“What is Truth?” in Times Like These

Many are living in fear and confusion because they do not understand what is happening. Governments are accused of deceiving the people with false reports and keeping the public in suspense. Who really knows the truth about the virus that has spread throughout the world ~ even to the smallest towns and near all of us? Who knows what would happen if we did not observe the restrictions imposed upon us?

“What is truth? is a question for all times, especially while  we remember these words spoken by Pilate as he conducted the trial of Jesus.

Pilate’s question was a casual response to Jesus’ words,

 “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

John 18:37

Jesus had previously spoken of the truth to the people and privately to His disciples.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him,
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
” John 8:31-32

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

Our human nature causes us to doubt what we hear. We are inundated by data that only serves to confuse and distract us from our only true source of life.

The world continues to turn its back on the King and Lord of truth and so we live in a world of fantasy and fiction with no sure foundation for living.

Truth and Authority
When our trust is in Jesus Christ ~ the only bearer of truth ~ we do not have to rely on human sources. Our minds and hearts need to be turned to Him. He teaches us to trust Him even as we live in uncertain times under the human authorities placed over us. The truth in Jesus Christ brings us to trust in Him.

While He warns the sinner with the truth, it is good news of truth for those who come to Him in repentance and faith.  Whatever we hear falls under the authority of our Lord, Jesus Christ. All ~ including sickness and death ~ is under His jurisdiction as He upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Let us bring every thought captive to Him and live in love, joy, and peace as He rules in all times and circumstances, and through all our tribulations (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Galatians 5:22).

He never  changes. He, in truth, rules  forever, leading us onward and upward in His grace to His glory.

 “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for sending your Son to reveal your truth to your people. Keep us by your Spirit in your Word to seek the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name, I pray, thank you, and praise you. Amen.
Fran

Related Article: Onward and Upward

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God is at His Best in Times Like These

The most difficult the times, the closer our Heavenly Father draws us to Him.
When things are well with us, we are prone to forget Him.

 “Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
he is gracious,

and full of compassion, and righteous.”
Psalm 112:4

He waits to be gracious to us. In times like these, He opens heaven and His sanctuary to us, drawing us ever so close.

Dear Father, send your light and and by your Spirit, lead us to seek you, your kingdom and your righteousness. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Strategy for Times Like These

Few of this generation understand how to face and deal with the issues of this life. Not claiming to be one of the few but needing to know and use what our Creator has promised during these times, I write as I seek His kingdom and His righteousness. Only as we look to and receive His instructions can we discern the times and overcome our opposition.

Life is a constant battle (and has been since our first parents joined the forces of the enemy against God). The antithesis reveals the presence and power of God ~ good against evil. His grace and His glory are continually revealed in every generation whether through individual tensions or worldwide onslaughts.

The origin is the same. We each are dealing with our own thoughts ~ who we are, why we are, and how we are to live. It all boils down to self. Each heart beats to its own battle cry.  Each is bound and instructed by its own thoughts of what we see life to be. We walk according to the flesh. We respond to everything according to our own desires. And we buy, hold to and defend all we think will keep us alive.

This is the reality when the battle becomes prevalent and worldwide. We cannot escape the news of death and degradation when it mushrooms around us, but we can know and respond differently than the multitudes.

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

If we are aware of the battle in our lives during peaceful times and have learned to overcome the fleshly war, we are more apt to respond in faith and wisdom in times of crisis.

2 Corinthians has been a constant reminder of the greatest warfare we face. It teaches us that we are captives to the stronghold of our minds ~ thoughts that control us and keep us bound to ourselves and at enmity against God.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Paul spoke these words to the Corinthian Christians, knowing their need to deal with their former lives and their selfish desires. For every Christian, the power of the Holy Spirit works, teaching us through God’s Word, the strategy we are to use when facing the enemy.

We have this divine power available today as real as it was with Paul.

We must recognize the enemy within ~ thoughts that rule. Self has to be brought captive to Christ, in repentance and faith. We must ask and receive His Holy Spirit to bring us captive and teach us through His Holy Word.

We must spend time in His Word and prayer for the necessary instructions. When we overcome the enemy within (pride, fear, and unbelief), we will be confident in facing whatever the odds may be against us.

As we wait in times like these for what may come next, we must prepare.

Just as a soldier learns to use his weapon, we must have our weapon ready. Study and memorization of His Word is necessary for overcoming the enemy.


“Fear not, for I am with you;

    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,”
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

We have the promises and assurance of our Father’s presence and power with us at all times. They are for our consolation and comfort though we may have to endure sickness and death. Christ has been through suffering and death, leading us through the most treacherous of times we could ever face, excluding the eternal wrath of God.

When He wins the battle in us for our souls and minds, we become living sacrifices with all His people, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness to rule in the world.

 “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

What promises of God’s Word do you use as a weapon of your warfare?

Gracious Father, forgive us as your people, living at enmity with you. Rend the heavens and come down to make yourself known to the adversaries ~ beginning with us, your children. Turn us from our selfish desires to receive all that you have prepared for us. Be merciful to us and all your enemies. For your glory, and our joy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Fran

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Sharing our Faith in Times of Crisis

We retrieved our computer two days ago after it was in repair for a week. We (the elderly) learned yesterday that we should not venture from home (after I had been to the grocery store for daily essentials).

With the widespread fear, we sense the need to share our reasons for not being anxious. How can we help others remain hopeful and at peace during these times.

We cannot be out and about but having the means of posting on this blog, we can offer what the Lord has given us. Sustaining us for over eighty years, Jerry and I are privileged ~ blessed ~ to know the presence and power of our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ and His Spirit every day.

Considering the fear many seem to have, we see three possibilities for us as God’s people.

  1. We may never get the coronavirus.
  2. We may have the virus and survive it.
  3. We may die from it and be ushered into the presence of our Lord forever.

Non-believers do not have this hope of God’s grace but this is a good time for us to share the gospel.

For those who might benefit from reading something of our experience of God’s grace and share this with others, we have a free Ebook on Amazon, plus other books available. First Things that Last Forever speaks of Jesus’ teachings of things that are eternal.

Gracious Father, thank you that you never leave us nor forsake us, caring for us and providing for all our needs. Give us spiritual wisdom and understanding for such a time as this. Enable us to reach out to others with the good news of life through Jesus Christ, your Son, in whose name I pray~ for your glory, our peace, and joy. Amen.
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

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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.

Urgently Knocking

A most unusual discovery in our study of the words “Ask, Seek, and Knock” is that Jesus expresses only one thing for each of these.

In Luke 11:13, He says to “ASK for the Holy Spirit.”
In Matthew 6:33 He commands us to “SEEK the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
In Luke 13:25 He mentions those who wait too late to “KNOCK at the door.”

We must be born of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8) in order to see, to seek His Kingdom, to knock and to enter His kingdom.

We find in the following verses the diligent seeking and the urgent knocking.

In Luke 11:6-10 is the widow’s persistent asking, seeking, and knocking until the master of the house opens the door to her request.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:25-26

The strait gate leads to the master’s house. But when He has shut the door, man’s knocking and crying, Lord, Lord, will be to no avail.

We who are born of His Spirit will continue to ask Him to lead us. We walk and live by His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25and continue to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Unless we knock at the door of His heart in His timing, He will not know us, and the doors of heaven will be shut.

“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came;
and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage:
and the door was shut.”
Matthew 25:10

When Jesus Knocks

The Book of Revelation records Jesus’ words in the letter to the church at Laodicea.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

Knocking indicates a separation (a door that must be opened from the other side) between the person knocking and the person  on the other side. There is a need and the only fulfillment of that need rests in the promise of someone who can provide that need.

Does the door swing both ways? Had Jesus knocked at the door of the heart of those who were left out?

 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Hebrews 3:7-12

By His Holy Spirit and His Word, Jesus knocks at the door of our sin and unbelief. He calls us to put away our sin ~ to repent and believe ~ to allow Him to lead us out of the bondage of self and sin.

We cannot seek or knock of our own volition. It must be the work of His Spirit within us drawing us to Christ even as He draws near to us. John 6:44; John 6:63-65

 The Doors of Wisdom

“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.” Proverbs 8:34

The Doors of Heaven

They are “the doors of heavenPsalm 78:23,

 In Revelation 4:1, “a door was opened in heaven to John where he saw and recorded what would come to pass.

 Jesus is the Door to the Kingdom of Heaven

“Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
I am the door of the sheep.”  
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
John 10:7,9

 A Door of Hope

“And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:15

The Door of Faith

 “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27

In this brief study of Jesus’ words, we learn that asking, seeking, and knocking are descriptive of the work of prayer by His people, for His kingdom. His Holy Spirit brings us to repentance and faith in Him so that as we continue to ask for His Spirit, we are led to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and to knock at the door of His heart for all He has promised.

We understand that this practice is not just for us individually, for our own needs, but in unity with His people ~ the body of Christ ~ for the needs of others. Intercession involves a greater degree of fervency, diligence, and urgency as we pray continually at His throne of grace.

The prayer life of a Christian is a daily dwelling in His presence. He dines and sups with us continually as He opens His Word and His promises to us and proves His presence and His power in our lives.

In Christ, we dwell in the throne room, in unity with His Spirit ~ knowing His power to accomplish all He desires for our good and His glory.

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together
in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:”

Ephesians 2:6

We ask what we will because we ask in faith according to His will, seeking His glory in all things, continually knocking at the door of His heart as He intercedes and presents our petitions to our Father.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 Corinthians 2;9

We are continually filled with his grace, nestled in His goodness, and wrapped in His glory. In Christ and Christ in us, we are kept by His power now and forever.

Dear Father, we cannot thank you enough for all you have prepared for us and given by your grace. We are unworthy stewards of your blessings but you have entrusted us with the knowledge of your Word and your will so that we know what to ask, what to seek and where to knock. Continue to draw us to Christ by the power of your Spirit, to dwell in Him and receive your heavenly blessings as well as all our earthly needs. We praise and bless you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fran

Suggested Reading: GOD is Our Goal ~ GOD’S Plan for His People
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