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The following words were penned by our brother in Christ, Jon Srofe. He spoke these words about his mother, Violet Srofe, during her funeral last week. May we all celebrate the wonder of God’s Amazing Grace!

violet

“O’ prize, exceedingly great, the matchless power and Grace which changes deserts into gardens and makes the barren heart sing for joy.”

These words are from a devotional written by Charles Spurgeon. As I read them I could see Mom’s life mirrored in the picture  that was painted.

 I can truly say that that I have known a barren wandering heart, because I had such a heart. I now know the wonder of God’s Grace in my life. I also experienced the effects of a of a barren heart for many years in my Mother’s life. Bitterness, unforgiveness, depression, and isolation were her constant companions.

But praise God in the last couple of years I’ve seen a garden replace the barren wilderness . I’ve seen God’s Grace change the landscape of despair in my Mother’s heart and mind. Peace replaced the bitterness and depression. Where there had been isolation, friendships blossomed! And prayer flowed easily where it had not been before. A prayer for her family and the real need for God’s help on the difficult road she was traveling. The fruit of the Spirit in a garden made possible by saving grace.

I praise God for allowing Sue and I to see the changes which took place in the last year of my Mother’s life!

The following are the word’s of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ: “Come to me , all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy , and my burden is light.”  (Matt. 11:28-30)

Mom’s wish was to go home and now she truly is in her heavenly, eternal home!

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Do-it-now

If only we could go back in time and share some wisdom with our younger selves! One little girl wrote some advice to herself ten years in the future.

Her family called this Johnson City, Tennessee girl “quirky,” but by all accounts, Taylor Scout Smith was a deeply spiritual young lady who loved God and was excited to do mission work.

While rummaging through their daughter’s things, Taylor’s parents spied a letter Taylor wrote to herself on April 13, 2013, which was to be opened on that same day exactly ten years later. Taylor specified that the letter was for her eyes only “unless said otherwise,” as she put it. Her parents took this as permission to open it.

While some of the letter deals with whimsical interests, such as visits to Dollywood and episodes of Dr. Who, Taylor also encourages her future self to graduate high school and get a college degree.

Now, if you’re wondering whether Taylor’s parents violated their daughter’s privacy, you need to know that tragedy struck their family early this year. Just after Christmas, Taylor died suddenly of complications from pneumonia. It’s a scenario no parent should have to endure, but sharing Taylor’s letter with others is helping them work through their grief.

Her death also lends a greater weight to the message she wanted her future self to ponder. Permit me to quote this part in full. “How’s your relationship with God? Have you prayed, worshipped, read the Bible or gone to serve the Lord recently? If not, get up and do so NOW! I don’t care what point in our life we’re in right now, do it. He was mocked, beaten, tortured, and crucified for you! A sinless man, who never did you or any other person any wrong! Now, have you gone on any more mission trips?”

Wow. We may be old and infirm or young and full of vitality, but death comes for us all, and none of us knows the time in advance. St. Anthony, who founded desert monasticism in the third century, felt that a Christian should always be mindful of his death.

He wrote, “If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle’s words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts.”

Now, how many of us can say that we could meet death today with an unfettered heart? Are we prepared to meet our Maker, or are our spirits weighed down or distracted with bills to pay, kids to pick up from the drama club, or that TV show to watch?

Another question is, “What are we putting aside until later that we should be doing now?” Taylor told herself not to wait another day, not even another moment, to pray and worship God, to read the Bible and serve the Lord.

Can any of this really important stuff wait? No, says a young lady who now resides in God’s glory. Don’t wait another moment to praise God for your blessings or to tell another that God has reconciled us to Himself. Don’t wait another moment to tell your family that you love them or that you’re sorry for what you’ve done. And while you’re at it, offer a prayer of consolation for Taylor’s family and friends.

Taylor’s letter ends with an uncanny statement about the uncertainty of life. She wrote, “It’s been ten years since I wrote this. Stuff has happened good and bad. That’s how life works, and you have to go with it.”

Indeed. If we aren’t careful, the craziness of life can pull all of us away from what really matters. Thank God that He gave us such an important reminder in the words of a faithful girl.

 

Source: Eric Metaxas (BreakPoint Daily)

love jesus

“We love  because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

There is a name I love to hear,
I love to sing its worth;
It sounds like music in mine ear,
The sweetest name on earth.

O, how I love Jesus,
O, how I love Jesus,
O, how I love Jesus,
Because He first loved me!

It tells me of a Savior’s love,
Who died to set me free;
It tells me of His precious blood,
The sinner’s perfect plea.

It tells me what my Father hath,
In store for every day,
And though I tread a darksome path,
Yields sunshine all the way.

It tells of One whose loving heart
Can feel my deepest woe,
Who in each sorrow bears a part
That none can bear below.

Author: Frederick Whitfield

My most gracious Beloved,

I am now going from a prison to a palace: I have finished my work, and am now going to receive my wages.  I am going to heaven, where are two of my children, and leaving you on earth, where there are three of my babes.  These two above, need not my care; but the three below need thine.  It comforts me to think, two of my children are in the bosom of Abraham, and three of them will be in the arms and care of such a tender and godly mother.  I know you are a woman of sorrowful spirit, yet be comforted, though you sorrows be great for you husband going out of the world, yet your pains shall be the less in bringing your child into the world; you shall be a joyful mother, though you be a sad widow; God hath many mercies in store for you; the prayer of a dying husband for you, will not be lost.  To my shame I speak it, I never prayed for you at liberty, as I have done in prison.  I can write much, but I have few practical counsels to leave with you, viz.,

1. Keep under a sound, orthodox, soul searching ministry. Oh! There are many deceivers gone out into the world, but Christ’s sheep know His voice, and a stranger they will not follow.  Attend any minister that teacheth the way of God in truth; and follow Solomon’s advice, Proverbs 19:27.

2. Bring up your children in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord.  The mother ought to be a teacher in the father’s absence, Proverbs 31:1, “The words that his mother taught him…”  And Timothy was instructed by his grandmother, 1 Timothy 1:5.

3. Pray in your family daily, that yours may be in the number of the families who call upon God.

4. Labor for a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God, is of great price, 1 Peter 3:4.

5. Pour not on the comforts you want, but upon the mercies you have.  Look rather at God’s ending in afflicting, than to the measure and degree of your affliction.

6. Labor to clear up your evidence for heaven when God takes from you the comfort of earth, so that as your sufferings do abound, your consolation in Christ may abound much more, 2 Corinthians 1:5.  Though it be good to maintain a holy jealously of heart, yet it is still ill of you to cherish fears and doubts touching the truth of your graces.  If ever I had confidence touching the grace of another, I have confidence of grace in you; as Peter said of Silvanus, I am persuaded that this is the grace of God wherein ye stand, 1 Peter 5:12.

7. O, my dear soul wherefore dost thou doubt, who heart has been laid upright, whose walking has been holy, &c.  I could venture my soul this day in they soul’s stead, such a confidence I have in you.

8. When you find your heart secure, presumptuous and proud, then pour upon corruption more than grace: then look upon your grace without infirmities.

9. Study the covenant of grace, and merits of Christ, and be troubled if you can; you are interested in such a covenant that accepts purposes for performances, desires for deeds, sincerity for perfection, the righteousness of another, viz., that of Jesus Christ, as it were your own alone.  Oh! My love! Rest thou in the love of God, the bosom of Christ.

10. Swallow up your will in the will of God.  It is a bitter cup we are to drink, but it is the cup of our Father which has been put into our hands.  When Paul was to suffer at Jerusalem, the Christians said, “The will of the Lord be done!” Oh! Say ye so, when I go to the Tower-Hill, “The will of the Lord be done!”

11. Rejoice in my joy.  To mourn for me inordinately argues, that you either envy or suspect my happiness.  The joy of the Lord is my strength; Oh! Let it be yours also!  Dear wife, farewell: I will call thee wife no more: I shall see thy face no more: yet I am not much troubled, for now I am going to meet the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus, to whom I shall be eternally married.

12. Refuse not to marry, when God offers you a fair opportunity; but be sure you marry in the Lord; and one of a good disposition, that he may not grieve you, but give you a comfortable livelihood in the world.

Farewell dear love, and again I say farewell.  The Lord Jesus be with your spirit, the Maker of heaven and earth be a husband to you; and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ be a father to your children – so prays your dying,

Your most affectionate friend till death,

Christopher love

The day of my glorification.

From the Tower of London, August 22, 1651

Source:  www.sounddoctrine.net

Nine Characteristics of Biblical Prayer:

  1. An Understanding of Your Own Insignificance and Sinfulness.
  2. The Knowledge that Jesus is Your Only Access to the Father.
  3. Adoration for God because of His Character and Attributes.
  4. Joyful Praise for God’s Work in Creation and Redemption.
  5. Thankfulness for God’s Kindness in Giving Every Good Thing.
  6. A Sense of Your Need of Strength to Fight against Specific Sins.
  7. Humble Trust as You Ask the Father to Meet Every Need.
  8. A Selfless Burden to Pray for Others.
  9. A Thirst for Increasing Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding.

-Daryl Wingerd

(Nine Characteristics of Biblical Prayer, Christian Communicators Worldwide, www.CCWtoday.org.)

JFST

“When God Commands, we are to obey. When he asserts, we are to believe him. When he promises, we are to embrace and trust those promises. Thus, we respond to the sheer authority of God’s word.

Adam and Eve had no way of testing what God told them about the forbidden fruit. They couldn’t work any experiment that would show them whether God had rightly predicted the effects of the fruit. They simply had to take God at his word. Satan interposed a contrary interpretation, but the first couple should not have taken his opinion seriously. They should simply have believed God. They did not, of course. They sided with Satan rather than God–or, perhaps better, they claimed that their own authority transcended God’s. That is to say, they claimed autonomy. They claimed that they themselves were the highest authority, the ultimate criterion of truth and right.

The NT praises Noah (Heb. 11:7), Abraham (Rom. 4:1-25; Heb. 11:8-19), and many others because of their faith, and their faith was grounded in God’s word. They simply believed what God said and obeyed him. So for new covenant believers: if they love Jesus, they will do what he says (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:7, 10, 14; 17:6, 17; 1 John 2:3-5; 3:22; 5:2-3; 2 John 6).

So we should think of God’s word as a personal communication from him to us. In DWG, I presented this as a general way of thinking about the word of God: the personal-word model. Think of God speaking to you as a real person would–as directly as your parents, your spouse, your children, your friends. Many in Scripture heard such speech from God, such as Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

And when God speaks, his word carries authority. This means that it imposes obligations. When God commands, he expects us to obey. When he brings information, we are to believe him. When he promises, we should embrace his promises.

If God really talked to you, as he did to Abraham, you would not (if you know what is best for you) criticize his words or disagree with him.

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Rom. 4:20-21)

Abraham was strong in faith even though God’s words to him were hard to take. God told him to leave his home and go to a place he did not know (Gen. 12:1-3), to believe God’s promise that he would beget a son in his old age (17:15-21), and later to sacrifice his son Isaac on a mountain altar (22:1-2). Often God’s words to us pose problems that we cannot solve. But God expects us to be like Abraham, not like Adam and Eve, to hear what he says, to be strong in faith, without wavering.”

 

Source:  Frame, John M. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2013.

Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!

I am so wondrously saved from sin,
Jesus so sweetly abides within;
There at the cross where He took me in;
Glory to His Name!

Oh, precious fountain that saves from sin,
I am so glad I have entered in;
There Jesus saves me and keeps me clean;
Glory to His Name!

Come to this fountain so rich and sweet,
Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet;
Plunge in today, and be made complete;
Glory to His Name!

Refrain
Glory to His Name,
glory to His Name:

There to my heart was the blood applied;

Glory to His Name!

~ Elisha A. Hoffman