VIDEO The Law and the Gospel

The moral law does not consider our weaknesses as human beings; in fact, it does not take into account our heredity or infirmities. It simply demands that we be absolutely moral. The moral law never changes, either for the highest of society or for the weakest in the world. It is enduring and eternally the same. The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize it, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy. “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died” (Romans 7:9). The moment we realize this, the Spirit of God convicts us of sin. Until a person gets there and sees that there is no hope, the Cross of Christ remains absurd to him. Conviction of sin always brings a fearful, confining sense of the law. It makes a person hopeless— “…sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). I, a guilty sinner, can never work to get right with God— it is impossible. There is only one way by which I can get right with God, and that is through the death of Jesus Christ. I must get rid of the underlying idea that I can ever be right with God because of my obedience. Who of us could ever obey God to absolute perfection!

We only begin to realize the power of the moral law once we see that it comes with a condition and a promise. But God never coerces us. Sometimes we wish He would make us be obedient, and at other times we wish He would leave us alone. Whenever God’s will is in complete control, He removes all pressure. And when we deliberately choose to obey Him, He will reach to the remotest star and to the ends of the earth to assist us with all of His almighty power.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest. Disciples Indeed, 395 L


The Law and the Gospel (Selected Scriptures)

Free from Condemnation

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts.  1 John 3:20

As a couple drove their trailer through dry Northern California, they felt a tire blow and heard the scrape of metal against pavement. The sparks ignited the 2018 Carr Fire—a wildfire that burned nearly 230,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 homes, and resulted in the deaths of several people.

When survivors heard how the couple were overcome with grief, they formed a Facebook page to show “grace and extend kindness . . . for the shame and despair” enveloping them. One woman wrote: “As someone that lost their home to this fire—I need you to know my family [doesn’t blame you], nor [do] any of the other families that lost homes. . . . Accidents happen. I really hope these kind messages ease your burden. We will all get through this together.”

Condemnation, our fear that we’ve done something unredeemable, can cannibalize the human soul. Thankfully, the Scriptures reveal that “if our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts” (1 John 3:20). Whatever our hidden shame, God is greater than all of it. Jesus calls us to the healing act of repentance (if needed) or simply unmasks the shame consuming us. Then, encountering divine redemption, we “set our hearts at rest in his presence” (v. 19).

Whatever our regrets over things we wish we could undo, God draws us near. Jesus smiles at us and says, “Your heart is free.”

By: Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced shame or condemnation? What does it mean for you to know that Jesus has freed your heart?

God, I have such regret. I wish I could erase this painful situation and do it all over. But thank You for giving me grace to learn and move forward.

Independent Man

Jerry Gibree knows what it means to walk by faith.

Jerry Gibree watched his left hand with both bewilderment and intense concentration. He was trying out a state-of-the-art prosthesis that translates muscle impulses into movement, but it wasn’t exactly instinctive. Thinking clench opened the mechanical fingers; open made the wrist twirl. This would take some reeducation.

Adjusting to a new hand and leg promised to be challenging, but Jerry welcomed the opportunity to regain a measure of self-sufficiency. At 66, the war vet had lived his life undaunted and self-reliant—an embodiment, of sorts, of his native Rhode Island’s iconic statue, the Independent Man. Until the accident.

A text message from the leader of our home group interrupted that peaceful Wednesday afternoon: Pray quick for Jerry. He has been hurt and 911 on the way. More when I know.

A very long short time later, a second message arrived: Marge just called sobbing. Sounds very serious. Maybe a crushing injury to leg and/or hand?? All I could understand was she didn’t know if he was going to make it.

Then a third: Went to OR at 3:40. Keep praying his leg and hand can be saved.

In storms that tore through Atlanta on June 13, 2013, straight-line winds had toppled a dozen trees and hung up several more at the Gibree home in suburban Roswell. Damage in the area was so extensive that tree services were booking three weeks out. Waiting, however, wasn’t an option—since their daughter’s family shared the property, leaving the yard in precarious condition was too dangerous for the children.

Jerry Gibree
And, as it turns out, for Gibree himself. Though the retired fireman had extensive experience in construction (which included dismantling their Tennessee pre-Civil War log home and rebuilding it in Georgia), removal of the stricken trees proved unpredictable—and just a hair shy of fatal.

Because the house was undamaged, Jerry initially considered cleanup no big deal. He spent the morning of the 19th clearing the yard, and when his wife Marge and their daughter Kerrin called him for lunch, he declined, preferring to complete the final area. But after the women returned to a project in the basement, the suspended tree Gibree was working on dropped and rebounded.

He didn’t see it but heard his leg snap like a dry pine branch. Then, as the tree went by, it caught his wrist and peeled his hand back.

The basement was out of earshot, but Kerrin’s husband Bill had been delayed in leaving for work. Perceiving repeated staccato cries of “Help! . . . Help!” he ran out to discover his father-in-law’s dire predicament. Despite profuse bleeding, Jerry somehow never lost consciousness, and the paramedic training that had saved others’ lives now helped save his own. He sent Bill to fetch Kerrin and leather belts—and explained how to slow blood loss with tourniquets and elevation of the wound. Maneuvering the smashed leg up onto the fallen tree was a gruesome task for Gibree’s daughter, but it kept her father alive till rescue workers reached the scene.

Jerry stayed conscious all the way to the trauma center, where son Seth met the entourage. The last thing his father told him before being taken to the O.R. was, “I think I’m dying.” That was an accurate read on the situation: Gibree flatlined three times during the 10-hour operation. But thanks to a skilled team of four surgeons—hand, orthopedic, vascular, and trauma—plus 38 units of blood, he survived day one, still in possession of his crushed limbs.

He remained in critical condition and was kept in a drug-induced coma for 10 days. During that time, doctors found it necessary to remove his left hand; the following week it was decided his leg wasn’t salvageable, either. With surgery taking place on July 4th, Independence Day acquired new meaning for the family.

Those of us who knew him well had trouble imagining what life would be like for Jerry, who was always wielding either a home-improvement tool or spot-on—and sometimes gruff—sense of humor.

“You know, none of this is bad. If this is what God has for me now, I’m fine with it.”

Not many days after the amputations, I asked him how he dealt with waking up to such changes. Jerry lifted what remained of his arm and said, “You know, none of this is bad. If this is what God has for me now, I’m fine with it.” Seeing the turn of events as the Lord’s plan, he was sure God had good purposes in mind.

Marge likewise faced the tragedy with trust. Already one with a solid routine of quiet time and Christian music, she doubled down on devotions and prayer, which kept her moored during those turbulent days of progress and setbacks. “Every morning through the whole thing,” she said, “I would either hear a song or read something in Scripture that set me for the day.”

For friends and family, it was impossible to witness the Gibrees’ acceptance of their situation without wondering how we would respond to such life-altering circumstances. And the couple’s faith, which encouraged and challenged our own, was about to get a wider audience.

Technology—and a Megaphone

Kerrin and Seth started a CaringBridge website so that after her quiet time, Marge could summarize Jerry’s status and whatever message of hope was keeping her afloat that day. Not only did the family receive powerful support through readers’ replies, but journaling also confirmed what Passion City Church’s Louie Giglio teaches—that when Christians stay focused on the cross, their suffering becomes a “megaphone of hope” to the world. Logging more than 16,000 visits, the blog elicited over 30 pages of guestbook replies; many bore out the loudspeaker idea, like the note by a new believer who gained a sense of peace from witnessing Jerry’s faith in action. “Such an amazing thing to put all control into God’s hands,” she wrote. “Just hearing what faith can do in the most frightening, horrific circumstances has strengthened my [own].”
“I can see God weaving a tapestry of our lives. We have a long battle ahead, but with God, all things are possible.”

Marge’s journaling ministered near and far, as her words connected with people via prayer lists at churches around the country. The correspondence was overwhelming. Day after day, she received replies testifying to how God was using her family’s circumstances to impact not just friends and relatives but also strangers she’d otherwise never meet. The messages frequently mentioned being inspired by the Gibrees’ attitude, thanking them for sharing the beauty of their life in the midst of pain. One person wrote, “It MEANS something to know [that], like the heroes in the Bible, you can stand strong in faith, yet weak as a human. It means those ‘stories’ are not just stories, but the truth. It solidifies my faith in Jesus and allows me to accept my walk with just a little more humility.”

Blogging also gave Marge an opportunity to piece together how God had been working over 50 years to prepare them for this time. Three weeks after the accident, she wrote about a pattern coming into focus. First, her lifelong friendship with Jeanne Marie Campbell—a young neighbor left quadriplegic by polio—made Marge comfortable and knowledgeable about caring for someone with disabilities. Next, Jerry expected to make a career of air traffic control, the work he’d learned in the military, but was forced to take time off after returning from Vietnam with hepatitis. When a fireman academy opened nearby, he changed direction and instead became a paramedic. Then in 2003, 11 years after moving their log home to Roswell, Jerry built an adjacent garage, which he converted in 2009 to a dwelling designed for the needs of old age. When the Gibrees moved in, Kerrin and her family took over the big house. “I can see God weaving a tapestry of our lives,” Marge wrote. “We have a long battle ahead, but with God, all things are possible.”

Making Strides; Losing Ground

The battle, in fact, was about to intensify. In October, a fungal infection—likely contracted from the tree’s bark—showed up in Jerry’s left femur. Besides halting progress with his prostheses, this development also necessitated three-hour I.V. treatments 78 days straight. Not only were the side effects uncomfortable and enervating, but the relentless infection ultimately caused three further “revisions” of the amputation, rendering the artificial leg unusable.

Despite this protracted setback, Jerry was accepting of the additional surgeries, having undergone at least 20 orthopedic operations prior to the accident. “I’ve got a lot of spare parts, that’s for sure,” he said, itemizing a plate in his neck, fused vertebrae, and a knee replacement, ironically in what is now his remaining leg.
Gerry Gibree 1
“What’s your most difficult challenge?” I once asked him. “The hardest thing is always the next thing,” he said. “Right now, it’s trying to get comfortable with the [leg] prosthesis. They constantly have to tweak something—I call it ‘a thousand little adjustments.’”

But then he reconsidered. “Something tough? My pride.” He’d never viewed that as one of his failings, because he wasn’t a boastful person. The accident, however, made him realize pride takes many forms. Jerry was always glad to do things for others. “But boy,” he said, “I have trouble accepting help.”

With the ever-present twinkle in his eye, he chalked it up to being from Rhode Island. But perhaps there’s more truth than Jerry realizes to identifying with its famous statue. The smallest state has a rich spiritual history. Roger Williams—the original inspiration for the Independent Man—established Providence as a refuge for freedom of worship. With “Hope” as the state’s motto and the anchor its symbol (see Heb. 6:19), Rhode Island’s heritage suggests the real value of independence: the freedom to live with properly placed dependence.

The ordeal brought that into focus for Jerry, so he has crafted a mission statement for his ongoing recuperation: “May I not become a victim of my seeming improvement or progress.” Because he fears falling into Israel’s pattern of drifting from God in times of self-sufficiency, he is able to say, “The accident may be the best thing that ever happened to me.”

By Sandy Feit

Photography by Andrew Thomas Lee

http://intouch.org/read/magazine/features/independent-man

Not by Might nor by Power

If in preaching the gospel you substitute your knowledge of the way of salvation for confidence in the power of the gospel, you hinder people from getting to reality. Take care to see while you proclaim your knowledge of the way of salvation, that you yourself are rooted and grounded by faith in God. Never rely on the clearness of your presentation, but as you give your explanation make sure that you are relying on the Holy Spirit. Rely on the certainty of God’s redemptive power, and He will create His own life in people.

Once you are rooted in reality, nothing can shake you. If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith. But nothing can ever change God or the reality of redemption. Base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God Himself. Once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be moved again. That is the meaning of sanctification. God disapproves of our human efforts to cling to the concept that sanctification is merely an experience, while forgetting that even our sanctification must also be sanctified (see John 17:19). I must deliberately give my sanctified life to God for His service, so that He can use me as His hands and His feet.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We are in danger of being stern where God is tender, and of being tender where God is stern.  The Love of God—The Message of Invincible Consolation, 673 L

Good in His Sight

And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

—1 Samuel 3:18

A determination to know what cannot be known always works harm to the Christian heart.

Ignorance in matters on our human level is never to be excused if there has been opportunity to correct it. But there are matters which are obviously “too high for us.” These we should meet in trusting faith and say as Jesus said, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:26)….

Human curiosity and pride often combine to drive us to try to understand acts of God which are plainly outside the field of human understanding. We dislike to admit that we do not know what is going on, so we torture our minds trying to fathom the mysterious ways of the Omniscient One. It’s hard to conceive of a more fruitless task….

A blind confidence which trusts without seeing is far dearer to God than any fancied knowledge that can explain everything….

To the adoring heart, the best and most satisfying explanation for anything always will be, “It seemed good in thy sight.”   NCA054-055

Lord, help me today, no matter what difficult circumstances I may face, to pray with Jesus, “for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” Amen.

 

Know that the hope of His calling

That ye may know that is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe.—Ephesians 1:18,19.

 

Thou dost well,

And my heaven is here and now,

Day-star of my soul, if Thou

Wilt but deign in me to dwell.

Wolfgang C. Dessler.

 

Throw open all the windows of your soul to the influence of Jesus. By prayer, thought, and action, let His divine power move in and through your life, and be sure that a mighty work is within His power and your possibility. Not that of lifting you into ordinary spiritual vitality, but of transforming you through and through with His Spirit.

William Lawrence.

 

The life which we are meant to lead under the dispensation of the Spirit who has been given for our guidance into Truth, is one which does not take us out of the world, but keeps us from its evil, enabling us to live a heavenly existence on earth, and so to span over the chasm which divides us from heaven.

Edward Thring.

 

Be Covered And Protected

“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Ps. 91:4

A condescending simile indeed! Just as a hen protects her brood and allows them to nestle under her wings, so will the Lord defend His people, and permit them to hide away in Him. Have we not seen the little chicks peeping out from under the mother’s feathers? Have we not heard their little cry of contented joy? In this way let us shelter ourselves in our God, and feel overflowing peace in knowing that He is guarding us.

While the Lord covers us we trust. It would be strange if we did not. How can we distrust when Jehovah Himself becomes house and home, refuge and rest to us?

This done, we go out to war in His name and enjoy the same guardian care. We need shield and buckler, and when we implicitly trust God, even as the chick trusts the hen, we find His truth arming us from head to foot. The Lord cannot lie; He must be faithful to His people; His promise must stand. This sure truth is all the shield we need. Behind it we defy the fiery darts of the enemy.

Come, my soul, hide under those great wings, lose thyself among those soft feathers! How happy thou art!

 

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