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I am Preparing a Banquet.

 29.3.11



Have you ever planned a great feast for many?  Or a  banquet? Or a wonderful reunion with many friends that you love and want everything to be special and beautiful for them?

Well, that is exactly what I am doing. I am preparing a great banquet for you, yes for YOU!

And this kind of banquet is an old fashioned one. It will last a month. Can you imagine, a whole month of getting together, feasting, laughing, some times crying and many times falling to our knees in prayer?

I am excited about this, so be ready!

Consider this to be an invitation, the feast will start this next Friday, April 1st.

Be sure to come and invite your dearest friends. O, and I forgot to mention that just as in every good celebration, there will be surprises for some of you to take home!

I will be here, waiting for you.

Until then,


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Monday Night Prayer

 28.3.11

From the Valley of Vision... to end our day.




THOU GREAT AND ONLY POTENTATE,

Thou hast made summer and winter, day and night;
    each of these revolutions serves our welfare
    and is full of thy care and kindness.

Thy bounty is seen
    in the relations that train us,
    the laws that defend us,
    the homes that shelter us,
    the food that builds us,
    the raiment that comforts us,
    the continuance of our health, members, senses,
    understanding, memory, affection, will.

But as stars fade before the rising sun,
    thou hast eclipsed all these benefits
    in the wisdom and grace that purposed
    redemption by Jesus thy Son.

Blessed be thy mercy that laid help on
    one that is might and willing,
    one that is able to save the uttermost.

Make us deeply sensible of our need of his saving grace,
    of the blood that cleanses,
    of the rest he has promised,

And impute to us that righteousness which justifies the guilty,
    gives them a title to eternal life,
    and possession of the Spirit.

May we love the freeness of salvation, and joy in its holiness;
Give us faith to grasp thy promises, that are our hope,
    provide for every exigency, and prevent every evil;

Keep our hearts from straying after forbidden pleasure;
May thy will bind all our wishes;
Let us live out of the world as to its spirit, maxim, manners,
   but live in it as the sphere of our action and usefulness;
May we be alive to every call of duty, accepting without question
   thy determination of our circumstances and our service.


***********************************


May we go to bed meditating on His goodness!


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Monday Morning Prayer



You know how I love to share with you every Monday those mercies that God has bestowed so generously upon  me and my family. This weekend I have been thinking about some of the words that Staci Eastin said in her book, The Organized Heart,

"Make Your Schedule a Matter of Prayer"

Today, I am simply grateful for that phrase, for those words that have given me lots to think about. So today, instead of sharing my gratitude list with you; I will share a prayer from The Valley of Vision; a prayer for Monday mornings (In the evening I will post one to close our day)


O GOD ALL- SUFFICIENT,

Thou hast made and upholdest all things by the word of thy power;
                           darkness is thy pavilion,
                           thou walkest on the wings of the wind;
                           all nations are nothing before Thee;
                           one generation succeeds another,
                           and we hasten back to the dust;
                           the heavens we behold will banish away
                           like the clouds that cover them,
                           the earth we tread on will dissolve
                           as a morning dream;

But Thou, unchangeable and incorruptible,
                 art for ever and ever,
                 God over all, blessed eternally.

Infinitely great and glorious Thou art.
We are thy offspring and thy care.
Thy hands have made and fashioned us.
Thou hast watched over us with more than parental love,
                                     more than maternal tenderness.

Thou hast holden our soul in life,
and not suffered our feet to be moved.

Thy Divine power has given us all things
necessary for life and godliness.

Let us bless thee at all times and forget not how thou hast
           forgiven our iniquities,
           healed our diseases,
           redeemed our lives from destruction,
           crowned us with loving kindness and tender mercies,
           satisfied our mouths with good things,
           renewed our youth like the eagle's.

May thy Holy Scriptures
              govern every part of our lives,
              and regulate the discharge of all our duties,
              so that we may adorn thy doctrine in all things.

   Amen


**********************************

May our schedules this week be bathed with prayer; let us see that all that the Lord has set before us to do be governed by Him.





You can read my review of Staci Eastin's book, The Organized Heart here.

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Ring Those Charming Bells on the Lord's Day

 27.3.11




"A Song Concerning Loving-kindnesses"
delivered on August 10th, 1873 by C. H. Spurgeon


"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Cor. 15:10


All that we have received has come to us by the way
of free grace!
If our sense of our own unworthinessis clear,
if we know what worse than nothings we are,
what a mass of sin and corruption we are by nature,
we shall never think that we receive anything from
God by the way of merit.

Still our proud hearts need to be told over and over
again that all the blessings we enjoy come to us by
the free and sovereign grace of God!

The bread on your table is flavored with grace.

Your meat has mercy for its sauce.

Every drop of water which cools your tongue tastes of mercy.

Charity clothes you.

Infinite love feeds you.

And as for your spiritual blessings, where are your
streams found, whence do they gush--but from the
inexhaustible fountain of eternal love?

God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of
our Lord Jesus Christ-- and in the love which shone
from that cross to such poor,
unworthy ones as we are!

Those are charming bells indeed--
free grace and dying love!
Through the ivory gate of grace,
all mercies come to sinners.

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Cor. 15:10



Have a blessed Lord's day, dear friends.








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The Organized Heart; a Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos by Staci Eastin - A Review-

 25.3.11

 I dare to say that this is undoubtedly the first and most important book any Christian woman who wants to start living a disciplined and organized life should read.

Cruciform Press



Through its easy and very engaging prose, the author, Staci Eastin, deals with the issues of the heart that are behind the scenes of the chaos and disorder in a woman's life. At the same time, she encourages her readers to apply the gospel to the real problem we face when our house seems a mess, and the drawers are upside down and there has been no milk or juice in the fridge for several days: Our sinful nature.

