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WHAT’S SO IRRESISTIBLE ABOUT GRACE?

salvation 2

Dear Readers,

I’m so sorry to let so much time go by without posting, let alone right in the middle of a series on the five points of the doctrines of grace. I never wanted to be “that blogger” that let so much time slip away, yet here I am, several months later with no excuse. Life gets in the way, and unfortunately, I let it! It’s ironic that I stopped right between “Limited Atonement” (point 3) and never persevered to get to the “Perseverance of the Saints” (point 5)!

Hey, maybe completing this series on my part may serve as an analogy of that biblical principle – no matter what, falling away or otherwise, God’s elect will eventually persevere. (lol)

So onwards and upwards.

If you look backwards to the last few posts, you will notice that they build upon each other. The Depravity of Man, Unconditional Election, and Limited Atonement all construct into the solid doctrine of God’s salvation:

  • If men are unable to save themselves due to their fallen nature (The Depravity of Man – Eph. 2:1), and
  • If God has purposed to save the elect through no merit of their own (Unconditional Election – Romans 9), and
  • If Christ has accomplished the salvation of the elect, (Limited, or Particular Atonement – John 6:37-38)…

Then it is logical that God must also provide the means for calling them into the salvation He has already given them:

After all, why would He leave any work undone? Remember Philippians 1:6: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”, and also Romans 8:30, “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified”.

This brings us to the fourth point of the points of grace: Irresistible Grace.

Why does the term “Irresistible Grace” mean, especially since many don’t respond to God’s gift of salvation, but instead reject it?

We begin by explaining that there are two calls: An outward call, and an inward call.

The outward call is the one that is audibly heard. It is the words uttered to the masses. It can and may do a number of things. It can inspire, perhaps bring reflection or respect, but one thing it cannot do is save. It is simply the general message that summons the hearer.

For the Gospel to bring about salvation, the outward call must be accompanied by the inward call of the Holy Spirit, for (as the Bible states), He is the one that draws them to Himself. (John 6:44). This refers not to a moral or intellectual change, but to a heart change. It is a true-to-the-core spiritual transformation, the spiritual difference between life and death. Note Jesus’s words to Nicodemus when he described this rebirth:

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” (John 3:6)

When God stirs a heart to Himself, that call is said to be irresistible. That is, it cannot be frustrated or thwarted.  While some may argue that it is possible to resist God’s (inward) call, to say “no” to a true stirring by the Holy Spirit and walk away, I must ask: have you ever heard of a baby that has successfully resisted its own live birth and stayed in the womb? You see, spiritual birth is as real as physical birth. We can no more resist our own spiritual rebirth than a baby can stop himself from being born.

It is also interesting to point out that it is precisely because of our stubborn nature that God MUST have an influence that is greater than man’s resistance.

Note this scripture: “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”. (1 Corin. 2:14)

If we cannot, in our natural state,  say “yes” to the Holy Spirit, how is it that anybody has said “yes” at all?

Comments welcome!

CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE EYES OF AN ANGEL

AngelThere must have been a million angels watching that night, bending low to look through a peephole in the clouds. Excitement unknown on Earth was electrifying  heaven, tingling our wings.

Our lungs filled deeply as we waited for our cue to burst from the sky.

Then, just when we could contain our joy no longer, we heard it ~

A baby’s cry

The sound of God’s voice audible to human ears.

Heaven’s waiting room exploded with the sound of a chorus from the stretches of the skies!

Like a rocket shooting through the floor of Zion, we fired past the stars racing past us like comets through the galaxies on our course.

Our view tightened like a camera lens bound for the natural world as the Earth grew larger and larger, the outline of her curved horizon filling our vision. That vision narrowed closer in, past the countryside growing more precise and final to the exact location where we were to appear.

With a sound like thunder, we burst into the chilly Judean night, causing the darkness to scatter and turning the night as bright as day.

Though His glory was, and is evident in every note of praise and every sparkling, flawless sight in heaven, the grace shown that night was beyond our understanding.

The God over all, the Maker of the Universe, left His throne – and was now lying in a manger.

He came to save the hopelessness of man, to give them life when there was only death.

What kind of love is this?

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

 

Merry Christmas my friends,

Margo

 

 

 

 

WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Prayer and HealingWant to ruffle some feathers? Just call a press conference and thank God publicly for your healing. That’s what happened when both Nina Pham and Dr. Kent Brantly expressed gratitude to God and acknowledged the power of prayer for their recent recovery from the Ebola virus.

Apparently some people are upset, even downright hostile because the credit wasn’t given solely to their medical teams, even though they both thanked the doctors and nurses involved in their care. (Click on their names for the videos).

Now I’m no theologian, but I can see misconceptions about the whole subject of prayer and healing (or the lack thereof) scattered across social media like a virus itself. Here are just a couple:

Misconception #1 – Christians believe that all healing is due to prayer alone.

While there are some that hang on to this potentially dangerous theology, there’s nothing in the bible that supports it. In fact, there are many places in the Bible that illustrate using resources and people in healing:

  • Jesus healed the blind man with mud directly to his eyes. (John 9:6-7 )
  • Naaman, who suffered with leprosy, was healed after washing himself 7 times in the Jordan (2 Kings 5).
  • Paul tells Timothy to “drink a little wine” to help his stomach (1 Timothy 5:23)
  • Luke himself was a physician (Colossians 4:14)

Now here’s an important point: While He doesn’t do so as often, I believe that God can and does still heal miraculously, without the help of modern medicine. We’ve all heard of miracle recoveries…now I’m not talking about the out of control, faith healers on TV, but rather the cases that show lasting medical evidence that we see from time to time. Tumors have been known to disappear with no explanation. People who aren’t expected to live six months have been known to live for years, defying the odds.

Even so, God usually chooses to work through man and through natural means in healing. In fact, more often than not, this is God’s way of working His will in general. He gives ordinary (or very gifted) men and women the privilege to be the means of His work.

  • He doesn’t command angels to fly down and sing His praise; He gives musicians and singers the talent to create beautiful music to His glory.
  • He created the weather but decrees the farmer to till the harvest
  • He doesn’t shout from heaven for all to believe, but commissions His own to share the gospel.

And He gives doctors and nurses the special medical skill and wisdom to understand illness and bring patients to health.

Misconception #2 – All healing comes from science and medicine alone.

In a recent Facebook comment, someone said, “I was in a motorcycle accident, and not once did I pray, but here I am, completely healed”. My response to this is that there is such a thing as common grace, which is the overriding and unbiased grace of God poured out on everyone, whether they are righteous or not. Jesus expressed this when He said that God causes “his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45) and that God “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). The very fact that He does heal at all is cause for praise to Him. The very fact that we have one more day to draw breath is due to His grace. We don’t start with a sense of entitlement and strength, we start first with an understanding that He isn’t obligated to help or heal us, but in His love, He does choose to heal many.

You know, I look around me and I’m amazed at the ingenuity of man. Really, what we’ve been able to do in the areas of science and technology is staggering. It’s so easy to take the credit when we forget that we are the created, not the Creator. God has already created the depths of what we can discover. With as much as we’ve done, we cannot add one iota to a life that is fading–we find that our abilities alone will always have a limit.

Conclusion – God heals as he sees fit

I don’t believe that God and modern medicine are incompatible. God heals as He sees fit. He is sovereign for the outcome. In other words, we do all we know to do medically but God knows the outcome of each illness.

Application

There is a comfort in knowing that life and death aren’t ultimately in our hands. Can you imagine the burden upon us if it was? Caregivers have such a burden upon them as it is, with so many decisions to make for the patient. If you cared for a loved one that passed away, the second-guessing can be overwhelming. This subject came up at a Bible Study I attended this last week. That’s when all kinds of questions came up:

“Should I have tried harder?”

“Should I have pursued another type of treatment?”

“Was there something I could have done differently to extend his/her life?”

Knowing that God is sovereign in healing releases us from any of this anxiety. His word clearly states that there’s an assigned time for each person to die. (Hebrews 9:27). This means that if someone is meant to recover, then God will bring about the circumstances of that healing, whatever that may be. This is in spite of any well-meaning, yet limited wisdom we may have. By the same token, if someone’s time on Earth is up, no human effort can stop that either. We don’t have to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings. We can pray continually and care for them to the best of our ability but we can also take comfort in knowing that life and death aren’t ultimately in our hands. Yet another reason to thank God.

Brantly quote

 

Why do you think that some people criticize prayer in healing?

Do you believe God uses man to accomplish His purpose? If so, where’s the balance?

ANNOUNCEMENT: NEW DEVOTIONAL BY CHARLOTTE HOLT

Dear Friends,

One of the neat things about being a blogger/writer is that I’ve gotten to meet some really great people who also love putting words to paper.  There’s such a wonderful community of Christian authors that seek to encourage others by sharing their journey and insights. Although the message of the gospel is the same, they each share it with their own unique voice.

Pearls of WisdomI write today to announce a new devotional out by Charlotte Holt called “CH Writer’s Pearls of Wisdom: A Year of Devotions for Fishers of Men”. When I first read the devotionals in this book, I was immediately taken by Charlotte’s clean, down-to-earth style. She explains the meaning of scripture with a special sense of authenticity towards her readers. She writes of many of the issues we all face today, such as dealing with a critical heart, obedience to God, and courage, just to name a few.

 

She writes:

“Everyday life can be overwhelming. Sometimes the little things bother us the most. We often wrestle with life itself. My case manager nurse said the other day, “How would you rate your stress?”

After she gave me some measurements I said, “Moderate.”

What would you say stresses you?” she said.

“I suppose life itself.” I didn’t want to list any certain persons, like my husband, even though he can sometimes be a factor. I even tell him so at times. He’s really my greatest support, and the best man in the world! He’s my best friend on earth.

This book has helped me manage my stress, and I hope it will do the same for my readers. When we find life stressful, we need to turn to God and His Word for help and the answer to all of life’s problems. He is the only real way to do this. I hope my readers find help in the pages of this book, and the devotions will truly be pearls of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom!” *

    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalm 111:10)

With a new year right around the corner, what better time could there be to start anew with a devotion for every day? Click this link to the devotional, or on her author page for a selection of her many writings.

 * CH Writer’s Pearls of Wisdom: A Year of Devotions for Fishers of Men, Introduction, P. 4

 

Charlotte HoltCharlotte Holt holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Education in Special Education.  A freelance writer, speaker, and Bible study leader, she resides in Kingwood, Texas with her husband, Charles. Multi-published in both articles and books, she professes, “A seed of faith; a stalk of victory.” She believes God has chosen her heart to write for him, thus the title CH Writer.

 

 

 

WHO INSPIRES YOU?

My Dad – 2014

Dear Readers,

The company where I work used to have a question posted on our intranet site that the employees could answer and share if they want to. In tribute to my dad, I wanted to share one that I answered. Here it is, word for word:

Who inspires you and how are you a bit like them?

“My father inspires me because I have seen him & my mom go through many hardships and through them he never wavered in his love and faith in God. His life is an testimony of God’s goodness even when things go wrong. He has never ceased to be content, thankful, peaceful of the future, full of humor and hope, encouraging, and always putting others above himself. I know his source of strength is in Christ, and because his walk matches his talk, he has inspired me to follow this path to my own faith. I don’t know how I got so blessed to have him as a dad (& my mom too), because I fall short of his example but I could only hope to be like that.”

Many people read it, but I also got an email response from a co-worker:

Margaret,

“We’ve never met but after reading your comment today about what inspires you, I had to let you know how awesome I thought your answer was.”

******

Dad, may you continue to inspire many with your character, your unwavering spirit, and love for God and others.

 HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, “BABA”! YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION

Who inspires you and how?

ANNOUNCEMENT….DRUMROLL PLEASE

Drumroll please…

CAT AND DRUM

We interrupt your Labor Day for a brief announcement….

Congratulations, Sylvia for being the winner of the “Ministry in Words” Survey. You should get a $25 Amazon.com gift card giveaway via email if you haven’t already. Much appreciate you venturing upon this little blog as an email reader and taking the time to fill out the survey.

Thank you all for your participation in the “Ministry in Words” Survey. I received some great feedback about what you’d like to see on this blog and loved getting to know each of you. Some great topic suggestions have been submitted, including the question of why there’s suffering in the world. Click here to read and join the discussion). Others commented that they would like to read about the subjects of forgiveness, pride, and finding our way back to God, to name a few. I take each suggestion to heart and I will write about all of these topics.

You may now return to your previously scheduled day!

Happy chillin’ and grillin’ to everyone enjoying a day off, and props to everyone else who is actually laboring today.

Margaret  aka “Margo”

PS. Just because the survey is over doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make suggestions for improvements and topics to post. Just send me a note at marg.mail@sbcglobal.net or make comments in any previous posting. I truly enjoy all of your own postings and thoughts.

ON MY HEART AND IN THE NEWS

Egypt

I’ve given a great deal of thought about the crisis in the Middle East lately, especially in the last week. I think about the children in Syria who have had to flee a war-zone, and how it is that they found their world in turmoil while we are graced to live in peace. Sometimes I fear that the news of war after war in this part of the world may make us numb and calloused because we feel powerless to help.  For years I have been able to console myself to think that Egypt isn’t as bad as the rest of the Middle East, but now–not so much. I happen to have many relatives that live there. One is an aunt in her 90’s, in a nursing home that I hear is very close to the chaos. Two other cousins work in the university, also in the midst of the fighting. All of them are Christians.

This is a world I don’t believe we can understand, and yet we live on the same globe. I hope and pray for God to shield as many Christians from the evil, that somehow He will spare this generation any more persecution. I’m praying that He will tarry and allow peace again, even though I’ve read the last book of the Bible and know that prophecy reveals an increase in wars and rumors of wars. (Matthew 24:5-8)

I don’t want to be a downer, but I am very sober-minded these days. While we are to be thankful for good things that may be happening in our lives, a heavy cloud does hang over me as I think of the dire circumstances of believers who don’t take an easy day for granted.

I’m sober-minded because I also know that we as believers, even in the States, are not immune from persecution.  As the calendar moves forward in time, I see that we must all be vigilant, not blinded to our own vulnerability according to scripture. Evil has many names. It may not be radical Islam on this side of the world, but it could be a liberal agenda and a growing intolerance to God that we will face. What I see here is an animosity towards standing up for the Biblical value of marriage, as that very term is steadily being chipped away to mean whatever anyone may want it to mean. I firmly believe we should always speak the truth in love, but will we be targeted for speaking up for Biblical values?  Makes you wonder if this life isn’t just a test. Also makes you want to share the gospel and tell of our hope even more, given the freedom we have now.

I came across a blogger, Marie of “Along the Way” who was diligent enough to find two organizations that assist our brothers and sisters in Islamic countries. They are the United Nations Refugee Agency and UNICEF. Please give generously as you feel lead and are able.

Above all, please PRAY. Please PRAY for Egypt. PRAY for Syria, for China, and for every other country that suffers at the hands of tyranny. Pray for God’s peace to reign and for hearts to change. Please also know that we have a wonderful privilege and opportunity to intercede on their behalf, and to enjoy a freedom to worship that we may not understand until it’s lost.