Friends,
When God makes a covenant with someone, He expects that person to hold to the terms of the covenant. This means that obedience to the agreed-upon terms is necessary; otherwise the covenant has been broken. God is always faithful, but people often are not. So what does the Lord do when a person violates a covenant made with Him?

Many are claiming that God grants grace to those who are unfaithful in upholding one’s covenant with God. In other words, they think that God’s gracious grace covers everything they do in violation, and that their violations don’t really matter. But is this the case?

Look at what the Lord said to King Zedekiah and others who had made a covenant with Him and with each other to free their fellow Hebrew slaves, and who acted accordingly but then violated it. (Jer. 34:8-11) God said to them, “Recently you repented and did what is right in My sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before Me in the house that bears My Name. But now you have turned around and profaned My Name… by forcing them to become your slaves again.” (v. 15,16)

Truly, reneging on their agreement was a huge sin in God’s eyes. He considered it disobedience to Him (Jer. 34:17), He considered it profanity against His Name (v. 16), and He considered it a violation of His covenant with them. (v. 18) For all this, they would pay dearly –being punished with disgrace, with the sword, with plague, and with famine. (v. 17) God made Himself clear: “The men who have violated My covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before Me, I will treat… [very harshly].” (v. 18-22) Why are people so unafraid then to break a covenant they’ve made with God? Why are people so neglectful in fulfilling the terms of a covenant they’ve made with the Lord?

Could it be because most are teaching that for those in the New Covenant God is lenient?

However, this is twisted theology, for God has granted mercy and grace ever since creation, and especially for those who repent and obey Him. True, God who does not change (Heb. 13:8 // Ja. 1:17) has offered humans a New Covenant, but does it make God more lenient –more apt to turn a blind eye to His people’s sins? Certainly not. Instead, He expects more.

The New Covenant is one in which God puts His laws in the heart and mind of each person who makes this covenant with Him. (Heb. 8:10) The New Covenant is one in which God puts His Spirit into the spirit of each person covenanting with Him and gives them His power to fully meet His righteous requirements. (Rom. 8:4,9) This being the case there is no excuse to violate God’s Covenant of Salvation through disobedience. (Heb. 2:1-3 & 10:26-31) If those who violated the law of Moses were killed (10:28), “How much more severely do you think a person deserves to be punished who has violated the New Covenant?” (See v. 29) Indeed, for those who do such a thing, destruction from God rushes upon them. (v. 27,30,31 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17)

God is not playing games, dear “Christian”. If you have covenanted with God –that He save you from the Rule of Darkness to participate in the Rule of Christ (Col. 1:12,13)– then it needs to be a reality that Jesus is your Boss 24/7.

As our Lord has stated clearly: “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Storms

September 15, 2018

Friends,
Besides the typhoon that has passed through the Philippines, a country very dear to me, and besides the storm drenching the lower east coast of our U.S., there are at least two other “storms” that I am praying much about. One is that storm between conservatives and leftists here in the U.S. which has resulted from the extreme hatred blinding the latter who continue to vehemontly obstruct the efforts of the former. Today I listened to a strong and excellent speech Ted Cruz gave earlier this month in regards to this, found here:

https://youtu.be/AW9cos7_KnU

Another video and speech I watched today was that given by Amir at Behold Israel. For anyone interested in how the events in the Middle East keep lining up with Bible prophecy, Amir, an Israeli citizen, is highly informative. I have watched him often over the last year or more and the video he posted two days ago is something I hope everyone listens to closely. Here is the link for that:

https://youtu.be/aMLXN_pKaZ0

The battle between righteousness and evil is huge and escalating. Ideologies and nations are lining up in the positions God’s Word has prophesied about. But, will we ourselves be found alert, walking in the Truth, bearing the fruit of righteousness… and ready?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
It should be concerning to us that there are many Christians who are not adequately concerned about their wayward loved ones (or their own waywardness). Relying on their beliefs about OSAS (once saved, always saved), or thinking that a “salvation prayer” once prayed guarantees the purchase of eternal life (which it does not –Luke 8:13-15), these individuals do not fulfill their own responsibilities before the Lord. They remain lax in intercession, wisdom, and tough love, foolishly believing that their “backslidden” loved one, though he or she may lose some rewards, will certainly not lose out on an eternity in Heaven.

It seems that John 6:37 is one verse the above-mentioned people rely on. Jesus says there, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” Of course Jesus is telling us the Truth here, but many read into it what is not there. For one thing, it is those who come to Jesus –not once, but on a continual basis– who are truly coming to Jesus. As our Lord says in the same chapter, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him.” (v. 56) And then in the next verse He says that “the one who feeds on Me will live…” (v. 57) Is a backslidden person feeding themselves on Jesus? No, they are not eating and drinking Him who is the Word and Spirit (v. 63), and are therefore not remaining in Him.

Now someone may claim that there is a reading of the Word and a walking in the Spirit, but this is a hollow claim if there is continued disobedience to Christ. This is made very clear from such verses as Mt. 19:17, John 5:38-40, John 15:10, and 1 John 2:3-6, as well as many others, like 1 John 3:24 which says, “Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them.”

So, in going back to John 6:37 we find the assurance that those who come to Jesus –meaning, through continual obedience to Him– will remain in fellowship with Him / will continue to belong to Him / will not be cast away. Jesus gives this assurance again in ch. 10, verses 27-30, but there again, we can read that those kept safe (saved) are those who follow Jesus. If someone stops following Jesus, that person slips into an unsaved state. (John 15:6 // Heb. 6:4-6 & 10:26-31 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22 & 3:17)

Furthermore, any person who accepts the Gospel as true and pledges to the Lord that he will follow Him, yet does not wholeheartedly leave sin or self-rule is not, in reality, following Jesus, is he? Indeed, how can that person be in the will of God, which is a necessity for entrance into Heaven, as Jesus makes clear in Mt. 7:21-23? Truly, if someone is not obeying Christ, that person is not following Jesus, that person is not in the will of God, and that person’s eternal condemnation remains a real and dangerous likelihood. (John 8:31-36 // Rev. 3:15,16)

Let’s remember that the man in Luke 9:61 was not hanging on to any apparent sin, and was maybe even trying to uphold the fifth commandment about honoring one’s parents when he said to Jesus, “I will follow You, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Yet how did Jesus answer him? “Jesus replied, ‘No one having laid his hand upon the plow and looking on the things behind, is fit for the Kingdom of God.'” (v. 62) Wow. But had Jesus not already taught that one’s salvation hinged on one’s choice to deny self, take up one’s cross daily, and follow Him? Yes, we read this in the same chapter, verses 23-25. No wonder the apostle Paul said that he forgets what is behind and strains toward what is ahead in order to win the Prize. (Phil. 3:13,14) No wonder he taught that the old self must be killed (Rom. 6:6,7 & 8:13 // 2 Cor. 5:17 // Gal. 2:20) and that “what counts is a new creation”. (Gal. 6:15)

So, who is being referred to in John 6:37 whom the Father gives to Jesus? By interpreting Scripture with Scripture, we have seen who it is: It is those who, by believing, have turned from their own path to follow Jesus, closely, obediently, faithfully, on His path and where He leads them. As Jesus says a few verses down (in John 6:45), “…They will all be taught God. Everyone having heard from the Father and having learned, comes to Me.” These, then, are the ones the Father gives to Jesus: Those who have listened to Him and have embraced the Truth with absolute commitment. (John 10:27-30 & 12:25,26)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
As we come now to Labor Day weekend, and as many hurry about, fretting and busying themselves outside of God’s will for them, let’s remember that besides being called to work in Christ’s fields (Mt. 9:37,38 & 28:18-20 // John 4:34-38), God’s servants are also called to rest. Jesus says in Mt. 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you laboring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest. Take the yoke of Me upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in the heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Indeed, the yoke of Me is easy [to carry], and the load of Me is light.”

What comforting words from our Lord! He invites us to come to Him, to remove from ourselves the yokes we are bearing, and exchange these for Him instead, and what He gives. He gives the yoke / load / weight / burden that is Him, and it/He is not heavy. For when we have Him, we have His strength, His peace, His wisdom, and all else that we need in order to carry out His will for us. We have all we need for being servants pleasing to Him.

Jesus Himself is the cargo we are to carry. And when we carry Him (His presence / His Spirit), then we possess His character and His strength. It is actually Him, then, carrying us. No wonder our life becomes easy, light, and a joy! We have His mind on matters, we have His expressions, we have His words, and we have His actions. (Rom. 8:9) For we are carrying Him and all that He is! Is this not fantastic News to share with a heavily-burdened world?! It is! He, in us, lives out “the Abundant Life” (see John 10:10) in our home, our work place, our relationships, our lives! This is why we, like Paul, should want to and be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ. Thus I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20) Oh, the wonderful Gospel we have!

Truly Jesus is our “Sabbath-rest” (Heb. 4:9) –available for all who are willing to come to Him, exchange their burdens for Him, and continue to faithfully wear Him (Rom. 13:14), eat and drink Him (John 6:53-63), and draw Life (Truth, Joy, Freedom, etc.) from Him, unto the production of lasting fruit. (John 8:31-36 & 15:1-16 // Heb. ch. 3,4)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Testing God, showing Him contempt or neglect, being sexually impure in any way, grumbling, being idolators or revelers… –any such sins can bring us destruction from “the destroying angel” of the Lord. (1 Cor. 10:6-10) No one should think that this does not apply for those in the New Covenant, for this warning is found in the New Testament. As verse 11 tells us, these things, as examples, were written down as admonitions for us, and the next two verses warns us that even if we think we are spiritually strong, falling into sin remains a possibility if we are not careful.

And what happens if we fall into sin and remain there –if we do not repent by renouncing the sin, turning 180 degrees back to Christ, and following Him obediently 24/7? We will be broken off –off from the Vine, off from Christ’s love, off from salvation. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 11:17-23 // Heb. 10:26-31 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22 // Rev. 3:15,16)

Rom. 11:20-22, another reminder about the Israelites’ sins causing them to be broken off, warns us not to be arrogant but to be afraid (v. 20), “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” (v. 21) And why not? Well, how did the Israelites sin? They sinned by not believing God. Even while they worshipped Him and called Him their God, they disregarded His holiness, ignored His commands, and disgraced His name and character which they were supposed to represent.

God is merciful and kind, yes, and many people like to remind themselves of this, even those who keep sinning. But what does Rom. 11:22 say? We read there, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Let’s make no mistake about it: If we keep sinning, we are not inside God’s kindness but instead under His wrath. Rom. 2:1-11 is clear when it warns that God will not show favoritism to anyone, and that thus anyone who persists in sin will experience His condemnation. Scripture teaches this Truth repeatedly, such as through Jesus’ words in John 5:29 and Paul’s in Gal. 6:7,8. Yes, even someone who has housed God’s Holy Spirit will be destroyed by God if that person continues to defile himself, God’s dwelling (1 Cor. 3:16,17), or continues to publicly disgrace Christ’s name. (Heb. 6:4-6)

Because Old Testament writings were indeed recorded for our admonition, let’s consider God’s punishment toward the house of Eli, the priest. God told Eli that because Eli’s sons (who also were priests in God’s tabernacle), had continued to dishonor and despise the LORD through their sins, the LORD was breaking His covenant promise with their family. (1 Sam. 2:27-36 & 3:11-14) Truly, the wages of sin, if not renounced and quit, always results in alienation from God, in death, and in eternal banishment to Hell. (Rom. 6:21-23; see also Mt. 13:49,50 and 2 Thes. 1:7-10)

Let us consider what has been written down in the Scriptures and take warning.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word changes things. If we read it, if we meditate on it, if we believe it and surround ourselves with it through faith, if we take refuge in it, our souls will be refreshed, strengthened, encouraged, revived, and redeemed!

Ps. 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” It can also be said, “The instructions of the LORD are perfect, refreshing the soul.” And, “The teachings of the LORD are perfect, converting the soul.” In other words, God’s Word, being perfect, changes the soul of the one who ingests it into one’s spirit.

Ps. 18:28 says, “You, O LORD, will light my lamp. The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.” Yes, when we are in a dark place, discouraged, afraid, and otherwise spiritually weak, the Lord brings light to our soul –His Light that consists of strength, warning, wisdom, righteousness, joy, and all such reward. (19:7-13) For that Light is Him, the All-powerful, All-loving One.

Every day we should go to the Word of God for help, for restoration. He is there for us. Ps. 18:30 connects Him, our shield, with His flawless Word. John 1:1-14 tells us that Jesus, The Light who enables us to become children of God, is God who was begotten a human, and is Himself the Word of God. And as Jesus has told us, His words “are Spirit and they are Life.” (6:63)

Since God’s Word is His Light, His Spirit, and His Life, is it any wonder why Ps. 19:10 says that it is sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold?

Do we believe this? Then let us go to the Word of God daily and be daily revived.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Last week when I was witnessing downtown –from the train station area and up to the restaurant area and back– I had quite a few dramatic encounters. I won’t go into them, except to mention one that was with a man in leotards and tight shirt, midriff showing, bandana over his hair, and with the claim that he is a “prophet”. He gave me his name, a Bible name, and he stressed the importance of names… but I’ll call him David here.

I listened patiently to David, lovingly caring about him through the Holy Spirit, for at least 25 minutes, hardly getting a word in myself, as he spoke of the political moral climate and quoted a lot of Scripture verses. I certainly try not to judge people by first impressions, but besides his prostitute appearance, he used a lot of foul language. These suggested to me that he is not actually walking with the Lord. However, understanding that I didn’t know his story, and respecting him for having memorized Scripture at some point in his life, I only called him out on his use of swear words. He gave some convoluted justification, but I stuck with my assertion, quoting Eph. 4:29, from which he did seem to feel some slight conviction.

I relay this encounter because I believe a person’s words reveal a lot about the heart of that person. James, in chapter 3 when discussing the human tongue (words), asks how it is that a person can, out of the same mouth (heart), gush out praise for God as well as cursing toward others. (v. 9-12) It is inconsistent and it thus reveals that the source (the heart) is actually contaminated (v. 8,11,12), and if not allowed to be cleansed and kept cleansed by Christ, will corrupt the whole person and eventually destroy that person. (v. 6)

Jesus Himself confirms for us that “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.” (Mt. 15:18) In other words, sins lurking in the heart will reveal themselves through one’s words, proving that person remains impure. (v. 18-20) Since just a few statements before this Jesus says, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (v. 14b), shouldn’t we recognize that He is teaching us to not adhere to those guides or “prophets” whose speech is not clean, even if they claim to be servants of Christ? As Jesus says in the same verse, “Leave them; they are blind guides.” (v. 14a)

I felt, and still feel, concern for David and I realize there has to be a good reason why he can quote Scripture and why he has faith in the Word of God. Whoever taught him must have been concerned for his soul, and certainly God is still concerned. The Lord wants him cleansed and able to use His Word appropriately, accurately, and for the furtherance of the Truth and God’s glory.

Here is the part of Eph. 4:29 that I quoted to David: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” This command is quite comprehensive. Unwholesome talk covers a lot –from swear words to slander to false testimony to malicious words to mockery… The rest of the verse validates this by adding that our talk should instead consist of “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Of course this doesn’t mean we shy away from speaking truth, for verse 15 has already pointed out that we are to be “speaking the truth in love”, but, our words must be clean and wholesome.

Eph. 4:30 goes on: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” Since this warning follows right after verse 29 –the verse I brought up to David– we should see the connection –that unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit. Without question, engaging in unwholesome talk is not sowing to please the Spirit which leads to eternal life, but is instead sowing the opposite. (Gal. 6:8) Unwholesome talk is not a fruit of the Spirit but instead of the sinful nature (5:16-26)

Eph. 4:31 tells us to get rid of such sins as bitterness, rage, and slander, while Col. 3:8 also commands us to rid ourselves of these, as well as of obscene language. As Jesus warns, “…everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for very careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:36,37) And what does Jesus say immediately prior to this, in verse 35? He says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Jesus is saying that those who speak evil things have a storehouse of evil within them!

How can anyone, then, take unwholesome talk lightly? –Especially from anyone who claims to be walking with, serving, or speaking on behalf of God?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel