Friends,
“A people without understanding shall come to ruin.” (Ho. 4:14) Even God’s own people are being destroyed because of their refusal to seek the knowledge of God. (v. 6) They seek out and study counterfeit knowledge instead (v. 7 // 1 Tim. 6:20,21) and let themselves be taken captive by the deceptive philosophies (Col. 2:8) of those who pretend to be humble and wise. (v. 18 // 1 Cor. 3:18-20)

Therefore the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land (Ho. 4:1), for “There is no truth, no faithful love, and no knowledge of God in the land.” (same verse) “Cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery are rampant; one act of bloodshed follows another.” (v. 2) Do they have any excuse –those who “condemn the Just and Mighty One” (Job 34:17) for shaking and overthrowing, for crushing and shattering, for punishing and killing –for impartially judging the people for their evil ways? (v. 18-29) Should they discredit God’s justice to justify themselves? (40:8)

God calls, He disciplines, He gives repeated warnings through His Spirit, His messengers, His Word, and through circumstances. But with a spirit of prostitution against God (Ho. 4:12), their deeds do not permit them to return to Him. (5:4) Why should God’s whirlwind not sweep them away?! (4:19)

But God is so patient! He reminds them of their guilt. He reminds them that He waits. He reminds them that He paid the price to buy them back from the evil realm. But if they do accept reconciliation, are they free to keep sinning? Are they free to embrace the idols and retain a heart of adultery? By all means, no!

The account of Hosea was written for us as a picture of how gracious and loving and merciful God is. God told Hosea to go and show love to his adulterous wife (Ho. 3:1), to do so as the LORD loves His chosen, though they turn to other gods. (same verse) So Hosea bought Gomer back (v. 2), and he said to her, “You are to live with me, but wait many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will wait for you as I live with you.” (See v. 3 & footnote) This is a picture of how God, in reconciling us to Himself through Christ’s atoning sacrifice, waits to see if we are worthy of His intimate, close fellowship. (v. 4,5 // John 2:24 & 15:14,15) Our submission, obedience, and faithfulness are the test. (Acts 5:32 // Heb. 5:9 & 12:4-17 // 1 John 3:24)

The people cry, “O our God, we acknowledge You!” (Ho. 8:2) But “incapable of purity” (v. 5), “they sow the wind.” (v. 7) Therefore they will “reap the whirlwind.” (same verse) Because in their hearts they criticize, even curse, God’s justice against wickedness (Job 15:25,26), terrifying sounds will fill their ears (v. 21), a flame will wither their possessions (v. 29,30), their houses will become rubble (v. 28), “and the breath of God’s mouth will carry them away.” (v. 30) Because they trusted in what is worthless, the return they get will be nothing. (v. 31) Because they loved bribes, conceived trouble, wove webs of deceit, and gave birth to all manner of evil (v. 34,35), the godless will have their tents consumed by fire (v. 34) and they themselves left stripped (v.33), tormented, and lost. (v. 20-24)

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us; He has injured us, but He will bind up our wounds.” (Ho. 6:1) For the Lord is the God of immense compassion, the God of infinite love and mercy. If we choose to seek the knowledge of Him, if we choose to return to Him and remain in His love faithfully (John 15:10), then we will be kept secure in His promise –His promise that we will be protected from the wrath with which He smites those who continue in their sin. (Ps. ch. 91, esp. v. 8,14,15 // Isa. 26:20,21 // Rev. 3:10)

The Lord is calling, wooing, everyone who will listen, believe, and respond –to come out into purity so that we will not be “laden with the judgement that is due the wicked.” (Job 36:16,17; see also 2 Cor. 6:14-18 and Rev. 18:4-8)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
“While we live, we are responsible to the Lord.” (Rom. 14:8a) He is our Master; we are His well-treated slaves. Slaves must obey and serve their masters, but slaves’ masters must provide their slaves with everything necessary for living. Those who belong to God because of their faith in Christ are more than His slaves. We are God’s children, and being we are Christ’s brothers, He shares with us His inheritance. (8:17) Moreover, because we are Christ’s friends, He takes us into His confidence (Pr. 3:32 // John 15:15) and even gives us the mind of Christ. (1 Cor. 2:16) To say we are privileged is an understatement!

“When we die, we are responsible to the Lord.” (Rom. 14:8b) Yes, after death every one of us will have to stand before God in His Superior and Ultimate Courtroom of Justice. (v. 10 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 9:27) No one will be exempt from bowing before the Great Judge to give Him honor and to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Rom. 14:11 // Phil. 2:10,11) No one will be excused from having to give an account of himself on That Day. (Mt. ch. 25 // Rom. 14:12 // Heb. 4:13)

“So then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s [possession].” (Rom. 14:8c) If we are not bowing in submission to Christ’s Lordship now –meaning, showing with our lives that Christ is Lord (Master / Boss) of us– then our claim of belonging to Him is a lie. (John 15:14 // 1 John 2:3,4) Whether we believe it or not, our existence –now and forever– is open to God’s all-seeing eye of evaluation and judgement. And in the end, we will not escape the courtroom, nor will we escape the verdict.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Fought, Finished, Kept

April 28, 2014

Friends,
Anyone who has been in Christian circles has very likely heard 2 Tim. 4:7 quoted often. There the apostle Paul writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Church-goers encourage each other with this verse, especially in times of trial and suffering, and apparently they all believe they are adherents to what it is saying. But are they? Particularly, are those who believe God predestines all events, words, and thoughts, as well as the destinies of all the saved and damned, really fighting the good fight, running and finishing the race, and keeping the faith –that Faith which abides in the Truth? Or are they leaving the work solely up to God to do in and through them?

If someone is doing the latter, then he is not fighting, running, or keeping –the good fight, the good race, and the true faith. We must fight! We must strive. We must work. We must run. We must press on. We must endure. We must hold firmly to the Truth. We must apply it to our lives. We must continue till the very end.

The fight must be fought, not given up. The fight must be fought ourselves, not others asked of to hold our hands as if we can’t grow up. The armor must be worn. We must step into the fight and remain there, learning more and more skills as we do so. We must overcome, and we will overcome if we obey our Commander.

The race must be run. We must compete according to the rules. We must run wisely, pace ourselves, drink from the Living Well daily. We must not grow weary. We must finish the race.

The faith, the True Faith, must be practiced and applied. It must be obeyed. Always. Forever. Without ever turning aside.

Only by walking in these “musts” will a person come to that desired destination of eternal bliss called “Heaven”.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
How did the world come into existence? How were the mountains, the valleys, the seas, the creatures, and everything else formed? If we believe God’s Word then the answer is simple: God spoke and it came into being. (Ps. 33:9) It was by the command of His Word that everything came to be. (v. 6 // Heb. 11:3)

And who is the Word? He is Jesus –God who came to earth in a human body. (John 1:1,14 // Col. 2:9) Through Him God made the universe. (Heb. 1:2) When God said, “Let there be…” (Gen. ch. 1), it was Jesus, the Ever-existent One, who created all that is. (Col. 1:15-17) He, the Image, the Counselor, and the Christ-Spirit of the Everlasting Father (Isa. 9:6 & 11:1-5 // John 4:24-26 & 8:58 // Rom. 8:9) –the one and only God and Savior (Isa. 45:21,22 // 1 Tim. 4:10)– made all things by the breath of His mouth. (Job 33:4 // Ps. 33:6)

Gen. 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The next verse informs us that God’s Spirit was involved, and Psalm 104, in speaking of all the many creations the LORD (YHWH) has made in His wisdom (v. 24), goes on to state that when the LORD sends His Spirit, living things are created and sustained. (v. 30)

Therefore: The LORD who is God (Isa. 45:18) and who owns the world and knows every creature in it (Ps. 50:10-12),who fashioned the earth and all the starry host (Isa. 40:26 & 45:18), who stretched out the heavens (Ps. 104:2) and set the earth firmly on its foundations (v. 5) –did all this by His unfathomable wisdom, understanding, and power. (Jer. 10:12) And He –Jesus– reminds us that “the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Mark 12:29) For there is indeed only one Savior and Lord (Isa. 45:21,22 // Acts 4:12) –one God and Father and Sovereign of all. (Eph. 4:5,6) This Ruler and Judge (Rev. 19:11-16) who is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (v. 16) “is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.” (v. 13)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God gives people many chances to repent. He waits patiently. (2 Peter 3:9) However, if a person remains obstinate after many exhortations, warnings, and rebukes, that person will be destroyed suddenly –and without remedy. (Pr. 29:1)

Those of us who spend a lot of time and effort trying to exhort sinning people to renounce and leave their sin, do care deeply. In fact, we have not only been chosen, we have also volunteered. (Isa. 6:8)

What we must remember, though, is that we are to use discernment about the duration of our appeals. If someone is unwelcoming at the onset, we should consider him, at least until further notice, unworthy of our time. (Luke 9:5) If someone reveals himself to be a fool, then wisdom offered to him will only be scorned. (Pr. 23:9) Exhorters should not bother with such a man very long, for his foolishness cannot be removed even if he be ground as if in a mortar. (27:22)

Wicked fools do sometimes repent. But it is almost always after they have had to have incredible humbling and pain. Only then do they possibly look up to God for forgiveness and help, open their eyes to their huge depravity, throw away their sin with loathing, and eagerly choose to walk the good and nobel path.

