If You Are Going Through Hell…

“If you are going through hell, keep going.”

– Winston Churchill

Right now, for many people around the world, it feels like we are going through hell. Life as we knew it has come to a screeching halt for many. Now, more than ever, it is critical to keep Scriptures in our minds, and to follow these instructions:

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His Name; Make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His Holy Name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, …..” 1 Chronicles 16:8‭-‬12 NASB

God is in control. He did not cause this; man’s original sin has caused it. God has allowed it to happen, true, but I don’t believe this is His judgment. That comes later, at the Great White Throne and the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Revelation 20)

Until Jesus returns, we get to live in this fallen world, where it often feels as though we are going through hell. I promise you that no matter how bad it gets here, hell will be a thousand times worse….. or more. I have to remind myself to praise God sometimes, especially in the midst of the storm. Keep the final destination in the forefront of your mind. If hell will be a thousand times worse than anything we go through here on earth, we know that heaven will be ten thousand times more spectacular than the very best we can imagine! Keep your eyes on the prize*, and if you feel you are going through hell, keep going!

(*The prize is the only one worth pursuing: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, calling Him LORD of All!)

Anxious Thoughts

“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” Psalms 94:19 NASB

In 1872, a young wife and mother named Annie Hawks penned these words:

I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee;
every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to thee.

In times like today, when so many people are frightened and worried, these words offer Christians the comfort that we are safe in the arms of Jesus. For those of you who want that comfort, it’s within your reach. I know how it feels to believe that you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven. I know what it means to be standing on the outside looking in, deep in sin and wondering how He could possibly reach me – and thinking that there was no way the LORD would even want to reach me.

Please, listen.

No matter what, God knows you and loves you.

He forgives, no matter what. Liars, cheaters, adulterers, thieves, even murderers. Don’t take my word for it! Read the Bible! The greatest people in it are sinners. Moses was a murderer. King David was greedy and an adulterer. Rahab and Mary Magdalene were prostitutes. Peter lied. Paul persecuted the early Christians! There are many, many more, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of the LORD, once you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. He is our salvation. No one, and nothing, here on earth can save you. Not Buddha, not Mohammad, or Joseph Smith, or any of the other thousands of imposters.

“For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His ONLY Begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. For GOD did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16‭-‬17 NASB

Believe it. Believe HIM.

An Ordinary Man

Do you ever wonder what Jesus looks like? Kings and queens of Jesus’ day had likenesses carved and etched on different surfaces, and there are other descriptions of “ordinary” people from that time period. For instance, we’ve been told that David was “beautiful”. Why do you suppose there isn’t even a hint of what Jesus looks like? In the artwork depicting Jesus, it inevitably shows Him as a handome man, but fairly generic, as if all of the artists were afraid to depict a Jew. I’ve read in the scriptures that He was an ordinary man, and I’ve wondered about that. I have a beautiful picture of Him, but I really doubt it’s Jesus.

This “ordinary” man was anything BUT ordinary! Not only did He heal the blind and the deaf, He cast out demons, turned water into wine; He healed cripples and a multitude of illnesses, and He raised up people from death back to life. He Himself came out of the tomb, and there were hundreds of people who witnessed to seeing Him after His resurrection. He said to His disciples, “I have been given ALL Authority in heaven and on earth.” – Matthew 28:18 NLT

He has authority over me, and over you. Have you submitted to that authority yet? Remember, it’s better to live this life as if there were a God, than to spend eternity wishing you had…

New Life


Read 2 Peter and Jude. (They’re short!)

The author is Simon, or Simeon, Peter, called “the Rock” by Jesus. Peter writes to emphasize his 2 lives, his before and after of meeting Jesus, the Christ. He shows us the difference in our old lives and what we can become through Jesus. Simon Peter describes himself as a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. An Apostle is ‘one sent with the delegated authority of the one who sends him.’ We know that Jesus sent His Apostles out to spread the Gospel and to preach Salvation.

Peter writes “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” – for there are no 2nd class Christians, we are all equal in the sight of God, “by the righteousness of our God and Savior.” That’s One person, GOD and SAVIOUR, Jesus Christ, not multiple beings but One. Peter reminds us that the substance of our salvation is the righteousness given to us by Jesus Christ: GOD, SAVIOUR, SPIRIT, One person. In his letter to the Romans, he quotes King David: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not take into account.” (Romans 4:8)
Grace, the free, unmerited favor of God, Righteousness, and Peace are ongoing subjects for Peter. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; ” Ephesians 2:8 NASB He knows these intimately through his own personal experiences, and his desire is that everyone learn to know them, too. To that end, he spent his life traveling and writing, sharing the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Grace and Peace be multiplied” [grow and increase] “to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; ….” Our part, our work, is nothing; all we bring to the table is our sin. We grow through the knowledge of His Word, and full of experiential knowledge, we become God explorers, learning about Him throughout our lives. We all are all born into His kingdom as babies. There are no great Christians born; everyone must grow into their own personal relationship with the LORD.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17‭-‬18 NASB
2 Peter is all about being learning, knowledge and growth – and that you have to know to grow. These books call Christians to spiritual growth to combat false teachings through the knowledge of the LORD. He was writing to the believers in modern Turkey against false teachings just as we are faced with today, such as there not being a literal hell, gender confusion, and Christ not being the Son of God. All we have to do is listen to what’s going on around us to see these falsehoods in action. Our knowledge of His Word will help prevent us from becoming like these Galatian Christians:

“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:6‭-‬9 NASB

Faith and salvation both come from the LORD. As  A.W. Tozer said, “God is never found accidentally.” My prayer is that you have found God, and that you are learning His Words so that you are not deceived by the father of lies and deceit.

“To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

False Teachers

Peter warns us of the people who want to take advantage of us:

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB

Jesus warns us in His Sermon on the Mount:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NASB

The Apostle and Physician Luke traveled with Paul, and is believed to have written the book of Acts. He also warns us of false teachers.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29‭-‬30 NASB

We receive ample warning, but do we really listen? We know that people will emerge from among the church; subversive traitors who secretly introduce false ideas and concepts with conviction, to cause people to choose error over truth. The enemy is insidious in his quest to destroy us. Heresy is the view of ultimate reality that is wrong and therefore bad for you. By nature, heresy is destructive. It is distorting the truth.

We identify false teachers by asking questions. Do they believe (and teach) there is definitive right and wrong? Do they teach that you should believe in yourself and ask God to help you reach your goals. Is God real? What is their view of eternity? Is Christ Divine; is He their LORD and King? Ask: Who is Jesus Christ?

Nothing is more foundational than how you believe the Bible. It is not from man but from God, the ultimate authority. Denial of God’s Laws leads to seductive activity that cater to the flesh. These are lies, because impure living is heresy for anyone claiming Christianity. False teachers feed on people’s desires. They are greedy and in ministry for the benefits they receive, instead of of bringing people to Christ. They use false words, plastic theology, that is molded to deceive, and stretched and twisted to mean anything. These are lies from the father of lies.

Listen to them. Are they teaching the Triune God? Is their behavior Christ like – is it pointing to themselves or to Christ? Look at their actions; hear what they are saying, and compare it only to the Word. They are pervasive, destructive, seductive, and manipulative.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2‭-‬6 NASB

40 Fails

The number 40 appears around 146 times in scripture, and is used to indicate a time of testing or trial. For 40 days and 40 nights it rained and the waters came up out of the ground to cover all of the earth, while Noah and his family took shelter in the ark. (Genesis 7:12)

Moses spent 40 years living in Egypt before moving to the land of Midian, where he spent another 40 years (Exodus 2) before he returned to Egypt and led the Israelites away from captivity. He spent another 40 years with them, wandering in the wilderness. During that time, Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1 – 28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for forty days, to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance. (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).

The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh, for forty days, that its destruction would come because of its many sins. The prophet Ezekiel laid on His right side for 40 days to symbolize Judah’s sins (Ezekiel 4:6). 40 days in the wilderness. That’s how long Jesus was there.

For me, I wandered in and out of my own personal wilderness for 40 years. I walked away from a home of spiritual safety, into the sinful ways of the world. There is another story from the Bible that I want to share as an example that God can overcome if we allow it.

From the devotional “Epic Fails” by Brittany Rust: “Samson’s epic fail was a thirst for the things of this world, fulfilling lust, and not learning from his past mistakes. His story shows us that pursuing these things will only bring us down and hurt us. That refusing to learn from our past will be our fall. Take cues from your pitfalls and draw boundaries that will protect you from repeating the past. I’m thankful to see that Samson finished strong; he connected with God and went out victoriously. Even though he didn’t steward his gift well, God still graciously blessed him for His purposes and, in the end, used him greater than ever before.”

“Then Samson called to the LORD and said, “O LORD GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O GOD, ……”
Judges 16:28a NASB

I failed as a follower of Jesus for 40 years. I still stumble and fall, and fail, constantly; I’m sure at least 40 times a day. My saving grace is that Jesus is my Saviour. His Mercy covers me. Have you received His Grace and His Mercy and Forgiveness? Ask Him today, right now. He’s waiting patiently.

Moral Excellence, Take 2

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:5‭-‬7 NASB

We start in verses 1-4 with “We have received a Faith….” and follow with the attributes we want to model as followers of Jesus Christ. Our Justification and our Glorification are all God, but our Sanctification is for us and God. It requires diligence on our part. God does His work but ours MUST follow, and we should be working on them simultaneously, not separately.

Moral excellence isn’t an attitude, and it doesn’t mean Christians are any better than anyone else. We sin just like non-Christians. The difference should be that we are consciously working towards a “cleaner” life; getting rid of the “rocks” and “weeds”, the trash and detritus, the people and things that separate us from our LORD.

We search out knowledge. It is how we grow, and is essential to a healthy spiritual life, learning and knowing God. Our knowledge must be applied and lived out in our lives. We gain it through Bible studies, by meeting together in small groups, and in our personal reading and study of God’s Word in a daily quiet time. Knowledge of His Word helps us by intensifying our worship, and it sustains us in time of crisis.

Self Control – this is a trait that is laughed at by many who are out in the world. Get hold of yourself? Reining in passion and desire? What happened to “If it feels good, do it”? In controlling our desires rather than being controlled, we exhibit one of the fruits of the Spirit: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (also verses 19-21) NO ONE and NO THING should control me other than the Master. (Proverbs 16:32, 24:16)

As Christians, our perseverance can be evident in a “Never give up” attitude. Perseverance produces maturity. Perseverance prevails. “….. knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:3 NASB We live one day at a time; just for today – doing the next thing; refusing to quit or to give up what God has called us to do with our life. When we surround ourselves with encouragers, it is much easier to persevere. (Recommended reading: “Suffering is Never for Nothing” by Elizabeth Elliot)

Godliness means literally “God likeness, becoming like God/ Christ.” We are to emulate Christ, and to do that, we must spend time with Him. The Rev. Adoniram Judson said “Don’t compare me to other men, compare me to Jesus.” Will people say that of me – or of you?

How do we show brotherly kindness? The word Philadelphia means literally to “love your brother.” It’s our attitude towards people. Brotherly kindness isn’t just about our physical, familial brother or sister, but it’s about all of our human “siblings,” regardless of color, nationality, or proximity. True brotherly kindness prays for each other, forgives, and is generous to others. This naturally leads to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, love.

Love for others is the capstone, crowning glory; the willingness to sacrifice ourselves for the higher good. All we have to do is look at the example set by Jesus; His sacrifice starting with leaving Heaven’s throne and coming to spend a lifetime on the earth. His sacrifice lead to the offering of His life on the cross, and culminated in His victory over death with His resurrection. I’m thankful that He doesn’t require that of us! As we bask in and revel in God’s love, we can love others. There are many Scriptures on loving others: John 13:36, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5 for just an example.

“We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19‭-‬21 NASB