Friends,
Witnessing downtown today was really great. I had a lot of lively conversations, including with atheists, with others who think that what they believe actually creates their eternal reality, and then also with those who believe God’s Word and want to walk closer to Jesus. I was glad that the Lord led me to go on from the train station to the restaurant area because there was a booth festival up there and thus loads of people. Truly, it is a high honor to spread the Good News in the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and I appreciate all the prayer backing from my mom and from other prayer partners, for it definitely helps make my efforts all the more successful.

My signs I used today were: “Jesus is the only true Savior. John 14:6”. And: “Look at Jesus, not at the wind and the waves.” And: “God says to sin’s captives, ‘Be freed!'” And: “Christ’s cross doesn’t cover a continuation in sin. Heb. 10:26”. And: “The Judge (Jesus) is at the door. Ja. 5:9”. And: “Lips that praise God but hearts far from Him..? Mark 7:6”.

Last week while witnessing downtown, I talked with two other evangelists that I once in a while see down there and one of them took a picture of me displaying another one of my signs (see below) and sent it to me. (The week before, they had given a Bible to the young man who is next to me in the picture and he was talking with them again, excited about his new walk with Christ. Please pray for him.)

So what about the message on my sign in this photo? Is it correct? I get a lot of reactions from this sign –both affirmations and rebukes– but I’m guessing that many church-goers would say it is not correct theology. Let’s look, though, at Scripture and let’s begin with the three verses I have referenced underneath the statement, “Holy conduct is necessary for salvation.”

The first is 1 Pe. 1:15 and it says, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” This is a command, not a suggestion, and it says, “Be holy in all your conduct.” We are being commanded to be holy. –By way of a claim? No, but by way of our behavior. Do we have to obey this command? Yes, we do –if we want to inherit Eternal Life. As Jesus said, “If you want to enter into Life, keep the commandments.” (Mt. 19:17) He also said, “If anyone keeps My Word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51) And what if we don’t keep (adhere to / heed / follow / submit to / obey) His Word? Then we will experience death. Eternal Death. Hell. It’s that simple.

So the command is that we be holy in all our conduct, and this required holiness is being equated with God’s holiness. In other words, not a little bit holy, but fully holy. And it is about conduct. Jesus taught the same when He said, “You therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) –And when He said, “You are My friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14) This “doing” is not an “imputed righteousness” but it is a producing of fruit done in the will of the Father. (v. 16 // Mt. 7:21) Jesus warned that those in Him who do not continue to produce His fruit will be cut off (John 15:2) and thrown to the fire. (v. 6)

The second verse I referenced on my sign is John 5:29 where Jesus said, “Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Can committing sin be “doing good”? Of course not. And let’s remember that neglecting to do good is sin in itself (Ja. 4:17), that it is a path to being vomited out of God’s mouth (Rev. 3:15,16), and that it is damnable. (Mt. 25:41-46)

The third verse I referenced on my sign is Heb. 12:14: “Pursue peace with all, and holiness, which without, no one will see the Lord.” Can anyone deny that this verse is commanding us to pursue holiness because if we do not attain it, we will not see the Lord? Can anyone deny that this verse teaches that holiness must be pursued? Again, it is not a suggestion, but a command and a warning. We should take note that the following verses (v. 15-17) about missing the grace of God, defilement, and missing our chance, teach that holiness is not a claim but instead an existence of clean conduct and that we can indeed sell our inheritance for a bowl of sin.

We have been told that obedience to God and His commands is a requirement in serving God. (John 8:31 & 12:26) So we can’t serve the Lord (or love Him or honor Him or be unified with Him or belong to Him) if we don’t obey Him / His Spirit and His teaching. (Rom. 6:16,17 & 8:4,9,14) Obedience to God is what makes us holy. It is not about a claim. It is about conduct. As 1 John 2:3,4 tell us, if we do not obey Christ’s commands, then we are not in the Truth and do not know Christ.

Holiness is about what we do. A claim to love Jesus and His teaching is not sufficient. The claim must be backed up by righteous behavior (John 14:15-24 // Titus 1:16 & 2:11-14 // 1 John 2:29) and a doing of what the Master is instructing. (Mt. 12:42-46) Any other teaching is a deception. (Ja. 1:22 // see also Luke 12:15-21 and 1 Thes. 4:1-8 and Titus 2:1 and Heb. 2:1-3 & 10:26-31) As Gal. 6:7,8 say, what we sow, we do reap, eternally.

I give plenty of Scripture to back up what I teach and I encourage people to look up the verses I don’t take time to quote. But here are ten more that reveal that holy conduct is necessary for remaining on the path of Salvation so that one actually arrives at the Final Destination / Eternal Life / Heaven / Eternity with God:

1. 2 Tim. 2:19: “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” This means we must turn from wicked (sinful) conduct to holy (righteous / obedient-to-Christ / walking in the will of God) conduct.

2. Eph. 5:3-6: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or crude joking… For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person –such is an idolator– has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”

3. 1 Cor. 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked [the unrighteous / wrongdoers] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor… drunkards nor verbal abusers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed…” The contrast of being washed clean or remaining unclean is dependent upon behavior, not a claim, and we are being warned that being deceived about this fact is indeed a danger.

4. Gal. 5:19-21: “The acts of the sinful nature are…hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition… I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this [behave like this] will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

5. 1 Pe. 4:17: “…what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the Gospel of God?”

6. Heb. 5:9: “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”

7. 2 Thes. 1:8,9: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction…” And as 1 John 2:3-6 reminds us, knowing the Lord happens only by obeying His commands and living like Jesus.

8. Rom. 2:6-11: “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life…” This passage goes on to say that those who are self-seeking, reject the Truth, and follow evil, have God’s wrath awaiting them, and that God does not show favoritism. Again, this passage is about conduct.

9. Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation… teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for… Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good.”

10. Rev. 22:11,12: “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” These verses are contrasting those who behave holy or unholy, and verses 14 and 15 do so also. Verses 18 and 19 show that actions define eternal destiny, as does 21:7,8, & 27.

There are many more Scripture verses that teach that holy conduct is necessary for inheriting eternal life. But hopefully this has been enough to convince the skeptics.

To read another post I wrote on this subject, click here:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/strive-for-the-holiness-without-which/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Advertisements

Friends,
On this Labor Day, as most people have taken a break from their career work, let us also consider whether or not our labors are in line with God’s will. Jesus has taught us, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27)

Let’s take note that “the Son of Man”, who is Jesus, WILL (future tense) give us eternal life –if we work for food that endures. Yes, we are walking that (evermore-illuminating) Road now if we are abiding in Christ, but we have not yet arrived at our final destination and so must realize that it is indeed possible, through foolishness (carelessness / rebellion / falsehoods / sin) to miss, drift away, turn back, or fall from this Narrow Road. (Mt. 7:14 // John 6:66 // Heb. 2:1 & 3:12-14 // 2 Pe. 3:17)

Truly, our choices are what prove our faith genuine (or not), but if genuine, our faith then results in love for Jesus, trust in Him, and inexpressible joy, all because we are receiving the goal of our faith (1 Pe. 1:7-9) –the salvation of our souls (v. 9), which, through God’s grace, WILL BE (future tense again) given to us when Jesus Christ is revealed. (v. 13) In other words, God’s grace has saved us, is continuing to save us, and will with finality save us –if –if we remain in Christ (John 15:1-10), which comes by communing with Him and keeping (holding to / adhering to / obeying) His Word. (John 8:55 // 1 John 2:3-6)

Yes, to do the work God requires is to believe in the One He has sent –Jesus. (John 6:28,29) However, this is not an intellectual belief (like the demons have –Ja. 2:19), but a belief that causes us to make every effort to be communing with Christ and serving Him. (Mt. 11:12 // John 6:53-58) It is a belief that causes us to feed on His words (John 6:63), which is what enables the Holy Spirit to fill up our spirit and give us Life. (Same verse) Without feeding on Jesus / His words, and putting His teaching into practice, we will not remain in Christ and will not have Life. (Luke 6:46-49 // John 6:53,56)

Jesus says in John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me.” He also says in John 12:26, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me.” Jesus is informing us that we must do God’s work in unification with our Master and that we cannot serve Him without following Him (meaning without obeying His leadership). Therefore, we cannot serve Christ without being led by Him, and because this leading of His is continuous –24/7– so must our following after Him be 24/7. So we cannot claim to be serving Christ if we are not following Him, and we cannot claim to be following Him if we are not walking –walk-ing– submissive to Him, which means doing, at all times, what His Spirit is instructing us to do. Indeed, we are either following the old nature, or we are following the Holy Spirit (Rom. 6:6 & 8:9) for we cannot live in obedience to two opposing wills. (Luke 16:13 // Gal. 5:16-25)

Let’s read the rest of Jesus’ words in John 12:26: “And where I am, My servant also will be.” Let’s think on this. Is it possible for someone to be abiding in (living in / doing) that which is not in the will of God, if they are truly serving (thus following) Christ? We know the answer is “No.” So can a person be giving their efforts to that which is not under the leadership of Christ and still be abiding in (remaining in) Christ? Again, the answer has to be “No.” Should anyone, then, be carefree about Jesus’ warning concerning those who do not remain in Him (do not serve Him by obediently following Him) –that they will be like branches whom God cuts off from Christ and left to wither and be cast to the fire? (John 15:2,6) Certainly such carefreeness would prove fatal.

Jesus says in John 10:27,28 that He preserves the eternal life of… –who? Is it those who claim to believe in Him? Or is it those who are in reality believing in Him and proving their faith genuine by listening to His words and actually following Him? We see that it is the latter. (Same verses)

So, on this Labor Day, let us reject the false doctrine that tells us that no work is necessary for salvation and let us instead heed our Lord’s teaching when He warns: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27) Jesus has definitely told us to work –but only for that which survives to eternal life. Consequently, only those who keep on forcefully pushing forward in the will of God are those who inherit Life forever. (Mt. 7:21 & 11:12 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 John 2:17)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friend,
I received your text this morning but my response is lengthy, so I’m emailing it, and have also used it as a post. I hope you find time to check every one of these verses to see that what I am saying the Word teaches really is what it teaches.

I am surprised, and sadly so, that you seem not concerned enough about our Final Evaluation when the Scriptures warn us continually to be very concerned about it. (Rom. 2:5-11 // 1 Cor. 3:10-17 // Gal. 6:8 // Rev. 3:1-6 & 20:11-15 // etc.) For example…

When God tells us to warn someone and we don’t, God will hold us accountable for that person. (Ezek. 3:18,19)

Jesus tells us we definitely are to fear God, for He has the authority to throw anyone into Hell. (Luke 12:4,5)

We are told to make every effort to enter salvation so that we will not fall through disobedience (Heb. 4:11) and careless doctrines. (1 Tim. 4:15,16 // 2 Pe. 3:17)

Jesus warns that the Master’s servants, if they become lazy or unconcerned, will be thrown to Hell. (Mt. ch. 25)

Jesus warns that our every word will be judged to acquit us or condemn us. (Mt. 12:36,37)

We are told that all people will have all they’ve done –both good and bad deeds and everything in between– judged by God, and because of these be given Life or Condemnation. (John 5:29 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 9:27 & 10:30,31 // Rev. 3:14-16)

Jesus tells us that we belong to Him and are saved eternally if –if– we produce fruit for Him (Luke 8:15 & 9:23,24) and do His will (Mt. 7:21-23 & 12:50 // Heb. 10:36-39); but that otherwise we are cut off. (John 15:2)

Thinking we know and worship God, when we do not actually do what He commands of us, will prove useless to us. (Mark 7:6-8 // 1 John 2:3-6) As Eph. 5:6 warns, “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” Verses 15 and 16 warn further: “Be very careful, then, how you live –not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” while verse 17 warns us to “not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

So, thinking we are believers, or are serving God, or are sacrificing for Him in some ways, will prove useless if we are not walking wisely and truthfully (Acts 5:1-11) and if we are not obeying what He is actually commanding of us. (Mt. 7:21-27 // John 12:25,26 // Ja. 2:14-26) Let us remember King Saul’s words to the prophet, Samuel: “I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.” (1 Sam. 15:13) Yet Saul had actually, through arrogance, rebelled against the Lord’s instructions to him and for doing so, God rejected him. (v. 14-35) Yes, if we shrink back in rebellion –and pride, carelessness, or stubbornness can blind us to the fact that we are indeed doing this– we will be disowned. (Mark 8:34-38 // 2 Tim. 2:12 // Heb. 10:36-39 & 12:14-17)

We must believe God’s Word enough to obey it. (Mt. 19:17 // Luke 6:46-49) Obedience to God’s / Christ’s Spirit and Jesus’s teaching is love for God and what it means to do what is right. (John 14:15,23 // Rom. 8:9 // 1 John 3:24 & 5:3) Indeed, “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34)

Therefore, only those who fear God and thus do what is right within the Truth have been born of Him (John 8:31-36 // 1 John 2:29) and continue to house His Spirit. (Mt. 25:8 // John 14:23 // 2 John 1:9 // Rev. 2:4,5) This righteous conduct equates to obeying God’s commands and doing what pleases Him and this is what keeps us united with His Spirit and what gives us confidence before Him on Evaluation Day. (1 John 3:21-24)

Yes, “Perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18) But the verse in front of this one says, “Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment…” (v. 17) And how/why can we be confident that Love is being made complete in us? The rest of the verse tells us: “Because in this world we are like Him.” In other words, we must be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29), be living like Christ (1 John 2:6), and be following Him in everything He commands (John 10:27,28 & 12:25,26 // Rom. 8:9) so that we produce much fruit, which, in turn, proves we are in Him. (John 15:2,6,8) That, Jesus says, is the only way to remain in His love. (v. 9,10)

1 John 2:5 teaches the same: “But if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.” This would mean that anyone who is lax about obeying God’s Word does not have God’s love made complete in him and cannot, therefore, be legitimately confident concerning the Day of Judgement. In John 8:35 Jesus refers to a place in the family that is not permanent and that it is not permanent due to one’s continuation in sin. And of course sin is any disregard for God’s commands (1 John 3:4) or any neglect to do good. (Ja. 4:17)

It is crucial to fear the Lord as well as to listen soberly to a Scripture-full, Spirit-led, love-motivated rebuke. If we don’t, we definitely lack wisdom and have shut our ears to the Truth. (Pr. 9:7-10 & 15:33 // Mt. 13:11-15)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Last Thursday while evangelizing downtown, one of the signs I was displaying was, “The Judge is at the door. (See Ja. 5:9)” I used it because I’ve been grieving all summer concerning the wickedness of our nation and the apparent lack of concern the wicked have in getting right with God. James 5:9 and similar Scripture verses were extra heavy on my heart the whole week before the eclipse.

Yes, I tried to enjoy the solar eclipse like most everyone else. My husband interrupted his work day to bring me lunch, use the glasses he ordered for us to view the half-darkened sun, and to watch some of the hype on T.V. But I, like many others, wondered if the phenomenon was actually a warning from God of judgement eminent for the United States. Hurricane Harvey developing less than a day later, and then by the weekend causing extreme damage, could reveal a connection. Whatever the case, “The Judge is standing at the door!” (Ja. 5:9) is a warning that the inhabitants of the whole world would be wise to think on and act upon.

I don’t often mention the obvious sins of our nation (or of the rest of the world) when I write my posts. Why would I? We all see and hear about filth and rage often enough and are confronted with it even when we try to shield ourselves from it. But I am going to mention today what I see as so detestable to God yet commonplace even among church-goers. It’s all this mind/heart/spirit-noise people are deliberately ingesting. It’s this constant focus on the world. Isn’t this what staring at one’s iPhone is about? –An eating of the world? Isn’t this habit of almost non-stop texting, this being glued to the T.V., phone, or internet, this refusal to get alone with the Word of God, listen quietly to His voice as we read, and then obeying what He tells us to do, a clear definition of feeding off the world? Is this noise-ingesting habit not crowding out time with God and choking out time in serving His purposes? Is it not idolatry?

God has been kind to our nation. He has given us many, many blessings down through the years. But, in spite of that, most Americans seem to treat God and His commands with indifference. How grievous to God –our disgraceful attitude and behavior! And if this is not enough, the pastors in most pulpits continue to proclaim that God is smiling on all believers! It is just not so. (Ja. 2:14-26 & 4:4 // Rev. 3:1-6 & 14-16) And we know this if we are studying the Word of God carefully.

Remember King Hezekiah? God blessed him and did miracles for him. Yet 2 Chron. 32:25 says, “But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him [by the Lord].” And the rest of the verse says, “Therefore the LORD’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.” Is there not a stench of pride and indifference that goes up to the Lord every day from most Americans, including every Sunday from the stage and pews of the churches? Does God’s favor truly rest on us, or is the reality actually that it is His wrath that is poised over us? With all the turmoil going on everywhere, including among most church-going families, and with all the unrest assaulting most hearts, could we really legitimately think God is smiling on us?!

But there is still hope. There are praying people here in America. There are those who are striving to bring the Good News of Salvation and Holiness to the country. One of my prayer partners paid for a tent to be erected in her area over the weekend and for advertisement for Christ-followers to come and intercede. I hope they did. The Lord told Abraham, who was petitioning Him on behalf of Sodom, that even “For the sake of ten [righteous people], I will not destroy it.” (Gen. 18:32) Maybe God will yet postpone His heavy hand of judgement hovering over us..?

But who is righteous? Is it those who go to church, sing worship songs, listen to the preaching, and then go about their week focused on the world and their own concerns, thinking that Christ’s righteousness, which is supposedly imputed to them, keeps them safe while they commit sins of neglecting God’s will for them? Are these righteous? Is God really smiling on them? He absolutely is not. (Mt. 7:21-27 // 1 John 2:3-6)

But let’s look at 2 Chron. 32:26: “Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the LORD’s wrath did not come upon them during the days of Hezekiah.” One holy person interceding can make a difference. (Ja. 5:16,17) And groups of people –if there is a true turn from sin, the world, and the neglect of God, and a corporate intercession– can not only turn away God’s judgement against us, but allow Him to grant us peace and blessing. As God has said, “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.” (Jer. 18:7,8)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Who Are We Believing?

August 15, 2017

Friends,
If we distort the Word of God, then we do so to our own destruction, as well as to the destruction of those we influence. (1 Tim. 4:16 // 2 Pe. 3:16,17) Indeed, those who make a practice of disregarding God’s laws will fall more and more into doctrinal error and they will cause others to also fall from the Truth and from salvation. (Same verses) It is only in holding to the Truth that we are abiding in Freedom / Jesus (John 8:31-36), so if we choose to get careless about this, we have “no permanent place in the family” (v. 35) “and fall from our secure position.” (2 Pe. 3:17)

The Word of God warns us repeatedly that we can get deceived by false teachings. (Mt. 24:24 // Rom. 16:17,18 // Gal. 6:7 // Col. 2:4,8 // 1 Tim. 4:1 // 2 Tim. 3:13-16 // etc.) We are to diligently guard against this through careful study of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:14,15 // 2 Pe. 3:2), by listening to and heeding what the Holy Spirit is teaching us (John 16:13), and by having an intimate relationship with Christ (17:3) “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:3)

All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16 // 2 Pe. 1:20,21) and every word is inerrant / flawless. (Pr. 30:5) As Ps. 119:160 declares, “All Your words are true; all Your righteous laws are eternal.” Yes, various Bible versions may have some translation errors, but in this day of the internet when we can compare numerous versions and get the English words alongside the Hebrew or Greek words, and use teaching tools that explain how those Hebrew or Greek words were often (or rarely) used, –well, we have no excuse to not understand what God is communicating to us in His Word.

The question is, though: Who are we really believing? If we are believing what men say regardless of what the Word of God is saying, then we are not actually putting our trust in God, but instead in men. That is idolatry. God’s Word is flawless. Men’s words are riddled with error. So, even if men, in their own minds, distort what God’s Word is saying to fit their own preconceptions and experience, does this change what is true? No. God’s Word is fact, the Truth, unbendable, and unable to be changed, compromised, or distorted. –Except in the minds of the deceivers and the deceived.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Mrs. B’s Funeral

August 5, 2017

Friends,
Mrs. B’s funeral last Tuesday, which was in the country funeral home sanctuary, was exceptionally wonderful. One reason was that the preacher (Homer Morgan) gave a superb sermon –full of joy, faith, hope, the Gospel message, and Scriptures. Later, when I asked Mr. B where they had found such a great preacher, he told me that he and Homer’s dad had ‘coon hunted together! Also, after the short graveside service, when I thanked Mr. Morgan for giving such a Spirit-filled message, I learned his church is in Fruitvale and I realized I had walked with my signs in that town back about 12 years ago. I also realized that, due to another elderly couple inviting me, I had visited his church several times (though I think his dad was the preacher then).

I also learned that Mrs. B’s sister had been praying a lot for Mrs. B’s salvation, as well as had the oldest daughter who had started attending a Baptist church two years ago and whose Sunday School class had been praying too. In fact, about eight women from the class came together (from an hour away) to the funeral and they, the daughter, and Mrs. B’s sister thanked me profusely for helping Mrs. B ask God to forgive her and save her eternally. Before I left, I talked again with the oldest daughter, and also her daughter, and they cried with gratefulness when I told about how Mrs. B finally prayed that day before she went into a coma. (See my last post where I described that.) I told them, as I had told several others, that I could sure see how God was using the prayers of many, many people to save Mrs. B from an eternity without Him. No wonder we who love Jesus could rejoice at this funeral!

One other thing I thought was really special, was that the family had laid out some of Mrs. B’s 30 or more hand-stitched quilts along the backs of the sanctuary pews. I had seen several of them before, but certainly not all of them, and they sure were a display of beauty and skill! Since I had arrived there early, I tried to look at each one, and in so doing, I thought lovingly of Mrs. B, of how much I would miss her, of how thankful I was that she was no longer suffering, of how powerful and compassionate God is to save even a long-time stubborn sheep, and furthermore of how great God is to give people such incredible talents such as He did for Mrs. B in her quilting. See this photo I took:

Yes, God is so good. Again and again I thank Him for saving Mrs. B. And I thank Him that her funeral was one we believers could rejoice at and at which the marvelous Good News was presented to everyone, including to the unbelievers’ ears and hearts, if they were listening. I had asked people to be praying about the funeral to be Spirit-filled, and it was. The Lord uses any of us who are willing vessels, and I am so thankful for a remarkable small-town preacher whom God used to comfort and inspire us at the funeral of Mrs. B. Here is a link to one of his Youtube sermons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtHoYdHgqQM

We never know when we will die and it could be sudden. Mr. Morgan had mentioned on Tuesday the terrible tornados that had hit East Texas on 4/29/17, including Fruitvale. We know that a tornado can whip through a house and leave a person dead within seconds –yes, it can be that abrupt and unexpected. Shouldn’t we, then, never postpone being fully ready to meet The Almighty Judge? Here is a link of some of the tornado damage done in Fruitvale, Texas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaDyqMocLaE

Here is another link where a woman there, who lost a lot, still gives God glory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMv4x11Ezug

Here is one showing the damage in another nearby community where I’d evangelized in about 2004: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH_cT6xxNeA As I drove in the line of cars from the funeral home to the gravesite on Tuesday, I noticed the damage there and I felt sad. Sad to think about the places and people I’ve evangelized, knowing that most probably never repented, and realizing that many have probably since died. Even so, I thought about how merciful and powerful God is, and that what He has done for the Bells, He could have done, and can still do, for anyone and everyone.

I feel so privileged to have known many precious people in East Texas, including dear Mrs. B. I am so glad to have been one vessel God used in bringing her to salvation, and feel so blessed to have consistently felt some of God’s immense, intense, incredible, supernatural love for her. I am so, so happy to be looking forward to seeing her in Heaven.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Mrs. B Prayed

July 28, 2017

Friends,
Last Sunday, after hearing the mission’s report by my friend’s daughter at their church and visiting other friends, including at the nursing home, I visited Mr. and Mrs. B at their home where they’ve lived most of their nearly 65 years of marriage. I’m always asking my prayer partners to be praying for the Bs and for them to get into right relationship with Jesus and that day was no exception. I was excited to announce that evening that Mrs. B had finally humbled herself to pray for forgiveness and salvation!!!

Mr. B had repeated a prayer after me several months ago to receive from the Lord forgiveness and salvation but Mrs. B had still, over the months (including over the last 17 years that I’ve known them), refused to do so. I’ve been out to the country to visit them several times this year, but each time she still declined to pray. Last Sunday I had a small feeling that “today was the day”. I greeted and hugged Mr. B when I entered their house and a few minutes later I went into their kitchen where Mrs. B was sitting at the table huddled under the cuddly mint green blanket I’d given her for her 87th birthday in January.

I hugged Mrs. B and asked her how she was doing and she said something like “puny” or “pitiful” (two words she often uses). The poor thing has already been on hospice for a brain tumor all of 2017, and a week ago Wednesday when I’d called, I’d found out she has pneumonia. (Their three kids have been taking turns caring for her all year and they have a hospice nurse as well as a woman who comes in to cook and clean.)

Mr. B came into the kitchen and sat down with us and they then told me about their night before –that Mrs. B could barely breathe and they’d had to call the nurse at almost midnight who came from a half hour away to adjust her breathing machine. The nurse was a help but both Mr. and Mrs. B stressed to me how much Mrs. B had wished she could just die.

Mrs. B said it again to me, “I really would rather be dead.”

I stroked her back and arm and said after a pause, “But we don’t die, you know.”

The Bs both nodded and I went on: “Our spirits immediately go to one place or the other.”

They nodded in agreement again so I gently said to Mrs. B, “Don’t you want to make the choice to go to Heaven instead of Hell?”

Shockingly, Mrs. B, this time, said, “Yeah. But I don’t think God can forgive me because I’ve been so mean.”

“But that is why we need a Savior,” I responded. “And because of Him God will forgive anything.”

She nodded.

“Besides, Mr. B has been mean too.” It was a half-joke and I added, “And so have I.”

They gave a slight laugh and then I asked, “Do you want to pray a prayer after me?”

“Yes,” was Mrs. B’s answer.

I hugged Mrs. B tighter and my tears began flowing as we began to pray and Mrs. B asked God to grant her His forgiveness and salvation, and to be in eternity with Him. I saw, after we had prayed, that Mr. B was wiping away some tears too. I was so, so relieved and so grateful to the Lord for His power and compassion and mercy and ability to bring a stubborn sheep to salvation!

“My daughter is trying to love Jesus too,” Mrs. B said after we’d prayed.

That surprised and gladdened me because it seemed that this “heathen” family could maybe all turn to the Lord eventually. How good God is!

I stayed talking with Mr. and Mrs. B about an hour more, several times getting up to get ice cubes from the freezer to give to her to chew on as she requested. Then when she started getting sleepy, I prayed with them for God’s comfort and strength and continued mercy, took two photos of us together, hugged them tightly, and left. As I drove away, I cried some more with relief and said, “God, now You are going to take her.” I felt that He was saying to my spirit that the very next day she would go quickly downhill.

Well, today as I was halfway through writing this post, I decided to call the Bs. Their son answered and he told me that Mrs. B had been okay Monday morning, but in the afternoon had suddenly and greatly worsened. Morphine had been given to her and she went to sleep and hasn’t woken up since. Their son said that her vitals are okay but she is breathing on one lung and that her kidneys and bowels have shut down. The doctor has given her less than a week to live, but I pray the Lord takes her in His compassionate and perfect timing. Maybe today or tomorrow.

For some reason I’ve been shedding a lot of tears since this news today. I guess maybe because I’m so un-nerved to think that had I not been obedient to the Lord, I would be devastated beyond words to know that Mrs. B had never prayed to ask the Lord to forgive her and save her. Yet what huge, huge relief to be able to believe that she has escaped Hell because she DID pray, willingly and sincerely, this last Sunday! Yet she escaped by only one day!!! ONE day! It’s scary.

I keep thinking, “What if…?” What if my friend hadn’t invited me to her church to hear the mission report? What if not wanting to take the two hour drive to that church would have kept me from going out to the country on Sunday? What if I’d chosen to take time to visit too many others and not the Bs? What if I’d not mentioned eternity when the Bs mentioned that Mrs. B had wished for death in her misery? What if I’d not been gentle enough or courageous enough in my actions, expressions, and words? What if she had said “No” –again?

But she didn’t say no. She said “Yes.” And she prayed very sweetly after me as I led her in the simple prayer of asking Jesus to forgive her and save her.

I am so, so, so glad and relieved to be able to look forward to being with both the Bs in Heaven. Because God is faithful and exceedingly merciful and, even though I vigorously teach that obedience and knowing the Lord is essential (1 John 2:3-6 w/ John 17:3), God’s mercy, we gratefully know, triumphs over judgement (Ja. 2:13) for those who unify themselves with Him even at the very last hour of their lives. (Mt. 20:1-16)

Praise be to the Lord who has heard, and worked, and answered, and saved!

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

P.S.  Exactly 22 minutes after I posted this, I got a text at 5:49 p.m. that Mrs. B has passed away.