Something Greater than Christmas is Here

“Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night.” Gen. 1:16

From the beginning of creation, God has proven some things to be greater than others. Without considering a lot of other comparisons, such as wealth, health, talents, etc., let us look at this time of year known as Christmas.

Many who live for the holidays end the year hopeless and depressed. For many, a warm fuzzy feeling turns into a prickly spur. When Christmas is over, most return to their abnormal lives.

Whether we observe this holiday as with the Roman Catholic Church and Christ in its Mass ~ or in gift-giving within family traditions, we are missing something greater. Far beyond the thought of the birth of Christ two thousand years ago, there is a reality that escapes us.

As hard as we try to ‘keep Christ in Christmas,” we miss Him because He is hidden in the lights, the glitter, the shopping, and the entertainment. Aside from what has become known as Christmas, there are blessings made null and void by man’s traditions.

What man has set up for a celebration is not enough to satisfy the hearts and needs of men. Only our creator knows and has planned a greater life than we can ask or imagine.

Many will not be gathering this season with family. Many have lost loved ones this year, but even for those who will celebrate with their families, let’s consider what is greater ~ what God our Father has prepared for us as heirs of His kingdom.

What can be greater than Christmas? What if it is observed by the traditions of the church and all is joyful and in unity with our fellowmen?

Once-a-year joy is nothing compared to the year-round joy in Christ.

Union in Christ between His people is not relegated to one season a year.

Greater than Christmas is our relationship with our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ by His Holy Spirit. 

We do not have to wait for gifts once a year. His gifts are given every day ~ love, joy, peace, comfort, hope. and more.

He is no longer a baby we can put back in a smelly stable.

He is no longer a man hanging on a bloody cross.

Christ cannot be brought down by hocus pocus in the Roman Mass to be crucified over and over. (transubstantiation)

Christ is King of kings, and Lord of lords, ruling in heaven and earth, blessing His people ~ dwelling in the hearts of men who worship and obey Him.

Greater than the Temple and Soloman ~ In Christ’s Own Words

  “But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” Matthew 12:6.

“The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” Matthew 12:42

There is none greater than the Father and the Son who created and upholds all things by the “word of His power ~ sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Heb. 1:3

He is still fulfilling His purpose for being here ~ to save His people from their sins, This is the “good news” every day.

Oh, how much we forfeit by settling for what seems good. The best and greatest of life is hidden in Christ for those who daily seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

The life of God, which in the incarnation entered human nature is the root in which we are to stand and grow. It is by the same almighty power that worked there and from then on to the resurrection which works daily in us. Our one need (now) is to study, to know, and to trust the life revealed in Christ as the life that is now ours. Humility ~ Andrew Murray

Gracious Father in heaven, send your Holy Spirit to reveal your Son as the eternal gift for man every day, now, and forever. For your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Related Articles: Before there was Christmas, cultures celebrated this time of year in other ways. See here and here)

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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. 

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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

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“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.

Everything New

The first morning Jerry was in ICU, Eyes of Agony were my thoughts for both of us. I could only record my thoughts, not his. When I saw him that afternoon, he acknowledged he was dying (his heart was losing its beat). He already had his share of suffering and did not want any help to remain here.

The second morning’s thought was completely different. “Everything New” seemed so strange in light of what was happening. What could this mean except the Holy Spirit’s insight for me to know that for Jerry everything would be new for him in heaven?

What about me?

I sensed an assurance that in the Lord’s timing, he would make all things new for me, too. I have to continually remember those thoughts.

The first month I had to settle a lot of things, transfer data to my accounts, and other things ~ social security, etc. There was no time to think of what had happened that week in the ER, ICU, and Hospice.

Last month I began taking care of things here in the home.

Sorrow came in spurts as if my heart was being sucked out of my chest. I felt I had died with Jerry.

A week ago and through my first birthday without him in 59 years, I was in a dark tunnel.

These feelings have been uncontrollable, making me know the truth of God’s Word from Lamentations 3:26 “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

After days in the tunnel, I found myself on a deserted island. It was time for me to face the reality of being alone ~ but at least there was fresh air, blue skies, and vegetation. (The Glad Rule)I knew there had been others on the same island when I fell into a pit. It was shallow enough that I could have climbed out, but the small space was just right for my pitifulness.

Days later, I experienced what seemed a tidal wave so strong as to wash me out of the pit, off the island, and into the ocean ~ a sea of uncertainty.

I thought, “I have to walk on water or drown.”  Instead, I sensed a lifting and holding and later the ability to float. This has to be the result of many prayers for me.

At times I thought I would see land.

There is none in sight, yet. I am waiting, still dealing with the sorrow ~ but even in tears, to replace these thoughts with the promises of my heavenly Father and everything new He has planned.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10

“For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” Isaiah 54:5

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Dear Father, I believe Your Word is true and powerful to accomplish all you say you will do. I praise you for your promises and wait for you. Fill me with your Spirit and move me as you desire to accomplish all your holy will for me. Let me continue to be a witness of your grace, goodness, and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

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Overflow of God’s Word

For the past month, my mind and heart have been deluged with thoughts of encouragement for God’s people. The river of living water Jesus promised from the Holy Spirit has been flowing, bringing to the surface words of truth He has planted and watered over the years. My small basin is not enough to capture what He is pouring out. I share a few of the titles here, praying He will settle me and write through me what He desires. If you have an interest in either of these, please leave a comment.

What is Happening?  ~ A Sheep’s View

What Shall We Do? ~ A Sheep’s View

Repentance and Dependence

Our Greatest Need

Words of Life ~ JUDGMENT

Survival of the Fittest

The History of Hope

Quarantined in Christ

Clean Hands

Love and blessings to all in our Lord Jesus Christ,
Fran

“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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In Times Like These

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
both sure and stedfast.”
Hebrews 6:19

Now in our eighties, Jerry and I have never known anything close to what the world is experiencing now. For over a week, I have been singing the hymn In Times Like These.

Searching for the composer and the story behind this hymn, I found it was written by Ruth Caye Jones, a pastor’s wife and the mother of five, living in Pennsylvania during World War II. She was distressed by the headlines of her Pittsburgh newspaper. She saw the World War II causality lists and she knew the Allies were making slow progress through the boot of Italy. Supplies were rationed at home, and everyone was living under incredible strain.

(Jerry was six years old and I was three at that time. I was born in 1939, when the war started, and I remember where I was when it ended in 1945. Jerry and I felt part of the aftermath of the depression of the late 1920s. But I had never heard of the pandemic of 1918 until I read about it two days ago.)

“Opening her Bible to 2 Timothy 3, Ruth studied the page and pondered the opening words. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. A song began composing itself in her mind. She jotted some lyrics on a small pad in her apron pocket. A series of notes also played in her mind. Only later did she realize they came from the old clock on the mantle with its iconic Westminster Chimes. Soon the notes and music congealed to become one of the most beloved Gospel songs of the 1940s and 1950s,

Ruth’s song may have been inspired by 2 Timothy 3:1, but it’s based on her knowledge of another verse—Hebrews 6:19, which says: This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” Robert J. Morgan

Many of my thoughts during this time could be the source of articles on times like these, but I hope to share the encouraging ones for God’s people as minutely as possible. Not many of us can focus too long at one time.

Soon I want to look at the effects of times like these, how we can keep our focus on our Heavenly Father, thrive as His people even under the strain, and to share important and encouraging messages from pastors who are leading their flocks through this dark time.

Our Father in heaven, You are answering life-long prayers in ways we never expected, seeing and hearing things that are difficult to understand. We need your Holy Spirit to know how to pray. We are seeking your kingdom and your righteousness more and more. Draw us closer to you and help us to exhort one another to a deeper faith in you ~ for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran