Many Christians blame Satan for every unpleasant thing that happens in their lives including sickness and disease. The Bible does clearly indicate that sickness is often the result of actions by Satan and demons, but not every time.
When they reached the crowd, a man approached and knelt down before Him. “Lord,” he said, “have mercy on my son, because he has seizures and suffers severely. He often falls into the fire and often into the water. Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and from that moment the boy was healed. Matthew 17:14-15, 17-18
As He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. But the Lord answered him and said, “Hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you untie his ox or donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it to water? Satan has bound this woman, a daughter of Abraham, for 18 years — shouldn’t she be untied from this bondage on the Sabbath day? ” Luke 13:10-11, 15-16
So Satan left the Lord ’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the sole of his foot to the top of his head. Job 2:7
Not All Sickness and Disease Comes From Satan
On the other hand there were times during, His ministry, that Jesus gives us some indication that not all sickness is the result of direct demonic activity. When a sickness was caused by a demon Jesus identified it as such, as were the examples I just gave of the young boy with seizures and the woman who could not stand straight. However there are other instances of Jesus healing people without the mention of casting out or rebuking of a demon(s). attacked by demons;
So Jesus and His disciples got up and followed him. Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years approached from behind and touched the tassel on His robe, for she said to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well! ” But Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” He said. “Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that moment. Matthew 9:19-22
After He left the synagogue, He entered Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him about her. So He stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and began to serve them.
Some Sickness and Disease Comes From God
We don’t like to admit it, but there are even examples in scripture where God sometimes intentionally allows, or even causes sickness for His sovereign purposes.
Yahweh said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? Exodus 4:11
The Lord afflicted the king, and he had a serious skin disease until the day of his death. He lived in a separate house, while Jotham, the king’s son, was over the household governing the people of the land. 2 Kings 15:5
The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.” Luke 1:19-20
The Greatest Source of Sickness and Disease is Sin
There is also another reason, perhaps the greatest one or all, for sickness and disease, and that is sin. We are fallen beings because of Adam and Eve with physical bodies prone to disease and illness. Some sickness is simply a result of the natural course of things in this world. When Adam and Eve sinned their punishment, which was passed down to all of mankind, was death which is a form or sickness..
but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17
Death, as well as sickness, are part of the effect of Adam's sin. When Adam sinned, he died. His death was not an immediate physical death, but spiritual death, a separation from God.
But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen. Isaiah 59:2
Sin, with its impact, entered the creation through Adam who was to have dominion over it.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” Genesis 1:26
Adam’s actions did not only affect mankind, but the entire creation. Man was now subject to diseases, sickness, illnesses and deterioration. Sin which is separation from God, was the source of disease. Just as every person is born in sin and subject to it and the consequences and punishment for it, every person is subject to the disease, sickness, illnesses and deterioration that came as the result of sins effect on the entire creation.
For the creation was subjected to futility — not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it — in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Romans 8:20-22
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12
Nobody is Immune
The entrance of sin, at the urging of Satan, is the primary cause of sickness. As we get older we get wrinkles, some of us need glasses, our muscles get shorter, and eventually we all die. Both the righteous and the unrighteous are subject to sickness and disease.
According to Scripture, the cause of man’s psychological and physical problems always has its origin in the fall of Adam. There would be no psychological problem or physical disease if there had been no sin. The original sin of Adam resulted in our individual, personal sin, sins against us which are often not our fault, and the many diseases and eventual death which are not always the direct result of personal sin.
Non-spiritual causes of abnormality include genetic influences which have been documented to exist, and must not be confused with those causes which are the result of personal behavior and personal sin. Genetic influences are shown to cause a predisposition toward certain physical and psychological ailments. These include the fact that gender influences many mood disorders. Women are known to experience more frequent depression than their male counterparts. In identical twin studies, the bipolar and schizophrenic disorders have been shown to have a very decided genetic influence.
Additionally, the victims of organic disorders (such as brain tumors and disorders resulting from physical trauma, as in the case of accident victims) are not to be held personally responsible for their inability to function at the level expected by society. It goes without saying that a child with down syndrome would not be personally responsible for this condition and should have limited social and spiritual expectations of responsibility. Unfortunately many who do not exhibit physical manifestations of their psychological problem are shown little respect for their non-physical, psychological disability. - A Christian Perspective on Medication by Dr. Scott Hadden and Theron Messer
The Apostle Paul preached to the Galatians the first time because he was sick.
you know that previously I preached the gospel to you because of a physical illness. You did not despise or reject me though my physical condition was a trial for you. On the contrary, you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Galatians 4:13-14
Timothy has stomach problems;
Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Timothy 5:23
The prophet Elisha died from an illness;
When Elisha became sick with the illness that he died from, Jehoash king of Israel went down and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel! ” 2 Kings 13:14
We all know very devout believers, including my late wife, who is now with the Lord, who suffered and died the result of sickness and disease.
No Matter the Source God is Still in Control
The point is this that no matter the source, Satan, demons, the fallen state of creation, or God Himself, this world remains under His sovereign control.. For the believer, that means that God even works sickness together for their.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
When we are suffering with a sickness, disease, or injury, we usually focus solely on our own suffering. The key is remembering that God's ways are higher than our ways. Sickness can even be be a means of God's loving discipline.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes. I know, Lord , that Your judgments are just and that You have afflicted me fairly. Psalms 119:67, 71-71, 75
It’s hard for us to understand why God would work in this way but remember what I said earlier about him working everything together for good.
Sickness and suffering is never an easy thing to deal with, but sickness should not cause us to lose faith in God. God is good, even when we are suffering. Even the ultimate of suffering—death—is an act of God's goodness. Think of loved ones, who were believers and are now with the Lord as a result of sickness or suffering regrets and what they went through in this life.
One word of caution when people are suffering, it is our responsibility to minister to them, care for them, pray for them, and comfort them. When a person is suffering, it is not always appropriate to emphasize that God will bring good out of the suffering. Yes, that is the truth. However, in the midst of suffering, it is not always the best time to share that truth. Suffering people need our love and encouragement, not necessarily a reminder of sound biblical theology.
For the child of God, the hope is not perfect health in this lifetime but a resurrected body in the life to come.
Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:50-55
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Revelation 21:4
** All scriptures are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted
Today the word evangelical is used to describe everybody and everything from mega-churches to voting blocs. It appears that nobody really knows what or who is an evangelical. Depending on how you define the term, evangelicals comprise between 7 and 47 percent of the United States population.
There is no doubt that the term is applied to Christians however the dominant view today seems to be that an evangelical is a politically conservative Christian and in particular a Protestant, politically conservative Christian. There is also the view that a politically liberal Christian is somehow not evangelical.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary - evangelical
1: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels
3: emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual
4 a capitalized : of or relating to the Evangelical Church in Germany
b often capitalized : of, adhering to, or marked by fundamentalism : fundamentalist
c often capitalized : low church
5: marked by militant or crusading zeal
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) (the NAE is is a fellowship of member denominations, churches, organizations, and individuals. Its stated goal is to honor God by connecting and representing evangelicals in the United States. Today it works in four main areas: Church & Faith Partners, Government Relations, Chaplains Commission, and World Relief. The NAE is a member of the World Evangelical Alliance. The NAE represents more than 45,000 local churches from nearly 40 different denominations, in addition to nondenominational churches. The mission statement of the association is "to honor God by connecting and representing evangelical Christians.)
The term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” Thus, the evangelical faith focuses on the “good news” of salvation brought to sinners by Jesus Christ.
According to the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College, Martin Luther first used the Latinized form of the word evangelium to describe the non-Catholic churches formed during the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.
The term took hold more than a century later during the Great Awakening, a series of revivals in Britain and the American colonies. Because of the influence of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield, evangelicalism became a synonym for revivalism. By the early 1800s, it was “by far the dominant expression of Christianity” in the United States.
The term really went mainstream when Jimmy Carter became the nominee of the Democratic Party for, and was elected President of the United States. He was the first U.S. President to call himself a “born again” evangelical Christian. Not to be left out, conservative evangelicals who who differed from President Carter created and mobilized under new organizations like the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority. These politically conservative groups were labeled the religious right. The pollsters then lumped religious right with evangelicalism.
Because of this the term evangelical Christian became is equivalent to “right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.” For others, "evangelical Christian" is a title used to differentiate between Catholic and Protestant Christians, with Protestant being evangelical. Others use the term to indicate adherence to the fundamental doctrines of Christianity like the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone.
These definitions span a range of denominations, churches, and organizations, there is no single membership statement to delineate identity. To the pollster, it is a sociological term. To the pastor, it is a denominational or doctrinal term. And to the politician, it is a synonym for a white Christian Republican.
The most widely accepted definition of evangelical is probably the one put forward by historian David Bebbington in 1989. It’s called the “Bebbington quadrilateral” because it identifies evangelicals as Christians who share four main qualities:
The NAE/LifeWay Research method includes four statements to which a person must agree to be categorized as evangelical:
These things define evangelicals, not political, social or cultural trends. In fact, many evangelicals rarely use the term “evangelical” to describe themselves. They focus on the convictions of the triune God, the Bible, faith, Jesus, salvation, evangelism and discipleship.
Because political polls often focus on white evangelical voters, white evangelicals that means they end up being portrayed as the face of evangelicalism, period. You never hear them talk about African American evangelicals. However consider this there are two evangelicals, as defined by NAE, one African American, one white who sit next to each other every Sunday. They could have the same religious beliefs, but they're likely to have vastly different political beliefs. The African American is s more likely to vote Democratic, while the white one will lean Republican.
I consider myself an evangelical. I'm not white or politically conservative. I’m more moderate in my political views. I typically vote for Democrats and not for Republicans or other politically conservative candidates.
I have been born again, I am saved and know, without a doubt, that I’m saved. I live my life according to the principles of the Bible. I write blog that disagree at times with the views of, who some call, liberal Christians, and at other times with who, same call, conservative, “Word of Faith” or “Prosperity Gospel” Christians.
In reality, all Christians should be evangelical Christians. The Bible is consistently instructing us to be witnesses of the good news
Matthew 28:18-20 (HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
1 Peter 3:13-15 (HCSB)13 And who will harm you if you are deeply committed to what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be disturbed,15 but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.
Holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political belief. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation.
An evangelical Christian is called to share the good news, to preach God's Word, and to set an example of purity and integrity. That is an evangelical!
Ruth was becoming more and more listless, not eating, calling things like scrambled eggs noodles, not remembering very important things, and finally not remembering how to put on her pantyhose when getting dressed. We were able to get an appointment with her Primary Care Doctor on December 30th at which time he immediately set her to the Emergency Room. After the triage nurse spoke with her for just a few minutes she was quickly taken back and given a CT scan of her head. The Emergency Room Doctor saw a mass on her brain and quickly transferred her to another facility with an excellent Neurosurgery team. After examination of the Emergency Room CT scan and a more in depth scan the Neurosurgery Department Head scheduled emergency surgery for New Year’s Day. The surgery to remove the brain tumor was successful with the entire tumor being removed however the biopsy of the tumor was sent to pathology for analysis. The analysis found that the tumor was metastasized, meaning that the origin of the tumor was not the brain but from another organ. I learned that most brain tumors do not originate in the brain but from cancer cells from other parts of the body. After analysis the diagnosis was that Ruth had stage 4 (there are only 4 stages of cancer) lung cancer.
After her diagnosis Ruth and I together decided to share her journey with cancer on Facebook and on the Faith The Evidence Blog that I write. Our decision to share was not to elicit pity or to express fear and remorse but to exhibit our trust and faith in God. Our prayer was for Ruth’s complete healing, and that’s what we asked in our prayer, but we also told God that we wanted His will to be done in Ruth’s life. Ruth wanted to share her story to help others who were going through trying times so that they would know that God is in control even when things don’t look great. It may be an illness, a financial crisis, trouble in a marriage, a breakup of a personal relationship, loss of a job, any situation that causes stress and anxiety. Ruth went to be with the Lord on January 24, 2015 leaving hundreds of friends and family whose lives she impacted with the love of God that He placed in her.
This post, which is all of the Facebook status updates from the time of Ruth’s diagnosis until her Memorial and Celebration of Life, is the first post in the blog series Ruth’s Journey. The status updates are exactly as they appeared on Facebook including any typos and poor grammar. Ruth and I pray that you are blessed by it.
To my FB friends and family I ask your prayers for my wife Ruth who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. We don't know a whole lot yet but we do know that we need you to join with us in prayer that God's will be done. I ask that you pray for her healing but only in accordance with God's will. I ask that you pray that God will give her medical team wisdom and that He place the most expert physicians on that team. I also ask that you pray for me so that I can be the caregiver that God has ordained me to be. In all this and most of all pray that God get the glory for all of this. As I have been teaching and preaching for the past year " And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." God's purpose is that we become conformed to the image of His Son so all these things He is working so that we look more like Jesus. You have to either believe God or not and I choose to believe Him. God bless you and thank you for your prayers. I'll keep you posted.
Ruth continues to improve from the brain surgery and is becoming more alert and able to comprehend a little better. Continue praying that she recovers quickly so that treatment can start for the lung cancer. That is if God doesn't miraculous heal her first and you know that he can. Her medical team is fantastic. Continue to pray for them too. God is really good.
Ruth continues to improve. In a great deal of pain because they want her more aware so that they follow improvement. I see a great deal of improvement daily. Tomorrow she will probably be transferred to a rehab facility so today I ask that you agree with me that the transfer is to the 5 star facilty in the Kaiser network that is near the hospital and not far from our home.
Another day of marked improvement for Ruth. Less disoriented, less confused, more aware. Still in lots of pain but they are able to give her a little something so that she can get some rest which is so important in the healing process. It looks like they will transfer her tomorrow to a nursing home for a few days. Thank you for all the prayers we know that God hears and answers them. Keep praying for her and her medical team. God bless you.
Great improvement today. Ruth is very aware and able to respond quickly and appropriatly to most things today. The big deal today is pain. Most of you know that Ruth has a chronic back issue. It's so bad that she has an medical device implanted in her hip that provides relief when she needs it. Well she has been in a bed flat on her back since last Wednesday and the device has discharged and when completly discharged it takes hours to recharge even under optimal conditions abd a hospital is not optimal. I told you that so that you will have an idea of what is happening now. Ruth is in tremendous pain. Most of it from the back add to that head pain from the surgery and she has a bladder infection. So have to get the pain under control. So that 5 star nursing home looks like it is the hospital and I say that is the answer to that prayer. I have already started negotiating with the doctors to send her home rather than a nursing home especially now that she is no longer confused or disoriented so join me in prayer for this. God is moving. One other thing she already has appointments with Radiation Therapy and Oncology. Praise God with us.
Here with Ruth. She continues to improve. Doing little things that she couldn't or wouldn't do a day or two ago. In my post yesterday I told you that she was in lots of pain. She is much more comfortable today. She needs to be able to rest to help in the healing process. God contniues to show His grace, mercy, love and power in and through Ruth. She still has a ways to go but I can see improvement everyday, some days big progress, other days little progress but still progress. I'm praying that whenever the doctors say she is ready to leave the acute care hospital it is home. Thank you for continuing to pray for God's will to be done. Remember that God is great and greatly to be praised.
Here with Ruth. This is the best day yet since her surgery. She is bright eyed and alert, watching the Broncos and Colts and asking for a pizza :) She can't have the pizza of course since they are giving her steroids and they have to watch the carbs. Maybe in a couple of days. The mittens are off her hands so they are not worried about her pulling at stuff. I saw her Neurosurgeon's PA when I got here and she says that Ruth is fine neurologically. She has a little abdominal discomfort so she had an ultrasound. No results yet. She has a bladder infection so it could be from that. She thinks that they will still recommend a few days in a rehab facility (that is their code word for a convalescent hospital). I feel a little better about that now that medically she is stable and what she needs is someone to get her up and moving. We may also have connections at places where there is someone in corporate who can be an advocate. I'll know tomorrow. All in all it is a great day. Keep praying!!!!!
Another good day for Ruth. Contuining to improve. I think she is starting to remember things that she was suppose to do earlier. A few minutes ago she told me that she needed to get up to make a phone call. Maybe it was because she spoke with a couple of people on the phone today. She also asked me if she can go home today. I had to tell her no but that we are working on it. Her case manager says that there are no beds available at the rehab facilities that Kaizer uses. Let's continue to pray that God's will be done. It will anyway but I want us to be in agreement with it.
I had planned to write the second post in "When the Faith Rubber Meets the Road" today but I'm beat. It's been a stress filled past 13 days. I'm going to try to get a full nights sleep tonight. I've said that before but I'm going to really try tonight. I'll write and post it tomorrow. If you see it early tomorrow you'll know I failed in my quest for 8 hours of zzzzzzzz's
Today was not a good day. I have already spoken to some of you. We learned today that the cancer has now involved Ruth's liver so her lung cancer metastasized in both the brain (that tumor was removed) but she has a mass in her lungs and now her liver. So as it was explained to me what is happening is the cancer is in Ruth's blood system and tumor can occur throughout her body. At this point there are no surgical options and the doctors told us that there is no medical cure. Well we know that God can heal and nothing is impossible for Him but remember that we asked that as you pray for Ruth's healing you pray that God's will be done in her life. She wants to fight this and we will. We are now on war footing and we know whose army we are in. Meanwhile pray that she is comfortable as we get her ready for whatever treatment that are planned probably starting with chemo when she is strong enough from her recent brain surgery. When I started these post I promised to tell it all. We want Ruth's experience and life to be a testimony and example of the goodness of God. We love you. I'll keep the posts going until victory is achieved. I'll post the link to the next "When the Faith Rubber Meets the Road" in the next couple of days.
Today was a better day even though Ruth was more than little agitated and tired. I say that because she was more able to articulate these feelings than she has been. It was apparent that she has not been resting well. Some if it is pain but I think there is another reason. Since her surgery on the 1st Ruth has not been given medication that she has taken for years to control her moods swings. Given the tragedies that she has endured throughout her life she has need them to keep herself on an even keel and be able to rest. They had to stop them after the brain surgery in order to monitor her progress. I spoke with her medical team about this today and the fact that she was really complaining that she needs to rest. She also exhibited some anxiety when there were several people in the room today and they did take notice. They are starting those meds tonight and we'll see how she is in the morning. If all goes well they may try transferring her to a skilled rehab facility to start more intense PT. That's important because as we prepare for this war she needs to get stronger before they start any treatments. When I kept reminding her that she needs to eat and work with PT, after about the 3rd time today she said DON PLEASE (in other words please stop reminding me over and over and over). She didn't do that the past couple of days which shows me that she is more aware of what's going on. She was tired of me reminding her and she was agitated because of little rest. Those were good signs for me. Continue to pray that she gets stronger quicker so that whatever treatments that the docs recommend, or that God wants her to have, can start sooner. She already has appointments in place so pray that we can keep them. Also thank God for the daily progress even in the face of what may appear to be bad news. As I said yesterday don't focus on the situation or circumstance focus on God because He is bigger that they are.
Today was a mixed day. Some good some not so good. Good things first. Yesterday I said that the medical team was going to gradually start giving Ruth the medications that she has taken for years to control her anxiety and depression. They did start them last night by giving a much reduced amount of one medication. The result was that Ruth slept through the night for the first time since surgery. I thought is was great and she looked well rested and great to me. Problem was the it was too restful for her neurosurgeon. She was still sleep when he saw her this morning. His concern is that to continue healing from the brain surgery she doesn't need the deep sleep she got last night. So he ordered it stopped and ordered one benadryl tonight to relax her so she can sleep. She is more alert and aware and can follow everything that you say to her and can respond appropriately, if she want to. She talked a little bit more though not a lot. When I asked how to spell pineapple today (because I didn't remember how) she was able to do it. The other day I asked her how to spell neurosurgery and she was able to do that too. A couple of people from PT came by today and were able to get her to do a couple of exercises, sit up on the side of the bed and get up and stand with the walker. She did not walk today because she is still too weak and unstable but that's progress that must continue if she is to get strong enough for treatment. She knows this and is trying. They are still trying to find a bed at a skilled rehab facility but it's not happening. I believe that it's not because God has her exactly where he wants her and until He says that it is time to transfer her she will be in the acute care hospital and she will go where He wants her to go. If she had been transferred at the time that they wanted to do it last week it is very likely that they would not have discovered the liver involvement as soon as the did and at this stage time is critical. Now the bad. Just before I left today Ruth was in a lot of pain in her abdomen. She had not complained of pain from the time that I got there early this morning until this afternoon. The nurse gave her some pain medication (still no narcotics thank God the pain is not that bad) and after a while she settled down and I was able to leave and come home. I called back later and she was sleep so the medication worked. That was the worst part of the day for me. Seeing her in great pain and being unable to do anything about it other than to pray for her. It was very difficult for me to sit through that. Ruth and I thank you for your prayers and concern. We love you and we will continue to share with you. As I promised we will share the victories and the setbacks so that we can all rejoice when we see the manifestation of God's will.
Good day today and a day to really see God working. Ruth told me that she slept well and was not in any pain this morning. I noticed that she hadn't eaten her breakfast yet so I tried to get her to eat. She has not been eating as much as she needs to in order to regain her strength and I keep telling her that but it's a chore getting her to eat. In doing so I find that she continues to improve in awareness and becoming more like her old self. Those of you that know Ruth know that she is not a morning person and that she is very stubborn so just imagine me trying to get her to eat before 9 am when she doesn't want to eat that hospital food. You guessed it :). But we have to keep pushing and as I told her today everybody there wants to help her but she needs to help us help her. She says that she understands and I know that she does. She was able to speak with a couple of people by phone today and they both can see improvement. She even worked with PT today more than yesterday without as much pain. That may mean that they are doing a better job pain management. As we know God is always in control and what is going on with Ruth is a perfect example. The hospital has been trying to find a bed at one of their contracted skilled rehab facilities for at least 10 days. There have been none for various reasons. If she had been transferred when the initially wanted it to happen it is very likely we would not have know that the cancer has moved to the liver so God kept her there and it was discovered. I have mentioned that to members of the medical staff. Now there were all ready to transfer her today so that she can start rehab outside the acute care hospital. Well God has other plans. The discharge coordinator left work early today so there was nobody there to work the transfer. So let's just let God do His thing. It is obvious that He wants her where she is for the time being. When God wants her moved He will decide when and where so let's let Him do it. God is great and greatly be praised.
Quite day today. Ruth continues to improve getting more and more alert. We talked more about her recovery and what she needs to do to get stronger before more intensive treatments can start. She understands. She still is not eating enough and it is like pulling teeth to get her to eat more than a couple of bites. It was a struggle to get her to eat more today. I got her to promise to eat more tonight we'll see. She did talk with one of her nieces and one of her nephews today. My prayer request today for her is that she starts to eat more so that she gets stronger. Let's pray that God makes her hungry :) Oh one last thing she wants to watch the football games tomorrow. No perdictions from her.
Watched the second half of the Packers, Seahawks game with Ruth. She slept through most of it. She is looking better everyday. Her nurse told me that she ate better today and that her sugar was still a little low but better than yesterday. I again reminded her that she needs to eat so that she gets stronger and again I could see that she was getting ready to get agitated so I had to remind her again of her decision to fight. No complants of pain today while I was there. She asked me if she was going home today and she was very disappointed when I said no. I did tell her that she may be going to a skilled rehab facility or home tomorrow but it is really the Lord who is orchestrating this. She did tell me that she is tired. Not tired of the pain but of being in the same room and bed. I asked if she would rather go to a rehab facility or home and she said a rehab facility, which I think was the really best answer, at the time, which shows the improvement in her ability to reason. I was chastised, by friends today, for not getting enough rest. The told me that I look tired so I only stayed at the hospital about 1 1/2 hours. Tomorrow should be a very interesting day. I plan on spending a lot of time getting more specific information about Ruth's cancer and in talking to others who have waged this same war.
Happy MLK Day. Well today the Lord placed Ruth in a skilled nursing facility for a period of rehabilitation. He did it in His time and His way. I took a tour of the place before she was transferred and I'm pleased. There is no nursing home smell (you know what I mean) anywhere in the facility. It is super clean and has a patio for when Ruth is able to get outside and get some of that California sun. She is happy to be out of the acute care hospital and I pray that a change of scenery will increase her appetite and encourage her to get up and move. The goal of this time is for her to get stronger so she needs to get some physical therapy. The facility has a nice PT room with some very nice equipment. One other thing that I think is a little unusual for a nursing home is that the medical director is actually in the hospital 3 times a week. In fact she will be there tomorrow and I will be there bright and early to meet her. The staff seems very nice and even told me that they need my help in helping Ruth. I told them that they will see a lot of me :) Ruth did eat a little more tonight and tonight I did not feed her. I put the food on the spoon and gave it to her and she did the rest. That's the first time that's happened since her surgery. I told her that I was not going to feed her or force her to eat she needed to do it herself and she did. Not enough but she fed herself. So continue to pray with us that God increases her appetite and gives her energy for PT. She and I asked that in our prayer tonight and we ask that you agree with us.
As with most days on this journey there is some good and some bad. First the bad news and then the good which should mitigate the bad. Because Ruth was in bed most of the time at the acute care hospital with their PT group unable to really get her up and moving Ruth now has pneumonia, which was discovered when she arrived at the skilled nursing facility. They have started treatment for it. She is not coughing or having any breathing problems. The good is that this place aggressively moving on putting a Occupational and Physical Therapy plan together. Both groups did assessments today and should start their programs tomorrow. We met one of the doctors today, who are there at least three times each week, and she is very thorough and concerned with all of her patients. She is easy to talk to and very forthcoming. I also was able to convince, along with the speech therapist to change her diet to something other than the bland pureed stuff that she was getting and refusing to eat. She is now getting a more blended diet and with much coaxing (I told her that if she didn't eat more tonight that we were going to have a fight in her room) she ate pretty good including almost all of her cup of orange sherbet. I am going to take her a hamburger tomorrow (shhhhh). The doc says that the stay should be at most two weeks and if Ruth shows improvement in her ability to function physically she may get discharged sooner. I am also pushing to get her started back, safely, on the medications that she was taking before surgery that will help with her mental state. She has lots of appointments coming up and needs to be stronger both physically and psychologically. So all in all the good outweighed the bad today. God is still in control.
Early post because it's going to be an early night. We have 2 appointments tomorrow, one of them planned as the first radiation therapy treatment. Then we have a neurosurgery follow up on Friday and an oncology consult on Monday. Today was and is a very good day. I was at the rehab facility mid-morning and Ruth looked the best she has looked since surgery. That tells me that she was able to rest well last night. She talked more today, even initiating conversation. She had what I thought was the best telephone conversation that she has been able to have. I no longer need to hold the phone for her. I was not there for breakfast but I was told by the person that helped and encouraged her to eat that she ate 40 to 60 percent of the meal including a ll the oatmeal. I wasn't there for lunch and won't be for dinner but I'm believing that she continues to eat more. She is back to a more normal diet with no sugar restrictions. I spoke with PT and they said that they were able to work with her today. She still needs maximum assistance but she is slowly improving. I have not talked to Occupational Therapy today. She wanted me to help her sit up on the side of the bed this morning but after helping her up for a few seconds, we thought better about it deciding to let the experts do it :) We are going to try to get her in our car from a wheelchair then out into the wheelchair for her appointments. They are reserving transportation just in case :). Pray that all goes well tomorrow. God is great and greatly to be praised.
Exhausting day for both of us, in fact Ruth fell asleep less than an hour after getting back to the rehab facility after only one appointment today. She was just too tired and weak to hang around and wait for 2 hours before the next appointment which would have lasted another couple of hours. So we rescheduled for next week. We did have the consult for radiation therapy which will start next Wednesday. The procedures will be to the brain to make sure there are no residual cancer cells left from the tumor. There will be five of them on consecutive days broken up only by the weekend so she will have sessions Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday and Tuesday. She also has a neurosurgery follow up tomorrow and another oncology appointment on Monday so she needs to somehow get stronger. Not for the radiation but just the physical activity which is more than she has had in a very long time. The good thing about today, even though she was too tired to do both appointments, is that she was up and out of the bed from about 9 am until 1 pm that is longer than she has been out of the bed in all the days since her surgery combined so I guess she has a reason to be tired. The rehab facility is going to train me on getting Ruth from a wheelchair into the car and back. We tried this morning but she was just too weak and tired so they had to call for non-emergency medical transport. That is a story in itself to make it very brief it cost $75 for a 3 block trip to her appointment and when we were finished we had to wait for an hour after calling them. When I got back to the facility I told them that somehow we are going to get Ruth to her appointment tomorrow without using their contracted transportation group if I have to start early and push Ruth in a wheelchair to the appointment or put her over my shoulder and carry her. I think that $75 for a 3 block trip in a specially equipped van (meaning they had a lift) is a rip off but to pay $75 and still wait for an hour is too much. Well so much for my rant. I'm tired. I'll talk to you tomorrow.
As usual God has worked it out. There is no appointment for tomorrow because what they would have done in the nuro follow up they have already done. I also remembered that Ruth had CityRide which is a program to provide transportation at a significantly reduced rate for seniors and the disabled. They provide the kind of transportation that we had to pay $75 for today. Ruth has a balance of $182 and that's what we will use for her future appointments until I'm trained in the wheelchair to car procedure. God is awesome.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. The last 10 days have been a whirlwind with a lot of good and some not so good but there is progress everyday and we are capturing ground everyday in this war against cancer. I'm encouraged by every little thing and can find some good even in things that look like setbacks. Here is Mile 3 of our journey. Come with us on this journey and pray that God's will be done in Ruth. Please share with your friends.
I just posted the link to my blog post "When the Faith Rubber Meets the Road - Mile 3". In it you will learn that Ruth is back in the hospital with pneumonia. It sounds like a downer and it is but as always with God there is a blessing. I just spoke with the ER nurse and they are going to admit her but she is much better than when she was taken to the ER this morning. She is at the hospital where she was for surgery on the 1st until this past Monday. She is alert and still getting better in terms of communicating. One last thing. I believe that it's God's plan to have her discharged home rather than back to a rehab facility. Let's just wait and see what the Lord has in store for His daughter.
I'm with Ruth right now and I just had to post something that just happened. The respiratory therapist came in and introduced himself "I'm Mark from respiratory" Ruth's response "Hi Mark from respiratory :). She's back lol.
Here with Ruth now. Her condition worsened last night and she is in critical condtion. She does hane pneumonia and with lungs compromised by cancer it is very serious. She is having a great deal breathing and they are giving her oxygen? Rapid breathing also increases the heart rate so they are concerned about the heart as well but no heart attack. The doctors are working very hard tweaking the antibiotics for the pneumonia. We have decided not to put her on a respirator, if it comes to that, because with the condition of her lungs because of the cancer she will never come off of it. What I ask that you pray for is that she becomes stable with treatment for the pneumonia and she can come home under palliative care. Palliative care is is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. As I have said all along during this journey, and it's not over yet, God's will is what we want and pray for in Ruth's life.
God's will has been done in Ruth's life. My wife of 43 years transitioned today at about 3:50 pm today. She is now with the Lord. Thank all of you for your prayers. Please know that Ruth and I love all of you. Rejoice with me that Ruth is now with the Lord and is a peace, no pain, no worries, no cares. I was with her when she transitioned. It was peaceful, there was no pain or struggle, she just stopped breathing. I was able to tell her that I love her and she was able, through the oxygen mask, to tell me that she loves me. We had some great times together and that is what I will remember and I want you to remember the times that she made you laugh, or got on your case. God bless you.
I haven't posted before now because I could not think of the words to express how much I appreciate your comments of encouragement, and condolences on Ruth's transition. I still can't think of the words so I'm going to do the best that I can. Ruth would be so very humbled as am I for the show of love for her. It was her hope that our sharing would help someone else. I can't express how much I loved her but I also know that you love her too and God wanted me to share her and her story. Those of you who had the opportunity to meet and spend any time at all with Ruth know how much she loved you. The love that she had for people was instant and you knew it right away and I know that God used her to show His love for you through her. That kind of love never ends you will always feel it. I always knew that I would miss her but I you have no idea how much. God is able to and is comforting me but I do miss her and I'm not ashamed to say it here. There is a void that will never be filled. I will be able to grieve and get through all of that and I'll be able to move on but the Ruth hole will always be there.
Many years ago Ruth made me promise her that when she transitioned that I would not put her in a coffin and put her in the ground. She didn't like to be closed up anywhere. I am going to keep that promise. We will have a Memorial Service in the next few weeks and I'll announce it. For those of you who are not able to attend I will figure out a way to get you a copy of the program if you want one. I'll keep you posted. I will close with this same scripture that I used for my blog post a couple of weeks ago Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God Bless you
It's been one week now since Ruth went to be with the Lord. I've cried several times, most often when I think of those last minutes with her and when I tell others about it. It's not because it was a sad time but because it was such a beautiful time and one that I'll always remember. It's amazing how much I miss her and I can't come close to describing it. Only those who have lost a very close friend, parent, child, or spouse can really understand. When you spend everyday with someone, or if not physically there with them, talking to them everyday it's hard not to be able to see or talk to them. So I do talk to Ruth and I ask her to help me figure out things like what to with this program for her memorial service which will be on Valentines Day :) I thought about stopping my posts about Ruth and me and going back the stuff I posted before she got really ill but I can't do it so bear with me until I get it all out and that may be a long time. I hope to get back to writing my regular blog in a few days and I'll post the links here. As I said before I can't find the words to express how much I appreciate your comments of encouragement. I love you.
Thank you for the encouraging words Laura but I do not have any pain. I have sorrow and I am grieving but there is no pain. It's hard to explain but there is a scripture in Philippians "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. I now know what Paul was saying." Although I miss Ruth more than I could every describe I have the peace of God along with the memories of my time with Ruth, the love of my life.
Happy Super Bowl Sunday. Good game so far, let's hope it continues. A friend reached out to check on me a little while ago and since today is Super Bowl Sunday assumed that I am watching the game. It gave me an opportunity to tell her about Ruth's and my Super Bowl Sunday tradition. I want to share it with you.
Ruth was a big NFL fan so our Super Bowl tradition was for just the two of us to watch the game at home so we could concentrate on the game. So that's what I'm doing today. Ruth is not here physically and I know where she is but it's still like watching with her.
By the way she was not a Patriots fan, and I am, so she would be up and cheering in my face after the Seattle interception and touchdown. :)
The past few days some very good friends and I have been working on the program for Ruth's Memorial Service. We've almost got it together and ready for the printer. The hardest part for me is picking out and deciding what pictures to put in it. I found a beautiful baby picture, a black and white picture from I don't know when or where, but you would know her anywhere by those big dimples, there's one of two skinny people that looked like us when we married (I included it in one of my blog posts), there are some with family members, and several with Ruth alone. Ruth had stunning beauty and it was very hard selecting just a few. As I am cleaning up gathering all her things I am finding pictures everywhere. In the bottom of drawers, photo albums that I didn't know existed. Lots of pictures of Ruth but many many more of family members throughout the years. One of the projects that I will take on later is to put them all together in some kind of keepsake. Don't worry guys I haven't found any that are too embarrassing........yet :). I said it before and I'll say it again Ruth was an amazing woman with tremendous strength. She taught me a lot about living with physical and emotional pain and praising God while doing it. It wasn't easy but she did it. Now that battle is over and I say she won because she has done what Paul wrote to Timothy "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. "
I can not think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day than celebrating the life of a woman that I loved very much.
The Homegoing Memorial Services for our beloved Deaconess Ruth Jacobs, will be held at CDG on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at 11am. The repast will immediately follow in CDG's Fellowship Hall. The address is 1518 S. Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, CA 90019. Please contact Donald E. Jacobs Jr. with any questions.
Yucky day today. Not a bad day or a sad day just a yucky day. It was hard to get motivated. I'm guessing that I will go through these kinds of days for a while. There were some noteworthy things in the last couple of days though. A friend of mine wants to write a book about how Ruth's journey this past month has impacted her and probably many many others. It will not be what you expect and I won't talk anymore about it you will just have to wait. I won't tell you who the friend is either :)Another noteworthy thing, my brother and his partner bought Ruth's urn. Remember I told you that Ruth made me promise to not put her in a coffin or put her in the ground. Well the urn came yesterday. I'll post pictures later. I'll just tell you that it is beautiful. I took the urn to the mortuary today and they placed Ruth's remains in it and I have them with me. Ruth and I never got the opportunity to talk about what to do with them other than to have them with me. I do know that she would not want them spread out over water, land, or anywhere. I do know that much. I will pray and wait for the Holy Spirit to lead me in that decision but for now and for the foreseeable future Ruth's remains will be with me. Like with a lot of things that I have been thinking about and decisions that need to be made I stop and think about what Ruth would do or what she would suggest. She was the one behind most of the family decisions anyway, although I wouldn't tell her that :) I would ask her opinion, and then later on suggest that we do what she said in the first place :)
The final draft, at least I hope it's the final draft, of the Memorial Service Program is done and being proof read again tonight. My plan is to get it to the printer tomorrow. Wow I didn't mean to tell you guys all this tonight but I promised to tell you everything until the Holy Spirit tells me to stop.
Great day today. Relaxed most of the day but did get the final draft to the printer and just got the proof back. It looks great. I will give it a good read tomorrow and I have asked some friends to proof it for me as well. I think you are going to really like it when it's finished. Those of you that attend the Memorial Service will get one of course. There are a few people who have asked that I send one to them. After the Service I will post a link on my website and you will be able to download a copy. Just a few more things to do and we'll be ready for next Saturday's celebration.
I waited to post this because every time I think about it I would tear up. I have written about the impact that Ruth had on the lives of so many people. I was talking about adults. I wasn't thinking about all the children, many of whom are now adults, Ruth loved and who loved her. That was brought home to me big time today. We have a Children's Church that is led by two wonderful women with help from a couple of great young women. Today after service one of the young men gave me something that was tied with the ties you sometime find on loaves of bread and he said we all want to give you this. On top was what you see at the top of this picture. When I took the ties off and opened it the tears started to flow. The next things that I saw were these 6 hearts to Ruth. I don't even know how to describe how much this means. It is just another testament how Ruth allowed the love of God to flow through her to everyone she touched.
This is the cover of the program for Ruth's Memorial Service today. It was an awesome and beautiful service, a true celebration of the life of a beautiful woman full of the love of God which she poured out on all that she met. The church was full of family and friends and the word of God was proclaimed. Although there was sadness there was no sorrow because we know that Ruth is with the Lord and we will always remember the depth of her love for all people. We sang , we shed some tears, we laughed, we rejoiced, we celebrated. Ruth would be so pleased. I can see that big beautiful smile and that twinkle in her eyes right now. This was our Valentine's Day gift. I'm sure that you will be seeing lots of pictures over the next few days. It was a wonderful day!!!
One of the sayings that often causes debate in the Church is “Once Saved, Always Saved”. I believe that it is true that once we are saved we are always saved, but that exact statement is not in the Bible. There are those who argue that to believe that once a person is saved they are always saved is to give Christians a license to sin. They assume that those who believe in eternal security intend to accept salvation, and then continue to willingly sin. That doesn’t make any sense, because anyone who has been truly saved is a new creature, has been convicted by the Holy Spirit, and wants to live for Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
John 14:26 (HCSB)26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
1 Thessalonians 4:8 (HCSB)8 Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit.
Galatians 2:19-20 (HCSB)19 For through the law I have died to the law, so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
If a person continues to willingly sin that person has probably not truly accepted Christ with saving faith (see my post Saving Faith)
1 John 2:19 (HCSB)19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.
1 John 3:6 (HCSB)6 Everyone who remains in Him does not sin; everyone who sins has not seen Him or known Him.
James 1:26 (HCSB)26 If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself.
Here is what the Apostle Paul said about those people who claim that those of us who believe in eternal salvation want to continue to willfully sin.
Romans 3:5-8 (HCSB)5 But if our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, what are we to say? I use a human argument: Is God unrighteous to inflict wrath?6 Absolutely not! Otherwise, how will God judge the world?7 But if by my lie God’s truth is amplified to His glory, why am I also still judged as a sinner?8 And why not say, just as some people slanderously claim we say, “Let us do what is evil so that good may come”? Their condemnation is deserved!
I do agree that just saying "once saved,always saved", in a vacuum, without any other comment is regrettable because it results in it being supported or denounced not on the basis of truth, but only as a slogan. I will provide evidence for the truth of the statement in this post.
It’s likely that this statement like many others that I have written about in this series was created for a very particular purpose, but has outgrown that purpose. “Once Saved , Always Saved” is based upon the doctrine of the eternally secure salvation but distorts it by only representing part of it. The saying, by itself, doesn't give enough information to make a real judgement to its truth.
When I talk about eternally secure salvation, I’m not talking about any power or ability of a human being, but about the power of God's redemptive work through Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace not by anything that we do or don’t do.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift--9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
Since what we do has no bearing on our salvation it is God’s decision and His alone to save us and recreate us into the image of His Son. Eternally secure salvation is based on God's faithfulness not ours.
Romans 8:28-29 (HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
While the Bible calls for our confession, salvation is not based on that confession it is based on God's grace and obtained by faith.
Romans 10:9-10 (HCSB)9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.
Salvation is the result of God's work of grace
Anyone can make a profession of faith and live for a while with external evidence of the work of redemption in their lives and yet not have acted in “Saving Faith”. They may appear to have been saved but the evidence of their fruit, over time, is that they are anything but saved. As the old folks use to say, “it will all come out in the wash”.
Matthew 7:16-20 (HCSB)16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit.18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit.
Scriptural Evidence of Eternally Secure Salvation
From the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already decided it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed - he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.
Romans 8:30 (HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.
It is God who justifies. Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life, and is interceding for us. Who will bring a charge against God's elect? No one can bring a charge against a believer, and make it stick, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. The believer has both the advocate and judge on their side.
Romans 8:33-34 (HCSB)33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us.
Being “born again” means being made brand new. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.
John 3:3 (HCSB)3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Titus 3:5 (HCSB)5 He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit indwells all believers. If the Holy Spirit leaves a believer then that person would become unsaved. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that the Holy Spirit will ever leave a believer. (Yes I know that there are Old Testament examples of the Spirit leaving people but that was before the New Covenant ratified by the blood of Jesus Hebrews 8:7-10, which guarantees salvation. I'll address the Old and New Covenants in a future post)
Acts 2:38 (HCSB)38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:17 (HCSB)17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you.
Ephesians 1:13-14 (HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory.
2 Corinthians 5:5 (HCSB)5 And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
The Logical Evidence of Eternally Secure Salvation
If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but can lose it tomorrow, then it was never "eternal" at all. If you can lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be an error or a lie. Eternal security is consistent with everything else the Bible teaches about mankind, and God. The idea of losing our salvation is not only unscriptural, but it creates problems with other doctrines, including salvation by faith, the sin nature of man, and the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice.
If we could do anything to undo what God did by grace that would mean that our salvation required more than just our faith but must include works. That is completely contrary to scripture which says that we are saved by grace through faith and only faith.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift--9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
The doctrines of “eternal security” and “saved by faith alone” work together. To deny eternal security is to say that to be saved you must have works in addition to faith.
Man’s Sin Nature
The Bible teaches that man is inherently sinful. This means that even after being saved, every single believer is going to sin from time to time. Thinking that we can live a perfect, sinless life after our salvation is not only unscriptural, but arrogant.
Romans 3:10 (HCSB)10 as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one.
1 John 1:8-10 (HCSB)8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Romans 8:38-39 (HCSB)38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, ⌊hostile⌋ powers,39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
The same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!
Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 1:5 (HCSB) 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Jude 1:24-25 (HCSB) 24 Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy,25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.
Christ only died once and that was enough to take care of all sin past, present, and future.
Hebrews 9:28 (HCSB)28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.
1 Peter 3:18 (HCSB)18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.
Hebrews 7:27 (HCSB)27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself.
If we are not eternally secure, this sinning will cause us to lose our salvation, but how much sin is too much? There is no scriptural “yardstick” given to tell us how many or what kind of sins are enough to void our salvation. Without eternal security, the Bible would describe a situation where Christianity is a perpetual game of Russian Roulette; a life in which condemnation and salvation alternate every time we sin and confess, and we never know if we’re saved or not. Got Questions Ministries
If we could lose our salvation, then it would be lost forever. The following is a much misunderstood scripture and one which the opponents os eternally secure salvation use to try to make their point.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (HCSB)4 For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit,5 tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age,6 and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.
This passage actually supports eternal security in two ways. It implies that Christ’s sacrifice must be sufficient for all sins, and states that if it were possible for a person to lose their salvation, it would be forever lost. According to this passage, if a person could do something that cost them their salvation (which they cannot), then it would be “impossible” for them to be redeemed again.
No, “once saved, always saved” is not in the Bible, but it is true. Salvation really does result in eternal life. When a person willingly, humbly, repents of sin and turns towards the cross, trusting Christ as their Savior, they will be eternally saved.
Matthew 5:14 (HCSB)14 “You are the light of the world. ….
In my devotion time New Year’s Eve I read something written by Kris Valloton for Devotions Daily, from Destined to Win. I was blown away by its truth, encouragement, and challenge to Christians for 2017. It blessed me so much that I decided that it would be my first post of 2017.
This is the complete devotion;
Greatness and fame are terms often confused or even used inter-changeably. Fame is usually the result of some popular act: a ball is caught, a song is sung, a book is written, or a character is played. But greatness cannot be reduced to an action or an event. Kingdom greatness is measured long after the crowds have dispersed, the applause has silenced, and the stage lights have cooled, because true greatness lies deep in the heart of every person. In fact, genuine greatness is most often exposed in the dark times, in the secret places, and in the alone hours of a believer’s existence. It is in these desert seasons that the seedbeds of God’s greatness, the attributes we need to cultivate, are conceived. It is later — often much later — that the results are revealed to the world.
Humility and greatness walk hand-in hand. That’s right, true humility is fully connected to being rewarded. Most of us know Matthew 23:12 says that,
Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
So, the act of humility is the very pathway to promotion! Greatness is planted in the seedbed of humility, it’s watered by the deeds of servant hood and it’s cultivated by the hands of perseverance until it finally yields the harvest of royalty.
Being a World Changer
The Scriptures describe men and women of God who cultivated these qualities and took hold of their positions of divine influence to shift the destinies of nations. Their prominence was not for their own benefit, but for the purpose of shaping society toward God’s original intent. They created catalytic cultures that maximized the godly influence of their constituents on the rest of creation. Believers throughout the book of Acts are great examples of noble people who catalyzed culture. They had such deep impacts on their societies that when Paul and his friends arrived in Thessalonica, the people said,
These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. — Acts 17:6 NKJV
The world is crying out for people like Paul, Esther, Deborah and Joseph who will become fathers and mothers to the pharaohs of the world (see Genesis 45) and see whole nations fall into the hands of the Lord. God is summoning the Daniels of the earth who can stand as he did in the courts of four worldly kings and bring the most powerful nations into the Kingdom. God is gathering the Nehemiahs of our day to rebuild our ruined cities and restore hope to the planet. He is awakening the Davids of our generation and commissioning them to defeat the giants of racism, crime, immorality, and corruption that seem to roam the earth wreaking havoc on our children.
Positioned for Success
This is our moment, our time, our Jordan River crossing, and our season for epic transition. We are God’s X factor, His secret weapon, His ace in the hole, His divine strategy for global reformation. That’s right. We are the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). We preserve the planet and are vital to life in the Kingdom. We are the light rising in the darkness that is longing for a new day to dawn. It’s you and me, and it’s people like us all over the world who are taking hold of this mandate to stand firm in our stations at the height of every city and shine against the back-drop of doom. Together we are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), illuminating breathtaking solutions to people in desperate, despairing, and destructive circumstances. - Original post by Kris Valloton for Devotionals Daily.
A lot of people will be happy to see 2016 go. It was a tough year for a lot of people. Thousands of people were killed in more than 100 terrorist attacks throughout the world with the worst being in, Brussels, Nice, Orlando, Berlin, Baghdad, Kabul, Quetta Pakistan, Lahore Pakistan, and on May 23rd eight bombs in 2 Syrian cities. In the United States there were a number of police shootings of unarmed African American males that many believe were, if not racially motivated, the result of systemic racism in law enforcement. There was a very contentious presidential election campaign in the United States in 2016 that left the nation divided along racial, gender, economic, urban and rural lines.
Here is the Associated Press top 10 news stories of 2016. All of them was bad news:
1. US ELECTION: This year's top story traces back to June 2015, when Donald Trump descended an escalator in Trump Tower, his bastion in New York City, to announce he would run for president. Widely viewed as a long shot, with an unconventional campaign featuring raucous rallies and pugnacious tweets, he outlasted 16 Republican rivals. Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton beat back an unexpectedly strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, and won the popular vote over Trump. But he won key Rust Belt states to get the most electoral votes, and will enter the White House with Republicans maintaining control of both houses of Congress.
2. BREXIT: Confounding pollsters and oddsmakers, Britons voted in June to leave the European Union, triggering financial and political upheaval. David Cameron resigned as prime minister soon after the vote, leaving the task of negotiating an exit to a reshaped Conservative government led by Theresa May. Under a tentative timetable, final details of the withdrawal might not be known until the spring of 2019.
3. BLACK MEN KILLED BY POLICE: One day apart, police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, fatally shot Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground, and a white police officer shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in a suburb of Minneapolis. Coming after several similar cases in recent years, the killings rekindled debate over policing practices and the Black Lives Matter movement.
4. PULSE NIGHTCLUB MASSACRE: The worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history unfolded on Latin Night at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. The gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people over the course of three hours before dying in a shootout with SWAT team members. During the standoff, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
5. WORLDWIDE TERROR ATTACKS: Across the globe, extremist attacks flared at a relentless pace throughout the year. Among the many high-profile attacks were those that targeted airports in Brussels and Istanbul, a park teeming with families and children in Pakistan, and the seafront boulevard in Nice, France, where 86 people were killed when a truck plowed through a Bastille Day celebration. In Iraq alone, many hundreds of civilians were killed in repeated bombings.
6. ATTACKS ON POLICE: Ambushes and targeted attacks on police officers in the U.S. claimed at least 20 lives. The victims included five officers in Dallas working to keep the peace at a protest over the fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana. Ten days after that attack, a man killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Iowa, two policemen were fatally shot in separate ambush-style attacks while sitting in their patrol cars.
7. DEMOCRATIC PARTY EMAIL LEAKS: Hacked emails, disclosed by WikiLeaks, revealed at-times embarrassing details from Democratic Party operatives in run-up to Election Day, leading to the resignation of Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other DNC officials. The CIA later concluded that Russia was behind the DNC hacking in a bid to boost Donald Trump's chances of beating Hillary Clinton.
8. SYRIA: Repeated cease-fire negotiations failed to halt relentless warfare among multiple factions. With Russia's help, the government forces of President Bashar Assad finally seized rebel-held portions of the city of Aleppo, at a huge cost in terms of deaths and destruction.
9. SUPREME COURT: After Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy. However, majority Republicans in the Senate refused to consider the nomination, opting to leave the seat vacant so it could be filled by the winner of the presidential election. Donald Trump has promised to appoint a conservative in the mold of Scalia.
10. HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAILS: Amid the presidential campaign, the FBI conducted an investigation into Clinton's use of a private computer server to handle emails she sent and received as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey criticized Clinton for carelessness but said the bureau would not recommend criminal charges.
On top of all this bad news it seems that there were an extraordinary number of deaths of beloved entertainers and other celebrities. From David Bowie who died on January 6th, to Debbie Reynolds on December 28th, in 2016 there were the deaths of Prince, Muhammad Ali, Fidel Castro, Gene Wilder, Garry Marshall, Florence Henderson, Nancy Reagan, Alan Thicke, Carrie Fisher, Garry Shandling, John Glenn, Arnold Palmer, Merle Haggard, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Patty Duke, Antonin Scalia, and on and on. So many deaths of that I saw comments like “2016 stop killing my favorite people”, 2016 stop killing our heroes, or “STOP IT 2016”, on my Twitter and Facebook feeds.
2016 all bad though. Here are some of the good things that happened in 2016. This from the Washington Post .
While the year was dominated by political toxicity, major celebrity deaths, social unrest and the specter of terror, a number of positive moments and stories emerged.
1. There was good news in the U.S. economy. Markets hit record highs, wages rose and unemployment dropped to its lowest rate in nine years.
2. On the press freedom front, journalists Jason Rezaian, Khadija Ismayilova and Can Dundar were released from prisons in, respectively, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey (though they shouldn’t have been there in the first place).
3. The United States saw milestones for diversity in government. A sampling: Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina elected to the Senate; Ilhan Omar, a former refugee, will be the first Somali American lawmaker; and although she went on to lose the general election to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton was the first female U.S. presidential nominee of a major party.
4. In sports, Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky dominated in the Rio Olympics; the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time since 1908; and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers gave Cleveland its first pro sports title in 52 years.
5. It was announced that Harriet Tubman will appear on the front of the $20 bill, relegating Andrew Jackson to the back.
6. Colombia’s congress approved a peace deal with the FARC, the rebel group the government has been fighting since 1964.
7. The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened on the Mall.
8. President Obama visited Hiroshima, the Japanese city where the United States dropped the first atomic bomb, and called for the end of nuclear weapons. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join Obama this month at Pearl Harbor to “pay tribute” to those who died in the war.
9. Former dictator Hissene Habre of Chad was convicted of crimes against humanity; former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
10. Good news for Earth: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped to their lowest level since 1991, renewables’ energy capacity overtook coal’s and the Paris climate agreement went into effect.
11. Good news beyond Earth: Astronomers found new evidence of a ninth planet, and the Juno spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit.
12. Obama banned solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons.
13. The Pentagon lifted its ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military.
14. The National Park Service celebrated its centennial this year; Obama expanded a national marine monument in Hawaii to create the largest ecologically protected area in the world and designated seven other national monuments, including the Stonewall Inn in New York, the first national monument to the gay rights movement. Obama has now surpassed every other president in the amount of land and water he has protected (more than 548 million acres total — more than twice as much as Theodore Roosevelt).
15. Leaders of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches met with each other for the first time since 1054.
16. Giant pandas were removed from the endangered species list, and the tiger population rose for the first time in a century.
You may not agree with all of these and you probably have some others. The point is that although 2016 may not have been the best year it was certainly not the worst of all years.Good did happen in 2016.
One story they didn’t include that I think was one of 2016's was;
100 Percent Of Patagonia’s Black Friday Sales Will Go Toward Saving The Environment. Patagoina, the high-end outdoor apparel and gear retailer Patagonia announced it will donate 100 percent of its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental groups that protect local communities’ air, water and soil. The groups that will receive the money are small and typically underfunded, according the company’s press release.Patagonia is expected to make over $2 million on Black Friday, CNN Money reported.
My Good News
The 2016 good news for me is that millions of people were saved in 2016, millions of people were healed of sickness and disease in 2016, I got to spend a lot of time with one of my daughters and granddaugthers in 2016 who have blessed me more than I can describe; God has blessed me to see my 72nd year; I’ve written I don’t know how many blog posts, and preached several sermons; my Internet ministry is growing; I was able to visit with my 94 year old mother, who is still in good health; I entered a relationship with a wonderful woman; I continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge, I could go on and on and on. So while 2016 wasn’t perfect, some bad stuff happened to me in 2016 too it wasn’t all peaches and cream, it was a good year despite it all.
Now on to 2017
Two years ago when trying to decide what to write for the New Year I ran across a quote from the book Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” That’s what happens at 12:00 midnight January 1, 2017. There are no mistakes at exactly 12:00 midnight. It’s a new beginning. A beginning with excitement and anticipation so start it with the Word of God. I started with 15 for 2015, In continued with 16 for 2016. Here are my 17 inspirational scriptures for 2017. They include the same 15 that I had for 2015, the same 16 that I had for 2016 plus one more for 2017. God’s Word never changes and it is the same today as is was in 2015 and 2016.
17 for 2017
Hope for the Future
Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) For I know the plans I have for you”--⌊this is⌋ the LORD’s declaration—“plans for ⌊your⌋ welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
A New Creation
2 Corinthians 5:17 (HCSB) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.
Isaiah 43:19 (HCSB) Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
Psalm 98:1 (HCSB) Sing a new song to the LORD, for He has performed wonders; His right hand and holy arm have won Him victory.
A New Heart
Ezekiel 36:26 (HCSB) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Forgetting the Past
Philippians 3:13 (HCSB) Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,
Hebrews 12:1-2 (HCSB) 1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Learning from Past Mistakes
Hebrews 12:10-11 (HCSB) 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Proverbs 24:16 (HCSB) Though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.
Wait on the Lord
Psalm 37:7 (HCSB) Be silent before the LORD and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans.
Isaiah 40:31 (HCSB) but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.
God's Timing is Perfect
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (HCSB) He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.
Habakkuk 2:3 (HCSB) For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late.
Each New Day is Special
Lamentations 3:22-24 (HCSB ) 22 Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! 24 I say: The LORD is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in Him.
2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
Let's ring out the Old and Ring in the New meditating on the Word of God which is light and life.
Psalm 119:105 (HCSB) Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Proverbs 4:20-22 (HCSB) 20 My son, pay attention to my words; listen closely to my sayings. 21 Don’t lose sight of them; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and health to one’s whole body.
Yes, on the whole, 2016 was a good year for me, despite all that went on in the world, but I look forward to and expect even greater things in 2017. Greater things for the United States, greater things for my friends and family. Greater things for the Body of Christ. Greater things for my church, The Church of Divine Guidance in Los Angeles. Greater things for the Faith The Evidence Ministry. I look for the blessings of God that take us, as my Pastor says, “from glory, to glory, to glory”.
If Jesus doesn’t return, which will make it the best of all possible years, I pray that 2017 it will be your best year yet.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
In the fourth century, Saint Augustine wrote; “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.”
Advent, the four weeks before Christmas is a time of anticipation of the coming of Christ. Christians anticipate this coming from three different perspectives; in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts everyday, and in glory when Jesus returns. One of the themes of Advent is love.
John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Because of this love Advent gives us time to step back and love. When we take the focus off ourselves we are able to see the needs of others.
John 13:34-35 (NKJV)34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
This commandment was new in that the love was to be exercised toward others not because they were all Jews, white, black, in the same family, lived in the same country, or spoke the same language, but because they belonged to Christ. This was the expression of the love of Christ which the disciples had seen in His life and would see also in His death.
God’s love for us is so great, so powerful; so perfect and unconditional that He sent Jesus to bridge the gap that was caused by sin. He knew that we were powerless, without hope apart from Him. The Lord knew that there was no way we could ever enter into His presence on our own merit, so He who knew no sin became sin for us.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
God pursues us with His relentless love. He desires a relationship with us so much that it compelled Him to pay the ultimate price on the cross in order to bring us back to Him.
1 John 3:16 (NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus Christ laid down His life once, and we ought to lay down our lives repeatedly in self-sacrificing love, as the tenses of the Greek verbs suggest. We may not have the opportunity to save a brother's life by dying in his place. Nevertheless we can and should do the next best thing, namely, sustaining his life when he has needs. When I give to a brother in need what might keep me alive, I have followed the Lord Jesus' example of self-sacrificing love. The evidence of genuine love is not verbal professions but vital performances, deeds rather than words (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:1; James 2:15-16). - Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
For most of us, Christmas is a time of excitement and anticipation. We eagerly wait for the moment we can open all those beautifully wrapped gifts. But the greatest, most precious gift we can ever receive is the reason we celebrate Christmas: God’s gift of eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to wait until Christmas morning to open this gift, because it is available to us freely and brings us new blessings and wonders every single day. This gift has the power to wipe away all sin, comfort every hurt, and give us joy, peace, and purpose. It is a gift that we get to unwrap every day as if it were brand new, and all we have to do to receive this gift is follow Jesus.
“In Christ’s human life, there were always a few who made up for the neglect of the crowd. The shepherds did it; their hurrying to the crib atoned for the people who would flee from Christ. The wise men did it; their journey across the world made up for those who refused to stir one hand’s breadth from the routine of their lives to go to Christ. Even the gifts the wise men brought have in themselves an obscure recompense and atonement for what would follow later in this Child’s life. For they brought gold, the king’s emblem, to make up for the crown of thorns that he would wear; they offered incense, the symbol of praise, to make up for the mockery and the spitting; they gave him myrrh, to heal and soothe, and he was wounded from head to foot and no one bathed his wounds. The women at the foot of the Cross did it too, making up for the crowd who stood by and sneered. “We can do it too, exactly as they did. We are not born too late. We do it by seeing Christ and serving Christ in friends and strangers, in everyone we come in contact with.” —Dorothy Day
This is the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13
That love is patient and kind, and people with it
When we have a complete understanding of love, the perfect love God showed us in giving His Son we are then able to pour love out on others. We are able because of the fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:16-19 (NKJV)16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.19 We love Him because He first loved us.
No Greater Love
The picture of this love is beautifully painted in the words of the song by David L. Allen “No Greater Love”, which is based on John 3:16 and 15:12-13 .
John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 15:12-13 (NKJV)12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
No Greater Love
(written by David Allen)
For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son.
The Son gave His life for me,
when He died on Calvary.
There is no greater love,
no love nowhere, no greater love;
than a man would lay down His life for a friend,
no love nowhere, I've searched all over.
There is no greater love,
there is no greater love,
there is no greater love,
no greater love.
No greater love,
than a man would lay down His life for a friend.
No greater love,
no greater love,
no greater love,
no greater love.
No greater love,
no greater love,
no greater love,
no greater love.
Jesus went to Calvary
to save a wrench,
like you and me;
that's love, that's love.
They hung Him wide,
they strecthed Him wide.
He hung His head, and then He died;
that's love, that's love.
That's not how the story ends,
three days later He rose again;
that's love, that's love.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
When plans fail or our dreams don’t come through our friends, family, and church folk, often say “when God closes one door He opens another”. Many people say it like it’s in the bible. Not only is it not in the Bible it’s also presumtuous. We assume that because something that we want doesn’t happen that God stopped it. That’s like saying “I want your will to be done God”, when what we really mean is “I want you to make sure my will is done God”. I’ve written several post about God’s will for you, and in none of them do I say that God closes and opens doors. God has given us freewill and that allows us to decide to follow His will for us or to do it on our own.
The origin of the saying isn’t really known but it’s similar to a quote from Alexander Graham Bell. He said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
One example in the Bible of open and closed doors is on Paul’s second missionary journey from Antioch:
Acts 16:6-12 (NKJV)6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas.9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us."10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.11 Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.
While I said that it’s presumptive to say that God closed a door or prevented our plans from materializing, the statement “When God closes one door He open another” is pretty accurate in many, cases. I want to emphasize that most disappointments are not caused by God closing a door. He opens a lot of them, but rarely closes them. Sometimes it’s other people, Satan and his demonic forces or us that close the door. In fact most times it's us. We make a bad decision leaning on our own understanding, listening to our well intentioned friends and family, freaking out, and not waiting for God, That has closed a whole lot of doors.
If The Door is Closed Make Sure That It’s God Who Closed It.
When you are in God’s will He will lead you through those “open” doors and away from and around those “closed” doors.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
God will guide you if you’ll trust Him. You weren’t placed on the earth to stumble around in the dark trying to find out what you should do. If you’re sure that you are operating in God’s will for you and there’s opposition then kick the door down. Reading God’s Word will teach you to recognize the closed doors, and when you enter the wrong doors. God has a plan and path for you but it’s your responsibility to find and follow it.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
It doesn’t mean there will be no opposition when you walk through a door that God opens. Everything may not be “peaches and cream”. Don’t only depend on circumstances or feelings. Know God’s will for you. I wrote a blog post, “How Can I Know God’s Will For Me” to show you how.
If you are certain that God closed a certain door, don’t be discouraged; just start looking for the open door. Be encouraged and know that God has the key to open every door; change every situation and open new windows of opportunities. Be encouraged and know that God does everything for a reason; not for our downfall, but for our good and to His glory. The roadblocks we face are an opportunity to seek God's will to guide us.
“When you begin to follow God and circumstances seem to close doors of opportunity, go back to the Lord and clarify what God said. He most often is not calling you to a task, but to a relationship. Through that relationship He is going to do something though your life” - Henry Blackaby wrote, (Experiencing God, p. 159)
If you find a closed door don’t give, and up don’t complain. Many times when we run into difficulty or find a closed door, we get super spiritual and say “Okay, God, I’m not moving until you show me which way to go.” That’s the worse thing we can do. I’ve been writing about waiting for God and being still while we wait (While You Wait On God Be Still, Persevere In Prayer As You Wait On God’s Timing, God Is Faithful Wait On The Lord). Waiting and being still doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means to actively trust God and lean on His understanding.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
No “When God closes one door He opens another” is not in the Bible, but be encouraged knowing that God is with you, no matter the position of the door our your situation.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Philippians 4:12-13 (NKJV)12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
The door to salvation is never closed it’s always open, and will not close until the end of the age. If you haven’t stepped through that door do it now.
Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Pray this simple prayer in sincerity and ask Jesus to come into, and become the the Lord of, your life.
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody. Leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers.
Matthew 16:19 (NKJV)19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Matthew 18:18 (NKJV)18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
These are two of the verses of scripture that many in the Christian Church, especially those of the Word of Faith Movement, use to claim that Christians can command things to be bound or loosed…..whatever that means. Sometimes they say it with regard to sickness when they say “I bind that spirit of illness or that spirit of cancer, and I loose the spirit of healing”, or “I bind you Satan and command you to loose this person”. In other words we can bind or loose whatever we want. That’s a lot of authority and since I’ve heard this all my life and I still see sickness, or lack, or anxiety, in those who do the binding and loosing, and in those who they loosed and the stuff they bound, I started to wonder why those things weren’t bound or loosed Especially since the ones saying it said that Jesus told us we could do it, and they were doing it in Jesus’ name.
I wrote a post some time ago asking the question, can we bind or rebuke Satan (Can We Bind and Rebuke Satan? What Does The Bible Say?), and my conclusion after looking at what the Bible said, was that the only one with the power to rebuke or bind Satan is Jesus and that He did not give us that authority. To answer my question about us Christians binding and loosing everything I again took a look at what the Bible says.
As I have written many times in my blog posts it’s very important that we look at everything in the context that it was written. When we take things out of context we can make them say anything that we want. Now let’s look at these two passages so that we can really understand what Jesus meant when He said “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. We focus on the first part of the scriptures the binding and loosing, but not the "in heaven" part, and it's context.
Here’s the Matthew 16 verse in context.
Matthew 16:13-19 (NKJV)13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Jesus asked His disciples who the people were saying that He was and after getting the answer He asked them who they said or believed He was. When Peter answered that He was the Son of God Jesus told him that the statement that He was the Son of God was on what His church was built. Everything He said after was regarding the church and things related to it. Yes, I know that individuals make up the church but Jesus was talking about His body the church.
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NKJV) Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Jesus was talking to Peter and indirectly to the other apostles. When He said that He was giving him the keys He meant authority to proclaim the fact that He, Jesus was the Son of God and that would be the means of opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers and nothing could stop it even the gates of Hades, death. The expressions “bind” and “loose” were common to Jewish legal phraseology meaning to declare something forbidden or to declare it allowed.
Here is an example of something that can affect the church and that leader can lead in binding;
1 Corinthians 5:1, 4-5 (NKJV)1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
The Matthew 18 scripture is even more clear that Jesus is talking about church discipline.
Matthew 18:15-20 (NKJV)15 "Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.'17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.18 Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.19 Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
Those members of the church who sin and repent are to be “loosed” or in other words, restored to fellowship, while those who are unrepentant are to be “bound” or removed from fellowship (Matt. Again,sickness, poverty, and there is no reference to demonic activity in this context.
Peter, the other disciples, and us today do have the authority to discipline, but only as it relates to the church and individuals as they relate to the church. We do not have the authority over individuals and their eternal destiny.
I believe that one of the reasons that we think we have authority to bind or loose whatever we want is that we forget the rest of the binding and loosing scriptures…”will be loosed in heaven”. In these two scriptures, Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, Jesus tells us that He will ratify what is done in His name in obedience to His Word which is established in heaven. That’s what He meant when He said that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.
For people of faith Advent is a time to pause and reflect, a time of deeper devotion and prayer. In many churches and homes, candles are lit on a wreath often representing hope, love, joy, and peace. Like many Christians, at this time of year, I read and meditate on devotions with an Advent theme. In my quiet time, this morning, I read a devotion that was excerpted from Christmas Stories by Max Lucado. It really brought home to me what this time of Advent is all about. It’s time of anticipation of the coming of Christ from three different perspectives; in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts everyday, and in glory when Jesus returns. I want to share the entire devotion with you, my blog readers. I hope that it blesses you as much as it did me.
The North Pole or the Manger?
by Max Lucado, from Christmas Stories
Some call him Sinterklaas. Others Pere Noel or Papa Noel. He’s been known as Hoteiosho, Sonnerklaas, Father Christmas, Jelly Belly, and to most English speakers, Santa Claus.
His original name was Nicholas, which means victorious. He was born in AD 280 in what is now Turkey. He was orphaned at age nine when his parents died of a plague. Though many would think Santa majored in toy making and minored in marketing, actually the original Nicholas studied Greek philosophy and Christian doctrine.
He was honored by the Catholic church by being named Bishop of Myra in the early fourth century. He held the post until his death on December 6, 343.
History recognized him as a saint, but in the third century he was a bit of a troublemaker. He was twice jailed, once by the Emperor Diocletian for religious reasons, the other for slugging a fellow bishop during a fiery debate. (So much for finding out who is naughty and nice.)
Old Nick never married. But that’s not to say he wasn’t a romantic. He was best known for the kindness he showed to a poor neighbor who was unable to support his three daughters or provide the customary dowry so they could attract husbands. Old Saint Nicholas slipped up to the house by night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the window so the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He repeated this act on two other nights for the other two daughters.
This story was the seed that, watered with years, became the Santa legend. It seems that every generation adorned it with another ornament until it sparkled more than a Christmas tree.
The gift grew from a handful of coins to bags of coins. Instead of dropping them through the window, he dropped them down the chimney. And rather than land on the floor, the bags of coins landed in the girls’ stockings, which were hanging on the hearth to dry. (So that’s where all this stocking stuff started.)
The centuries have been as good to Nicholas’s image as to his deeds. Not only have his acts been embellished, his wardrobe and personality have undergone transformations as well.
As Bishop of Myra, he wore the traditional ecclesiastical robes and a mitered hat. He is known to have been slim, with a dark beard and a serious personality.
By 1300 he was wearing a white beard. By the 1800s he was depicted with a rotund belly and an ever-present basket of food over his arm. Soon came the black boots, a red cape, and a cheery stocking on his head. In the late nineteenth century his basket of food became a sack of toys. In 1866 he was small and gnomish but by 1930 he was a robust six-footer with rosy cheeks and a Coca-Cola.
Santa reflects the desires of people all over the world. With the centuries he has become the composite of what we want:
A friend who cares enough to travel a long way against all odds to bring good gifts to good people.
The culmination of what we need in a hero. The personification of our passions. The expression of our yearnings. The fulfillment of our desires. And... the betrayal of our meager expectations.
What? you say. Let me explain.
You see, Santa can’t provide what we really need. For one thing, he’s only around once a year. When January winds chill our souls, he’s history. When December’s requests become February payments, Santa’s left the mall. When April demands taxes or May brings final exams, Santa is still months from his next visit. And should July find us ill or October find us alone, we can’t go to his chair for comfort — it’s still empty. He only comes once a year.
And when he comes, though he gives much, he doesn’t take away much. He doesn't take away the riddle of the grave, the burden of mistakes, or the anxiety of demands. He’s kind and quick and cute; but when it comes to healing hurts — don’t go to Santa.
Now, I don’t mean to be a Scrooge. I’m not wanting to slam the jolly old fellow. I am just pointing out that we people are timid when it comes to designing legends.
You’d think we could do better. You’d think that over six centuries we’d develop a hero who’d resolve those fears.
But we can’t. We have made many heroes, from King Arthur to Kennedy; Lincoln to Lindbergh; Socrates to Santa to Superman. We give it the best we can, every benefit of every doubt, every supernatural strength, and for a brief shining moment we have the hero we need — the king who can deliver Camelot. But then the truth leaks, and fact surfaces amid the fiction, and the chinks in the armor are seen. And we realize that the heroes, as noble as they may have been, as courageous as they were, were conceived in the same stained society as you and I.
There was One who claimed to come from a different place. There was One who, though He had the appearance of a man, claimed to have the origin of God. There was One who, while wearing the face of a Jew, had the image of the Creator.
Those who saw Him — really saw Him — knew there was something different. At His touch blind beggars saw. At His command crippled legs walked. At His embrace empty lives filled with vision.
He fed thousands with one basket. He stilled a storm with one command. He raised the dead with one proclamation. He changed lives with one request. He rerouted the history of the world with one life, lived in one country, was born in one manger, and died on one hill...
After three years of ministry, hundreds of miles, thousands of miracles, innumerable teachings, Jesus asks, “Who?” Jesus bids the people to ponder not what He has done but who He is.
It’s the ultimate question of the Christ: Whose Son is He? Is He the Son of God or the sum of our dreams? Is He the force of creation or a figment of our imagination?
When we ask that question about Santa, the answer is the culmination of our desires. A depiction of our fondest dreams.
Not so when we ask it about Jesus. For no one could ever dream a person as incredible as He is. The idea that a virgin would be selected by God to bear Himself... The notion that God would don a scalp and toes and two eyes... The thought that the King of the universe would sneeze and burp and get bit by mosquitoes... It’s too incredible. Too revolutionary. We would never create such a Savior. We aren’t that daring.
When we create a redeemer, we keep him safely distant in his faraway castle. We allow him only the briefest of encounters with us. We permit him to swoop in and out with his sleigh before we can draw too near. We wouldn’t ask him to take up residence in the midst of a contaminated people. In our wildest imaginings we wouldn’t conjure a king who becomes one of us.
But God did.
God did what we wouldn’t dare dream. He did what we couldn’t imagine. He became a man so we could trust Him. He became a sacrifice so we could know Him. And He defeated death so we could follow Him.
It defies logic. It is a divine insanity. A holy incredibility. Only a God beyond systems and common sense could create a plan as absurd as this. Yet it is the very impossibility of it all that makes it possible. The wildness of the story is its strongest witness.
For only a God could create a plan this mad. Only a Creator beyond the fence of logic could offer such a gift of love.
What man can’t do, God does.
So, when it comes to goodies and candy, cherub cheeks and red noses, go to the North Pole.
But when it comes to eternity, forgiveness, purpose, and truth, go to the manger. Kneel with the shepherds. Worship the God who dared to do what man dared not dream.
Excerpted with permission from Christmas Stories by Max Lucado, copyright Thomas Nelson.
JESUS is indeed the reason for the season!
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.