A GOLDEN TREASURY

 A GOLDEN TREASURY for the Children of God by C.H.V. Bogatzky

We have just published our second edition of A Golden Treasury, a devotional (reprinted in 1746 by the American Tract Society).
Twenty years ago, while browsing an antique store, I found this little book by C.H.V. Bogatzky consisting of writings and poetry “for every day of the year.” Flipping through, I was convinced that I had found a treasure.  At the time I did not know if I wanted to buy this book with pages that were discolored and printing so small and difficult to read, but the content, continually referring to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, led me to purchase this book; and I was not disappointed.

After years of using this devotional, my daughter and I ~ neither of us knowing our way around a computer ~ meticulously typed these meditations, keeping to the same format. Month by month we published them in booklet form for our family and friends. For several years, we saved the document and forgot it. Then ten years ago, we formatted the book for publication through Amazon’s Kindle  program.

As this was my first eBook, I published with a scant knowledge of self-publishing. With this new edition, we have our own cover and the formatting is clearer and easier to read. Thankfully, after twelve of my own books, our publishing has improved.

We ask the Lord’s blessings on this new publication for those who will be reading this year. Even if you decide not to purchase, at least enjoy the sample reading for January on Amazon.

If you purchased the first edition, please contact me and I will send you a free copy of the new edition.

Much love and blessings in our Lord,
Fran

Our Greatest Gain

How we begin one segment of time determines how we end. How we finish also determines how we start another.

It is this ending I wish to consider as 2019 comes to a close;

None of us will pass this way again.

How does this year tally? What can we carry into another year?

What we have gained should give us hope for the new year.

2019 has supposedly been a good year on the stock market? What assurance do investors have that this gain will continue through another year?

If this is all we have, we are without hope.

In years past, failed relationships, our troubled marriage, my sins, sins of the world, and issues in the church led me through the whole year. When the holiday season rolled around, there was not much to celebrate, but despondency ruled and extended into the next year.

There never seemed to be any gain until 1992 when the Lord gave me a new heart, a new spirit, and a new life. In the last half of that year, He began to fill me, and I began to know the meaning of abundant life we receive in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I have not accomplished much in the last month due to issues with our computer, but my heart is filled with thanksgiving and praise for the blessings of this year. Our heavenly Father has heaped an abundance of His grace and mercy upon our family and me even in the middle of difficulties (this is where most of our blessings are hidden).

His presence is real and powerful as we seek His kingdom and His righteousness above all else. He inhabits our praises as He leads us through each day in His Word and close fellowship with Him in prayer and intercession.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:8

What have we gained of Christ this year in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3)? It is the eternal hope we have in Him that carries us through each year and from this world into the next.

How will you end this year and this life? Though we gain the whole world, without Him, we miss true life and eternity, here, now, and forever. Christ is all to those who know Him.

Let His Spirit fill us with praise, thanksgiving, and hope as this year of our Lord 2019 closes and a new year begins.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Isaac Watts

Gracious Father, thank you for your divisions of time. You knew well how to plan for beginnings and endings and transitions from one to the other. We praise you for beginning, sustaining, and ending all things in Christ, your Son. Fill us with your Spirit to keep us in Christ, and in your timing, bring each of us into your eternal glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Beyond a mere Christianity (The Book)

After many obstacles, much time and patience to see this project finished, Beyond a mere Christianity is now available in paperback and eBook on Amazon.com.

Thank you ~ to all who have been reading this series since last year.

Introduction
When I began this series on my WordPress blog in June 2018, I did not know if it would be a book. Like Abram, not foreseeing what the end would be, I started with faith that the Lord was leading and blessing the process for me to seek His will, His instructions, and His provisions.

He continues to reveal amazing things of His kingdom. Even as I write this introduction, it is with knowledge I did not have a year ago. This treatise is meant to challenge us to take what we have received from all sources He has given over the years, to seek, and grow stronger in our faith.

Most of the valuable works for the kingdom are by men who are no longer living but the Lord still lives to lead us beyond what we have already—so as to be hungry for more than men can give us.

I want to continue on this course with joy and excitement to publish as many books as He wills for me. I had hoped to publish this one by my eightieth birthday on August 1 but decided to settle down and enjoy how the Lord would bring this to pass in His own timing.

Every day in obedience, there is communion and fellowship with Him as He continues to show me His ways, teach me His paths, and lead me in His truth—for He is the God of my salvation, and I wait on Him all day (Psalm 25:5).       

Why the title Beyond a mere Christianity? C. S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity was the first of the two other books and a sermon that came to mind when I posted the list of chapters for this series. I use each of these regarding the Christian faith of men who have died but whose works are still speaking to people today.

After reading and studying these books by C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Oswald Chambers, and Jonathan Edwards’ sermon, I retained the main things they taught. The Lord used each one to bring me to a greater knowledge of Him.

Though I have lived longer than these men, I can never know all they knew. But the Lord has challenged me during every decade to seek more and more of His kingdom through a committed and vibrant relationship with Him—to look further than what I learn from men.

He sits as our great High Priest, with the promise and power of the Holy Spirit, to teach us from His Holy Word. The more time we spend with Him personally in prayer and the study of His Word, the more powerful our Christian faith becomes. From generation to generation, we can all learn and share with others.

Meaning of the Word Mere 
One definition of mere is pure, simple, being nothing more than specified. Another definition for mere is a small pond of standing water. Vocabulary.com

This latter meaning has become intriguing in the use of the word as a noun; mere—a lake; a shallow body of water. This definition lends itself to the meaning of this book. Christianity is thought by some to be shallow—as a small pond of standing water. Such thoughts negate the moving of the Holy Spirit and the depth of His working in the hearts and lives of God’s people.

In a synonym study, Dictionary.com compares the words mere and bare, which implies a scant sufficiency. They are often interchangeable, but mere frequently means no more than (enough). Thus, a mere livelihood means enough to live on but no more; a bare livelihood means scarcely enough to live on.

So, when I hear the title Mere Christianity, it seems from my former understanding to mean that Christianity is nothing more than any other religion. When we try to make Christianity a common faith, we are in danger of dumbing down the power that Christ died to give us.

We lose the essence of the faith that is by grace alone, the working of the Holy Spirit for the revelation of the truths of God’s Word.

Many, by reading Lewis’ book, are encouraged to embrace Christianity even as he did. I believe God has used His work to bring many to a knowledge they never had and who have become followers of Christ. My purpose in writing is to look beyond what he believed, spoke, and wrote, to discover a greater depth, beyond a mere Christianity.

mere Christianity will not suffice for Christ’s followers to proclaim and to live the legacy God has bestowed on His children. We will see this in the testimony of Bill and Terri in chapters 36 and 37.

How Lewis Used the Word Mere   
Lewis may have used the word mere to express the Christian faith as pure and simple. It is pure. It is simple and needs nothing added for those who embrace Christ and who live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But to those who do not know Him, Christianity is a complex, misunderstood faith. It is much, much more to those who are growing in the doctrines of the faith. It is a living faith—a powerful faith beyond any others. It is a way of life to those who are being transformed by the power of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Word of God—The Holy Bible.

When the gospel is watered down so as to satisfy everybody, we withhold the wealth that comes only by a personal relationship with the Father and Jesus, His Son. Christianity comes at a high price, the blood of Jesus Christ.

To receive the inheritance that is ours in Christ is a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit working through new hearts, drawn to and committed to Him. His grace does not relieve us of duty, but binds us to it and fulfills the requirement, whereby we experience this new life, a heavenly life above and beyond what most people know.

Others have written from Lewis’ theme but with a different perspective. In the following chapters, we will incorporate many facets of the kingdom that our heavenly Father reveals to us, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, in and through the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through these, we pray He will make clear His role as a loving heavenly Father, Creator, Redeemer, and our Life; His presence and power, His name, His kingdom, and His will.

These are His truths, promises, and blessings for a people who know Him, fear Him, love Him, obey, worship, serve, praise, pray, proclaim, and live in the power of the good news of Christ.

They are for those who are being transformed as living sacrifices and conformed to His image, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance, holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, humility and compassion.

This is to live the “abundant life” (John 10:10) in the “fulness of God” Ephesians 3:19), “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) here in this life, as He continues to prepare us for eternity with Him. True Christianity is separate from any other religion—and the reality of a holy life in union with our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit. (This needs repeating.)

To us and in us, He reveals Himself as Jehovah, the Lord our God. He sires children of His own as His image-bearers. Though not perfect, we are His offspring through His Son, as He continues to lead us through an imperfect world, shining through us His holiness and humility.

He calls us to discover the deep things of God. He leads us to more than floating or possibly a casual swim in a shallow pond. He brings us to the ocean’s edge and directs us to “Launch out into the deep.”

Gracious and glorious Father, continue to lead us in the paths of righteousness, leaving our shallow thoughts of you to plunge the depths of your grace, your love, your presence and power—to live the abundant life to which you call us in Christ. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.  Fran 9/2019.

Jesus in a Wheelchair

“Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:37-40

Part of my meditation last week was on Jesus’ words describing His second coming to establish His glory.

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory,
and all the holy angels with him,
then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Matthew 25:41

The nations shall be gathered before Him and He will separate the sheep from the goats. Those who ministered to others in His name will be honored with Him.

As I thought of the coming glory of our Lord, I remembered those to whom I have ministered in the past. My heart was warmed and quickened from twenty-five years ago in the three weeks I cared for my mother and dad when he was dying of cancer.

Then there were the times through the years of caring for four of our granddaughters.

At the same time, Mother was living with Jerry and me, enduring Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2006, a month after she died, Jerry had emergency surgery and the month after, His leg was amputated.

He recovered from a heart attack almost three years ago but has not walked in over two years due to problems with diabetes.

Wheelchairs are familiar to our family. Because these events happened after the Lord gave me a new heart and spirit ~ a new life in Christ ~ in 1992, my life has been consecrated to Him through my devotion to my family and others in need.

Tears sometimes flow from the joy of knowing all these years ~ especially the last thirteen ~ have been in my ministry to the needs of others as “unto the Lord.” He has always been as close as my immediate family, in our church family, and our neighborhood.

Endurance is experienced as we are ministering in His name. It is in His strength that we live unto Him and for His glory.

This joy of service in His kingdom here is but a taste of the eternal kingdom that is to come. There is no greater life here than living to serve Him and others.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand,
Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world:”

Matthew 25:34

Gracious Father, we praise you for giving us eternal life in Jesus Christ, your dear Son. We thank you for the indwelling of your Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of Christ, our Lord. No words or actions can pay for the precious gifts and blessings you bestow upon us as your children. Reveal your love, joy, and peace through us as we minister to others by your grace and for your glory.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Publication: TWO FULL PLATES ~ Learning to be a Caregiver

The Original Rock

“And did all drink the same spiritual drink:
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:
and that Rock was Christ.”
1 Corinthians 10:4

Modern hymnals sport a new tune to a traditional hymn I have heard for eighty years. Many dislike the old Rock of Ages because they never heard it as it should be sung.

The audio of our last Lord’s Day Call to Worship sung by our Covenant Choir is below. The link to the preaching of the Word of God from Luke 8:41-56 is added (watch or download and take ti with you).

“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:
in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;
he shall set me up upon a rock.”
Psalm 27:5

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and pow’r.

Not the labors of my hands
Can fulfil thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
When mine eyelids close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown,
See thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee. Amen.  Augustus Toplady 1763

Jesus Christ, Our Powerful Savior  Luke 8:41-56  10/20/19 Chris Strevel

Dear Father, lead us by your Holy Spirit in our worship today. Fill your messengers with your Spirit and your Word and open our hearts to hear and obey. We thank you and praise you for the foundation of Life you have given us in Christ, the Rock of our salvation, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Fran

 

Food for the Hungry Soul

Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4

In my continued study on prayer and intercession, I am amazed at how our heavenly Father answers our prayers when we know why and what to pray.

Two main points of this thing called Prayer are essential if we are to experience answered prayer. And these two  are the essence of Christian life ~ not just for prayer.

Christian living and Prayer are two sides of the same coin. Our petitions are selective and representative of our lives.

Asking from the Heart

As earthly creatures, we speak from the heart the first thing that comes to mind.

James speaks of those whose prayers are not answered because they ask selfishly.

Jesus speaks of answered prayers spoken according to what our heavenly Father promises.

Jesus did not come to earth from His glory in heaven to receive the scorn of sinners, to die, and to open heaven so that we could continue in our selfish state.

There are many facets of prayer. We will consider two in this article. One facet of prayer is the understanding of why we pray. The other facet is knowing what to pray

When we consider who we are in Christ, living to the glory of God ~ whether we eat or drink ~ or pray ~ it is all to the glory of our heavenly Father
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

Our main course of eating should be the Word of God. Our main drink should be the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We know why we pray when we are feasting at His table. We pray for the resources revealed in His Word for His glory and the benefit of others.

The Pipeline of Grace

Prayer is the pipeline of grace that reaches the heights of His glory, whereby we ask and receive what He has prepared for His people. Heaven is the storehouse of the goodness and provisions we need for His life and preparation for eternal life with Him.

We, as His creatures, know what to ask because we know Him. We must know His Word and His promises.  His promises are much more applicable to our needs than what we usually ask.

We ask to be relieved from our troubles. The Lord promises to be with us in our troubles. In His sovereignty, He plans to use our trials and difficulties as His means of grace to draw us closer to Him and to grow us in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are called to pray for others. When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored him.

The Storehouse

Getting back to the point and title of this article, we, as God’s people, have access to the storehouse of God’s Word that replenishes and satisfies the human soul.

We speak it in power to others, and it opens the storehouse of heaven when we ask it for others. What we ask in prayer has to do with what He wants to give.

We ask according to His Word, knowing Him and His Word. We pray because our lives are dependent on Him and because we live according to His Word and for His glory.

 It is the spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing:
the words that I speak unto you,
they are spirit, and they are life.
John 6:63

We experience prayer in its true light when we see it from God’s point of view.

Imagine you are God, waiting with glorious things prepared for your people, blessings unimaginable to the human mind. They do not receive because they do not know your great heart and love for them. They do not read the good news you sent them with the order form, or they would come and ask and partake of the glorious bounty you have promised in your Word.

Then Simon Peter answered him,
Lord, to whom shall we go?
you have the words of eternal life.”
John 6:68

Gracious heavenly Father, you have blessed us by your grace to know your goodness and to see your glory. In your Word, you have revealed the greatest gift ~ eternal life through Jesus Christ your Son. By your Holy Spirit, you open our eyes to the promises revealed in Christ. Thank you for drawing us to Him to receive Him, to live in and through Him here, now, and forever. In Jesus’ name, I praise you. Amen.
This will lead us into our next post ~ Words of Life ~ BREAD
Fran