Sweet Fellowship With God

January 31, 2011

Friends,
If we are walking in the will of the Lord, then we can be assured that God will keep us in the palm of His hand at all times. Even when we go through fire and flood, He is right there with us, His comforting love washing through our spirit, calming our soul. He is such a wonderful God. I love Him so very much. He is our Maker, the Lord of all creation, the God who sees every single thing that is thought, said, or done. He knows. He is able to undo the knot. He is able to untangle the mess. Beautiful God! Mighty Warrior! Tender Father! Awesome Deliverer! Best, best, Friend! Hmmmmm…. such a privilege to walk and talk with Him… to know Him… Oh, that everyone would know Him. Yet so many do not. They just do not even know… know Him at all… It fills me with grief… And we know it sure fills God with grief too.

But for those of us who know Him –we know! We know Him! His presence is right here with us –all the time! What loneliness people must have in their inner selves –those ones who don’t know Him, those who don’t fellowship with Him. Oh, that everyone would! He is near, not far away past the galaxies. No, He waits nearby, He woos, He intervenes, He draws, He loves… He gives gifts –gifts of mercy, kindness, strength, peace, healing… He gives us His Word in which to seek Him, hear from Him, and learn of Him. To learn His ways and His Truth. To be conformed to the image of Christ. To step into the power of His Spirit and walk (live) as He would… as He would have us do in each and every situation.

Yes, He is the amazing God. May we all seek Him and find Him and fellowship with Him –He in us, and we in Him.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
The battle for Truth is never-ending. For we have many wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15) who are posing as Bible scholars and preachers of the true Gospel, when in reality, they are the complete opposite. If these men were reading God’s Word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), they would learn that to have God’s Holy Spirit within means a person will be controlled by Him (Rom. 8:9); which means he will absolutely be walking in holiness (Gal. 5:16,24 & 6:8) , and like a child learning from his tutor, he will continue to grow toward perfection. It is a falsehood to teach that repentance is merely confessing that we are vile sinners in need of a Savior. I meet sinners all the time who confess that –and with a laugh– and state that they plan to continue to sin –and gleefully. No, repentance is a u-turn –from a sinful lifestyle, from a heart and mind which loves sin, TO God and His ways of righteousness. It’s called “obedience to God” who does command complete submission to Him as Lord and King. If a person does not bow to His cleansing and Lordship, then they are following a false god –probably themselves. However, all roads that serve false gods, lead to the abode of the devil, the king of false gods.

Repentance is a getting off of one road onto another –off of the false onto the True. (Matt. 7:13,14) As Jesus commands, it’s “Repent… Come, follow Me… and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:17,19) Which means, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.” (19:17) And those are all fulfilled in Christ (5:17 & 22:37-40) who is God (Col. 2:9) who is Love. (1 John 4:16) If a person does not, yet says he has life (Eternal Life –the destination and the Person–), then as 1 John 1:6 & 2:3,4 say, he is a liar. And if he does not “walk as Jesus did” (2:6), then his claim is worthless. (James 2:20) Such a person is not saved (2 Thes. 1:7-10), born anew (2 Cor. 5:17), in-dwelt by God’s Spirit (Rom. 8:12-14) or part of God’s family. (same verses) For as Jesus says, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

To read an example of a very off-base and false gospel, type in “Beware of Paul Washer” by David J. Stewart. Here’s one of the things he writes in this article of his: “THIRD, Paul Washer makes a very dangerous statement that teaches works salvation… ‘The evidence that you are truly converted today is that you will continue on. If only most of the Americans had been told that, they would not be resting in false security today.” Clearly, Mr. Washer is teaching that salvation requires “continuing on.” According to Paul Washer’s false gospel, anyone who professes faith in Jesus Christ must also continue believing and repenting to be saved.'”

If Mr. Stewart would read God’s Word with the help of the Holy Spirit, he would find that Paul Washer is preaching the Truth here, and find out that he himself, is not. But alas, there apparently are multitudes of false gospels, not just from those we normally recognize as cults, but from right within Christianity –pretending they are The Truth, when they most certainly are not. (Gal. 1:6-9 & 2 John 1:9)

The only way to avoid falling for clever and deceptive “Christian” false gospels (2 Cor. 11:3,4,13-15) is to have true fellowship with the true God –through Christ (John 14:6)– and to be constantly walking in His Spirit and abiding in His Word. (John 15:7,10) For this is the only way to know the Truth of God’s Word for ourselves, be able to follow it / abide in it / obey it, and thus escape being eternally condemned with the world. “For how shall we escape if we neglect or ignore such a great salvation.” (Heb. 2:3)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

God’s Word Is Life

January 29, 2011

Friends,
Breakfast! Oh, for the breakfast of God’s Word immediately upon waking! There’s no substitute for it!!! And I sure do miss it when I get too busy for it. Being able to quote memory verses is extremely helpful, but there’s nothing like that fresh new Word the Lord wants to feed us every morning. But that takes quietness, and of course, time. Unfortunately, many won’t take the time –week after week– and so they walk around like spiritual skeletons who are just waiting to keel over, life’s hardships doing them in.

Jesus says in Matt. 4:4, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” So true! We need nourishment to continue in health and vigor physically, and that comes from healthy foods. However, how much more so do we need to sustain our spirit which must live healthy (healed, whole, cleansed of sin’s disease…) for all eternity? Yet people act like the former is more important than the latter. They will pay a lot of money to keep the physical life going, but what about the spiritual? They will take plenty of time to exercise the body, find beautiful clothes to drape over it, and spend time and money soothing it with expensive lotions, baths, and cuisines, but they greatly neglect caring for their eternal soul. It’s not wise. Not wise at all.

But, for those of us who love God, and thus love His Word, we continue to seek His voice, His promises, His guidance, His love, and all else that builds up our spirit and gives us life. And we do so by eating, by feeding, by meditating on, by obeying –by living on– every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Indeed, God’s Word is life.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Fools Remain Unreasonable

January 28, 2011

Friends,
I have often read Prov. 29:9 which says, “If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.”

Whenever I read this verse, I think of relationships. Not necessarily those within a real court setting, but any relationship where one person is trying to reason with another. I think of situations where there is a disagreement, a debate, or when one person is trying to communicate to another that he or she finds the other’s behavior and/or words inappropriate.

A courtroom is where two parties have agreed to come so that a problem may be solved, a consensus arrived at, and where justice may be enforced. A problem at school or at the workplace is similar, but one in a counselor’s office or before a pastor won’t have the element of enforcement; thus it’s harder to come to a just settlement. And even more so when there’s no mediator, and one person is a fool. These types of wretched situations are ones I often think of when I read this verse.

How often have we seen where a rebellious teen rules over the parents? The parents try every angle –kindness and love, explaining and reasoning, and then “tough love” involving consequences that are emotional for everyone? Yet the teen continues to rage and scoff, and there is no peace. Or how about when an abusive husband continues to rage and scoff at everything, including his family, no matter how thoughtfully another tries to point out the damage being done? It is indeed sad, for even as this verse, Prov. 29:9 says, the “peace talks” do no good.

These things go on within churches too. Some bitter person who has controlled the church’s politics for 30-something years, won’t be reasoned with, and thus there is continued contention, dissatisfaction, and even resentment amongst any who try to remain there.

What is the cure for the situation involving a fool? Well, Titus 3:10 tells us: “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.”

And what is the advice for the fool? Well, of course –to repent, turn to God and His Word, and prove his repentance by his actions. (Acts 26:20 & Ps. 119:11) And one simple rule for him to determine to live by is that “Golden Rule” so many can quote. It’s the one Jesus teaches in Matt. 7:12, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Yes, if only the fool could stop and think every time he got annoyed, or wanted to insist on having his own way, or wanted to be vindictive… and consider, “Would I want this done to me? Would I want this said or thought about me?” Then the strife could be avoided and harmony could come to the church, the home, the relationship. The raging and scoffing would definitely end, and there would finally be peace.

However, without the fool determining to take the steps needed to bring about change within his self-centered heart –that done by submitting it to Christ who gives the power to do so– it won’t matter how wise is the wise man who tries to reason with him. Because, as Scripture informs us, trying to have a relationship with a fool is not going to involve peace. The fool is the one who needs to change. Otherwise the wise man needs to walk away, and have nothing more to do with the fool again.

Kind and benevolent people, let’s get wise. For being kind does not equate to allowing others to mistreat us. For to keep extending kind acts to fools… well, even Jesus warns of such things in Matt. 7:6: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Wisdom is to know how to interpret Scripture with Scripture. And this kind of wisdom comes only from God’s Spirit as He sees us taking the effort to seek Him and His will in His Word.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Blessings In A Fallen World

January 27, 2011

Friends,
I’ve been at the cancer hospital for two days with my friend who has lymphoma. It’s weird to see so many people with scarves or hats on –some in wheelchairs looking very sick, and others walking around otherwise seemingly normal. It’s also weird to realize that each one is probably thinking quite soberly about their eternal destinations.

As I was sitting with my friend’s toddler who was napping in the stroller, and looking out a huge window, I just kept thinking about how many wonderful and good things we actually have here on earth. For we do live in a very fallen world, and in spite of this fact, we have much to be grateful for –things which God continually gives us to gladden our hearts –even hearts that don’t know Him. We have multitudes of gifts surrounding the five senses… –like sight… –beautiful colors to enhance everything. –The flowers, the plants, the stone walkway, the sky, the people’s clothes, the exotic fish in the large fish-tank… We can see a smile, hear a kind voice, laugh at a joke, and give hugs. I could go on, as we do have so many things to be thankful for. It’d just be good if we didn’t wait until we were faced with losing the blessings to turn to God and give Him thanks and praise.

Oh, that men would praise their Maker. And look to Him, seek Him, and get to know Him –while they still have time.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

There Are Righteous People

January 26, 2011

Friends,
“There is no one righteous, not even one.” We’ve heard this stated time and again, haven’t we? –by many preachers and Bible teachers, no less. It is indeed a quote from Scripture. It is Rom. 3:10. Verse 11 goes on to say, “There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.” And verse 12: “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” These verses are in turn quoting Ps. 14:1-3 & 53:1-3 & Ec. 7:20. However, when we turn to those passages, we find that the way modern teachers use these verses to support excuse for sin, is not exactly supported there nor throughout the rest of Scripture.

First of all, Ec. 7:20 says, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” Well, we know it is true that every human has sinned. So, put that way, we know that no one is completely righteous. And in Rom. 3:9 this is the point Paul is making, for he says, “… We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” In other words, we do all need a Savior.

Secondly, Ps. 14 & 53, the majority of both chapters having overlapping statements, are speaking of fools, atheists, and evildoers. Of those, “they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Ps. 14:3) However, we see that in both these chapters, righteous people are mentioned. Ps. 14:5 says, “… for God is present in the company of the righteous.” And Ps. 53:5 & 6 make a contrast between those whom God puts to shame and those to whom He restores fortunes and rejoicing.

If there is no one righteous, then it sure is strange that God’s Word speaks of “the righteous” many, many times. There are direct quotes from God Himself calling certain people righteous. One such person is Noah. (Gen. 6:9) Gen. 7:1 says, “The LORD then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.'” Ezek. 3:20 is God speaking: “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil… he will die.” Jesus too, speaks of “the blood of righteous Abel” in Matt. 23:35, as well as “all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth.”

Another Scripture that calls a man “righteous” is in Matt. 1:19: “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man…” Another is in Mark 6:20: “… because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.” And yet another is 2 Peter 2:7: “… He [God] rescued Lot, a righteous man…”

Here’s some more Scriptures that refer to the righteous:

“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.” (Isa. 57:1)

“For surely, O LORD, You bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” (Ps. 5:12)

“Surely the righteous will praise Your name and the upright will live before You.” (Ps. 140:13)

“The righteous man leads a blameless life…” (Prov. 20:7)

“… to the spirits of righteous men made perfect…” (Heb. 12:23)

Jesus would not speak of a contrast between “the evil and the good… the righteous and the unrighteous” in Matt. 5:45 if there is not indeed two distinct groups of people. Neither would God then contrast these two types of people (as He certainly does) in Ezek. 18. What about this same contrast made so often in the book of Proverbs? Or the one in Ps. 1:6? It says, “For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

In light of these Scriptures, as well as numerous others that can be found through the simple use of a concordance, we can see that there is another interpretation than the one taught by some who use Rom. 3:10-12 to say that all people (Christian and non) –except by possessing the imputed righteousness of Christ– are vile and wicked. It just isn’t so. For there are people spoken of in God’s Word who are not only righteous, but do seek God, do understand, have not turned from God or righteousness, have not become worthless or corrupt, and do “gladly do right, who remember Your ways.” (Isa. 64:5)

People do know in their hearts that there is a God. In fact, to the atheist, God’s Word gives one short comment: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (This is stated at the beginning of both Ps. 14 & 53 –the chapters which Rom. 3:10-12 quote from.) However, if we don’t want to call them fools, we could instead use this short quip: “Look around you –and use your mind.” So, being that the reasonable person knows there’s a God, then there is the realization we all come to –that we have a choice to try to seek Him, or to try to hide from Him. To become enticed with sin is to be tempted to hide from Him –as Adam and Eve did after they sinned. But, others –those who are kind, honorable people of whom Jesus referred to as having “a noble and good heart” (Luke 8:15)– may “seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him…” (Acts 17:27) For He is “not far from each one of us.” (same verse) And since “He is near” (Isa. 55:6), for those who seek Him whole-heartedly, God promises that they will certainly find Him. (Jer. 29:13,14)

So, if there are truly righteous individuals, as opposed to corrupt ones, what is God’s definition of “being righteous”? Well, there’s a whole Bible to study concerning that, and we are to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 13:14), and walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), and live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16) by being controlled by the Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) But in the Old Testament –how did God distinguish the two? Well, here’s a good verse that could help us with the answer and it is God speaking about who He is going to “spare” as His own: “‘They will be mine,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up My treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.'” (Mal. 3:17,18)

What, then, is the distinguishing characteristic of a righteous person? Is it one who claims to follow Christ, or claims to be born again, or claims to have a great ministry? No. It is the person who “serves God”. Or as Jesus put it, it is “only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) That is the one who is righteous. And sometimes… there are more of them around than we think. (1 Kings 19:14,18)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Resist The Evil One

January 25, 2011

Friends,
When we are assaulted by the evil realm with such things as fear, doubt, illness, or temptation, God’s Word tells us to resist. Oh, that’s easier said than done, we say. True. But if we have the knowledge and the skills by which to resist, then we can most certainly do so.

The Bible is our instruction book. It gives us the knowledge. Through it, the Spirit of God counsels us and teaches us. The skill comes through the use, the application, the practice, of what we know. This resisting we are able to do successfully as we put on the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), fighting with spiritual weapons. (2 Cor. 10:3,4) We do this by “clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (see Rom. 13:14) which we do by saturating our minds in The Word; and by incorporating “His power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20) which we do through praise, prayer, and obedience –as we “live by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:16)

“But how do we do all that?” someone might ask. Again, we do it by learning from the Word. The immediate thing we can do is to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) which we do by just quoting this verse. We also repent of all known sin and tell God that we submit to His rule in our heart and over our will. This is what James 4:7 commands us to do in resisting the devil. As it says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

We are not to hang around things that tempt us. We are to pluck it out like the lustful eye which Jesus told us is better to eliminate than let it send us to Hell. (Matt. 5:29) Furthermore, we are to make up our mind that God is the Sovereign Ruler, not only of the universe, but also of us –and every detail of our lives. And we are to shut our ears to every voice that is not His. If the devil’s voice won’t stop whispering in our ear, we can quote aloud God’s Word or sing praise songs, for Satan hates to stick around listening to that; and he will flee.

James 4:8 continues the instruction for resisting the devil: “Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” We see here that it is our responsibility to initiate this repentance and whole-hearted submission; then God will respond.

Verse 9 commands, “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.” Indeed, this is what true contrition looks like.

Verse 10 commands, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Again, –we initiate, God responds. Besides, we do want to throw aside any pride lurking about in our soul, for “those who walk in pride He is able to humble.” (Dan. 4:37) And to be humbled by God is a huge humbling experience that no one should want!

So… when we are assaulted, we are to take action. We are not to sit back casually, thinking that God is supposed to do everything for us –fight the battles, resist the temptations, and pour faith and courage into us. Sometimes He does these, but most of the time He tells us to do them, and that He will help. It is His Spirit in us accomplishing the victory, but we are the ones who choose whether or not to grab up the spiritual weapons available right inside of us.

We can resist the evil realm. And if the enemy doesn’t seem to be leaving, doesn’t appear to be yet defeated, we are to keep resisting. For God’s Word promises that by “standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9) the devil will be resisted, and will eventually flee. (James 4:7)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel