Friends,
I want so badly to hear from the Lord that which is about peace, rest, prosperity, rejoicing… But I continue to hear from Him –judgement. Judgement for individuals, for the church, for the world. I hear it a hundred times more than I write about it. It is distressing… sad… alarming… terrifying…

The Lord warns of a sword, a sword sharpened and polished, one that flashes like lightening. (Ezek. 21:9,10a) The sword has been “sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer.” (v. 11) Why? The Lord says, “[For] you, My son, have despised the rod and all advice.” (v. 10b) The sword comes against the world, but first against the lazy, rebellious people within God’s own sanctuary. (v. 12 & 9:6) They have continued in idolatry –that is, in immorality, impurity, and greed (Eph. 5:5)– and “have not brought salvation to the earth.” (Isa. 26:18) Therefore, they will be struck with the jealous anger of their God. (1 Peter 4:17) Along with the heathen, God’s dwelling will experience His terrorizing sword. (Ezek. 21:1-17)

For “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I am about to set fire to you…’” (Ezek. 20:47) “Because you continually set up idols within you, My temple, I am going to bring such disaster on you that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will forsake My inheritance and hand you over to your enemies because you have done evil in My eyes and have provoked Me to anger with your lewd acts, your making of unjust gain, and your defilement to My holy things. I will tear you to pieces until you admit your guilt, and until, or if, in your misery, you seek Me in earnest.” (See 2 Kings 21:4-15 // Ezek. ch. 22 // Ho. 5:14,15 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17)

The fire and the sword will test (Ezek. 21:13) and refine. (Mal. 3:1-5) Those who endure will be cleansed of their impurities (Zech. 13:1,2,7-9), for they will call on the name of the Lord and He will answer them (v. 9) and accept them as His own. (same verse)

But who can endure this day of His wrath? (Mal. 3:2) For He comes near to judge the adulterers, the perjurers, those who defraud and oppress and deprive others of justice –those who refuse to fear the LORD Almighty. (v. 5)

But, for those who truly revere God’s name, for those who honor and serve Him without fail, He will rise up and give them healing and joy. (Mal. 3:16-18 & 4:2) But all the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble on that day when God sets the people of the world on fire. (4:1 // 1 Cor. 3:10-15)

So, if it is hard for even the righteous to be saved out of God’s wrath, how shall the disobedient escape?! (Heb. 2:1-3 // 1 Peter 4:17,18)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God commands that the world repent of sin. He has not, however, left us unable to do so. He has shed His blood to pay the debt of sin, He has risen to prove His triumph over sin and death, and He has offered everyone who believes, repents, and trusts in Him and His Message, to be filled with His own Spirit through which the power to live forgiven and pleasing to God is made possible.

Consequently, we who say we have come into Christ, and in whom the power of the Kingdom, Spirit, and Word are at work (Luke 17:21 // Eph. 3:20 // 1 Thes. 2:13), are to fan this Gift into flame through faith and obedience. (2 Tim. 1:6) Those who do so, step into God’s calling of becoming conformed to Christ-likeness. (Rom. 8:29,30) For God forgave us and saved us so that we will live a holy life (2 Tim. 1:9 // Titus 2:11-14) and conduct ourselves “according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:1) Whoever does not do so defiles God’s temple, rejects the Holy Spirit, and will not remain in Life. (1 Cor. 3:16,17 // 1 Thes. 4:7 // Heb. 12:14)

This manner of life, this True Life, is accessible –to anyone who grabs ahold of it and abides there– by way of Christ Jesus, the Savior of mankind, “who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10) Thus, spiritual and eternal death, which is the wage of sin (Rom. 6:23), has been replaced with the opportunity to know Him who is Himself Eternal Life. (John 14:6 // 1 John 5:20)

Therefore, those who say they have repented and now belong to Christ –they must prove this by their deeds. (Acts 26:20) Of course we do not deserve God’s grace (2 Tim. 1:9) –that grace of forgiveness and transformation He has offered to the whole world through Christ. (1 John 2:1-6) Does a death-row inmate deserve to be pardoned and set free from his just punishment and death penalty? Of course not. For whatever good behavior he shows in prison is not enough to lift the sentence he has, through his wickedness, brought himself under. But, if a powerful ruler chooses to set the criminal free, then he is freed, though not because that criminal could ever have earned the pardon. Thus the pardon can only be granted through mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

But once pardoned and freed, is the criminal expected to go out into society and freely commit more crimes and without fear of being again punished for those new crimes? Preposterous! In the same way, once a person seeks pardon from God and is indeed pardoned, does this license him to go forth and commit further rebellion against God’s laws? Only outrageously false theology teaches that this entitlement belongs to those who come into Christ’s Kingdom! (Jude 1:4)

The True Gospel teaches the Truth –that not only did Christ’s atonement expel spiritual death (John 11:25,26), it also expelled sin from those who hold to His teaching. (John 1:29 & 8:34-36 // Rom. 6:2,18 // Heb. 9:28 // 1 Peter 2:24 // 1 John 3:5) This is the New Covenant. “As it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; ‘and this will be My Covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’” (Rom. 11:26,27) This does not say that those in Covenant with God, while holding onto their sins, have their sins removed from His sight. It says that He has taken away their sins. Yes, God, having cleansed us from our past sins (2 Peter 1:9), has also removed the penalty of those past sins (Rom. 6:23), but more than that, He has circumcised completely off from us the sinful nature. (Col. 2:11) And this, so that we will not be banished from Life! (Rom. 8:13)

So, if we are living in Life, we must be living according to God’s will. (1 John 2:17) We must be “living according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 1:1) This life is a life void of all disobedience to God as the Scriptures repeatedly reveal. (Mt. 19:17 // John 14:15 // Rom. 8:9 // 2 Tim. 2:19 // 1 Peter 1:15 // etc.) Only those who walk faithful in holy conduct will be those who hear the words, “Well done. You have been faithful. You have overcome till the end. Enter the joy of My Eternal Life.” (See Mt. 24:13 & 25:21) The rest will hear, “Depart from Me, you fakers and unfaithful who have continued to practice lawlessness.” (See Mt. 7:21-23 & 24:45-51 and 2 Peter 2:20-22)

Therefore, let us obey God and conduct ourselves according to the Life which is available to us by our choice to daily abide in Christ.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word is more valuable than words can describe. Yet shockingly, even those who claim they believe it, say they follow it, and endorse the proclamation of it, neglect time spent in it. And then they wonder why they lack power over sin, lack joy in life, lack courage to exhort, proclaim, and defend the Truth, lack guidance from the Spirit, lack discernment between right and wrong, and have very little knowledge of Christ and His Kingdom.

Many scholars, though they may have a head knowledge of the Bible, are also often severely deficient in what is necessary for living the Kingdom life. But we should not be surprised there, for Jesus said that the Father has hidden such things from the wise and learned and revealed them to the humble. (Luke 10:21) Because such scholars often refuse to actually be transformed by Christ, they, in spite of all their head knowledge, are not even in the Kingdom. (Mt. 18:3) No wonder they cannot “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) for in their self-righteous pride, they are not even justified before God. (Luke 18:9-14)

God’s Word must be at work in those who claim to believe it. (1 Thes. 2:13) But this can only happen if we are eating it –meaning meditating on it, asking the Spirit to not only interpret it for us, but to convict us, train us, and control us, checking what we hear against other verses and the whole counsel of Scripture, and then putting it into practice daily, even every moment.

God’s Word is God’s divine power and this power saturates the one who ingests it. This power gives wisdom and fortitude by which to live godly, victorious, and delivered. (Rom. 1:16 // Eph. 3:20 // 2 Peter 1:3,4) It is by applying the Word of Truth (–turning our backs on the pattern of this world and instead walking consistently in Christ) that we are birthed into new creations. (Rom. 12:1,2 // Ja. 1:18,21 // 1 Peter 1:22,23)

But we cannot do any of this if we are not daily soaking our minds and hearts in God’s Word.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word assures us that He is the One who chooses an appointed time for judging and that He always judges fairly. (Ps. 75:2) Not only is our deliverance from those who pursue us with evil intent in His hands (31:15), but He promises to repay and reward everyone in accordance with what their overall conduct, and their each specific action, word, and thought, deserves. (Jer. 17:10 // Mt. 5:27-30 & 12:37) No one is given special treatment. (Col. 3:25) “Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for that which he did wrong, and there are no exceptions.” (same verse) For “God, who is a righteous judge and who expresses His wrath every day” (See Ps. 7:11), and who never acts with favoritism (Eph. 6:9), views absolutely everything (Heb. 4:13), even the motives of men’s hearts. (Rom. 2:16 // 1 Cor. 4:5)

Knowing these warnings and promises should give us fear of God, respect for His ways, and patience when burdened under an oppressor. Since “The Lord executes fairness and justice for all the oppressed” (See Ps. 103:6) we need only to wait and we will see God punish the wicked for their plots against the righteous. (Ps. 58:9-11 // Pr. 11:21) God’s holy people need not avenge themselves, nor are they to do so, for God knows just how and when to avenge (Rom. 12:19), and His wrath will certainly be poured out on all who continue in their pride, deceit, cruelty, and other evil deeds. (Ps. 52:1-5) “Yes, God will make such people a permanent heap of ruins; He will scoop them up and tear them from their home; He will uproot them and eventually kill them.” (See v. 5)

Others will see God’s judgement, fear Him, and learn righteousness. (Ps. 52:6 // Isa. 26:5,9) They will laugh at the oppressor, saying, “Look now at the man who did not make God his protector but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by devastating others.” (Ps. 52:7) Indeed, the man who shows no regard for the Lord nor His law of love… the man who conceals his schemes by deception… will have the stone he rolled, roll back on him, and he will be crushed. (Ps. 28:5 // Pr. 26:23-27)

So, all who take refuge in the Lord, and who persistently petition Him concerning those who persecute them, need only to wait. “Will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night? Will He delay long in helping them? I tell you, He will see that they receive justice, and quickly.” (See Jesus’ promise in Luke 18:7,8) Moreover, it will be seen that the justice was granted at just the perfect time. (Isa. 64:4 // Hab. 2:3)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
For those who truly belong to the Lord, He repeatedly tells us, “Fear not.” And why should we have no fear? It is due to the fact that He has redeemed us. (Isa. 43:1) It is because He, who is the Almighty God, is on the side of all who, through faith and obedience, have come into covenant with Him. (Rom. 8:28-39) Because Christ intercedes for us (v. 34), “we are more than conquerors.” (v. 37) Because we cling to the God who is our Protector from the storm, from wicked deceivers, and from all the evil realm that is bent on destroying everyone, we are overcomers. (Luke 10:19 // 1 John 5:4,5) For the Lord –He who loves justice and hates robbery and evildoing (Isa. 61:8)– will bless and reward those who adhere faithfully to His Covenant. (v. 8,9) Such people are children of the Most High, and having been infused with His own Spirit, we no longer have a spirit of fear but instead the Spirit of sonship and power! (Rom. 8:15-17 // 2 Tim. 1:7)

So how do people of God behave when they pass through deep waters? They fear not, for they know assuredly that God is right there with them. (Isa. 43:2) They know that God has promised that they will not be drowned. (same verse) They know that the Holy One is their Savior. (v. 3) They rest in His words, “Fear not, for I am with you.” (v. 5) They take joy in knowing their impossible predicament will turn out not only for their deliverance, but also for God’s glory and theirs. (v. 4,7 // Phil. 1:19)

What a wonderful God we have covenanted with! He honors those who serve Him (John 12:26) and “gives us the victory though our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:57)

Let us therefore give continual thanks and praise to our Creator and Redeemer, and put our full trust in His words, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” (Isa. 43:1)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Though the cross was an appalling instrument of death, it was nevertheless the means of our redemption. Thus the symbols of the cross which we hang up or wear are remembrances of the extent to which God went in order to purchase our salvation from our sin and sin’s consequence. The cross, therefore, should make us weep with both contrition and joy. For through it, Christ paid our ransom, allowing God to satisfy His fury against the horrible crimes of sin, and to forgive all who, in faith, apply Christ’s blood to the doorposts of their hearts.

Because of the crime of sin against God –who is utterly holy, just, and good, and who is Love impersonated– there must be, for justice to prevail, a payment for crime. Evil must be punished; otherwise justice does not rule. For God to maintain sovereignty in His universe, justice must triumph over injustice.

It would be unjust for God to allow sinfulness to reign over goodness, for evil to defeat innocence, for cruelty to conquer love. Thus it would be unjust for God to ignore sinfulness and not require that those who commit it be penalized. It is because God is perfectly good and loving that He demands that goodness and love rule, and that sin, which is always tainted, at least to some degree or another with cruelty and perversion, and which always, if left unchecked, spirals down into more evil, be punished.

We know that God’s law requires that everything presented to Him be clean and undefiled. We also know that it is only by the shedding of blood that cleansing, plus the forgiveness of sins, can be granted to one who has sinned. (Heb. 9:22) The blood of Jesus Christ is the only blood and payment that took care of this necessity once and for all. No longer must humans present to God bloody sacrifices as they acknowledge their sinfulness and request forgiveness, for Christ, the Lamb, paid the price of sin once and for all. For “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (v. 12) Because He, unblemished by sin, offered Himself to God on our behalf, then all who apply His blood to their consciences and hearts, are cleansed of those acts that lead to death. (v. 14 & 10:22) Cleansed does mean cleansed, not just forgiven. Thus, being cleansed and freed from sin (Rom. 6:18), we become forgiven, joyful slaves of God and righteousness (v. 18,22,23), the resulting outcome being holiness and eternal life. (v. 22)

So, because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), we are not to sin. (v. 1) But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate (Jesus) who speaks to the Father in our defense. (same verse) Our part is to acknowledge that we’ve sinned, confess it, renounce it with finality, and travel the opposite direction away from it. (Luke 13:3 // John 8:11,34-36) If we do this, God will forgive us and cleanse us once again of all impurities. (Titus 2:14 // 1 John 1:9) Because God has no darkness (sin or evil) in Him (1 John 1:5,6), then to abide in Him, we must remain in the Light –meaning, to remain clear of all sin / disobedience / evil. (v. 6 & 2:3,4) Walking this way (the way of a clean conscience and clean conduct) is the way Christ’s blood purifies us of every sin. (1:7) As Eph. 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” IN Him –where no darkness abides.

We were reconciled to God and justified before Him through the death and blood of Christ. (Rom. 5:9,10) And through His life –if we abide there by eating (being filled with) the Living Bread which has been given for the life of the world (John 6:33,48-63)– we are rescued from the wrath to come. (Rom. 5:9,10 // 1 Thes. 1:9,10 // 1 Peter 1:9)

Let us, therefore, continually praise God for the cross of Christ, His blood shed for us as, in death, He paid our sins’ wage and through which we also may die to sin (Rom. 6:1-10), and for His life by (in / through) which we may truly live, now and for eternity. (v. 5,11,23)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
My mom wanted to pass out her Easter treat bags at the downtown bus and train stops, so the Lord gave us opportunity today on this Good Friday. I made a new sign this morning before leaving (the pink one in photo 4 below –note the message!) and passed out pretty cards with verses on them. As always, it was a wonderful time in, and from, the Lord, sharing the Good News with people, listening to them, loving on them, and praying for them.

We never carry our phones while out on the streets, but when we got back to the car at the end, we decided to take some pictures with our iPhones. (They turned out kind of dark, so I have lightened them.) I figured, though, that it might be fun for my regular readers to see them, being that I rarely post pictures of this ministry I’ve often written about.

We praise the Lord for the huge privilege of spreading the Word every way we can! And that we were able to do so downtown today!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

1. Me in front of two of our city’s landmarks.

2. Proclaiming freedom.

3. Happy to be evangelizing.

4. The sign I made this morning.

5. My sweet, wonderful mom and mentor.

6. Mom, humble & powerful in the Spirit.

7. Holding up the last few of her treat bags left.