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
Image

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