This is a book that starts to deal with a very practical problem the way we should always start dealing with any issue of our daily life: Seeing our sinful nature and applying the good news of the Gospel to every aspect of our life.

The author Staci Eastin, knows the Word of God and applies it to her writing. She knows that we can't conquer any sin in our life apart from God's grace, she says,

"We never conquer sin by adding more rules. That’s what the Pharisees did, and Jesus chastised them for it. Jesus is interested in more than just outward works; he wants us to perform good works from the overflow of a loving and pure heart. My attempts to get organized always failed because I tried to change my habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life."

"Holiness is something we must strive for (Hebrews 12:14), and we must start in the heart. Identifying the heart issues behind your disorganization will enable you to repent of them. Through the strength of the Holy Spirit, you can rid yourself of these idols (Romans 8:13)."

Staci Eastin points that the real sin behind a disorganized life, is a heart issue and one that at the end is idolatry; it is from here that she deals through her book with four idols we have made and more that often bow to them:

"In this book, I have identified four idols that seem to particularly hinder women from serving God effectively. They are leisure, busyness, perfectionism, and possessions. You may find that you only struggle with one or two, or you may discover that your problems have their roots in all four. I will examine all of them so that you, by the grace of God, can identify where your weaknesses lie, and begin to experience a more joyful walk with the Lord."


This is a short book (it has only 108 pages), and I would suggest that you read it with your journal at hand, because every chapter closes with a section entitled "Explore" in which the author interacts with her readers posing a few questions and pointing to several passages of the Scriptures (that you need to look up, another thing I appreciate) to dig deeper into the Truth that can set us free.


 So, be encouraged, my friends, to read this book before the other one that teaches you "how to organize your closet in 24 days and live happily ever after".

Learning with you,






Dear visitor, thanks for stopping by. I hope I'll get to "see you" back soon!

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A Solid Ground for Expecting Good Things to Come

 24.3.11

Thursday of Borrowed words is here and this month we have been meditating on Heaven; today the borrowed words come from one of my favorite writers, J.C. Ryle. 


"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."       John 14:3

"A solid ground for expecting good things to come.

The evil heart of unbelief within us is apt to rob us of our comfort about heaven. "We wish we could think it was all true." - "We fear we shall never be admitted into heaven"- Let us hear what Jesus says to encourage us.

One cheering word is this -"I go and prepare a place for you". Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people: a place which we shall find Christ Himself has made ready for true Christians. He has prepared it by procuring a right for every sinner who believes to enter in. None can stop us, and say we have no business there. He has prepared it by going before us as our Head and Representative, and taking possession of it for all the members of his mystical body. As our Forerunner He has marched in, leading captivity captive, and has planted His banner in the land of glory. He has prepared it by carrying our names with Him as our High Priest into the Holy of Holies, and making angels ready to receive us. They that enter heaven will find they are neither unknown nor unexpected"

Day by Day with J.C.  Ryle
A New Daily Devotional  of Ryle's Writings
 


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Praying the Psalms - Psalm 62-

 23.3.11

Pixels and Stories

Psalm 62 (ESV)

My Soul Waits for God Alone

To the choirmaster: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse.

Selah

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Selah

Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.



O Lord, I am so easily distracted by so many things around me, teach me to be quiet and wait under your Sovereign hand.  O Lord, the cares of this world invade my heart, "different emotions disturb my peace, and hinder my exercise of faith, even though in spirit they want to be in submission to your Word"(1). Teach me to find in you the repose my soul needs today; teach me, Father to be silent before you, and do what You have called me to do without grumbling or questioning. Help me live with my eyes fixed on the cross opposing an attitude of resistance to Your Word.

Lord, you alone are my Rock and my Salvation, to you I run, to you I cling. In between books, and laundry, and things on my to-do list you meet me, and I run to you, Abba Father. In the middle of the day, when the sun is bright and the roses are all in bloom I am reminded that even though trials come, I shall not  be greatly shaken because your right hand upholds me.

Lord, forgive me when "I say with my lips that I trust in You and at the next moment I find myself busy looking for some additional support" (2) Help me to keep an attitude of prayer every day, all day, one that will bring me to pour out my heart before you so I won't keep ruminating in all those emotions that lead me away from you.  That I may never forget that YOU are a refuge to me.

Father, deliver my soul from all those things that promise me happiness apart from You. Help me,  Lord, to be aware of the delusions of sin, of the vain glory of riches. Deliver me from the snare of the devil who wants me to set my heart on all the vain and sinful things this world offers me.

Dear Father, you can uphold me with me with your powerful hand and your perfect steadfast love; "these two wings with which we fly heavenwards; these two supporting pillars from which we can defy temptation. Why should I fear when the God who covers me with the shadow of his wings is also the God who rules the universe, holds the devil in secret chains, and effectually overrules the intrigues of the wicked?"(3)

Thank you, Father, because you hear me, and  delight in the prayer of your children.

In Jesus' precious name,





(1) John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms; Abridged by David C. Searle
(2) Ibid.
(3) Ibid.

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Octavius Winslow's Book -Help Heavenward- Chapter 9- and few other links-

 22.3.11

I am having a busy day here, but I encourage you to read Matthew Blair's summary on chapter 9 of this excellent book by Octavius Winslow, Help Heavenward (read it here.)

Help Heavenward Chapter 9



And if you have time please read an excellent and very important post by Diane at Theology for Girls, entitled Discernment and the Elect Lady.

Theology for Girls



Lastly a quote from one of my dearest friends, Elizabeth,

"It's common to want a quick fix, a cure for getting your troubled soul out of hock... But there's no greater balm for sin than the cross of Christ, where does flow a bloody tide of forgiveness; removing wrath and pain, filling with peace and joy."


Have a most blessed day dear friends,


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Gratitude Is Not the Way to God

 21.3.11

I have thinking about gratitude and its place in the life of every Christian; and as I search the Scriptures, I find no place to support that having a grateful heart will lead us to God or will affirm our walking with the Lord. The only way to God the Father is Jesus Christ and this way is only open when we repent from our sins.

If we don't repent from our sins, if we don't see our desperate need for God every day, we can have the longest gratitude list ever, we could fill pages and pages on a journal and yet not be saved. Having a grateful heart is not even listed among the fruit of the Spirit:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law"             Gal. 5:21- 23

Neither on the list of virtues listed on 1 Peter 1 which Paul gives to remind us that "if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ":

"For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

The 1st Epistle of John was written so that we could use it as a "guide" a "test" to examine if we are are truly walking in the Lord (2:2; 5:13), and nowhere, not even once in all the Epistle, having a grateful heart is listed among the marks of a true Christian.

The Bible doesn't teach us that having a grateful heart is a sign of a true believer. There are many, many, many pagans walking with a grateful heart out there. (In fact, did you know that a "grateful attitude" is an absolute important part of the people who practice yoga?)

Gratefulness doesn't draw us closer to God according to the word of God; instead, the Bible teaches us that being close to God will make us grateful.

Being grateful, dear sisters, is not necessarily what precedes the miracle. What precedes the miracle is the work of the Spirit in our hearts drawing us to Him. Convicting us from our sins. Breaking our pride and will. Gratitude in the life of a Christian woman is nothing else but the natural response of a person who knows that she does not deserve to eat at the Master's table and yet she is invited to join the feast.

Gratitude is what follows the miracle.

We give thanks not because we expect a miracle, we give thanks for the miracles that surround us. For the graces that we have and for all those that will come because the greatest miracle has already occurred, we have been given a new heart, a heart of flesh that is willing to bow low and recognize that from God's hand we receive everything that comes to our lives, whether we like it or not.

James Smith (1800's) said it well,

"True Christian love is grateful love. We love him — because he first loved us. The loving Christian is always grateful. Where there is much love — there is much gratitude. When filled with love — we praise God for every drop, for every crumb. Our smallest mercies appear large, and God gets thanks then — for that which is scarcely acknowledged at another time."

Gratitude to God just as our love to God, is a response to Him. We give our love and our thanks to God because He already performed the miracle in us. Because He changed us, because He opened our eyes to see we see clearly that He has given much and we don't deserve any of it.

I keep a list, I count His mercies to train myself, to subdue my prideful heart, to remind my soul of its duty to praise God. I give thanks because I need to remind myself that I am a slave redeemed by Jesus' blood to give glory to His name. I give thanks because when I see the life God has given me, I see nothing but mercies, endless mercies.

I bow low and give thanks today....

1226. Being a slave of Christ.

1227. Having eyes to see that all I have, all that I am is because of Him, the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

1228. I am grateful, Lord, for the Word, our sure hope.

1229. Thank you, Lord, for the birds, how you provide food for them and as I watch them, I am reminded of your faithfulness.

1230. A place to worship God with brothers and sisters in Christ who love your Word.

1231. Little hands holding mine.

1232. The life of Persis, a faithful woman, who trusts in God's sovereignty and is has been an encouragement to me.

1233. A Kindle with many books to read.

1234. My husband's wisdom.

1235. A call to persevere in prayer.

1236. Summer fruit.



1237. Beauty to hold, vibrant colors, the wonderful creation of God.



1238. Two new turtles and a happy girl.

1239. Dad and little one out in a date.

1240. Reading glasses.

1241. A camera to capture those moments that make our days. (even though this week, I didn't use very much!)

1242. Planning a great idea with my blogging friends for you. Yes for you... (wait until April!)

1243. Having a son who loves to converse for hours with me.

1244. A homemade notebook. (sorry... no pics. yet)

1245. My memory Moleskine.

1246. This place.

What are you grateful for today?


May you find today joy in Him alone (not only in His gifts!)


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A Word of Forgiveness -On the Lord's Day-

 20.3.11



This Lent season I am reading the book, The Seven Sayings of the Saviour on the Cross by Arthur W. Pink and on this Lord's Day I would like to invite you consider with me what these words teach us.

"In praying for His enemies, not only did Christ set before us a perfect example of how we should treat those who wrong and hate us, but He also taught us never to regard any as beyond the reach of prayer. If Christ prayed for His murderers, then surely we have encouragement to pray now for the very chief of sinners! Christian reader, never lose hope... Learn, then, not to look on any as beyond the reach of prayer"

"That Christ should make intercession for His enemies was one of the items of the wonderful prophecy found in Isaiah 53. This chapter tells us at least ten things about the humiliation and suffering of the Redeemer. It declared that He should be despised and rejected of men; that He should be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; that He should be wounded, bruised, and chastised; that He should be led, unresistingly, to slaughter; that He should be dumb before His shearers; that He should not only suffer at the hands of man but also be bruised by the Lord; that He should pour out His soul unto death; that He should be buried in a rich man's tomb; and then it was added, that He would be numbered with transgressors; and finally, that He should make intercession for the transgressors. Here then was the prophecy-"and made intercession for the transgressors"; there was the fulfillment of it-"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." He thought of His murderers; He pleaded for His crucifiers; He made intercession for their forgiveness."

"Sin is always sin in the sight of God, whether we are conscious of it or not. Sins of ignorance need atonement just as truly as do conscious sins. God is Holy, and He will not lower His standard of righteousness to the level of our ignorance. Ignorance is not innocence. As a matter of fact, ignorance is more culpable now than it was in the days of Moses. We have no excuse for our ignorance. God has clearly and fully revealed His will. The Bible is in our hands, and we cannot plead ignorance of its contents except to condemn our laziness. God has spoken, and by His Word we shall be judged... And yet the fact remains that we are ignorant of many things, and the fault and blame are ours. And this does not minimize the enormity of our guilt. Sins of ignorance need the divine forgiveness as our Lord's prayer here plainly shows. Learn, then, how high is God's standard, how great is our need, and praise Him for an atonement of infinite sufficiency, which cleanseth from all sin."


May God help us to forgive and pray and never lose hope.




Read over at my photography blog today about The Key to Bible Study

Over at Rebecca Writes, you will find every Sunday great hymns, sermon notes and prayers.

And some words worth reading today... Let Every Man be Slow to Tweet. (HT. Hiraeth)



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-P2R Week 11- Signs of a True Believer and Those Credentials that Don't Impress God.

 19.3.11



Week 11 :: Philippians 3:1-6

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.
To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers,
look out for those who mutilate the flesh.
3 For we are the circumcision,
who worship by the Spirit of God
and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh—
4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also.
If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel,
of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;
as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

- Philippians 3:1-6

 We just finished week 11 of the P2R project! I am so excited, it has been a great blessing and a  challenge. It has been like finding a gem, one that for so long I heard that could be mine and I didn't go get it. Working through the habit of memorizing a whole book of the Bible, has made a great impact in my life.

Studying this week's I learned many things but one particular lesson, is that when we commit to study and memorize all of God's Word, when we enter into the discipline of memorizing a whole book, we will find ourselves chewing, meditating on passages that we would never to choose to study in depth otherwise, and are full of wisdom from above.

Some of the things I learned while studying these verses (reading MacArthur's commentary)  are these:


Signs of true believers:

1. True believers rejoice in the Lord (3:1)

"Joy persists in the face of weakness, pain, suffering, even death (cf. James 1:2). Biblical joy produces a deep confidence in the future that is based on trust in God’s purpose and power. It results in the absence of any ultimate fear, since the relationship on which it is based is eternal and unshakeable (cf. Ps.16:11; John 16:22). Nor is it a humanly produced emotion; that Paul commands it shows that rejoicing is an act of the will in choosing to obey God. The result is a supernaturally produced emotion, the fruit of walking in the Spirit (Rom. 14:17; Gal. 5:22). Thus, rejoicing marks true believers"

2. True believers exercise discernment. (v.3: 1b-2)

"His strong and direct warning implies another distinguishing mark of true believers: their ability to discern. No one can be saved who does not understand the fundamental truths of the gospel (Rom. 6:17; 10:14, 17). But since discernment, like faith, needs to grow and mature, pastors and elders must warn the church of false teachers (Eph. 4:11–14). Thus, for Paul to write the same things again was no trouble to him, because it was a necessary safeguard for the Philippians. False teachers, proclaiming salvation through ritual, ceremony, and legalism, posed a serious threat to them. Safeguard (asphals) literally means not to trip, stumble, or be overthrown."


3. True believers worship in the Spirit. (3:3)

"The first quality of a genuine believer is a heart that overflows with worship. The origin of that worship is supernatural, since the Spirit of God generates it. It involves adoration and praise to God, and transcends outward rituals or ceremonies. Humans are inveterate worshipers. But worship prompted by culture, tradition, guilt, fear, desire for acceptance and popularity, or to gain blessings is unacceptable to God. The indwelling Holy Spirit prompts true and acceptable worship out of love for the Lord. Since He only indwells Christians (Rom. 8:9), only they can truly worship their Savior"

4. True worshipers glory in Christ Jesus (3:3b)

"True Christians give credit for all they are and have to the Lord Jesus Christ... In contrast false believers "boast according to the flesh" (2Cor. 11:18), believing that their good works and religious activities earn them favor with God."

5. True Worshipers put no confidence in the flesh. (3:3c)

"The flesh represents man's fallen, unredeemed humanness; it pictures human ability apart from God. Unlike the "many {who} boast according to the flesh" (2Cor. 11:18), true Christians put no confidence in it... Therefore, it is a distinguish characteristic of the redeemed that they "do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit'"


Then Paul lists seven credentials, characteristics, achievements, privileges and rights that do not impress God:

1. Salvation is not by ritual (3:5a)

2. Salvation is not by race. (3:5b)

3. Salvation is not by rank (3:5c)

4. Salvation is not by tradition (3:5d)

5. Salvation is not by religion (3:5e)

6. Salvation is not by sincerity (3:6a)

"Paul was sincere, but wrong. The world is full of people who, like him, are sincere in their religious beliefs. They will make any effort, pay any price, and sacrifice anything in their attempts to please God. They may be devout, orthodox Jews, loyal Roman Catholics who attend mass regularly, or even Protestants who are involved in church services and ceremonies. They may pray, fast, or live in poverty, and seek to do human good. but religious zeal guarantees nothing. Those people can be absolutely wrong. When Paul faced the reality of Jesus christ, the zealous persecutor of the church realized that his misguided zeal was a spiritual killer and belonged in the spiritual loss column"

7. Salvation is not by legalistic righteousness. (3:6b)

**************************

I encourage you today,  dear friend, choose one Epistle, get a commentary on that Epistle and start memorizing and studying it today. You will find a  precious gem that you will sure treasure forever in your heart.


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The Sovereignty of God in Our Marriages -and my sin-

 18.3.11

I enjoy the long conversations my sister and I have on Skype. She is a godly woman and  a great teacher to me. I am so grateful for her life.

I want to invite you to be part of a recent conversation we had about God's Sovereignty in our marriages and our sin. Yes, it is Friday, so get a cup of coffee and join us.



We know God is Sovereign, if we don't believe that, then we are in big trouble; because the True God is Sovereign indeed!

Now, why is it so hard at times to live our lives under the sun trusting that HE IS INDEED SOVEREIGN? If we believe that God is sovereign (and He is indeed) then He is sovereign over our marriage life too.

What does this mean? It means, dear sister, that all the struggles you and I have to face in our marriages are allowed by God. He is the one who is permitting them to happen.  I am blessed to have a godly husband, but that doesn't mean that we never have struggles. We (my sister and I) have talked lately on how we often miss the mark when struggles and differences in our marriage come to our lives. Instead of seeing them as instruments of God to sanctify us, we stop seeing Him all Sovereign and start to fight on our own flesh. At this point we are already sinning.

If we are mature Christians we should start dealing with the difficulties in our marriages from a different perspective.

First, let us recognize that God is Sovereign and that all these struggles are allowed by God only to deal with us, to sanctify us, and that at the end they will be good for us. Isn't He, our Heavenly Father, the one who knows what's best  for His children?

Secondly, just think how different things would be if in the very moment a struggle arises, we would take a second  before we say any word to see God's hand allowing it.  What if we would recognize that this struggle is just another opportunity God is giving US to deal with a sin in our own heart?  What if we would stop seeing our husband's sin and start seeing our own sin in the middle of the struggle?  I am sure we'll start growing more in His grace.

Any thoughts of yours?



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Heaven, "Let Me Tell You About the Manner of this Place"

 17.3.11

J.C. Ryle (1816- 1900) wrote a tract about heaven, which I love. Here it is, all of it for you to read on this Thursday of Borrowed Words. Take your time and read it slowly, lest you miss the treasure.



There is a glorious dwelling place provided by Jesus Christ for all His believing people. The world that now is, is not their rest: they are pilgrims and strangers in it. Heaven is their home.

There will be a place in heaven for all sinners who have fled to Christ by faith, and trusted in Him : for the least as well as the greatest. Abraham took care to provide for all his children, and God takes care to provide for His. None will be disinherited; none will be cast out; none will be cut off. Each shall stand in his lot, and have a portion in the day when the Lord brings many sons to glory. In our Father's house are many mansions.

Reader, I want you to go to heaven, after this life is over. I want heaven to be very full, and I want you to be one of its inhabitants. Listen to me for a few moments, while I tell you something about the manner of the place.

I can tell you a little of the blessedness of heaven, but not all. What mortal man can explain the full nature of the inheritance of the saints in light? Who can describe the glory which is yet to be revealed and given to the children of God? Words fail, language falls short. Mind cannot conceive fully, and tongue cannot express perfectly, the things which are comprised in the glory yet to come upon the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. Oh, it is indeed a true saying of the Apostle John "It doth not yet appear what we shall be" (1 John iii. 2).

The very Bible itself only lifts the veil a little, which hangs over this subject. How could it do more? We could not thoroughly understand more, if more had been told us. Our constitution is as yet too earthly, Our understanding is as yet too carnal to appreciate more if we had it. The Bible generally deals with the subject in negative terms, and not in positive assertions. It describes what there will not be in the glorious inheritance, that thus we may get some faint idea of what there will be. It paints the absence of certain things, in order that we may drink in a little the blessedness of the things present. It tells us that the inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. It tells us that the devil is to be bound,-that there shall be no more night and no more curse,-that death shall he cast into the lake of fire,-that all tears shall be wiped away, and that the inhabitant shall no more say, "I am sick." And these are glorious things indeed! No corruption!-No fading!-No withering!-No devil! No curse of sin!-No sorrow!-No tears!-No sickness!-No death! Surely the cup of the children of God will indeed run over!
 
But reader, there are positive things told us about the glory yet to come upon the heirs of God, which ought not to be kept back. There are many sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comforts in their future inheritance, which all true Christians would do well to consider. There are cordials for fainting pilgrims in many words and expressions of Scripture, which you and I ought to lay up against time of need.

Is knowledge pleasant to us now? Is the little that we know of God, and Christ, and in the Bible, precious to our souls, and do welong for more? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture?-Then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Cor. xiii.12). Blessed be God, there will be no more disagreements among believers! Episcopalians and Presbyterians, Calvinists and Arminians, Millenarians and Anti-Millenarians, friends of Establishments and friends of the Voluntary system, advocates of infant baptism and advocates of adult baptism,-all will at length be of one mind. The former ignorance will have passed away. We shall marvel to find how childish and blind we have been.
 

Is holiness pleasant to us now? Is sin the burden and bitterness of our lives? Do we long for entire conformity to the image of God? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What says the Scripture?-"Christ gave Himself for the Church, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph. v. 27). Oh, the blessedness of an eternal good-bye to sin! Oh, how little the best of us do at present! Oh, what unutterable corruption sticks, like birdlime, to all our motives, all our thoughts, all our words, all our actions! Oh, how many of us, like Naphtali, are godly in our words, but, like Reuben, unstable in our works! Thank God, all this shall be changed!

Is rest pleasant to us now? Do we often feel faint though pursuing? Do we long for a world in which we need not be always watching and warring? We shall have it perfectly in glory. What saith the Scripture?- "There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God" (Heb. iv. 9). The daily, hourly conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil, shall at length be at an end: the enemy shall be bound; the warfare shall be over;the wicked shall at last cease from troubling; the weary shall at length beat rest. There shall be a great calm.

Is service pleasant to us now? Do we find it sweet to work for Christ, and yet groan, being burdened by a feeble body? Is our spirit often willing, but hampered and clogged by the poor weak flesh? Have our hearts burned within us when we have been allowed to give a cup of cold water for Christ's sake; and have we sighed to think what unprofitable servants we are? Let us take comfort. We shall be able to serve perfectly in glory, and without weariness. What saith the Scripture?-"They serve Him day and night in His temple" (Rev. vii. 15).

Is satisfaction pleasant to us now? Do we find the world empty? Do we long for the filling up of every void place and gap in our hearts? We shall have it perfectly in glory. We shall no longer have to mourn over cracks in all our earthen vessels, and thorns in all our roses, and bitter dregs in all our sweet cups. We shall no longer lament, with Jonah, over withered gourds. We shall no longer say, with Solomon, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit." We shall no longer cry, with aged David, "I have seen an end of all perfection." What saith the Scripture?-"I shall be satisfied,when I awake, with Thy likeness" (Psalm xvii. 15).

Is communion with the saints pleasant to us now? Do we feel that we are never so happy as when we are with the excellent of the earth? Are we never so much at home as in their company? We shall have it perfectly in glory.What saith the Scripture?-"The Son of man shall send His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which work iniquity." "He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds" (Matt. xiii. 41; xxiv. 31). Praised be God, we shall see all the saints of whom we have read in the Bible, and in whose steps we have tried to walk.

We shall see apostles, prophets, patriarchs martyrs, reformers,missionaries, and ministers, of whom the world was not worthy. We shall see the faces of those we have known and loved in Christ on earth, and over whose departure we shed bitter tears.

We shall see them more bright and glorious than they ever were before. And, best of all, we shall see them without hurry and anxiety, and without eeling that we only meet to part again. In glory there is no death, no parting, no farewell!

Is communion with Christ pleasant to us now? Do we find His name precious to us? Do we feel our hearts burn within us at the thought of His dying love? We shall have perfect communion with Him in glory. "We shall ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. iv. 17). We shall be with Him in paradise:we shall see His face in the kingdom. These eyes of ours will behold those hands and feet which were pierced with nails, and that head which was crowned with thorns. Where He is, there will the sons of God be. When He comes, they will come with Him: when He sits down in His glory, they shall sit down by His side.

Blessed prospects indeed! I am a dying man in a dying world; all before me is unseen: the world to come is a harbour unknown! But Christ is there, and that is enough. Surely if there is rest and peace in following Him by faith on earth, there will be far more rest and peace when you see Him face to face. If we have found it good to follow the pillar of cloud and fire in the wilderness, we shall find it a thousand times better to sit down in our eternal inheritance with our Joshua, in the promised land.

Ah, reader, if you are not yet among the heirs of glory, I do pity you with all my heart. How much you are missing! How little true comfort you are enjoying! There you are, struggling on, and toiling in the fire, and wearying yourself for mere earthly ends,-seeking rest and finding none,-chasing shadows and never catching them-wondering why you are not happy, and yet refusing to see the cause,-hungry, and thirsty, and empty, and yet blind to the plenty within your reach,-your expectations all perishing, and none to look forward to beyond the grave. Oh, that you were wise! Oh, that you would hear the voice of Jesus, and learn of Him.

Reader, if you are one of those who are heirs of glory, you may well rejoice and be happy. You may well wait, like the boy Patience in Pilgrim's Progress : your best things are as yet to come.-You may well bear crosses without murmuring: your light affliction is but for a moment; the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is to be revealed. When Christ our life appears, then you also shall appear with Him in glory.-You may well not envy the transgressor and his prosperity: you are the truly rich.

Well said a dying believer, in my own parish, "I am more rich than I ever was in my life." You may say, as Mephibosheth said to David, "Let the world take all: my King is coming again in peace." You may say, as Alexander said when he gave all his riches away, and was asked what he kept for himself: "I have hope." You may well not be cast down by sickness: the eternal part of you is safe, and provided for, whatever happens to your body. You may well look calmly on death: it opens a door between you and your inheritance. You may well not sorrow excessively over the things of the world,-over partings and bereavements,-over losses and crosses: the day of gathering is before you; your treasure is beyond reach of harm. Heaven is becoming every year more full of those you love, and earth more empty. Glory in your inheritance. It is all yours by faith, if you are a son of God : it shall soon be yours in possession.


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It is my prayer that I may start enjoying heaven today, as I live these 24 hours ahead of me aware of His Omnipresence and Omnipotence, as I walk under the shadow of his wings, and as I serve my family and hold them in my arms.






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Octavius Winslow's Book -Help Heavenward- Chapter 8

 15.3.11

We are now on chapter 8 of this wonderful book, Help Heavenward by Octavius Winslow. (we still have three more chapters to go.)

Chapter 8


Chapter 8: Self Communion

“…Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still”—Psalm 4:4


This chapter asks hard questions; the same questions that Winslow thought necessary to ask in the 1800's when he said these words which not only describe his days but ours as well,

"We are fallen upon times of great religious, as well as worldly activity and excitement. So strong and rushing, indeed, is the tide, that there exists a fearful and fatal liability in those who profess to walk with God, as did Noah and Enoch, to neglect entirely one of the most essential and effectual helps heavenward—the due, faithful, and constant examination of the spiritual state and condition of their own hearts."

There is nothing new under the sun, the heart of men is the same since the fall, I read Winslow's words and it seems that he is describing our days,

"With everything but themselves the great mass of human beings by whom we are surrounded are in the closest communion. Man is in communion with nature in its glories, with science in its wonders, with art in its triumphs, with intellect in its attainments, with power in its achievements, with the creation in its attraction. There is but one object with which he holds no rational, sacred, and close communion,—from which, though the nearest and the most important, he seems the most widely isolated; that object is—himself! He studies not the wonders of his being, the spirituality of his nature, the solemnity of his relations, the accountability of his actions, the immortality of his destiny. He thinks not of himself, and of death, and judgment, and eternity at the same moment."

We need to recover the disposition and the discipline to commune with our heart upon our bed and be still, and Winslow encourages us to this, by asking us hard questions concerning the true spiritual state before God, about the existence and condition of the love of God in our own heart, about our heart's feelings for the Lord Jesus, about the ruling principles of our actions, about the heavenly tendencies of our own heart questions about our real and habitual fellowship, about our progress in the Divine life,  with God, about our thanksgiving and praise to God, about the certainty of our possession of heart's religion; questions "which we must weigh...  personal and serious questions, which must not, which cannot, be evaded without imperilling all that is most dear and precious to your everlasting well-being."

Have I passed from death unto life? 

Has my heart been convinced of sin? 

Am I a subject of the new birth? 

...{A}nd from a state of insensibility to objects,
and feelings, and hopes that are spiritual, eternal, 
and divine, 
have I been quickened by the regenerating Spirit to walk with God, 
and before the world, 
in newness of life? 

{A}re you sensible that within you all things have been made new?

(Are you sensible )that your heart is in sympathy with objects that are spiritual, 
with enjoyments that are holy, 
with engagements that are heavenly?
—in a word, that your views of sin and self, of God and of Christ and of the gospel, 
are radically, essentially changed, 
and that you seem to yourself the subject of a new-born existence, 
and the occupant of a new-created world?

Do you love God because He is holy?
(Do you love) His law, because it is righteous? 
His government, because it is divine and just? 
His ways, because they are wise, and right, and sure? 

Do you love Him for sending His Son into the world to save sinners? 

Do you love Him as a Father, as a Friend, as a God in covenant relation? 

How stands your heart, O believer! 
with God as to its love? 

What is the warmth and vigour and ardour of your affections? 

Do you so love God in Christ as, under its constraining influence, 
to do what He commands, 
to yield what He asks,
to go where He bids, 
to hate what He hates, 
and to love what He loves; 
yea, to embrace Him with an affection simple, 
single, and supreme, oblivious, if need be, 
of every other claimant, and satisfied, if so He willed it, with Him alone?

Oh, what is the state of your love to Jesus
—frigid, selfish, inconstant; 
or, glowing, self-denying, fixed? 

You ask how your love to Christ may be tested and increased? 
Test it by obedience; 
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”


"Your love to Christ will never increase by feeding upon itself. You must light your torch of affection at the altar of Calvary. You must go there, and learn and believe what the love of Jesus is to you: the vastness of that love,—the self-sacrifice of that love,—how that love of Christ laboured and wept, bled, suffered, and died for you. Can you stand before this love—this love so precious, so great, so enduring, so self-consuming, so changeless, and know that for you was this offering, for you this cross, for you this agony, for you this scorn and insult, for you this death, and feel no sensibility, no emotion, no love? Impossible!"

The questions keep on coming, we still have hard questions to answer in the solitude, on our bed.


What think you of Christ?

Is it with you a reality that Christ died for sinners? 

Do you fully credit the promise by which God has engaged to accept through His sacrifice and intercession all who believe in His name? 

Do you believe Him to be divine, 
accept His obedience as justifying, 
and His death as sacrificial? 

Has it pleased God to reveal His Son in you? 

Is He precious to your heart? 

And do you receive Him, 
trust in Him, follow Him, and hope to be with Him for ever, 
as all your salvation and all your desire? 

Do I love Jesus?

Is He the object of my supreme admiration and delight? 

Is He the chosen, the preferred, 
the supreme Being of my warmest affection? 

Is He precious to my soul? 

And am I trusting believingly, and exclusively, and without mental reservation, 
as a sinner utterly undone, 
self-abhorred, and self-condemned, 
to His atoning sacrifice? 

Upon what ground do you base this hesitation and justify this self-exemption from the great salvation?

"It is not for your worth that you are saved, but for Christ’s worth. It is not on the ground of your personal merit that you are justified, but on the ground of Christ’s merit alone. It is not upon the plea of your fitness, your tears, your confessions, your prayers, your duties, that God forgives and accepts you, but simply and exclusively upon the one plea of the Saviour’s sacrifice. The BLOOD of Christ pardons, the RIGHTEOUSNESS of Christ justifies you, and this is all that you require, or that God demands. The great work is all done—it is not to be done. It is complete, finished, accepted, sealed. And you, as a lost sinner, without holiness, without strength, without one plea that springs from what you are, have nothing to do. Believe, and you are saved. Believing is not doing, it is not meriting, it is TRUSTING—it is the simple exercise of a faith in Christ which God gives, and which the Holy Ghost produces in the heart; so that your salvation, from beginning to end, is entirely out of yourself, in another."

What is the ruling principle of your heart? 

Have you examined yourself to know?

Commune with your own heart as to its real and habitual fellowship with God. Do we pray? 

What is the character of our prayers? 

Do we pray in the Spirit? 

Is our prayer communion? 

Do we walk with God as a Father, and with Christ as our best Friend? 

And is the throne of grace the sweetest, holiest, dearest spot to us on earth?


"Oh, how needed and wholesome and precious is self-communion now! Never, perhaps, before has your heart been laid open to such inspection, subjected to such scrutiny, submitted to such tests. Never have you been brought into such close contact with yourself; never has self-communion appeared to you so needed, so solemn, and so blessed as in this quiet chamber. Ah, much-abused, much-neglected heart! how have I allowed thee to wander, to be enanmoured, enchained, won, and possessed by others! How has thy spiritual verdure withered, how have thy fresh springs dried, thy beauty faded, and thy strength decayed! How cold, how inconstant, how unfaithful, how unkind hast thou been to thy best, thy dearest, thy heavenly Friend! But for the restraints of His grace and the constraints of His love, and the checks of His gentle corrections, whither, oh, whither wouldst thou have gone? I thank thee, Lord for Thy discipline—for the shaded path, the severed tie, the lonely sorrow, the loving, lenient correction that recalls my heart to Thee!"

Examine yourself by these tests:

Do I know that my sins are pardoned through Christ?  

Have I peace with God in Jesus? 

Am I living in the enjoyment of the Spirit of adoption? 

Have I in my soul the happiness, the joy, the consolation, the hope which heart-religion imparts? 

Or—solemn thought!
—am I endeavouring to quiet my conscience, 
to stifle self-reflection, to divert my thoughts from my unsatisfactory, 
unhappy condition and state of mind by the religious substitutes and subterfuges with which the present age so profusely abounds, 
and which, with those who are ensnared by them, 
pass for real spiritual life?


This chapter is so important;  I wish you could take some time to read it (no need to read the previous ones to understand this one); there are so many riches in it! And what a better time to examine ourselves than today? What a better season than Lent, when we are considering all that it means that Jesus willingly set his face to go to Jerusalem to be hanged on a cross?





Matthew Blair, the host of this reading group wrote an excellent summary of this chapter here.

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Grateful Monday

 14.3.11

"Among the many vices that are at once universally decried, and universally practiced in the world— there is none more base or more common than INGRATITUDE; ingratitude towards the supreme Benefactor. Ingratitude is the sin of individuals, of families, of churches,of kingdoms, and even of all mankind. The guilt of ingratitude lies heavy upon the whole race of men, though, alas! but few of them feel and lament it.I have felt it of late with unusual weight; and it is the weight of it that now extorts a discourse from me upon this subject."       Samuel Davies


I am learning that keeping a grateful heart before God helps me fight pride. When I give thanks, I am recognizing that I am only a vessel receiving blessings, virtues, opportunities, abilities, resources. Even when I do something "good" towards my neighbor, it is a gift from God that I am willing to do so; Paul reminded the Philippians of this when he wrote to them saying that "it is God who works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure".

The more I cultivate I grateful heart, the more clearly I see that pride and gratitude cannot abide in the same heart. So I give thanks to God, over and over, so I won't forget that HE IS the ONE that works all things in me for His good pleasure!

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1204. My oldest son turning 18years old! (Sorry no pics! I was too busy baking, cooking, serving our family and enjoying the moment!)

1205. I am grateful that it is GOD who has worked in my son all these years.

1206. I am so grateful to have am 18 years old son who loves the Lord and his family.

1207. I am grateful for my marriage, and how we keep holding hands as we see our children grow in the Lord.

1208. Fresh flowers in our home.




Samuel Davies (1723- 1761) encouraged his readers to give thanks to God to fight the sin of ingratitude; and I was  very delighted to find out that he also enumerated God's gifts; so today, I make his words, his "gratitude list" mine...

1209. I thank God that His mercy has been poured upon me upon all sides, and has followed me from the first commencement of your existence; rich, various, free, repeated, uninterrupted mercy!

1210. I thank God for the blessings of a body wonderfully and fearfully made, complete in all its parts, and not monstrous in any!

1211. I thank God he blessings of a rational, immortal soul, preserved in the exercise of sound reason for so many years, amid all those accidents that have shattered it in others, and capable of the exalted pleasure of religion, and the everlasting enjoyment of the blessed God, the Supreme Good!

1212. The blessing of a large and spacious world, prepared and furnished for our accommodation; illuminated with an illustrious sun, and the many luminaries of the sky!

1213. The earth enriched and adorned with trees, vegetables, various sorts of grain, and animals, for our support or convenience!



1214. The the sea, a medium of extensive trade, and an inexhaustible store of fish!



1215. The blessing of the early care of parents and friends, to provide for us in the helpless days of infancy, and direct or restrain us in the giddy, precipitant years of youth!

1216. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of having freedom to give our children a godly education.

1217. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of health for months and years!

1218. The blessing of clothing suited to the various seasons of the year!

1219. The blessing of rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, of summer and winter, of seed time and harvest!

1220. The agreeable vicissitude of night and day!

1221. The refreshing repose of sleep, and the activity and enjoyment of our waking hours!

1222. The blessing of the most endearing relationships; the blessings included in the tender names of friend, husband or wife, parent or child, brother or sister!

1223. Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of peace.

1224. Blessings in every age of life; in infancy, in youth, in adult age, and in the decays of old age!

1225. Thank you, Lord for all blessings as numerous as our moments, as long continued as our lives; blessings personal and relative, public and private! For while we have the air to breathe in, the earth to tread upon, or a drop of water to quench our thirst—we must own we are not left destitute of blessings from God!

"May our divine Benefactor, among his other blessings, bestow upon us that of a thankful heart, and enable us to give sincere, fervent, and perpetual praise to his name, through Jesus Christ, his unspeakable gift! Amen."


Join me today, let us praise together our Father in Heaven from whom all blessings flow!

What are you grateful for today? I want to join my voice with yours and extol our God who is worthy to be praised!





Note: My dear friend Trisha, is hosting the giveaway of a wonderful book that encourages us to have  a grateful heart. Please go to her site and be sure to follow her blog, it is one of my favorite places on the web!

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Who is Becky?

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Becky
If I am happy it is because of God! God, in His sovereign grace, has called me out of darkness into His Admirable light. He has opened my eyes and has shown me the way to Eternal Life. He has set my feet on a journey, and now I am walking Daily on My Way to Heaven. I did not find Jesus, He found me. I did not seek Him, yet He called me. I did not love Him, yet He loved me. I deserved death and He gave me Life. This is the place where I keep a journal of my life under His sun and by His grace!
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Borrowed Words

"It becomes us to spend this life only as a journey toward heaven... to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. Why should we labor for or set our hearts on anything else, but that which is our proper end and true happiness?"

Jonathan Edwards

"I am still pondering God's greatness in His creation. I have so many questions that I would like to ask the Lord about the universe, creation, the fall of man... But when I'm in heaven, I wonder if I will even remember them. At that time, being in the presence of God will be enough. I'm thankful that I can look forward to that day."

-Persis

“Heaven is not here, it’s There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.”

- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart



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