June 29, 2016
A few hours ago I made a phone call to an elderly couple I have visited and witnessed to for years. I’d been praying for their nephew who had cancer but who, last time I called about a month ago, was getting better with some new kind of treatment. Sadly, though, I found out today that the nephew died last night about 9:30.
Besides expressing my sorrow, I also prayed over the phone for the whole extended family. Later, after getting off the phone, I prayed some more, crying out to the Lord that He would use His power and wisdom to bring this elderly couple to salvation. I also prayed that they would see that my phone call had, as has happened several times before, come right at a significant time. –That they would see that this so often happens by none other than divine appointment because it is really the Lord Himself who keeps trying to remind them of their spiritual need and to woo them to Eternal Life.
I prayed this and now pray again: “Lord, please show them that I tell them I love them because it is You in me that loves them so very much. Lord, let them see that I called the morning after their nephew’s death, not because I knew it happened, but because it is actually YOU who are (again) trying to show them that You are ever watching everything, that what concerns them does concern You, and that it is You trying again to compassionately remind them of the afterlife, of the two eternal destinations, and that everyone must repent of their sins and trust in Jesus’ name and atonement in order to be eternally saved.” Righteous readers, please agree in prayer with me right now, “Lord, save this couple, please, before they die!”
I will continue to pray and to trust God to answer this prayer. We can be assured that He does not desire that ANYONE perish, but that everyone will come to repentance and salvation. (2 Pe. 3:9) Moreover, we can be assured that God does answer prayer that is in line with His will (1 John 5:14,15) and if, with a clean heart, we persist in petition and praise. God has chosen to work through people. But, if we shirk the responsibility, we will face rebuke (or worse!) at the Judgement. (Ezek. 33:6-9 // Mt. 24:45-25:46) Therefore, let us continue in prayer, worship, thanksgiving, good deeds, love, and evangelism every moment available to us so that people will not go to Destruction when we could have changed their course!
One man who did partner with God in His work to save souls, also died within this last week. But, concerning his 91 years of life, his family, the rest of us who attended his funeral on Monday, and others, can rejoice that it was well lived for God and his fellowman. He served his country and he served in the Kingdom of God –as a boy with his street-preaching parents, as a missionary overseas for many years, and as a teacher of God’s Word here. Oh, how he loved and studied the Word for hours a day! He and his wife share the carport with my parents, and already we all miss him very much. Having been in fine health, he was sick less than a week, making it another reminder of how swiftly any of us can go. I considered him, along with his wife, one of my prayer partners whom I, or my mom, would often call on to be praying whenever I would evangelize downtown. Each year he would give me a stack of pocket calendars with Scripture verses on them to hand out, and several times he gave my mom tracts to use in her treat bags. We will miss his kindness and his prayers, and my parents will greatly miss him as a neighbor!
What about each of us? Are we consistently ready (Mt. 24:44) to exit this life and undergo The Final Evaluation? For “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that to face Judgement.” (Heb. 9:27)
June 24, 2016
As many woke today to realize that Britain had voted to withdraw from the European Union, I begin to wonder how historically momentous this may actually be and if it was prophesied in Scripture. So I did a bit of study today from both secular and non-secular viewpoints. Though I do not claim at all to adhere to every doctrine or belief of those I read from, I did find it very interesting that some Bible teachers have been predicting for years just what we’ve seen over the last 24 hours.
Here are two videos that I found particularly informative:
A 4/9/16 video posting about Britain’s destiny as prophesied in Scripture:
A 2/5/15 video posting (over a year ago) showing that Scripture prophesies that Britain will leave the EU:
I believe that the Lord is trying to warn anyone who will pay attention that He is coming back very soon. Yes, Jesus is coming back to earth to judge, to set up His worldwide government in the literal city of Jerusalem in the literal land of Israel, and to commission His faithful followers to reign with Him.
I strongly encourage everyone to inform themselves concerning this.
June 18, 2016
While witnessing downtown on Thursday (the Trump rally was about a mile away so I only met about a handful headed there), I was asked a question by one of my long-time friends who used to be a pimp and has, for a few years now, been trying to get right with God. He asked, “Do we really have to be spotless?” This was after I had been exhorting him about fleeing from and severing all sources of temptation, and about continuing in holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit which comes by reading and obeying the Word of God.
Do we have to be spotless before God? I told my friend that yes, we do! Someone might say, “I agree, but this spotlessness (perfect righteousness) does not come by our own effort, but simply by believing what Jesus did for us on the cross and asking for pardon and salvation which enables God to then impute Christ’s righteousness to us so that from then on, whenever He looks at us, God sees no sinfulness in us but only His Son’s perfection, and this is the case no matter what our behavior actually is.” Though likely stated in a different way, this IS what most “evangelicals” are saying and teaching.
I quoted to my friend a bunch of verses, and one of them was 2 Pe. 3:14 which says, “…Make every effort to be found by Him [God] spotless, blameless, and at peace.” We are to be spotless –void of sin. As Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, even as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) How perfect? How spotless? How clear of sin? We are told that our holiness is to be as perfect as God’s. Whether or not a person wants to argue that this word ‘perfect’ really means ‘mature’, it would still mean to be so as perfectly as God. A mature person would still be required to be spotless. Spotlessness is the issue. It is commanded and required, and that it is our effort that is necessary is what is being addressed.
It is about our choice. God warned Cain in Gen. 4:7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Jesus warns us of the same. (Mt. 7:21-23 // Luke 13:3 // John 5:29)
Therefore, since we have been given the Holy Spirit by which to walk pleasing to God (Rom. 8:1-14 // Gal. 5:16 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4), if we choose not to do so, we are left at the Judgement without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20 // Heb. 2:3 & 10:26-31)
June 10, 2016
Three people I’ve loved and cared about passed from this earth over the last seven days. The first (Evie) was a missionary woman who was 101 years old and had lived her whole life doing wonderful work for the Lord. We went to her funeral yesterday.
The other was a childhood friend (Becky) who, though she was two years older than me, was always so sweet to me. When my parents were dorm parents for nine months at the southern mission center when I was in third grade, she was in 5th grade, and I remember playing Barbie dolls with her and I remember how kind she was. She also visited our jungle village the next summer, and though we later lost contact, in the last few years, we reconnected and emailed a bit. A few days ago I found out she died of a heart attack.
Now today, I found out that a classmate (Danny) from the all-mission school in Manila, died two days ago, also of a heart attack. As I write this, there is a funeral for him going on two hours away. I am shocked and sad. My husband and I used to hang out with him and his wife as they were courting and after they got married. It was a big blessing because Danny, who had been in the wild crowd in high school, had been gloriously born anew and I got to see him totally on fire for Christ. He came to the church we were going to (and had been married in) and there courted his very sweet wife who he seemed to know immediately that he was going to marry. It was beautiful to see how changed a person can be and how God favored him. Though we drifted apart, I hear they’ve been loving the Lord all these years. I’m truly grieving for his family.
So, death. Yeah, it’s not a nice thing. Even though it ushers Jesus-followers into His presence, it is still not pretty and it is still a loss for family and friends and co-workers. May all of us be ready to meet the Righteous Judge who has seen and heard everything that has gone on in our lives, our hearts, our minds, our words…
The funeral yesterday –well, I was going to write about something the pastor said. She, and yes, the pastor of Evie’s church is a woman, made a statement in her moving sermon that really struck me. It’s a statement most of us think at least one time in our lives, whether we actually voice it or not. It’s this: “Something terrible happened; and Jesus didn’t show up.” The way she said it, and how she correlated it with grief-filled situations, made a tear form in my eye and a lump in my throat. Though this was a funeral, I hadn’t shed any tears yet, because we were all prepared for Evie’s passing and we were together to honor her life more than grieve. I had visited her last month, my parents had visited her almost every week for years, her children had visited often, and she had lived an exceptional life alongside her husband who, having passed some years before, had contributed famously to Bible translation, as had she.
But I was thinking of others… who live heart-broken, grief-stricken, pain-filled, rejected, bewildered…
So the statement: “Something terrible happened; and Jesus didn’t show up.” Isn’t this how many people have felt as they’ve watched their dreams crumble, as they’ve felt disappointment solidify, as they’ve experienced or seen terrible things happen?
Why, Lord? Why do You allow, or even sometimes cause, pain, and even to those who love You? We’ve probably all asked our Lord such a question. And this even though we know that suffering produces good things like perseverance, character, maturity, wisdom, faith, hope, righteousness, Christ-likeness, peace, and reward. (Rom. 5:3,4 // Heb. 12:11 // Ja. 1:2-5) We know we are called to suffer (1 Pe. 2:21) for these reasons, as well as for the sake of others. (2 Cor. 1:3-7 // Col. 1:24) Moreover, Phil. 1:29 tells us, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.” So we suffer, also, for the sake of the Lord–! For His glory and His purposes.
I was thinking about these reasons God allows us to suffer as the pastor spoke, though she was using John chapter 11. There we read that Martha, and a bit later Mary, when they went out to meet Jesus after their brother, Lazarus, had died, both greeted Him with, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (v. 21,32) Yes, why didn’t Jesus show up in time? Why, when He heard that Lazarus was sick, did He intentionally stay where He was two more days? (v. 6) Well, we’re told why. Jesus says that it was for the sake of the disciples and others –to increase their faith in Him (v. 15,42)– and that the glory of God could be seen. (v. 40) Thus He called Lazarus back from the dead and a fantastic miracle was seen (v. 43,44) which caused many to put their faith in the Lord. (v. 45) But, incredibly, some who witnessed the miracle merely hardened their hearts to the obvious, and so much so, that they were party to those who plotted Christ’s murder. (v. 46-53) How true it is that we have many these days who do such a thing! –Hardening their hearts and deliberately blinding their minds to the Truth in spite of all the glaring evidence!
So, although we grieve with those who say, whether it be with a hollow and hopeless tone or with a loud sob, “Something terrible happened! And Jesus didn’t show up!”, we can comfort them with this: Jesus does show up. In fact, He is there the whole time. And He does not let one bit more happen than the suffering one is able to endure. And He does turn it around for much good, even extreme reward.
May we, then, who believe God’s Word, be courageous in the face of suffering. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17)
June 2, 2016
“The sinful mind is hostile to God.” (Rom. 8:7) It causes a person to rebel against God’s holy Moral Law. (Same verse) Such a person cannot please God and thus walks in Death (v. 6-8), meaning on the Eternal Death Path. (v. 13) Having entangled oneself in a vicious cycle –where one’s mind feeds on one’s sinful behavior, and one’s sinful behavior is fueled by one’s wicked mind– the sinner remains alienated from God. (Isa. 59:1,2 // Col. 1:21) Definitely he needs a Savior who is able to reconcile him to God. The Savior is Jesus. (Acts 4:12 // 2 Cor. 5:18-21) But how is the Savior accessed?
Rom. 5:2 tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ is accessed by faith. We place our complete trust in Him, and in so doing, we gain access into God’s grace (same verse) where we are pardoned (v. 1), cleansed of our past sins (2 Pe. 1:9), and reconciled to God. (Rom. 5:10,11) Being on the Life Path (Jesus –John 14:6), we walk in the Light, have fellowship with God, and are kept separated from the darkness / sin (1 John 1:7) through our possession of God’s own divine nature (3:5-10) which we keep by our submission to His Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9 // Gal. 5:16)
God’s Word repeatedly tells us to stand firm. Where? In Christ –inside His own life (Gal. 2:20); and the position is maintained through our faith. (Same verse) But let us understand that remaining in this position is what saves us (Col. 1:23), for only there are we “holy in God’s sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” (v. 22) Only there are we shielded from severance from God’s grace. (Rom. 11:22 // 1 Cor. 15:2 // 2 Cor. 6:1 // Gal. 5:4 // Heb. 6:4-12 & 10:26-31)
This Solid Position is “the Hope offered to us” (Heb. 6:18) which we “have fled to take hold of.” (Same verse) Remaining steadfast in Christ is our secure anchor (v. 19) which enables our Hope (that hope of the salvation which comes through submitting to Christ living His own life out through us –Mt. 5:16 // Rom. 5:10 // 1 Cor. 6:19,20 // 2 Cor. 13:5 // Gal. 4:19) to reach fulfillment –if (if…if…if…) we remain there diligently to the very end. (Heb. 6:11) For “he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Jesus in Mt. 10:22 and 24:13) Yes, only he who does the will of God till the end will inherit what has been promised. (Heb. 10:35-39 // 1 John 2:17 // see also Mt. 7:21-23) Indeed, we must remain faithful / firm / unmoved, for we are still in the testing process (1 Pe. 1:7) of “being saved.” (1 Cor. 1:18)
Remaining in this position (in Christ’s life and submitted to His Spirit) is what enables us to produce fruit (John 15:4,10), but if we do not produce fruit (good fruit), we will be cut off and thrown into the fire. (v. 2,6 // Mt. 3:10 & 7:19) Let us, therefore, not “become lazy” (Heb. 6:12), creating a life that “produces thorns and thistles” (v. 8 ) that ends us in Hell (same verse), but rather let us “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (v. 12) For we have been given “new birth into a living hope” (1 Pe. 1:3) and into a lasting inheritance (v. 4), knowing that, through our perseverance, God’s power is shielding us “until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (v. 5) Thus it is said to those faithful who remain firm in The Hope, “You are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (v. 9)
So, we are reconciled to God through stepping into Christ (His death, resurrection, and life –Rom. 6:3,4), which we do by faith in His atonement for us. (5:9,10) We stand firm in God’s grace (in His pardon / in the justified position) by remaining in Christ –which we do by imitating Christ. (1 John 2:6) This secure place with its promise is “the hope” we rejoice in (Rom. 5:2), “the hope” we do not move from. (Col. 1:23) It is “the mystery… now disclosed to the saints… which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (v. 26,27) Yes, Christ in us, we in Him –unification with His Spirit through our submission to Him. (Rom. 8:9 // 1 Cor. 6:17 // 1 John 3:24) This is the hope of Eternal Life in which the faithful stand, unmoved.