Friends,
On Wednesday, while evangelizing at the train and bus stops, I again had many good conversations with people about God’s Word –about believing it and applying it to our lives. More than several listened intently and got excited to realize that followers of Christ really do have the Spirit’s power to walk in victory over sin.

Jesus did tell us to be perfect, and to be so just as our Heavenly Father is. (Mt. 5:48) This is a command. Unfortunately, many people think it is an impossible command, so they resist trying, and then they rationalize that Jesus couldn’t have meant it.

“I can hardly go ten minutes,” one “Christian” man told me on Wednesday, “without having a bad, angry, or negative thought about someone.” Another man who had come up to join the conversation agreed.

I was incredulous at such bondage. How sad that this type of thinking does seem to be so pervasive, and amongst those who say they believe God’s Word.

We are told in 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in Him [God], must walk [live / conduct oneself] as Jesus did.” This is a command.

How did Jesus conduct Himself? He was always pleasing to the Father. As the Father spoke out from Heaven at Jesus’ baptism, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17) Jesus Himself said regarding His relationship with the Father, “I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29) He also said that He spoke only what the Father commanded Him to say and how to say it (12:49,50), and He said, “I love the Father and do exactly what My Father has commanded Me.” (14:31)

But is this also required of us? Yes, it is. Our words are to be God’s words (1 Pe. 4:11), we are to love the Lord fervently (Mark 12:30), which we prove by obeying His commands (John 14:15), and we are to be submitted at all times to the control of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9) We are to “be imitators of God.” (Eph. 5:1)

But how?

Well, certainly we must be proactive about it. We cannot sit idle and think that God is going to zap us with His power to obey and overcome. Instead, we must realize that there are steps we must take, and we must choose to engage ourselves daily in that which is necessary.

First we must believe God’s Word –and all that it states. We must believe that it “is living and active” (Heb. 4:12) and that through it we gain the knowledge of God and become saturated with Christ’s divine power for all we need for life and godliness. (2 Pe. 1:3,4) Even those who are not yet born again, if they are willing to humble themselves to learn the Truth, will find God giving them the power to come to the Truth (Jer. 29:13 // John 6:44,45), and if they apply that Truth they learn, they will come into the Light and be free. (John 3:21 & 8:31,32)

One aspect of being free is the crucifixion of self with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24) and the crucifixion of any participation in worldliness. (6:14 // Ja. 4:4 // 1 John 2:15-17) Our old self must be crucified so that we have died to sin (Rom. 6:1-7), so that sin is circumcised off from us (Col. 2:11), so that we are washed clean of every trace of it and its power (Rom. 6:14-18 // 1 Cor. 6:11 // 1 John 3:5), and so that Christ Himself can live through us 24/7. (Gal. 2:20)

This is done, and this freedom is kept, as we read and apply the sanctifying Word of God (John 17:17) / the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:15-17), correctly handling the Word of Truth as we present ourselves to God as a workman who is pleasing to Him. (2:15) For indeed, if we claim to belong to Christ, then we are “a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19a) and have been “bought at a price by God and are therefore not our own.” (See v. 19b, 20) We are not to live any longer for ourselves but only for Christ (2 Cor. 5:15), no longer “for human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Pe. 4:2) Is this where we are at? Are we pleasing to God? Is our conduct, our words, our thoughts filled with the Spirit? Only “the person who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:8)

Contrary to what most believe, we can live pleasing to God and conduct ourselves fully submitted to His Spirit. (Rom. 8:13,14 // Gal. 5:16) But it takes effort (2 Pe. 3:14) –a conscious submission of our will (Mt. 7:21 // 2 Cor. 10:5 // Ja. 4:7-10), a careful walk on the Narrow Road (Mt. 7:13,14) while listening to what Jesus is saying and where He is leading (John 10:27,28), and an obedience to His Spirit and His Word. (Mt. 7:24-27 // John 15:10 // 1 John 3:24) By putting Jesus’ words into practice we will become conformed to Christ-likeness, and once fully trained, be just like our Teacher (Luke 6:40,46-49 // Rom. 8:29), pleasing to God. (2 Cor. 5:9 // Eph. 5:10)

We can do it. Christ power is available to us and God’s Word and Spirit are available to guide us into all the Truth which, by applying it, sets us free. It’s the Good News that God wants spread throughout the earth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

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Friends,
There are so many of God’s people going through heartaches. Below are some encouragements I wrote to a friend earlier this week on a day she was very low. She kept pressing through her pain with faith and praises to God and texted me this morning that she is doing great. Yes, God honors His Word, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20) Here is what I wrote to her:

Take great hope in Isaiah 55:8,9 where God says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Turn to this in your Bible and let the Lord minister hope and peace and strength through these two verses, maybe even writing next to it, “I am trusting you, God, in my sadness.” Keep casting the problems to Him for He knows what He is doing, in whom He is working out His perfect will, and how He is protecting, comforting, encouraging, and caring for you. Truly the faith walk is about waiting, and waiting in trust. Complete trust. When we sing and praise we show Him we are truly trusting Him, in spite of the wind and the waves howling and crashing around us.

How can you say that you feel forsaken by our God when He is confirming His loving words to you? Don’t listen to the enemy. Ask the Lord to put a hedge of protection around you and remember His loving hand cupped all around you and listen to His voice only.

Remember Isaiah 54:5: “For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord Almighty is His name.” Verse 7 says, “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back…” And verse 4: “Do not be afraid, you will not suffer shame… And will remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.” Verse 6: “The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit, who married young, only to be rejected, says your God.” Verse eight: “But with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” Then, “Oh afflicted one, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with beauty and strength.” (That’s paraphrased from verses 11 and 12.) I encourage you to read for yourself verse 4 to the end of the chapter and listen to the Lord there.

May the Lord comfort you, put His arms around you and breathe healing into you. His Word heals us. (Ps. 107:20) Thank Him for hot water and funny animals and sunshine. When we lose good things, we see what good things they were! Like being able to walk and talk and sing and see and hear. They are all blessings.

This is Lamentations 3:55-59: “I called on Your Name, oh Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close Your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called You, and You said, ‘Do not fear.’ Oh Lord, You took up my case, You redeemed my life. You have seen, O Lord, the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!”

The Almighty has taken up your case! That is fantastic news! Tell Him you believe it and are waiting in expectation.

May the Lord speak to you also through Lamentations 3:25, 26 which say,”The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Verses 13-24 say: “The Lord pierced my heart… I have been deprived of peace… So I say, ‘My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.’ YET this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love and compassions and faithfulness I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.’

Stay focused: The Lord gives us many wonderful things to be thankful for, even in our sorrows. “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength!” (Neh. 8:10) And remember that the Lord is the God Who performs miracles. (Ps 77:14)

Love and prayers,
Rachel

Friend,
[Edited for privacy.]
Yes, God is working.

I agree with you and I believe you have tried very hard to do what God wants you to do, particularly with your husband who you did covenant with (marriage). We know God considers covenants made before Him to be binding, unless He gives us a clear word to get out (because the other has broken it in some way).

I believe it is pride that makes someone think they are allowed to intervene in someone else’s covenant / marriage and try to make them divorce. To think one has the right to do that and control the situation and outcome is presumptuous. We can give advice, even strong advice, but to try to force a separation (and especially if one feels justified to lie to make it happen) is not anyone’s right. Jesus has told us that marriage is two becoming one in God’s eyes (Mt. 19:6) and “Therefore what God has joined together, let man [no person] separate.” (Same verse) It is incredulous that someone would work in taking another’s marriage into one’s own hands, when God is the only One who has that right.

Proverbs 26:17 says, “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.” In other words, it could very likely make things way worse and we better consider the consequences if we feel inclined to enter into a quarrel others are in. The one judging you should look at her own foolishness in the whole fiasco.

Not only can it escalate and/or increase problems, but interventions often brings in confusion for the person considering leaving the person she is quarreling with, especially if she feels bound by God in commitment / responsibility (whether it is leaving a job, church, or spouse). First of all, that person had no right to make you promise something that was not her right to make you promise. Does she not realize that you have the right to change your mind when you are in an abusive situation and thus a confusing situation? Any normal person would be confused as to what to do and it is normal that abused individuals feel one way one hour and one way another hour.

That person is being unjust and unfair to hold you to a promise you made while under duress. Therefore, it really wasn’t a true, or at least, deliberate lie, as she asserts. She apparently forced you to make the promise to her because she was scared herself, but even if you made it by your own will, that is how you felt (believed) at the time –that you wouldn’t go back. Abused people’s thinking is of course not calm and rational at all times. Do not let others put guilt on you when it is not from the Lord! You can accept that those are her feelings about it, but that she is nevertheless remaining in an inappropriate, unfair mindset. Accept that she is still angry, but that that is her choice, not an emotion you will allow to seep from her spirit into your spirit.

To treat you as she has and say the judging things she has said is abusive in itself. For victims to weigh pros and cons and choose to stay is anyone’s right –yours and also the others they include in their judging. (That man loves and appreciates his wife for many reasons in spite of his dismay that she is abusive too.) MANY people are abusive, and abuse comes in many ways, and most people put up with it if they can tolerate it –like on the job, on the highway or at the checkout (even from strangers), and in relationships of all sorts. It doesn’t help things to talk about others (especially those who are trying to do and think rightly) in a judging way. Everyone can, if they look hard enough, find something in anyone to judge them about. Why don’t we all see our responsibility to love, and after we’ve prayed –and if necessary, stated our opinion– just remain quiet after that and keep praying? We can say to these judges, “If you don’t agree with the relationship dynamics, then avoid involvement, but don’t think it is your right to intervene in someone else’s choices, and especially in one’s marriage covenant.”

I see you as a very strong person and I’ve told you that. I solidly believe that the Lord sees you as this also. Don’t let the words of those who do not know the Lord or walk close to Him speak anything into your life and spirit. You know and walk with the Lord, so listen only to His Holy Spirit and Word.

I feel very sad that you sometimes feel so beaten down, judged, and shamed. But may the Lord show you His great love and favor daily. I remind you to step into His Word’s promises, such as, “May the Lord bless and protect you. May His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26) Say these verses to the Lord, personalized. And this too: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield. The LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD Almighty, blessed is the person who trusts in You.” (Ps. 84:11,12) Say these verses to the Lord in faith, and I also will be praying these for you.

And this one: “‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to… [you].'” (Jer. 33:14) Look in the Word for all the numerous promises, grab ahold of the ones He leads you to, and remind Him that you will be waiting on Him to fulfill these for you personally. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ [‘So be it’] is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20) Do you understand the privilege this last verse is explaining to us?!

And yes, our Reward is Jesus Himself (John 17:3) –“our Shield and very great Reward” (see Gen. 15:1), as well as rulership in the next age. As Jesus has promised, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne.” (Rev. 3:21) And, “To him who overcomes and does My will to the end, I will give authority over the nations… [and] I will also give him the Morning Star.” (Rev. 2:26,28)

There is definitely such great hope and joy and blessings for those who seek 24/7 to walk in obedience to the Lord!

Love you lots,
Rachel

Friends,
“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim. 3:16) and is Jesus Himself who is the Word. (John 1:1,14) The Scriptures, then, are of Supreme Authority and must be honored, believed, and submitted to as the inerrant revelation that it is. Jesus Himself modeled this attitude and behavior for us and He quoted the Scriptures (which He had at the time –the Old Testament) as fully authoritative. In combating deception and falsehoods, as well as in teaching, Jesus would say, “As it is written…”

Sadly, many who claim to love Jesus and the Scriptures actually deny their claim through their dishonor of the Word of God. (Titus 1:16) For not only are they careless about studying it and obeying it, they literally reinterpret it to suit their pre-conceived ideas and those philosophies which make them, they imagine, more popular with the world. (John 5:37-47) Of course the world is not impressed with double-minded, inconsistent-minded Christians, but even more importantly, God considers those in friendship with the world to have hatred toward Him and to thus be His enemies. (Ja. 4:4) This should be warning enough to alert us to the futility of holding to the “foolish wisdom/philosophies of the world” (see 1 Cor. 3:19,20) which, cursed by God (1:19,20) can never enhance our faith (2:5) or our knowledge of the Truth. (1:21)

Thus we are warned, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise.” (1 Cor. 3:18) Whether or not the world calls us fools, we who have chosen to believe God’s Word over men’s words are those who are growing in wisdom, for we have the mind of Christ that can learn from Christ. (2:16)

In contrast, those “Christians” who run on in their own wisdom, or in that which they’ve learned from the world, are those who have stepped off the Path of Truth. 2 John 1:8,9 give strong warning: “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes beyond and does not continue in [abide in] the teaching of Christ does not have God.” Are we not being cautioned that falling for false doctrine and refusing to repent of it exempts us from God and our reward? Verses 10 and 11 go on to say that welcoming such people is to share in their “wicked work.”

Why then is there so much camaraderie with those who teach falsehoods, especially when we are told to be separate? (2 Cor. 6:17) Is the admonition in 2 Pe. 3:17 rejected which warns, “You therefore, beloved, since you already know this, beware that you are not led away by the error of the lawless and fall from your own steadfastness”? Do we think that falling from the Truth is not possible? This says that it is possible, and the previous verse (v. 16) warns that distorting the Scriptures can reap for us destruction. Indeed, claiming that Jesus is one’s Lord, or doing certain works –well, neither of these is enough. (Mt. 7:21-27) Instead, it is only by persevering in the True Doctrine and applying it under the control of the Holy Spirit, that a person can be saved. (1 Tim. 4:16; see also Rom. 8:14 and 1 John 2:15-17)

And what is this “destruction” which is reaped because of sin, including the sin of bringing the way of truth into disrepute? (2 Pe. 2:1-3) Is it annihilation, as some teach? It would be foolish to gamble on that. Jude 1:12,13, when describing the destiny of self-centered, shameful shepherds (teachers), say that for them “blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” We are told in Rev. 19:20 that the beast and the false prophet “were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” and in 20:10 we are told that the devil will be thrown there as well, this verse ending with, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” How can continuous torment be matched up with the doctrine of annihilation? Oh, some say, this is only for the worst. But is it? Jesus said that the rich (and neglectful) man, after he died, went to “hell, where he was in torment.” (Luke 16:23) The rich man himself referred to it as “this place of torment” (v. 28) and said, “I am in agony in this fire.” (v. 24)

2 Thes. 1:8-10 says that those who do not know God or obey the Gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord. Jesus says that these who are shut out are cursed (Mt. 25:41) because of their neglect toward Him and others (v. 42-45) and will thus be assigned a place in eternal punishment (v. 46) in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (v. 41) Jesus says that even those who have once been His servants, if they turn wicked (24:46-49), will be “cut to pieces and assigned a place withe the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 51) Jesus says that “at the end of the age, His angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and that all who cause sin and all who do evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (See 13:41,42,49)

Even so, there are many who are saying, “Let’s reinterpret what Jesus / the Word, is saying, for He couldn’t mean what it appears He means, because it’s just too harsh. God is a God of love.” Others say that at the very least we should not let unbelievers know we teach such things.

So, is God’s Word open for any interpretation, or is it crucial that we understand and adhere to what is actually being taught by Jesus, the Word? Scripture makes it clear that it is the latter. As Isa. 8:20 says, “To the Law and to the Testimony! If they do not speak according to this Word, they have no light of dawn.” And the next two verses, along with the context (v. 11-22), warn that those who follow the way and wisdom of the people, will reap a wandering distress until they are thrust into utter darkness. Truly, whatever anyone teaches must to be examined carefully against the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) for all of God’s words, unlike man’s words, are true, flawless, eternal, and trustworthy. (Ps. 12:6 & 19:7-10 & 119:160 // Luke 21:33) Knowing the Scriptures, believing them, and applying them is what is able to make the simple wise (Ps. 19:7), able to warn us and reward us (v. 11), and able to make us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:15)

So, are these true, flawless, eternal, and perfectly trustworthy words that make up Scripture a description of the New Testament only? This would be foolish to believe in light of the numerous instances that Jesus and His writers quoted the Old Testament, for in doing so they confirmed for us its correct theology and validated for us its account of history, including Genesis chapters 1-11, which “Christian” liberals distort in order to make it fit into their religion of evolution –that faith which teaches that life came from non-life and that if given enough time, one kind of creature can evolve into a very different kind of creature. (This they believe even though DNA information cannot increase with mutations, but only decrease.)

Jesus told us to understand and believe the Old Testament and He said that if we have trouble believing what Moses wrote, we will have trouble believing His words, even though He would rise from the dead. (Luke 16:29-31 // John 5:46,47) Jesus rebuked even those who were eager to believe in Him: “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25) “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” (v. 27) Later “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (v. 44,45)

Let us ask God to open our minds to His teaching, to clear out all the false philosophies of men, and to help us submit only to what Jesus, the Word, says is the Truth.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Our 2017

January 3, 2018

 

Friends,
I hope everyone’s 2018 has started off well and that God gives us all His favor as we listen carefully to His voice and heed it, following His instructions of how to do so.

I’ve been so thankful for the many kindnesses the Lord has extended to us in 2017, and all in all it was a pretty good year. There were exciting things, like while witnessing and conversing about the Lord, like my parents trying to adapt to two hyperactive kittens, and like my sister, her husband, and her three youngest kids moving here. In spite of being new to her school, Violet, my sister’s daughter, was voted into Homecoming Court. Everyone thinks she is so nice, because she is! Another highlight was that my mom’s sister, who is one of my prayer partners, came for a two week visit. Unfortunately, my parents did have several health challenges this last year, but we’ve had many praying friends… Even when it looked like my mom wasn’t going to be able to hand out the beautiful Christmas treat bags she had worked so hard on for months, God strengthened her, and she, I, two of my nieces and a friend were, a few days before the 25th, able to hand them out downtown at the bus stops. That was a big blessing!

Also, I’ve been very thankful for two different friends who have invited me often to ride their horses, though I realize I’m not as brave as I used to be, especially when we’ve done some training of one of the young fillies. Hiking has been a bit of a stress on the knees, but I’m thankful to my husband, and others, for going on treks with me to many different sites. I’ve loved viewing God’s beautiful creation of landscapes and trees and lakes.

Below are some photos from our year.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel