By Grace You Have Been Saved

In reading the book of Exodus, I was ministered to by the Holy Spirit as I read Exodus 20:24-26, about the making of the altar on which to offer the sacrifices for sin. God told Moses how to make it, and explained that if they made an altar out of stones, they were not to be hewn stones ,for if they used a chisel on the stones, it profaned the altar.

Why?

It was a type of our meeting with God under the New Covenant made through the blood of God’s Son, Jesus.

We have to come solely on the merits of His offering…no works of ours can be added.

“For by Grace you have been saved, through faith, and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8

But, you say, “What about ‘faith without works is dead’?” That’s true too, and Biblical, for if the Spirit of Christ lives in you, He will shine through you, and the works will follow because of Him and not because of you.

How freeing that is!

Sermon from a Junk Yard

Today, my boy and his buddies went meticulously through a junk yard and came home with bits of broken things – toys, wheels, pieces of wood, sticks, and the like. My first thought was, “Oh, no, more clutter for the yard!”

Once in a while it is good for a mother to be an eavesdropper – she can learn a lot that way!

The boys were in a state of ecstasy. They were exchanging pieces of junk back and forth – taking “dibbies” on this piece and “dibbies” on that.  And I heard them say, “Now, are you sure you are not going to change your mind? Are you sure I can keep this?”

“But what are you going to use it for?” I asked.

And they began to tell me of the wonderful things this junk could make. Why, this piece of bent wood would make a wonderful lance; and this one could be made into a gun; and the wheels and broken toys – there was just no end to the amazing ways they could be used! I shrugged my shoulders and went into the house, for, not having the eyes of a child, I could not see the end results.

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Orin Zebest via Flickr Creative Commons

But, I thought, is not this just the way God looks at our poor shattered lives when they are ruined and disgraced by sin? To Him they are not a piece of junk. The world may laugh and point the fingers of scorn at the derelict, but to God, this is a precious soul for whom Christ died.

I may look at the poor drunk of skid row – the bum who has become a derelict -and I cannot see the possibilities lying dormant in that soul – but God can! I cannot see the soul winner, the missionary, the preacher – but God can!

He that winneth souls is wise,” says the scripture. A small boy won may become a leader of men for Christ. A teen-age girl, allowing Christ to straighten out a tangled life, may turn a multitude to the Master. There are so many needy souls around us. But I must not limit the amazing Grace of God choosing to testify only to those who seem to me to be likely subjects for the kingdom of heaven. For I do not have the eyes to see the end result of a transformed life.

This post is a reprint from Foursquare Magazine – November, 1959.
Reposted from LWT 6/16/14

Are You Too Near the Getting In Place?

The story is told of a little boy who had a habit of falling out of bed in the night. Finally, his mother asked him why he fell out of bed so much. He replied, “I guess I stay too near the getting in place.”

The small boy with alarm clock in the bedIt’s a picture of too many Christians who don’t seem to grow, or know the Lord Jesus better this year than last. They’re faithful in their church attendance and they even tithe. But the Christian walk is a walk with Jesus that causes us to change. As Paul wrote, we are changed “from Glory to Glory, transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Peter also cautioned us to grow in 2 Peter 3:18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Knowledge comes through the Word, illuminated by the Holy Spirit.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18

(These thoughts were first shared with Kristin in an email on August 11, 2005. Gladys was 86 years old. And yes, she loved connecting via email!)

The Sifting Days

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Photo: Heather Durnin, Flickr Creative Commons

I watched a farmer in the field as he threshed the stalks so heavy with wheat. The huge machinery was working; grinding, sifting; and as the stalk went through the machinery, I noticed that there was a great separating process that took place, until from one side there came a beautiful, golden flow of wheat, but the chaff was cast aside as useless and it flew away with the four winds until I could scarcely see where it had been. But the wheat, so yellow and ripe, came forth, a delight to the farmer who had planted it.

As I watched, I could almost hear the words of Jesus to Peter before He faced His persecutors: “Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…” (Luke 22:31-32)

These are sifting days… these are days when the strongest among us are being tried, and sometimes questioned … when the weak often are blown about by the winds of trial and persecution.

The refining fire of God is like a thresher’s machinery; purging, tearing us away from the mold that once held us so tightly in its grasp; separating us from the world unto holiness. And after the threshing, the wheat flows forth, golden and useful, and beautiful to the eye of Him who planted it!

But the chaff? On every hand I see those who once walked near their Lord, now looking for a flimsy excuse to loiter on the way – dabbling here and there. And Satan uses, I think, the very element of time to erase the memory of the closeness they knew with God, and they do not feel their need of walking as before. And it isn’t long until they, like the chaff, are gone with the four winds – no longer of service to the Lord; scarcely leaving an imprint of the place where they have been. And, like Demas, they forsake God’s work, having loved this present evil world.

You and I can be counted as wheat if we want to be!

In my heart there is a determination not to be sifted as wheat – not to become the chaff that is no longer counted as useful.

Is that your determination, too?

(Repost from Oct. 2014)

Are You Going to Vote?

Vote buttons stack with red and blue colors

Here we are in another election year, with the National Elections just around the corner. So, of course, we ought to talk about the “right to vote,” because it’s a big issue today.

Not everything in life can be voted on. Recently, I lost my 95 year-old mother. She went home to be with Jesus on her birthday. If I had been given the privilege of casting my vote upon whether or not she should go, I think I would have agreed, in light of her age and health, with the decision God made! But actually, I didn’t have anything to say about it at all.

But I do live in a nation that gives its citizens the right to vote in elections, without fear or intimidation. And I consider it serious business. I must regretfully add, however, that not everyone exercises such a privilege.

Those who conduct polls regarding voter turn-out are prone to divide the populace according to age, sex, marital status, education, economic conditions and geographical areas. They believe more voters are 30-50 years of age than those in older groups; that the public employees have a higher voter turn-out than among the disadvantaged, the poor, the uneducated, or racial minorities. And they state that our nation is experiencing a time of change in voting habits.

There has been a decline in partisanship. Through the 1960’s, one tended to vote the way their parents voted. Their party loyalty tended to be an inherited one. Today, that is no longer the norm.

The knowledge concerning a candidate’s vote on state or national levels is public property. Many groups freely provide this information. One can learn how a candidate feels about abortion or school prayer; whether or not they are radical on the issue of separation of Church and State, or reads into the constitution the lack of freedom for believers in God.

One can discover a candidate’s feeling on the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior. Do they vote against a manger scene in the town square, or for the omission of Christmas carols in public gatherings and school programs? Would they remove the symbol of a cross from the hill overlooking a town? How does the candidate feel about school-based clinics, or the dispensing of contraceptives as a means of birth control among our youth, or do they think parents hold the responsibility to educate and inform their own children about such things?

If the issues are important, one will make it a point to know the platform of a candidate in this forthcoming election.

Political writer Anthony Downs has said, “Every rational man decides to vote just as he makes all other decisions; if the returns outweigh the costs, he votes; if not, he abstains.” Today, when our freedoms are in jeopardy, there is a great need for everyone who is on the Lord’s side to stand up and be counted. We can do this by exercising the right to vote. Moreover, you must discover how your candidate feels about vital issues and how, in a moment of pressure, he or she would vote.

In our society, there are those who seek to remove any sign of Biblical truth from public life and who are taking steps to secularize our society. The type of society we live in, AND WILL LEAVE TO OUR CHILDREN is at stake. By our lack of interest, or by electing lawmakers who do not value the sanctity of human life and the home, or the biblical mandates for law and order, will we leave them with a society that has no moral standards?

The 1988 local and national elections are critical in the fight for moral integrity in our great land May God help each of us to do what we can. If we fulfill our responsibility, it will be enough. God has raised up many Christian groups who are faithful in keeping us informed, but they cannot win the battle for righteousness without the ballot of every Christian voter.

I’m going to vote! Are you?

~ Gladys

(This article originally appeared in the “Letters from Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance magazine, Summer 1988.)

Train Up a Child…

In California, we are often rocked by an earthquake. Sometimes it is no more than the shuddering of the ground under us, other times it is more forceful. In places around the world, people are continually reminded of Jesus’ words that one of the signs of the last days would be earthquakes in various places. (Matthew 24:7)

However, there is another shaking that affects us, no matter where we live. It is the crumbling of our value systems, an age of violence. That too, is prophetic. One columnist has called it “an ever-expanding junk culture.”

Parents of young children, especially Christian families, have only to look about them to discover that it will take extreme vigilance to train up their children in the way they should go. Prayers of faith must be followed by the training of our children in absolutes and disciplines. The potential for good or evil is present in every child, whether it be a Ted Bundy who was introduced to pornography at the age of 12, or godly training in the home that will produce a Billy Graham. What one learns as a child will set life-consuming direction.

One area of vigilance must be regarding television. Mine is not the only voice raised in protest to a constant barrage of filth aimed at the minds of our children, even on prime-time programming. Seemingly innocent Saturday morning cartoons are not so innocent anymore.

Recently, a mother wrote Ann Landers, telling of a toddler in Boston, MA who has been stabbed 17 times by a five-year-old. Ann blamed it on what the child had seen on television. Another wrote regarding the influence of Garbage Pail Kids, which are not only promoted on TV, but can be purchased in a pack of chewing gum. The cards often depict children in violent actions, in vivid detail.

A fourth grade school teacher asked her students to write an essay on how they would like to celebrate Halloween. Eighty percent of them expressed the wish to “kill somebody.”
Just think of how many youth spend hours before the TV on Saturday mornings and are impacted by such media while mom and dad sleep in, or occupy themselves in other activities.

This is also the age of the security system. We have them in our homes, our businesses, our cars, and yes, even our churches are installing them. We are guarding against the thief. Security systems is big business today!

May I remind us that Satan, the thief, is alive and well. His job is to steal, kill and destroy, as Jesus warned in John 10:10. His target is our children and our homes. But do we not have the outline for security in God’s Word? God left the finest training to the home. He prescribed vigilance and diligence in the training of our children when he commanded Israel to teach the commandments to the children; to talk about them day and night. And I say, “God bless the godly men and women who devote themselves to the training of the children in the home and in the Church.”

bedtime bible stories

The President of the United States has asked that we created a kinder, gentler nation. The place to start in creating this is with the young.

We must value the child. God does!

Gladys

“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”  Matthew 24:7 ESV

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 ESV

 

This article by Rev. Gladys I. Johnson first appeared in the Foursquare Advance magazine in 1989, in her Letters From Gladys column.

We Are SALT

We have a little fish bowl that holds just one goldfish, but the water in that bowl becomes dirty and cloudy and must be changed often.

Goldfish

I was thinking about that one little fish, and my mind went to the ocean and all the myriad of fish that live in the oceans, and have lived there down through the centuries.

Yet, the water stays the same. Why?

Because it is salty, and salt purifies. No wonder Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13)

The world is an evil, dirty place, and our hearts are often burdened with the events we see on television….but we are the salt….we are here so that, in our small way, and in our corner of the world, we may be a force for good, and for God.

Fish are not found in stagnant waters. No life can live there.

The person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells by the New Birth is not translated out of this world, but remains here to be salt…a purifying element.

This was written by Gladys on 11/12/2006 and a re-post on LWT

Letters From Gladys

I’ve dreamed many dreams that never came true …

I’ve seen them vanish at dawn.

But enough of my dreams have come true,

thank God,

to make me want to dream on.

 

I’ve prayed many prayers when no answer came …

Though I waited patiently and long.

But answers have come to enough of  my prayers,

thank God,

to make me want to pray on.

 

I’ve trusted many a friend who failed me,

And left me to weep all alone,

But enough of my friends have been true blue,

thank God,

to make me want to trust on.

 

I’ve sown many seeds that fell by the way for the birds of the air to feed on.

But I’ve held enough golden sheaves in my hands,

thank God,

to make me want to sow on.

 

I’ve drunk the cup of disappointment and pain.

I’ve gone many days without song.

But I’ve sipped enough nectar from the roses of life,

thank God,

to make me want to live on.

(Author Unknown)

old letters in the vintage arrangement

In my mind, retirement always belonged to “those older people” who had passed their most useful days of ministry. We lovingly watched as others entered this stage of their lives, never really anticipating that one day, we too would belong to that group. This past fall, however, my husband and I retired from our pastorate, having completed 46 years of ministry in the Body of Christ, and the Foursquare Church in particular.

As retirees, the amount of concessions afforded us is amazing! Restaurants, parks and hotels give us discounts; magazines are published specifically for us, and the health field directs its attention to us in a constant barrage of new medical plans to supplement Medicare. We are forced to make new decisions concerning our lives and future. Change seems to be a constant for us, and it fills many of the prayers we pray.

Recently, in the apartment building where we live, the need to remain open to change even in the small details of life, was illustrated for me. It was a Monday morning and I had filled the washing machines in our community laundry, when a retired lady came in, looked at me with anger and said, “I have lived in this apartment building for twenty years, and I have always washed first thing on Monday mornings. You have ruined my day!” I returned to my apartment praying, “Oh Lord, keep me flexible. Don’t let me become rigid and unable to flow with life’s changes, small or large.”

In relating to the Church, we are happy to submit to the leadership of the younger generation, for this is right. But at the same time, we are still Salt and Light; Jesus made us that, and that we will be until He calls us “Home.” We thrill when a soul is born again. We rejoice in the victories of the Church, and we encourage the younger pastors who have taken our place to preach the Word, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.

We also request your understanding. In your ministry to us, please don’t expect us to totally change, for there are some things that we do cherish. We are still moved by some of the old songs that have sustained us down through the years. We love to hear a preacher proclaim those proven truths of God’s Word and stir our hearts with eloquence and anointing. Most of all, we need your care and support as we face what might be the most challenging time of our lives.

The poem which I have included above must have been written by someone who has walked along the pathway of life some distance and learned from that walk the things that are truly important. I know they express my sentiments at this time in my life.

A Retired Shepherd,

           Gladys

(This article first appeared in the “Letters From Gladys” column in Foursquare Advance Magazine, 1989. We are happy to report she was vibrant in other forms of ministry for another 20 years until God called her Home in 2009.)

 

I Have Learned to be Content

Today I was thinking: Hebrews 12:2 “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

What was that joy? YOU and ME … sons and daughters of Father God. he was an only Son… now, through His sacrifice, he was to have millions of family members!!

Rejoice… you are loved!

Some of the most miserable people I have ever met have been Christians who looked miserable. You couldn’t disguise the misery of their lives, for it shone on their faces and in their eyes, and when they spoke, Someone always had more of this world’s goods, or of happiness. I have found a scripture that will puncture their outlook, in 1 Timothy 6:6, and it simply says, “GODLINESS, WITH CONTENTMENT, IS GREAT GAIN.”

I believe this is a learned attitude, for Paul said, “I have learned in whatsoever condition I am in, therewith to be content.”

Try it… your life will be happier and brighter!

(Originally written by Gladys on 1/7/2004)

One-Liners and Fun!

(My Grandma thought she’d type out some “one-liners” to share with me on March 3, 2006. I wanted to share them with you today! She still uplifts me with her words, and she’s been gone from this earth for years! The photos are of her in my dorm room in college being her awesome, fun self, and of me putting my hair on her head for a laugh on her 90th birthday! She was SO FUN! I love you Grandma! Thank you for a heritage of faith, joy, humor and love! – Kristin)

Basketball Grandma 1996

Basketball Grandma 1996

GMA

Don’t let your worries get the best of you; remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisors.

It is easier to preach ten sermons than it is to live one.

The good Lord didn’t create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close.

People are funny; they want the front of the bus, the middle of the road, and the back of the church.

Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.

Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect, you wouldn’t belong.

God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead. So, why should you?

Some minds are like concrete. Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

Peace starts with a smile.

I don’t know why some people change churches; what difference does it make which one you stay home from?

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

Be ye fishers of men. You catch them – He’ll clean them.

Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Don’t put a question mark where God put a period.

Forbidden fruits create many jams.

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

God grades on the cross, not the curve.

God loves everyone, but probably prefers “fruits of the spirit” over “religious nuts!”

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

He who angers you, controls you!

If God is your Co-pilot, SWAP SEATS!

You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage him.

The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:
1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given

(And at the very end of this email she wrote……)

I may not be perfect in this lifetime, nor do I expect to be, but that does not stop me from trying!