Thursday, May 24, 2012

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Riches In Heaven

Storing up riches in Heaven is like saving for retirement, only safer. This life is a test of God to see what we do with it. Your reward in Heaven is based on what you do with this life; not if you get to Heaven but rather the heavenly reward you receive. Salvation is by grace, but Heavenly reward is based on works. All in Heaven rejoice when someone gives his life to the Lord. That seems to be a good score, if you are in part responsible.

It would be futile to approach my writings, which I believe are inspired by God, without the realization that there is a cloud of suspicion and even resentment created in those who are overwhelmed by the cares of the world. Throughout the history of the world, those who were chosen to speak for the Lord have been taunted and ridiculed in their attempts to do so. It is necessary to understand that bigotry and bias are abundant throughout the present world but will not be present in the ‘World to Come’; therefore my writings will not be necessary, as we will all know the will of God.

Since the late seventies, when I received ‘the call’ to ‘speak for the Lord’, it has proved to be a struggle of the first degree. It is not that I am superior, in any way to others, but rather that I was called to relate the aspirations of the Lord, in an understandable way, to anyone who will listen with an open mind. A mind that is receptive to the will of God, to which I am subject.

One should never read into my writings that which is not plainly stated. I ask that if someone feels that my opinions, unless stated openly as my opinions, have crept into any of my writings they should consult the scriptures for verification or reproof. It is my wish that as I attempt to explain the ‘Sword of The Spirit’ which is the Word of God, I do so with a dagger that points to the Sword.

It is my stance, that the Bible is the Word of God. It is factual and accurate in what it conveys. Not that every jot and tittle is exact in translation, but that it conveys, adequately and exactly, that which the Lord would have us to know. The Authorized King James version is what I always refer back to for verification of the other translations. Some of the newer ‘translations’ seem to be less than Holt Spirit inspired.

Not every word of these writings is given of God like was the case of the prophets. As it has worked out, the inspiration for each writing, comes from the Lord, but most times it has been my duty to research and find the best way to express that inspiration. I trust that I follow the wishes of the Lord when I pursue that purpose. At times more effort and prayer is required than at others. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is what I do my best to follow. I pray that I qualify in the words of my great grandfather, the Reverend Frederick Rahn: “He gladly did what he was able to do, and he unreservedly submits to the Masters call”.

Rick Rahn

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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What Price Did They Pay?

We all know about the horrible things that Jesus had to suffer on our behalf. Did you ever wonder what became of the early evangelists in their efforts to bring the Gospel to us? How much did you suffer today? Perhaps someone at work put you down, because you mentioned Jesus. After all, Jesus did say we would suffer for His names sake.

The original 12 Apostles -

1. Andrew, brother of Peter, was crucified on an X shaped cross and stoned, while he was on the cross

2. Nathaniel / Bartholomew, was skinned alive and then beheaded

3. James the Great, brother of John, was beheaded

4. James the Less/younger, brother of Matthew, cousin of Jesus, was stoned and then clubbed to death

5. Judas Iscariot, committed suicide after betraying Jesus

6. Judas / Thaddeus / Jude, was clubbed to death and beheaded

7. John, died of old age, he returned to Ephesus after he was held prisoner on the Isle of Patmos

8. Matthew, brother of James the younger / cousin of Jesus, was killed with an axe

9. Simon Peter, brother of Andrew, was crucified upside down

10. Philip, was crucified and stoned while being crucified, at age 87

11. Simon the Zealot, was sawn in half

12. Thomas / Didymus, was killed with a spear / lance

Other Apostles -

1. Apollos, apparently died of old age

2. Barnabas, was tortured and stoned to death

3. James the Just/ brother of Jesus, executed by stoning

4. Judas / brother of Jesus, was killed with a halberd

5. Luke, was either crucified with Andrew or died of old age

6. Mark, was killed by being dragged around the streets, with a rope around his neck, until he gave up the ghost

7. Mary Magdalene, apparently died of old age

8. Matthias, was elected by the eleven to replace Judas, he was crucified

9. Paul / Saul, was beheaded in Rome

10. Silas / Silvanus, seems to have died of old age

11. Stephen, was stoned to death

12. Timothy, was stoned to death

All of the 25 people above put themselves on the line so that we would be able to ask Jesus to come into our heart, forgive our sins, be our savior, change our life and usher us into the Kingdom of God. Why did they put up with what they went through? Jesus sacrificed Himself because He, the Father and the Holy Spirit planned that He would voluntarily pay the price of the punishment we deserved for all the things we did in your lives that were not in the will of God. All the other 24 were either eye witnesses, were taught by the apostles, or like Paul had a supernatural experience with Jesus.

Does it really make sense, as some religions teach, some people believe, and some people ignore that all this was done by the people above, and the millions since, to propagate a story that was not true? To be an atheist is to ignore any form of truth and rationality. Does it make sense, as the Muslims teach, that Jesus, when He returns will say ‘oops, I was wrong, I really am not God’s Son, I really didn’t die on the cross, Allah is lord and if you convert to Islam I won’t kill you’? Some people over the centuries knew better than the God of the Bible and invented their own religions. There have even been signs and wonders done by some of these people as they were empowered by Lucifer and his followers, in order to propagate these false religions. The only real way to tell the difference between the Lord of the Bible and falsehood is to compare them to the Word of God.

In order to write this paper I have researched through the Bible , Everyman’s Talmud , Books on the Apostles, Josephus’s Complete History of the Jews (the recognized historian of the Jews is Josephus), and the internet. It intrigues me that in Everyman’s Talmud, there are footnotes to passages in the New Testament credited as authoritative to corroborate what the Talmud is saying. In Josephus’s history, he states, without equivocation, that Jesus was the Christ. There are Jews that accept Jesus as the Messiah, yet many are still deceived into believing the contrary. The saving grace of the Israeli’s is that in the end, as well as many times in the past, a remnant will be saved. Twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes will accept Jesus as Lord just before the ‘end of the age’. The ‘End of the Age’, as we refer to it, is the same thing that the Jews call the ‘Day of The Lord’.

One would think that with all the evidence available, and the unction of the Holy Spirit, there would hardly be any who would not receive the free gift offered by the Lord for redemption. John 3:16 states: “For God loved the world so much, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:9 says: “That if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Do you know what Christians mean when they say repentance? It means to change your mind. You change your mind from not accepting the gift of Christ, to acceptance of it. Simple, right? What have you got to loose? With all the effort so many people have expended so that you could know the truth, shouldn’t you at least look into it?

Rick Rahn

Saturday, May 19, 2012

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          Forgiveness is a wonderful gift.  Things like:

1. My earthly father’s forgiveness for the time my friend and I polished his car with sandpaper. 

2.  My sister in law was forgiven by her father for taking the car out for a joy ride when she was in the eighth grade.

3.  Moses was forgiven for murder and not circumcising his sons.

4.  King David was forgiven for the murder of Uriah in order to steal his wife.

5.  Peter was forgiven for denying the Lord three times.

6.  St. Paul was forgiven for the execution of many in the early church.

There are too many examples both in my memory and the Biblical literature to list here.  There are many things in our lives, large or small, for which we need forgiveness (even those things which we don’t remember or didn’t realize were wrong).  None of us are perfect; no not one.[1]  We were born into a sinful world and we are tempted daily. 


          People have gotten it wrong: God is not good, He is perfect.  There are good people in the world that are not perfect.  There are good hot fudge sundays in the world that come close to being perfect.  God, on the other hand, is perfect and responsible for all things good, created in the world and in Heaven.  Because God is perfect, He cannot lie.  He said that there is one way to the Father and it was through Christ.[2]

          Because God is perfect, He cannot abide sin.  He gave us free will, and for four thousand years, He tried to lead us to Himself, and what is best for us.  We, however, are not perfect and many times make choices that are not the best for us.  When your child is wandering around aimlessly and having difficulty in finding where you want him to go, you gently take him by the hand and lead the way.  This is like what the Father did for us with Jesus.  Since we couldn’t find a way to live successfully under the law, He supplied His Son to lead the way.  He didn’t come to do away with the laws of God, but to sacrifice Himself to cover the price for our transgressions of those laws. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was

[1] Romans 3:23
[2] John 14:6

Friday, May 11, 2012

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Afflictions Are But For A Moment

If you have never watched the movie Johnny before, I urge you to do so. It is a Christian movie that is so inspirational, especially for the purpose of helping one to understand how God helps us and draws us closer to Him even through the most trying times of our lives. It is one that helps us remember that there really is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, and that He will never leave or forsake us.

Up until I was about eighteen years of age, I suffered with asthma. The rattling of my chest and the sound of my wheezing could be heard from one room to another. I can remember even praying to God that He would just take me home so I wouldn’t have to struggle for the next breath. That’s one of those prayers that you later thank the Lord for answering with a “no.”. When I was in the ninth grade I was having such a hard time that I missed quite a bit of school. Just trying to walk a short distance would cause me to turn blue around my mouth. Finally, our family doctor sent me to an allergist. I took shots for three years, and after my senior year of high school, I suffered only a very few attacks until I finally didn’t have asthma. I believe that helped me to look at other ‘afflictions’ over the coming years in a different light when compared to struggling to take the next breath.

When I was in the second grade I got scarlet fever. I was quarantined to my to my room for over two weeks. Except for the doctor and my parents, I was not allowed to see anyone else. My skin would turn red and even peel as if I had gotten badly sunburned. I knew I was sick, but was never aware that it could possibly cause death. The worst possible consequences in my mind was when there was talk that I might have to repeat the second grade because I had missed so much school. To my way of thinking, that was a fate worse than death, and God had rescued me from it.

At the age of nineteen, during my freshman year at college, the University of Georgia was desegregated. Our first female black student lived in the same dormitory that I did. At first, everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly and there hadn’t been any riots or protests as there had been at other colleges. Then the afternoon before the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech basketball game, there were rumors that there was going to be trouble after the game. I was afraid and asked my house mother if I could please go stay with my sister and brother-in-law who lived off campus. She said that she couldn’t let me go because then they would have to let others leave also. That night, our dorm was put on lockdown. We had to stay in our rooms with the doors locked and lights out. While sitting on the bed that night, I heard a loud crash and felt a sudden blow to my head. To my surprise, a rock had been hurled and came crashing through the window. Flying across the room, it struck me just above my right eye. The next morning, I called my Mama. I was telling her about the riot when she said that she had heard on TV that one person had gotten hurt. I replied that it was me, and then explained the details. By the next day, I had two black eyes and suffered with headaches for the next couple of weeks. As a result, my parents flew down from our home in Baltimore, Md., just to check on me. The school of course was afraid they were coming down to possibly sue them for not letting me go stay with my sister out of harm’s way. I suppose there were those that would have sued, but my parent’s only concern was for my well being. As a result of headaches, I had to drop one of my courses to lighten my load. However, two years later, I began to have epileptic seizures. It was never conclusively proven, but was determined that the blow to my head could possibly have been a factor in causing the seizures.

I was at college when I had the first seizure. I awoke in the morning feeling very sick at my stomach. I had also wet the bed, which I thought was very strange. Furthermore, my tongue also hurt. On the way to class, I decided that I just might better go to the infirmary. The doctor examined me, gave me a prescription and told me to go back to my dorm and rest. In the meantime, he called my dorm mother, told her he thought I had had a seizure and advised her to call my parents. My parents once again flew down. It wasn’t until after they were there and had spoken with the doctor, that I was informed of his suspicion that I had had a seizure. I knew little or nothing about epilepsy. I must admit, that we all thought the doctor must be mistaken, for we did no further investigation into the situation at the time. It wasn’t until later that summer, after traveling to visit my sister, that I had another really bad seizure. My other sister was also there visiting. She heard me cry out and knew right away what was happening. Her youngest son had had epilepsy since he was a little baby of little more than a year old. That seizure was the worst one I have ever had. I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and was not even conscious of anything until after I was already in the hospital room. When I finally started to come out of it, I was upset because I felt like I was having difficulty thinking and could not remember anything that had happened and could not understand how or why I was even in the hospital.

Needless to say, when we returned home, we did go to the doctor and it was determined that I did have a seizure disorder, but the cause could not be determined. I have been on medication and the seizures are very well managed. I have been fortunate in that they have only occurred during my sleep, and have not altered my life that much. I do know that when it was confirmed that I did have epilepsy, my Mama did not want me to tell my boyfriend (my future husband) or his family. It was not that she was ashamed or anything. She was merely being protective of me, as even at that time, some people looked upon epilepsy as being a really weird thing and even shunned having anything to do with those who had epilepsy. I did tell my Sweetheart and his attitude was, “So what, I love you.” I had a seizure just a few months after we were married, during which I once again wet the bed. He was so sweet the way he was so gentle and tender with me and took care of me as if he was an old pro in such situations. I have always felt so proud of him. After all, from my point of view, I’m just the one that is having the seizure, while he is the one that has to watch over me and make sure that I’m okay. He’s my care taker and my hero.

When I was in the eleventh grade, I remember standing beside my bed and for some reason I had the feeling that I might not be able to have children. Why I was thinking this, I have no earthly idea. I had not suffered any female problems to even cause me to have such thoughts. I just knew that having children one day was very important to me. I prayed and asked the Lord to please bless me with at least one baby before I died. Years later, even before we were married, we had discussed having children, and decided that if for some reason we could not have children, we would adopt them. By the time of our second year of marriage, I had had two miscarriages during the second month of each pregnancy. Finally, during our third year of marriage, as soon as I thought I was pregnant, I went to the doctor and I was given shots to help me carry the pregnancy for the first four or five months, and we were blessed with the birth of our first son. When he was three years old, I was about twelve weeks pregnant and once again, after a week of complete bed rest due to bleeding, I miscarried that baby also.

Two years later, we were blessed with the birth of a beautiful little baby girl. And again, I was given shots during the first five months of the pregnancy to help prevent me from miscarrying again.

Two years later, I was pregnant once again. I was given the shots and all seemed to be going okay. It did seem that the baby was not moving very much in comparison to my others. Yet the doctor never expressed any concern. They did not do ultrasounds as a standard procedure as they do now. Then when I was a little more than seven months, I began to hemorrhage. My husband was out of town on a business trip, so my brother had to take me to the hospital. My husband arrived at the hospital a couple of hours later just before I was taken into surgery to have the baby by caesarean delivery. Our little baby girl was born with multiple birth defects and lived for only one hour. After this, the doctors advised us not to get pregnant again; fearing that the same thing could happen once again. But we did not feel our family was complete. A year later, I knew there was a good chance I was pregnant. I knew in my heart, from the very beginning that all was going to be well. I told my sisters, and asked them to lay hands on me and pray for me and the baby. This time I wasn’t even given any shots. And we had our last child who arrived weighing in at almost nine pounds, and he was absolutely gorgeously formed, thank the Lord!

When I was about forty five, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. For the first couple of years, I thought it was just something that would make me feel like I had been bruised, or make your arms hurt and feel like they weighed fifty pounds each. Later, a doctor told me, “Well Mrs. Rahn, I’ve good and bad news for you. The good news is that it won’t kill you. The bad news is that it will make you feel like you wish that it would.”

Several years later at about the age of sixty four, I fell at work and suffered a blow to my head, which caused me to have some rather bothersome problems as a result of the concussion. It has left me with such symptoms as vertigo migraine headaches, photophobia, and ataxia (Ataxia is an inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements. A person with ataxia will appear to be off-balance when standing and unsteady or staggering when walking. For me, this mainly occurs in connection to influence from light.) I am especially affected by bright sunlight, fluorescent lights, halogen and other bright lights. This means that I must wear sunglasses, and other protective devices to block out as much light as possible most of the time, or I will walk like I am drunk and feel like I’m a top that is wobbling and about to fall down. At times, my head and neck hurt so much that I have to retreat to a completely darkened room until the symptoms subside. Believe it or not, as debilitating as it sounds, I have gotten better than it was for several months, so for that I am very grateful. My husband had installed room darkening shades on most of the windows in our house, so I can motivate pretty well in our home. I had to quit teaching, driving, and must have assistance when walking outside or in the presence of most forms of light.

At one point after the initial onset of this condition, my older brother was visiting us and I remember him saying that it looked like I had been dealt a double share of afflictions. He contemplated for a moment on why God chooses to heal some completely and not others. The spoken thoughts of his heart rather amazed me at the time, for I remember thinking that I hadn’t looked on my life in such a way. I guess it’s because the things I have suffered over time could look rather overwhelming from one point of view; however, it seemed to me that God had never given me more than I could handle. Even though I didn’t always realize it, He had always been there to help me through each and every trial of my life. Then too, any afflictions that we may suffer are made lighter when we realize that there is always someone else who has far worse things to endure. Looking at afflictions of any kind in that light, has made me very grateful for the things I can do, and enabled me not to sweat the things I can’t do.

At age sixty eight, after winding up in the hospital with horrible chest pain, it was discovered that one of my arteries was about ninety five percent closed. A stint was inserted in the artery the very next day. Well, that was another part of God’s plan of rescue for me. He’s just not finished with me and ready for me to come home just yet.

These are just some of the physical ‘afflictions’ of my lifetime without reference to other trials and tribulations that may or may not naturally occur during one’s life span. None of this was expounded upon to say ‘poor me, or let’s have a pity party.’ Indeed, no! And you may even be asking, what in the world does it all have to do with the movie Johnny, spoken of in the very first paragraph. It can all be summed up in the idea that sufferings, afflictions, trials, tribulations, hard times in general, do not always have to result in defeat, depression, or a give up attitude with no hope in life. I don’t mean that I have not sunk into having a few ‘pity parties’ for myself from time to time. But I do mean that it is in the trials and tribulations of life, when we find ourselves at our weakest point, that God is given the greatest opportunities to exhibit just how strong He is if we will but put our trust in Him and not in ourselves.

The movie Johnny is about a young boy who has lived his short life in foster homes. As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, he is then diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia and the prognosis is extremely bleak. Instead of wallowing in self pity, he has a faith in God that gives him an exceptionally positive outlook on life. He realizes that he is not going to have the chance to grow up to fulfill his dreams, and yet he lives out the rest of his short life as if he has a mission to complete, and he is determined to do so by making the most of every moment. This young boy not only studies and knows the word of God in his head, but he has hidden it in his heart to the point that it has become his internal compass that directs his every thought and action. It is amazing to see how he is truly ‘transformed’ by the Word, and not conformed by the world. In his short life, he has been a living example of what it truly means to become less of one’s old nature, and more like the image of Jesus Christ. In doing so, he has touched the lives of all those with whom he comes in contact to such a point that their lives are completely changed, even after he is no longer with them.

The first thing that just flows out from him is his faith that he has been saved through grace, not by any deeds of his own. He is secure in his knowledge that he has an eternal home with God because God loved him so much that He sent His only Son to die for him that he could be forgiven for all of his sins. Mercy and grace truly do ‘follow’ him all the days of his life. Because of Jesus, he lives out his life in a win/win attitude. That is, if he lives he wins and gets to live out his life. If he dies, he still wins as He gets to go to his real eternal home with God where there are no more diseases and he is forever with his real family in a home created just for Him. How can anyone stay downcast for long with that kind of God given strength? He truly demonstrates the power of the Word of God as stated in the scripture that we are to think in the following manner: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8, 9)

In his weakness, the strength of God is made even more visible. He is a living example of how “all things are possible with God,” (Matt. 19: 26) and “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” (II Cor. 4: 8 – 11)

In wondering why God does not always just heal or deliver everyone instantly of all diseases, maladies, or hardships, I think we need not look any further than Christ Him self. For when He was facing crucifixion, he did ask the Father to let the cup pass from Him if it were possible, but ultimately He sought to do the Father’s will. Of all people, He could have saved Himself from all the pain, suffering, and death that He faced. Yet, He knew that it was his very sacrifice that would fulfill the purpose of God in the plan of salvation for our redemption from sin and death to provide eternal salvation for those who would believe in Him. None of us can say that we have ever suffered more than Christ as He hung on the cross and had the sins of the world imputed upon His sinless being. We can but imagine all that He suffered for us. In doing so, we know that we have a Savior who can truly understand any and all suffering that we may endure. “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Ex.3: 7) “This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:50) And “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess." (Hebrews 4:14) In addition, ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ (II Cor. 12: 9, 10)

It is miraculous when someone is healed instantly. However, it is just as miraculous to see and know how God provides His grace to carry us through each and every moment of life no matter what. He has given us His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the knowledge that He has already been resurrected, returned to Heaven, and is preparing us a place that where He is we may also be. This journey through our earthly life is but a moment in time, especially when compared to the eternity in Heaven that He has planned for us.

How much more then should we receive the truth of the following scripture and walk in obedience to the light that is before us. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1: 2 -4) Whatever God has planned for us, it is always far better than anything that we could think of or pray for our selves. Understanding this gives us all the more reason for us to always pray that His will may be done in our lives.

Yes, we may weep and face many sufferings and hardships in this life, but when all is said and done our comfort is always found in the Lord for “…in His favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30: 5) This is the good news to those that suffer: (Jesus later proclaimed these words in James 4: 18, 19) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek ; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them the beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the spirit of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” (Isaiah 61: 1-3) Furthermore, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robes of righteousness…(Isaiah 61: 10)

No matter what conditions or circumstances we may face in life, we can always find hope and comfort in the knowledge that “..all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8: 28 – 30) Do you note that for those who have believed, it is already ‘predestined’ for God knows the beginning from the end? This substantiates that our eternal life begins when we have received Christ as our Lord and Savior.

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; If our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”(II Cor. 4:)

I call to your attention the following words: “nor handling the word of God deceitfully,” which has become so very prevalent far too often in this world of tolerance and relativity. We have exchanged the kind of Godly tolerance where one would have respect for differences of opinions and beliefs, for an out of balance kind of tolerance which says that it is not sufficient to have respect for differences, but one must also now accept these differences as all having the same equality and validity of truth. In the realm of this distorted kind of world view, the absolutes of God’s standards and values of right and wrong are now viewed as being narrow minded, bigoted, and politically incorrect. People twist and pervert the word of God for the purpose of changing it to fit our views instead of changing our opinions and views in order to be in compliance with the word and will of God. In other words, we are saying that God must conform to the world instead of the world, one individual at a time, being transformed by God. In so doing, we are blocking the power of the word and the Holy Spirit from doing their work of perfecting us and transforming us into the image of God.

Apart from God, any trials, tribulations, sufferings, or hardships will not have the same effect of turning one’s heart to depend upon and trust in the Lord. Instead of having the attitude of “okay Lord, what do you want me to learn from this experience,” we will more likely blame God, curse Him, and become embittered and hard hearted individuals always centered on self. In stead of being motivated by an attitude of service to the Lord, we will either ignore God all together or adapt a self centered attitude of “God, what have you done for me lately?”

Time and time again, we have marveled at how God has enabled people like Joni Erickson to live a life that is victorious over the obvious devastation of being a quadriplegic. Instead of being constantly down cast by her disabilities, she has looked to the Lord and accomplished far more than many of her able bodied peers. What a perfect example of what it means to be an over-comer through the power of the Holy Spirit, instead of a self-centered bitter person who wallows in the pit of self pity and victimization of one’s circumstances. I am not saying that she may not have her moments of being down cast or depressed, after all she is human. But every time she might be tempted to go down into the mire, she lifts her eyes and her heart to the Lord, and He never fails to be there for her to lift her up and restore her joy and peace as only the Lord can do. It is in such times as these that one truly learns what it means to trust and depend upon the Lord, who then gives the strength and ability to praise the Lord in and for all things. The comfort of the Holy Spirit is unlimited in His ability to help us through any and all hardships of life, no matter what our circumstances are. The following scripture says it all far better than any other words of my own: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35- 39)

Once again, we must always keep in view that the things of this world are only temporary, and any afflictions are but a ‘moment in time’, and ‘this too shall pass.’ For this world, with its good and bad times, are only for a short while whereas our real home for eternity with the Lord is our true destination, and then there will be no tears or sorrow. What God has promised, He shall also do. Our hope is in Him and not in the things of this world. I’ve always said that the other guys that I dated accomplished one important purpose which was to give me a greater appreciation for my husband. So it is with the things of this world. As I go through life and appreciate the beauty of all that God has created and all that He has done, I know that it can not be compared to things of my true home that He has already created for me. He has promised that where He is, I will one day be with Him for all eternity. How can we possibly stay downcast for long if we focus on Christ and the hope that we have in and through Him? “But it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (I Cor 2: 9) Keeping what is before you in mind then, look up, and rejoice with gladness in your heart, for your redemption draweth nigh!