August 31, 2014
This morning at church there was a song that had lyrics about hands being held high in worship to the Lord. Standing with everyone else, I looked around and a bit behind and felt great joy to see almost the entire church (at least two thousand hands) lifted in beautiful exaltation to God. I whispered to my husband, “Look at that. That is SO cool.” He agreed. It was really precious. Especially as I felt God’s love well up in me for His church.
Interestingly, Gary’s sermon (which comes after the singing) was about the church. He spoke about how churches and para-church organizations often emphasize either the cause, the community, or the corporation, but how all three are equally important. In regards to the latter, he reminded us that churches should be stable, stable meaning that good financial stewardship is being practiced, that everyone is participating, and that the pastor and the elders are deciding things together while taking into account others and others’ concerns. In regards to community, churches should be places where all who come feel secure and loved, and where everyone remembers that everyone else is still “in process”. And in regards to the cause, everyone should be working to further the Truth and Way of the Lord, being compassionate toward the weak and wounded, but never neglectful in training and putting that training to practice.
The church is Christ’s body and bride. Because of this, we should be careful how we speak about her. Yes, there is the adulterous church and the counterfeit church. But there is certainly the real; and she is not always perfect. She is in process. She is sometimes messed up, limping, or sick. This is because her parts –Christ’s body parts– are many, and they consist of individuals, individuals who are at different levels in their knowledge of the Lord.
Jesus loves His church. He loves individuals. He loves those He is working with –those who have committed themselves to Him, or even those who have hesitantly called out to Him for help. He is tender toward those who are lagging –lagging not because of unwillingness, but because of the weariness of setbacks which life often brings.
Have we ever seen a man who truly loves his wife? Maybe she is a wife who has an illness –physical or otherwise, or maybe she is fine; but regardless, he cares for her attentively and with deep tenderness and patience. Whether or not we’ve ever seen such a man (I have), we can know that the Lord Jesus cares for His church like this, and perfectly so. While encouraging her to get stronger and stronger, He embraces her when she’s broken. He lifts her up, steadies her, instructs her, and waits for her to catch her breath and take the next step. He holds her up as she continues to try and gives her extra-special nourishment until she’s healed.
The church is Christ’s own body. Therefore, we are to love the church, and love the individuals who make up the church. We are to be patient with her, pray for her, help her, encourage her, instruct her, and love her –the bride as a whole, as well as each body part. We should be careful that we don’t speak against her lest we be stabbing / wounding / grieving the Lord Himself. The idea that we are the only ones still being faithful to the Lord or the only ones whom the Lord is using or working with, should be extinguished. We are not the only ones. The Lord has reserved for Himself many more than we realize. True, they may not be perfect yet (and neither are we), but they are cherished by the Lord. They are in His service, or at least getting there, and they are worshipping, or learning to worship, from genuine hearts.
Looking at the sea of raised hands this morning, I was reminded of the immense love, patience, and concern the Lord has for His body –the individual parts, but also the church as a whole.
August 27, 2014
When we read the Scriptures, we are to interpret them literally, even while we make way for symbols, figures of speech, typologies, and poetic style. Moreover, we are to interpret all of it in light of the whole of Scripture, as well as in the way in which the original hearers were intended to interpret it. This does not mean that the Word of God is not continually alive and active, for it is; nor does it mean that God’s Spirit does not use the Word to speak directly to us about our own situations or the situations of those we are called to warn or help, for He does. Therefore, though God may give us, as individuals, a command, a warning, or a promise by way of a Scripture verse or passage, it does not negate the literal interpretation of the statement and/or passage with which the original recipient was to take it.
Let’s look at Mt. 3:15 for starters. It says, while the context explains why Jesus and his parents went and hid in Egypt until Herod’s death, “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called My son.'” Israeliteindeed, who has been strongly advocating Replacement Theology for the last two months by teaching that God, in His plan, purpose, and promises, has replaced national (rebellious) Israel with His (obedient) Church used Mt. 3:15 in the title of her 8/13/14 post to further her argument on the issue. However, when we look back at God’s original statement (which is found in Hosea 11:1), we see that throughout this entire chapter, God refers to this (unruly) son as “Israel”, “Ephraim”, “My people”, “His [the LORD's] children”, and “Judah”, even while He is lamenting about how their sacrifices to idols, their determination to turn from Him, and their refusal to repent would reap for them destruction and slavery. Nevertheless, the chapter also includes the repentant return of God’s children and His restoration for them to their homes.
