Friends,
As we come now to Labor Day weekend, and as many hurry about, fretting and busying themselves outside of God’s will for them, let’s remember that besides being called to work in Christ’s fields (Mt. 9:37,38 & 28:18-20 // John 4:34-38), God’s servants are also called to rest. Jesus says in Mt. 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all you laboring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest. Take the yoke of Me upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in the heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Indeed, the yoke of Me is easy [to carry], and the load of Me is light.”

What comforting words from our Lord! He invites us to come to Him, to remove from ourselves the yokes we are bearing, and exchange these for Him instead, and what He gives. He gives the yoke / load / weight / burden that is Him, and it/He is not heavy. For when we have Him, we have His strength, His peace, His wisdom, and all else that we need in order to carry out His will for us. We have all we need for being servants pleasing to Him.

Jesus Himself is the cargo we are to carry. And when we carry Him (His presence / His Spirit), then we possess His character and His strength. It is actually Him, then, carrying us. No wonder our life becomes easy, light, and a joy! We have His mind on matters, we have His expressions, we have His words, and we have His actions. (Rom. 8:9) For we are carrying Him and all that He is! Is this not fantastic News to share with a heavily-burdened world?! It is! He, in us, lives out “the Abundant Life” (see John 10:10) in our home, our work place, our relationships, our lives! This is why we, like Paul, should want to and be able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ. Thus I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20) Oh, the wonderful Gospel we have!

Truly Jesus is our “Sabbath-rest” (Heb. 4:9) –available for all who are willing to come to Him, exchange their burdens for Him, and continue to faithfully wear Him (Rom. 13:14), eat and drink Him (John 6:53-63), and draw Life (Truth, Joy, Freedom, etc.) from Him, unto the production of lasting fruit. (John 8:31-36 & 15:1-16 // Heb. ch. 3,4)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Testing God, showing Him contempt or neglect, being sexually impure in any way, grumbling, being idolators or revelers… –any such sins can bring us destruction from “the destroying angel” of the Lord. (1 Cor. 10:6-10) No one should think that this does not apply for those in the New Covenant, for this warning is found in the New Testament. As verse 11 tells us, these things, as examples, were written down as admonitions for us, and the next two verses warns us that even if we think we are spiritually strong, falling into sin remains a possibility if we are not careful.

And what happens if we fall into sin and remain there –if we do not repent by renouncing the sin, turning 180 degrees back to Christ, and following Him obediently 24/7? We will be broken off –off from the Vine, off from Christ’s love, off from salvation. (John 15:1-10 // Rom. 11:17-23 // Heb. 10:26-31 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22 // Rev. 3:15,16)

Rom. 11:20-22, another reminder about the Israelites’ sins causing them to be broken off, warns us not to be arrogant but to be afraid (v. 20), “For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” (v. 21) And why not? Well, how did the Israelites sin? They sinned by not believing God. Even while they worshipped Him and called Him their God, they disregarded His holiness, ignored His commands, and disgraced His name and character which they were supposed to represent.

God is merciful and kind, yes, and many people like to remind themselves of this, even those who keep sinning. But what does Rom. 11:22 say? We read there, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Let’s make no mistake about it: If we keep sinning, we are not inside God’s kindness but instead under His wrath. Rom. 2:1-11 is clear when it warns that God will not show favoritism to anyone, and that thus anyone who persists in sin will experience His condemnation. Scripture teaches this Truth repeatedly, such as through Jesus’ words in John 5:29 and Paul’s in Gal. 6:7,8. Yes, even someone who has housed God’s Holy Spirit will be destroyed by God if that person continues to defile himself, God’s dwelling (1 Cor. 3:16,17), or continues to publicly disgrace Christ’s name. (Heb. 6:4-6)

Because Old Testament writings were indeed recorded for our admonition, let’s consider God’s punishment toward the house of Eli, the priest. God told Eli that because Eli’s sons (who also were priests in God’s tabernacle), had continued to dishonor and despise the LORD through their sins, the LORD was breaking His covenant promise with their family. (1 Sam. 2:27-36 & 3:11-14) Truly, the wages of sin, if not renounced and quit, always results in alienation from God, in death, and in eternal banishment to Hell. (Rom. 6:21-23; see also Mt. 13:49,50 and 2 Thes. 1:7-10)

Let us consider what has been written down in the Scriptures and take warning.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
God’s Word changes things. If we read it, if we meditate on it, if we believe it and surround ourselves with it through faith, if we take refuge in it, our souls will be refreshed, strengthened, encouraged, revived, and redeemed!

Ps. 19:7 says, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” It can also be said, “The instructions of the LORD are perfect, refreshing the soul.” And, “The teachings of the LORD are perfect, converting the soul.” In other words, God’s Word, being perfect, changes the soul of the one who ingests it into one’s spirit.

Ps. 18:28 says, “You, O LORD, will light my lamp. The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.” Yes, when we are in a dark place, discouraged, afraid, and otherwise spiritually weak, the Lord brings light to our soul –His Light that consists of strength, warning, wisdom, righteousness, joy, and all such reward. (19:7-13) For that Light is Him, the All-powerful, All-loving One.

Every day we should go to the Word of God for help, for restoration. He is there for us. Ps. 18:30 connects Him, our shield, with His flawless Word. John 1:1-14 tells us that Jesus, The Light who enables us to become children of God, is God who was begotten a human, and is Himself the Word of God. And as Jesus has told us, His words “are Spirit and they are Life.” (6:63)

Since God’s Word is His Light, His Spirit, and His Life, is it any wonder why Ps. 19:10 says that it is sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold?

Do we believe this? Then let us go to the Word of God daily and be daily revived.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Last week when I was witnessing downtown –from the train station area and up to the restaurant area and back– I had quite a few dramatic encounters. I won’t go into them, except to mention one that was with a man in leotards and tight shirt, midriff showing, bandana over his hair, and with the claim that he is a “prophet”. He gave me his name, a Bible name, and he stressed the importance of names… but I’ll call him David here.

I listened patiently to David, lovingly caring about him through the Holy Spirit, for at least 25 minutes, hardly getting a word in myself, as he spoke of the political moral climate and quoted a lot of Scripture verses. I certainly try not to judge people by first impressions, but besides his prostitute appearance, he used a lot of foul language. These suggested to me that he is not actually walking with the Lord. However, understanding that I didn’t know his story, and respecting him for having memorized Scripture at some point in his life, I only called him out on his use of swear words. He gave some convoluted justification, but I stuck with my assertion, quoting Eph. 4:29, from which he did seem to feel some slight conviction.

I relay this encounter because I believe a person’s words reveal a lot about the heart of that person. James, in chapter 3 when discussing the human tongue (words), asks how it is that a person can, out of the same mouth (heart), gush out praise for God as well as cursing toward others. (v. 9-12) It is inconsistent and it thus reveals that the source (the heart) is actually contaminated (v. 8,11,12), and if not allowed to be cleansed and kept cleansed by Christ, will corrupt the whole person and eventually destroy that person. (v. 6)

Jesus Himself confirms for us that “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’.” (Mt. 15:18) In other words, sins lurking in the heart will reveal themselves through one’s words, proving that person remains impure. (v. 18-20) Since just a few statements before this Jesus says, “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (v. 14b), shouldn’t we recognize that He is teaching us to not adhere to those guides or “prophets” whose speech is not clean, even if they claim to be servants of Christ? As Jesus says in the same verse, “Leave them; they are blind guides.” (v. 14a)

I felt, and still feel, concern for David and I realize there has to be a good reason why he can quote Scripture and why he has faith in the Word of God. Whoever taught him must have been concerned for his soul, and certainly God is still concerned. The Lord wants him cleansed and able to use His Word appropriately, accurately, and for the furtherance of the Truth and God’s glory.

Here is the part of Eph. 4:29 that I quoted to David: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” This command is quite comprehensive. Unwholesome talk covers a lot –from swear words to slander to false testimony to malicious words to mockery… The rest of the verse validates this by adding that our talk should instead consist of “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Of course this doesn’t mean we shy away from speaking truth, for verse 15 has already pointed out that we are to be “speaking the truth in love”, but, our words must be clean and wholesome.

Eph. 4:30 goes on: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” Since this warning follows right after verse 29 –the verse I brought up to David– we should see the connection –that unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit. Without question, engaging in unwholesome talk is not sowing to please the Spirit which leads to eternal life, but is instead sowing the opposite. (Gal. 6:8) Unwholesome talk is not a fruit of the Spirit but instead of the sinful nature (5:16-26)

Eph. 4:31 tells us to get rid of such sins as bitterness, rage, and slander, while Col. 3:8 also commands us to rid ourselves of these, as well as of obscene language. As Jesus warns, “…everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for very careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Mt. 12:36,37) And what does Jesus say immediately prior to this, in verse 35? He says, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Jesus is saying that those who speak evil things have a storehouse of evil within them!

How can anyone, then, take unwholesome talk lightly? –Especially from anyone who claims to be walking with, serving, or speaking on behalf of God?

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
A song I wrote down a few days ago to the Lord, from my heart:

I worship You, O Lord,
You are all-powerful.

I worship You, O Lord,
You are the King.

The Mighty King
Who rules the universe,
I bow before You,
I love and adore You.

I worship You, O Lord,
Come be with me.

I need You, Lord.
I choose You, Lord.
I love You, Lord.
Help me obey You,
You who are the King.

Jesus, the King,
The ruler of everything.
You gave Your life,
And broke the chains.

You rose victorious,
Showing Your awesome strength,
Showing Your loving plan,
To save mankind.

So look to Him.
So choose to worship,
And to love,
This awesome God
Who stooped to be a man.
A man who was still God,
And died to cleanse us all.
Who broke the power of death,
That chained us all.

Now we can live, live FREE!
In His eternity.
Eternal life is ours,
It’s freedom through the cross.
We live to live in Him,
For His purposes.
It is life full,
And happiness.

Therefore, I worship Christ the King,
My God, my Savior, and my Lord,
My Shepherd who does care for me,
Is my Guide, my Friend.

Thank you, God,
That You are caring and loving,
And that You are just and fair and holy.
Thank You for the privilege
Of knowing You
And abiding in Your presence.
Thank You for inviting us to worship You,
For You are worthy.

I worship You, Lord.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Prayer, godly music, quoting the Word of God, praise, and worship –they all exhibit faith, if we engage in them. The last two, done with genuine thanksgiving, and particularly with singing, cannot, I believe, be done without a substantial level of faith; but, once stepped into, actually enlarges one’s faith. Since, then, we know that God rewards faith (2 Chron. 20:20 // Mt. 15:28 // Heb. 11:6), it is expedient for us to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” (Heb. 13:15; see also 1 Pe. 2:9)

Ps. 69:30,31 reminds us of God’s pleasure toward the one who praises Him in thankful song. It says, “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox… [sacrificed to Him].” The next two verses speak of God hearing, and the needy rejoicing, and in the next three verses the chapter finishes with that same connection between praise and deliverance.

A perfect example of this connection between one’s praise to God and one’s deliverance by Him, is Ps. 8:1,2. These say, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants You have ordained strength through praise because of Your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” Even for infants in the faith, praise is a strong weapon against the evil realm. Ps. 9:1-3 carries this same theme when the first two verses speak of singing praise to the Lord and the third speaks of our enemies turning back. Truly, Jesus has given us authority “to overcome all the power of the enemy” (Luke 10:19) by participating in His divine power and nature (2 Pe. 1:3,4), and we know His powerful weapons we fight with are not of the world, but are spiritual. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

God states that those who ignore His words have no right to His covenant of protection. (Ps. 50:16-22) However, for those who are in covenant with Him (v. 5), He promises this: “Sacrifice thank offering to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.” (v. 14,15) For “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (v. 23) Jer. 17:14 reveals that those who praise the Lord will, like Jeremiah, be able to expect God to heal and save them.

Truly, thanksgiving, praise, and worship turn God’s ear to us in a big way. 2 Chron. 5:13,14 and Ps. 22:3 remind us that His presence comes down around us as we praise Him, while 2 Chron. 20:21,22 and Acts 16:25,26 reveal that praise defeats the foe and brings miracles and deliverance for us. Anointed music played by David would, for King Saul, cause the tormenting evil spirit to leave him for a time (1 Sam. 16:14,23), and in 2 Kings 3:15-19 we see that anointed harp music helped Elisha hear an answer from the Lord.

The Lord blesses those who give Him grateful praise and worship. Let’s remember this and engage in it, for it not only pleases our Lord but also brings to us His presence, His help, His voice, and His deliverance.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel