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.

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

 

Blessings in Intercession

A short note today in relation to last Saturday’s post Advocates for Bill and Terri:

I had thought to reference this during the week but did not have time.
Much of the week has been spent in intercession for Bill and Terri.
Too, I have spent a considerable amount of time reading Terri’s blog ~ having only known her a few months, I have kept up with Bill’s blog for years.

One thing I want to mention here is in reference to those who have been interceding. Have you been blessed by your intercession for them? I certainly have, and in the process been brought closer to the throne of grace.

As our great High Priest, he Lord waits for our petitions.

Do You Sense Your Prayers are Being Heard?
Does it ever seem that your prayers are not getting through? I was reminded of this possibility this week. When there is something between us and the Lord that has not been settled, our petitions are not heard.

Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

When there is hidden sin in our lives, the way is closed to His presence.
Confession of our sins, repentance, and faith open the door to His heart.

Intercession is not just for others but it is a means of grace to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. He willingly accepts our requests and grants them when our hearts are clean before Him.

Be Blessed by Reading Their Blogs
Another thing I suggest, if you are not acquainted with Bill and Terri, is to peruse their blog sites. Their posts will be a blessing and minister to you. Whatever your state in this world, their witness of God’s grace will change your perspective of your own life. They testify of the fulfillment of God’s promises to us as His children.

Bill’s blog: Unshakable Hope

Terri’s blog: Diary of a Quadraplegic

Please continue to intercede for them and for all God’s people. Continue to pray to experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life and the lives of others.

Gracious Father, thank you for a Spirit-filled week and for the preparation for our worship tomorrow. Fill us with your Spirit and teach us how to pray continuously and fervently. Search our hearts, try our thoughts and see if there be anything in us that is keeping us from you. Forgive, and lead us onward and upward in pursuit of your blessings for us and others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google

Advocates for Bill and Terri ~ A Spiritual Exercise

This follow-up to a previous post, Words of Life ~ ADVOCATE, is a means to share how the Lord has been working in my heart the last few days, and to ask you to join me for a life-changing experience.

The Lord brought Bill and Terri into my life several months ago. Bill lives in the southwestern part of the USA and Terri in the eastern region. They have become advocates for each other.

As they have shared how God is working in their lives, I have become an advocate for them before the throne of grace.

If you know Bill and Terri, you can skip this part and go to the exercise. But it may be a good thing to review who and where they are.

Bill and Terri each live in a physical state of paralysis. Their conditions are similar but different in how they operate in that state. They are mindful of their circumstances and have learned to function and communicate with others in a gift of clarity most of us do not have. They are each a special gift to us who know them.

Bill
Bill, diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) over twenty years ago, has been preserved long past the average two-to-five year expectancy. The Lord has done a miraculous work in Bill for a witness of the Unshakable Hope he has in Christ. With Mary, his wife and principal advocate, Bill lives at home, functioning with modern equipment that moves him from and into his bed and chair. He writes with his eyes with a computer designed for this purpose. For his blog and book project, Bill is filled with the Spirit of God, influencing and encouraging people throughout the world to know and trust their lives to Christ. His hope is not in himself or anything of this world but only in the promises of eternity when he will have full use of his body and faculties to praise and serve the Lord.

Even though ALS has drastically changed my life and that of my wife and our two daughters, I don’t believe anyone should allow a disease or any life-challenge to define who we are.

To do so is to give that challenge more credit than it deserves and is the first step on a dead-end road of hopelessness.

This trial has taught us that the only way to experience genuine and consistent hope, peace, and joy in the middle of a trial is to view our lives and situations through God’s eyes. For me, learning this was a long and difficult process—but a rewarding one; an ongoing process that will continue until the day I go to be with the Lord.

Terri
Terri, from a fall in her kitchen, has been a quadriplegic since 2013, She is single and dependent on medical staff in a nursing facility. She, too, is a witness for Christ, and attends her church for worship. Terri has siblings and church family who are advocates in the capacity of which they are able. She uses some of the same equipment as Bill and by her voice, communicates through her computer. In these six years, dealing with other medical issues, she has spent time in ICU and been moved to other facilities which upset any rhythm in her life, causing depression and anxiety. From one of her blog posts, I quote the following.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

No matter how frustrated, disgusted, or depressed, I get about being a quadriplegic, I know I’m where I am meant to be. I don’t have to understand why this happened. I only need to acknowledge that God is sovereign, loving, and good. And he doesn’t make mistakes.

Bill and Terri’s readers continue to encourage and support them. The greatest encouragement comes from Bill and Terri to us when we read what the Lord is doing in them.

A SPIRITUAL EXERCISE AS AN ADVOCATE

We cannot, as advocates for Bill and Terri, appeal with the strength of the medical equipment they need. Those things are already provided for them. The idea and the means for advocacy on their part is for the spiritual strength and grace they need to endure and triumph as witnesses for Christ as they are bound, imprisoned in their bodies.

They are teaching us what the world is like ~ paralyzed ~ and in need of a heavenly outpouring of the Spirit to move in His people.

Here is where we can be a part of an awakening in the body of Christ.

For the last few days, the Lord has uniquely led me to pray and intercede. At first, the thought was only for Bill and Terri. Then the blessings came for me, my family, my church, and the whole church worldwide.

Three things will come as a result of this exercise.

1. Bill and Terri will be strengthened in their witness of Christ.
2. We and other Christians will be strengthened in our witness for Christ.
3. God, our Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ will be glorified.

This exercise began when I awoke. I lay still as if paralyzed like Bill and Terri. Quietly I waited, arms at my sides, imagining their immovability; then, remembering Psalm 46:10 ~

Be still, and know that I am God,

I again waited ~ motionless.

Stillness is not easy in a world that is spiritually paralyzed. The body does not want this stillness and will not succumb to it except by His Spirit.

“I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

This exercise is an excellent means to realize that every breath is by His Spirit and through Christ alone.

The Spirit then moved me to the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Our whole of living moment by moment, day by day, is for this purpose. He wants us to know Him as our Father. Through us, He is exalted, honored, and His name hallowed in this world.

This prayer and this thought of His overall sovereignty and exaltation led me to ask for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit from His throne of grace to fill me and enable me to pray in the Spirit for power as an advocate for Bill and Terri.

From the Holy Spirit’s leading, then came the request for the Spirit’s filling for them. I prayed for the continual work in their lives to overcome in the battle against weariness, discouragement, uncertainty, depression, and anxiety. Among other requests, I prayed for the Lord’s filling and leading for Bill to finish his book.

There was a third request for the filling of the Spirit for His people everywhere. (You need facial tissue for this exercise.)

I went to the next petition, which the paralyzed body of Christ needs ~ asking for His kingdom to come in power by His Spirit, and His will to be done in the hearts and lives of His people everywhere.

“God hath made with me an everlasting covenant |
ordered in all things and sure,
this is all my salvation and all my desire.”
2 Samuel 23:5

Even as with David, this everlasting covenant revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is God’s means to establish His kingdom’s rule here on earth and His will to be operative in the hearts and lives of His people.

It is by His divine power that we destroy strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bring every thought captive in obedience to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Before getting up to start my day, I finished petitions for which I usually ask. I asked for the Spirit to raise me and His people everywhere for the work He has for us to do ~ to be the moving witnesses Bill and Terri encourage us to be.

These are only the beginnings of what I have experienced in this new intercession.

During the day, this exercise can be done anywhere and anytime you can lie down, or even sit quietly and still ~ as you desire the Holy Spirit’s filling and moving in your heart and spirit for you, Bill, Terri, all who are ill or physically handicapped, and especially for the moving of God’s Spirit.

Teach your children and do this as a family exercise. Let this exercise displace some of the time you usually spend with your devices. Set your timers and stop and pray throughout the day.

If possible and you feel led, continue this exercise for a week. We may post some of the responses and address any concerns next week.

Advocates for Bill and Terri could become a movement in this world to bring an awareness of the need for God’s Spirit for all people. Let us share this need and call others to join this exercise of intercession for His glory.

Since getting to know Bill, and Terri, through her blog, emails, and my phone conversation with her, Jerry appreciates his wheelchair, and the use of his one leg though he has not been able to walk for over two years. It is amazing how your life can change when you are aware of the more significant needs of others.

Please share this with your Christian friends even as you become an advocate for Christ’s sake.

Gracious Father in heaven, Whom have we in heaven but thee and there is none on earth we desire beside thee. Draw your people to this intercession with understanding and the Spirit. Fill us and enable us to pray in the power and intercession of the Holy Spirit and Christ, our High Priest, who sits at your right hand calling us to Him, for thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Words of Life ~ ADVOCATE

Everyone needs a personal advocate. Do you have at least one person who has your interests at heart, one who knows your needs? Do you have someone who can step in, stand up, and speak for you?

We may have many “fair-weather friends” who cheer us on. But how many are actually close enough to know who we are, committed and able to offer a hand when we need it? Who will sacrifice their own agenda, when push comes to shove in our lives?

The word ADVOCATE was not in our original list of Words of Life ~ A to Z ~ the Ordinary Vocabulary of the Christian, but various circumstances in the last few days have brought this word to my mind and heart.

The Lord has been revealing how many advocates He has given Jerry and me. I am Jerry’s closest advocate. We have a son and daughter, our pastor and his wife and family and other members of our church family who know us well and when we have a need. We also have others who intercede for us and would respond if we needed them.

And the Lord has brought other people into our lives who need an advocate. Besides knowing our family and our church family, there are some who cannot fend for themselves. (I will write about these in our next post.)

We know an attorney who is an advocate to secure reimbursement for tragic personal injuries and loss caused by the neglect of others.  His clients are paralyzed or traumatized to the point of needing continued care from medical staff or a close family member. Their cases have settlements in the millions.

Because these usually have no knowledge of how to manage the money that they have received to support them for the remainder of their lives, the attorney, without charge, also counsels the client in how to manage his money.

Such is the advocate we have in Christ, who knows our dire circumstances. We have sustained the nature and sinful life our first parents brought us into by the seduction and deception of the enemy. Without an ADVOCATE, we have no hope of life in this world or the next.

There is only one reference to the word ADVOCATE in the Bible, which is found in the New Testament.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous:”
1 John 2:1

The word ADVOCATE in Greek means paráklētos, par-ak’-lay-tos; which means intercessor, consoler: the same word is used for advocate and comforter.

Paráklētos is the word used for the Comforter in John 14:26

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he shall teach you all things,
and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you.”

The word intercessor is found only one time, and that, in the Old Testament.

“And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” Isaiah 59:16

“Man’s extremity was Christ’s opportunity. There was no one left to save poor fallen manhood, no one who could lift a hand or a finger for our rescue; therefore, Jesus came, and fought, and bled, and died, and conquered on our behalf.” Charles Spurgeon

Before His crucifixion, Jesus promised to send another Comforter to abide with us forever (John 14:16) who would “proceed from the Father and testify” of Jesus (John 15:26).

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth;
It is expedient for you that I go away:

for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you;
but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
John 16:7

The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, the Spirit of Christ, our ADVOCATE. The Holy Spirit is the power of conviction in our hearts and lives. He intercedes through us to Christ our High Priest who sits at the right hand of God. He pleads our case by the blood of the everlasting covenant on our behalf. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our times of need and enables us to know the needs of others and to comfort and intercede for them.

As the Holy Spirit reveals the Father’s will for His people, we become ADVOCATES for our brothers and sister in Christ. This is the point of this article. We will elaborate on this last statement in our next post. Please look for it, as it will make a huge difference in your life, bringing you to understand more of what it means to be an ADVOCATE for the family of God.

Dear Father, we praise you that you are the Father of all comfort. We thank you that you sent your Son, the only one capable as an advocate for your people. We are blessed to have the indwelling of your Holy Spirit as our eternal advocate, knowing us better than we know ourselves, able to intercede and to intervene for us. By your Spirit, continue to guide us by the truth of your Word and to be advocates for each other, both physically and spiritually. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Image: Google