So, is Ho. 11:1 about Jesus and His Church? No, it is not, for a rebel against God could never characterize Christ or a person or group in Him. Why then does Mt. 3:15 state that Jesus’ flight to Egypt and return from there fulfills God’s statement, “Out of Egypt I called My son”? It is because this event in Jesus’ life fulfilled the typology comparing the rebel son (the nation of Israel) with the perfect Son (Jesus). Even so, we must understand that this fulfillment does not negate the original meaning of Ho. ch. 11 for the original hearers. The same must be understood concerning all of Scripture.
Let’s look at God’s use of the word “son” in 2 Sam. 7:14a where He says, “I will be his Father and he will be My son.” It seems, at first, that the words “his” and “he” refer to either (or both) Solomon (David’s immediate reigning predecessor) and/or Jesus (David’s final reigning predecessor), for in verse 12 the LORD promises David that He will, after David’s death, “raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom.” That this means Solomon as well as Jesus, whose parents’ lineage is traced back through both Solomon (Mt. 1:6,7) and “Nathan, the son of David” (Luke 3:31), appears confirmed in verse 13 of 2 Sam. ch. 7, for we read, “He is the one who will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever.” But what happens when we read verse 14? It says, “I will be his father, and he will be My son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.” The reference to Jesus is thus cut from this verse, for Jesus has not, and cannot, do wrong, for He has always been, and always will be, sinless. (Heb. 4:15)
Consequently, when the LORD refers to His “son” in 2 Sam. ch. 7, He is referring to the descendants of David’s bloodline, from whom Christ Jesus, as a human, came. God is calling a whole lineage (who have done wrong and have received punishment) His “son”, while also including that one perfect man from David’s own body (seed / bloodline) whom God would raise up to be the Everlasting Ruler –namely, Jesus, who will literally return to earth to rule from literal Jerusalem. (Isa. ch. 9-11,65 // Jer. 23:1-8 // Zech. ch. 14 // Acts 3:21,22) Therefore, in view of this promise, no one can rightly think that God has taken away from David’s offspring His special family-love, His special covenant-promise, and His special eternal-decree, for in God’s statements immediately following His statement in 2 Sam. 7:14 about the punishment-deserving son, He says: “But My love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before Me [/you]; your throne will be established forever.” (v. 15,16) God is promising this to David concerning his lineage as a group.
Israeliteindeed made this assertion in her 8/20/14 post: “Even Christ Himself is not to be regarded any longer “according to the flesh” –His race while He was in the flesh is unimportant. What is important is who He is (God), and what He has done for all of mankind (provided redemption through His own body and blood).” She then goes on to quote 2 Cor. 5:16,17 to support her assertion. However, this passage is speaking about how those in Christ live in a new way –only for Him and with His viewpoint about everyone. To imply that this passage is specifically addressing the race issue is to be dishonest. Moreover, she is contradicting God’s Word to say that Jesus’ human ancestry is unimportant. For according to God, so as to show Himself faithful to His promises (Ezek. 36:20-23), the “record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt. 1:1) is highly important. (Acts 3:22 // Rom. 9:5 // Heb. 7:13,14) Moreover, Jesus, in referring to Himself as a Jew (John 4:22) and by answering yes to Pilate’s question, “Are You the king of the Jews?” (Mark 15:2), reveals His claim to be a Jew, as well as His claim to be, specifically, the Jews’ King.
Let’s continue in 2 Sam. ch. 7. We see that David believed God’s promise, praised and thanked Him for it, reminded the Lord of His words and promises that were always trustworthy (v. 28), and let God know he was expecting his lineage to continue before God forever. (v.29) David understood that God was giving him an extra-special promise. (v. 18,19) He also understood that all Israel was special to the LORD, for as he exclaims while in praise to God, “And who is like your people Israel –the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for Himself and to make a name for Himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders for Your land and before Your people, whom You redeemed from Egypt, from the nations and their gods.” (v. 23) In verse 24 we see that David understood the promise included the whole nation Israel, for he says, “You have established Your people Israel as Your very own forever, and You, O LORD, have become their God.” It cannot be denied that in this conversation recorded in 2 Sam. ch. 7, both the LORD and David were referring to a lineage, a bloodline, an ethnicity, a kingdom of the nation Israel.
God gives the promise numerous times in His Word –such as in Ezek. 43:7, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place for the soles of My feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile My holy name…” Spiritual Israel does not defile God’s name; thus God’s promise here is seen to be directed to the Jewish people (40:4 & 43:10) and it concerns the return of the LORD’s glory (43:4,5) to a temple with specific measurements (ch. 40-43) within the land which God calls “My land” (36:5 & 38:16) and of which He says to “the whole house of Israel” (37:11), “O My people… I will bring you back to the land of Israel.” (v. 12)
Let’s look at Jer. 31:1: “‘At that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be My people.” The only way to correctly interpret this verse is that it is about an ethnicity, the Jews. In verse 33 (confirmed in Heb. 8:10) we read, “‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'” As both contexts show, this promise is for the descendants of those whom God led out of Egypt (Jer. 31:32) / those whom Moses instructed. (Heb. 8:5-8) Yes, we Gentiles, are invited to partake of this Covenant through our faith in Christ, but we are to realize that we are the wild shoots grafted in. (Rom. 11:17)
This being the case, we Gentiles are commanded to not be arrogant (Rom. 11:20) nor to boast over the Jewish race who are the natural branches (v. 18), even though they, because of their unbelief, have been broken off (v. 20) “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (v. 25) Jews versus Gentiles (races) is certainly a focus here, and the passage clearly states that God chose to love Israel (even though they have rebelled) because of His promise to the patriarchs (v. 28), and that this is an irrevocable decreed choice of special-love God chose, through an oath, to make. (v. 29 & 9:13 // Dt. 7:6-8 & 14:2) God chose a race, and a particular lineage, to be His own. (Ps. 105:6 & 135:4,8-12 // John 1:11 // Acts 26:23) To say this is not so, is to disbelieve numerous portions of the Word of God. To spiritualize promises which God made to literal people about literal descendants, about literal land ownership, about a literal national repentance, and about Jesus literally returning to earth to literally reign over the earth from the literal land of Israel, and specifically from the literal city of Jerusalem (Jer. 3:17,18 & 23:3-8 & 24:4-7; also Isa. 27:12,13 and Acts 3:21) –“the city He loves” (Rev. 20:9)– is to not only change God’s Word, but to make God out to have lied to David, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to all the others who were reminded about God’s promises to their race.
Jer. 31:7 says, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the greatest of the nations.” Are we to deny that the LORD is stating that Jacob / Israel is the greatest of the nations? God continues in the same verse, “Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, the remnant of Israel.'” Can we deny that the LORD is instructing that petition mixed with praise be given to Him that He save His people whom He calls the “remnant of Israel”? Can correct hermeneutics deny that God is referring to a literal ethnic nation, especially in view of what He says throughout the chapter as He speaks of the hills of Samaria and Ephraim (v. 5,6), of gathering scattered Israel from the ends of the earth (v. 8), and while calling Ephraim “My firstborn son” (v. 9)? God states that Ephraim (Israel) is His dear son, and though He often speaks against him, he is still the child in whom He delights, the one He remembers, has compassion for, yearns for (v. 20), and loves with an everlasting love (v. 3); who will also repent (v. 19) and be forgiven (v. 34), and who will be blessed with deliverance (v. 11), with joy and prosperity (v. 12-14), with righteousness (v. 23), with rest (v. 2,24), and with an intimate relationship with God. (v. 33,34) This is God’s choice, decree, and promise for the race He ordained to be His firstborn son. (Rom. ch. 9 & 11) For as the LORD said to Moses, “Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: ‘Israel is My firstborn son.'” (Ex. 4:22) An ethnic group, the Jews, are chosen by God as His firstborn son. And He will keep redeeming them back to Himself until that day when they (as a nation and individually) recognize their Messiah and dedicate themselves to Him forever. (Ex. 13:15 // Zech. 12:10-13:2 // Rom. 11:11,12,25-29)
Those adhering to Replacement Theology reveal their small faith as they deny the plain words of the Living God. It is also jealousy and pride which blinds them to the fact that the literal lineage of Abraham and David (which includes Jesus as the firstborn perfect son) is God’s firstborn son, and that although at present the Jewish nation remains unrepentant, Gentile believers in Christ are merely sharers in the inheritance, not usurpers. Is it not, therefore, those who attempt to usurp the position, while also slandering others, who make themselves participants in the synagogue of Satan? (Rev. 2:9 & 3:9) Is it not those who pretend to speak Truth and Love and Righteousness, while actually promoting contempt toward God’s elect firstborn, Israel, who are mimicking the expert of deception (2 Cor. 11:13-15) and hate? (1 John 3:10-15) Smooth talk about love and peace from those promoting falsehoods and agendas that are not of Christ does not deceive the discerning. (Rom. 16:17,18) Neither are the discerning deceived by groups who, while claiming to want peace, refuse it no matter what concessions are made for them.
So what about the issue of land –that piece of real estate which God promised to the patriarchs and their descendants? Has this covenantal promise of God’s been revoked and given to the Church? And is the land to be understood as spiritual land, meaning victory, blessing, and eternal salvation? Let’s look at God’s Word on the subject.
God made a covenant with Abram (Abraham) about land. It was about the land which, at the time, the Canaanites possessed. (Gen. 12:6) “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.'” (v. 7) The LORD repeats the promise to Abram using the word “forever”: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.” (13:15) Later, when changing Abram’s name to Abraham, the LORD says to him, “I will establish My covenant as an everlasting covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (17:7,8) The Israelites responsibility was to keep the sign of this covenant –male circumcision. (v. 9-14)
God stated the covenantal promise multiple times to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, and to their descendants about a particular piece of real estate –“from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates– the land of the Kenites…” (Gen. 15:18-21) However, in Lev. ch. 26 we read the harsh warning which God, through Moses, gave to the Israelite nation concerning what they would have to go through if they rebelled against Him. God said that He would punish them seven times over for their sins (v. 24) and bring a sword upon them “to avenge the breaking of the covenant” (v. 25) –the (Mosaic) covenant involving laws, blessings, and obedience. (v. 3,14,15) Even so, in verses 41 and 42 God says, “…then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember My covenant with Jacob and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”
In Lev. 26:43, as well as in verses 34 and 35, God said that the land will be deserted by His rebellious nation while it enjoys its sabbath rest, but in verses 44 and 45 (as Isa. 11:10-16, Jer. 32:36-44, Ezek. 36:12, and many other passages confirm), God promises to restore the Israelites back to the land. “Fields will be bought for silver, and deeds will be signed, sealed and witnessed in the territory of Benjamin…” (Jer. 32:44) Spiritual Israel does not conduct such business, so contrary to what Israeliteindeed teaches, the promise, given to the Jewish race, does include a piece of real estate. The LORD made the covenant with Abraham. (Ps. 105:9) He swore it to Isaac with an oath. (same verse) “He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.'” (v. 10,11) Truly, “He remembers His covenant forever” (v. 8) and “His holy promise given to His servant Abraham.” (v. 42) This whole chapter is about ethnic Israel, God’s chosen people, which verse 6 confirms by saying, “O descendants of Abraham His servant, O sons of Jacob, His chosen ones.”
Throughout the Word of God we see that the promise includes the everlasting existence of a Jewish nationality (Jer. 31:35-37), their restoration to their homeland (v. 23-28), and days of which God speaks of “when this city will be rebuilt for Me from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate.” (v. 38) Though the long punishment made it seem to the psalmist, Ethan, that God had renounced the covenant (Ps. 89:38-51), God’s own words in the same chapter, reveal the LORD saying that He will never renounce it, and that His love and His covenant with David’s line will endure forever. (v. 19-37) Moreover, the LORD says that those people who claim that He “has rejected the two kingdoms / families He chose” (Jer. 33:24) and who thus “despise My people and no longer regard them as a nation” (same verse) are completely wrong. (v. 25,26) For God has chosen that Jacob’s and David’s lineage will endure forever. (v. 26)
I’m sure God has used Ezek. ch. 36 & 37 countless times to speak to individuals, as He has for me, promising to us the born-again experience for those we are interceding for who are (or were) dead in their sins. But this does not negate the literal and original message which God was giving through Ezekiel. The context is all about national Israel –the people and the land God gave them. In 37:19-28 the LORD is promising to gather the Israelite tribes from the nations “and bring them back into their own land” (v. 21) to be “one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel” (v. 22) with one king, not two kingdoms as before (same verse), and to be a cleansed people belonging to God. (v. 23) The King from David’s lineage will rule and the people will willingly obey (v. 24), and as God promises, “They will live in the land I gave to My servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever.” (v. 25) The covenant of peace will be everlasting and that place will be God’s sacred dwelling forever in the sight of all the nations. (v. 26-28) Do false teachers really think we are going to adhere to their teachings that contradict the plain words of God? Truly, the gravity of pretending to preach God’s Word, while actually contradicting God’s Word, is huge. (Jer. 20:6 & 29:30-32 // Gal. 1:6-9)
Though the whole earth belongs to the LORD, He considers the land of Israel to be His in a unique way. He says in Lev. 25:23, “The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants.” Again about it, Dt. 11:12 tells us that it is a land God cares for and watches over continually. In Isa. 14:25 and Jer. 2:7 & 16:18, God calls the land His land and His inheritance. In Joel 3:1,2 God declares that during those days when He restores the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, He will gather all nations to the Valley of Jehoshaphat to bring His judgement against them. Why? God says it is because of their sin in scattering to the nations His people (His inheritance –v. 2), and because they “divided up My land.” (same verse) Those who are trying to pressure Israel to give up any part of that land which God calls His, will experience God’s wrath.
Israeliteindeed has, over the last two months, written repeatedly against what God calls His inheritance –the Jewish people and the land of Israel. The method of interpretation she uses of spiritualizing huge portions of God’s Word which should be taken literally, is sending her down a road of falsehood where one becomes susceptible to more and more lies, confusion, and sin. It is a road where people change and twist God’s Word to mean what they want it to mean. It is a road of arrogance and self-righteousness where one becomes unable to hear exhortations from those who warn by the Holy Spirit. It is a road which causes a person to write with a tone of anger, superiority, and malice against one particular race –the Jews– as well as against those who believe that God’s Word has commanded that Jews and their land be prayed for, loved, and blessed. (Gen. 12:1-3 // Ps. 122:6-9) It is a road which blinds a person to the fact that their words about love, meekness, harmlessness, and non-violence are not supported by their attitude throughout their writings. It is a road of making false accusations, of giving unwarranted labels, of twisting historical events, and of perpetuating political myths as well as hatred toward Jews, while also showing disrespect toward those who do not share their viewpoint and whose hearts and minds they apparently wish they could control.
It is not merely due to Israeliteindeed’s false doctrine which she has recently been promoting that I must retract my endorsement of her blog, but, almost more so, it is due to her attitude, over the last two months, with which she has delivered it. Furthermore, I apologize to my readers that, back when I was encouraging everyone to read her posts, I was not aware that she was turning to the false and harmful doctrine of Replacement Theology.
P.S. From the political angle, here are two informative and factual articles:
1. Arabs created and still perpetuate the refugee problem:
2. Myths about the Palestinians versus the facts:
August 21, 2014
Upon getting up this morning, the Lord gave me songs of praises to Him. I always am so thankful when it flows.
Lord God, You are the reigning King.
You are beautiful and kind,
Compassionate to all You have made.
We love to see You,
Your glory and Your throne.
We love to exalt You,
For You alone are worthy to be praised.
Thank You. Thank You for Your love.
Thank You, my Savior
For being my God.
You are the True God.
Your name is Jesus.
You are the Lamb who was slain,
But rose again,
To make a way to You,
To dwell with You,
Casting away our sin,
For You are pure and holy.
In You, we are blessed.
In You, we have strength.
In You, we have wisdom, power, and righteousness.
Please make us just like You.
Lord, I love You.
Lord, I truly love You,
And worship You.
My King, The King,
The King of kings
And Lord of lords
So, I praise, exalt, and sing,
Acclaiming You and who You are.
Worshiping and trusting,
In Your Name and Word–
Which I love so much.
Yes, the Lord lives!
Praise be to the Rock
Of our salvation!
Mighty… mighty and all-powerful,
Glorious and wonderful!
Wisdom, Love, and Holiness You are,
Oh Lord, You do reign,
And I bow to Your Most Holy Name.
Acknowledging and thanking You,
You who rule over the nations,
The peoples, and all creation.
Thank You, God.
I lift up my praises,
And extol You,
The Sovereign King.
Forever, those who love You,
Will worship You who reigns,
Who reigns forever.
August 17, 2014
It was really nice yesterday to be able to drive back out to the country to see several friends I miss. I stopped at Mr. and Mrs. B’s house (an elderly couple who I’ve written about several times before) and they invited me to stay for lunch. It was special to talk with them and also with their son whose wife is recovering from a coma she was in last year and who I prayed for a lot. Mr. B is completely over his colon cancer (which is a huge relief since he and Mrs. B have continued to stubbornly resist repentance and salvation in Jesus). But, I prayed aloud for them at the lunch table and took opportunities during our conversation to mention the Lord’s goodness, and all three actually seemed to have softened a bit toward the Gospel. May the Lord open their eyes to their need for salvation and enable them to submit their hearts to Him, ask for cleansing, and be reborn.
Later I stopped to see the sweet group at the Sabbath church and talked with them. My one friend who has been fighting lung cancer (the holistic way) for a year (no she wasn’t a smoker) is thin and gaunt, but she was still there at church –still elegant, gracious, and smiley as ever. Though I’d never made myself a regular of their church, I actually went pretty often after having grown to love that group while attending their Bible Study throughout ’06 and ’07. May the Lord bless them for the love they show others.
I had the opportunity to talk with a young married couple (whose wedding I attended), who have three small children, and who are struggling due to a job loss. I was able to encourage them by reminding them of God’s faithfulness in my own life and also by praying aloud for them that the Lord would bring them joy in learning from the trial’s lessons. May God grant them perseverance in faith and courage, as well as His great mercy.
Of course I also stopped, yesterday, to see all my friends at the nursing home, and gratefully, most of them are doing well. I am, however, always saddened concerning the ones who can’t get out of bed due to various severe health issues. They try to be cheerful, but it sure must be difficult, especially when their families neglect them… May the Lord grant health, friendships, and love to the sick and the lonely.
Another opportunity the Lord gave me yesterday was that as I was walking out the door of the nursing home, I met two people who I’d not seen in several years. I used to witness to them when they were single (before they knew each other) and when they were both struggling with doctrine and their beliefs. Very surprisingly for me, they met and got married! I saw them a few times after that and tried to encourage them to follow the Lord, but they were lukewarm, to say the least. But wonderfully, yesterday when I saw them, I had the opportunity to talk with them again about God –about the knowledge, power, and joy we obtain through studying and applying God’s Word, the importance of reading it together as a married couple, and about how creation, astronomy, DNA, etc. disproves atheism (a belief they held for a while, they said). I was very happy to have seen this couple again, and was praying a lot in my spirit as I talked with them. May they come to the full knowledge of the Truth and walk in it.
I visited several other friends, including one whose boyfriend had been “locked up” for a while again, but was back living there. As my friend and I were talking outside at her picnic table, he arrived (from work?), we greeted each other, and I reminded him of all those hundreds of Scripture verses he knows by heart. May the Lord help this couple reject sin and walk in holiness.
I pray for all these individuals I had the pleasure of seeing again yesterday. I miss them and care about them. Several of them are ones I dearly love. Even so, I can feel a “letting go” happening. Not entirely, but largely. I know they are under God’s care. And though I ministered to many of them weekly or more, and felt responsible for them in ways, they’re okay, they’re managing, and the Lord can bring others to encourage them and remind them of His Word. Truly, I see that the Lord has been closing my ministries, gently, slowly, and one by one. Maybe it’s just for a time, a rest, a season. Maybe not, though. Maybe there is a new opportunity the Lord wants me to be available for. We’ll see.
Waiting on, recognizing, grabbing onto, and walking in the opportunities the Lord brings our way is not always easy. It takes alertness, discernment, patience, and effort. But of course the Lord is there to give help to those who ask, to those who listen, and to those who obey. May we be such people.
August 11, 2014
Five years ago today I began writing my blog posts. As far as I know, I have written a post every day since then. Today, after about seven months of praying about the decision, marks the end of my daily posts. However, I am not quitting my blog, as I will continue to write messages which I will post here –at least once a week, I’m sure, but maybe, occasionally, up to six times a week, depending upon the Lord’s leading.
I want to thank my family for encouraging me and allowing me to write daily at my blog these five years, for praying for me (a lot), and for even supporting me financially in different ways. For example, when my brother got a new used car for himself a few years ago, he gave me his Toyota, a gift I’ve been very thankful for. My parents gave me gas money, food, and lodging numerous times so that I could continue to minister at the downtown bus stops when for 13 years my husband and I lived 90 minutes away. And of course, it is my husband who has so very graciously (and primarily) supported me, also encouraging me to continue ministering at the nursing home, at the bus stops, through email, through intercession, and through my blog.
I want to thank particular friends who have continued to read my blog posts, commented on them through email, encouraged me to keep writing, and sent my link to others. I trust the Lord to continue His work in them and through them.
I want to thank that one who chose enmity and revenge against my husband and me, and this after we had tried so hard to help him and to be patient, loving, and understanding. Through this enemy, the Lord taught me priceless lessons. This enemy seemed to be God’s primary tool in training me to keep that calm steady trust in God’s Word and to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus while patiently waiting for each of His instructions. Through this enemy, the Lord taught me to walk not by appearances nor out of fear, nor into what I thought should be done, but by His voice in His Word. I am more than hopeful that I will see this enemy in Heaven –this one I diligently prayed for with the great and forgiving love of the Lord, this one to whom God sent me to warn that he was under God’s wrath but who could save himself (and others) great grief if he would repent in time (though he did not).
Most of all, I want to thank the Lord, my Shepherd, my loving Heavenly Father. He carried me through dangers I didn’t even recognize were dangers at the time. He graciously blinded me to the steep ravines on both sides of my often-so-blissful path. He comforted me through sorrows, told me things ahead of time so that I would pray accordingly, and kept me by His side. The last five years (and about three years before that as I wrote messages through email), were some of the hardest and scariest, but also the best because God was so close. I thank the Lord for the gift of being able to express oneself in writing, and for the opportunity He gave me to do so, for it compelled me to study, to organize and clarify my thoughts, and to listen and record what the Lord was teaching me.
It’s been a really, really good five years of experiences, including this experience of writing my blog posts. I’ve learned a ton. May the Lord’s name and Word be honored through all I do and say and think and write. Always. I pray this, Lord. And I pray that my past posts will be a source of edification and exhortation to others till You return. And Lord… well… I thank you so much for everything. I love You.
August 10, 2014
The way to be saved eternally is to believe God and His Word and to obey God and His Word. Being that Christ Jesus is God (1 John 5:20), that He is the Word of God (John 1:1), and that He is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17), we must believe and obey Christ as well. No one can claim that they are believing or obeying God if they are not also honoring Christ as God. (1 John 2:23 & 5:9-12,20)
In Ja. 2:20-24 we read that Abraham was considered righteous because he believed God and because he obeyed God. Those who share in this kind of faith are saved. It is the kind of faith one has who is fully persuaded that God has the power and faithfulness to fulfill His statements that are in His Word (Isa. 55:11 // Rom. 4:20-24)
Many people state that they are saved just by believing God’s Word and that they do not have to prove through their obedience that their faith is genuine. However, the teaching throughout the Word of God is that what we do is the proof that our faith is real or false. (Acts 26:20) Obedience to God, or, obedience to the sinful nature proves the situation of it. The one leads to holiness and thus eternal life, the other walks a person on the path of Sin which leads to eternal death and Hell. (Rom. 6:16-23)
Believing what God says and obeying what He commands (through His Word and His Spirit who never contradict themselves) is the only way to be in right standing with the Lord. (John 8:31 & 15:10 // Gal. 3:5-9) We cannot obey as we should if we do not believe everything God says. This is why we must have true faith (complete confidence in God/Christ, which also means complete confidence in what He promises, warns about, and commands), for it is the only way to please God. (Heb. 11:6) Abraham is “the man of faith” (Gal. 3:9) because he considered God faithful to His Word. (Heb. 11:11) He believed and therefore obeyed, and this is what made him righteous in God’s sight. (Ja. 2:20-24)
The same concept holds for us all: To be righteous in God’s sight we must have the kind of faith that is provable by our obedience to God (His Word and Spirit). This means we must meet the righteous requirements of the (moral) law (Rom. 8:4) which we can certainly do by living under the control of the Holy Spirit. (v. 4-14 & 7:6) This is how to have eternal life. (8:13,14 // Gal. 5:19-26 & 6:8) As Heb. 5:9 confirms for us, “He [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” For their obedience has proven their faith to be genuine.
I cannot stress enough the importance of reading God’s Word for ourselves, doing so daily and unhurried, and doing so with a pure heart in submission to the Holy Spirit and His instruction. God’s Word, spoken by the Spirit, is all-powerful. (Ps. 33:9 // Jer. 23:29 // Heb. 4:12) It is alive because the Spirit is in the Word –and Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) and the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17)– who is active in us to bring us to obedience, holiness, and salvation. (Rom. 1:5,16 & 6:17,22 // 2 Tim. 3:15 // Heb. 4:12 // Ja. 1:18,21,22 // 1 Peter 1:22-25) Without eating and digesting the Word, and putting it into practice, we do not have Life. (Mt. 4:4 & 7:24-27 with John 6:53-63)
Because the Word of God is our Life, we must know what it is saying as we read it. If we are humble and if we ask “the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all Truth” (see John 16:13), we will grow in the knowledge of God (and of His ways / His Gospel / His Truth), grow in wisdom, and grow in Christ-likeness. (Rom. 8:29 // 1 Cor. ch. 2 // Eph. 4:13 // Col. 1:28)
There is an abundance of teachers out in the world who are preaching their doctrines through books, blogs, and from behind the pulpit. Knowing if their doctrines are in accord with the True Doctrine found in the Word of God is our responsibility, and this responsibility we uphold as we not only diligently study Scripture (Acts 17:11) and rightly handle it (2 Tim. 2:15), but also as we walk in close, submissive fellowship with the Teacher Himself.
Though the Holy Spirit is our Teacher, He expects us to be mature and to build on what we’ve learned so that we are able to train ourselves in godliness and discernment. (1 Tim. 4:7 // Heb. 5:12-14) Moreover, He expects us, as we study His Word, to believe what it says. This means we study the message of the Scriptures just as we would study any other piece of writing, taking it literally while also making room, depending upon the context, for analogies and such, and for how the whole of Scripture would interpret a passage for us.
Prophecy in Scripture is one area where many teachers are using unreasonable hermeneutics. For example they want to spiritualize all the promises God made to the Israelites. This they are doing even though we know that the prophecies surrounding the first advent of Christ were fulfilled literally. Thus prophecies about His second coming must be taken literally as well. Furthermore, when God gives specific warnings and promises concerning the future, even naming countries, towns, rivers, gates, and people, and specifying borders, we are to accept God at His Word. To not do so is to disbelieve Him.
It is important how we interpret what God’s Word is saying. If we get off course in one area, other areas will follow. This is dangerous for our own soul as well as for those we teach.
Our Lord gave us His Word to read, to study, and to understand. It is a message from Him to us and He expects us to understand what He is communicating. The message is objective, not subjective (subject to our own interpretation). Yes, because it is alive, every bit of it has potential to speak directly to our own situation, for the Spirit in it remarkably does this for those of us who call out to the Lord for comfort, guidance, wisdom, etc. However, this does not mean that the plain wording is not to be taken just as the human author, under the inspiration of the Spirit, intended for it to be taken.
The Word of God is vital to our walk in the Truth and the Life. It shows us the Way of Truth. We are to believe its every word and not make up our own interpretations.
Again I say: It is extremely important to know God’s Word for ourselves, to listen to THE Teacher and not men’s doctrines, to remain humble at all times, to reach out for Wisdom and Christ-likeness every moment, and to sit quietly at the Lord’s feet daily, listening and learning with utmost diligence. (Luke 6:40 & 10:39) For it is only the True Doctrine –the Truth– through which we will be saved. (Gal. 1:6-9 // 1 Tim. 4:16)