The Tension Between Life and Death

As Christians, we live between two extremes ~ between two worlds. We have been “delivered from the power of darkness.” Our heavenly Father has “translated us—conveyed us (NKJV) into the kingdom of His dear Son.” Col.1:13 

A follower of Christ knows the reality of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). 

While we live in this world, the Christ in us will be stalked like a lion.  

 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Pet.1:14

Even as Jesus was betrayed by those who lived in darkness, we experience this opposition by those who cannot rest unless the light is put out. While we want to bring others out of darkness, it is to live against the god of this world. 

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” 1 Pet. 5:8-9 

The oppressor is a constant foe against God’s people. This has been true since the beginning. The enemy – God’s enemy, and ours – will not leave us alone as long as we live in his territory.

It may seem, at times, that we are safe and let our weapons fall by our side. It is then, the foe within may raise its ugly head. Pride can remain dormant until our thoughts are taken captive to the world’s thinking. Whatever has our attention, politics, social media, or any earthly thoughts, we are at war. The tension will rise as death desires to subdue us.

When the enemy gained his stronghold and set up his kingdom, he set God’s creatures against each other. Death ensued to put down anything good. Cain murdered Abel and the pattern of this world was set. 

The Spirit and the Flesh
As God’s people, we still live in the flesh. It has been appointed that men shall die (Heb. 9:26-28). We cannot live forever in this body. Those who are born of the Spirit have eternal life – a life that transcends this one. As long as we are in this body, we will continually be at war with the flesh and its proneness to satisfy its desires.

This tendency flairs whenever we are faced with an opposition of some form, whether a lust of the flesh or in a relationship. “The old man” is stirred up when others will not see our point of view, agree to our leading, or bend to our will. This happens between husbands and wives, parents and children, siblings, friends, etc.Blessings and Curses
Recently, I have looked at this subject in light of God’s relationship with the Israelites. He promised blessings and life to his people as a result of their obedience – curses and death to those who rebelled (Deut.11:26-28). Does this not sound like His promise to Adam and Eve?

The nation of Israel was not able to acquire the blessings and life. They could not keep His commandments. Death continued to rule in the lives of men.

That curse was broken when, as He had promised to send a Messiah from among their people, Jesus came. And those who believe are given eternal life through His sinless life and death on the cross for us.

Eternal life does not mean we are free from temptation, but we have what Adam and Eve, and the Israelites did not have. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit is within the believer, setting up the kingdom of God within us, revealing the life of Christ.

He is the constant power and presence in us to keep us in God’s Word, training us to war against the flesh and pride that still lurks within – and to work obedience, and blessings in and through us to others.

I am tempted to make this a series and touch on the subject of curses handed down through generations, but I will stop here, else we have started another book. Our books already published proclaim the presence and the power of our heavenly Father, the legacy of His kingdom in His people, and His victory in Christ and His Spirit over our flesh, sin, and death.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Pet. 5:10-11

Gracious Father, thank you for delivering us from the power of darkness and death. Though we suffer for the name of Christ, let us live by the indwelling of your Spirit and so, overcome the enemy’s tactics. Keep us always sober, fervent in prayer and your Word, knowing you and Jesus whom you sent to be our life here and forever. Let us with the humility of Christ face any opposition. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran
Books

Image: Google

 

2020 ~ Year of Separation

Without delving into details of this year, I want to specifically come to the subject of separation, and to quickly get to the main one that led me to write this post.

Many have died from the virus. More have died from heart disease and cancer and most of these separated from their loved ones because of the restrictions in medical facilities. Our children and I were blessed to be with Jerry when he died on June 1 from heart failure. 

Among many others, one of the areas has been the separation of the children of God from their heavenly Father and His family, and between His family members.

While it is tragic, we can find something good in all this. We have a closer look at who are truly God’s people. It is in times like these that a sifting takes place, and we see a separation of true believers from those who are only habitual worshipers.

There has been a hunger and thirst among some who love the Father and Jesus, the Son ~ those who have not had a place to worship. Many churches are still closed, and their members are not even looking for one that is open. 

We have been blessed to increase our membership during these last few months, not only because of other churches being closed but because some have adopted new movements that have sprung up this year. This is proof that the teaching may not have been sound when we had the liberty to worship. 

It is evident that when the church is shaken, there will be revision. God’s kingdom could not go on the way it had been. It is being turned upside-down and inside-out. If we return to what we consider even half-normal it will never be the same.

“And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.” Leviticus 20:26

The separation of God’s people from the world will continue as we see who will worship during these times, and who simply do not care anymore. 

‘Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 6:17

Other activities on the Lord’s Day are becoming more and more prominent, but He is forming a family for Himself who love and worship according to what pleases Him. These are the ones who live in peace and blessings from Him. These will be more prepared for the next round of separation. If God’s people do not turn in repentance and true faith, we will see another wave of chaos and violence leading to a greater separation.

Be joyful, if you are able to meet with God’s people. Pray fervently for His mercy and healing so restrictions may be lifted. But, more than anything, pray for those closest to you to be brought safely into the fold of the great Shepherd. 

As His people, we are promised His presence and power at all times, in any distress or dilemma we may encounter.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
NOTHING ~ nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39

I post this today for disciples of Christ as the particular day we prove our devotion to Him ~ the day separated from other days of the week. Observing this day is a projection toward the final day when He will separate His people from this world and eternally to Himself.

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” Matthew 25:32

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

Dear Father in heaven, send your Holy Spirit to bring us to repentance. Turn us from the world, its fear and chaos ~ to worship you in spirit and truth, in reverence and awe. Show us your great and mighty work in your church today ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 

Image: Google

Exercising the Mind of Christ

Who controls you? It is either Christ or His enemy. The god of this world rules the majority of the minds of men. “But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Cor. 2:16   

How can we have the mind of Christ?

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Eph. 2:1-3

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Cor. 2:10

Both Christ and His enemy (Matt. 4:8-10) claim power in this world.

“Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.” Jn. 17:1-2

Jesus told His disciples, “All authority (power KJV) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matt: 28:18 (See also Hebrews 1:3)

Scripture clearly describes those who are controlled by the spirit of this world and those who are led by God’s Spirit through Jesus Christ, His Son. 

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Col. 1:21-22

The Bible teaches that believers in Christ are born of His Spirit, and willingly submit to Him for the transforming of their minds.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Roms. 12:2

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Ps. 110:3

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Cor. 3:17-18.

In the transforming of our minds through His Spirit and His Word, we have wisdom and knowledge as weapons against the strongholds of our minds ~ to exercise the mind of Christ daily and ready to use this power against the enemy of our souls.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the [wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

Our strength and power are from the Lord to withstand the assaults of the enemy.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The power by which He was raised from the dead is the same power that raises us to new life, filling us with His grace while the world lives in fear and confusion. 

Gracious Father, we need your almighty power to overcome the deception and lies of the enemy. Keep us in communion with you and teach us your Word. Let us memorize, meditate on, and know how to speak your truths in this world of evil and darkness. We praise you for transforming us by renewing our minds. Let us exercise daily the mind of Christ, always ready to use the Sword of the Spirit to defend your truth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Where Were You Yesterday?

Yesterday was the Lord’s Day.

Where were you?

Were you worshipping in His house?
Did you hear the Word of God preached?
Were you in prayer and fellowship with His other followers?

Many of God’s people have been scattered this year.
Many are living in confusion.
While some Christians are meeting secretly in other countries because of persecution, many in America who could be, are not worshipping at all.

The following video is a much-needed sermon for all people and nations.
Preaching from the Gospel of Luke yesterday, our pastor and we who heard his anointed message were blessed to have a special glimpse of the power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as the “chief cornerstone.” He is still as active today as He was in His resurrection. Please watch and share it with others, especially those who are not sitting regularly under the preaching of God’s Word.

The prayer following the sermon was equally as dynamic, a prayer we were all praying. Listen and be blessed.

 

The Glorified Lamb ~ Dr. Alan Cairns

Funeral services for Dr. Alan Cairns, 80, born in Belfast, will be held privately today in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, where he and his wife have spent their retirement years.

While ministering in the Free Presbyterian Church in Ulster, he was instrumental in establishing and producing the Let the Bible Speak radio program, a ministry with worldwide influence.

When he assumed the pastorate of Faith Free Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., where he served over 20 years, he continued both his radio and teaching ministries. 

He served as the professor of Systematic Theology at Whitefield College of the Bible in Northern Ireland and lectured in what is now Geneva Reformed Seminary in Greenville. Many of his sermon series have been adapted and published in book form, and his Dictionary of Theological Terms has received a wide circulation. He is revered for his Christ-centered focus and gifts of scriptural insight. Dr. and Mrs. Cairns have spent their retirement years in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Cairns is survived by his wife, Joan, son, Frank, and his wife, Whitney, and their children.

************************ 

You will be blessed to view the following video of Dr. Cairns, speaking on the theme Worthy is the Lamb in Revelation 5:9-13 from Let the Bible Speak in Northern, Ireland, June 2019. This is the latest public offering I could find. If this was his last video, he could not have chosen any better than this to glorify the Lamb. 

Gracious Father, as you have taken another of your servants home, we praise you for Dr. Cairns and thank you for your ministry to your people through him. We ask for your comfort and care for Mrs. Cairns, their son, and his family. Fill her heart with the Spirit of Christ your Son, the one who fills us with His grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.                      

The Glorified Lamb
Dr. Alan Cairns
LTBS June 2019

The Two Great Wonders of the World

Had our first parents understood the purpose of their creation, the beauty and wonder of the world itself might be the greatest wonder ~ and all men may have come to know the Creator as the greatest wonder of heaven and earth.

But, the enemy of God gave God’s creatures a different idea of greatness, and the quest for man’s greatness was instilled in the heart of man. God and His creation were separated as a result of man’s disobedience to His Word but this did not change God or disrupt His plans.

He has continued to reveal His greatness and the greatness of man. And here is the difference. Disobedience and sin against God have continued and the evil in man has become one of the great wonders of the world. Isn’t it amazing that we have not destroyed the earth and ourselves? Even more amazing is that God has not destroyed us all.

God, our Heavenly Father revealed His mercy through His Son, Jesus, as the greatest wonder for all time. Jesus spoke of His greater greatness as compared to Solomon and Jonah in Matthew 12:41-42.

“But God, who is rich in mercy” continues to reveal His love to the world, having shown His mercy and great love through the sacrifice of His Son. He is saving a people for Himself, enabling us to live as light in the middle of this “evil and perverse generation” (Philippians 2:14-16) to show the greater of the two wonders.

Evil seems to be the greatest wonder ~ open to the whole world, prevalent, and accepted by the majority of the world.

Only those who have experienced the richness of God’s mercy and “the great love wherewith He loved us while we still sinners” know what is greater and more wonderful than the world can see. Praise and rejoicing are the responses to His greatness and wonder that will be carried from here throughout eternity.

He calls us to acknowledge His greatness above all others with His promise to reveal the wonder of His greatness to the whole world at His second coming.

Which wonder is the greatest to you? Be grateful and tell others if you are caught up in the wonder of our God’s mercy, love, and grace.

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5

“Keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ
unto eternal life.”
Jude 1:21

Father in heaven, shine the light in our hearts to reveal the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Show us your mercy. Work the wonder of your grace in and through us so others will see your presence and the power of your great love in us ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

The following video by R.C. Sproul initiated my thoughts for this post. No man is worthy of God’s love or mercy. We all deserve His wrath, but He chose to show His mercy to some. And we who know His mercy live in gratitude that it is His idea and work in us, not our own.
Fran

 

Motivation and Humility ~ A Sheep’s View

As the Shepherd continues to lead in “paths of righteousness,” I must not lag behind but keep close to Him to see where He is leading. 

But I see other places. “Lord, that looks good.” 

To the sheep, He says, “That is not what I have planned for you ~ I have something better.”

As we continue, I hear voices calling from different directions. They speak louder than the Shepherd, promising help and success.

The Still Small Voice
This new stage is like no other. For fifty-nine years, I learned to listen to one human voice my Father had given me on this earth. Now, He is teaching me to hear clearly only His “still small voice” in the middle of this wilderness, through His Word and prayer. I understand why the apostle Paul directed the early church to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all things” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

I am better understanding why we are led to praise Him “all day long” (Psalm 35:28Psalm 44:8).

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3

Outdated and Vulnerable
In any weak moment, there is a temptation for me to give in to the flesh and say, “I can’t do it anymore. I am too old. I am outdated and vulnerable to every influence I hear and see.” I am beginning to understand what Jerry meant when he said he had lived past his expiration date.

Having just come out of quarantine ~ my daughter and her family had COVID (grateful they were mild cases) ~ I desire to go forward ~ to know and do “the will of the Father.”

From watching motivational videos this past week, I agree, if I want glory to my own name, I can go for it and succeed. I still have enough zeal to achieve whatever I set my mind and heart toward. But I learned years ago, as a full-time caregiver, true success comes only through a life of humility.

“Humility is the bedrock of true success.”

Be Still
We can set our own goals and achieve whatever we want but we fall short of what God can do in and through us. His plans, His presence, and power are seeded in the life of His children who are zealous for the work of His kingdom ~ those who are about “the Father’s business.” We are still dust in the hands of our Creator. Dirt cannot think of what it can accomplish. It can only “be still” with what is planted ~ and wait. It cannot even cherish the seed.

The seed is fed and watered, and the life in the seed breaks through the shell, sends roots downward, and stems upward looking for the light from which it was planted. It blooms and bears the fruit of the seed planted. The plant becomes the life in the dirt that glorifies the gardener. Eventually, the dirt is no longer seen but covered over becoming one with the plant. The plant glorifies the gardener and the dirt is enriched to grow more fruit.

Branches of the True Vine
Jesus teaches how we bear fruit as branches from His life in John 15. This, too, is a lesson on humility. We can do nothing without Him, but if we abide in Him and He abides in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5).

By His grace, in the hands of the Gardener, we are fruitful even through old age.

Whether I think of being a sheep, a branch, or plain dirt, His Spirit and His Word are my motivation to remain humble and focused upon the Shepherd to lead me and the Gardener to do His work in me. Abiding and Fruitful is my goal for 2021 ~ to live passionately for Christ and die humble.

Gracious Father, hallowed be thy name in all the earth. Let us give unto you the glory due unto your name. Let us worship you in the beauty of holiness; fear before you with all the earth. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in us for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

A Year Worse than 2020?

2006 was a different year with different circumstances and the only reason I record the events here is as an archive for our family. So, if you who are reading, don’t like to hear how God brings His children to love and depend on Him more, you may want to skip this post.

The first six months of that year were the last for Jerry and me to care for my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. After four and a half years with us, she died on August 2 and was buried on August 7.

August 9, we learned our pastor and half the families in our church were moving to Tennessee ~ a drastic division in the church.

September 19, Jerry had an emergency by-pass surgery on his left leg.

October 24, his leg was amputated.

November 8, he came home from rehab.

For the remainder of the year, we waited for healing which did not happen until three years later, after another surgery to remove the graft inserted in the by-pass.

We experienced a physical and a spiritual amputation in our church that year that took years to reconcile. Recovery from both came about the same time as we were drawn closer to the Lord.

That was 2006. Fast-forward to 2020. 

On this day, fourteen years ago, I am recalling that day of amputation and the years that followed until Jerry’s death on June 1, five months ago.

Of the fourteen years, he did not walk for the first three years. As we waited for healing, he was fitted for a prosthesis but every time he tried to use it the wound opened.

After the last surgery, he still experienced spasms and pain, soreness and discomfort that he finally accepted. He used a walker for eight years as he was able. He drove again for about five years, until 2017 when he could no longer wear a shoe and resigned himself to a wheelchair for the last three years. During these three years, we knew the Father’s care through our church family and our children and their families.

The date, October 24, 2006, and the anniversary, startled me as I lay in bed this morning. I was frozen as I imagined how he faced that day until after 5:00 P.M. His life would no longer be the same. He was 70; I was 67. We were both still strong enough to face that trial physically. It was not until the week before his death, we understood how strong our heavenly Father had made us, spiritually.

All we lost was for our gain, for eternity.

He did not complain; I did not complain ~ we both learned to praise Him in all things ~ to establish and live by the Glad Rule our heavenly Father taught us. 

In his last days, Jerry would say, “I wonder what it will be like.”

Could he tell us, we might listen and take heed to what waits for us beyond this wilderness ~ and praise Him. 

Heavenly Father, thank you that you gave us a spirit of praise and thanksgiving. You showed us your grace, mercy, and glory in the middle of the worst times in this life. Thank you for your Holy Spirit that lives in your children to declare the love of Christ and your kingdom on this earth. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen. 
Fran

Image: Google

“I Am Not Alone, My Father is With Me”

As I woke up on a Lord’s Day morning a week ago, these words of Jesus from John 16:32 were my words. From my heart and soul, I would say in the reality of His presence and power, “I am not alone. My Father is with me.”

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples as He ended His teachings of three years, before His High-Priestly prayer to the Father, then to the Garden of Gethsemane ~ on His way to the crucifixion.

But, we may say, His Father turned His back on Him while He was suffering for our sins, in obedience to His will. Yes, but it was for one time, and so that we may know His everlasting presence with us. He will never leave us, nor forsake us because He looks upon us as His own, now joined to Christ, His Son. We dwell in Him and He, in us, by His Spirit which He has given us (1 John 3:24).

We never fear that He may turn His back on us. He has given His Son as a propitiation for our sins, appeasing His anger, that we never know His wrath. We turn to Him in repentance and faith for the abundant life He gives in Christ (John 10:10).

How blessed to know even when we are alone physically, He is always with us. I have been a sister, a wife, and a mother, but always, I am a daughter to my heavenly Father.

Gracious Father, thank you for your promises that make us your own, not by anything we can do, but because you have desired us and sired us by your will here, and forever. We praise you for revealing your plans for our relationship with you through Jesus Christ, your Son, and for keeping us always in your care, leading us by your Holy Spirit, for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I thank you and praise you. Amen.

“On the First Day of the Week”

“Now on the first day of the week ….. they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” Luke 24:1

Where we go the first day of the week will determine how our whole week will go.

Mary came prepared to anoint a dead body. She found instead, a living Savior. Did she expect to leave the spices on the outside of the tomb? Had she even imagined she would not have access to her Lord. She came with all she had to worship Him and found exceedingly abundantly more than she could have asked. He found her seeking Him. She left an empty tomb to tell her brethren He was alive.

If we meet with the Lord of lords on His day, we will want to bring Him home with us for the whole day and be back in His house at the end of the day. We will want to bring others to encounter the living Lord and Savior on His day.

He will be with us the remainder of the week.

And we prepare our spices during the week for the next Lord’s Day. What we take to our worship is harvested from His Word and prayer from one week to the next.

We do not bring our praises and adoration to a tomb. The stone from our heart has been rolled away by the power of the gospel and He lives forever in the new heart and spirit He has given us (Ezekiel 36:26). We gather with other blood-bought souls who desire to spend the day with Him.

If you had not already planned today to be with the Lord and His family, find a church that preaches and lives the truths of the atoning work of Christ. Worship Him in the beauty of holiness, in spirit and truth. If you do not yet know Him, ask the Father for His Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to you in His Word. Worship Him today with His people and look for Him to be with you this week. (If you do not have such a church, send me a message on my CONTACT page and I will help you find one close to you. This may be difficult but I am willing to give you pointers on where to look.)

How we spend the Lord’s Day is a precursor to how we will spend eternity. How precious is the Lord Jesus to you on this day?

Glorious Father, where can we go, but to Christ, for the abundant life you and He prepared for your children before the foundation of the world. By the power of your Spirit, draw your people to your houses of worship today. Speak to us through your Word. Fill us, send us, and spend us for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google