We Must Be Born Of The Spirit

November 30, 2013

Friends,
God has granted to every single human being mercy (Rom. 11:32), forgiveness (Acts 13:38), purification (1 John 1:9), salvation (1 Tim. 2:3-6), and reconciliation with Him (2 Cor. 5:19), all through the payment Christ made with His blood. (Eph. 1:7 // 1 John 2:2) However, these gifts must, by our own choosing, be taken, which is done through our choice to turn from sin to God (Acts 26:18,20) and make Christ our Lord (Master / Boss / Leader / Commander / Controller) instead of the sinful nature. (Luke 9:23 // Rom. 6:22 & 7:4-6 & 8:2,9)

As, or usually after, we make the Good Pledge, the Spirit will baptize us into Christ’s death and resurrection (Acts 1:4,5 & 2:38 // Rom. 6:3-5) so that we become one in spirit with the Lord. (1 Cor. 6:17) This is the born again experience (John 3:3-8) which occurs when we wait, seek, and pray to be given the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:9-13 // Acts 4:31), and in the timing God chooses (same verses // Acts 8:12-17 & 10:44-48) as He watches to see if we are obedient to Him. (Acts 5:32) Temporary or half-hearted repentance and belief are not enough (Luke 8:13,14), but becoming one with the Spirit of Christ is what makes a person a citizen of the Kingdom of God. (John 3:3-8 // Acts 11:15,16 & 19:1-7) Even then, only the person who continues in obedience to the Truth remains one with God. (John 15:1-10 // 1 John 3:24 // 2 John 1:9)

Because of God’s high premium on the freedom of choice, to keep ourselves continually clothed with Christ (Rom. 13:14) who is our new self (Gal. 2:20 // Eph. 4:24 // Col. 3:3,4,10) is an expectation God has of us. The responsibility to put Christ on daily is ours, for God has already made His power available to us to put all misdeeds to death (Rom. 8:13 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), to forever-after say “No” to sin (Titus 2:11,12), and to walk in purity, eager to do good works. (v. 14)

God’s gracious kindnesses have been granted to everyone, but they must be received, not rejected. (John 3:16,36) This receiving is done when we believe in the Message (Acts 11:14 & 10:43,44) and respond accordingly. (2:38 & 5:31,32 & 26:18,20)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,

Below is an article that Kiana (my brother’s daughter) wrote for her public high school English assignment due 11/20/13.  She read it aloud to our family yesterday and we all thought it was excellent.  The teacher had told the students to write about one of their “pet peeves”, and I found it very interesting that Kiana wrote about feeling peeved about the widespread attitude of ungratefulness in our society.  I have been of the same opinion as her.  Ungratefulness is truly debilitating for living out a contented, happy, and even successful life.  It sure would be wonderful if everyone decided that gratefulness, instead of the opposite, was the way to think, speak, and act.

Here is Kiana’s insightful article:

What Bothers Me Most

There are many ways to how an individual may not appreciate specific actions done or said by others. For me, I struggle with being graceful and nonjudgmental when hearing about complaints about how someone may not have to best products or even just hearing how their life is awful.

I struggle and often try to keep a distance from people who are ungrateful. When did all the negativity become the center of attention of how awful someone’s life is? The negativity that is focused on when people draw attention to what they don’t have is unrealistic. The truth is, no one is ever going to be satisfied if they compare themselves to people who have more. Whether you are the father who never takes work off just for more money, the student who always has to have the best grade, or the child who never can get enough gifts on their birthday, you most likely have become blinded by what you feel you need. You probably think that what you have is not enough.

Many classmates of mine complain about how their parents didn’t buy them the latest gadget, vehicle, or just didn’t do exactly what they asked for. I really dislike hearing these complaints, explaining why they are upset. It’s sad to say, but my classmates have taken the idea that everything they have is just basic and they need more. These “essentials” can be divided up into either needs or privileges, although many fail to think that way. There is no question to if they should have received less, they truly believe they deserve better.

I believe that living a thankful life can be one of the most beneficial choices for the individual who chooses to and can also benefit the people who are around them. When someone is truly grateful, they can look at what they have, even in a difficult situation, and be happy with it. They don’t think of what they wish they had, they have enough and it doesn’t affect their outlook.

I know individuals at school who walk or ride the bus to school every day. To some classmates of mine, for them to be walking to school or using public transportation is unheard of. They believe they are above others and yet they often complain about how their car isn’t good enough. Honestly the classmates who have privileges such as these are so blinded by ungratefulness that they are unable to see all the good things they do have. In these cases, the students who may not have such privileges, probably feel attacked and hurt because they cannot afford a car. Through showing gratitude and being thankful, people who have less will not feel shamed or judged. They will be able to see through a positive perspective rather than a negative.

In the 2nd grade I traveled to the Philippines with my parents. My father’s family had spent many years in a tropical jungle area on the coast. They spent so much money on helping these tribal people with getting medial help, assisting them with living, and maintaining a healthy diet. When I took the trip, I met kids who were my age that wore old passed down clothing and often never even knew if they would get food on a daily basis. These kids were not scared or worried about problems; they had grown up this way. Now when I look back at the pictures, the clearest difference between those kids and my peers is the attitude they had. The children who live in that area never complained about having the latest video game or why their mom didn’t pick them up on time. They had actual struggles but did not complain.

My peers never have experienced starvation or seen their baby sister die because of limited medical help. My peers have first world problems, yet they still are ungrateful in many circumstances. This is a clear example of what people have bought into. They have so much, but they can’t even think of all the blessings that are in their life. Instead they look at others who have more and complain about not having better things.

Whether someone may not have the latest cellphone or have not yet reached the ideal “American dream” they struggle with not being satisfied, because they don’t see the whole picture. People everywhere have bought into the idea that what they have is not enough, and that they need more.  Many individuals only see their self-interests and concerns while comparing their life to others who have more, and then they develop reasons to why they need better.

The best way to overcome this negativity is by not comparing a person’s life to others who have better, but by looking at people who have no hope and instead realizing how much they actually have. This not only helps someone to be thankful, but it helps them to encourage people around them to see all they are blessed with.

kiana and agta girl

kiana and agta girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is me and one of the girls I met while in the Philippines. She died within the year after I visited.

~~~~~~

I hope this article will get passed on to many people, particularly high schoolers.
Sincerely,

with love,

Rachel

I Thank You, Lord

November 28, 2013

Friends,
On this wonderful day of joining many throughout our nation to give thanksgiving to God, I thank the Lord for numerous things, including these:

~~I thank the Lord for His Word. What a blessing, what a comfort, what joy, peace, patience, love, courage, faith, power, and guidance come to God’s believing ones through meditating on the living words found there! I love God’s Word!!!!!!!!! Through it I find Him daily!

~~I thank the Lord for my husband. He has been so patient, so enduring, so self-sacrificing –all in many, many ways. He has loved me with an undying love, and through the Lord’s discipline and training to us both, he has always “been there” for me, been my best friend, encouraged me to continue in my beloved ministries, given me Truths from God’s Word during days of downcast, and has trusted the Lord along with me during times of great trial and uncertainty. I have thanked the Lord for him more times than I could ever count.

~~I thank the Lord for my parents who love me and raised their three children to honor God and His ways, to serve Him, and to seek out the lost and the hurting in order to bring them the Light of Life. I thank the Lord for my siblings and their spouses and kids who are always striving, in huge ways, to do just that.

~~I thank the Lord for the beautiful ranch He gave my husband and me, for a time, to raise paint horses on and to share with all sorts of people, including missionary families who loved to come out here, picnic, fish, walk in the forest, and ride horses.

~~I thank the Lord for the suffering He has brought me at various times in my life. Without those I would not have come to know intimately my Good Shepherd. Because of them, I clung ever tighter to the only Savior there is, and there in my Rock, I learned to trust, to wait, to pray with faith, and to serve, even through great pain, with joy and power.

~~I thank the Lord for His wonderful care for me and my loved ones, for His voice, for His provision, for His protection, and for innumerable other things that would take forever to recount.

I love You, Lord, very much, and I thank you for You and that You have given me Your True Life.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word commands us to do many things, meaning that we ourselves are responsible to carry them out. God gives us His Spirit and power by which to do them, but we are the ones who make the choice to obey and then go forward with corresponding action. Just as we ourselves are the ones who carry out any physical task, even while it is energy received from food, the sun, previous exercise, etc. that we use, so it is with what we do with God’s power available to us. It is there for us, but we must feed on Him daily in order for His power to be renewed in us, and this so that we can carry out His commands.

Many of God’s commands have to do with thankfulness. Col. 3:15 tells us to be thankful, while verse 16 says we should sing spiritual songs with hearts of gratitude toward God. Col. 2:6,7 tell us that while strengthening ourselves in the Faith, we should at the same time be overflowing with thankfulness. Being thankful as we devote ourselves to prayer with vigilance, is commanded as well. (4:2)

1 Thes. 5:18 gives the command to give thanks in all circumstances. All situations. Have we dedicated our lives to God? Have we submitted our minds, our hearts, our every day to the King, our Shepherd? Then we can rest assured that all things that happen to us are in line with His purposes. We can be confident that our Lord is building our faith and character, that He is using our situation to make Himself known to others, and that He is furthering His Kingdom of love, righteousness, justice, and Truth across the earth.

Because we know these things, we can then joyfully obey Eph. 5:20 which tells us to thank God the Father always for everything. Everything. Always. At all times, we are to thank God for everything. So we see that we are to not only offer to God thanksgiving in every situation, but, in addition, for everything. It seems, then, doesn’t it, that we are expected to be thanking God continuously?

Do we do that? –Thank God continuously? What would happen if we did? –If we obeyed God’s Word in this matter?

A lot would happen. A lot more good. For does God not say in His Word that thanksgiving to Him paves the way for our deliverance? (Ps. 50:14,15,23) Why is this? Because sacrificing thank offerings to Him honors Him. (same verses) It is the offering that pleases Him exceedingly. (Ps. 69:30,31) And when God is pleased with us He answers our prayers.

It is obvious to us what kind of attitude in a child we would prefer to have approach us with a request. No one appreciates a sullen, upset, ungrateful child, and no one would feel too keen about granting that child his request. But, presented with a grateful, obedient, and joyful child –one who is full of words of thankfulness to us– would certainly make us want to fulfill whatever it was he was asking for. Therefore, it should not be difficult for us to understand that God responds in like manner.

It is God’s will for us that we operate in thanksgiving to Him at all times and no matter what we’re going through. (1 Thes. 5:18) He has commanded this of us. But, He also expects us to utilize His power to carry out. This can be done. –If we regularly feed on Him and then open up our mouths and hearts in obedience.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Jesus says, “Whoever does God’s will is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35; see also Mt. 12:50) In other words, regardless of what they thought they were accomplishing in His name (Mt. 7:22,23), only those who do the Father’s will belong to Him and will thus be found worthy of entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. (v. 21) Only “the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17)

Who are the ones who do God’s will and therefore belong to Him? They “are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.” (Luke 8:21) Those who do not do so will reap complete destruction (6:49) even if they call Jesus “Lord”. (v. 46 // Mt. 7:21) Even someone who has the Spirit, if they turn from His rule and instead sow to please the sinful nature, that person will reap destruction –eternal destruction. (Mt. 24:45-51 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Gal. 6:8) Such a person has trampled Jesus, crucified Him again, disdained the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, insulted the Spirit (Heb. 6:4-6 & 10:26-29), deserted and disowned God (Gal. 1:6 // Titus 1:16), and has fallen from His love (John 15:6,10), kindness (Rom. 11:22), and grace. (Gal. 5:4)

I strongly urge everyone reading this to look up those verses, for this doctrine is not being taught hardly anywhere –in spite of the fact that this is what God’s Word absolutely does teach. –In spite of the fact that this is the Gospel Jesus and the apostles preached. All other gospels have zero saving value. (1 Cor. 15:1,2 // Gal. 1:6,7 // 2 John 1:9)

Therefore, the Word of God warns, “Repent of your evil deeds, your self-seeking, and your rejection of the Truth” (see Rom. 2:8), for God, who shows no favoritism (v. 11) brings down His wrath (v. 8 again) on all who stubbornly cling to unrighteousness. (v. 5) “You also, you whose deeds are lukewarm [see Rev. 3:15], are about to be spewed out of God’s mouth.” (v. 16) “Because of your incomplete obedience to God’s Word, God’s love has not been made complete in you, and you are not prepared for the Day of Judgement.” (See 1 John 2:5,6 & 4:16,17 // Rev. 3:2 // also 2 Thes. 1:8,9 and 2 Peter 1:10,11)

However, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life.” (Rom. 2:7) Doing good is absolutely necessary. (John 5:29) –And doing so persistently.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of His unfailing love.” (Ps. 33:5) The entire Word of God supports this declaration, as do the multitudes of God’s blessings that can be seen and experienced within creation. Ps. 11:7 says, “For the LORD is righteous, He loves justice…” while Ps. 36:5,6 say, “Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep.”

Love, righteousness, faithfulness, justice… –words to describe God, what He loves, and the manner in which He acts. Other Scriptures add mercy, compassion, kindness, forgiveness… and many more.

Let’s compare just the above verses with this statement: “Scripture clearly proves… that God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction.” And this statement: “Now since the arrangement of all things is in the hand of God… he arranges… that individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction…”

Who has made such hideous statements? John Calvin has. They are in his “Institutes of the Christian Religion”, the first statement in lll:xxi,7, and the second in lll:xxiii,6. There are numerous such statements found throughout Calvin’s writings, and yet much of the “Christian” world has lauded this man as a great theologian whose doctrines are to be adhered to zealously.

Is it really God’s pleasure to arrange individuals to be born for the purpose of glorifying Him by their damnation? Could such a god really be the same God who loves righteousness and justice and fills the earth with His unfailing love? Are Calvinists in their right mind? Certainly they are not.

Let’s think about it: Hell is the most horrible place in existence. It was made for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41) because they are evil to the core, but in their hate and cruelty, these evil ones strive hard to bring humans there as well. God, who came to earth and paid sin’s price (which is death –Rom. 6:23) has, through His atoning sacrifice (which covers every human being –1 John 2:2), destroyed the devil’s power (John 12:31 // 1 John 3:8) and draws all humans to Himself. (John 12:32) Many resist and rebel because they don’t want to give up sin, yet God, without using force, continues to exhort them to repent.

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11) Calvinists, because they believe God decreed all things, would have to admit that God is playing games with Himself as He pleads with the wicked to repent while already having ordered that those individuals not be allowed to repent –and this so that their damnation will bring Him glory and pleasure.

“Do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek. 18:23)

God’s sovereignty does not equal force. God rules over the universe, but that He has given mankind free will is a fact revealed all through Scripture. This is why we read such verses as Isa. 30:1: “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the LORD, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not Mine…'” If obstinate people’s plans are not God’s plans, then how could God foreordain all things?

Could Calvin’s god be the true God? Can a god who delights to create beings just to damn them be the same God whose love is unfailing, who loves justice and righteousness, and who desires that no one perish? (2 Peter 3:9) Could Calvin’s god –he who decreed, from eternity past, all events, words, and thoughts, and thus arranges murders and rapes– be the God described in the Bible?

While Calvinists profusely praise God for His sovereignty, they defame Him by attributing to Him behaviors and attitudes that even a worldly court and judge would find abhorrent and criminal –such as ordering a violent rape. Furthermore, deliberately denying anyone assistance in their peril when it is in one’s ability to help, is cruel and unusual behavior, and it too is a crime. But Calvinists go one step further and claim that God not only behaves like this, He takes great pleasure in it. Then they insist their god is kind and praise-worthy because he chooses to save a few.

We shake our heads in disbelief –appalled.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Someone asked me yesterday, via email, about my view on tongues, so this was my response:

About tongues: We know that the apostle Paul taught its authenticity and told us not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), though everything is to be done in a fitting and orderly way. (v. 40) (Aside from that which was obviously cultural, I believe all doctrine taught in God’s Word is for today.) Tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (12:10), but everyone does not have all the same gifts. (v. 4-11,27-31) We can ask for the gift of tongues since it is definitely beneficial to pray entirely by the Spirit, especially when we do not know how or what to pray for. (Rom. 8:26,27 // 1 Cor. 14:4,14) If we do not receive tongues right away, we will still likely receive it if we truly desire it and thus keep asking. Of course this goes only for those who are walking in obedience to the Word of God, for the Lord does not answer the prayers of those who willfully disobey Him (Ps. 50:16,17 & 66:18), nor does He give them His Spirit. (Acts 5:32)

The problem about tongues, and the danger of it, is that because we are not usually given the interpretation by the Spirit (though we should pray for this enablement –1 Cor. 14:13), we simply do not know what we are saying. Therefore, if someone is not in full obedience to God / “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), then evil spirits (who certainly try to influence the disobedient to commit more sin), could possibly speak through that person’s “prayer language”. Shamans often speak in another language when in a trance, so surely caution is wise.

Can demons speak through Christ-followers? Yes, if a person turns away from the Truth. Peter followed Jesus, professed Him to be “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16), was commended by Jesus as having learned this from the Father (v. 17), was validated by Jesus as one having the keys of the Kingdom (v. 19), and yet was called “Satan” by Jesus when He rebuked him for another statement he made. (v. 23)

There is a third possibility when people are “speaking in tongues”. They may be doing so not by the Spirit of God, nor by a demon, but by their own semi-hypnotic state –which can be brought on by the power of suggestion or by emotions of excitement or intense need.

If we do find ourselves having been granted the gift of tongues, it would be wise to frequently pray that we will always be praying only by the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we are led to pray in tongues, we should first submit our own spirit and our every word to the complete control of the Holy Spirit. If we do this, and if we are walking clean and close to the Lord, then we should certainly “pray in the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 6:18 // Jude 1:20) with confidence in whatever language He chooses to pray through us with –whether it is a language we understand or not.

Though tongues is appropriate for praying while alone with God, is it appropriate in a church setting? Yes. The commands in 1 Cor. 14:39,40 reveal this, particularly being these two verses conclude instructions about using our gifts in a church setting. Can participating in simultaneous prayer at a tongues-speaking church be risky? I believe so. For how do we know the hearts of all those there? How do we know that they are truly praying in the Holy Spirit? And if they are not, what ridiculous or evil words might be coming from their mouths? We can rely on the Spirit in us to bear witness and give us discernment, but certainly evil can be in action under the guise of “speaking in tongues”.

Caution, then, concerning the blessing of the gift of tongues, is advisable.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel