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

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.

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

Image: Google

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

GOD IS GREATER THAN

GOD IS GREATER THAN
our circumstances;

HIGHER THAN
our expectations;

BIGGER THAN
the universe;

MORE POWERFUL THAN
death:

&

NEARER THAN
our very breath.

“IN HIM WE LIVE AND BREATHE AND HAVE OUR BEING.”
Acts. 17:28

AND WE ARE IN HIM WHO IS TRUE, IN HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.
HE IS THE TRUE GOD AND ETERNAL LIFE.”
1 John 5:20

Dear Father, interweave between my human thoughts the truths and the authority of Your Word.  I thank you and praise you that Your Words are Spirit and Life to me.  In Jesus’ precious and powerful name Amen
Fran

Image: Google

 

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

Staying In The Ship

“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”   Acts 27:31
774px-The_Shipwreck_engraving_by_William_Miller_after_Turner

Paul’s last voyage was not a pleasant one. From Caesarea he was being sent to Rome as a prisoner to be tried before Caesar. The storm encountered was causing the ship to break apart as it ran upon the rocks near the beach of Malta.

Before running aground, where the bow stuck and the stem was being broken by the surf, the prisoners could have escaped by throwing out the anchor and letting down the lifeboat. This could have been Paul’s chance to avoid being carried to Rome. But, he knew what was happening was within God’s plans for him.

The following night, after Paul was arrested, “the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.” Acts 23:11

Then, during the storm, Paul stood to encourage all who are in the ship, “Take heart for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, Do not be afraid Paul, your must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you. So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:22-26

Paul trusted God’s plan for him; he trusted His Word, and he was obedient to the will of God. His was the example of the obedience of faith he preached in the gospel to the Roman Christians.

God’s plans for us may be that we go through the storms and waves of this world. The relationship we are in may break up, and seemingly all hope is lost, but in faith, we must stay in the ship. Our relationship with God may encounter upheavals; our fellowship with other believers may run aground, but we are called to obedience to stay in the ship and endure through the entire course, even if that means that we are heading toward the end of this life.

Paul survived his last voyage with other prisoners and soldiers. Undoubtedly, they were non-believers, not knowing the promises or power of God to save His people. Paul is the example for us, even in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation to shine as lights in the darkness.

Cutting Away the Lifeboat

“Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.” Acts 27:32

God is able: and He promises in His Word never to leave us nor forsake us. At times He may have to cut away the ropes of anything that might help us to abandon ship.

His church is that great ship that is often run aground, but He has not forsaken her. Many leave the ship, and often have a difficult time finding it again.

Marriage and family units are vessels that have to bear the storms. Many find these relationships on the rocks, but when we rely on God’s promises, His presence and power as Paul did, we experience His working through the upheavals. He can restore these ships, sometimes to better relationships than they were before.

We may be the only one with faith, courage, and perseverance to stay with the ship, knowing the God to whom we belong and worship. We may be the only light that God chooses to save a whole family from darkness and disaster.

We accept this reality with humility, not pride. It can be a heavy burden for us, but in time it will produce the joy that He intends for us. Wherever we are is where God places us; to testify of Him.

Sheet Music: Be Still My Soul
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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