Friends,
On Wednesday, while evangelizing at the bus and train stops downtown, I was surprised by one of my prayer partners who met me there to pass out some of her tracts beside me for almost an hour. She had gotten off work early and her evangelism efforts, even in her shy way, as well as her faithful prayers, blesses me so much!!!

I was also blessed by a man –a white guy who said he is 64 years old– who told me that he just started following the Lord two months ago when he got out of prison after a 30 year term. He had a big Bible in his backpack he showed me and he was so excited to talk to me about Jesus and His Word and he told me about some situations where he too had witnessed to people recently. He also told me about ways the Lord was providing for him miraculously. He also said he had gotten a place to stay in a ghetto area, but clearly, he was thankful and hopeful and trusting in the Lord. He said he doesn’t have any friends yet, but he said he is ministering to others as best he can. Readers, please pray that this man goes on being thankful to the Lord, trusting in Him, and grows to be a mighty servant of God.

A little black woman, who I’ve talked to before, came up and hugged me. She had a boot on her one foot and when I asked about it, she said she’d gotten hit by a car. She gave me four quarters and when I said I don’t take money, she insisted, so I gave it to the guy who’d been in prison 30 years who I was still talking with. He was so thankful for it and hugged the little woman who was also clearly joyful about giving a blessing.

I talked with many others –one guy who complained that since there are so many different beliefs, how is one to know which is the Truth. He listened well as I spoke with him about it and he said he would take my suggestion to ask the Creator to reveal Truth to him and he also said he would read God’s Word.

Before that I spoke with a young atheist/evolutionist and when I reminded him that all that is built –like DNA, a skyscraper, a computer, and a cell phone– has to have intelligence putting it together to make it function, he did seem to waver, saying that maybe there is a Creator-God. I encouraged him to seek Him and he said he would.

A young man approached me at a different bus stop and said he was excited to see me evangelizing and said that he and his church group do the same –even with signs. He was definitely a blessing to talk with.

From there, on my way back to the train area, a well-dressed black woman seated on a bench, asked as I walked by, “What propels you to do this?” I stopped and said, “Well, the love of Christ.” She and I had a wonderful conversation about the Lord and right before her bus came she asked me to be praying for her about persecution she has been receiving. I said I would.

Later, when I was headed back to my car, a guy with an African accent took my tract and then tried to give me money. I said I don’t take money, but he then asked me to look up a verse, which I did, and he stuck a dollar between the pages and closed my Bible. I laughed and said thank you and went on my way. Seeing that my meter still had 25 more minutes on it, I headed for a busy traffic corner near there (the corner where I had witnessed for quite a while to the topless-bar dancer I wrote about before). An old white woman I’ve seen before greeted me and said she was headed for work (at a deli). She took my tract and asked me to be praying for her. I said I would and then gave her the dollar that that last guy had just given me. She was SO grateful. (Even a dollar is a lot for those in poverty.)

This morning I received a text from someone who works at the country nursing home where I still sometimes visit. She is so poor and needs some help. She has told me before that she is trying to follow the Lord and she has sometimes texted me for prayer, giving no specifics.

There are so many needs. May we all do our part… do what we can… to help a hurting world by giving them Jesus –His Word, His message of hope and freedom and salvation, and His love and compassion and care.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

But We Are To Fear God!

June 19, 2018

Friends,
We are to fear God. Jesus tells us to fear Him who has authority to throw us into Hell (Luke 12:5) and reveals the depth of this necessary fear by actually negating our need to fear those who can kill us yet who “after that can do nothing further.” (v. 4) The contrast is stark! We are not to fear humans or anything they fear, but we are to fear God! (Ps. 56:4 // Isa. 8:11-13 & 51:7,12 // Heb. 13:6 // Rev. 14:6,7 & 15:4)

Heb. 9:27 reminds us that we die once and afterwards will face judgement. Chapter 10, verses 26-31 warn us that those who keep on sinning, thus insulting Christ, His blood, and His Spirit of grace, deserve severe punishment, should fear judgment and raging fire, and should dread the Living God who avenges. Rom. 11:22 warns us as well, that we should reflect not only on God’s kindness, but also on His sternness, so that we will be careful to walk the Way of Truth, faith, and humility. (v. 20,21) It is no small thing to be commanded to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) We must do so. Thus we must courageously resist those who teach otherwise and we must fight our own tendency to be lax. In other words, we must fear God!

Fearing God has to do with believing God and His Word. Those who do not believe God and His Word do not fear Him. Those who do not fear the Lord do not believe Him and His Word. They are not believers. Those who are true believers do fear God. Those who do fear God believe what He says —what He states, what He warns, what He promises, and what He commands, and they act accordingly. They trust God, they follow Jesus and His teachings, and they submissively obey the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, holy fear of God, propelling actions of obedience to God, is what true faith looks like. (Heb. 11:7)

1 Pe. 1:17 says, “Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” This verse should be one of our life verses. We should meditate on it often. Let’s read it slowly, thoughtfully. Let’s consider each word and take the information and the command to heart. For we are being told that God is going to judge our work, our lives, our behavior –our obedience and holiness, or lack thereof. (v. 13-17) We are being told that the Lord will judge our deeds impartially, meaning He will judge our character and conduct without being partial to what claim we have made. Yes, this is the case, for it is clearly a warning to those who claim God as their Father (v. 17) / to those who are “God’s elect… who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood.” (v. 1,2) Consequently, may none of us become “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:13) and develop a “heart that turns away from the living God” (v. 12) so that God says of us, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” (Titus 1:16)

Heb. 12:25 says, “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” The verse goes on to caution us about turning away from God who is warning us. The next four verses inform us that God is going to shake out all that is not firmly in His Kingdom, reminding us of this, and that God is a consuming fire, so that we will worship and serve Him acceptably –with gratitude and with godly fear, respect, reverence, and awe.

Many say that the numerous passages of Scripture that command us to fear God are merely commands to reverence God. But this is not so. God’s Word tells us to reverence God and to stand in awe of Him, but when we are told to fear Him, it means to fear Him. When we study Scripture’s references about fearing God, it includes dread and terror. God is the Eternal King of Kings, the Most High Sovereign, and the All-authoritative, All-seeing Judge. Though He is merciful, He is also completely just and holy. He does render to everyone what each person has done, said, and thought. (Mt. 12:36,37 // John 5:29 // Rom. 2:5-11 // 1 Cor. 4:2-5 // 2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 4:12,13) Absolutely, He will reward us or punish us, He will acquit us or condemn us, based on what He has seen in and from us.

To fear God is to be pursuing discipline, wisdom, insight, humility, and the knowledge of God. (Pr. 9:10 & 15:32,33) We cannot know God, understand Him, walk with Him, or have our prayers met if we do not fear Him (Ps. 33:8,9 & 145:19 & 147:11 // Pr. 2:1-5), and we will lack His provision and protection. (Ps. 33:18,19 & 34:7-11) We cannot hate pride, perverse speech, and all other evil, nor keep ourselves clean by rejecting sin, if we do not fear the Lord. (Job 28:28 // Pr. 8:13 // 2 Cor. 7:1) If we do not fear the Lord we will not talk about Him with love and honor nor with correct doctrine. (Mal. 2:1-9 & 3:16-18) If we do not fear the Lord (His Name and His Word which He has exalted above all things –Ps. 138:2), then we cannot please Him and we will not receive Eternal Life. (Ps. 2:10-12 // Pr. 23:17,18 // Isa. 66:2 // Acts 10:35 // 2 Cor. 5:9-11 // Gal. 6:8)

“Now… here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ec. 12:13,14) So, just as the early church, while enjoying a time of peace, strength, growth, and encouragement by the Holy Spirit, was “living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31), let us obey the command to “live as servants of God” (1 Pe. 2:16), which means, simply put, to “fear God”. (v. 17) Then we will be included in that great throng to whom it will be said from Heaven’s Throne: “Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, both small and great!” (Rev. 19:5) “‘For I am a great king,’ says the LORD of Hosts, ‘and My Name is to be feared among the nations.'” (Mal. 1:14)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Divorcing Christ

June 5, 2018

Friends,
With all the divorce going on, it seems strange that many Christians think that it is not possible for someone to “divorce” Christ. If they cannot recognize that Scripture teaches that we can do so, and that we must therefore carefully guard against it, it does seem that people would admit the concept just through watching any relationship go sour, for, truly, numerous relationships that begin excitedly and happily and with expectations of harmony and unity, do just that.

Paul says in Gal. 1:6,7a, “I am astonished that so quickly you are deserting from the one who called you in Christ’s grace to a different gospel –which is really no gospel at all.” He goes on to inform us that adhering to a false gospel is to walk the road of confusion and damnation. As he also warns in 1 Tim. 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Anyone then, who does not continue in the Truth (learning it, knowing it, and living it), being warped and sinful, is self-condemned. (Titus 3:9-11)

Shouldn’t we take note of what John 6:66 says? It informs us that after hearing a teaching from Jesus that they didn’t like, “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” John says “disciples” did this. Disciples are those who listen and learn from and follow a particular teacher. However, they changed their minds and turned back. What does Jesus say of such individuals? He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62) In other words, defectors will be rejected at the celestial gates.

1 Tim. 4:1 says, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” To abandon something or someone is the same as to renounce, disown, discard, and completely give up. We certainly have seen people give up a hobby, a career, a philosophy, a belief, a marriage, or a person. It does happen, and quite frequently.

In one’s relationship with the Lord, the Lord is always faithful, even if we are not. (2 Tim. 2:13) This does not mean, however, that He will not disown us if we disown Him, for precisely this consequence is what verse 12 states. It says there, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him. If we disown Him, He will also disown us.” Not only is this last statement clearcut, but it, along with the first statement, seems to draw a contrast –that those who do not endure in the Truth (in dying to the old and living in the new –v. 11 // Rom. 6:1-11) have, through their failure to endure, disowned Christ and will not reign with Him in His coming Kingdom.

“But I haven’t disowned Jesus,” a person may say. Yet such a person is forgetting that the Word of God reveals that there are more ways to disown Christ than by declaring, with words, a renunciation. Titus 1:16 says, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him.” The two verses previous say of these types that their minds and consciences are corrupt and that they do not believe the Truth. This tells us, then, that though people may claim to know God, through their sinful actions and minds they are actually denying Him. Jesus makes this same concept clear in Mark 8:34-38 when He teaches us that in order to save our soul we must deny ourselves, carry our cross, follow Him, and not be ashamed of Him and His words. 2 Tim. 3:1-8 speaks similarly, revealing that although certain people may have a form of godliness, they remain depraved and rejected if they are denying God’s power –particularly that it is fully adequate to transform.

There are numerous other passages in Scripture that warn us that it is possible to veer off the Path of Truth (who is Jesus Himself). There are warnings in Revelation to the church of Sardis about their deeds not being complete (3:2), and thus the command to “strengthen what remains and is about to die”. (Same verse) Verses 4 and 5 show that one must live pure and be an overcomer to be found worthy so as to not have one’s name erased from the Book of Life.

The Lord warns the Ephesian church as well: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Rev. 2:4,5) Forsaken, fallen, repent, remove… these words make the warning clear: Christians can forsake the Lord, fall away, and be removed from their position of salvation. Verse 7 adds to the fact of this concept when Jesus says, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” In other words, those who do not overcome (do not continue in the Truth) will not be given that right. Verses 10 and 11, addressed to the Smyrna church, show also that one must overcome, and be faithful until death, to reap eternal life.

Peter warns that people who distort the Scriptures do so to their own destruction. (2 Pe. 3:16) He warns us to be on our guard about not falling for these distortions which would cause us to fall from our secure position in Christ / in Salvation. (v. 17) He warns us to make every effort to be found blameless before God. (v. 14) He warns us that it is possible, after escaping the world’s corruption by knowing Christ, to again be entangled and overcome by the world, which would put us, he says, in a worse position than had we never know the way of righteousness. (2:20-22) Heb. 6:4-6 says similar and so does chapter 10, verses 26-31 and 35-39. Jesus Himself explicitly taught that there are those who believe the Word of God for a while, but then through hardships or pleasure, fall away (Luke 8:11-15); and He said as well that there are those in Him who get cut off, thrown into the fire, and burned because they did not remain in Him through obedience to His commands. (John 15:1-10)

I could go on with the Scripture verses, but what I am pointing out should be clear: People can “divorce” Christ. They can turn from following Him. They can disown allegiance to Him and His words. They can commit treason and “adultery” against Him. (Ja. 4:4) They can spurn His Kingship and Leadership. They can rebuff His love and His Shepherding and His voice. They can do all this even after years of having loved Him and having worshipped Him.

We’ve all seen someone disown a spouse, even after 10, 20, 30, or 40 years of upholding a marriage covenant. It does happen, and it happens because one or both allow temptations or boredom or trials to wedge in and divide them. Humans are fickle and we have to work to not be so. Jesus is never fickle, but always faithful. However, He also will not force anyone to come to Him or stay with Him. I came across a youtube video a couple of weeks ago of a man who talks on and on about how silly it was of him to have loved Jesus and have fervently evangelized like he did for so many years. He says he had believed in Jesus and His words whole-heartedly, but now his claim is that he knows he was under the influence of brainwashing. Did this man formerly have a genuine relationship with the Lord? He says that at the time, he was certain that he did; but now he says it was merely an illusion. Sadly, this is certainly not the only “divorce” from Christ that I’ve seen.

Disowning the Truth is a possibility –for any of us. We must, therefore, in order to remain unified with our Lord, make every effort, and take every precaution.
Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel