Reflect Back, Move Forward

December 31, 2009

Friends,
As we reflect back over the year, do we thank God for all His provisions, His protection over us and our loved ones, His guidance and instructions, and His comfort from His Word? I do. He has been my kind Shepherd, leading me along so gently and mercifully. I am utterly grateful. Other gods would have flung me about, been harsh when I doubted, got fearful or depressed, or when I didn’t understand… but not Him. He spoke softly, but persistently. He always “did answer when I cried to Him in my distress.” (See Ps. 120:1) He spoke to me every night and every day, because I was constantly asking Him to… and I was listening, and praising, and on my knees… and because “I have treasured the Words of His mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12) Truly, He has honored my seeking of Him…

Do we fathom this God who loves us? Just think: All those astronomy photos we’ve been seeing for years now… He made all those stars. And when we think of how deep the deepest part of our planet’s ocean is… envision ourselves down under its weight –as if our body could take that, which it can’t– and then realize how microscopic that enormity is (the whole ocean depths) compared to the galaxy in which our “pale blue dot” of an earth exists… and then compare that to all the galaxies, and then to the vastness of the universe… and then realize there’s a Being who created all of it with His word (Ps. 33:6)… I’d think that we could not help but fall prostrate in awe and gratefulness before this Great God who says, “Precious individual speck of dust, I love you. I stooped to come to your fallen earth to ransom you. I want to fellowship with you. Yes, YOU.”
Oh, the privilege of this…….!!!

So, were we grateful for this immense privilege? Did we act on our gratefulness? Did we spend time with this Wonderful God –as often as we possibly could?

Or did we say we were thankful, say we love Him, serve Him, listen to Him, yet instead spent hours “doing our own thing”?

Well, for those of us who walk closely, gratefully, and obediently with this Awesome Creator / Majestic One, let’s be encouraged by reflecting back on all those benefits and kindnesses He bestowed. Is it not a sign of what He will again do for us? It is. He will continue His care for us. He will continue His patient training of us. And He will eventually bring us forth as gold (Job 23:10), ready, polished, and finished. Tested and found worthy. Carved to spiritual perfection that we might be the sharp tool in His hand that He wanted through which to make His love, Word, and glory known to the world. And finally, in addition –able to be entrusted with abundance (see Ps. 66:8-12) (–not necessarily material)… knowing that we will not hoard anything for ourselves, but overflow our gifts back upon a hurting, waiting, watching world…

In view of these considerations, may we all move forward with joyful expectation as to what our Glorious Powerful God has in store for us throughout this new year! For indeed, He is “the God who performs miracles.” (Ps. 77:14)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
So… as this year winds down to a close… what are our thoughts…? –Our thoughts concerning, no, not how the year treated us, but how we treated the year? –The people we encountered? –The assignments the Lord gave us? –The temptations that came our way? — The opportunities offered? In short: How did we react to 2009? — Every day of it?

I hope that we can look back and already have the assurance in our hearts that we reacted to it all exactly as the Lord’s ambassador should have…

That “in everything that happened, we conducted ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” (See Phil. 1:27)

That in “whatever we did, whether in word or deed, we did it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (See Col. 3:17)

That we “watched our life and doctrine closely” (see 1 Tim. 4:16) testing both constantly against Scripture study and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

That we “devoted ourselves to prayer, to being watchful [spiritually wise and discerning] and to thankfulness.” (See Col. 4:2)

That we presented “the Gospel not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (See 1 Thes. 1:5)

That “we took every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5), as well as our every word, action, attitude, emotion, plan, decision, and prayer –constantly.

That we were careful “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” (Rom. 16:19)

That with His “divine power we demolished strongholds and arguments and every pretension that set itself up against the knowledge of God.” (See 2 Cor. 10:4,5)

That we “did not seek to win the approval of men, but of God… for if we were still trying to please men, we would not be servants of Christ.” (See Gal. 1:10)

That “we spoke as men approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, not trying to please men but God… nor looking for praise from men…” (See 1 Thes. 2:4,6)

That “we did not give in to them [false brothers –v. 4) even for a moment, so that the truth of the Gospel might remain…” (See Gal. 2:5)

That we “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)

That we did our “best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.” (See 2 Tim. 2:15)

That we “loved God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourself” (see Mark 12:30,31), and that we did not love the world or its things. (1 John 2:15)

Well, we could go on evaluating how we treated the year and the details of our reactions to what came our way, but we also could just ask ourselves in summary, “Did we strive for perfection in the little things?” Because that is how we will train ourselves in fulfilling Jesus’ command in Matt. 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”

For every day, every year, we should all be pressing hard toward that perfection goal… Because we so want to please our God. Because to please Him is to love Him. And Jesus said that that is the greatest commandment.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I find it strange and sad that many modern church leaders are not teaching that in order to find the Lord, we must seek Him through His Word. They are emphasizing being taught by the Spirit, but not by the Word. No, the Holy Spirit USES the WORD OF GOD. Otherwise, in trying to seek God, we open ourselves up to counterfeit spirits –which we all know are working overtime today (1 Tim. 4:1) –especially in the church where spirituality is most accepted. Scripture tells us to meditate on the Word day and night. (For example in Josh. 1:8 & Ps. 1:1,2, not to mention what Ps. 119:11,105,133 all say –and elsewhere.) Ps. 119:72 says, “The law of Thy mouth [that means Scripture] is more precious unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” It does not say, “The Spirit is more precious to me than…”

Many are telling us to get away, get alone, get quiet, and seek God’s voice. But “seek” where? They do not emphasize (or often do not even mention) Scripture. However, God’s Word is where we seek and find Him. It’s true we are to get alone and quietly listen to Him, but that is only partial truth. These teachers leave out a lot. For example, they rarely mention that we are first to totally repent of all known sin. If we refuse to do that, the rest of the attempt to hear from the Lord is very likely not going to happen; and if we do think we hear any peaceful words from Him, it likely is not God, but another spirit. Then, besides repentance, they also leave out that we are to carefully read God’s Word and worship Him with reverent, obedient hearts.

Suggestions that are only partial truth are dangerous. Even Catholic monks, Buddhists, and New Agers know to get alone and quiet in order to hear spiritual things. But they deviate into all sorts of false doctrines because they don’t check what they hear (and hear they do!) against the objective Word of God. Truly, I am weary of seeing that so many modern “Christians”, including even the under-shepherds of God’s flock, cannot hold up the Bible and say, “Here is your answer. God speaks through this.”

Only the Lord knows of all the masses that are left in the dark by the careless suggestions and teachings of those who do not walk whole-heartedly with the Lord, though pretend they do. Indeed, I just weep at the ignorance of the church and its leaders –for error is not a light thing, but sends people to an eternity of Hell! As “they refuse to love the truth they fall for delusions and lies, and they perish” (see 2 Thes. 2:10), taking hoards of church-goers with them! (See Matt. 7:21-23)

The answer in how to seek and find the Lord is this: Step 1. Meditate on God’s Word to get to know Him closely and hear from Him correctly. Step 2. Repent of all known sin, as the practice of the first step brings conviction.  Step 3. Glorify God and give Him thanks. (Rom. 1:21) To glorify God means with our songs of praise, our thoughts, our motives, our actions, our obedience… but it is through the Word that we learn to consistently and correctly do this. And it is through the Word that we grow in holiness and correct doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13,16 & 1 Peter 1:22 & John 17:17) so that we can thus glorify Him out of pure hearts. The Holy Spirit is only “given to those who obey Him [God]” (Acts 5:32) and He does not teach apart from His Word. (Except for rare cases –because of His mercy– such as when one has no access to Scripture; or if we want to say that creation teaches us how awesome God is –Ps. 19:1-4 & Rom. 1:19,20)

“Soak in the River”, “Soak in God’s Presence”… these are things we hear in many churches now, but they are also things promoted by mystics and the contemplative prayer enthusiasts. –By which they bring to themselves false jesuses, different spirits (2 Cor. 11:4) –who teach different gospels– and false doctrines. And worship is so much about “feeling” –ours and God’s. No, there should be no seeking about how God “really feels about us.” He is either pleased with us, or He’s not. Scripture already makes clear: He loves people, but He hates sin. We listen to Him in order to hear His will for us and to please HIM, not get gushy words from Him about ourselves. A striving after that stems from teachings of mystics and those in the prayer movement –who strongly emphasize “intimacy with God” through prayer and worship OVER Bible study. The focus is wrong. Yes, God will likely encourage us, or correct and rebuke us, or tell us to believe, have faith, courage, etc., but it’s not about His “feelings about us”. Nor is it about our feelings. We worship Him by faith and in obedience –no matter what we’re feeling.

I am also weary of those who promote the idea that we deal daily with hearing from all sorts of spirits. It’s true that we sometimes forget to adequately put on our armor (Eph. 6:12-17) –like the belt of Truth– and those fiery darts do make their way in, but it should be immediately recognized and thrown out by the power of the name of Jesus. We are expected to constantly “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16) with the assurance that 1 John 5:18 is true which says, “…the one who was born of God [the firstborn only begotten One] keeps him [we who abide in Him and His words] safe, and the evil one does not touch him.” This is speaking of sin specifically, but is it not a sin to listen to the deceiver’s side when we know how to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) by way of the objective Word of God? Jesus says in John 8:47, “He who belongs to God hears what God says.” Jesus tells us in John 10:5 that His sheep “will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

Only those who are not abiding in the Vine and His words (John 15:1-7) would entertain words from the enemy. This is clearly what Jesus is saying. However, in turning away from the truth, they will fall to myths (2 Tim. 4:4), from the faith to deceptions… (Matt. 24:10,11) And again, as we know, God’s Word is Truth. “Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” (Jesus’ prayer in John 17:17)

Prayer is certainly good and right. However, from hearts that are already refusing to abide by the two main ways of seeking and finding God and His Spirit’s words to them, then that is a rebellious heart, and God has no obligation to answer prayers from such. He may, but only because He is so merciful. Also, in praying to God, while in continuous rebellion of any kind against Him, yet thinking He is answering, there lies a great danger of actually ending up praying to a different god.

Why are preachers of Truth not stressing the importance of reading the Word of God daily, with diligence, whole-hearted fervency, and intensity? Do they want to be worthy ambassadors for the King? Well, the main command the Lord has given His ambassadors is this: To live and proclaim His Gospel –that of repentance, forgiveness of sin, righteousness, self-control, and the Judgment (Acts 5:31 & 24:25), and to “Preach the Word.” (2 Tim. 4:2)

We find God’s will for our lives by opening up the Word and by then allowing His Spirit to speak to us out of that living, active, and judging Word of God. (Heb. 4:12) For “we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place…” (2 Peter 1:19) Verse 20 informs us that it is indeed Scripture that this refers to. So if we’d do well to pay attention to it, if it is what illuminates dark places (evil, confusion, fear, etc.), and if God says His Word is of top priority –up there with His name (Ps. 138:2), then I’d think that church leaders speaking about how to find God and His instructions, should mention it!

So, considering the enormous amount of counterfeits out there, let us all be reminded to test all things against the beautiful, perfect Scriptures we are so privileged to have.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I did not begin this weblog for the purpose of coming against false doctrines. At least that was not my main goal. I was writing “sermons” for a couple of years that were actually stemming from questions and comments I was getting from an increasing email list of those who, like me, wanted to discuss spiritual issues. And really much of what I wrote was to encourage believers to stay strong in faith, courage, holiness, joy, Christlike love, and Truth. However, I have concluded that Truth is really the most important, for all the others must be built on that. –Or else it is a pretense to the real thing.

Let’s take joy, for example. If we have joy, (like over the news that we’ve won a million dollars), but it is not based on truth, then is the joy legitimate? No, it is based on a lie. What about holiness? If we are told holiness in God’s eyes is obtained through our abstinence from certain foods, or is derived though a certain way we dress or wear our hair, or that it comes through attending church on a certain day… then we base our perception of holiness on a lie.

Let’s take faith, and expound on that one (since it is so prevalently discussed everywhere now). Many throughout the world have faith. But faith in what? What if they have faith in a man –or a false god or idol, such as Buddha or Krishna? What if they have faith that the Virgin Mary or another saint will answer their prayers? What if they have faith that there is God, but do not have faith that His Son is the mediator between God and men, like 1 Tim. 2:5 states? Or what if they have faith that Jesus died and rose, but not bodily? Or that Jesus Himself is not God, the Creator, as many verses such as Col. 1:16 tell us?

A Jehovah’s Witness has faith. Is he saved? A Hindu has faith. Is he saved? How about a Muslim, or a Mormon? How about a Catholic, or a Calvinist, or an Adventist? Friends, we are saved only by faith in the Truth. I’ll state that again: WE ARE SAVED ONLY BY FAITH IN THE TRUTH. The whole Truth and NOTHING else. The Truth is Jesus (John 14:6), but it must be the true Jesus, for their are numerous impostors. (2 Cor. 11:4) We are also saved only by faith in the one true Gospel, though again, there are many false gospels being taught. And whether these gospels are taught because of ignorance or because of purposeful deception (for some kind of gain on the part of the teachers), it doesn’t matter. Throughout the Scriptures this is made clear. One verse we could quote would be 1 Cor. 15:1,2. Paul says, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.”

There it is. If a person does not believe in THE Gospel –the one Paul preached– then the belief is of no value unto salvation — because the person is not believing THE TRUE, which is also called THE TRUTH.

Look at some more of this passage: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance [top priority]; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time…” (v. 3-6) Five hundred! –And at the same time –so they would not later think they’d been dreaming. And why is this part of the Gospel important? Because many false religions (including different branches of the New Age or Unity or New Thought) want to agree that “Christ” rose, but that Jesus did not. In other words, they say that the Christ spirit rose, but Jesus in body, did not. …Oh, the amount of twists and turns and fabrications that doctrines from demons have given humankind! And why are demons so determined to twist Truth? Well, because it is only the Truth that saves. And do demons want people saved? Of course not. They hate God, so they hate us. And because they are completely consumed with hate… taking orders from the father of evil hatred himself.

Can we, as well as blaming demons, also blame humans for the promotion of falsehoods? Absolutely. It is people’s disdain for the Truth, their love for selfish pleasure and wickedness, that brings the delusion their way. (2 Thes. 2:10-12 & Rom. 1:18) “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images [idols]… and exchanged the truth of God for a lie.” (Rom. 1:21-23,25) Take note that verse 21 says that they knew God, but refused to give Him glory (praise and worship and reverence and obedience), and that they would not thank Him. Yes, these are huge sins in God’s eyes! And I believe it is the ungratefulness of a heart (a mind) that initially causes the refusal to glorify God in all one says and does, and this then brings on the downward spiral.

So the lies concerning Jesus and His Gospel are initiated by demons, but propagated through humans. This is why 1 John 4:1 warns, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And why 2 Cor. 11:13,14 say, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” And why verse 4 also warns of receiving “a different spirit”. Indeed, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars…” (1 Tim. 4:1,2) But notice the end of verse 2: “…whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” Why is that significant? Because in being hypocrites, they become liars, and soon lose the privilege of a conscience –which is what God gave all humans by which to tell right from wrong.

Then when an “angel of light” (actually a demon) preaches to them –whether it’s through a human, or directly to their mind– these consciences think it’s an “angel from heaven preaching the true Gospel” (see Gal. 1:8) –when it is, in fact, “a perversion of the Gospel of Christ” (see v. 7), and “a different gospel” (v. 6), “–which is really no gospel at all.” (v. 7) And what is the outcome for such falsehoods? Verse 8 insists it is eternal condemnation. And verse 9 repeats the warning –for added fervency.

Well, so… this is why I hammer away about all of us seeking the Truth. And no, it is not a vain endeavor. As Jesus promises in Matt. 7:8, “Everyone… who seeks finds.”

The problem is, most people will not –as in, refuse to– seek Truth. Or if they think they are seeking Truth, they still will not go to the source of Truth –the Word of God. Instead, “they turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:4) and gravitate toward “what their itching ears want to hear” (v. 3) –myths, stories, books, philosophies… lies which will cater to their lusts –lusts for power, ecstasy, money, fame, etc. –all which can be summed up under “Lust For Pleasurable Feelings”.

So… wallowing around in deceptions, they pathetically sink ever deeper… away from Truth… and into the mire. The mire of eternal destruction. A place about which I will constantly preach and warn. Because everything to do with how to be saved from such a horrible destination, can only be solidly (fully) correct, right, and true –if it is grounded on TRUTH. This should be obvious. But unfortunately, to most… it is not.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Speaking about that verse I quoted yesterday… “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19,20)

Well, I had a strange experience last week where that truth was brought to my mind. I have volunteered somewhere as “a minister for Christ” for seven years; and for most of this time I have been treated rudely by two women and a man –all siblings –though I didn’t know they were siblings until last year. I couldn’t figure out at all what I had done to cause them to dislike me, because I barely ever spoke to these people except to cheerfully say hi or even pay them a compliment. “Oh, well,” I decided after a while, “I’ll just avoid them,” –which I did. Well, about 2 years ago the man, about in his mid-50s, suddenly got sick, and died. Everyone was shocked. And I was sad, especially for another worker there who was the step-son of the deceased.

Then, like I said, a few days ago… I went to visit someone, and I was informed that the two sisters had been fired. What for? Embezzling. At least 50K. Yes, a police report was filed. But what I’ve gleaned from this knowledge, what I feel I’ve heard the Lord teaching me, is this:

Jesus is the Light of the world. (John 8:12) But if we are clothed with Him (Rom. 13:14) as we should be, then Jesus says, “YOU [also] are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14) So, should we even wonder –if we are shining out HIM, THE Light– why some people disdain us? No, we should not wonder. If we have done them no wrong… nor have even spoken to them about repentance or righteousness (–which apparently is becoming a “hate-crime”)… then we can assure ourselves that they are hiding some kind of evil deeds. And that their consciences are balking at having light beamed on them –even if that light is just our presence!

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphant procession in Christ and THROUGH US SPREADS EVERYWHERE the fragrance of the knowledge of Him. [Yes, people smell us when we enter, for each of us has a “spiritual aroma”.] For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” (2 Cor. 2:14-16) To those who also love and obediently serve Christ, “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory [which comes from “the Spirit”] [and who] are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory” (3:18), we are reminders of the Lord’s gracious mercies and His gift of eternal life.

However, to those with sinning dark hearts, we are reminders of the Judgment to come and the eternal death that awaits them. Indeed, as we “conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ… we are a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that we will be saved…” (See Phil. 1:27,28) So with vexed, even hateful spirits, they flee, shun, persecute, or attempt to knock out the light “for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (See John 3:20 again.)

Well, the Lord spoke to me through this ordeal. And I’m very grateful to Him. For now in greater faith I can rejoice when unfairly maligned. As 1 Peter 4:14 encourages us, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” Yes, that glory that causes the sweet aroma to some, the stench to others.

So, as verses 12 & 13 say, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.”

And one more thing that was confirmed for me through this: Truly, the wicked are eventually repaid for their deeds. Yes, the Lord patiently waits for people to repent, but when they don’t, they reap what they sow. As Gal. 6:7,8 say, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

All those people who constantly had to deal with late fees, bounced checks, etc. because the paychecks themselves often were late or would bounce, was due to these embezzlers. But did those women ever stop to care about their fellowmen? No, they didn’t care. They cared only about themselves.

So when people are unfair, unjust, false, deceitful, and evil toward God or others, the Lord will finally put a stop to them –through death or exposure or punishment or destruction. Isa. 63:10 means what it says… –“They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit. So He turned and became their enemy and He Himself fought against them.”

For the Lord is our Helper and Shepherd for those who do good. But for those who are evil, He will eventually come with fury and great wrath. It’s a given.

So if someone makes himself an enemy of the light (the light being Jesus and His true followers) by committing wickedness of any kind, even by disdaining righteousness, even by promoting false doctrine (which are lies), he needs to prepare himself to have God become his enemy. It’s a warning throughout Scripture. As Deut. 8:19,20 states, “If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods [falsehoods, self, pleasure, greed, and other idols] and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. …you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.”

And in case someone thinks grace under the New Covenant covers one’s deliberate sin and refusal of Truth, then maybe Eph. 5:6 should be quoted: “…God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” How disobedient? Well, take your clues from those in the Bible… like say, King Saul, who thought he was only disobeying in a small way. (1 Sam. 15:20,21) Because Samuel rebuked his sin as that of witchcraft, Saul’s kingly lineage was revoked, Saul received an evil spirit sent from the Lord, he later consulted a witch –though he knew that was a despicable thing in God’s eyes, and in the end he killed himself. It was because of that initial, purposeful, careless disobedience (which Saul never genuinely repented of), that God turned against him.

Take Moses as an example… He was honored by God beyond all prophets (Deut. 34:10-12), yet for what many would consider a “small” sin of disobedience –striking the rock, instead of speaking to it (Num. 20:7-12)– the Lord refused to let him enter the promised land. God gives Moses His reasoning again in Deut. 32:51, “This is because both of you broke faith with Me in the presence of… [others] and because you did not uphold My holiness among… [them].” How many times do we watch “Christians” defaming God, His name, His Word, and His holiness? Often! ! ! ! ! ! Yet they think that just because God doesn’t strike them dead immediately (as He did Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 for “merely lying about the price of land”), that He will not soon enough take vengeance on those who “treat the Lord with contempt.” (See Num. 14:23) But if by chance it doesn’t happen in this life, be assured that it will happen in the next. (Rom. 2:5-11 & Heb. 9:27 & Matt. 25:31,32,46)

2 Thes. 1:8,9 warns further: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. [That’s THE Gospel, not just any –for those promoting false gospels will be eternally condemned –Gal. 1:8] They will be punished with everlasting destruction…” Assuredly, “all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thes. 2:12) Did we catch that? “Have not believed THE TRUTH…” and “Have delighted in wickedness.” –That is, loved sin and self above truth, righteousness, and God’s ways.

As Rom. 2:8,11 warn, “But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger… For God does not show favoritism.” In other words, it matters not what someone claims to believe. It is absolutely about actions, as 1 John 2:3,4 make clear. For as Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “Unless you REPENT, you TOO will all perish.” And that means a repentance that walks continually in the light. (1 John 1:7) THEN, and only then, is a person purified of sin (1 John 1:7 again), and pardoned their past sins. (2 Peter 1:9 & Heb. 10:26)

Therefore, for these two main reasons (–refusing Truth and catering to the sin-nature)… –if you participate in such– you also will be condemned. Eternally condemned. And no, that’s not becoming non-existent. For the human soul exists forever –either in Heaven’s bliss, or… in Hell’s outer “darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 22:13) For God is a mighty enemy against all that is false or wicked.

Indeed, we have all been more than adequately warned…

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Four Priceless Gifts

December 26, 2009

Friends,
Have you ever given a gift to someone and it was just set aside? –Set aside with an attitude of ungratefulness… or with an obvious ignorance concerning the gift’s value… or the time, love, and sacrifice put in to obtaining it? I’m sure we’ve all experienced it… and it’s hurtful.

But do we really stop to consider how grieved the heart of God is… in that He gave humankind a glorious gift… the gift of deliverance from sin’s power and penalty… through a Person… Himself… the God-man..? But that most of the entire human race sets aside this Gift with a careless or rebellious brush of the hand –and heart? It is truly wretched… truly vile.

“He [Jesus] was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:10,11) How sad. And this, in spite of the fact that the Jews were all expecting a Messiah. And if they had been pure in heart and devoted to the LORD and His Word (like they glamorously made pretense of), then they would have recognized Him. And they then would have been able to tell others.

But no. They were full of darkness –self, falsehoods, idols, and rebellion against God– so that this “true light that gives [offers] light to every man” (v. 9) was rejected… and is still being rejected… throughout the world. Why would someone groping about in the darkness not want the light turned on –so he could see? “This is the verdict [and the reason]: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19,20)

“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,” (v. 21) and as “we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin.” (1 John 1:7) This is a wonderful gift! One to be exceedingly grateful for! One to be highly valued! For this Gift saves us from destruction –both in this life, and in the one to come. And the sacrifice on God’s part was not small ! ! ! ! “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) At what price? Death. “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter… yet He did not open His mouth.” (Isa. 53:7)

Therefore, the worship song in Rev. 5:9,12: “…because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God… Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” We are to be so grateful… and thus bow in adoration, overflowing with songs of praise. For because of this indescribable Gift –the ransom paid, the pardon extended– we are also offered the gift of the Holy Spirit by whom we “receive power to be Christ’s witnesses” (See Acts 1:8) and by whom we “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Rom.8:13), thus being able to please God (v. 4,8) –which should be our life’s goal.

Jesus told His disciples, “…wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4,5) This marvelous Gift –the Holy Spirit to indwell us, guide us, comfort us… is for all who believe in who Christ Jesus is and what He did for us. For we were redeemed “through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Gal. 3:14) This is a gift, not only of eternal life, but also of freedom from sin. As verse 22 says, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” And we receive all His gifts by faith.

So God gave us Jesus (the Ransomer), the Holy Spirit (our Counselor), freedom from sin’s mastery over us, and eternal life… four priceless gifts… gifts we should be abundantly grateful for. So grateful that we show it by our words and actions –always. Never to carelessly or rebelliously toss the Gifts aside.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

The Ultimate: Called "Friend"

December 25, 2009

Friends,
When you want to please the Lord, when you know not how else to fight the enemy, when you feel discouraged, sad, hopeless, fearful… quote these verses back to the Lord:

Isa. 25:1 ~~ “O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.”

Ex. 15:11 ~~ “Who among the gods is like You, O LORD? Who is like You –majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

Ps. 96:5,6 ~~ “For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”

Ps. 76:4 ~~ “You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game.”

1 Tim. 6:15,16 ~~ “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

Yes, above all gods, idols, and rulers –human and spiritual– He reigns.

And this great Ruler of rulers invites each one of us to dine with Him, live with Him… He in us, and we in Him… to be called His temple, His family… and to one day inherit all He owns… and to right now have Him as our Protector, Provider, Shepherd, Comforter, Counselor, Helper, and Deliverer. And even… to have Him call us “Friend”. (John 15:15 & James 2:23)

That is the ultimate. And it is the term He calls all those who walk closely with Him… close in obedience, love, and reverence…

May we therefore please Him –with our grateful praise.

Love,
Rachel