379. SOME TEACHING ON FAITH AND THE PRAYER OF FAITH ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO HEALING

What do we mean by faith? There are many definitions but one I read over 50 years ago, still is valuable in my opinion. It is based on the letters of the word, FAITH. It Is F.A.I.T.H.  “Forsaking All ITrusting Him!” It reminds us that a true commitment to Christ is learning to trust God in every area of our lives so that He motivates and empowers our every thought and deed. A passage such as Philippians 2:12-13 shows that connection, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Of course the Bible has a great definition of faith in Hebrews 11. In fact the chapter opens with this definition of faith and then introduces many of the heroes of faith in the following verses. Here is Heb 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [ESV] Or “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen “[CSB]. OR in the words of the NEB,“Faith brings substance to our hopes. And makes us certain of realities we do not see.”

So faith is different from positive thinking. In its focus. It is trusting in the Lord’s resources, not in our own wisdom or strength. Notice the faith of the writer in in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Here is a faith that trusts God throughout life until life ends. So we look at how faith is involved from the time we come to Christ until we go to be with Him. These are some of the main verses.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER

PROMISE OF SALVATION. Faith is the key to receiving the promise of salvation by God. Paul reminded Timothy of his spiritual background. 2 Tim 3:15, “and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” It meant that when Timothy was confronted with the truth of the gospel, he was able to understand the message and respond the Christ of the gospel.

KEY TO SALVATION, for entrance into the Kingdom and for access to God. 

  • Rom 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” It was the gospel message that brought people from darkness into the light of Christ.
  • Rom 10:9,  ‘If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.‘ An inward belief that Christ is Lord needs to be expressed outwardly in words for salvation to take heart deeply in the life of a believer.
  • Eph 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” God’s grace is seen to be at work when people hear the gospel and respond to it. It is their faith that enables them to receive the gift of God in the gospel.
  • Eph 3:12 (access), In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Not only is faith involved when people come to Christ, but faith also continues allowing the believer to have free access to God at all times.

ENABLES US TO RECEIVE THE SPIRIT. Many in the church in Galatia had been tempted to go back to their Jewish roots and observing theJewish law, whilst ignoring their commitment to Christ. Paul wrote to rebuke them and challenges them to think back to the time of their conversion to Christ, Gal 3:2, “…Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” They would remember that their conversion happened as they heard and responded to the gospel message and received the Spirit of God into their hearts. Their reception of the Spirit occurred as they by faith accepted Christ and not while they were trying to obey the Jewish law. A few verses later Paul added that the scripture had foreseen that God would justify the Gentile people as they exercised faith in the Christ of the gospel, Gal 3:8, “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith

God’s Promises were released through faith

  • Gal 3:22. “But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. God’s promises were to be released into the lives of those who believed in the Christ of the gospel message, to those who had faith in Christ.
  • Gal 3:14. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” It would seem that the Abrahamic blessing would certainly include the gift of the Holy Spirit. Both Jew and Gentile who responded in faith to the Christ of the gospel message would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
  • Gal 5:6 “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” Paul recognised that believers had received the gift of righteousness as they put their test in Christ. They had been credited with the righteousness of God so that God could declare them to be righteous in His sight, clothed with the righteousness of Christ. But they also needed to grow in righteousness in the sense of becoming closer to the righteousness that marked the life of the earthly Christ, to become more like Him their daily living. That would come as they continued to trust in Christ, more and more.

BELONGING TO GOD’S FAMILY. Gal 3:26. ”So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” [Rom 8:15]. Paul wanted all his readers to know that through putting their trust in Christ, they were not only justified by faith but they actually belonged to God’s family. As he wrote in Romans 8;14-17, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Children of God, indeed fellow heirs with Christ!

Faith Is NEEDED TO PLEASE GOD, Heb.11:6. We need to believe “that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” The writer to the Hebrews wrote that without faith is impossible to please God. He states that those who want to draw near to God must believe two things, namely that He does exist and also that He rewards all those who endeavour to seek Him.

BRINGS PROTECTION. We see even in the Old Testament that it was recognised that the Lord is our refuge and strength as we trust in Him, Ps 118:8, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” AND Prov 29:25. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” Peter also recognised that believers were protected by a shield, the shield being the power of God, AND We are shielded by God’s power through faith, 1 Pet 1:5 [believers] “who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

HEALING. Faith is the key for receiving healing. A woman with a flow of blood reached out and touched the hem of his garment believing that as she did so she would be healed. She was healed instantly. Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.‘ Mat 9:22. Jesus had healed her, but her faith had opened the door for the healing to take place.

In the early church there was expectancy that prayer could bring healing. So James encouraged those who were sick, to pray in faith for healing and to encourage mature believers to pray over them. Jas 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 6 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” He saw this as being a prayer of faith.

ANSWERS TO PRAYER.  The wonderful promise of Jesus to answer the prayers of those who abide in Him and abide in His word. Joh 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus is here showing His disciples throughout the ages the secret to having prayers answered. It is by abiding in Him in a close relationship and by abiding in His word. It as we do so that we come to understand in a deeper way His heart and also gain a deeper understanding of His will regarding prayer and healing.

BRINGS PEACE. Faith brings peace, Is.26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” The person who trusts in the Lord is able to experience peace in all the trials of life. As the next verse puts it, “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Is 26:4. Our peace comes from His unchanging rock-like strength because we can trust Him to oversee on our behalf.

Isa 30:15 ‘For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling.’ But peace can be forfeited. Israel as a nation forfeited the peace they could have known because they were unwilling to trust in God. By not accepting His constant help they failed to experience the peace and quietness they could have experienced and were weakened as a result.

Our justification by God brings us His peace. Rom 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” To have the God of the universe saying of us, “I declare you to be righteous in my eyes”and “I see you as being clothed in the righteousness of My Son” brings incredible peace to those who trust Him.

PROSPERITY. Brings prosperity. Prov.28:25, A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the LORD will be enriched. The person who fails to make the Lord His provider, Who promises to supply the needs of those who trust Him, does not experience peace but is unsettled and unsettles others as well. By contrast the one who trusts in the Lord for his needs is open to receive from God all he needs and more.

Jesus gave a commandment and a promise in the one saying, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Mat 6:33. Faith is involved in seeking first the kingdom of God for it involves laying down the reliance on our own wisdom and strength and learning to find and fulfil the Lord’s will for doing things in His way with the wisdom He gives us.

THE PRAYER OF FAITH. James 5:15  “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” The prayer of faith”. This is the literal translation. [NIV, “the prayer offered in faith” is an interpretation of the phrase, but probably correct.] That faith would be present in this process is obvious in the following: the sick man’s willingness to call for the elders, and their willingness to respond to his request. Also the willingness for the elders to pray, and for the sick man to receive prayer, shows the recognition on the part of all of them, that healing comes from the Lord upon whom they are all dependent.

Thus the prayer of faith is to be seen as the healing power of God being released through believing prayer. It is not a magical incantation, so that the right words rightly intoned, will always bring healing. Nor is it a magic formula that always works. It is praying with faith in the trustworthy promises of the trustworthy God. 

THE PRAYER OF FAITH PRESUPPOSES THAT HEALING IS AVAILABLE.

We notice the link between Is 53:4 and Mt 8:16-17, where physical healing is seen to be a fulfilment of the Messiah bearing the illnesses and the diseases of the people. “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Even as healing for guilt (forgiveness) was made available through the Messiah bearing the transgressions and iniquities of the people (Is.53:5, 1 Peter 2:24), so healing for the body was made available through the Messiah bearing the sicknesses and pains of the people for whom He came to die. 

Does everyone live in the freedom of the perfection of the forgiveness from sin? Is there not a lot of unnecessary guilt being carried? It is no different in the case of the availability of physical healing. Either people don’t realise that Jesus died to make it available, or else they don’t perfectly appropriate the healing that Jesus has made available through His death and resurrection.

The prayer of faith is based on the premise that healing has been made available, and in faith we learn to draw upon the resources for healing that exist in Him, in His unsearchable riches.  It is not a case of manipulating God so that eventually He will give in to our requests. Rather it is humbly asking that the provision for our needs, may be released into our own particular situation as we humbly pray in faith, and in confidence that it has been provided for us in Christ.

SCRIPTURES INDICATING WE ALREADY POSSESS WHAT WE PRAY FOR IN FAITH

John wrote, 1 Jn.5:14-15.  v.14. And this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  15.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained (literally present tense “have”) the requests made (literally “have asked”) of Him.

Notes:  All the verbs underlined are in the present tense. In v.15, both occurrences of “know”, and  also “made” are in the perfect [past] tense.  What is not clear in these verses, is the time for the reception of those things requested.  Was it eternally in Him according to His eternal purpose, and released to us through our prayers? Or was it given to us from the moment we prayed and He heard?  [Either way, they are ours in Him!]

Matthew put it, Mat 21:21-22.  “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea’, it will be done. 22. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” (“If you have faith” is the present participle “believing”.) That is, 22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

The Markan equivalent in Mk 11:21-22, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be taken up and cast into the sea’, it will be done. 22. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith.” (“If you have faith” is the present participle “believing”.) [NKJV 22 “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”] This is a promise from Jesus about what happens when believing prayer is made to God. Jesus added in Mark 11:24, ” Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Jesus is encouraging us to believe that we should pray and also believe from that moment that we have received the answer to our prayers. Again it is unclear as to when the reception takes place, but it seems to be from the time of the prayer, though of course received after that, which is in the future from the time of asking.

John records the words of Jesus, John 14:13-1413  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”  To ask “in His name “is to ask in faith on the basis of who He is and on what He has done [His Person and Work]. It has to be to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

THE PRAYER OF FAITH. Some writers.

Colin Urquhart“You are to pray with faith. You are to believe that you have received whatever you ask for in prayer.” The rider he makes is that we need to “pray with faith given by God’s Spirit.  … If we do not allow the Spirit to guide and lead our praying, then we shall often pray in the wrong way and meet with a negative response from the Lord.” (ICJ In Christ Jesus p.162 )

Canon John Gunstone warns, “We’re called to believe in God, not to have faith in our faith. … I only begin to feel secure when I put my trust in what God wants and in what He can do. …The results can be left in God’s hands.”(TLIOH The Lord Is Our Healer. p.181.

Canon Jim Glennon encouraged us with the words, ” when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (YHIWY p.168)

The PRAYER OF FAITH is prayer trusting a faithful God to answer prayers based on His faithful promises in the Bible.

NOTE: [This was the content of a Zoom teaching given from my home in Port Macquarie to the Healing Ministry at the Healing Ministry Centre, Golden Grove, Newtown, Sydney on Saturday 17th April 2021.]

Blog No.379 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Tuesday 20th April 2021

us with the words, ” when one prays in faith, it is remarkable how much discernment is given by the Spirit as to how to pray, and minister appropriately.” (YHIWY p.168)The PRAYER OF FAITH is trusting a faithful God to answer prayers based on His faithful promises in His word, the Bible.

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378. A Wonderful Birthday on Sunday 7th February 1943. Kharagpur, India. A Blessing to Thousands of People Worldwide!

A wonderful event occurred on Sunday 7 February 1943. The birth of Carole Ann Tapsell.

Carole was born to Carl and Eileen Tapsell at Kharagpur near Calcutta in India. Carl was known as one the greatest field hockey players of all time with 2 Olympic Gold medals for India in 1932 [Los Angeles] and 1936 [Berlin]. The family moved to Ipswich in 1947 and years later I heard about this Carole who had become a winner of Eisteddfods and a Sports Champion in many sports, including becoming a Qld GPS Sprint champion. She became a member of the church Youth Group I led and she became my best friend ever for over 60 wonderful years..

What a privilege it has been to me to have been the person chosen by God to marry her for 54 years and to be blessed by the Lord with 3 wonderful children and 4 grand-children. It was a privilege too for us to serve the Lord in ministry together for over 50 years in Australia and North America.

Carole read some years ago that on birthdays we honour and celebrate the uniqueness of the person. She tried to do that with everyone and I’m taking this opportunity to do the same for her, even though the Lord took her home to Himself on 31 October 2019.

When I included some photos of Carole in an article recently I was surprised by how many friends around the world loved seeing them. I have included some more here to jog the memory of friends we have known for over 60 years and to show a younger Carole than many folk may have seen her.

Her lovely smile touches me deeply every time I look at photos or remember how she smiled. Especially at me!

On her birthday I celebrate her uniqueness with a thankful heart but with an ongoing very acute sense of loss.

“To God be the Glory, Great things He has done!” In and through this delightful and precious birthday gift to the world on 7th February 1943!

In the early years of marriage
A photo of our family when I was the Dean of St Peter’s Cathedral, Armidale from 1978-1988
Married for longer. Still smiling!
Carole loving nursing our youngest grandchild Harrison in 2017
Carole had wonderful ministry keeping in contact with family and friends all around the world. Especially on their birthdays. She cared deeply for family, friends, her staff and students and even for new acquaintances.

Blog No.378. A Wonderful Birthday on Sunday 7th February 1943. Kharagpur, India. A Blessing to Thousands of People Worldwide!

[This previously appeared on my Facebook site in time for Carole’s Birthday.]

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377. Honouring a Very Special Person! Carole Ann Holbeck, 1943 -2019

On the 22nd January 2021 I would have been celebrating with my wife our 55th Wedding Anniversary. However the Lord took her home to Himself on the 31st October 2019, but not before we had enjoyed over 50 years of a rich and exciting life and ministry together in Him. Many were the blessings over those years especially His gifts of children and grand-children. Included among those blessings were loyal and loving family and friends who have been so understanding and kind to me since Carole exited this life.

She was a very special person who had the ability in Christ to make everyone she met, feel they were special people too. The world was made richer for her presence in this world for almost 77 years, and now is much poorer because of her absence.

As I compiled this brief montage of photos I was reminded afresh of the Very Special Person she was [and is now with the Lord] and of the tremendous privilege I had as an ordinary human being in being able to love her and to be loved by her.The photos I compiled show Carole as a schoolgirl with her parents Carl and Eileen Tapsell when I first met her. Then a photo as she was about to leave home to marry me! Then Carole as Mrs Carole Holbeck immediately after our wedding at All Saints church Booval, Qld. Then a selfie photo as we rested while touring the Hunter Valley Gardens at Pokolbin perhaps a year or so before cancer struck its final blow on her mortal body. Greatly admired, respected and loved! AND OH SO DEEPLY MISSED! Still in awe of this Very Special Person, Jim

Carole just before leaving her home to be driven to the church to marry me!

Posted in Coping With Personal Grief, Forgiveness, Mini Reflections, Real Life Stories, Tributes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

376. Perfect Love Casts Out Fear. Reading 1 Jn 4:13-21. My Sermon preached at the Healing Service in St Andrew’s Cathedral Sydney on Wed 9th August 2000.

[NOTE: While I was searching for a file on my computer I came across this sermon from August 2000. In light of the huge build up in fear of various kinds throughout the world in recent years, I thought it might be helpful to consider the truths it contains for today as well. Here it is as preached on that occasion.]

THE SERMON

Who or what do we fear? Fear comes so easily to us as humans. But there are many different types and degrees of fear. Is fear always a bad thing? In fact fear can be a positive emotion. It prevents us taking risks that could be destructive or fatal. Fear of crashing our car, prevents us from driving flat out on greasy roads. Fear of going bankrupt prevents us from gambling all our money. Fear in a positive sense can be appropriate in certain situations.

1. THE POSITIVE ASPECT OF FEAR.

Mainly throughout the Bible, the one we need to fear is God Himself, or God’s representative. eg., in Deut 6:2, Moses warned the people, “fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.” In Deut 31:13, he added that the children had to hear the law and obey it, and in this way, would learn to fear the LORD their God as they prepared to cross the Jordan to possess the promised land.

To fear God meant to give Him His rightful place . It meant to live with a sense of awe about Him. It meant to obey Him as part of one’s commitment and love for Him. In Deut 10:12, Moses joins both fear of God and love for God, in the one verse “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. “

This fear of God is not some pathetic cringing dread that we might have as we approach God. Rather it is a healthy sense of respect and awe we have as we realise we are approaching the Holy One, the Creator, the majestic Lord of the Universe and who has shown us that He loves us.

2. THE NEGATIVE ASPECT OF FEAR.

There is a fear that is inappropriate and wrong. Let’s look at a couple of examples where it was said to be wrong.page1image51328320

When the Israelites had come out of bondage in Egypt, they were afraid to go into the land the Lord had promised them, because they heard that the inhabitants of the land were big and strong. The Lord had promised them victory, but they were afraid to go in. Only Joshua and Caleb amongst the Israelites didn’t fear the people of the land. They feared God more than they feared the people in Canaan. The others Israelites feared people more they feared God, and did not obey Him. They missed out on the promise of God, of entering the Promised Land.

After the feeding of the 5000, Jesus sent His disciples in a boat across the lake. As the waves got bigger and they got more scared, Jesus came walking to them on the water. Their fear turned to sheer terror, and they cried out, “It’s a ghost.” But they didn’t need to be afraid. Jesus told them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter was so inspired by what he had experienced that he asked Jesus if he could walk across the water to Him. When Jesus told him to come to Him, Peter began to walk on the water. He was doing well until he looked away from Jesus to the waves. Fear came in and he began to sink, crying, “Lord save me.” Jesus caught him and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” He had stepped out in faith, but had begun to look at the problem, the power of the wind and the seas, rather than to fulfilling the promise of Jesus to him, and fear took away his victory over the difficulties around him.

That’s the problem with fear. It makes you focus on the thing you are afraid of, rather than on the One who can overcome our fears. Job said something that we can readily identify with. He said in Job 3:25, “What I feared has come upon me, what I dreaded has happened to me.” The more we fear something, the more power we give it in our own lives. If we fear cancer, we can get so focussed on the possibility that we can bring it upon ourselves. If we fear becoming mentally ill the stress of watching for any symptoms of it can help produce it. Someone being introduced to another person can become so fearful of forgetting their name that they can’t focus on retaining the name in the first place. Fear paralyses us so that we don’t function properly.

We can get so afraid of failing that we get stressed out and do fail. We can program ourselves for failure. We can get so afraid of dying that we can get ill and perhaps even prematurely die. The writer to the Hebrews wrote that Jesus came to set free those who were held in slavery all their lives through their fear of death.

How many marriages must be bound up because a woman fears her mother in law, or a man one of his in-laws. How many spouses must be bound up because they fear rejection if they were to give themselves completely to their wife or husband. How many people hold back on a deeper commitment to God because they fear the consequences of a deeper commitment. In fear, they hold back and miss out on blessing.

3. GETTING FEAR INTO ITS RIGHT PERSPECTIVE.

We’ve been saying that there is a right kind of fear in which we have a healthy respect and a sense of awe towards God. When people don’t have that positive sense of fear, they can muck up their lives terribly. Think of the passage in Rom 1, where Paul writes that those who don’t fear God in the sense of giving Him respect, and who ignore His laws, place more importance on the creation than on the Creator. They do their own thing in rebellion against God. The end result from that lack of fear for God means that God lets them do their own thing. Thus 1:24ff, “God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. … even women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” A right fear of God with respect for His laws and obedience to them, is a counter against evil.

In brief, we are to fear God and those who represent Him, such as in Rom 13 where Paul writes that if we do the right thing in life in obedience to God we have nothing to fear. However if we do the wrong thing, then we need to be afraid, “Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”

How can we get rid of the wrong sort of fear?

i. By having the right fear of God and His representatives. When we try to get into the centre of God’s will we can build up a real confidence in God and in His love and protection for us. As the writer to the Hebrews put it, Heb 4:16) Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(Heb 7:25) Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

(Heb 10:22) let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Or as St Paul wrote about what Christ accomplished on the cross, (Eph 3:11) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,(Eph 3:12) in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.

Or St John, in 1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God;

ii. By letting perfect love cast out fear.

What is perfect love? It is the love shown by those who live by the word of God. (1 John 2:5) but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

Here John says it is the love shown in loving one another. (1 John 4:12) No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

It is that agape love of God for us in Christ, and it means responding to that love, by receiving Christ as Saviour and Lord. There is no place for the wrong sort of fear, which is fearful of punishment, because Jesus took the punishment for our sins, not us. In Christ we are forgiven, we are free, not condemned, not expecting punishment. Where once there was fear of punishment, now there is love for God, because of His mercy and grace. As John wrote in (1 John 4:17-18) Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

Perfect love is that agape love of God flowing into us and through us as God fills us with His Holy Spirit. Rom 5:5, for the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is God’s gift to us.

iii. By asking Christ to be Lord of every situation in our lives. Instead of facing situations in our own strength, we ask Him to be our strength. Instead of relying on our own wisdom, we ask Him to give us the wisdom we need in every situation. Ps 25:14, “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” He wants to share His plans with us.

David was one who feared the Lord, and he wrote in Ps 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” If God was on his side, he had nothing or no-one to fear.

Isaiah tells us how to tap into all the resources of God that we need, Is 33:6, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure. “

The right sort of fear, the fear of God brings life and health, Prov 10:27, “The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.” Prov 14:27, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.”

The fear of the Lord leads to contentment in life, Prov 15:16, “Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.” Prov 19:23, “The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble.”

The fear of the Lord leads to being able to receive God’s wonderful provision for our needs, Ps 34:9, “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack
nothing.” 
Ps 145:19, “He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.”

Why is God so gracious to us, and why does He promise to meet our needs? Ps 103:11, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; … Ps 103:13, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.”

What’s your need tonight? Is it to be free of fear of people or situations? Then Christ can set you free.

Is it to receive some blessing or healing? Then God has promised to bless those who rightly fear Him, love Him, trust him and obey Him. As St Paul wrote of God’s willingness to give, (Rom 8:31) “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:32) He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

Blog No.376 posted on Monday 04 January 2021.

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375. Ephesians1:3. Thanking God For What We Have In Christ. [Part of the Epistle reading for this Sunday 03 January 2021]

Back in 2016 my wife Carole and I had just received the results of tests regarding an occasional mild haemorrhage she had experienced over several weeks which showed that her condition was extremely serious and indeed life-threatening. Our doctor gave us the news that Carole might live perhaps another two years but could die anytime! My response to this shattering news was to pray, and I began praying through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. I began with the passage which is set for this coming Sunday 03 January 2021. Following his greeting to the believers in Ephesus, Paul wrote one long sentence in the Greek text that goes from verses 3 to 14. ( I originally thought that I would look at the following passage from verses 3 to 6. But as you will see I was impacted by incredible truths just in verse 3.)

(3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love (5) he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (6) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” 

SOME AMAZING TRUTHS in Ephesians 1:3.  God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Paul began verse 3 with a blessing – to God! He is about to describe the blessings God has bestowed on His people. However he begins the passage with his focus on God as the One who blesses, before he begins to elaborate on the blessings God bestows. (It’s always a good thing in prayer to focus on the Lord in praise and adoration before we begin to speak to others about His blessings.)

We see a wonderful link in this verse.

* “Blessed” in “Blessed be God” is the Greek adjective (eulogētós).

*The phrase “Has blessed us” is from the verb (eulogéō) and

*The “blessing” in “every spiritual blessing” is the noun (eulogia). The words all come from a common root. What a blessed verse this is! We are blessing the One who has blessed us with blessings!

Does this sound familiar? We find a similar expression used in the call of Abraham in the Septuagint Greek version of the Old Testament.  Gen 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you (eulogéō) and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (eulogētós, an  adjective from the verb (eulogéō). The people of God are blessed by Him to be a blessing to others. We note that they are the same Greek words used in Ephesians 1:3.

God had another promise of blessing for His people in Gen 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you (both are from the verb eulogéō) and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (eneulogéō from en = in and eulogéō, meaning to bless in or through someone). He was promising to bless those who blessed His people and that through His people the whole family on earth would be blessed.  That was God’s declared purpose. It meant on the other hand that those who frustrated His purpose by dishonouring His people would come under His curse.

We see that it is incumbent on the people of God throughout all the ages to fulfil their God-given responsibility by living for God in the way He intended them to live. If they do, God can bless them by working through them to bring blessing to the nations. If they fail to live as they should, multitudes miss out on His blessing.

St Paul had also painted a cosmic responsibility for the people of God in the letter to the Romans. Twice he wrote that the gospel message was to be spread throughout the world so that people of all nations could come to the obedience of faith. Rom 1:5 “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations”, and Rom 16:25 “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.”  If the people of God shared the gospel message throughout the world and the people of other nations accepted the message, then they would all be able to participate in the promises of blessings God has prepared for His people throughout the world and throughout the ages.

Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!

What sort of blessings are “spiritual blessings?” They contain, in the spiritual realm (as we have seen above), the incredible privilege of belonging to the people of God. They include all the other blessings that flow from that relationship. (More about that in possible later articles.)

Paul uses the word “spiritual” as a contrast to “material” in these verses. Rom 15:27  For …  if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. AND 1Cor 9:11  If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? Recipients of spiritual blessings should feel obligated to make some material contribution to those who shared those blessings with them.

Another spiritual blessing is to be able to receive a deeper spiritual knowledge of the will of God. Eg., Col_1:9  And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, AND 1Cor 2:13  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 

Spiritual songs are part of the spiritual blessings God gives to His people. Eph_5:19  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, AND Col_3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Such songs are inspired by the Spirit and are used in expressing our praise to God and to encourage others in worship.

Spiritual gifts are also part of the spiritual blessings. Paul mentions them in these verses, Rom 1:11  For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— AND 1Cor 12:1  Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed”. AND 1Cor 14:1  “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” A spiritual gift enables us to live and to minister beyond our natural resources. God gives us gifts to enable us to fulfil His purpose for us as we seek to live for Him. He also gives them so that others are blessed through our exercise of those spiritual gifts.

It seems that even in this one verse Eph 1:3, we have enough to turn into prayer. We will have lots of opportunities to look further into the blessings God has given us in Christ as we journey through this the rest of this epistle. But now is the time for prayer.

A SUGGESTED PRAYER BASED ON Eph 1:3

“Heavenly Father, we thank You for all You have done for us in Jesus. We thank You for all You have given us in Him. We thank You that You have blessed us in Him with every spiritual blessing. We thank You that through faith, we are the children of Abraham and that we have been blessed by You to be a blessing. 

Help us Lord to realise that this world is not about us, but that it is about You. It’s about Your purpose to bless the world in Your love. We thank You that not only are we the recipients of Your love but that we also have the wonderful privilege and responsibility of being instruments of Your love and blessings to others in this world.   

Grant us the wisdom to know Your will and the power by Your Spirit to do it so that we might fulfil  Your purpose for us. We ask these things in Jesus’  name. AMEN!”

Blog No.375 Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sat 02 January 2021.

{This is a modified version of the original post in August 2016. For those who not know my beloved wife Carole Ann Holbeck, nee Tapsell died of uterine and cervical cancer on 31st October 2019 but was wonderfully used by the Lord in the years from 2016 to her death in 2019.]

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Lectionary Readings Year B 2021, OUTLINE OF EPHESIANS, Prayer, Praying our way through Paul's letter to the Ephesians, Real Life Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

374. A Prayer Based On 2 Peter 3:8-14. Being Prepared for Jesus’ Coming. [From the Epistle for 2nd Sunday of Advent, 06 December 2020.]

Nine years ago I wrote a blog containing a prayer based on the Epistle for the coming Sunday, the Second Sunday of Advent. [NOTE 1] Seeing the same reading is set again for Sunday 6th of December 2020, I thought I would revise the blog and the prayer.

In this passage from verses 8 to 14, St Peter outlines a number of important truths.

The Coming Day Of God May Appear To Humans To Be Delayed

 One great truth is that the “apparent” delay in the second coming of Jesus means that God is giving people a chance to repent of their sins and turn back to Him, “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”3:9. One of the truths you learn as you grow older in the Christian faith is that God’s timetable is not the same as ours. God’s delays [according to our timetable] are part of His eternal purpose in His grace and love. His desire is that all should come to repentance and miss out on perishing for their sins.

The Coming Day Of God Is Certain To Come

Another truth is that the second coming is sure to come, and people need to be prepared for it. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness. 3:11. “Lives” is [anastrophē; ἀναστροφή] meaning a manner of life or behaviour and such lives are to be based on holiness [hagios; ἅγιος ] meaning being set apart for God. “Godliness” is [eusebeia; εὐσέβεια which has the sense of being godly, like God in character. 

As they prepare for His coming His people need to be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace. All these characteristics require a closeness of walk with God as they are not natural human characteristics. 

The Coming Day Of God Can Be Hastened As Believers Live As They Should.

There is also a surprising truth in these verses. “Waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 3:12. How can we as believers ‘hasten’ the coming of the King? The word for hasten is [speúdō; σπεύδω] which mean to hasten in time, to come more quickly, to come sooner or to hasten towards some objective, such as in this verse, the coming day of God. 

If all believers were to live as they should, it could have a greater impact of the unbelieving world and more of God’s elect could come into His kingdom sooner than otherwise might have been the case. However God being omnipotent knows the exact day and hour of His coming. Nothing takes Him by surprise. 

How can we play our part in becoming more holy and godly? How can we become more without spot or blemish and at peace? By asking God in prayer to make us more like that, and cooperating with His Holy Spirit as He seeks to make the necessary changes within us. One verse which helps us to understand what is involved in this inner transformation to become more like God is this from 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” This means getting our focus right in life by focusing on the Lord Himself and beginning to reflect in our own lives, the object of our adoration and praise. As we do so, God Himself by His Spirit, begins to transform us more and more into Christ’s likeness. As Jesus was transfigured on the mountain before His disciples, so we can know an ongoing transformation by the Holy Spirit for the same word [metamorphóō; μεταμορφόω ] is used for transfiguration and for transformation. 

The final part of the verse [For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.] reminds us that to accomplish the will of God in our lives and to live for Him, requires that we allow His Holy Spirit to do His transforming work in our hearts as we open them wide to Him.

A Prayer To Pray

“Heavenly Father, I thank You that at His first coming, Jesus came and died, so that I might have forgiveness and eternal life by receiving Him. As I prepare for His second coming in power and glory, enable me to become the person You want me to be.

Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, so that I might become more holy, more godly, more at peace with You as I live for You in Your world.

Fill me with Your love, so that I might be motivated and empowered by Your Spirit to live the life, to talk the talk and to walk the walk You want me to.

Enable me by Your Spirit to help others come to repentance and faith in You, so that they too might be ready for His coming in glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN”

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NOTE 1. Blog No.052. Posted on Saturday 17th December 2011

Blog No.374 posted on Friday 06 December 2020.

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, Holy Spirit, Judgement, Justification, Lectionary Readings Year B 2021, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Second coming of Jesus | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

373. Failing To See The Obvious. Again! The Words Solstice And Armistice. And A Personal Note!

When you reach 85 years it is nice to have some warmer weather and longer daylight hours. That got me thinking about the summer “solstice” when the sun “pauses” over the Tropic of Capricorn [thus the day with longest daylight hours here in Australia] before it begins its northern journey to the Tropic of Cancer which brings our day of shortest daylight hours or the winter solstice.

Funny word that, “solstice.” What is its origin? “Sol” is obviously “sun,” but “stice?” Fancy that! It goes back through different forms in different languages to a primitive form in Greek [stao] meaning to stand. So the solstice is the time when the sun appears to “stand still” before it reverses its journey northward again. Oh dear! A quick investigation revealed that words like staunch, staunchion, stadium and even the Greek word for the cross [stauros, a stake] seem to come from that same primitive [sta] root. [Perhaps the father of the bride in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was right after all!]

But the word “Armistice” came to mind as I entered Armistice or Remembrance Day. Could there be a connection? Guess what! The “arm” means arms or weapons and the [stice] means standing still. At 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 the Armistice was signed and the arms [weapons] stood still, they ceased to fire. What a joy that must have been for my father as a soldier in the Australian Army who had been engaged in bloody warfare in France and Belgium since 1916, and to millions of other people as well throughout the world.

A bit more personal

All this was going through my mind as I posted online another blog No 372 on my blogsite [www.jimholbeck.blog] moments after Armistice [Remembrance] Day arrived today. It was called “Remembering Remembrance Day. A personal note.” I mentioned in it that Remembrance Day is of special significance to me, for Carole’s Thanksgiving Service was held at 11am on Remembrance Day last year and we observed the customary one minute’s silence as we began her Service of Thanksgiving after her death from a long term cancer just 11 days previously.

[Perhaps an added significance for Remembrance Day occurred just now [11th November] for me for all future Armistice or Remembrance days on the 11th November every year. I just answered a phone call a few moments ago from my daughter in Victoria to say that her father in law passed away today in Melbourne after a massive stroke a short time ago. He was greatly loved and like Carole will be deeply missed!]

In the providence of God, there are just so many things and such wonderful loving people for which and for whom we should be deeply grateful in life! It pays to remember! We WILL remember! We shan’t forget!

Blog 373. Failing To See The Obvious. Again! The Words Solstice And Armistice. And A Personal Note!73 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Monday 16th November 2020.

[This was previously posted on my Facebook page on Armistice {Remembrance} Day on 11th November 2020.]

JIMHOLBECK.BLOGholbeckReflections on life in general and on healing in particular

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372. Remembering Remembrance Days. A personal memory.

WE stood for a minute’s silence on Remembrance Day [Armistice Day] to remember! 

To remember all those who had fought for their country in all the conflicts and wars since the early part of the 20th century, and how so many never returned home.

I remembered that my own father had left Australia in 1916 to fight in the trenches in horrible battles in France and Belgium during the First World War and how he was one of those who was able to return home in 1919, whilst many of his fellow soldiers’ bodies lay buried on those battlefields.

I remembered that my wife Carole’s uncle Clifford Carol Tapsell whom she was never to meet, who had gone from India to join the British Army, being killed by a sniper in Europe just a few days before the end of the war in 1918 and later reading how his family in India longed to know more about the circumstances of his death.

I remembered that my nephew Matthew who was standing in front of me in this service,  had served two tours of duty as a medical doctor as a Major in the Australian Army in Afghanistan and I wondered what he would be remembering about his time in Afghanistan, on this particular Remembrance Day.

A personal memory

But this particular Remembrance Day in 2019 was deeply personal for me. We were standing in our local church and the Remembrance Day service was taking place as part of the service as we began the Thanksgiving Service for my wife Carole who had gone home to the Lord just 11 days previously. It seemed to be so appropriate that on a day when millions of people throughout the world take time to remember loved ones who had gone to war and how so many had never returned home and families had been so traumatised as a result, that we as a family could remember with deep thanksgiving the love that Carole had poured out on us all. We had been the recipients of God’s love flowing through her to us, for me for almost 54 years and for all their lives for our children and grandchildren.

Every Remembrance Day in the future will have for me, this added dimension of deep, deep  thanksgiving to God for the beautiful godly young woman he brought into my life all those years ago, and for the love, meaning and purpose she imparted into the lives of perhaps thousands of people around the world during her time on earth. 

What a privilege it is to have loved ones who were willing to die for us, and so many did make that ultimate sacrifice for us. Lest we forget!

But what a privilege it is also for us to have those who were willing to live their lives for us, sacrificing so much in seeking to bring God’s love and blessing into our lives. We will never forget! 

Blog No.372 posted on www.jimholbeck.blog on Remembrance [Armistice] Day 11th November 2020.

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371. What do you think of Joe Biden as the President-elect [and probably President] of the USA?

That’s not a good question to ask of me! What I think of Joe Biden is of little significance in the grand scheme of things. But the big inescapable question is, “What does Joe Biden think of Jesus?” Will he and his followers live and seek to govern by the principles that Jesus taught, or will they ignore Jesus and His words?

This is a question of immense significance for not only the USA, but for the whole world. The wrong answer to the question could signify a possible coming destabilisation of societies throughout the world and the placing of communities and even nations in imminent danger.

But, hey, it is also the big inescapable question that every person ever born has to face, including you and me. In the haunting words of the old Authorised version, Mat 22:42 “What think ye of Christ?” No one is exempt from having an opinion about Jesus, nor exempt from the choice of receiving Him or continuing to reject Him. There is also the choice of obeying Him and His words or rejecting Him and His ideas on how life should be lived and how the world should be governed!

We are all accountable to Him, not to Him just as some first century prophet but as He really is, as The Creator of the world, as The Saviour of the World, as The Sustainer of the world, and ultimately as The Judge of the world. [NOTE 1]

 Jesus both encouraged and warned His followers in this challenging passage from John 12:46-50. First the encouraging words, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” 12:46.

Then the warnings, 47 “If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” 12:47-50.

It is an astonishing privilege for any human of any political background to become the leader of the free world. But it is also involves gigantic responsibilities. The President must seek the best interests of all Americans, but also take into account the best interests of all the inhabitants of the earth because God has allowed this person to become a leader whose government can indeed make a difference for good throughout the world. However the President must be humble enough to also personally obey this command, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [God’s abundant provision] will be added to you.” Mat 6:33. He must seek these things for himself and for his own nation whilst understanding this truth, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.

If Joe Biden is officially declared as President of the United States then we have a duty [and privilege] to pray for him. We may not know at this moment what Joe Biden thinks of Jesus, nor what Jesus thinks of Joe Biden, but we need to pray nevertheless. What to pray? We can take some appropriate Scripture verses as a basis for prayer, for in this way we are praying the Father’s revealed will and purpose back to Him. Or we could pray a prayer such as this one,

“Lord, may YOUR KINGDOM come and YOUR WILL be done, in and through Joe Biden, in and through the whole US government and people, and in and through the leaders and peoples of the nations of the world. We ask this so that Your people may be blessed and especially that the name of Jesus may be honoured and exalted throughout the world as His word is learned and obeyed. For Jesus’ sake. AMEN.”

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[NOTE 1] I have written articles on these 4 truths about Jesus in previous blogs under the numbers [260 Creator] [261 Saviour] [262 Lord] and [263 Judge]. You can click the numbers to be taken to the articles or use the Index when the blog site is opened.

I also have some audio talks on these 4 subjects on YouTube if you would care to listen to them. The audio talks given at the seminar are to be found under the same headings on You Tube under “Jim Holbeck”.

Blog No.371 posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 08 November 2020.

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370. Life’s Unforgettable Moments. A personal Reflection. Coping with Personal Grief

There are moments in our lives that we will never forget. Sometimes they just happen out of the blue and at other times they occur as part of a process we are going through. One such moment was way back in 1964 when in an unplanned moment I proposed to my beautiful gorgeous girlfriend Carole, and she answered “Yes!”

Another was when she said “I do!” to become my wife during our wedding ceremony some 17 months later. I saw both as part of God’s wonderful timing and His gracious provision to me of a gracious dearly loved life-partner. What love we shared and what blessing we received over those almost 54 years together in Him!

Just one year ago today, on the Friday after my 14 October birthday, came another unexpected unforgettable moment. I was helping Carole move slowly to her favourite chair in the lounge. Her legs were massively swollen because of the uterine and cervical cancers she had been battling. Suddenly she stopped, took hold of the top of a chair, turned to face me, looking up into my eyes with her soft brown eyes that always melted me as I looked into them and said softly, “Darling, thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me.” This was different to the frequent affirmations of love between us every day, “Darling, I love you so much!”

It may have been that she realised that she had lived much longer than the medicos expected but that her body was now succumbing rapidly to the ravaging cancers. Her words touched me deeply. I realised that I had cared for her physical needs since she was recovering from breast cancer in 2008. No one else had ever come to our home to help her with her ablutions, dressing, bandaging etc etc when she needed help. It had been my privilege alone. But caring was always a part of loving the wonderful creature God had given me to love, as part of loving Him.

Just 24 hours later Carole said, “Darling, I think I need to go to Emergency.” We felt we were life-members of Emergency because we had been there so often! But as I wrote recently, this would be the last time I would drive my beloved Carole anywhere before the Lord took her home just 12 days later.

Unforgettable moments! Reflect on them! Treasure them! The memories of God’s grace at work in our lives in those moments helps sustain us through those difficult times we all have to face!

Blog No.370. Posted on http://www.jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 17th October 2020 but previously posted on my Facebook page on Friday 16th October 2020

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