Posts Tagged ‘Divine grace’

sanctified…preserved…called

Normally we think of “holy,” or  “saints,” but have you ever thought of yourself as beloved – if not, add that to your list of definitions for sanctified.

For sanctification is not only meant to be considered as internal, but also to election – the appointment to service – vessels set apart with design and purpose for sacred use and service.  I think it still implies a separation from the world so that we are considered a distinct and peculiar people – as such we are loved by God the Father.

We owe our preservation wholly to Jesus; and know full well that everlasting life comes only by Him. We would all fall away and perish if it were not for the grace of God keeping us.

We continue our walk in the faith unshaken knowing that this faith of ours can not be preserved unless we continue in union with Christ, by whose  grace alone we can be preserved and called.

We have a place in His heart, and we are in His hands, and are in Him, and united to Him, and we are represented by Him in the covenant of grace; and being in Him, we are preserved by Him,  We need to understand that we are not  preserved from falling   from the corruption of human nature, nor from actual sins and transgression.  However, the law could not execute the sentence of condemnation on us, nor sin damn us, nor Satan.

We are not preserved  from indwelling sin, nor from the temptations, nor from doubts and fears and unbelief, nor from slips and falls into sin; but from the tyranny and dominion of sin, from being devoured by Satan, and from a total and final falling away;  we are preserved in the love of God, and of Christ; in the covenant of grace; in a state of adoption; and in the paths of right living, truth, faith, and holiness.

Called to be saints.

Saints is the same as Christians; to become such we are called to believe in Christ.  We are called out of darkness into light, and from bondage to liberty; and from a dependence on ourselves to the grace and righteousness of Christ; and from society to fellowship with Him; and to eternal glory.

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Have you been nourished on the truths of the faith and have been following good teaching?

You you have not been sustaining yourself in the basic truths of the faith and you have not sought out good teaching, mentoring, coaching then you are going to find yourself a little bit confused and messed up when confronted by those who wish to deceive you. With help from Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, here are some thoughts.

One of the truths that you should know very clearly is God’s love – that Christ‘s coming into the world to save  sinners is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptation; that prayers should be made for all sorts of people, and that there is salvation for men and women through the incarnate Son of God, and that the incarnation of Christ is, without controversy, the great mystery of godliness.

We have been given a hint, through prophecy, that there should be a falling off from the doctrine of faith in the latter days; that this should come to pass through attending to erroneous spirits, and doctrines of “demons”, and through the lies of hypocritical, hardened, and infamous people; whose particular dogmas, by which they might be known, would be, to forbid marriage to certain persons, which is of divine institution and honourable, and to order an abstinence from meats at certain times, contrary to the will and providence of God.

Keeping truths nourished within ourselves and continuing to follow on good teaching, we need to find from time to time opportunities to refresh the memories of the followers of Christ with, who are apt, through negligence and inattention, to be forgetful hearers of the word; that whenever those who wish to deceive should arise, they might be on their guard against them.

All of us, to prosper in our faith need to consider ourselves as ministers of Jesus Christ. A minister of Jesus Christ is one of His making, qualifying, calling, and sending; and who makes Christ, the doctrines respecting His person and offices, His grace, righteousness, and salvation, the subject of His ministry; and you will be valued, who, besides having a good work of grace wrought in you, has good gifts and abilities from Christ, and who makes a good use of them, and freely and fully imparts them for the good of others; and being employed in a good work, you abide in it, and nothing can deter or remove you from it.

Another truth is the Gospel, called words of faith, because they are things to be believed, hold forth the object of faith, Christ, and are the means by which faith comes, and is increased: and good doctrine, being the doctrine of the Scriptures, and of Christ, and of His apostles, and according to godliness; and contain good things, which make for the glory of the grace of God, and the comfort and welfare of all of us. These are of a nourishing nature; they are the wholesome words of Christ; they have in them milk for babes, and meat for strong men and women; by which both grow and thrive, when error eats as does a canker. So Philo the Jew speaks of the soul, being “nourished with sciences”, and not with food and drink, which the body needs; and a little after he says, you see the food of the soul what it is, it is the continual word of God.

The very basic matter is nourishing; that is, either for ourself, or others; for though all nourishment comes from Christ, yet it is ministered by us; it is conveyed by the means of the word and ordinances, ministered by the preachers of the Gospel, who feed the church with knowledge, and with understanding; and none but those who are nourished themselves are fit to be a nourisher of others; for you have arrived to a considerable degree of knowledge of Gospel truths, and was still pursuing and following on to know more of them, and are encouraged to continue in them.

 

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Choosing to be honest or not?

If there is one thing we work on as parents is to stress to our children to choose to be honest rather than to choose to lie.

There are all kinds of ways of doing that, suffice to say that it bears witness to our desire, as the teacher, to educate the youth of tomorrow to a high standard of integrity knowing that as they get older, the temptation could become more habitual than we would care to see.

We know that God‘s desire is for us to walk in His character which means He would like to see righteousness and honesty flourish in the details of our life.

In fact, the act of being dishonest is what is called an “abomination” or an act of defiance against God that leads to desolating destruction.  The act is so detestable that you purposefully set your walk away from God.

Being dishonest is being contrary to the grace of God; for though there may be common honesty where there is not the grace of God, yet there cannot be the true grace of God where there is not honesty; for the grace of God teaches to deny practices that put us at odds with Him.

 

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The surpassing worth of knowing and gaining Christ

To be “surpassing” means more than knowing Him subjectively, but objectively, through others who follow Him, who know Him not only as God over all, but as Saviour and Redeemer and in particular, their Saviour and Redeemer.

They know Him as their Lord through that redemptions and grace, putting emphasis on the words, “my Lord” – expressing our  faith, our great affection for Him and believe it or not, our cheerful subjection to Him.

This knowledge is special, spiritual and saving – a fiduciary one, which is a combination of faith in Him and experimental, practical,  progressive, and growing relationship.

It is not attained as a gift of nature, nor through our development of our reason, nor through the law (Moses), but by the Gospel of the grace of God and through the efficiency of the Trinity – Father reveals Christ to us, the Son gives us an understanding to know Him and the Spirit is a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.

This knowledge of Christ is more than a general, notional one, more than that which was under the legal dispensation, it comes from God the Father of lights; it is a free grace gift, a distinguishing one, and is very comprehensive, unspeakable, and unchangeable: and as to the object of it, it is Christ, the chiefest among ten thousands; who made the heavens, earth, and seas, and all that in them are, the sun, moon, and stars, people and beasts, birds and fishes, fossils, minerals, vegetables, and everything in nature; and therefore the knowledge of Him must be superior to the knowledge of everything else; and, which adds to its excellency, it makes Christ precious, engages faith and confidence in Him, influences the life and conversation, humbles the soul, and creates in it true pleasure and satisfaction; when all other knowledge fills with self-love, pride, and vanity, and increases sorrow.

This knowledge is not only useful in life, but when we look at death and eternity, we realize that the grace we receive now is the beginning of our pledge for eternal life.

That we might gain or acquire a larger knowledge of Christ; and that we care not what pains it took, what expenses it costs, nor what loss we sustained that we might gain by Christ, or that Christ might be gain to us, as we found Him to be, and as He is to every believer; who by parting with all for Christ, gains much by Him, as a justifying righteousness, acceptance with God, peace, pardon, life, grace, and glory now and in the life to come.

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You cannot serve both God and money

The simple truth is that we should all be aware and it should jump right out and warn us all that this world we live in is not supposed to be abused and part of that is managing all our possessions and enjoyments for we will not be taking anything with us when we leave this world.

Even better, there is a promise that if I take what I have and do good with it, and lay out a pattern of giving, loving, compassion, I  shall reap the benefit of it in the world to come.

Even with such a promise, instead of doing good with our worldly enjoyments, we make them the food and fuel of our lusts, of our luxury and sensuality, and deny relief to the poor – what will be the cost of such a decision if we abuse such blessing in our lives?

We are but stewards of the manifold grace of God; and for we all have, in various ways, been unfaithful.

As stewards, we are reminded that our property belongs to God, we only have use of it according to the direction that He provides and for His honour.  As Rabbi Kimchi says, “This world is a house; heaven the roof; the stars the lights; the earth, with its fruits, a table spread; the Master of the house is the holy and blessed God; man is the steward, into whose hands the goods of this house are delivered; if he behave himself well, he shall find favour in the eyes of his Lord; if not, he shall be turned out of his stewardship.”

If we take what we have been given stewardship over and waste, embezzle, misapply or through carelessness lose or damage them and at the end of the day have not made improvements or gains with what God has entrusted us with in this world and for its purpose – we best not wait to be judged by God, let’s start to judge ourselves and see how we can remedy this today.   

 We must all shortly be discharged from our stewardship in this world; we must not always enjoy those things which we now enjoy. Death will come, and dismiss us from our stewardship, will deprive us of the abilities and opportunities we now have of doing good, and others will come in our places and have the same.  Our discharge from our stewardship is at death.   We must then give an account of it.

We know a number of things if we have found ourselves abusing our stewardship – we will realize that we are lazy, unwilling to work hard to follow after Christ and that is a moral and spiritual disability and we know we are not humble in nature and this pride equates with our previous statement on laziness.

So let’s try this – if a very comfortable subsistence in this world, shames our desire to be with Christ then let us look at the way the people of this world act.  They choose and have their portion, and  have lots of consultations as to obtaining interest and advantages with what they have.  If the children of God,   who enjoy the gospel, had as equal concern for their souls and their destination in eternity maybe they would –  imitated the principle of the world in how they improve their opportunities, to do that first which is most needful, in summer and harvest to lay up for winter, to take a good bargain when it is offered them, to trust the faithful and not the false.  For the people of this world are planning for the future, however, we, the followers of Christ cannot but see another world before us and yet we do not prepare for it, do not do our best and give our best affections as we should to it.

Understand that the world will obtain their gain through  fraud and unethical practices and they trust their riches for satisfaction and happiness – they will be deceived for riches are perishing things, and they will disappoint those that raise their expectations from them. We must understand that though money does not bring happiness, use it as a servant to pursue happiness.  In it is no satisfaction, but by making friends with it, by giving it back to God, to our friends, to the poor, we will be befriended.   

Though our faithful use of the things of this world cannot be thought to merit any favour at the hand of God, yet our unfaithfulness in the use of them may be justly reckoned a forfeiture of that grace which is necessary to bring us to glory, and that is it which our Saviour here shows,

[1.] The riches of this world are the less; grace and glory are the greater. Now if we be unfaithful in the less, if we use the things of this world to other purposes than those for which they were given us, it may justly be feared that we should be so in the gifts of God’s grace, that we should receive them also in vain, and therefore they will be denied us. For those that serve God, and does good, with their money, will serve God, and do good, with the more noble and valuable talents of wisdom and grace, and spiritual gifts, and look forward to heaven; but those that bury the one talent of this world’s wealth will never improve the five talents of spiritual riches. God withholds his grace from covetous worldly people more than we are aware of.

[2.]  Let us be convinced of this, that those are truly rich, and very rich, who are rich in faith, and rich towards God, rich in Christ, in the promises, and in looking forward to heaven; and therefore let us lay up our treasure in them, expect our portion from them, and mind them in the first place – if other things be added to us, use them with a spiritual reference, so that by using them well we may take the faster hold of the true riches, and may be qualified to receive yet more grace from God – to a free-hearted charitable person, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.  

[3.] The riches of this world are not our own; for they are God’s; His title to them is prior and superior to ours; the property remains in Him.  Remember that we receive them from others, we use them for others, and we must shortly leave them to others, and we know not to whom? But spiritual and eternal riches are our own (they enter into the soul that becomes possessed of them) and inseparably; they are a good part that will never be taken away from us. If we make Christ our own, and the promises our own, and heaven our own, we have that which we may truly call our own. But how can we expect God should enrich us with these if we do not serve him with our worldly possessions, of which we are but stewards?

We have no other way to prove ourselves the servants of God than by giving up ourselves so entirely to His service as to make all our worldly gain, serviceable to us in His service.  If a person will love the world, and hold to that, it cannot be but they will hate God and despise Him. This person will make all their pretensions of religion based on their secular interests and designs, and the things of God shall be made to help them in serving and seeking the world. But, on the other hand, if a person will love God, and adhere to Him, they will comparatively hate the world (whenever God and the world come in competition) and will despise it, and make all their business and success in the world some way or other conducive to their furtherance in the “business of religion”; and the things of the world shall be made to help them in serving God and working out their salvation.

The matter is here laid plainly before us – so divided are their interests that their services can never be compounded. If therefore we be determined to serve God, we must disclaim and abandon the service of the world.

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=J21F2MNU 

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Grace is sufficient as power is made perfect in weakness

Have you ever heard the voice of God speaking to you?

The first thing that comes to my mind are all the murderers who declared that God told them to commit their crimes.

What are some of the criteria that identifies God’s voice, or my conscience/inner self or remembering a voice from the past, like my parents, teacher or friend?

One thing I am sure of – is that if you are in the habit of talking with God, and you are in the habit of hearing that still small voice and if you are in the habit of confirming that what that still small voice says is never straying from the character of who God is – then in all likelihood you are hearing the voice of God conversing back to you.

It is in one of these moments of conversation with God, where a man, a man who knew God and spoke to Him often, asked God for something, and I believe he asked in good faith, yet instead of receiving what he asked for, he was given grace to support him.

I love this example of answered prayer that was not really answered to expectation or desire.  This example helped me through many a childhood nightmare as I asked God to change my physical appearance, kill my dad, transport me to a different country etc.

I am so glad that he did not answer my prayer literally, as disappointed or disheartened I might have been because they were not at the time.

Here are some reason why:

(1) The grace that will be imparted if the calamity is not removed will be of greater value than would be the direct answer to the prayer request.  The removal of the calamity might be apparently a blessing, but it might also be attended with danger to our spiritual welfare; the grace imparted may be of permanent value and may be connected with the development of some of the loveliest traits of Christian character.

(2) it might not be for the good of the requestor that the exact thing should be granted.

(3) God has often some better thing in store for us than would be the immediate answer to our prayer.    The promised grace of Christ as sufficient to support us is of more value than would be the mere removal of any bodily affliction.

(4) it would not be well for us, probably, should our petition be literally answered. Who can tell what is best for themself? If the thing were obtained, who can tell how soon we might forget the benefactor and become proud and self-confident?  This could be much better accomplished by continuing affliction and by imparting the promised grace, than by withdrawing the affliction and withholding the grace. The very thing to be done was to keep us humble; and this affliction could not be withdrawn without also foregoing the benefit.

What does all this grace leave us with?

God’s strength is more commonly and more completely manifested in people who feel that they are weak. It is not imparted to those who feel that they are strong and who do not realize their need of divine aid. It is not so completely manifested to those who are vigorous and strong as to the feeble. It is when we are conscious that we are feeble, and when we feel our need of aid, that the Redeemer manifests His power to support and hold us.

Grotius has collected several similar passages from the classic writers which may serve to illustrate this expression.

Pliny, vii. Epis. 26, says, “We are best where we are weak.” Seneca says, “Calamity is the occasion of virtue.” Quintilian, “All temerity of mind is broken by bodily calamity.” Minutius Felix, “Calamity is often the discipline of virtue.” There are few Christians who cannot bear witness to the truth and who have not experienced the most amazing comfort through God’s presence and power in times of affliction.

Most gladly, therefore … – I count it a privilege to be afflicted, if my trials may be the means of my more abundantly enjoying the favor of the Redeemer. His presence and imparted strength are more than a compensation for all the trials that I endure.

That the power of Christ – The strength which Christ imparts; His power manifested in supporting me in trials.

Is that a crude statement?

I think this is what we learn when we see the power of Christ manifested in those lives that are resting in the arms of grace, rejoicing in afflictions and receiving strength each day to make it through each day, by holding the right hand of God.  Hence, learn:

(1) That a Christian never loses anything by suffering and affliction. If we may obtain the favor of Christ by His trials, we are a gainer. The favor of the Redeemer is more than a compensation for all that we endure in His cause.

(2) the Christian is a gainer by trial. I never knew a Christian that was not ultimately benefitted by trials. I never knew one who did not find that they had gained much that was valuable to them in scenes of affliction. I do not know that I have found one who would be willing to exchange the advantages they had gained in affliction for all that the most uninterrupted prosperity and the highest honors that the world could give would impart.

(3) learn to bear trials with joy. They are good for us. They develop some of the most lovely traits of character. They injure no one if they are properly received. And a Christian should rejoice that they may obtain what they do obtain in affliction, cost what it may. It is worth more than it costs; and when we come to die, the things that we shall have most occasion to thank God for will be our afflictions.

You might enjoy this blog as you discover how individuals with chronic pain make it through each day, walking with Jesus.

http://restministries.com/2011/04/03/devotion-gods-grace-helps-us-be-complete-and-effective-even-in-our-weakness-of-illnesses/

and listen to this song as you discover more —

http://youtu.be/mgDriSe00GM

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