Motivated And Unashamed

March 31, 2012

Friends,
Today at the monthly flea market, I stood with my signs at the entrances, facing the traffic which moved very slowly along the highway. It seemed that I had way more people than I’ve ever had who waved or gave me a thumbs up. So many smiled, nodded approval, or even leaned out of their car window to commend me. I was kind of surprised. They seemed to like my new colorful sign which says, “Meditate on Jesus, the Word of God” –which also has in small print the references John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13– and most seemed to actually appreciate my boldness.

Wherever we go we should acknowledge Christ and look for opportunities to proclaim His message of love, freedom, and salvation. This is to be done both in word and deed in various ways led by the Spirit. The main ways God has called me to do this is to be friendly everywhere I go, to visit people at the nearby nursing home, to write at this blog, to write and pass out tracts, to street-preach, and to wear signs as I evangelize. Yes, the sign-thing can be viewed as especially odd, but I do it because God has commanded me to do it.

If I ever get “cold feet” about evangelizing with signs, there are many verses from God’s Word that I call to memory so as to build up my faith, motivation, and boldness. For example, Rom. 1:16 reminds me that I am not ashamed of the Gospel and that the Gospel itself has power. –That I don’t need to rely on (or worry about) my own power, for I am, by faith and obedience, tapping into God’s power which comes by His Spirit and His Word. –That I just need to make myself available to God… to give Him a body (hands, feet, voice box, etc.) to use. I like 1 Cor. 4:20 too, for it reminds me that because I abide in the Kingdom of God, then even if my words are faltering, they will still be filled with power. And of course there’s Phil. 4:13 which tells me that I can do everything God calls me to do, for we are promised His strength to do it in.

Moreover, there are plenty of verses which spur me on to obedience. Like the one that spurred me out the door this morning: “If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words… [I] will be ashamed of him…” (Jesus in Mark 8:38) And here’s a similar one: “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven.” (Jesus in Matt. 10:32) Just think of the opposite, given in verse 33, and motivation to stand up for Christ will definitely build. Warning verses will do the same. –Such as, “… and anyone who does not deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” (Combining Matt. 10:38, Mark 8:34, & Luke 9:23)

If our cross is to use signs to evangelize, then we’d best obey. For whoever tries to keep his life (his dignity, his pride, his reputation, etc.) will lose it, but whoever abandons all this for Christ’s sake, will find he has saved his life. (Matt. 10:39 // Mark 8:35 // Luke 9:24) Besides, as Prov. 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare.” –A snare that kills our eternal soul.

Pondering these things and other Truths from God’s Word and Spirit should certainly inspire us to block our ears to anything which would dampen our zeal for doing whatever we can to proclaim our faith in Christ and His words.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
When we “have chosen the way of truth” (Ps. 119:30) and set our heart on God’s laws (same verse) so that we’ve chosen to hold fast in obedience to His teachings (v. 31 // John 8:31), then we will know the Truth and be set free by Him. (Ps. 119:32 // John 8:32,26 & 14:6) Our hearts… no matter our situation… even if we be in a prison with bars… or of sickness, abuse, perpetual poverty… or living in a country full of injustice… –no matter, for we have living within our spirits the Mighty Spirit of the Creator of the universe, and therefore our hearts can fly with freedom! What a beautiful thing! What a glorious Gospel!

I’ve been meditating on this soaring liberty since yesterday afternoon, when while spending some time with my parents and my little three-year-old nephew, we got out the kite and had some fun flying it at the mission soccer field. (See photos below of my dad, my nephew, and me.) The wind was perfect and the kite flew elegantly the higher it climbed, as we let out more string. Another little boy, a two year old, stood by, so we let him hold the string a few times. But alas, when we weren’t looking, he accidentally let go, and the kite, trying to escape any restraining hold on it, raced toward collision with trees, wires, and buildings, only to suddenly get caught in some wind draft so that it nosed forward and spiraled down to its shameful crash in the parking lot.

Like some lives, I thought. They get an inspiration of hope, of faith, and of repentance. They let the Lord set them free to soar out from their guilt and sin… they hold fast to His commands and fly in glory and freedom… But then, they want more. They get cocky. They think they’re flying by their own might. They think they’ve graduated from having to keep connected to their Life and Power (God’s Word and Spirit), and they swoop and dive, trying to escape Christ’s gentle hold on them. They refuse stability. They fly dangerously. They yank themselves free, thinking this new freedom will be even better.

But sadly, they of course soon crash. God lets them crash –so that they aren’t marooned atop some high tower of the evil one, some high wire where they’ll be sizzled to death. To let them crash to the ground is His gracious mercy. For then all they can do is lie there quietly, and He can go over and pick them up, mend them, untangle the string, and position them to lift themselves up, by His power, to fly in His commands once again. To fly in freedom.

As Ps. 119:32 says, “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.”

Today I read Israeliteindeed’s new post and was given similar encouragement. Like with these statements: “…manifestation of the true Gospel, which makes men new creatures and sets them free to run in the paths of righteousness. The sons of God have a glorious liberty; their chains are broken. When they recognize an area of bondage in their lives, they know from past experience that this hurdle too can be overcome.”

–“Overcome” –! ! ! ! ! ! What a proclamation! To read there this entire strength-building message about being liberated..! –about breaking free..! of sin’s chains..!– so as to live in freedom in Christ..! …click here:

http://israeliteindeed.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/if-you-have-faith/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Helplessness Before God

March 29, 2012

Friends,
Forced helplessness is a very good place to be. For the wicked person, it is a place of great opportunity to repent. For the righteous child of God, it is a beautiful privilege of watching the Lord come to our aid over and over.

Being helpless is something the world scorns, but for those who meditate on God’s Word, we know it is the exact dwelling which God continually works to keep us in. For without helplessness, we grow arrogant, we look away from our Great Helper, Comforter, and Fortress, and we are drawn toward other affections, ambitions, and pleasures. The world distracts us. It entices us to learn its knowledge, to participate in its amusements, and to use its philosophies to accumulate gain for ourselves, as well as advantage and control over others.

But what can a person do who is helpless –who is surrounded on every side, the sea before him, the desert to the right and left, the pursuing enemy behind? He can only call out to God, and then in simple, child-like trust, be still and wait for God to intervene and deliver. (Ps. 46:10 // Prov. 20:22) Who wouldn’t endeavor to exercise their faith so as to remain in this blessed place? For here there is rest, security, love, salvation, and victory. Man’s help –even our own ability, knowledge, or might– is of no account (Isa. 2:22) and utterly worthless (Ps. 108:12) unless God is in it. But, “With God we will gain the victory, and He will trample down our enemies.” (v. 13) For the Lord watches over His obedient children with tender-loving care, and He delivers them because they take refuge in Him. (Ps. 37:28,39,40 // Matt. 6:25-34)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

A Life Of 101 Years

March 28, 2012

Friends,
Today my grandpa turned 101 years old. When he and his wife woke up this morning, balloons and little pinwheels filled their yard, something my sweet cousin surprised them with.

Even though his childhood was hard, my grandpa has lived a blessed life, especially after he came to know the Lord and grew closer and closer to Him. My grandma died when she was 53 years old, but not after having influenced many people far and wide through her love, her counsel, and her prayer-filled life. She and my grandpa continued the Children’s Bible Clubs that my mom had started before she and my dad got married and went off to an overseas mission field.

Whenever I’ve visited my grandpa, he always tells me how thankful he is to the Lord for so many things. Indeed, he has one of the most grateful hearts toward the Lord that I’ve ever known, and I believe God has poured out continued blessings on him because of it. For even though my grandma’s death was a horrible grief to him, my grandpa and his second wife have also, together, continued to be blessed by God as they’ve brought fun, excitement, and blessing into the lives of so many others.

I think of the verse Ex. 15:13: “In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.” What a comforting verse. What a promise. For The Great Shepherd, God Himself, leads and guides His people –certainly one of them being my grandpa all these years– with strength and love that never fails, until they come to His holy dwelling… Heaven… the place where there will be no more evil of any kind. –The beautiful land… the home of righteousness and love and Truth. Forever. That place where “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isa. 65:17) That place where “everlasting joy will crown our heads… where sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (See 35:10) That place where God “will swallow up death forever. [And where] The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces.” (25:8)

It will be the place where, without any veil between us, we will dwell with God and He with us. (Rev. 21:3) Where “He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away.” (See v. 4)

What a wonderful thing it would be if all of us, upon reaching 101 years of age, could look back on our lives and know that we had conducted ourselves in a manner worthy of being commended by the Eternal Judge, with such words as these: “You were faithful to Me and My commands. Enter into eternal joy.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

My Grandpa, March 2012 - 101 Years Old!

Struggle With God

March 27, 2012

Friends,
Names mean a lot to God. Those who have heard Him give them the additional name of “Israel” have likely soon come to realize why. This name means “God rules” and “God contends” and “he who struggles with God.”

When we struggle with God, we will overcome only if it is the Spirit in us giving us the power to struggle with Him; otherwise we’d be crushed with one blow. But when we struggle with God by the Spirit, then it is actually Christ our Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5) and High Priest (Heb. 8:1) who is interceding for us (v. 25) by way of the Spirit (Rom. 8:26,27) before the Father. (v. 15)

But do we intercede for ourselves only? Certainly not if we are interceding by the Spirit. For the Lord looks for servants who will do His will, and His will is that people turn from their sins, follow Christ, and be saved from condemnation. This is why Jesus came to earth. It was not so that we could have whatever our hearts desire! God does love to lavish gifts on His people, but spiritual gifts (like the fruit of the Spirit) are His priority, not material or physical gifts. And whatever He gives us is for the purpose of sharing with those in need –in need materially, but especially spiritually. And this is so that they may be saved, become mature and conformed to the image of Christ, and join in the privileged service of furthering Christ’s Kingdom.

What happens to us as we wrestle with God? (Gen. 32:24) Well, likely we will come away with a limp. (v. 25,31,32) But we will have (spiritually) seen “God face to face” (v. 30) and having been able to hang on until He answered the request, the blessing for us, and the ones we were interceding for, will be well worth the pain (v. 26-29)… our new name well worth the struggle. (v. 28)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
We received an email a few days ago concerning the troubles the Agta continue to endure while the Apeco corporation persistently tries to take over their land, as well as an update about the church building which had to be repaired after a typhoon went through. But there was finally some news as well about my childhood friend who has been drinking herself to death. Here is what the person wrote:

“About _____ she is getting worst now. Whatever help we gave her she will not heal because she is not helping herself. Even she is sick she is still drinking liquor. Now she can [can’t?] lie down in her bed if she sleep she just kneel down facing the floor. Now she is yellow and very tin. She has Tuberculosis and some more infections in her body. I have tried to bring her to the doctor before and asked for medication but when she felt well she came back in her habit drinking liquor that’s why her sick got worst. I felt pity with her but nothing I can do in her situation now but to pray that the Lord will open her eyes and save her. Only God can do a great healing in her life.”

I honestly can barely read that without wanting to weep every time. This friend (here I’ll call her Reety) did make wrong choices the last several years, but before she seemed to love the Lord throughout her life and was a great help to all of us, waxing our bamboo floors and “skating” them with coconut husks to make them shine… washing our clothes at the river or pump (depending on which village we were living in at the time)… Her mom was my mom’s best friend (who was also always extremely helpful), her dad (as did Henny’s dad) helped my dad translate the New Testament, and her and her two brothers played with me and my siblings all the time.

It was only a year after Reety married, that her husband got sick and died, leaving her with a newborn baby boy. Then her dad died, then her first brother, then her younger brother, and a few months ago, her mom died. My parents have been sending money to Reety’s mom all these years, but often her children drank it up.

Reety never remarried, but her only son is still alive and he should be able to help her; but being he is working in another country, she is all alone. She’s so poor… she’s deathly sick… and probably so sad and hopeless… True, she shouldn’t have started drinking, but with such depressing things in her life, I have found myself crying and crying out to the Lord to have extra mercy on her, (as well as on Henny and other Agta).

I called my brother on Saturday and asked if he would consider going with me to see the Agta, Reety in particular so that we could remind her of the Gospel, sit with her, sing Christian songs to her (which my mom translated into Agta long ago and which we and the Agta used to sing), and try to save her health, or at least her soul. My brother said he’d consider it though he feels he can’t go without canceling their two month mission trip they take to Japan every summer; and of course I don’t want him to forego that. But I can’t go alone, plus with my left arm being limp right now, I realize it’s probably not God’s will. But am I willing to go? I am. For what is my life compared to someone’s soul? Zero. But if it is not God’s will, my efforts would accomplish nothing and I would merely be going in foolish zeal.

But is there anything else we can do in such cases? There is. We can intercede. And what really is intercession? It is a groaning… a suffering… a crucifixion with Christ (Gal. 2:20)… as we intervene on behalf of another person before God’s throne. And the Spirit, I’m learning, does it not only through our spirit, but through our body –even apart from our conscious emotions. Does not the medical field acknowledge that many of our body’s ailments come from heartaches within our spirit? And since our whole being is a part of Christ’s body, HE is the one agonizing, but we too are bearing the pain.

So, when God lays, by His Spirit, certain people on our heart, and if we are walking in obedience to Him, we will experience deep agony as we see them live in separation from God. The pain is similar to that which a mother feels when she knows her son or her daughter is experiencing misery or is walking a road to Hell. Truly our grief would be unbearable if it weren’t that God also brings us relief as He comforts us by saying He has heard our intercession and that He is answering.

In Ex. 32:31 we read that Moses exclaimed to the Lord over Israel’s awful sin of making gods of gold. Yet he was quick to add, “But now, please forgive their sin — but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” (v. 32) How could Moses say such a thing –to be willing to barter his own salvation for the sake of others– except by the fact that he housed within him God’s love? The apostle Paul stated almost the same: “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” (Rom. 9:3,4) Paul loved Israel because God loved them, though these he spoke of were not accepting the eternal life held out to them in Christ. Thus Paul says, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.” (v. 2) In Acts 20:31 and Phil. 3:18 we read that he constantly warned with tears, and in Phil. 2:17 and 2 Tim. 4:6 that he considered himself being poured out as a drink offering in his labor of trying to bring others to Christ.

I cannot wish myself cut off from Christ for the sake of another soul, but I have offered to God anything short of that if it is the only way that someone be saved whom He has called me to stand in the gap for. It is true that Isa. 53:5 speaks of Christ Jesus when it says, “… the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 echoes this last phrase while verse 21, in speaking of unjust suffering, says, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” I always thought this meant accepting persecutions from people or Satan, but the Lord is teaching me that we are to accept any suffering as a way to “fill up in our flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24) –and those we are laboring for that they may become part of His body alongside of us.

King David sobbed over the death of his wicked, rebellious, treacherous son, crying, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you — O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Sam. 18:33) If David could cry such words over a son who had tried to dethrone and kill his father, can not the rest of us weep over, and desperately and continuously intercede for, those God loves who are staggering toward Hell?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Whoever went to a particular location this morning so as to worship with others in the assembly, yet was harboring sin in his heart, brought a detestable offering of oneself to the Lord. Yet how many did just that?! God says of such wicked people, “When you come to meet with Me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of My courts?” (Isa. 1:12) Indeed, He did not invite these defiled ones into His presence. Instead He commands, “Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to Me.” (v. 12) Our incense under the New Covenant is not smoke or candles or the blood of animals, but is to be our genuine, whole-hearted worship coming from hearts full of adoration, gratefulness, and purity.

God goes on: “… even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen.” (v. 15 // See also Ps. 66:18 and Prov. 28:9) God hates it when people pretend (or think) they are worshiping Him, even as they refuse to be completely washed of their evil deeds (Isa. 1:16) and their disobedient, rebellious, impenitent hearts. (v. 19,20,27,28) He will thoroughly purge away their impurities (v. 25) or else avenge Himself on His enemies (v. 24) –those who show Him hatred by their friendship with the world. (James 4:4)

Before we give God any other sacrifice (praise, worship, thanksgiving, song, service, etc.), the first sacrifice must be a “broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 51:17), asking Him, with sincerity, to make us to be a continually pure, willing, and faithful person He can depend on. (v. 10-12) “Then there will be righteous sacrifices.” (v. 19) And then, from there –that place of purity, righteousness, and freedom from idolatry– God promises, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29 // See also Jer. 29:13,14)

However, genuine seeking after God cannot happen while people hold on to any sin. For in order to worship God acceptably, we must be obedient to Christ (John 4:23 & 14:15), and for this to happen, all masters and controlling affections must be tossed forever from the heart. (Matt. 13:44-46 // Luke 9:57,62 & 14:26-35 & 16:13 // James 4:4) This is why 1 John 2:15 commands us not to love the world or anything in the world. For, it says, we cannot otherwise have love for the Father.

So, who went to “church” today and gave God acceptable worship? It would only be those who abide in acceptable fellowship with God. Therefore we need to examine ourselves closely and honestly (2 Cor. 13:5) –and to do so daily, maybe even hourly– praying, and aiming, without ceasing, to be found perfect in God’s eyes (v. 9,11 // Matt. 5:48) by “living a life worthy of the calling we have received.” (Eph. 4:1)

To help with evaluation, visit this post:

https://knowgodsword.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/honoring-god-or-a-system/

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel