My Thanksgiving

Few people know this story. I had a call to China from the age of 7. I followed the XX Church protocol for two years of experience as a high school teacher in science, math and English, and applied as a missionary at XX. When it came time for interviews I was not interviewed, no reason given. A well-known lady lived on my floor in the girls’ dorm. After her interview she met me in the hall and said she heard that I had been refused an interview. She didn’t know why but she said the most important thing was God and NOT the XX Church. She said her call was to Haiti and she had done her two years of experience there as a registered nurse (BSRN). The XX missions board said nurses were not needed in Haiti so they assigned her to Africa. She was indignant and refused their assignment and went back to Haiti with another organization. She admonished me to NEVER compromise God’s call. That advice has followed me all these years. Being the brave men that they were, the missions board wrote me a letter saying that I could apply again in seven years, but I would never be able to learn another language after that age (35, I think).

I knew I had been requested by both a well-known, seasoned missionary in Africa and an experienced missionary in India who had been my missions professor at XX while he was on furlough. Both of them knew my character and my commitment. O well. God’s way was far more fruitful for my life and the opportunities that He opened up for me in China were rich and unusual. 

I waited for China to open up to foreigners and, highly educated in the sciences, when I applied as a teacher of English I was readily accepted. I learned Mandarin on the streets to the intermediate level which is almost unheard of – for a westerner to master a tonal language! (I was 46 when I went to China) After the interview debacle I never again cared for the XX Church because they put money and psychology above the Lord’s business. My priority has always been Jesus. That has cost me in many ways, but never has it dulled my hunger and thirst to please Him. He is worth it!

I do not have a poverty spirit now, in my retirement years, for I know God’s richest blessings far above any expectation. I thought when I came home I would be a homeless bag lady because I went as an independent with no backing. But I actually have no physical or mental needs. I am blessed materially and cared for beyond my imagination. And still growing and maturing in a beautiful intimate relationship.

This is my Thanksgiving to Jesus.

Joyce

A Sacred Relationship

Have you ever heard anyone say, “No one can snatch me out of Jesus’ hand”? If you try to explain that that statement by itself is not true, they are horrified and attempt to defend their misunderstanding. But this passage taken within its context reveals the whole truth.  

John 10:27-29
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” 

The promise is made to those of verse 27: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 

To be a follower of Jesus and to be included in the promise of verse 28 we have to hear His voice, to be known by Him, and to follow Him. Does being a follower of Jesus mean to make a confession of faith and from there on we are included forever with those who follow Him? Is somebody who, though he believed that Jesus is the Son of God, who then turned back to the world living after the flesh, covered by the promise of John 10:27-29?

John does not say that because we once believed we walk in the light and follow Jesus forever and ever. Following Jesus is a relationship that we build on day by day, just as in a marriage.

People who, for example, hate their brothers are walking in the darkness. They are not followers of Jesus, regardless of their profession.

I John 2:11 nkjv But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Since they are not followers of Jesus they are not His sheep, for His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. Can we then say that the promise of John 10:28 applies to those who walk in darkness? This promise is to those who actively follow Him.

I would like to call to your attention another passage that is chilling to those who are casual in their relationship with the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Hebrews 10:26-29ampc For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward].

27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God].

28 Any person who has violated and [thus] rejected and set at naught the Law of Moses is put to death without pity or mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

29 How much worse (sterner and heavier) punishment do you suppose he will be judged to deserve who has spurned and [thus] trampled underfoot the Son of God, and who has considered the covenant blood by which he was consecrated common and unhallowed, thus profaning it and insulting and outraging the [Holy] Spirit [Who imparts] grace (the unmerited favor and blessing of God)?

A relationship with the only begotten Son of God is not a superficial side effect of  casual repentance to assure eternal life. There will be no unclean thing in Heaven. It concerns me that there will be many professing Christians in Hell because of a misunderstanding of Who God is and what He said to us about Himself and our relationship with Him.

The rich grace that many casual Christians love to promote is reserved for those who follow Jesus in a committed relationship. Commitment does not eliminate slips and even failures, but God knows each of us intimately, and knows our motives. He knows our desires to please Him and if we listen carefully, the Holy Spirit is faithful to guide and encourage us in our sincere, if less than perfect, efforts to please Him.

The passage of Ephesians 3:12-21 is one of my favorites because it describes the incredible beauty of knowing Jesus, the King of kings, yet the innocent Lamb slain for our sins. We ourselves had no way of paying our own debt, and He gladly gave everything He had to rescue us from sin and Satan’s bondage. He did that for each of us individually as well as collectively as families and tribes and nations. He wants us to know Him. He desires our companionship enough to pay a terrible price for it. But He wants our total commitment to the relationship, as well. That’s fair, is it not?

This verse suggests that reading The Book is good but there is something even better  – that is a personal experience of Knowing the infinite Jesus intimately!

Ephesians 3:19 ampc [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Eternal Fire

When Jesus spoke of everlasting punishment He said the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels.  Where there is sin and iniquity there is a need to separate the holy from the defiled. God only consigned sinful man to a place of eternal punishment when Adam and Eve sinned in disobedience.

The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:41, 42).

The lake of fire is described as causing its inhabitants to wail and gnash their teeth.  Brimstone is an old term meaning burning sulfur which smells like rotten eggs. Jesus said there would be conscience in that place so the tormented would remember his sins continuously forever. Jesus related that the rich man who was in hell begged  Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers to prepare to meet God, (Luke 16:19-31) suggesting that memory still is active in that place of torment.

Such descriptions of hell and the lake of fire are terrifying to think about so the topic is avoided, but it’s part of the Gospel and needs to be taught. Denial does not make it go away!

Matthew 25:41

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;

Matthew 25:46

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

When the unsaved rich man died he went to Hell, and cried: “I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24).

See these additional references: 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 6:2

The natural and inevitable consequence of sin is punishment. Sin condemns just as surely as fire burns, and God is justified in putting into effect the immortal law that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:8).

Hell is not the grave

When the unsaved rich man died he went to Hell, and cried: “I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). Certainly he was not merely in the grave. He had five brothers whom he desired to be saved lest they also should come to that place of torment. If his five brothers had repented and become saved, their conversion could not have kept them from dying, for “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). Repentance and conversion will keep one from Hell but not from the grave. Hell is not the grave. The body of the rich man was dead, but he knew that his soul was in a literal place and not merely in a spiritual state.

Notice the use of the word “fire.” The fire of Hell is as literal as the place itself. Repeatedly our Lord and the apostles spoke of the fire of Hell.

The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb (Revelation 14:10).

Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judges her (Revelation 18:8).

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20).

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14, 15).

Revelation 21:But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

These are not my words; they are God’s words! Notice the short list of those who will populate the lake of fire. The fearful and unbelieving are an offense to the Lord. Those who spill human blood (abortionists as well as other types of murderers), the sexually immoral, shamans and witches, satan worshipers, and those who worship any other substitute for the Lord such as your pet dog or cat, your best friend, some material item such as your car, etc. One that may surprise you is that ALL liars will populate the lake of fire. Lying is a way of life to very many people and even nations. There won’t be any liars in Heaven.

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this Book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this Book.

Repentance and living for Jesus is a choice. But the result of your choice is not negotiable. If you plant brambles, you will not reap corn. Please consider what you are planting in your life. If you have planted evil seed, it is not too late to confess and forsake your sins and ask Jesus to help you to begin planting good seed that bears much fruit. It is NEVER too late. Remember the thief on the cross beside Jesus? He repented and was with Jesus that same day in Paradise!

T

A Vision

November 3, 2020

Early last evening I was communing with the Holy Spirit in the meadow where my tree house is located. The tree house is abandoned but the meadow is near the Throne Room and sometimes the Holy One likes to meet me there.

As we communed, the Holy One transformed into the White Stallion I had met twice before. He asked me to mount and I was terrified of His majesty, but He lifted me up to sit quietly on His back. I gathered my composure and leaned over to put both arms around His beautiful neck so His love could flow between us. He moved forward and soon I realized that we were traveling swiftly out of the meadow into realms unfamiliar to me. I had no sense of traveling and had trouble maintaining focus. He prompted me to stay intensely focused because I didn’t have strength to stay awake. Throughout this experience I needed to be strengthened to stay focused several times. Later, Daniel’s experience of being in the presence of the angel came to mind. And John’s being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.

We passed through biomes of the earth and descended into a forest. It was night but there was moonlight which filtered through the canopy of treetops down into the forest floor. The Stallion hid His light but as we passed the trees, they reflected His shadow as just a whisper.

I didn’t see His two angel generals but rather, I sensed them. The Holy One spoke directions to them, guiding the hosts of warrior angels under their direction. I asked the Holy One where His weapon was and He said He was Thunder and Lightning. His Word was sharper than any two-edged sword that divided soul from spirit (Hebrews 4:12). I knew from experience that that was true!

I knew in my spirit that this forest was the United States of America and the heavenly warriors were being called to action to defend America from evil cosmic beings arranged against us (II Thes. 2:3-6). The many cries and prayers of God’s children here had roused Heaven to come to our aid. The Holy One was restraining evil until the fullness of time, according to His plan. For the mystery of lawlessness – that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority – is already at work in the world, but it is restrained only until He who restrains is taken out of the way (II Thes. 2:7)

This ended my vision but the war is on-going until the Holy One is satisfied or until His followers tire of the intense conflict.

Isaiah 40:29-31

29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Future Sins

Are our past, present, and future sins forgiven by Jesus?

Is there a verse that says our past present and future sins have been forgiven?

Have you ever heard anyone say their sins were all forgiven, past present and future? I was shocked to hear someone say that a while back. It didn’t make any sense to me. Why would God forgive sins yet to be committed? Would He allow a person to reserve the right to plan to fail a temptation or worse – boldly intend to do something against the Lord’s will? Those who are born again have a relationship with Jesus Who died to pay their debt of sins and iniquities. To purposefully plan to sin sometime in the future belies one’s relationship with the pure and holy Lord! In an on-going relationship, repentance is constant, so forgiveness is also on-going.

Romans 6:1- 4 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:15-18 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

It is popular in some groups to call oneself a sinner saved by grace. But these references don’t suggest that we are sinners any longer. Regardless of appearances, if a person is not in a relationship with Jesus, God will not continue to forgive unconfessed sin.

There are some Bible teachers who say our past, present and future sins are all forgiven in advance because Jesus carried it all to His cross. But we must carefully honor the context of the Scripture. Adding to or subtracting from the Scripture will carry us into heresy. Nowhere in the Bible does Scripture say that our future sins have been forgiven so that we have nothing more to confess and repent for!! We have yet to experience the future, so no confession and repentance for sins of the future is possible.

Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer that we are to seek our needs from Him daily.

Matthew 6:9-15  “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Notice that Jesus also attached serious value to forgiving those who sin against us so much that He will refuse to forgive you if you don’t forgive others. That is part of our relationship with Him. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard this taught, but it’s what Jesus taught! Regardless of what may be taught in your church or synagogue, we must follow the truths of Scripture.

 Our salvation is intended to open for us a personal relationship with Jesus. Ephesians 3:19 says “[That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!” 

In 1 John 1:9 we read that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Obviously, we cannot repent and confess sins we haven’t committed yet, and thus we cannot be forgiven and cleansed from future unrighteousness. In a daily relationship with Jesus there is time for repentance and confession just as there is with a personal human friend.