Friends,
A friend of mine was telling me about her unfortunate, but necessary, recent overnight in the heart of a very wicked city. She described the abundant physical wealth there, and how block after block revealed the pagan worship centers dedicated to the idols of money and pleasure and greed. The idolatry sickened her, though toward the masses of spiritually impoverished people swarming the area, she felt compassion. “They just all looked like lost children,” my friend told me sadly.

It is a grievous thing to live in a world where so many adults are behaving like children. Not only do they act and think like undisciplined children do –demanding for themselves everything they see that looks interesting, bullying to get their own way, thinking of no one but themselves, void of the ability to live patiently, peacefully, and selflessly– but they also do not have the wisdom to realize that the idols they cling to exist in a huge lake of sinking sand. They don’t see it, for their lust blinds them. Like naive children pursuing all that interests them, they don’t understand that they are creating a maze for themselves that they will never find their way out of.

These blind and childish adults are like the fly, or the lizard, or the grasshopper that encounters a hole in a window screen and without a thought, enters in. Without a care, the foolish creature walks along the screen, searching for anything interesting. After a while he gets thirsty or hungry, but there is no way to get beyond the glass he did not earlier see blocking escape from that side, and the screen unmercifully has no more holes in it than that one which he can no longer find. Undoubtably, this poor creature, unless a person in the house sees him and helps him escape his prison, will die a slow and agonizing death. Yet is this not the type of predicament that most of the human souls of this fallen world are in? It is. If no one points out to them the Way of escape, or if they do not cry out to God Himself to rescue them, they will continue in their lostness, die, step into eternity, and reap the punishment of their stubborn foolishness.

But, for the person who humbles himself and stops denying what he has done, where his sins have led him, and that he is hopelessly lost and entangled, there is a Savior who stands near, One who has continually called out to sinners, doing all He can, except to use force, to get them to hear, believe, and repent. “But how shall they escape if they neglect or ignore such a great Salvation?” (See Heb. 2:3)

Yet many do ignore their doomed situation. Believing in their own ingenuity, they muster up a renewal of strength and just keep on searching for the treasures and pleasures of the world.

There are a few, though… And those few reach out for that gentle breeze upon which Wisdom and Hope do ride, and by which a man can shake off some of the fog so as to think clearly enough to know he needs help. And once this realization sinks in, the natural result is that he starts yelling for help, for mercy, and for forgiveness. If his heart is right –if he is truly finished with the sin through which he entered the prison, and is finished with all the other sins he gathered to himself there– then the Savior, He who Himself had been sending the compassionate breezes his way, will immediately come to that man and whisper, “Follow Me.” If the man obeys, he is saved. He is led by the Savior out into freedom, is forgiven, washed, and made clean, and given a place of sonship, a place at the Father’s table, and the privilege of growing into intimate friendship with his Creator.

It is unthinkable for any such saved person to go back to searching for holes in dirty screens. What a contemptuous idea! After being shown such great love and mercy, would anyone dare, or desire, to leave the gracious blessings, tutelage, and presence of God? Would not anyone who did wander off into disobedience be revealing the complete insolence of their souls and thus be worthy of double punishment? (Luke 12:35-48 // 2 Peter 2:20-22)

But for the genuinely repentant, the Hope stands close by (Acts 17:27), and if they reach out for Him, He will be found by them. (same verse // Jer. 29:13,14) He will remove their guilt, free them, refresh them, satisfy them, heal their wounds, and restore them to Life. (Jer. 30:12-17 & 31:23-25)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Sin is what has given death its sting (1 Cor. 15:56) –its power to harm the eternal soul. But this is what Jesus came to free us from, for by His death and resurrection He destroyed the devil’s rule (John 12:31-33 // 1 John 3:8) –he who has held the power of death. (Heb. 2:14,15) For through Adam’s rebellion toward God, sin entered the world (Rom. 5:12), and thereby death came to all men, for all have sinned (same verse & 3:23); and the punishment for sin (rebellion, defiance, and disobedience to God) is spiritual death and eternal death (6:23) –that is, eternal condemnation (5:18) under the wrath of God. (John 3:18,36) For even one sin is a crime against our Creator’s holy moral law. (Ja. 2:10 // 1 John 3:4)

However, death –that place of existing in spiritual death on earth and throughout eternity– has been rendered powerless, for Christ Jesus “has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” (2 Tim. 1:10) Because “He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20), then “he who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (v. 12) Again, “this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (v. 11) Jesus Himself is “the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Therefore it is through believing in Him that we cross over from the sphere of death to that of Life. (5:24) If we remain in that Life sphere –that Kingdom who is a Person– we will never die spiritually. (11:25,26 & 15:6,9,10)

1 Cor. 15:54 says, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” The victory over death comes through Christ’s atonement for us and His resurrection. But we ourselves must step into His victory. We do this by our faith in Him, His work, His power, His Word, and His promises. (Col. 2:12 // John 5:4,5) Because He triumphed over the evil one and his kingdom of death (Col. 2:15), then we who “have been given fullness in Christ” (v. 10) are victors, as well. By our faith and union with Christ we are victors over all that is of that death kingdom. (Eph. 1:18-23 & 2:6 // 1 John 5:4,5) By abiding in Christ consistently we triumph over all that is not of the Kingdom of Life, which means that sin, temptations, worldliness, the evil one, spiritual death, and condemnation have no part in our existence.

This is the Gospel, and this is why it is called the Good News. And this is why God’s Word proclaims, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Forgiveness Is Freedom

July 29, 2013

Friends,
A very old woman now, in her 90s, Lily sat at her familiar antique table by the front window, typing out a new blog message about God’s wonderful Word. She noticed a car drive up and park beyond her yard’s white picket fence, and she watched as a young woman got out, came around to the passenger side, and helped an elderly man out. The man, using a walker, began hobbling toward Lily’s front door while the young woman went back to wait in the driver’s seat.

Lily went out on her porch and watched the old man shamble painfully up the cemented path. He stopped at the bottom of the porch steps, and looking up at her, he said quietly, “Lily?”

“Yes, that’s me,” Lily responded good-naturedly.

The man hesitated, then said, “It’s Joe.” He seemed to wince as he said it.

Lily stared at the haggard man, finally recognizing him as her ex-son-in-law. A flood of memories flashed across her mind. –The bruises year after year which he had inflicted upon her daughter –that sweet young wife who would not give up believing that Joe would someday become a peaceful, loving, and godly husband. –The man’s continued cruelty… the piercing wails and sobs coming from her daughter’s anguishing heart… –The pool of drying blood which Jessica, already dead a day, was found in at her rented home a few months after finally divorcing Joe… –The court case, and Joe’s vindication despite enormous evidence to the contrary… Joe’s disguised look of triumph and mockery as the verdict was read…

Lily had long ago forgiven Joe, even though he had never asked for it. But now, with him standing before her, her lips were trembling, and temptations to instead extend hatred seemed to be smashing into her heart and mind. “You killed Jessica,” she finally whispered.

Joe’s saggy eyes looked pleading, tears welling up and quickly falling. All he could do was nod.

“Slug him,” a hollow voice said.

Startled, Lily spoke back in her spirit, “Absolutely not.” It was an immediate defeat to the evil one, for her stand sent him fleeing, enabling the Lord’s love to come flooding in to replace the attack of hate.

The hunched little man –Joe– who had once been so big and strong and arrogant was weeping silently, muttering, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Lily came down the steps, and cupping her ex-son-law’s face in her little, wrinkled hands, whispered softly, “Joe, I totally forgive you.”

Joe burst into sobs and hugged his ex-mother-in-law, thanking her over and over and over. Lily was crying too.

After composing themselves, Lily asked, “Joe, have you gotten right with the Lord?” Joe explained that he had –that he had reconciled with God through Christ, and that having been forgiven by Him, as well as now by her, he was ready to meet His Maker, undoubtably in a few months, considering that his organs were riddled with cancer. “I’m so free now,” Joe added. “All those years of guilt…” His voice trailed off.

“Yes, it’s over,” Lily replied, also feeling freer than ever. “You’ve been forgiven. Fully forgiven.”

Joe nodded, smiling and still wiping his eyes. “Thank you so, so much,” he said, and slowly turning his walker around, shuffled back down the narrow walkway.

Later, after Joe’s care-taker had helped him back into the car, and they had driven away, Lily sat thoughtfully, once again, at her table by the window.

“Forgiveness,” she began to type, “is freedom.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
All who went to a “house of God” today should be careful that they are not trusting in the false refuge of “going to church” (Jer. 7:1-15), or of “believing in Jesus”. (2 Cor. 11:1-4 // Ja. 2:14-26) The demons themselves do both, but not from circumcised, cleansed hearts and purified consciences. (Heb. 10:22 // 1 Peter 3:21) The heart and mind is what God examines and, along with their deeds, judges (Jer. 17:10), and He will not dwell with anyone who does not keep a clean, honorable, and faithful heart, mind, and lifestyle.

We who are true heirs, along with Abraham (Rom. 4:16), have circumcised our hearts and washed our hands by turning from sin (Dt. 10:16 // Ja. 4:8), and through our repentance and submission to God, have allowed the Spirit to perform the surgery. (Dt. 30:6 // Ezek. 36:25-27 // Rom. 2:29) Moreover, we ourselves have participated in the surgery as, “by the Spirit, we have put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13) –that is, the sinful nature (v. 1-14) which we ourselves have crucified (Gal. 5:24)– “so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless.” (Rom. 6:6)

Anyone who still harbors sin in his heart has not gone through the necessary surgery –that surgery which is a death to Self and a resurrection as a new and spotless creation, ready and able to live obedient, holy, done with sin, and in the will of God. (Rom. 6:1-4 // 2 Cor. 5:17 // Gal. 2:20 // 1 Peter 1:13-16 & 4:1,2 // 1 John 3:6,9) Thus that person remains in his sin and under the wrath of God –God’s wrath against sin and all who commit it. As Jesus warns, “everything that causes sin and all who do evil” (Mt. 13:41) will be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 42) Again He warns of it: “The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 49,50)

God’s Word explains it over and over: The wicked are those who DO wickedly, while the righteous are those who DO righteously. (Mt. 18:7-9 // Luke 8:21 // John 5:29 // Rom. 8:4-9 // 1 John 3:7,8) Those who commit sin obey the devil and belong to him, while those who faithfully obey Christ belong to God. (John 8:44,47 // 1 John 3:4-10,24) The devil’s children are slaves to sin and thus inherit eternal death, while God’s children are slaves to righteousness and thus inherit eternal life. (Rom. 6:16-23)

Therefore: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is of God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” (3 John 1:11) Jesus promises to show Himself to those who obey His commands. (John 14:21) Only these –not the rest of the world– will see the Lord, know Him, and abide in union with Him forever. (v. 15-20)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

False Faith

July 27, 2013

Friends,
Many people say they have faith. But do they? Many actually do not, and it is easily proven when the storms of life crash against them and when temptations come in like a flood. For what do they do? They cringe, they cry, they give in to sin, and they run to the world’s remedies. (Isa. 31:1) They certainly do not “stand strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Eph. 6:10), waiting for Him to act, and continuing to praise Him even as they watch the brook drying up and the blossoms falling to the ground. (Hab. 3:16-19) They cannot withstand the enemy’s attacks, for their roots of faith and trust in God are shallow, and the enemy’s waters, washing the ground right out from under them, cause them to topple over quite easily. Lacking faith in God’s Word, they do not put it into practice, and are therefore destroyed. (Luke 6:49)

However, those who have sent their roots pushing down deep into the Rock are not toppled. (Luke 6:48) After the flood of attack, there they stand –stronger than before and a testimony to the love and power of the Lord. (Isa. 43:1-3 & 44:8) These are the types of witnesses God is looking for– “those with a noble and good heart” (Luke 8:15) who, through their lives of faith, maintain their integrity (Job 2:3) and trust in God (13:15), thus bringing glory to His name (Isa. 49:3) and salvation to themselves. (Luke 18:8 & 21:19)

But how do we send our roots of faith down deep into “the Rock who is Christ”? (See 1 Cor. 10:4) The only way is to eat and drink Him (v. 3,4 // John 6:53), to obey His commands so that we are baptized into Him by His Spirit (John 3:3-8 // Acts 5:32 // Rom. 6:1-4 // 1 Peter 3:21 // 1 John 3:24 & 5:2-8), and to “flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14), renouncing all disobedience to God. (v. 5-13) For whoever claims to participate in Christ’s body while defiling himself by “also drinking the cup of demons” (see v. 21), is to blaspheme God and make oneself liable to eternal destruction. (v. 1-22 // Jos. 7:12) This applies, as well, for those temples who have, at one time, truly belonged to the Lord. (Dt. 32:5,6,15-19 // 1 Sam. 2:30 & 3:12-14 // 2 Chron. 24:20 // Jer. 3:8 & 7:1-15 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17)

How do we eat and drink Christ so that our faith is built and secured strong? We do it by listening to His Word (Rom. 10:17), by knowing what it says so as to become “wise unto salvation” (2 Tim. 3:15), by obeying His commands there (John 15:1-10), and by holding faithfully to His teaching. (8:31-38) Because we are to live just as Jesus did (1 John 2:6), then we too must always do what pleases the Father. (John 8:29) This is how we enter Life (Mt. 19:17) –that Kingdom that is Christ (18:3 // 1 John 5:11,12)– and how we walk strong in faith in the power of God (Eph. 1:19 & 3:20 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), in the power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16), in the power of the Word (Heb. 4:12), and in the power of the Kingdom. (1 Cor. 4:20)

Doing these things is what faith involves. And walking in this manner is what proves one’s faith genuine.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

False Followers

July 26, 2013

Friends,
There is something dreadfully wrong with a church that, while claiming to love God, will not obey what His Word commands. While promising peace and freedom to all who take up their methods, the masses of false teachers within the church inoculate themselves and their listeners to the real Truth. While appealing to the lusts of the sinful, they actually turn themselves and their followers into slaves of filth. (2 Peter 2:18,19) Jesus pronounces woe to them, saying, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees –hypocrites! You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, neither do you allow to enter those who are trying to.” (Mt. 23:13) How true. In fact, anyone who is filled with the Holy Spirit and His zeal for righteousness and Truth is persecuted by those who follow Christ only in pretense.

A true Christ-follower fervently loves the Lord and is therefore extremely conscientious about learning what He requires. Such a person thus inherently loves the Word of God, and because it is Christ Himself (John 1:1,14), he meditates on it in order to learn, in order to become conformed to his Leader, and in order to fellowship with the Love of his heart. Anyone who avoids this is suspect concerning their true identity, for all who belong to Christ, do love His Word, do eagerly feed on it/Him, and do faithfully put it into practice. –Every bit of it, doing so in the manner and timing by which the Spirit in the Word directs them. For through the Word, and by applying it to their lives, is where believers find true healing (Ps. 107:20), the power of God (Mt. 22:29 // Rom. 1:16 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), and insight into the secrets of the Kingdom. (Ps. 119:99,100 // Luke 8:10 & 10:21)

But what do we have instead? We have a form of godliness that denies the power of God. (2 Tim. 3:5) To deny the power of God is to remain weak, fearful, and timid in character and in advancing the Kingdom –Christ’s Kingdom within ourselves, within the church body, and across the earth. Those who deny Christ in this way (Titus 1:16) remain a part of the evil kingdom. We are to have nothing to do with them (Rom. 16:17,18) except to expose their disobedience (Eph. 5:6,7,11), for they are the type who, though pretending to learn, have depraved minds and refuse to accept the Truth. (2 Tim. 3:5-8)

Titus 3:9-11 gives the same command, warning us not to tolerate those who try to get us sucked into controversies about what the Truth really teaches. Such people, it says, are warped, sinful, and self-condemned. It is no favor to them for us to engage them in their “godless chatter”. (1 Tim. 6:20)

The Word of God is extremely clear about what is sin and what is not. Verse after verse describes that which pleases God and that which does not, yet when Christ-followers try to help sin-practicers see, these sinners, in trying to avoid the issue of their sin, will exercise lengthy efforts to muddle in other issues in order to confuse and side-track what they don’t want to face. Those who do this have hearts full of ungodly appetites. (Rom. 16:17,18)

1 Cor. 6:9-11 is just one passage that describes the difference in the behavior of those who have been washed by Christ and those who will not inherit His Kingdom. Here is the list of those headed for damnation:

1. The sexually immoral. Scripture spells that meaning out for us: The sexually immoral includes anyone who looks at someone lustfully (Mt. 5:28), as well as anyone who participates in even a hint of impurity (Eph. 5:3) through word (v. 4), action (Mt. 5:30), or the eyes. (v. 29)

2. Idolators. Scripture tells us who that includes: Anyone who worships, serves, or prioritizes someone else or something else (including doctrines of men –Mark 7:6-13) other than God Himself and His commands. (Ex. 34:10-15 // Luke 16:13)

3. Adulterers (those unfaithful to their pledge to their spouse and those unfaithful to God’s laws) 4. Male prostitutes (any, including females, who offer their bodies for payment) 5. Those who offend God’s ways by being a homosexual in thought and/or conduct 6. Thieves (those who steal and defraud) 7. The greedy (those who continually want more of things they already have enough of) 8. Drunkards (those who turn to alcohol to soothe themselves rather than to God’s remedy –Christ the Word) 9. Slanderers (those who speak against others unnecessarily and/or to ruin their reputation) 10. Swindlers (those who use deceit in order to deprive others of their money, property, or possessions)

None of these people will inherit the Kingdom of God –unless there is full repentance from their heart and mind and in their lifestyle. (Luke 6:46-49 & 13:3)

Rev. 21:8 adds to the group of those condemned to the fiery lake, the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, those who practice magic arts, and all liars. So, as we can see, all who practice sin do go to Hell.

Why does most of the church not teach these things? It is because they are too busy inoculating themselves to the Truth by practicing a false religion and engaging in worldliness and sinful pleasures. Wisdom cannot get into them and turn them to the True Doctrine, and as a result, they deprive themselves and their followers of eternal life.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Someone emailed me yesterday about how amazing and joyous it is to be spending his evenings fellowshipping with the Lord, separated from the world and belonging wholly to God. I wrote back describing how and why I too find that nothing could be more wonderful.

When we walk with the Lord with a blameless heart, we are eagerly pursuing His voice and will at all times, and we therefore do hear what He is saying to us. (John 10:27) We hear His instructions, His comfort, His counsel, and His teachings. When we submit and obey, when we exalt Him and thank Him for taking time with us, we learn the Truth –that which is His doctrine. (7:17) Then we will know falsehoods when they come, and will not be swayed by persuasions that are not from the Truth. (10:5 // 1 Tim. 4:1) However, those who do “wander from the Truth” (Ja. 5:19) stumble along a path that is leading them to death (same verse), unless someone is able to bring them back. (same verse)

But, for the saint, the one who is God’s servant, warrior, messenger, ambassador, worshipper, friend, and child, we have a great boast. It is a boast in the Lord. As 1 Cor. 1:31 says, “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boasts in the Lord.'” This is not an arrogant boast, as if we ourselves had done some great thing (v. 26-29), but it is instead a boast of rejoicing in the Lord for all He has done for us through Christ. (v. 30) For by being in Christ Jesus we have been granted God’s wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption. (same verse) This is a fantastic reality for those who believe and move forward in these gifts.

What happens when we, by believing, advance into God’s wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption? We learn and grow. Then, by learning and growing, we come to understand “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10) –which God reveals to us by His Spirit. (same verse) They are “the secrets of the Kingdom of God” (Luke 8:10) which the Father has hidden from the wise and learned, and revealed to little children. (10:21) These children are those few who have humbled themselves enough to change so that they can enter through that narrow gate into the Kingdom of Heaven. (Mt. 7:13,14 & 18:3,4)

“This is what the LORD says:

‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom

or the strong man boast of his strength

or the rich man boast of his riches,

but let him who boasts boast about this:

that he understands and knows Me.'” (Jer. 9:23,24)

So do we hear the correct and righteous boast throughout the land? Or do we hear men boasting in their worldly wisdom, in their strength and power and savvy, in their wealth, and in all the things these bring them? Certainly the unrighteous boasts are what we hear, for little do most people care about understanding and knowing the Lord, let alone to boast in such a thing. Even most “Christians” could care less, as apparent by their lack of spending their time and efforts in the study of Him and His Word.

But when we understand and know the Lord, we understand and know so much! This is our great privilege. For look at what God says in the whole of Jer. 9:24: “‘But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” To know and understand the Lord is to have knowledge into who He is and what He is about. It is to have insight into His desire and will and ways about His execution of kindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. This is high privilege, a privilege that grows our faith and joy as we continually accept His invitations to join Him in bringing these about.

There are so many more privileges and joys about knowing and understanding God, but by meditating on even a few of them it should certainly make us exceedingly boastful –boastful in the Lord Himself, as well as for all He has done for us and others, especially in helping us to come to understand and know Him. Anything else people boast in is dust in comparison.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel