To Our “Dear Esther” Readers,
First of all, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas season and blessed New Year. Please note that I have a new email address cited to the left on this page. I am sure some of your letters did not reach me this past week. I was having problems with the Yahoo email address I previously used.
Please resend any of your letters to my new email address including letters that were sent previously over the past month so or even longer, and have not received a reply from me. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I look forward to hearing from you. God bless you all and thank you for being part of this ministry.
In God’s love,
December 26, 2016
I’m sitting here confused again wondering if I have a true saving relationship with Jesus. I believe I was saved in a park by people witnessing (before that I was open to Jesus and pulled by God to believe in Him), and immediately felt a weight lift off my soul. Unfortunately I didn’t know what to do or where to find God. I tried a universal church. But they didn’t have Bibles so I never went back.
Then a lady from a Jehovah’s Witness church was trying to “disciple” me but when I went to her church I started to feel sick and saw demons and the word “cult” form in the air. So obviously that’s not good. So I had a very hard time finding a church and I kept living a lifestyle of drinking and sleeping with my boyfriend.
I knew it was wrong but I kept going that way with intermittent spurts of obedience and conviction, and Bible reading and church attendance. But alcohol always won over my mind and body. When I was 20 I got pregnant and gave the baby up and I could see and feel Jesus embrace me and take my hurt. But soon after I was partying again.
I was very carnal for 20 years doing the same stupid terrible stuff that I always did. I’ve gotten in trouble with the law, and finally 3threeyears ago I snapped between drinking and bipolar meds; I hit my husband and called the cops on myself. I felt so out of control. I had to do a bunch of classes and therapy but I finally started to get better.
I’ve been going to church consistently for about 4 or 5 years and I don’t take any medication. I feel relatively in control of unwanted emotions. I’ve been married for 14 years and going strong. But even now after fully repenting (like broken down sobbing apologizing and repenting),feeling forgiven. I perpetually feel very scared and confused about my relationship with Christ.
I wonder how in the world I could be saved and yet have behaved so horribly for so long. I can’t seem to move on from my past. I’m just stuck in a relentless cycle praising God for his mercy, and then questioning whether or not He has abandoned me.
If there was ever a case for salvation lost, mine would be it. I guess I’m writing you because if I am saved I need to move on and claim certain victories. But if I’m not, how do I ever begin to accept the reality of Jesus not wanting me anymore and hell as my destiny?
I do know that I’m less worried about hell than I am about never meeting Yeshua in the flesh, so to speak. I do know that I love God very much. I pray every day to love Him more above all else. Perhaps the demons have a bit of a foothold and keep using my past to immobilize me for the kingdom of God. I just know I need to move beyond this fear and live for God whether He’s abandoned me or not. I owe him that much.
Sad and confused,
What a testimony! It certainly didn’t help to have cultists hovering around you while you were trying to gain solid footing in Christ as a new believer. This is a common problem. It is hard to find good solid Bible teaching. So many churches have become lukewarm making it easy for false teachers to prey upon others.
The doubts you are having point to a classic case of the enemy trying to immobilize you, you already sense that. God has promised He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5; Deuteronomy 13:5). He also urges us not to live in the past:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 13:3-4).
Carolyn, your past mistakes do not define who you are. A born-again believer is redeemed through Christ’s shed blood and we are made righteous through Him. We are new creatures in Christ:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Another important point to be aware of is the renewing of our minds. This is something each believer must do if he or she is to grow in the Lord. Otherwise we can fall into sin and suffer.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Once we are saved, we are made righteous through Christ. No matter how hard we try, not one of us can be without sin, but through Christ we are forgiven and made righteous. When we do stumble and sin, we should do just as we have read in the previous Scripture, “confess our sins” to the Advocate, “Jesus Christ the righteous.” By the renewing of our minds, and through our love for the Lord, we will want to please Him and do our best to shun sinful transgressions.
Our daily walk with the Lord should demonstrate a day-to-day, moment-by-moment surrender of our will to the Lord’s will—a daily inner house cleaning. When we do fall into sin, we place a wedge between God and ourselves, even to the point of grieving the Holy Spirit. Unless we acknowledge (name) our sins directly to God, repent and reestablish (restore) our right relationship with the Lord, we cannot have a genuine relationship with Him.
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-18, 23-24).
Carolyn, I don’t know what your church teaches regarding salvation but a truly saved person cannot lose his or her salvation. It concerns me that you even think that God has abandoned you. However, within the Christian church you will find many who are not really saved. Instead, they are going through some outward motions but have never made a genuine commitment to the Lord. They are Christians in name only.
I urge you to get into a regular, disciplined daily routine of spending time alone with the Lord through prayer and Bible study. When we give Jesus our first thoughts every morning and go immediately into prayer we get into synch with Him. His will for our lives becomes more evident. It is good that you are praying each day and that you profess a genuine love for the Lord. Ask Him to free you from this ongoing negativity about yourself in relation to Him.
If the morning hours don’t allow for lengthy prayer and Bible study, at least spend some time in prayer and read some Scripture before starting the day’s activities. Always try to make a good effort to put the Lord first. After all, it is He who we can thank for saving us from an eternity of suffering and providing all believers with a glorious eternal future.
Spending time with the Lord should always be at the top of our list. Then, later in the evening find a way to make more time to commune with the Lord. What could be better than spending time with the Creator of the universe, with the One who loves and cares for us more than anyone else? As we focus each day more and more on God, and include Him in all that we do we grow and mature as believers.
Time devoted to the Lord (devotions) will help us grow in our faith. Carolyn, I think this is where you will find a breakthrough; by strengthening your faith. Reading the Word of God often, will increase your faith and will help you to accept what the Lord says as truth.
It sounds like you are doubting what He says in the Bible or perhaps you have not studied the Scriptures enough to know that His promises are true. I think it is crucial that you increase your faith. As you do this, those nagging doubts WILL dissipate.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 5:17).
Carolyn, always pray for wisdom and understanding before beginning your Bible study—in a quiet place away from any distractions. All the answers to your problems are already available to us in the Scriptures. But as a society we have been conditioned to talk, talk, talk about our problems instead of doing what the Lord says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Chatting and sharing with others is good to a point. But unless we are also actively involved in the renewing of our minds by burning the Scriptures into our hearts and minds, we will not have the inner peace we need and will easily fall into emotional, even childishly emotional behavior, which is a fruitless way to conduct our lives. And also makes for a lousy testimony.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that our emotions should rule us. We expect little children to allow emotions to rule them but as believers the way we respond to adversity should be in a Christ-centered manner (as much as possible!). So don’t allow yourself to be sidelined because of your emotions.
What I sense most from your letter is your desire to please the Lord, your love for the Lord and your deep disappointment with yourself for wasting so much time living in ways that you know were not pleasing to the Lord. But He has forgiven you. Now, you must forgive yourself. You are precious in the eyes of the Lord. He is there for you as your heavenly Father. Run to His open arms and take comfort from Him. Memorize this verse and repeat it to yourself often:
“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
And remember, greater is He who is with you than he who is in the world:
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Carolyn, you do not have to accept the lies that the devil throws your way. Fear is not of the Lord and the enemy is trying to debilitate you. Refuse to accept his stalking. You can do this by arming yourself daily with His Word and all the other precepts I discussed last week in my response to Dennis.
Once we are truly saved Satan knows he cannot take us to hell with him but he will surely try to make life miserable for believers by casting doubts into our minds. But you have God on your side. You no longer need to allow the father of lies to browbeat you, especially to the point where you think God has abandoned you.
In order to get past these self-destructive doubts, please make spending time with the Lord your priority. You say your marriage is going strong, perhaps you and your husband can get into a couple’s fellowship together and spend time with other believers. Set-up a place at home where you can study your Bible. Fill your home with godly music and anything that denotes godly living.
Be sure you remove materials from your home that have godless messages. Even many magazines, books, CDs. DVDs, etc. are filled with immoral images and chatter. Have nothing to do with such things. Make your home a place that is filled with the love of the Lord.
Make your home a sanctuary away from a broken world that is spinning out of control. To begin with read and study Psalm 25 (David’s pleas for deliverance, forgiveness and guidance). And also study Psalms 26 and 27. Your faith and resolve for the Lord will be strengthened. And we are to study all of Scripture if we are to live balanced lives. And always remember:
“Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Never hesitate to reach out again, Carolyn. You are not alone. Jesus loves you more than we can possibly understand. Allow Him to completely heal you from your painful past by illuminating your mind and heart with His powerful Scriptures. We have to own God’s Scriptures, they must become a deep inherent part of us.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In God’s love,
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).