  "With untold love our God has loved us, and our love awakens toward Him as we comprehend something of the length and breadth and depth and height of this love that passeth knowledge.  By the revelation of the attractive loveliness of Christ, by the knowledge of His love expressed to us while we were yet sinners, the stubborn heart is melted and subdued and the sinner is transformed and becomes a child of heaven.  God does not employ compulsory measures; love is the agent which He uses to expel sin from the heart.  By it He changes pride into humility, and enmity and unbelief into love and faith."  MB 76,77.

Book Abbreviations:  DA = Desire of Ages
                                 COL = Christ's Object Lessons
                                 FW = Faith and Works
                                 SC = Steps to Christ
                                 MB= Mount of Blessings
                                OHC= Our High Calling

(I so hope you have been blessed by all these quotes and the book.  It was such a blessing to me.  I have read it so many times, I think 13 in all, and I still find something that I have missed.
God Bless you as you live for Him. Grandma Joan)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Special quotes that go along with each chapter.

     (At the beginning of each paragraph of Ty Gibson's book, he added a quote from some little books but were not included within the chapter and because they went along with the chapter so well, I thought I would compile them for you to read now as a summary of the book.)

Chapter 1.  "Love is power.  Intellectual and moral strength are involved in this principle, and cannot be separated from it...Love cannot live without action, and every act increases, strengthens, and extends it.  Love will gain the victory".  2 Testimony 135.

Chapter 2.  "The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can."
     "Nothing reaches so fully down to the deepest motives of conduct as a sense of the pardoning love of Christ".  DA 478

Chapter 3.  "It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world.  Men are losing their knowledge of His character.  It has been misunderstood .  At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power.  His character is to be made known.  Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy and truth...The last rays of merciful light the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is the revelation of His character."  COL 415

Chapter 4.  "There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works.  Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone."
FW 19

Chapter 5.  "There are those who profess to serve God, while they rely upon their own efforts to obey His law, to form a right character, and secure salvation.  Their hearts are not moved by any deep sense of the love of Christ, but they seek to perform the duties of the Christian life as that which God requires of them in order to gain heaven.  Such religion is worth nothing. When Christ dwells in the heart, the soul will be so filled with His love, with the joy of communion with Him, that it will cleave to Him; and in the contemplation of Him, self will be forgotten.  Love to Christ will be the spring of action."  SC 44,45.

(I hope you are enjoying these quotes.  At the end of the quotes I will give what the abbreviation stands for in case you want to purchase a book or books that they are in.  These are so powerful I am sure you will benefit from them.  Grandma Joan)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Focusing On Christ and Him Alone.

     We put so much energy in focusing on our sins and trying to overcome them to the neglect of the one spiritual discipline that would make our effort successful--to behold the true character of God as manifested  in Christ.  If we would but turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, the things we struggle to let go of would grow strangely dim.
     I use to wonder at our spiritual weakness as a people.  Now I'm not amazed at all.  The reason is clear.  We've preached doctrinal truth.  We've preached prophetic truth.  We've preached the necessity of obedience to God's law.  But we have put Jesus and His cross after the comma in almost a whisper.
     JESUS DIED FOR YOU, EVEN YOU, BEFORE YOU EVEN SENSED YOUR NEED OF A SAVIOR!  And you will be pleased to know He has given us the Sabbath to remind us of our total dependence on Him. So rest in faith that He will complete the work He has begun in your heart.
     JESUS LOVES YOU WITH A LOVE SO VOID OF SELF-INTEREST THAT HE WILLINGLY SUFFERED THE GUILT OF YOUR SIN SO YOU CAN BE FREE!  And by the way, death is but a sweet sleep in the assurance of His mighty power to raise you at His coming.
     IF YOU ALLOW HIS LOVE TO ENTER YOUR HEART, IT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR MOTIVE FOR LIVING FROM SELFISHNESS TO LOVE!  Then his law will become your delight and you will find power to obey in the strength of His love.
     The world awaits "the truth as it is in Jesus"  But we can't give it to them until we have it ourselves.  It is my sincere prayer and the urgent purpose of these pages that we would sense the power God has invested in the cross.  May we find the true significance of each doctrine we hold in the beautiful light of God's matchless love.  Amen

     (This is the last page of the last chapter and I just want you to know that it has been a privilege and a joy to retype it so I can share it with you.  It has brought me much inner peace doing this for you and I do hope with all my heart that you have been blessed and if you have to, please read it again and again to gain the understanding and to be able to comprehend God's love in the light of the Scriptures.  I thank Ty for allowing me to share this with you.  May God bless you as you contemplate these pages, is my prayer for you.  You can go back and reread each day and be blessed again and again.  Grandma Joan)
   

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Self-abandoning Love At The Cross


     This is precisely why Paul was so passionate in his determination to preach "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"  1 Corinthians2:2.  He had come to sense and appreciate the self-abandoning love manifested at the cross and was held its willing captive.  "The life which I now live in the flesh," he exclaimed "I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"  Galatians 2:20.  To this one who had previously hated Jesus and persecuted His followers, there was no power so powerful no influence so influential, no attraction so attractive as the Son of God willingly hanging upon the cross under the curse of sin so that we who nailed Him there might have eternal life.
     I imagine Paul telling himself before each sermon he preached "If they can only be led to comprehend the love of God in Christ, surely they will not be able to withhold their hearts from Him."  Then as he stood before his hearers he would strive to articulate in the clearest, most persuasive words he could muster, the ineffable love of his Savior.  The tremendous success of Paul's ministry bears testimony to the unrivaled power of God's love to move and change the self-centered hearts of men and women.
     To comprehend the love of Christ is to apprehend its significance with the mind.  There is another word in Paul's vocabulary that makes the comprehension of divine love an active pursuit for the believer.  That word is beholding.  Notice how he uses it in 2 Corinthians 3:18.
     "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
     Beholding is the deliberate action of the mind to focus, meditate, or dwell upon a matter in order to gain a clear understanding of it.  By beholding the character of God as demonstrated in Christ, the truly personal application of His love will dawn upon the heart.  New aspects of divine mercy will shine forth.  Deep impressions of God's love and goodness will be made upon the mind, calling to life feelings of gratitude and adoration that will transcend the power of selfishness.  As we grasp the character of God's love and come to appreciate its unreserved outpouring toward us, an unswerving obedience to His law will no longer be seen as a confining duty performed to gain heaven, but as a liberating privilege for God's glory.
     We could break down the formula like this:
     *  Beholding (or focusing upon) the cross produces comprehension of God's love.
     *  Comprehension of God's love awakens gratitude in the heart.
     *  Gratitude creates responsive love.
     *  And love willingly and eagerly obeys God's will.

     (Through the coming days, weeks and years, let us focus on the cross of Christ and we will eagerly and willingly obey His will for us.  Grandma Joan) 

Friday, September 19, 2014

In Love

     Paul called the Ephesians to be "holy and without blame before Him (the Lord)  in love.  Ephesians 1:4.  He went on to explain that God saved us because He is "rich in mercy for His great love wherewith He loved us", Ephesians 2:4.  In the wake of all of this almost unbelievable love, Paul envisioned a Christianity wholly governed by its self-abandoning influence.  He even developed a list of the areas of life that will be positively affected as we abide in the light of God's love.
    *  We are to relate to one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2.
    *  We are to speak "the truth in love.  verse 15.
    *  We are to edify the church in love.  verse 16.
    *  We are to walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us. Ephesians 5:2
    *  We are to conduct our marriages in love. verse 25.
    We could go on to highlight the same emphasis in Paul's other epistles and letters. At the heart of all he preached we find the central theme of God's love poured out through Christ.  If the great apostle were alive today and we could ask him for a one sentence summary of his message, he might say something like this:
   Through the cross of Christ God demonstrated His matchless love toward us in order to move and empower us to cease living for ourselves and to live for His glory in conscious response to His love.  (Adapted from Romans 5:8 and 2 Corinthians 5:14,15.)
    The practical question must arise, "How are we to receive into our hearts and experience in our daily living the power of God's love?"  Until we answer this vital question all our talk about the love of God is just that--mere talk. The Lord intends that His love be far more to us than an emotionally stimulating idea.  He wants it to be an experiential reality for us, to touch every aspect of our lives with healing, overcoming power.
    But how?  Let's get practical.
    In Paul's Ephesians 3 prayer we an extremely clear answer to our question.  Three times, with different words, he makes known the medium through which we may receive God's love.  In verse 17 he prayed that we would be "rooted and grounded in love."  In verse 18 he pleads that we would be able to "comprehend" God's love.  In verse 19 he asks that we would "know the love of Christ.
   According to Paul, God's love seeks entrance into our hearts through the medium of comprehension.  He believed that the perceptive faculties of the mind must be aroused to understand the singular quality and true greatness of divine love in order for its benefits to be realized.  He expected, as a result, that previous untapped moral power would spring forth to shape and govern our practical lives.
 
    (I hate to quit here it is getting so good, but tomorrow will come and it will be just as good.  This book has helped me so, I hope with all my heart that it is helping you.  Keep praying for understanding and comprehension of God's love and He will answer.  Grandma Joan)

Self-centered Motivation

     Such endeavors may make us appear strong in our convictions, but in reality we are secretly weak when we build upon the brittle foundation of self-centered motivation.There are many apparently strong religious people who are actually on the verge of crumbling on the inside.  They do what they should do because they should, and refrain from doing what they shouldn't do because they shouldn't.  Period!  God's transforming grace hasn't penetrated the outer layers of self-interest.  His love is unknown to them, except, of course, as a matter of formal confession.  It hasn't penetrated beyond  their heads into their hearts.  Every act of obedience and every turning away from sin is entered into with one consuming focus--to escape hell and gain heaven. Paul reached far beyond all this in his Ephesians 3 prayer.  He petitioned the throne of grace that we would be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man."
     In verses 17 through 19, Paul progresses in his prayer to become more specific as to the nature of the inward strength he desires for us.  Two times he names our much needed empowering as "the love of Christ."  Far from a passing thought, throughout Paul's writings God's love, as it was manifested in Christ, is a constantly repeated theme.
     In Romans he explains that when we receive the justifying grace of Christ "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" Romans 5:5.  The apostle knows only one source of this love:  "God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"  Romans 5:8.  The cross defines the quality and depth of divine love for unworthy sinners. Concerning the practical effect of God's love in the life of the receiver, Paul claims this "love is the fulfilliing of the law"  Romans 13:10.
     To the Corinthians Paul wrote, "The love of Christ constraineth us...that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them, and rose again"  2 Corinthians 5:14,15.  God's love is so powerful that it vanquishes the root cause of all sin, which is selfishness.  He declared to those at Corinth the absolute nothingness of religious activity, no matter how apparently good, when not motivated by a heart filled with divine love,  see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
     Addressing the works oriented Galatians, Paul sought to banish from their minds any hope of obtaining God's favor by virtue of self-motivated works, only to introduce to them a Christ centered "faith which worketh by love"  Galatians 5:6.  Not that works are of no importance at all but to this cross-preaching apostle faith, is the paramount issue, and good works are the product of a love-motivated faith.
     
     (Just remember that Christ died to take away our sins and I like that statement that "God's love is so powerful that it vanquishes the root cause of all sin, which is selfishness.  We need to let His love which is that powerful to take control of our hearts, don't we.  Grandma Joan)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Experience God's Love - Chapter 11 - Ty Gibson

     Water flows through riverbeds on its way to lakes and seas.  Seed is carried on the gentle breezes and wild whippings of the wind to find its place of germination in the soil.  Blood moves through veins and capillaries to reach every organ of the human body.  From two-wheelers to eighteen-wheelers, automobiles travel on paved highways to deliver people and goods to their appointed places.
     Everything with a destination has its medium of transit and a purpose to accomplish.
     God's love is no exception.  It has a destination--your inmost heart and mine.  It has, as well a channel of access through which it makes its crucial journey into out hearts--the perceptive faculties of the mind.  Having reached our hearts through the medium of perception divine love has a vital purpose to accomplish--to impart needed strength so we can live a life reflective of its selfless beauty.
     The apostle Paul communicated this concept in a powerful prayer he offered for every believer in Christ.
     "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God"  Ephesians 3:14-19.
     Paul realized that we have need of a specific kind of strength, the kind that resides on the inside. So he prayed that we would be "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man."
Isn't that the quality of empowering for which we all so desperately long?  Don't we sense our need for a spiritual energy that flows forth from deep within our hearts?
     * Inner strength to resist temptation.
     * Inner strength to obey God's law.
     * Inner strength to share our faith.
     * Inner strength to forgive our offenders.
     Really, that's the only kind of strength that will prove sufficient in the serious heart matters of Christianity.  Paul yearned that we should have more, much more, than a superficial, surface religious experience.  He prayed that our relationship with God would reach down to the motive level of our inner person.
     To be a good disciplinarian is not equivalent to being a good Christian, even if the code of discipline we follow happens to be the law of God. For "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight" Romans 3:20.  There is no degree of law keeping, no good behavior good enough, no amount of effort sufficient enough to secure for us the release from sin that so often eludes our grasp.  For the very moment we pursue salvation by means of the good we do and the evil we refrain from doing, grace is frustrated and we're on our own.  "For if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.  Galatians 2:21.

     (We don't want Christ to have died in vain for us, do we?  We must let Him save us in His way, not by our works lest any man should boast.  There is nothing we can boast about, it is all Christ Jesus and His mercy that saves us.  I am so thankful to have learned this wonderful truth.
Grandma Joan)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Relating to Others - continued.

     It is common, He explains, for us to relate in a positive way to our friends and in a negative way to our enemies.  Contrary to the popular way of handling those who cross us, the Great Teacher calls us to love our enemies in order that we may be like our Father in heaven.  He makes the sun to rise on both the righteous and the wicked  We too, should encircle with our love and blessing those who do wrong along with those who do good. Jesus says this is what it means to be perfect as God is--to love like God loves.
     Not only does God give love and send sunshine to every person, He also "gives light to every man who comes into the world', John 1:9.   To every inhabitant of earth God imparts a degree of spiritual enlightenment by which each one may be guided to know of the Creator's existence and sense their need of Him.  "He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds (a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy)"  Ecclesiastes 3:11, the Amplified Bible.
     Since God lavishes undeserved life and light and love on saint and sinner alike should we not regard one another with at least equal compassion and patience?
    When you notice the sins of others it will be helpful if you remember a few things:
     *  Before you knew the Lord He did not count your sins against you;  (see 2 Corinthians 5:19.)
     *  He saved you according to His mercy, not by works of righteousness that you have done  (see Titus 3:5)
     *  No one has ever committed any sin of which you yourself are not capable  (see Titus 3:3).
     *Your eagerness to condemn sin in another person may be a reflection of our own guilt  (see Romans 2:1)
     *How would you fare if God were to hold you as accountable for your sins as you hold others accountable for theirs (see Matthew 7:2)?
     Those who allow themselves to be embraced by the love of God will embrace others with that same love.  They understand that God won them by forgiveness, and by the same means they will seek to win sinners and restore backsliders.  In the light of God's love expressed toward us at Calvary how can we regard others with any less compassion than He has shown us?  The goodness of God led us to repentance.  Only in the light of His goodness should we expect others to turn from sin to the Savior.
     And many will if we let them.

     Lord God, your mercy is beyond me to fully grasp.  It is truly amazing that You have regarded me with such tender compassion.  Thank You for not holding my sins against me before I knew You.  Please help me to relate to others with the same attitude so they will be drawn to You and not repelled.  I pray in the merciful name of Jesus.  Amen.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Relating to Others

     Once we have turned from our sins and have come to Christ, it is natural for us to notice the sins of others. One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is an acute sense of the difference between right and wrong.  While this discernment is needful, it also imposes one of the greatest tests we will face as Christians.  Will we maintain the distinction between the sin ad the sinner?  Will we relate to those who are yet in their sins with the same reconciling attitude that the Savior manifested toward us, when we were yet in our sins?
     The answer may be yes;, or it may be no.
     Yes, we will relate to others with mercy if we continue to abide under grace ourselves maintaining a humble sense of God's mercy exercised toward us.
     No, we will not relate to others with mercy if, after having begun in grace, we then try to be made perfect by the works of the law.  Galatians 3:1-3.
     Those who try to find acceptance with God by their performance will only grant acceptance to others if their performance seems deserving.  This religion, though it professes the name of Jesus, is very much the same as the heathen religions that summon the favor of God by good deeds and provoke His wrath by bad deeds.  But we don't serve a heathen deity.
     The absolutely astounding thing about the one and only true God is that He approaches this fallen world by "not counting men's sins against them.  "And, really, isn't that the basic meaning of grace?  Rather than treat us as we deserve due to our sin, God treats us as though we had never sinned.  Where would we be if we got what we deserve?  Quite simply, we wouldn't be.  If God had dealt out the wages of sin to Adam and Eve, there would be no human race.  That includes you and me.  Thank God He does not relate to us according to what we deserve as sinners.
     Regardless of one's attitude toward God, whether of faith or rebellion, as a committed Father He surrounds every one of us with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air we breath  Jesus said.
     "You have heard that is was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if  you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect", Matthew 5:43-48. What a startling portrayal of God is here presented by Jesus!

     (It is hard to love and bless those who hate us and curse us and spitefully use us isn't it?  I find it very hard to do that and the only way we can is by keeping our eyes on Jesus who gives us the power to do that.  Grandma Joan)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Transformed

     If we view our relationship with God as a cycle of acceptance and rejection determined by our personal good deeds and bad deeds, it's almost inevitable that we will draw close to people when they succeed and pull back from them when they fail.  We will feel uneasy in the presence of sinners and secure in the fellowship of those who play church in our own image.
    This is why the Pharisees were so uncomfortable with the fact that Jesus associated closely with sinners.  It threatened their concept of God.  If Jesus was indeed the Son of God, His true representative, then His acceptance of sinners would mean that their self-righteous show was of no value to Jehovah.  It would mean that whatever the purpose of righteous behavior may be it certainly was not to their credit for salvation.  They would need to find another motive for being good--perhaps love--which would be far too self-crucifying.  So instead they crucified Him.
     If anyone has ever understood God's love it was the apostle Paul.  To him divine love was not merely a beautiful theory to be admired from a distance like a breathtaking work of art.  Jesus did not die on the cross to stimulate our intellects or impress us with His valor.  He died to demonstrate God's love so that we might be transformed into his image.  In Paul's mind the love that Christ manifested toward us while we were yet in our sins is to find reflection in the way we relate to our fellow sinner.  Notice how he weds these two factors together:
     "For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live no longer for themselves but for Him who died for them and rose again.  Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus not longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  Now all thing are of God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation". 2 Corinthians 5:14-19.
     In verses 14 and 15 Paul says we are compelled by the love of Christ because we realize that He died for us.  Then in verse 16 he points out that the Savior's amazing love alters the way we relate to other people:  "Therefore, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh" or as the Revised Standard Version says "We regard no one from a human point of view."  In other words, the love of Christ changes the way we see others.
     Taking this thought to yet a more practical level, Paul continues by reminding us that the reconciliation of the world was accomplished by a specific attitude on God's part:  God reconciled sinners by "not counting men's sins against them" NIV.  And it is by this very same means that we are to carry forth "the ministry of reconciliation."

     (I hope I can carry this ministry of reconciliation in and through my life.  I don't want to be condemning, do you?  I want to help people see Jesus as He really, truly is.  Grandma Joan.)

Earning Respect

     "We must need to tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may.  Sin is sin and you have better stop it."
     This kind of approach demonstrates a great lack of understanding concerning human nature. Condemnation almost always solicits self-defense.  Most people will naturally respond to censor with resistance.  On the other hand, most people naturally tend to respect and admire those by whom they feel loved and accepted, and within that context are receptive to counsel and even reproof.  We earn the right to offer correction by earning respect.
     Paul is clear.  It is the revelation of God's good and loving character that generates repentance in the human heart.  When we understand this fundamental reality, we will find ourselves more inclined to uplift the cross of Jesus than to point out sin.
    3.  We condemn others when we are blind to our own need for God's mercy.
     This is why it was so easy for the Pharisees to condemn the woman caught in adultery.  They didn't realize that her sin was no more sinful than their own.  But when Jesus wrote out their transgressions on the ground they fled away in shame; see John 8:1-11.
     Like the Pharisees, we are often quick to demand the execution of justice because we don't  see our own need of mercy.  None are so quick to condemn as those who are caught in the snare of spiritual pride, but those who recognize their own soul poverty will be slow to judge others.
   So inseparable is God's forgiveness of us from our forgiveness of others that Jesus said, "If you forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  Matthew 6:14,15.  
     There is no greater evidence that God's love has penetrated the heart than a willingness to allow His love, through us, to "cover a multitude of sins" in others.  1 Peter 4:8.
     Conversely, there is no greater proof that a person is not abiding under the conscious reality of God's  forgiveness than a disposition to find and condemn the faults of others.  The greatest privilege and responsibility of one who is forgiven is to forgive.
     4.  We condemn others when we view salvation as something we earn by doing good.
     They say, misery loves company.  I think they are right, whoever they  are.  When we obey God's requirement merely out of a sense of obligation in order to be saved, we find no real joy in our religious experience.  We do what we have to do because we have to do it, not because we really want to.  And, in all honesty, we want others to share the grueling burden we bear.
     If I feel obligated, you had better feel obligated too.  If I can't do this or that without feeling guilty, you had better not either.  If you do, I'll be more than happy to let you know that you're not towing the line.
     The Pharisees had this problem.  They carried themselves with an atmosphere that reminded everyone that they alone were righteous.  They were always defining for others what they should and should not do.  Always miserable, but always right.

     (I hope I don't fall under the title 'Pharisee'.  I know for a fact that I have been there but hope to never stoop that low again.  I want people to respect me for my Christian beliefs and not feel that I think that I am holier  than they are.  Pray for me and I will pray for you.  Grandma Joan.)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Relating To My Fellow Sinners - Chapter 10 - Ty Gibson

     It was a terrible rumor....too terrible to repeat.  Of course that didn't keep it from being repeated.  The way people were talking about it, you just didn't even think to question whether it was true.  After all, if someone said it, it must be true.
     In this rare case, however at least one person decided to challenge the grapevine.  After a little investigation and going to the accused individual with the hear-say, to the relief of many the dreaded rumor was found to be untrue.  Not everyone was so happy to discover the man's innocence.  In fact, one person was downright disappointed.
     "Oh no!  Are you sure it's not true?  I've told so many people, and if it's not true...."
     You get the point. This guy was actually hoping a false rumor was true.  He regretted the fact that an accused man was found innocent.  Those to whom he had whispered the report would find out that he had passed on a false charge.  The man he already despised would be justified in their eyes. A little plaque in a friend's bathroom seems applicable:  "Keep your words sweet. Some day you may have to eat them."
     In this particular situation the rumor was false and the accused party was innocent.  This is not always the case, however.  Sometimes people do actually do wrong.  In fact, it seems to be a regular occurrence for sinners to sin.  Even within the household of faith, brothers and sisters frequently err.  And though we find it convenient to forget we too misbehave on occasion.  We find it easier, however to overlook our own faults and magnify the failings of others.  The Bible points out a few possible reasons why we may do this.
     1.  We condemn in others what we are not willing to face in ourselves.
     Paul warns that condemning others may arise out of a sense of self-condemnation:  "You are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things."  Romans 2:1.  Then Paul probed deeper into the psychology of this problem.  He asked, "Do you think this, O man, you who judge those who practicing such things, and  doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?"  Romans 2:3.
     "God have you noticed what that person is doing?  How low, how sad how terrible!  It's wrong, Lord, but be assured, I would never do anything like that."
     By heaping judgment on others we feel we are more righteous than they and attempt to lessen our own sense of responsibility to deal faithfully with ourselves.  I don't mean to be childish, but I'm reminded of something I once heard a five year old say:  "It takes one to know one."  Sometimes wisdom proceeds from the mouth of babes.
     2.  We condemn others when we fail to understand the power of God's goodness to break the grip of sin.
     After confronting us with the fact that we may condemn others in a effort to escape God's judgment against our own sins, Paul offers another possible reason why we might do this:  "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance"  Romans 2:4.
     Did you grasp what Paul says here?  If we're not careful we may attempt to employ condemnation as a means to arouse repentance in those who do wrong. By failing to realize that genuine repentance is a heart-level turning from sin in response to God's love, we may naively suppose that  can  effect reform in those around us by simply pointing out their sins.

     (I guess from reading this and the scriptures he used that we had better leave the judging to God.  Don't you agree?  I am happy to do that.  Grandma Joan)
     

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Potential Benefits To Be Gained by Trials.

     There are a number of potential benefits to be gained from trying experiences.  Trials may
     * awaken in the heart a greater sense of need for God (see Psalm 50:15; 86:7.
     * generate deeper trust in the Lord (see Psalm (9:9, 10; 2 Corinthians 1:8, 9.
     * make us strong in character qualities such as patience, faith, and humility  (see James 1:2,3; Romans 5: 1-5; Job 23:10.
     * grant us the privilege of identifying more closely with the sufferings of Christ (see Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29; 3:8, 10; 1 Peter 2:21,22; 4:13.
     * enable us to understand the hardships of others and help them find God in their pain  (see 2 Corinthians1:4; 1 Corinthians 12:26.
     * and persuade us more fully of the power of God's love to hold on to us  (see Romans 8:31-39.
     Only God knows what to allow and what to prevent in every case, for He alone is acquainted with the individual strengths and weaknesses of every heart.  "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it:  1 Corinthians 10:13.  We can be absolutely certain that nothing will ever befall us that God does not deem for our good.  He will always give us either strength to bear our trials or a way of escape.
     In one sense we can say that nothing bad has ever happened to us.  Because ultimately when we reach the eternal shores, we will see God's providence in every chapter of our lives.  We will not wish we had been led any other way than how He chose to lead us.  It will be seen that a bright and beautiful light of love guided our every step.

     Praise You Father; for Your sovereignty in my life.  It is so good to know that You are absolutely committed to my happiness and well-being.  I am confident You will never do anything inconsistent with Your love.  Thank You for allowing just the trials I need to keep me close to You and for averting those I cannot bear:  In the worthy name of Jesus I pray.  Amen

     (All I can say is 'Amen'.  Grandma Joan.)

God Getting Even With His Enemies? Never!!!!

     "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast:  I am the Lord"  Exodus 12:12.
    "And I will punish the world for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible:  Isaiah 13:11.
     In every case, without exception, the divine judgments of former times and those ahead are the exercise of divine wisdom and mercy.  Never has God lost emotional control or laid aside the supremacy of His love to get even with His enemies.  Never has He caused human suffering for the sake of personal satisfaction.  For He says, "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?  Ezekiel 33:11.
     God has never acted contrary to the very best interest of all His created beings.  Not once has He violated the reigning principle of His nature, which is love  "His works are perfect, and all His ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He"  Deuteronomy 32: 4.
     God is not the source of the small daily annoyances that try us, nor is He the cause of the major tragedies that afflict us.  But He does possess sovereign power over the affairs of every life, over all of nature, and even over the devil and all his followers.  What does this mean at the practical level of our lives?  It means that no trying experience, either small or great,  ever happens to us that He does not allow for our ultimate benefit.
     Here again, as with all of God's ways, His love shines forth as an unconquerable power for good.  While the Almighty One does not arbitrarily bring evil upon us, in His infinite wisdom He is able to use the trials of life for our best interest.  He knows that if He were to shield us from every annoyance and affliction we would become spiritual weaklings and dwarfs in character.
     Paul saw God's power and wisdom operating far above the circumstances of our lives.  He "worketh all things after the counsel of His will"  Ephesians 1:11.  "All things work together for good to to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose"  Romans 8:28.  The Lord is actually able to work out everything we experience to a profitable end.

     (Tomorrow we will realize some potential benefits to be gained from trying experiences.  I hope you are enjoying this book to it's fullest.   I sure am.  I am sure that you are too.  Grandma Joan.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

God Is Long Suffering.

     3.  The recklessness of Sinners:  Evil people do evil things to innocent people.  We call this crime.  "The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men:  they all lie in wait for blood' they hunt every man his brother with a net" Micah 7:2.  "One sinner destroyeth much good" Ecclesiastes 9:18.
    Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.  An innocent man, minding his own business fell prey to a band of robbers.  He was beat and left to die.  Two men with no compassion passed him by.  A third came by and helped him, see Luke 10:30-37.
     Where was God in all of this?
     He did not send the thieves to attack the innocent man. Nor did He put it in the hearts of the first two passers -by to leave him for dead.  The tragedy was not the will of God.  The only part God played in the whole event was to inspire the heart of the third man with compassion.
     This is probably the most difficult aspect of human suffering for us to reconcile with the idea of a loving God.  Rape, Murder. child abuse.  War.  Why doesn't God step in and stop it all?  Is it because the Lord is heartless?  Is it because He is powerless?  No!  There is only one reason He allows this sinful world to continue another minute:  "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise (to end the nightmare of evil) as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance....Account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation"  2 Peter 3:9, 15.
     God's love sees beautiful potential in the vilest sinners.  His patience has paid off. Just think
 of some of the people He has been able to redeem and transform:
     Nebuchadnezzar, the ruthless murderous, haughty king of Babylon.  He may be your neighbor in heaven.
    Paul, formerly Saul, the cold-hearted persecutor of Christians.  Stephen will be surprised to meet Paul on resurrection morning.
     And there is you and me, as worthy of death as anyone else.  God waits because He loves.  If He had not waited so many would be lost who could have been saved.  In the process of the plan of salvation, He does not agree with, encourage, or in any way orchestrate the terrible things people do to each other. If we only knew His heart, we would find that He wants it all to end more than we do.
     4,  The Merciful and Wise Judgments of God:  In Scripture there are clear examples of divine power bringing destructive judgments on wicked men. The annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Flood are displays of direct divine retribution.  It is within the sovereignty of Gods' authority and within the boundaries of His love to use the forces of nature and the power of His word to execute judgment.  According to His own testimony He has done so in the past and He will do so in the future:

    (To be continued again tomorrow.  I am learning so much.  Even after reading it as many times as I have, I still see something new each time.  So thankful that God impressed Ty to write this book.  No need to rest in ignorance.  God does not want us to be ignorant of His word, does He?
Follow the texts and do your own study to make sure you are on the right track.  I haven't found anything yet that wasn't Biblical and I don't think you will either. Grandma Joan

Monday, September 8, 2014

Is God Too Good?

     Someone is bound to challenge such a view of God as too good to be true.
     "Wait a minute, I know God is good,, but this sounds a little too good.  Surely He doesn't have such a favorable attitude toward everyone and certainly God has stopped a few people in their tracks by making horrible things happen to them.  What about Sodom and Gomorrah and the Flood?"
     This is a good question, and it deserves a good answer.  Let me attempt to give one.  Follow me carefully.
     As I have traversed the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, four types of ill-fate have surfaced:
     1.  The Natural Results of Sin:  Sin has tragic effects.  Just like touching a hot stove burns, and jumping off a cliff compresses flesh and bones to the ground, so sin is painful and destructive.  "Whatever a man sows that he will also reap" Galatians 6:7.  "The curse causeless shall not come:  Proverbs 26:2.  "Sin entered into the world and death by sin" Romans 5:12.  "The way of transgressors is hard"  Proverbs 13:15.
     Bad things happen because of sin.  Imagine if sin had no painful or destructive effects.  Then it would not be an evil force.  The problem with sin is that it's wrong, and it's wrong because it hurts us.  Sin violates the laws  God has designed for our happiness and well-being.  If God were to miraculously prevent the destructive results of sin, He would in effect do away with His law and excuse sin.  There would be no reason for us to view sin as evil.  When the tragic effects of sin are felt, they are just that, the effects of sin, not the will or work of God.
     2.  The Result of Violating Natural Law:  Heat burns.  Gravity pulls.  Pressure explodes.  All the natural laws God has set into motion He intends for our blessing.  If there was no heat, we would freeze.  If there was no gravity we would float away.  As much as we complain about the results that follow the breaking of natural laws, we would not want to live without those laws.  We would like to be able to fall and not get hurt, but we like even more the fact that gravity holds our feet to the ground when we walk.
     Taking the subject of natural law into a diabolical context, we must remember that the devil and evil men do tamper with nature and try to harness its power to suit their destructive agenda.  When the war between good and evil is ended, many natural disasters that were attributed to God will be seen to be the work of the evil one.
     Improper care of the earth and disrespect of its boundaries produce destructive effects as well.  Fires, floods, and earthquakes often cause mass destruction as a result of our careless and foolish ways of pursuing life on this planet.  Apart from God's wisdom, we simply do not know what we are doing  And often nature lets us know we are not as smart as we think we are.  God does not want us to get hurt by nature.  He would much rather we turn to Him for wisdom and live in obedience to nature's laws  Another option would be for Him to banish all natural law, but we wouldn't be happy with that either.

     (Number 3 will be continued tomorrow, so tune in for the rest of the story.  It is so good you won't want to miss it.  And neither do I.  Grandma Joan)

When Trials Come My Way

     A close relative of mine recently decided to strap her feet in one of those slippery things called a snowboard.  Not only did she get on it, she went up a mountain and let gravity have its way with her.  She spent most of the day getting up.  There were a few moments of...I guess they call it fun But the fun was all over after she fell just right (or should I say, just wrong) and sprained her wrist.  There was pain. There was disappointment  There were tears.
     And there was also theology.
     After the accident, a well-meaning friend had this question:  "Maybe that means God doesn't want you snowboarding."
     The implication could be drawn from such a question that God maybe sent an angel or possibly spoke a word to trip the snowboarder as punishment for doing something of which He does not approve.  I know God created the law of gravity, and I am certain He did not invent snowboarding.  But I also know that God does not trip snowboarders to express His displeasure. Just what He thinks about the sport, I don't know.
     It seems this question about God's character lurks in all of our hearts.  Often I have seen it surface in the midst of trial.
     A car accident occurs and someone asks, "Where were you going?  Maybe God stopped you."
     Illness sets in and the sufferer wonders, "Is God punishing me for something?"
    Finances are tight, so we begin to think God is perhaps upset about something.
    Is this really how God operates?  Does He run cars off the road?  Does He introduce sickness into the body?  Does He drain our bank accounts when we're not looking?
   The disciples had a similar question for Jesus about a blind man:  "His disciples asked Him,  saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind"  John 9:2.  Read between the lines  Do you hear what these Christians were asking?  They didn't want to know jf God had afflicted this man with blindness.  That was a given.  Of course the blindness was from God, they assumed.  All they wanted to know was whether the man was being punished for his own sin or the sin of his parents.
  Jesus gave a surprising answer:  "Neither hath this man sinned, or his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" John 9:3.  Jesus was not saying that this man and his parents had never sinned, but that his blindness was not a direct punishment from God because of some specific sin.  That does not mean that blindness or other tragedies do not sometimes occur as a result of personal sin.  The point is God does not arbitrarily make bad things happen to us in order to vent His anger or stop us in our tracks.
     Through the profit Jeremiah the Lord proclaims, "I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope"  Jeremiah 29:11.  The problem is, we often don't know God's thoughts toward us.  We imagine He has plans to harm us when in reality He only desires our happiness.  You can search the infinite heart of God to its deepest depths and you will never find anything but good will...for you, for me, for every member of the human family.

(This book is just full of 'good news' isn't it?  It has been so helpful to me, I know you are being helped to as you read and apply these simple things to your life.  God bless your every effort to follow Him, the effort is just surrendering to His will.  Grandma Joan
   

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Greater Than Our Personal Salvation!!!

     Believe it or not, there is something involved in the judgment of far greater importance than our personal salvation.The honor and glory of God's own character is at stake.  The judgment is God's way of making His character transparent and His verdicts accountable to all of His intelligent creation.
   The fact is God is omniscient.  He knows everything.  He knows the contents of every heart.  He knows who has truly received Christ as Savior and who has not.  The judgment does not provide the Lord with any information He does not already have to aid Him in His sentencing.  He does not pour over the record books to gather evidence against us or to find in us something worthy of salvation.  He has no questions to which He needs answers.  But we do, and so do the angels and the inhabitants of unfallen worlds.  It is for our benefit that the record books are kept. It is for our benefit that the judgment will bring to light the true contents of every heart.
     Imagine what heaven would be like if God were to try and solve the sin problem without a judgment.  Allow me to illustrate.
     The great controversy is over.  All the saved are in heaven.  All the lost have been destroyed.  Those who are saved notice that some of their loved ones and friends are not there.  It dawns on them that people they cared for are eternally lost.  With much anguish and confusion, they turn to the Lord and ask,
     "Lord, why is my brother not here?  It seems to me that he was an honest, sincere person.  I don't understand."
     To this the Lord simply replies:  "I am God.  I know everything.  I read every heart.  Your brother's sentence is just.  You'll just have to take My word for it."
    Can you imagine how you would feel at that point?  Devastated.  I would suggest.  But don't be alarmed God will never give such an empty response to such an important question.  The record books of heaven and the judgment will make certain that every crucial question in this awful conflict between good and evil is answered to the satisfaction of all.
     The scenario will be more like this:
     "Lord, why isn't my brother here?"
     "I know it is difficult to accept the loss of those you love.  But I want you to know that I did all that could possibly be done to save each one, including your brother.  An accurate record was kept of every effort on My part and of every response on his part.  Those records were opened in the judgment as countless angels and twenty-four human elders reviewed each case.  Now those records and the results of the judgment are open for our review.  I am certain you will see that My sentence is just, and I will be eager to dry your tears."
     Our first one thousand years in heaven will be primarily devoted to answering our questions concerning the saved and the lost  The judgment will be opened to our investigation. We will have the opportunity to look into the secret history of any life; and we will discern the love and justice of God in each person's destiny.
     Only with accurate records and an open-to-all investigative judgment can the sin problem be truly and eternally solved.  Only by methods of love can justice be executed to the satisfaction of all intelligent, volitional creatures.  And only a God of love would choose to relate to us with such respect and patience.

      Father, gracious God, how wise and marvelous are all Your ways!  Thank you for building the judgment into the plan of salvation.  I really don't need to fear the judgment, for I will not stand under it's scrutiny on my own merit, but on the merits of my Savior; Jesus Christ.  Eternal pardon will be written by my name, not because I'm good, but because He loved me so much as to lay down His life for my sins.  I am joyfully in Christ.  Amen.

     (That is the end of this chapter, it was made so plain that we have nothing to fear because we are there on the merits of Jesus, not on our own merits.  Thank You Lord for saving us!!!  Grandma Joan)

No Merit In ourselves

      Now I can hear some sincere law-abiding person saying:
      "But wait a minute.  All this sounds good and great, but the Bible clearly teaches that we are going to be  judged by and rewarded according to our works.  Certainly this proves that our obedience plays a part in our salvation.
     It proves no such thing.  What it really proves is that God is more gracious than we can ever fully grasp or appreciate.
     How so?
     While He saves us wholly by His free grace, He will actually reward us as though we had shared in the accomplishment of our salvation and deserved credit for it.
     "Although we have no merit in ourselves in the great goodness and love of God we are rewarded as if the merit were our own.  When we have done all the good we can possibly do, we are still unprofitable servants.  We have done only what was out duty.  What we have accomplished has been wrought solely through the grace of Christ, and no reward is due to us from God on the ground of our merit.  But through the merit of our Savior, every promise that God has made will be fulfilled, and every man will be rewarded according to his deeds"  Welfare Ministry, p. 316.)
     Remember what we learned in chapter four of this book.  It is more accurate to say that good works are inevitable for the Christian than to say they are necessary for salvation..  While it is true that we're not saved by obedience to God's law, it is also true that the true Christian will have a victorious lifestyle.  And because salvation will manifest itself by producing holy aspirations and a life honorable to Christ's name, ultimately we are judged by our works, not because they possess merit, but because they bear testimony to our genuine acceptance of His saving grace.  Obedience, good works, victory over sin--these are not the means by which we gain salvation, but rather they are the inevitable manifestation of the salvation we have so freely in Christ alone.
     The one who has truly encountered and yielded to the love of Christ does not reason, "Well, if I'm saved by grace through faith alone, then I can have the pleasures of sin and eternal life too."
     Not at all.  A much higher motive than personal gain has taken hold of the heart that has embraced the cross  To the one who has tasted the sweet release of Christ's pardoning love, the purpose of holy living is as clear as the sun at noonday.  The honor of God, the glory of Christ--this is the flaming passion that burns brightly in the soul.  Yes, it is true that we are saved by his mercy alone, but as you see that in this precious reality itself is all the reason in the world to live... and live...and live for Him?
    Good works for the Christian are not payment, but praise.  Obedience for the Christian is not law-keeping, but love.  Victory over sin is not mere duty, but shear delight.

     (Isn't the gospel good news and simple?  We don't need a philosopher's brain to understand the gospel.  A small child could understand it if put in his language.  Are you praying for enlightenment and understanding?  I am, and I know God will help us through this to His glory and praise.  Grandma Joan.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

One Way To Be A Loser

     Yes, there is one way,and only one way, you can make yourself a loser in the end.  But it won't be because your list of bad deeds is longer than your list of good ones.  Compare these two scriptures:
     "Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life"  John 5:40.
     "There is therefore  now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" Romans 8:1.
     Do you see?  Those who are lost at last will be lost because they refused to come to Jesus, not because He played 'hide and seek' or 'hard to get'. Salvation is not something we attain by trying hard enough to be good.  Rather it is something we receive because He is so very good as to offer it to us before we even know how to be good. We can't earn it, because He's already given it.  In Jesus our salvation is an accomplished reality.  If we say yes, it becomes our personal reality. If we persist in a course that says 'no' we will ultimately judge ourselves unworthy of eternal life. Though it ill grieve Him terribly, and though he longs for our redemption with springs of love as deep as eternity, He will honor our choice by concurring with our own judgment.
     There is of course a brighter option.  Those who come to Jesus find in Him eager acceptance with absolutely no condemnation.  Th judgment for these glad individuals will mean the final declaration of their acquittal before the onlooking universe.For them the judgment really is good news.  As Jesus taught, they will not be condemned in the judgment.
    "Verily verily, I say unto you, he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life"  John 5:24
     Some people believe that Jesus saves them initially by His free grace through faith, but will ultimately expect them to stand on the merits of their obedience in the judgment.
     Make no mistake about it, those who come to Jesus are made more than conquerors through Him who loved them.  Victory over sin is the ultimate experience of every truly saved child of Christ.  But also know that their final pardon in the judgment is as much a gift of free grace as was their initial pardon the day they first came to Jesus as helpless sinners. The plan of salvation is the same yesterday, today and forever....and in the judgment.  We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, not adding one particle of merit by anything good we have done.

   (Isn't that good news?  The gospel always shares 'good news' doesn't it?  Only let Jesus do your saving for you.   That is His plan, not ours.  Grandma Joan)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What's So Good About Being Judged By A Holy God?

     According to John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, the judgment belongs in the category entitled "The Everlasting Gospel"  see Revelation 14:6,7.  The reason this is so significant is because the word gospel means 'good news,' or 'glad tidings.'  It could even be rendered, 'happy message'.  From a purely Biblical point of view, unmingled with our misconceptions of God's character, the judgment is a truth intended to impart happiness.
     So what's so good, glad and happy about being judged by a holy God?  Well, like every truth of Scripture, the judgment becomes clear in the light of God's love, I repeat, because it's worth repeating, only in the light of God's love does any part of reality make "decent sense," to borrow my troubled friend's lingo.
     Think together with me for a few minutes as we build an understanding of the judgment on the sure foundation of God's love.  Let's begin with the Lord's basic intent toward us:
     "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish"  2 Peter 3:9.
     "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end"  Jeremiah 29:11.
     "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" 1 Timothy 2:4.
    There has never been a human being, and never will be, for whom God's desire is anything short of eternal life.  Because His very nature is love,  it would be more impossible for Him to want any person to be lost than it would be for you to want a child of yours to die in the flames of a car crash.  Such feelings have not even the slightest place in His infinite heart of perfect love.
     Then why will He ever judge anyone?  Actually, He won't.  That is to say, God the Father won't.  He has "committed all judgment unto the Son"  John 5:22.  And for very good reason.  Notice how Jesus explained why the Father has given Him the responsibility to judge the world:
     "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; and hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man"  John 5:26,27.
     Did you catch the point?  Jesus is our judge by virtue of His humanity, "because He is the Son of man."  That ought to seriously alter our thinking about the judgment.  Why?  Just think about it.  One who became our "brother" in the flesh, One who is "touched" with our feelings, One who was "tempted in all points like we are,"  One who "carried our sorrows and griefs,'  One who suffered and died for our eternal salvation--it is this One who is our Judge.  He has invested His very own nature and life in our salvation.
     The real question to ask is not, "How can I possibly make it?", but rather,"How can I lose?"  With Jesus on my side, as my Brother and companion in temptation, I can have the total assurance of ultimate victory in the judgment.  "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ"  Philippians 1:6.

     (Do you have confidence in Jesus to complete what He has started in you?  The Bible says we can be confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.  I believe that with all my heart, because I know if it were left up to me I would be lost, but it is not up to me, it is up to Jesus to save me, I just need to surrender.  Isn't that right?  Grandma Joan.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Is The Judgment Something To Fear?

     "There's more power in a Mazda RX7 than there is in the Church."
     You're probably as startled at these rather melancholy words as I was when I first heard them.  I take that back.  I think I was more startled, because I heard them straight from the mouth of a dead-serious college student who informed me that the only reason he was at my seminar was to gain the required credits.  Right on the heels of his bleak assessment he announced his planned to exodus from the church.
     "As soon as I'm done with college, I'm done with playing church."
     As you might imagine my deeply convicted heart was pierced through. Quite frankly, I hardly knew what to say. I mean, this kid had an attitude toward the Church that frighteningly resembled how Axel Rose of 'Gun's 'n' Roses' feels about police officers.
     "So do you mind telling me why you feel the way you do?  I couldn't help but try and probe the source of his feelings.
     "Well, everyone's always talking about all the stuff we have to do and all the stuff we better not do or God's gonna bring our names up in the judgment and sentence us to hell. And then it's like they all of a sudden remember that there's suppose to be something positive about all this, so they say 'Oh, yeah, and don't forget that God loves you.'  It's all so contradictory.  I don't know how it makes decent sense to anyone"
     Did you notice that the young man who shared the above thoughts indicated particular disdain for the doctrine of the judgment?  The whole idea was down right depressing to him, and for good reason.  Analyze his understanding.  You'll quickly see the source of his burned-out attitude.
     According to how he has the pieces put together, God is more like Santa Claus than a Savior, only worse.  He's got a list and he's checking it more than twice, to decide whether we've been naughty or nice. If the naughty deeds out-number the nice, guess what?  Not only no presents, but no paradise either. And not only no paradise, but perdition in its place.
    In this young man's mind he heard the Lord basically saying, "Here's My list of extremely difficult rules--keep them, perfectly I should add or else you're doomed."
     You know what?  If I had that concept of the judgment, I think I'd want to make my exodus from the church too.  But the truth is, no matter how many people believe that the judgment is God's last ditch effort to make sure as many people as possible are lost, it just is not true.

     (How do you feel about the judgment?  Stay tuned and you will find the real truth about it and it is not bad at all, it is all in the Light of God's Love.  All from the Bible.  Grandma Joan.)