It takes a real miracle straight from God –including the miracle of His great patience with that fool who hangs over incurable destruction.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
We, along with Timothy, are exhorted by Paul, an apostle and preacher commissioned by Christ (Acts 22:6-16 // 1 Tim. 1:1,12), to guard, with the help of the Holy Spirit within us, that precious treasure which has been entrusted to us. (2 Tim. 1:14) This treasure is Christ, the Spirit, the Word, the Gospel message, the Truth, and it is protected amongst us by our commitment to hold firmly to that standard of sound words/instruction which Paul taught and which was attested to by many witnesses. (2:2) What Paul taught, and which was written down for our benefit, is the doctrine, along with the rest of that found in Scripture, that we are to follow and practice. (1:13 // Phil. 4:9)

However, Paul’s teachings, along with the rest of the Scriptures, has often been distorted by ignorant and unstable people. (2 Peter 3:16) Because of this, we must be careful to guard ourselves and not be carried away by such men’s falsehoods (v. 17) which would cause us to fall from our secure position (same verse) –that position in Christ, the Truth. For now, maybe much more so than ever, is that era spoken of when people, in order to satisfy their lusts, turn to myths and refuse to open their hearts to understand the Truth. (2 Thes. 2:10-12 // 2 Tim. 3:7 & 4:3,4)

Therefore, because of the danger of straying from the Truth, let us leave those who continue to chatter about that which is falsely called “knowledge”. (1 Tim. 6:20) They are of no benefit to us, for confused individuals can only lead others into the pit of confusion as well. (Mt. 15:14 // 1 Tim. 1:3-7 & 6:3-14)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I want so badly to hear from the Lord that which is about peace, rest, prosperity, rejoicing… But I continue to hear from Him –judgement. Judgement for individuals, for the church, for the world. I hear it a hundred times more than I write about it. It is distressing… sad… alarming… terrifying…

The Lord warns of a sword, a sword sharpened and polished, one that flashes like lightening. (Ezek. 21:9,10a) The sword has been “sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer.” (v. 11) Why? The Lord says, “[For] you, My son, have despised the rod and all advice.” (v. 10b) The sword comes against the world, but first against the lazy, rebellious people within God’s own sanctuary. (v. 12 & 9:6) They have continued in idolatry –that is, in immorality, impurity, and greed (Eph. 5:5)– and “have not brought salvation to the earth.” (Isa. 26:18) Therefore, they will be struck with the jealous anger of their God. (1 Peter 4:17) Along with the heathen, God’s dwelling will experience His terrorizing sword. (Ezek. 21:1-17)

For “This is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I am about to set fire to you…'” (Ezek. 20:47) “Because you continually set up idols within you, My temple, I am going to bring such disaster on you that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will forsake My inheritance and hand you over to your enemies because you have done evil in My eyes and have provoked Me to anger with your lewd acts, your making of unjust gain, and your defilement to My holy things. I will tear you to pieces until you admit your guilt, and until, or if, in your misery, you seek Me in earnest.” (See 2 Kings 21:4-15 // Ezek. ch. 22 // Ho. 5:14,15 // 1 Cor. 3:16,17)

The fire and the sword will test (Ezek. 21:13) and refine. (Mal. 3:1-5) Those who endure will be cleansed of their impurities (Zech. 13:1,2,7-9), for they will call on the name of the Lord and He will answer them (v. 9) and accept them as His own. (same verse)

But who can endure this day of His wrath? (Mal. 3:2) For He comes near to judge the adulterers, the perjurers, those who defraud and oppress and deprive others of justice –those who refuse to fear the LORD Almighty. (v. 5)

But, for those who truly revere God’s name, for those who honor and serve Him without fail, He will rise up and give them healing and joy. (Mal. 3:16-18 & 4:2) But all the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble on that day when God sets the people of the world on fire. (4:1 // 1 Cor. 3:10-15)

So, if it is hard for even the righteous to be saved out of God’s wrath, how shall the disobedient escape?! (Heb. 2:1-3 // 1 Peter 4:17,18)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel