Dear Esther
If you are having a challenging day or burdened with some personal problems, then you can be sure others are too. Write to Esther and she will have some good sound biblical advice and answers for you. You will be helping others by sharing your need or concern. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).


You can email your question to Esther at:
dearesther1@yahoo.com


Prior Letters



November 24, 2014

Dear Esther,

I would like to pour out my heart to you about a sin I’ve been dealing with for that past twenty years or so. I had kind of a tough childhood. My mother and father signed me over to foster care when I was 15 years old. I had already been kicked out by age 14.

I was signed over to state care because mainly my mother was abusive and very rigid. My dad was co-dependent on my mom so that’s why he went along with sending me away. My dad has tearfully apologized to me since then. I totally forgive them both.

It was the hardest time of my life.

While in state custody, I found out through another family member that my mother had given a child up for adoption when she was 18 years old and was now living with my parents. I couldn’t believe it. I basically felt like my mother had replaced me. When I finally met my half-sister, she was a pleasant and very charming person, but she never really seemed interested in getting to know me.

She was very much into her friends and boyfriends. She had even told my mother at one point that the only reason why she decided to stay with her was to see what she could get out of her financially. Over the years I’ve harbored so much anger and rage toward my sister. Her lack of empathy and understanding makes it so hard for me to let go of this resentment.

I understand she was adopted, but I was abandoned, too. I have to see her every so often and I try to avoid these gatherings so I don’t blow up at her. I ask God to forgive me for these feelings. I know I’m wrong. I forgive her in my head, but my heart is broken. How do you truly forgive and forget?

I forgot to add that I’m extremely jealous of her as well. She’s beautiful, charming, and attention-seeking. When I try to talk about things I’m feeling etc, she cuts me off or walks away. My mother treats her better than me.

I am a Christian. I love the Lord with all of my heart! In fact, he was there when EVERYONE abandoned me. I’ll never, ever forget what He did for me!

My mom is better today, but has strong personality traits that make it difficult for her to get along with others. In fact, she is addicted to prescription meds and isolates in her room daily. One time she asked me to pray with her for salvation which I was ready to do, but she changed her mind.

I do pray for her and my dad. My half-sister and I have the same mother. She has recently divorced and is in another relationship. She also has two teenage girls. I’m married with two small children as well. My marriage is a struggle since my husband is a (functional) but very moody angry addict (alcohol) with infidelity on his part. He is not saved. I’m not sure where our marriage is heading, just go day to day. I do have some friends but it’s difficult to keep them since we move every three years (husband is in the Army).

Thank you so much.

Sara


Dear Sara,

Your letter is heart wrenching. I am so sorry for all your pain. How difficult for you. God bless you for your endurance and your love for the Lord. Your feelings are very understandable. To begin with, you have forgiven your parents, which I am sure was a very hard thing to do. And you also pray for them. You have been faithful to the Scriptures—to the Lord, by doing so.

Now as far as your half-sister and your feelings toward her, I think anyone who could walk in your shoes for a short time would realize that it is amazing, if not miraculous, that you have not completely fallen apart. And the fact that you pray for her, too, is commendable. Not only are you the sibling who was replaced and had to endure foster care because of the dysfunction of your own parents, you have also been essentially ignored by the person who took your place. Talk about gross injustice...

From what I have read, it sounds like your mother is completely immersed in her own issues and may not even be capable at this time to do more than she does. Perhaps she had terrible guilt and misgivings about giving up her out of wedlock firstborn for adoption when she was so young (18). Some of her abusive behavior toward you, even before you were sent off the foster care is most likely tied into her own guilt and confusion about herself and her past.

It sounds like bringing your half-sister into her life when you were sent away was an attempt on her part to rectify her own guilt. She could not have been thinking clearly, considering what happened to you. So what are you left with? In the flesh, you are left with everything you have mentioned: The rage, the anger, the resentment, the heartache. Yes, in your head you have forgiven her, but as you say, your heart is broken. Why wouldn’t it be? What you are feeling is natural.

From what I have read in your letter, it seems to me what causes you to feel very jealous toward your half-sister is her rejection of you, and her rude uppity attitude—which only adds fuel to the fire. And for the reasons I already mentioned, your mother’s neglectful behavior toward you does not help. Showing favoritism toward your half-sister as she does, is very hard to take. Any child would feel heartbroken. Your “jealousy” is not the malicious vindictive type. Your jealousy is more of a heartache that surfaces in a painful negative way.

Sara, you are obviously very intelligent and a precious child of God. When we find ourselves in very difficult situations, which at times feel unbearable, we must step back and try to look at the entire picture. This is how you will be able to really forgive and forget in a way that does not consume you.

You have made efforts to befriend your half-sister. But she has been rude and unkind. And your mother is who she is. You have found out that these two people are not going to give you what you need. That is, unless they become true born-again believers, give their lives completely over to the Lord, face their sins and repent.

From what you describe, it may be a long time before your half-sister or mother make a honest profession of faith. (We don’t know if they ever will.) Nevertheless, you must find a way to cope without feeling like you are being constantly crushed and trampled on. The place to begin would be to change your perspective. This will be challenging at first, especially with the added burden of a husband who is also very self-serving and unfaithful.

But even with all of that, you have your two small children who I am sure adore you. God gave you these two little lives to love and care for. And in that loving and caring, you will find much of your healing.

Sara, I get so many letters from women who are in very difficult marriages and family situations. Your situation is especially difficult. But. Because we cannot change people, we need to make some decisions, to either remove ourselves from toxic relationships or find a way to deal with them. In your case it might be a bit of both.

Harboring the negative feelings you have is not good for you, you know that. Although what you feel is perfectly understandable. You have survived a lot. I have a saying, “Most people do what they do because of the awareness that they have at the time.” Yes, it make sense that your half-sister should be understanding of what you have had to endure and have some compassion for you. But in this world, sadly, far too many people think only of themselves.

But you are above that. You are kind, compassionate and willing to forgive and make things work. So instead of giving your energy to those who do not appreciate you, give it to those who will. First, to your young children and then find a way to connect with others whom you can relate to. And by giving your energy, I mean even your thoughts.

Recently I wrote about the importance of renewing our minds, which I am sure you have done to a great degree since you received Christ’s free gift of salvation. The Lord can help you move on to even a higher level that will enable you to carry on and not be so devastated by the disappointing and hurtful behavior of others.

Please get into the Scriptures every day and really study them. Stay close to Jesus in your prayer life, and separate yourself from this world. Pray throughout the day, listen to the Scriptures and Bible sermons as much as possible. Invest in a good CD so you can hear God’s Word. Think on those things which are lovely and good:

“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” (Philippians 4:8).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

You are surrounded with problematic people, but they do not have to be a part of your everyday life and thought patterns. The reality of what you are dealing with is there, but you can rise above those injustices to a point where the selfish hurtful behavior of those you wish you could count on—will not bother you as much. The burning flame of pain can turn into embers that flicker only a bit, now and then.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

It might seem like some people never have any pain or trouble, but that is simply not true. This world is filled with trials and tribulations, just as Jesus said it would be. It is most important to daily place the attention of your heart and mind on our soon coming King, on your future with the Lord. You were made alive in Christ when you received Him as your Savior, keep walking strongly with Him:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:2-4)

The last days prophetic Scriptures are being fulfilled and soon all the worries we have will be in our distant past. It is evident that you have a good relationship with the Lord, and it is He who can bring you to a new way of thinking. It is not fair to be surrounded by so many dysfunctional and toxic individuals but at least YOU have our Blessed Hope—Jesus.

By the world’s standards it appears that you are the one suffering the most in your family. But you are the one who will be going up in the Rapture, and unless your family members get saved, they will be left behind. You are saved. You have victory in Christ. The devil loses. You win.

But your family members who are not walking with the Lord and treating you badly, their fate is quite frightening—if they are left behind to suffer the Tribulation. Or die before accepting the Lord’s saving grace. But your life will ultimately get incredibly better because your future is with the Lord.

So you see Sara, it is YOU whom the Lord favors. It is YOU He has blessed. You can assess the situations around you but your fate is not with the lost, which includes those you have named, those who are treating you so disrespectfully. Pity them and keep praying for them. And thank God you are not one of them.

Your self-centered half-sister might act like she has everything going for her now, but she is really lost. You are the one who is blessed. You have received Christ in faith and have the wisdom and discernment to recognize His promises are true. Yes, you have not received the love and devotion you deserve from your earthly family, but you have it beyond measure from your Heavenly Father—the very One who created you is your greatest Advocate. His love for you is enormous.

And yes, it is terrible that those who should love and care for you are such weak and selfish individuals -- but you have a much greater fate. Your home in heaven. Your true home is with the Lord forever and ever.

But in the meantime He has entrusted to you to care for two little ones who need you. Fill their hearts and minds with the Scriptures. So many wonderful Christian children’s books and materials are available. I do have some specific suggestions which I can send you if you email me.

As you care for them, keep remembering that your days here on this earth are for a very short time in relation to eternity. Think of yourself as being on a trip, away from your true home temporarily. Always keep that thought in the foremost part of your mind.

All those who mistreat you have to continue living with themselves. But you are free from eternal damnation. You have victory in Christ. You are first with Christ!

“So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).

It is wise for you to avoid too much contact with your half-sister and mom, but as I said before, see them from a new perspective, pity them for not accepting the Lord and being so lost and worldly. You are in the driver’s seat with Jesus. Let Him steer the wheel to your eternal destiny.

When you catch yourself thinking about how badly you have been treated, think again. You have been treated very badly, but out of all your family members you are the one who has a special place reserved in heaven. Think on that glorious fact instead.

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:3-4).

Here are some comforting words for you:

Proverbs 18:24 . . . there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged-Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness-Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our Refuge -Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He'll take and shield thee-Thou wilt find a solace there. —Joseph Scriven, written 1855

It is going to be all right, Sara. Jesus is coming soon. Place all your hope in Him. I am here anytime, never hesitate to reach out.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14).


November 17, 2014

Dear Esther,

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.

Thank you,

Sad and confused,

Carolyn


Dear Carolyn,

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 Him 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,

Esther

“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).


November 10, 2014

Dear Esther,

I enjoy your weekly column very much. You have such great insights. Can you explain what the armor of God is and how to use it? You have mentioned spiritual warfare a number of times in your responses. My pastor does not talk much about it. I would appreciate anything you could say to help me get a better understanding on this topic. How can I protect myself from people who want to cause trouble?

Thanks very much,

Dennis


Dear Dennis,

Thank you for your letter and kind words. This is a very important topic. All Christians need to learn what the “armor of God” is and how to use it. We are in a spiritual war and every Christian is a warrior. However, too many have been wounded and are sitting on the sidelines watching the war.

Very few pastors train the members of their congregations in the arts of spiritual warfare. This is why most churches are not alive and why many have been dead for decades. It is the solemn duty of the pastors to train their spiritual soldiers to fight just as the drill instructors in all military basic training camps train their recruits to fight.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).

The devil has many schemes to keep Christians from serving God fully. That is why it is vitally important to know what our armor is and how to use it. Study the above passage in Ephesians and meditate on it for many hours. Memorize the passage and burn it into your mind and heart. Let’s study the exposition of the passage:

Your armor:

Gird your loins about with truth (v. 14). Put on the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14). Shod your feet with the gospel (v. 15).Take up the shield of faith (v. 16).Put on the helmet of salvation (v. 17). Take up the sword of the Spirit (v. 17).

Gird your loins about with truth:

A Christian clothes himself with the truth by studying Scripture. The Bible from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is truth. Every Christian needs to study the entire Bible book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse throughout his or her life. Methodical reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture is a must. We need the whole truth and not just part of the truth to be victorious in our spiritual warfare. That is why it is extremely important to set-up a spiritual growth program.

Christians clothe themselves with the truth, but also with righteous deeds. A believer’s robe of righteousness is symbolic of our righteous deeds that God has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:17). Each morning when a believer wakes up he or she puts on a robe of righteousness by praying that the Lord will direct each step that day and that He will give us the strength to do the good deeds that He has prepared for us to do (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

We also need to spend time in the Word. Daily Bible reading, study, memorization and meditating on Scripture is necessary to prepare for spiritual battle. One must start the day with time to study Scripture, and then also renew one’s mind with it throughout the day. Taking periodic Bible reading/studying breaks is a good habit to develop. Always keep your Bible nearby.

Girding one’s loins is symbolic of preparing our minds for battle. One must be prepared to encounter problems throughout the day and respond to them in a holy, loving, joyful and considerate manner. These problems may be encounters with people seeking to harm or deceive us, accidents, illness or circumstances that prevent us from doing what we planned to do. When we fight through our daily problems with prayer and meditation on Scripture, we will win the battles through the power of Jesus Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

Put on the breastplate of righteousness:

To put on the breastplate of righteousness means to live a holy life. All believers are commanded to live holy lives (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2; 20:7; Psalm 99:3, 9; 1 Peter 1:14-16), instead of continuing to live sinful lives as we did before we were saved and cleansed (Romans 6:1-2, 6-7, 12-13; Ephesians 4:17; 1 Peter 4:2-3). We are to daily—not to be conformed to the world but to transform and cleanse our minds (Romans 12:1-2).

Dennis, we do this by reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. It is the Word of God that cleanses our minds and lives (John 15:3; 17:17; Ephesians 5:26). This daily cleansing will enable us to lay aside our old nature, be renewed in our minds and yield to the Holy Spirit to put on our new nature (Ephesians 4:22-24). It will also help us abstain from fleshly lust (1 Peter 2:11), and not love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). As we daily read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture the Holy Spirit washes, regenerates and renews us (Titus 3:5).

Shod your feet with the gospel:

Shodding your feet (putting on footwear) means to be prepared at all times to share the gospel. Every believer is commanded to know what the gospel is and how to share it with everyone who asks him about his or her faith (1 Peter 3:15). To be able to share the gospel in a clear manner one must memorize the basic verses. It is also necessary to learn how to quote them in a logical order and comment on them.

Take up the shield of faith:

Taking up the shield of faith means to use our faith. We do that by trusting the Lord to meet our needs as He has promised (Matthew 6:25-34). Instead of worrying about our daily needs we are to trust in the Lord. That does not mean we can watch television all day and not seek work. Everyone must work for a living (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We do what we can to meet our needs and trust the Lord for the rest.

Along with using our faith we should seek to increase it. The more we exercise our faith the more it grows. It also grows by studying Scripture, for “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). The more we study Scripture the more our faith grows. This is just one more reason why every believer needs to read, study, memorize and meditate on Scripture daily.

Put on the helmet of salvation:

Putting on the helmet of salvation is having total assurance of our salvation. The helmet protects the most vital part of the body, and when a soldier does not wear a helmet he becomes highly vulnerable to injury and death. The same is true in spiritual warfare. When Christians do not have complete assurance that they are saved, they can easily be taken out by the enemy. Doubts can sneak into one’s mind concerning his or her conversion and if those doubts are not dealt with they can cause a person to stop serving God or even believing in Him.

Assurance of salvation is necessary to stay in the spiritual battle. Failure to have assurance also endangers the brethren. A Christian in a position of leadership who does not have assurance can cause others to doubt their salvation resulting in the destruction of spiritual moral. Spiritual soldiers who are demoralized are ineffective and become casualties.

You can have assurance of salvation by knowing the gospel and by making a public profession that you have trusted in Jesus Christ alone to save you by His sacrifice on the cross, understanding “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and then raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Once you make that confession fully trusting Jesus to save you apart from works, baptism, keeping the Sabbath or any other law or ordinance you can have total assurance of your salvation.

Take up the sword of the Spirit:

The sword is an offensive and defensive weapon. Every Christian should be an expert swordsman capable of defending his or her faith. Our spiritual sword is Scripture (Hebrews 4:12). Defending our faith is the ability to quote or cite Scriptures to refute those who make false charges or claims against our faith, the Bible and God. One uses Scripture in an offensive manner by using Scripture to destroy concepts, ideologies and philosophies that are opposed to Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can also defend the faith and destroy unbiblical ideologies by writing articles and books, and making audio and video presentations.

Prayer:

Dennis, last week I addressed the topic of prayer. Please read that response if you have not yet had a chance to. Prayer is a great part of our armor. We must use prayer in our daily spiritual battles. We should wake up praying, pray throughout the day and pray as we fall asleep (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We are to pray for ourselves and our brethren (Ephesians 6:18). We cannot always pray for every Christian we know, but we should try to pray for as many as we can.

In closing, I would like to mention that we should never underestimate the depth of deception, craftiness and vicious assaults that the forces of darkness are capable of. The Lord warned us that in the last days, close to the time of His return, there would be many wolves in sheep’s clothing who would infiltrate Christian churches and ministries. We can see those dynamics throughout Christian circles today. Be very aware of this as there are those who call themselves Christians but seek to harm us.

“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed” (Titus 1:16).

Pray for wisdom and discernment as part of your armor; this is very important. And the minute you sense something is not right with a “brother” or “sister” who profess Christ, but shows repeated signs of insincerity, crassness, jealousy, lying, erratic behavior or any number of other red flag warnings that cause you to question their authenticity in Christ, break fellowship with that person. The devil uses weak-willed inauthentic individuals to do his dastardly deeds. Choose your friends and associations wisely.

“Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:8-10).

The previous verse does not mean that a believer will never sin, we all fall short (Romans 3:23). But a person who is a professing believer yet deliberately works to cause harm to others by chronically sinning and scheming is what John is talking about. Don’t allow yourself to become a victim of a phony Christian’s attempt to harm you and your family. Put on your spiritual armor!

God is not mocked. When vicious vulgar, slanderers and liars think they can hurt a believer and get away with it, he or she will be greatly surprised when God deals with their jealous hatred and godless agendas; when their allegiance to the father of lies, the devil, is exposed.

Those who deliberately engage in character assassination cannot be walking with the Lord. They are of their father, the devil (John 8:44). Those who participate in slander, especially when they do not even know the person being slandered (except for the lies they have been fed) are as bad as the jealous instigator. The participants are guilty of assumptive acceptance of lies they have been told. These dynamics are very prevalent in the world but when they happen in Christian circles it is very disgraceful and brings tremendous shame to our Christian faith.

“He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole which he made” (Psalm 7:15).

Remember how Joseph was sold into slavery by his extremely jealous brothers who hated him? They made life miserable for him. Yet Joseph steadfastly continued to trust the Lord. The day came when God blessed Joseph immensely, when he became the second most powerful man in Egypt, next to the Pharaoh.

If you study the Old Testament you will find many scenarios where envy and hatred were the underlying emotions causing people to murder, lie, cheat, and do just about anything to hurt their victims. Another example is Cain. He was intensely jealous of his brother, Abel, and killed him.

If you are in right standing with the Lord always trust that in His righteousness He is working on your behalf no matter how many trials you may face.

God is a God of restoration and justice for those who belong to Him. When we come up against adversity trust Him completely to work all things to our good (Romans 8:28). Dennis, if follow the precepts given here, you will be well-equipped to victoriously navigate throughout each day. God will protect you from the assaults of the enemy, from people who wish to hurt you.

Your enemies might think they have the upper hand for a season, but they will not prevail. God sees every despicable underhanded deed perpetrated against those who belong to Him, and He will deal with their criminal behavior in ways that are much more effective than anything a mere human could undertake.

“Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord “ (Romans 12:19).

I wish you the very best Dennis. Stay close to Jesus and He will protect you from the wiles of the devil. Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).


November 3, 2013

Dear Esther,

Please teach me about prayer; teach me how to pray.

Thank you,

Marvin


Dear Marvin,

Thank you for your question about prayer. Scripture tells us to pray only to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, His Son. And when we pray we should take the humble approach:

[Jesus said] “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men.

Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:5-8).

It is very important to pray daily and often. Prayer is our communication line to God, as are the Holy Scriptures. Talk to Him about everything. He loves us completely, in ways we cannot begin to understand and is interested in the matters that concern us. He knows everything there is to know about us, but nevertheless He wants to have an ongoing personal communication (relationship) with us.

Scripture teaches that the Lord even knows how many hairs are numbered on our heads (Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30), and that He collects our tears in a bottle and keeps a written record of them (Psalm 56:8). Reach out to Him and He will guide and comfort you. He will make a way for you when there seems no way (Luke1:37).

“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 comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

The Word of God teaches us to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-14). Prayer is one of the many basic daily activities of all believers. Reading, hearing, studying and contemplating Scripture are the other basic daily activities. We should pray several times a day. We are encouraged to pray always (Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

We have the example of Paul (Colossians 1:3; 2 Timothy 1:3). In Scripture we have the example of Timothy (Colossians 1:3). Praying always means to be in constant communication with the Lord. We can make brief requests and express our gratitude while we are on the go and we should pray privately on our knees as the Lord and the apostles did (Mark 14:32-35; 6:12; 22:41; Ephesians 3:14; Acts 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5).

We should pray in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:18; Jude 20, Romans 8:26), and pray according to the will of God (1 John 5:14-15). If we are unsure what to pray, we can pray in the Holy Spirit: “But the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”[silent, inaudible words] as taught in Romans 8:26.

Believers can know God’s will by studying the Scriptures. Prayer is our way of speaking to the Lord. He speaks to us by His Word. It is a blessing to hear, read, study, and memorize His Word every day; to listen to Him.

Three types of prayer are taught in the Bible: Praise, intercession (when we pray on the behalf of others) and personal requests. These three types of prayer can be short prayers or lengthy ones. It is a blessing to be devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:7); meaning we should spend time in private prayer on our knees, and in prayer when on the go. We should also pray with others (Acts 1:3; 16:25). What happens when we pray together?

[Jesus said] “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. 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. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:18-20).

Marvin, you have asked how to pray. If you have never received the free gift of salvation you can come to faith in Christ, and be “born-again” by praying a personal prayer of repentance and faith. The words you use are not important. Your sincerity and genuine commitment to the Lord is what counts.

Saying a prayer, then walking away and forgetting about the Lord does not count for salvation. The sincere intent of your heart is what matters to God. There has to be true repentance, a true change of heart; a repentant heart that will seek Him first and leave behind habits and lifestyles that are contrary to His will, His teachings. The following verses express the heart confession necessary in order to be saved.

“That if you confess, with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

If you are not sure what to say, follow this simple heartfelt prayer, but you must mean it with all your heart:

Heavenly Father, I accept your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. I believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I realize I have made many mistakes in my life. I have been confused and deceived by all the lies of this world. Please forgive me. I ask you to come into my life, regenerate me and fill me with your Holy Spirit so I can be born-again and saved by your grace. I want this to be a new beginning and have a close, personal relationship with you. I want to learn more about you through prayer and careful Bible study. Help me to truly repent and live my life in a way that is pleasing to you. Please write my name into the Book of Life. I pray this in the name of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah of Israel and of the world. Amen.

We also learn in the Bible that we are to “pray without ceasing.” In other words, we pray continually and give thanks in all things, for God is working in our lives even when the outward circumstances may appear to be very difficult. As we go throughout our day, we should keep the Lord uppermost in our thoughts and pray silently acknowledging Him in all we do.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). We should cast all our anxieties on the Lord by praying about our needs and concerns instead of worrying:

“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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

A very important point to remember is to pray in faith:

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Prayer can change things. Here are some examples of the power of intercessory prayer:

It is recorded in the book of Acts, verses 1:17 that Peter was unjustly imprisoned. The church met for prayer and soon after Peter was set free.

Peter was stuck in prison but the church was fervently praying for him:

“So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God” (Acts 12:5).

The story gets more interesting when we read the account of how Peter was rescued from prison thanks to all the prayers that had gone up to the throne of God:

“On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’

And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, ‘Gird yourself and put on your sandals.’ And he did so. And he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision.

When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.

When Peter came to himself, he said, ‘Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’ And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12: 6-12).

Marvin, the Lord is always available to us when we reach out to Him, when we speak to Him through prayer. We should always remember to pray with thanksgiving and especially acknowledging His blood sacrifice. Trust in the Lord to guide you in your prayer life. By doing this you will develop a meaningful personal relationship with Him. And be sure to read and study the Bible every day.

If you have any more questions about prayer or the gospel, please don’t hesitate to write again.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).


October 27, 2014

Dear Esther,

God bless your ministry and counseling for believers who need advice on what to do. I am kind of like Timothy in the Bible, because I’m under 20, so no one takes me seriously when I talk about God. But I really want to spread the gospel around and get my classmates saved, as I know the Rapture is approaching.

Sometimes I send them daily devotionals, or maybe even Rapture ready material that they can understand at their level as most of them are not Christians and those who say they ARE Christians don’t act like Christians and have never even flipped the pages of a Bible at all, let alone read it. And they have no excuse not to read the Bible because they don’t have one, as our school is a Christian school that provides us with free Bibles.

Most of them think that they can take God lightly and manipulate Him in such a way that they always live sinful lives, not breaking any laws but depressing their spirits; such as vulgarities, gossip, pride (basically what every teenager in the world is doing). However, when they run into problems, they will suddenly get on their knees and ask God to help them.

Or if they are arguing, most of these fake Christians will suddenly flip to the Bible and take a verse out of context to prove that they are right in the argument. And most of these “Christians” in school are in my church. The church preaches the Word accurately, but focuses too much on the rewards of God when you obey God.

Apparently they look “really holy” in church, but in school it is a very different thing. What is most hopping mad is that they are ASHAMED of Christ as no one sings during chapel in school except me, so I look like the only “idiot” professing my faith.

I don’t think they actually understand that everyone is a sinner so no one should act holy in church. Everyone should feel grateful and repentant and mend their lives with God’s help and follow God’s will. I have acted empathetic toward them by not judging them, as I fall into sin as well, but I’m also empathetic to the fact that they need God in their lives or they’ll ultimately end-up in hell wondering why since they thought they were Christians.

I’ve tried starting to show them what God really is like but apparently they find me longwinded and boring, I suppose. They cut me off and start talking about other things, and these are the closest Christian friends I have. I also realized today that all the devotionals I’ve sent are NOT read as it they are “too long.” (So they couldn’t be bothered to read them.)

I don’t know how to get to the point in a way that tells them THOROUGHLY and concisely about the Christian walk with God. We can never fully express God and our salvation in just a few words as He is too wonderful and awesome to be limited.

It takes time to nurture God’s Word in the heart, but it must start somewhere. Apparently they are too impatient to wait that long so I’m at a loss on how to get them saved. Basically ANYTHING but good soil for cultivation of the Word. I also don’t think I should say that they’re forever hopeless and lost as God is the one that decides their fate, and then just leave them to find other people to share God's Word, too.

Or should I just “shake off the dust of my feet” and leave them be? As they say salt (Christians being salt of the earth) gathered together all the time is of no use; they must be spread out to “rub off” its flavor to plain food (non believers).

I feel sad as the reason why I chose this school is because it is considered a Christian school and I thought it will strengthen my walk with God. Even the teachers doing their devotionals daily make me feel no love for God. An example would be the daily devotionals such as, “When you get stressed during exams, don’t cheat and don’t get pressured to steal things, or you’ll get in trouble with the law.”

No mentioning of God, just teaching moral values or something like that. Then they will quote a verse relating to the moral value but that’s it. It’s like the verse is just some mandatory thing they add just to make it sound Christian -- as they don’t teach ABOUT the verses; they use the verses to “teach” moral values. No mentioning of salvation or anything about Christ. They are like Pharisees that wash the outside rather than the inside of the cup.

Nothing wrong with teaching moral values, but I believe in inward transformation by the Holy Spirit. I might understand that the school might want to make it easy for the non-believers to relate to and understand, but this is a Christian school and they shouldn't be ashamed to mention Christ.

I mean everyone picking schools knows that it is a Christian school, so obviously everyone would expect the school to point to Jesus, which they don’t. Perhaps when they finally do point to God they will see how righteous He is? I feel that the school itself has a serious error about its knowledge of God.

The weirdest thing in this school is that when people say vulgarities or do something bad, they are considered “cool.” But read the Bible, and then you get discriminated: IN A CHRISTIAN SCHOOL.

Please give some advice on what to do as the leaders in my church which usually dismisses it as it isn’t a big problem such as diseases or financial debt, so I don’t have any good advice on how to act (mega church). I really have a passion for the Lord and to do his good work to get people saved, and I plan to start small by trying to get my friends to believe.

As for my family, I feel that they are like Martha who works all the time instead of Mary, so I don't really talk to them much about God. It may not be considered any big problem but its taking a toll on my spirit seeing fake Christians who have no love for God and find the Bible boring, which to me, I find a treasure chest, and reading my Bible at school makes me look like a wanted criminal.

Those friends of mine have also influenced me to say vulgarities and participate in gossip, which is something I don’t want to do as I have tried before but I feel empty doing it. I’m just thinking of this as already the standard of a Christian environment, and if I go out into the world it’ll be much worse -- so I’m pretty depressed thinking about it. Please correct me if I have any erroneous beliefs, too. Thank you. :)

With love,

Zoe


Dear Zoe,

My goodness. What a school. And you! You are amazing. What passion you have for the Lord. It is tough to comprehend the dynamics that go on at your school. No wonder you are frustrated to no end. The obvious first question I have is this: Is there another school you can go to that is at least more of a Christian school? A secular school is not an option.

If you are stuck at this school for any number of reasons then I am sure you will make the best of it. You have a strong determined spirit. If you read my letter last week to Jared, although he is younger than you, he is in a situation where he, too, must weather the storm alone, so to speak. At least until the Lord through His mighty power and grace brings about a change .

But in your case, one would think being at a Christian school would not be as ridiculously challenging regarding the things of the Lord. My instinct is that there must be at least a few people around, either teachers or students who are not quite so off the mark. Don’t give-up on the entire school, although I can see why you would from what you have shared.

It is very admirable that you wish to reach others for Christ. That is the calling God gives all believers. You certainly are filled with enthusiasm and the right kind of concern for your peers. To get to your question on what you should do, go directly to your heavenly Father. You mention your church is a mega church, so it is not only your school but your church as well that is Christian in some selective ways.

So God in His infinite wisdom has blessed you with much. Go to Him in fervent prayer and ask Him to strengthen you as you soldier through your school years. I can understand why you are bothered that Scripture is flippantly mentioned only in relation to some moral issues. But at least that is something. I know it should be much more since it is supposed to be a Christian school.

Clearly there is a weak biblical foundation at your school and in order to get through your time there, I recommend changing your perspective. I am not saying you should feel differently about reaching out to others and wanting to share the gospel. What I am saying in order for you to function on a daily basis in that environment it would be best for you to change your expectations.

You already know we cannot change people. And you have experienced all of the frustrations with trying to get though to those who are lost. Instead of sending out lengthy devotionals, your best approach is the way you live your life. You know in your heart that so many of your classmates (and teachers) are on a different wave length all together. To avoid frustration you must give this all over to the Lord daily.

In order to get through all of this, I suggest that you take a different approach You can of course, and should, still, continue to witness to others when you are led by the Holy Spirit. But let go of expectations that others will quickly respond to the gospel. Some people do, but it sounds like taking small steps in your particular setting can do much more when it comes to transforming a person’s heart. It is through our prayers and our good example that we can positively affect others.

Of course you are disappointed that you chose your school with the belief that you would be in a real Christian environment. What you are seeing first hand is the overall condition of the church all around the world and it is a staggering realization—that so many who profess Christ are as lost as can be. Zoe, your love and devotion for the Lord is outstanding and I am sure He will use you for His glory in some special ways. Never let others negatively influence you to participate in their godless behavior. Continue to stand steadfastly for the Lord.

I have a picture in my mind of you going through your school day, doing your best in your classes and continuing to read your Bible openly. Your classmates will see that you are the real deal when it comes to your faith. Perhaps right now they could not care less, but no one goes through life without facing trials and tribulations, and your good example of faithfulness could be the very thing that gets them finally running to God one day. Hopefully sooner than later.

A gentle spirit of loving concern will touch others. Place your focus on your schoolwork and keep reaching out to the Lord to guide you in your daily interactions with your classmates. When they observe that you consistently devoted to the Lord, your example will be a strong testimony. Never lose your enthusiasm, but it is with a spirit of quiet resolve sometimes that we can make the strongest inroads.

Once you have shared the gospel, you have done your part. It is the Holy Spirit who gets to people. The Lord knows best when and how a person can be reached. And this is where intercessory prayer comes in. Resolve in your heart to keep praying for the lost at your school. But please don’t feel responsible for the salvation of these people. Your prayers and Christ-like loving demeanor will do more good than verbally trying to convince them of the truth when clearly they are not interested.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b).

Zoe, the disappointments and trials you are going through now are giving you a strong foundation for your future. You are seeing and experiencing firsthand the growing apostasy that Jesus warned would be prevalent in the last days. The lukewarm church is growing and will continue to get worse. Keep in mind after the Rapture there will be many who come to faith, and I imagine some of those you have reached out to will have the shocking realization that they were left behind. All the efforts you made to enlighten them about the gospel will come back to haunt them.

From what you say in your letter that is one reason you are busy trying to reach others, which is a wonderful thing. But as you are finding out, too many people who claim to be Christians would rather have their ears tickled. You are right to compare your plight to Timothy, as he said this:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3-5).

Considering that you are to some degree in a den of ravenous wolves every day, it is imperative that you put on the whole armor of God daily as described in Ephesians 6:10-18:

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

Zoe, when you go to class or walk around campus, know that you are not walking alone. Jesus is walking with you. Hold on to Him and go about your own business of getting an education. Don’t let the foolishness of others become a distraction for you. Understand that nearly everywhere we turn in these last days we will find godless compromise.

Too many Christian venues exist that are indifferent toward the gospel and foster any number of unbiblical ideas. Remember Zoe, it is all about having a personal one-on-one relationship with the Lord. If others are foolish enough to reject the gospel, your prayers and steadfast faithfulness may carry more influence than you can see right now. Continue to cultivate your own relationship with Jesus and He might just surprise you in the future with some new like-minded friends.

Please keep in touch with me and never lose your loving concern for the lost. We need many more believers like you who will stand strong for Jesus. God bless you for your faithfulness and caring heart.

In God’s love,

Esther

“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed” (1 Peter 3:14).


October 20, 2013

Hello Esther,

My name is Jared and I am 15 years old and live in South Africa. I go to a government school. The majority of the students are East Indians. Most of them are Hindus and Muslims with Christians that don’t make up as much but there are some. Most of these Christians teens do the wrong things all the time.

I know most of them swear, drink, smoke and do other even more horrible things. So I have Christian friends but they swear and do other wrong things. So my question is, how do I find friends that are Christians AND try to be Christ-like as much as possible; but are almost impossible to find? I made sure I was not influenced by my friends and actually I try to influence them to stop doing the wrong things.

I was also baptized this year which was AWESOME! But this makes me feel guilty when they sin, and I am also constantly around Muslims and Hindus who don’t understand what it means to be Christian, and even those who say they are Christians don’t know what is means to be a Christian!

I do have true Christian parents, we all do go to a Bible teaching church. I do also go to Sunday school too which goes all the way to Grade 12. I'm in grade 9. I do know my pastor and I was baptized by him. My family members such as my aunties and uncles, Grandparents etc. are also true Christians.

I have prayed and asked God to provide me new friends my age, but He hasn’t answered my prayer yet. I know He won’t miraculously provide someone out of thin air, but it makes me feel very sad when I’m constantly around seeing people sin. And it’s not so easy leaving my friends, that would mean being a loner for a very long time.

My entire family is saved. My family came from India during the 1800s or so. That time, the British ruled South Africa, and they promised Indians living in India a better life and that the roads here were made of gold. But that was an obvious lie and many hundreds upon hundreds of Indians left India on ships and sailed all the way to South Africa. Many people died on those ships. When they finally reached here, they were very disappointed and angry; they were forced to work on the sugarcane farms. Many people died of diseases and suicide.

They were badly treated and worked from sunrise to sundown for a very low wage. Plus, they couldn’t leave South Africa because they were indentured laborers, which meant they worked under a contract for two years, (I think). When those two years were up, they could go back to India or stay in South Africa.

My grandparents and even my great grandmother are still alive. They were Hindus before becoming Christians (most likely all East Indians were Hindus before hearing and accepting the gospel). What is really cool is that my great granny, told me when she was a Hindu, she couldn’t have children. So she did rituals but still no children.

But then when she brought her heart before Jesus and accepted Him as her personal Savior, she had nine children! Yes, nine children! She is now about 86 years old and still serving the Lord faithfully. And that’s how after her being saved, my grandmother was saved, and so my mother etc. So I am saved all my life and never converted because my parents were Christians after their parents became Christians.

Basically my question is, how do I find Christian friends in my school when there is few to find?

I am looking forward to your advice!

God Bless!

Jared


Dear Jared,

Thank you for sharing some of your life. Your family’s history sounds very interesting and shows how Christ has brought your family through some very tough times. A conversion from Hinduism to true biblical Christianity is a powerful testimony.

You sound like a very mature and intelligent 15-year-old. It sounds like you have a good solid foundation in Christ, thanks to your family. But at the end of your letter you say you have been saved your entire life because of your parents and never converted. I have no doubt you are sold-out for Jesus, but I do want to point out that no one is born a Christian.

Each person must make a conscious decision to receive Christ as Lord and Savior or reject Him. It is a choice each person on this earth must make. Jared, from what I have read from you, at some point in your young life you must have made a conscious commitment to the Lord.

To answer your question regarding making friends who are not steeped in a sinful lifestyle; considering what you have shared, patience is needed. I do hope and pray at some point you will find a friend or two who you can trust and share the things of the Lord. Your description of even the professing Christians at your school is very troubling, but not at all unusual in these last days. This entire world is steeped in moral depravity.

You have a wonderful attitude and no doubt your sense of high-moral standards and love for the Lord will surely affect some of your classmates in a most positive way. Perhaps your good influence may not be seen right away but in time, some who have witnessed your way of life may think twice before participating in sordid behavior.

You may be the one student at your school who gives hope to those who are lost in their sin. You may not have asked to be in such a position but I have confidence in your ability to endure because of your faithfulness and your devotion to the Lord. Perhaps your friends who call themselves Christians but act like heathens, will follow your good example.

It sounds like the Lord has placed you into a challenging situation where your leadership talent may go far. From what you have written to me in some other emails it does not sound like enrolling in a private school is an option for you at this time. So as they say, “Bloom where you are planted.”

When we are not given any other options than the one we find ourselves in, then we must make the most of our situation and do our best for Christ—even in the midst of obvious godlessness. Scripture instructs us to be careful who we choose as friends and not to spend time with those who are living worldly lives of sensual pleasures. You already understand that. You cannot control who your classmates are. But you can keep a careful distance from the worst of them, as you are doing now.

The light you shine upon your peers at school will not go unnoticed. You may be the very one who helps keep some of the students from getting into trouble. Your godly demeanor may help others from falling further into a downward spiral of sin and self-destruction. But what about you? Where will you get your support and friendships from?

Until the Lord brings other serious students into your life who love the Lord, you may have to continue gleaning the fellowship you desire from your family members and church. Some believers need to be around others constantly and some do not.

I know of a special, very intelligent lady who is a very independent believer who loves the Lord with all her heart. She is not drawn to spend much time with others but is nevertheless, a very effective witness through her website and when she does go out into the world. She has a special quality that draws others to her.

We all have different callings in which we are to serve the Lord. It sounds like the Lord has given you leadership qualities. For now, it seems like you are alone at school in your commitment to Christ. But with independence comes strength and resilience, and tremendous spiritual growth can be achieved. It seems to me that the Lord is grooming you for your future. I would not be surprised if you became a full-time evangelist or pastor with a great ministry (if the Lord tarries).

I know you long to have others you can pal around with safely without being deluged with godless profanities, and all the other things that go on at your school. You must keep praying the way you have been, and trust that the Lord will open-up some doors for you to be with other like-minded friends. Perhaps a new student may come to your school who feels like you. We don’t know how God will intervene. But stay hopeful. You don’t need a lot of friends but even one good friend would help, I understand.

One suggestion I can make is to start a teen Bible study and prayer group with the assistance of your parents and pastor. Speak to your parents about possibly arranging to meet with your pastor and offer to start a group at your church or somewhere in your community where other teens can come and earn about the Word of God, and have fellowship in a safe place.

This is something you could do after school and on weekends and you can use your leadership qualities to help bring it all together. If you are busy with after school activities for the Lord you won’t miss not having friends at your school.

Everything you describe at your school is very symptomatic of the way Jesus said the world would be shortly before His Second Coming. It is also a direct reflection of how so many parents are not doing their job to teach their children right from wrong, and to behave with respect toward others. God has blessed you with a wonderful family. So many teens do not have good Christian parents, as you can see from your classmates.

Do your best to concentrate on your schoolwork and keep your heart and mind on the Scriptures. When others offend you, take it to Jesus. When you can’t stand the ways of your government school, know that it is only for a few more years.

Peer pressure to become popular and be part of the crowd can be overwhelming, Most of the people you know now in school will become a distant memory after graduation. So never mind if they treat you like an outcast when you refuse to go along with their bad behavior and wicked schemes. (Keep that in mind when you feel lonely.) You already have wisely chosen not to be like them.

Set yourself apart from the “popular” crowd and be popular with Jesus instead. Continue as you are living—to please Christ. God has a plan for your life, Jared. He has the right friends for you when the time is right. Spend your time learning and studying the Scriptures. Continue to grow close to Jesus and He will guide you every day.

And be sure to look into starting a teen youth group. You may not be able to make real friends at your school right now, but perhaps someone from your church can lead/oversee a teen youth group and you can be his or her assistant.

Jared, you are an exceptional young man. Keep your heart and mind focused on the Lord and He will strengthen you. Please stay in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. And God bless you for your faithfulness.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).


October 13, 2014

Dear Esther,

I have read an article recently from an American site which has troubled me somewhat. I live in the UK. This article states that lukewarm Christians will miss the Rapture and these people will repent and have to go through the Tribulation where they will be martyred by beheading. In the light of the recent activity of ISIS this is troubling many people today.

I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus when I was a child of 8 and have loved him for 62 further years. Circumstances however make me feel that I am lukewarm because lifestyle these days includes TV, other entertainment and not very much fellowship.

With the problems that are increasing around the world our anticipation of our Savior’s return is something precious to cling to.

I was always taught that once saved always saved and as individuals we are secure and can look with confidence for Jesus return. The Scriptures teach that the final church on earth, the Laodicean church, is lukewarm and the Lord will cast them out. This as I understand it the professing church which is not the true believers.

Surely the hope of the true Christian is sure...

In the parable of the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins the wise ones are taken and the foolish ones left. The article I read equates the lukewarm Christians to the foolish virgins. Surely the foolish virgins are people who think they are Christians but they haven't accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

What do you think on this emotive subject. Thank you for your previous articles.

Your brother in Christ,

Peter


Dear Peter,

Thank you for your letter. This ministry is a great blessing to me, thanks to all the wonderful readers and those who write in with various concerns. One thing you can be sure of is this: If you search the Internet you will find all kinds of conflicting and confusing information. Some biblically related information posted on the Internet is very good, very edifying.

However, some of the dynamics that go on remind me of a “Wild West” high-stakes gambling showdown where a potpourri of self-styled “spiritual” and Pop Christian “gurus” put down stakes (their websites), vying to win the big pot (adulation, fame, glory, money). This Wild West showdown has prompted many non-Christians to dismiss the authenticity of the Bible.

Misinformation on the Internet is widespread. That is why it is always important to search the Scriptures daily and compare anything we read with the Word of God to see if it is in keeping with God’s truth. Some people have a talent for manipulating Scripture and using it for their own selfish agenda. We see this time and time again in articles published on the Internet; in books, television sermons—or from the teaching and preaching that goes on in some local churches.

Peter, your best source, the only source you can truly rely on is the Bible. You will find many good articles on the Internet but one must be very careful and discerning and always do as we are commanded:

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

I have studied the Foolish Virgin parable quite a lot, and have read numerous articles with varying opinions on the subject (some quite convincing in regard to whatever argument they are espousing). But the only reliable conclusion I can come to is that the parable is telling us to: Be ready and not get distracted and fall into the ways of the world.

Some pastors teach the Partial-Rapture doctrine, but there is no passage in the Bible which teaches it or even hints at it. When pastors, who believe in the partial-Rapture doctrine were asked on a radio talk show if backslidden believers who miss the Rapture might take the mark of the Beast, they said they were not certain and hoped none would.

The partial-Rapture doctrine is not biblical. All true Christians will be raptured when Jesus returns, as Paul said:

“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51).

Even if a genuine Christian is in the middle of committing a sin he or she will be raptured. Our faithfulness is not what determines if we are raptured or left behind. If it were, very few believers would be raptured for we all sin throughout each and every day of our lives (to some degree).

It is highly improbable that any believer could go through just one day without committing a single sin of thought, word, deed or motive. Memorize and meditate on the truth that was revealed through John concerning this:

“If we should say we have not sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

The average believer commits so many sins each day that it is difficult to keep track of them and virtually no one does. We may keep track of the big sins, but not every sin of the mind or word. Every time you get angry it is a sin unless your anger is caused by someone blaspheming God or making disparaging remarks about believers or the Bible.

We should be very thankful that our salvation is not dependent on whether we continue to abide in Christ—for ALL of us stop abiding many times every day. Every time we sin we stop abiding. Unless we ask for forgiveness and then read or meditate on Scripture after asking forgiveness, we continue to not abide.

Most believers go through life not abiding. We should also be very thankful that our being raptured is not dependent on our faithfulness. If it is, then only a handful of believers will be raptured.

That is not to say that those who profess Christ but are imposters, and not really saved, will be raptured. Those so-called Christians are the ones who are Christians in name only. They do not have an authentic relationship with the Lord and their heart motives are not aligned with the truth of God’s Word. They are not truly born-again. These are often “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

We all fall short and sin, but when we cultivate a truly repentant heart then we will be less inclined to fall into chronic sins that cut-off our relationship with the Lord. It is not so much a question of, “Will all Christians be raptured? Rather, the question is: Who is truly a Christian? Scripture gives us the answer:

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

True believers do not operate from their ego and self-centered, self-righteousness toward the brethren. Have you ever heard someone say:”I love you in Christ” as he or she stabs a knife into your back? This type of hypocrisy reveals a person’s warped idea of what a believer in Christ is.

People like this pollute the Body of Christ with their personal selfish confusion never thinking that when they look in the mirror—the image revealed is one of erroneous judgment, never examining themselves and taking self-responsibility for what they may have done to create an awkward or unpleasant situation:

“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5-6).

“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

Peter, if you have any doubt about your salvation and fear that you will be left behind, then do as Scripture teaches and examine yourself.

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

You say you feel that you are lukewarm because your lifestyle these days includes TV, other entertainment and not very much fellowship. I ask you, why?

Have you lost your first love ?

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).

The Lord chastens whom He loves and we all need to be chastened periodically:

If you want to make sure you are truly converted judge yourself. If you judge yourself you will not be judged. When you are chastened of the Lord it’s so you are not condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

God wants us to have an ongoing authentic relationship with Him through prayer, worship, Bible study and fellowship with other believers. Our faithfulness and the depth of our commitment to Him determine our spiritual growth. God wants us to give our ALL to Him. How would you feel if you were pushed to a corner somewhere with other things piled on top of you and rarely got any attention? God wants your attention!

He asks us to communicate with Him, as you can see all throughout the Scriptures. We must make the Lord our first priority and not place Him aside and barely give Him the time of day. It is through our love for Him that we are obedient and want to please Him. Our walk with the Lord should be a disciplined endeavor to grow spiritually (and emotionally), and let go of the worldly distractions that fill our minds with all kinds of godless images and rhetoric.

“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).

We truly are living in perilous times, and getting very serious about our commitment to the Lord must take precedence over everything else. The Lord has to be number one in our lives. You know the truth about the Lord, but there are plenty who are still out there lost as can be, and the devil would like nothing more that for good Christians to become complacent, apathetic and ineffective for the cause of Christ. Be careful that you are not lulled to sleep while the enemy is busy wrecking havoc.

Our purpose is to serve the Lord. We are saved by His abiding grace but it is because of our love and respect for Him that we are obedient and fulfill our individual callings. It is easy to lose perspective and forget we are in the midst of a spiritual war. We must never let down our guard. The enemy is very crafty and we must not sit on the sidelines while he is busy ushering as many souls as he can to the gates of hell.

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’” (Matthew 22:37).

Please find some true believers that you can regularly fellowship with. Peter, I pray you will get deeply into your Bible and rededicate your life to the Lord. Give the Lord ALL of you.

Considering the daily stresses from the news reports alone, it is easy for our human nature to escape into mind-numbing “entertainment.” But all that does is pull us further away from the Lord as we do little or nothing for the kingdom of God.

We were created to serve the Lord with the talents He has given us. All that really matters in this life is what we do for Him. One day we will all stand before the Jesus, our Almighty King and Savior to give an accounting of our lives.

 Let us not be found standing in regret for wasting our precious time here on this earth when we could have been serving Him. Let us all hear the words: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

I hope to hear from you, Peter, in the future with an update on how you are doing.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).


October 6, 2014

Dear Esther

Due to poor choices I made in my past when I wasn’t walking with the Lord, I made a bad business decision a few years back when I sold some property at a loss, to my neighbors. The fiasco resulted in hard feelings and me losing. I have since written a letter to them asking for forgiveness for anything I might have done to offend them but there has been no response. I have been under satanic attack from my neighbors who don’t understand God’s plan of salvation. I know that not everyone is going to forgive you.

Satan is always throwing my past in my face. I am worried I may have led someone astray in the past. I would like some words of peace regarding losing my property.

Greg


Dear Greg,

No one likes to take a loss on anything. It is understandable that you are unhappy not only with your loss, but how you handled it. But as you said, you were not walking with the Lord at that time. We all have regrets and wish we could do things over in a different way, but we know that is simply not possible. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on.

By writing to your neighbors, apologizing and asking for forgiveness you did the right thing. As you say, not everyone is forgiving. Those who are unwilling to forgive and hold a grudge are hurting themselves and not taking into account how much Jesus stressed the need to forgive one another.

In this case your neighbors are unsaved and perhaps don’t understand how important it is to forgive others. It would be far worse if professing Christians were involved and they carried a chip on their shoulders and refused to let go of the situation.

Harboring resentment toward others is a sure way to make one self miserable. Some people are emotionally unstable and read things into situations that are not there, and as the old saying goes: “They make a mountain out of a molehill.”

Some people are very stubborn and reactionary and simply lash out irrationally. In your situation your neighbors are probably still upset despite your attempt to apologize and make things right. Considering the circumstances it is best to leave the situation alone at this point.

If you are mad at yourself for being a weak witness, you have to let that go, too. We cannot undo the past. In time, as your neighbors see you behaving kindly and with respect, perhaps they will see you in a different light than they do now. Consider what a valuable lesson you have learned. We serve a great God and when we truly seek Him with a repentant heart, life can become a wonderful adventure despite our past failings.

Another thing to consider and keep in mind is how temporary things are in this life. We can all get distracted by our material possessions and fret and fuss over them. This is our human nature in action. But in Christ we are far more than deed holders or collectors of creature comforts.

This becomes blaringly evident when we lose a loved one. Suddenly he or she is gone. All that remains are the material possessions and the memories. You walk into a room and see your loved ones favorite garment or electronic gadget; the things that just moments before death, meant so much to that person.

But now, those possessions have no meaning to the deceased. That person is gone (and hopefully with the Lord). And all that seemed to matter so much no longer has importance. You remember how much your loved one wanted that special phone and now it sits there in silence.

So with that said, Greg, we must cultivate a healthy eternal perspective on material goods and our possessions. From one moment to the next, a particular property or possession will cease to have meaning for us.

I listen to a CD sometimes where the orator speaks about the life of Jesus. How Jesus never left the area where He was born, how He never even owned a home. He never had a formal education and how simple a life He led. It always strikes me how far we have all come from the simple truths in life. The truths of Christ.

My Aunt Ida was my best friend while finishing up college in New York City. We had the greatest talks. She once painted an amazing image, which she titled: “Madonna of the Flowers.” She always used pastels when she painted. She had worked on the painting for weeks, and when she felt it was finished she sensed that inner nudge urging her to turn it upside down. And there it was, Mary holding the baby Jesus. It was an awesome sight to behold and to think that she did not even realize what she was painting. She revealed this marvelous painting to me one New Year’s eve.

My Aunt Ida and I spent a great deal of time together during those years. I learned a lot from her. But at that time I was very shaky in my walk with the Lord because of dealing with one phony Christian after another. So I figured my good Jewish aunt had a lot more wisdom than the phonies I walked away from. She would talk about Jesus as if the Holy Spirit was prompting her. That is something Jews just don’t do unless they are converted and born-again! So God was really using her in my life.

Where I am going with all of this is despite her success and all our outings to the finest restaurants in town (not to mention the shopping sprees at Saks, Henri Bendel and Bergdorf Goodman), she always said: “All you need is your finger and a bowl.” And that we really don’t need anything but the basics, and our relationship with God is what matters. She understood that all the material goodies we enjoyed could be gone in a moment. She made that point often. She was a very wise and special lady.

More recently and very unexpectedly, I lost my brother, which once again helps bring the futility of our material possessions into sharp focus. One day I was talking to him and the next day he was gone. A complete surprise. Not only for me, but I am sure to him, too, as he was suddenly in heaven!

All his material goodies are still here but He is with the Lord and I am sure He is not missing his prize computer one bit or his house, surrounding property or his car. So once again all these things are a reminder that our focus should be on the eternal and not so much on the here and now. And I know how much my brother toiled to have those things...

Greg, I have shared some of these things with you to help you move past your attachment to the loss of your property. If you died today it would not matter.

So we all have to die to ourselves daily and take up the cross and live for Jesus:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me’” (Matthew 16:24).

It is easy to get sidetracked and lament material losses in this world; a world of constant bombardment of advertisements telling us we need more. But that is all a lie. What we need is Jesus. We are totally sufficient in Jesus. And what a future we have before us!

Your property is nothing compared to what the Lord has in store for you, as a believer. Housing like we cannot even imagine, a life of holiness and serenity with our precious Lord and Savior, and all the deceptions and cruelty of this world gone forever. Let that be your anchor to hold on to in these very strange prophetic last days before our Lord’s soon return.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know” (John 14:2-4).

Our God is a God of restoration. If He wants you to have another property or anything else, He will provide it. Trust that He has your best interests at heart and let go of the issue with your neighbors. Give it all over to the Lord. Pray for their salvation and use this experience to deepen your commitment to the Lord. And when you find yourself feeling loss, then realize that the promise of heaven is so very real and nothing in this world can compare to the incredible glory ahead.

In God’s love,

Esther

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1-3).


September 29, 2014

Hi Esther,

God Bless you for what you do.

I’ve written to you a while ago (maybe about two years) and you gave me great advice. It seems as though I find myself in the same sinful predicament and state of mind these days, and one could argue it may be growing worse. I alone, from the people I know, read into prophecy daily and know what is going on.

My family members are really the only other source of Christians I talk with about God, besides a friend or two. I just feel like I can’t overcome my sinful nature. Sometimes I know what I’m doing and just continue until it’s time for me to repent.

Anyway, I couldn’t sleep tonight, so I rolled over and typed this letter to God. I thought it might be good to hear what you have to say about my situation as you are truly of God and have been gifted with advice and comfort. I just need physical real-time advice. And well yeah, here I am now at 1:40 in the morning:

Father,

I am so tired Father. I am tired of letting myself down daily. I am tired of letting you down daily. I am tired of my insecurities. I am tired of this world that has become so twisted and so backwards. I am tired of waiting for you to return. I am constantly—no, daily, falling into the habits and sins of the flesh. I am a foreigner in my own home, and in my own flesh. In your Word you tell us to “look up” because our redemption draws nigh in these last days, but my neck aches, and my eyes are growing tired.

Sin is easy. Sin is fun. Sin comes naturally. Doing the right thing is a constant contrast to what I am naturally inclined to do. Part of me wants to throw my faith out of the window and just live the way I want to without much thought to my actions -- like the world. It seems to work for nonbelievers, they sleep well and are unaccountable to anyone. I know deep down I would feel much more empty that way.

You have blessed me so tremendously in this life, and who am I to complain? I have it made on this side of the earth compared to the rest of this crumbling planet. But still, I don’t feel complete some days. Some days your presence is so close and I am so content in you. But other days you are but words in a book and galaxies away. I need you to be here, soon Father. I pray for patience to wait and endure, I just don't know how much longer I can keep a sane mind.

In these last days I’m constantly on my phone looking for a sign of your Son coming soon or absorbed by social media comparing my looks and lifestyle to a world I can’t compete with. I beg of you to give me life to completeness. I beg for your quick return. I am so ready to be changed incorruptible and immortal in your presence and in your kingdom. How long will you let this continue? I pray not much longer. I pray I go to sleep and wake to your trumpet. The thought waters my eyes and tugs at my heart. The day I enter your gates I feel I would explode. Finally, I would say, “Finally, I am home. This is where I belong.” I am ready to go home Lord.

Your child, servant, student, lover, and creation.

Russell


Dear Russell,

I’m glad you wrote, again. Your letter to our heavenly Father is heartfelt. I am sure our readers will be able to relate to it. So many of us are very anxious to be with the Lord and are tired of waiting for His return. So many are exhausted from dealing with the daily toil of this broken world, especially as it continues on a downward spiral.

You are not alone in your struggle. Our heavenly Father hears your cry for help. Each day that you struggle and cry out to Him is a step closer to being liberated from the shackles of worldly “thrills.” You are crying out because sin—for you—as a believer, is not really fun. It is a stranglehold that is taking you to the point of constant frustration.

You, in your own strength may not be able to overcome your sinful nature, but by truly yielding to the Holy Spirit you can leave a lifestyle of chronic sin far behind you. Until the day we die or are taken in the Rapture our sin nature will continue to remind us that it exists. That is when you say, “No thanks, I belong to Jesus and greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Don’t allow the fleeting sensory pleasures of this world to destroy you. Open your eyes to God’s eternal glory and close them to the world of deceptive darkness that will ruin you if you continue to indulge in it. You are still very young (about 22) and from what you say in your letter, you are being drawn into the world’s way of relating to others.

Social Media can be great for sharing the gospel and connecting with other true believers, but when it is used the way the world uses it, it can become an unhealthy obsession. Put down your phone and pick up your Bible! You can do it. Become dependent on Jesus and not the latest trends that you find by searching with your phone. As you are finding out all that is doing is driving a wedge between you and the Lord and making you feel insecure.

Wean yourself off from the need to search for things via your phone. What you fill your mind with each day is going to greatly affect you. It will either bring you closer to the Lord or take you away from the Lord. You must choose which direction you will go.

Keep repeating to yourself throughout the day:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Russell! Jesus loves you. He understands your pain. He is your way out! He is there to carry you and take you over the rough waves to the side of tranquil waters. Please pick-up your Bible and take it with you everywhere (as much as possible). Study it. Hug it. Place it under your pillow at night. Embrace it with all your heart, soul and mind. All the answers to you frustrations are in side God’s Holy Book.

Can you find a prayer buddy, a Bible study buddy, perhaps one of the people you mention in your letter and hold each other accountable to rise beyond earthly distractions that only serve to hurt you? Please get deeply into God’s promises by carefully studying the chapters of the Bible. Without God’s Word becoming a priority in your daily life you are going to continue to have a rough ride.

If you keep your eyes on the world it will seduce you and own you. You can have a clear and deliberate change of perspective by making some important changes in your life. You need not continue in the cycle of confusion bogged down by chronic sin. We are called to be separate from the world. That may require taking some necessary and drastic steps.

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:16-17).

You mention that you have only a few Christians that you communicate with. Does that mean all your other friends and associates are unbelievers? The Bible gives good counsel that we are not to hang-out with unbelievers except for the purpose of evangelism. Bad company corrupts good morals. Unbelieving friends do not understand biblical truths and will most often condone lifestyles that are an abomination to the Lord:

“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Friends affect us for better or worse:

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Russell, you can move forward in a more productive manner and let go of bad habits. Please find a way to spend your time with other dedicated believers. Search out others who do not want to live a life of worldly corruption. You already know it brings nothing but confusion and frustration. Can you even imagine if Jesus were to walk through the door of your home and said?:

“Hi Russell. I was in the neighborhood and I thought you might like to spend some time with me. I like the letter you wrote to my Father. He is very concerned about you. He thinks you should stop participating in the ways of this lost world and get serious about your Christian walk -- so you don’t miss out on the best He has for you.”

Would that get you to see things more clearly? Would you fall down to the ground in great reverence to Him and realize that you cannot continue to live a life half-devoted to Him? Would you take a new turn in the right direction?

Just a friendly reminder: Just because we cannot see the Lord does not mean does not know what is going on. He knows every thought and motive, every step we take. Please think through what I just said. If you really love the Lord, please reevaluate the choices you make and start living a sold-out life for Jesus. Let go of the temporal trappings that send you into depression and separate you from the One who died for you—the One who suffered incomprehensibly so you can be free of a world that is designed to destroy you.

Please look at your life from a new perspective and realize how blessed you are to be able to get a college education, live in this great country and live a lifestyle millions can only dream about. Go forward with an attitude of gratitude. So many people are suffering today at the hands of evil. Each day when we can live our lives in relative peace is a good day. We must count every one of our blessings and not take them for granted.

If you are indulging in any type of substance abuse you are digging your own grave of depression and misery. If it is sexual sin, that will only hurt you and lead you into depression because you know you are grieving the Holy Spirit.

Please reread all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Let the reality of what Jesus did and what his disciples did get into your heart. Give all of yourself for the cause of Christ and your life will take on a new meaning. The more you get into the Lord, the less of a pull the world will have on you.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Russell, make this time a new beginning and think through your priorities. Be a godly example for others to follow:

“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Seriously consider getting involved in a youth/young adults ministry as soon as possible. It is by giving of yourself to others that healing comes; not only for them but for you, too. Whenever we focus too much on ourselves, on our own problems, we open the door for depression to sneak in.

You could bless so many by taking a stand for Christ and walking away from the broad road that inevitably leads to destruction. You are a smart and talented young man. Don’t let all the blessings God has given you go to waste.

It is true that the Lord commands us to watch for His return but he also says we must occupy while we are waiting, and occupy wisely (Luke 19:13). Resolve to do your best for the Lord because of your love for Him. Love Him with all your heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22: 37). Pray wholeheartedly for the Lord to guide you into a lifestyle of genuine godly living; pray for wisdom.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).

I think it is great that you are interested in Bible prophecy but it is equally as important to get grounded in all aspects of the Bible. A very direct admonition the Lord gave us is to go out into the world and share the gospel. When we take the focus away from ourselves and work to reach others for Christ—then we find more balance in our lives.

We cannot know for sure when the Lord will take us out in the Rapture. So in the meantime realize that God put you on this earth for a reason, and that reason is to serve and glorify Him. You already know this world is on life-support. Your longing to be home with Him is very understandable. But you still have work to do here for Him until the day you die or the day we are taken up in the Rapture.

You can do this Russell. You can get through this time and move into a new life that reflects a consistent and steady walk with the Lord. Close this chapter of your life and ask the Lord to renew you. Change your focus from the distractions of this world to a life of integrity where you can encourage others.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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 12:1- 2).

Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing. Reach out if you need to. I have confidence in you that you can get through this and become one of God’s mightiest warriors in this spiritual battle between God’s good and evil. Choose to be on the winning side with Christ. Walk away from the darkness and don’t look back.

In God’s love,

Esther

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).


September 22, 2014

Hi Esther,

This is a burden I want to share. I know that in some point I am in sin. But I cannot help it. I want to tell you my testimony and what I found out about the Christian life and its realities.

First off, when I was saved in 2011, I was saved by God Himself. I was not brought into a church or was invited by someone that usually was the case in my current church. I was saved before I went to church. I don’t know how it all happened but God saved me through a nightmare I saw in the late morning of Feb. 5, 2011.

I saw a demon spirit in my dream and it almost killed me... I woke up and made a serious prayer that I wanted to know God. I opened my Bible and read John 3:16 and boom... I fell into so many tears.... that memory will never leave my mind, ever.

And then I was introduced to a church. During the first years I enjoyed listening to the preaching and I was on-fire for God. But then it got to me that they were preaching the same stuff over and over. I just noticed it gradually. Yes, they would have a different title for the monthly series but the topic would just lead to the same thing, discipleship, winning, the love of Jesus, etc....

To make things short, I discovered along with my studies through the years that I got myself into a charismatic Christian church and a church which has the likes of Rick Warren, etc. (feel good mega churches that crave for growth). But the whole counsel of God is not being preached in those churches. Here are some of the things I do and found out.

Our senior pastor does believe that one can leave the faith and become unsaved. He based his belief on Hebrews 6:4-6 wherein he said that a saved person who tasted salvation can leave it. I don’t buy it. A real saved person cannot leave the faith because God will establish that person and make him firm. it’s not up to the person, it’s up to God according to 1 Corinthians 1:8. Also, if that was true then that would invalidate what Jesus said in John 10:28. I also did my own study on the Word and validated everything.

I found out my church, just like A LOT of churches here in Manila, they teach KINGDOM principles. KINGDOM theology, but they believe in Israel as God’s people but they do believe that the church can change this nation. I know what’s wrong with this kind of view. My senior pastor does not believe in dispensationalism.

Our church teaches “Lordship Salvation” wherein a lot of people teach that one needs to willingly turn away from their sin as REPENTANCE needed for saving faith. I don’t believe it. I learned that real repentance is the work of the Holy Ghost and not of Man.

Real repentance as taught to me was to be brought about to saving knowledge by the pure Word of God, being convicted of sin by the Holy Ghost seeing the need for a Savior, CHANGING THEIR MIND, thus resulting in believing that Jesus Christ died for my sins, He was buried and resurrected from the dead 3 days later for my justification.

Our church operates much like a corporation does. it has its senior pastor and multiple people under him., a lot like cafeteria Christianity. There’s no power in his preaching. He mostly makes jokes during on stage like his fellow preachers.

We have a lot of youth and they don’t want to “offend” or “scare” the youth by preaching on prophecy; Revelation and current events. Even in our school of discipleship they don’t even teach this stuff! They focus on discipleship but there’s a lot more than just Discipleship. (Not to mention the contemporary and worldly music they use for “Christian” events.)

I wish I could tell you more.. but there is A LOT more... I’m in sin right now... I’m burdened in my tithes. I feel there’s a tug in my heart that does not want to give to this church. I’ve been praying about this for a long time and I know some of this is from the devil. I want to support a good ministry or a good church. There are hardly any here in Manila... please pray for me.

I want to help financially. I want to obey not because I want to be saved, but because it is my choice. I should give because Jesus loved me before I loved Him... I say a lot of bad stuff regarding my pastors and church policies... I don’t know where to go. I have friends within the church that see the truth.. By God’s help I was able to share with them the true salvation gospel.

I haven’t been attending our Sunday PREACHING services. I’m there for the music... but usually I’m absent during preaching.. I know I’m sinning. I’m so burdened, but I can’t stand to hear what their preaching.... just like the fundamental Baptists are correctly saying, they always preach on “feel good” messages...but the true gospel is not being preached.

Please pray for me.

Sincerely,

Dino


Dear Dino,

Your frustration comes through loud and clear. You have my prayers, for sure. Since you don’t have any specific questions I will try to encourage you overall—to keep walking boldly with the Lord and not slide into a condition of feeling paralyzed because of the confusion around and within you. Falling into sin because of frustrations with what you find to be problematic preaching is a sure way to seriously weaken your relationship with the Lord.

Tragically, some of what you have described is not unusual in so many churches today. This passage comes to mind:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

So many churches do not even touch on discipleship but the fact that the church you are talking about does, is something that should not be taken lightly. It is by being a disciple that we grow in the Lord and can effectively reach others. The Lord calls us to be active disciples. It sounds like what you are really missing at your church is instruction in Bible prophecy.

I’ll start by urging you to meet with some of the friends you mention in your letter that see things the way you do and start a fellowship with them. It sounds like so much is going on that you are trying to make sense of. I suggest slowing down so you don’t feel so overwhelmed and frustrated. It is very disheartening to want so much to please the Lord, live a biblically sound lifestyle, yet find so many are not staying true to God’s Word.

I am going to caution you not to let the failings of others let you slide further into a life of sin. We know that Scripture teaches that we should give thanks in ALL things (1 Thessalonians 5:8). The Lord may well be using the things you are bothered by to compel you to start a new ministry with other like-minded believers who do not want to have their ears tickled. Sometimes when we are at the height of frustration, that is when we can really grow in the Lord and do (recognize) the work He calls us to do.

You need not give your money to an organization that you do not agree with. Tithes can be given in many ways. Why not gather together with your friends who are truly dedicated to the truth and meet together regularly holding one another accountable to the Lord.

Make it a time of worship and careful Bible study. In Old Testament days believers met together in this way. Formal churches are getting less popular today with believers who cannot stand hearing (or not hearing) some of the things you describe.

Now regarding salvation, the Lord did tell us to repent many times in Scripture. We do have to willingly make a choice to receive Him and repent. It is the Holy Spirit that does the regenerative work within but if we are not willing vessels and do not yield to Him, then we can run into trouble. I think that Lordship Salvation is a confusing teaching.

As far as the pastor using Hebrews 6:4-6 for his argument you are right. A person is either saved or not. Those who spend time in the Christian life but eventually drift away, Scripture teaches “were not of us.” In other words, they were never really saved to begin with.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).

Dino, consider all of these trials part of you growth in the Lord. You are a relatively new believer and it sounds like you are determined to please the Lord and get through your struggles. Before you were saved Satan was not as concerned about destroying your life because you did not yet belong to the Lord. But now that you are saved, he would love to see your life ruined and render you useless to do any good for the cause of Christ. And even cause you to turn against God.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4)

Don’t let the enemy derail you from all the good you can do for the Lord. Put on the full armor of God to thwart the devil’s attacks. Vow to grow even closer to Him and prepare to perhaps move into a position of humble leadership sometime in the future where you can use all of what you have learned to create a place of sanctuary for like-minded believers.

Hold on to Christ and His Word like never before. This is the time to get deeply into your Bible and make it your priority to learn as much as you can.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:11-13).

Now Dino, do as the Lord implores us to do:

“Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17).

People will always let us down, regardless of their stature or calling. We can rely only on the Lord Jesus and He will get you though this confusing time. And what a friend we have in Jesus, a friend like no other!

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

We are in the last of the last days. Think carefully now how you will use the time left, how you can best serve the Lord. The day is coming soon when each one of us will be face to face with the Lord. Never underestimate how the Lord can use you to help bring others to faith while there is still time.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).


September 15, 2014

Dear Esther,

I read your column every week and I love it. I appreciate the fact that you remind us to hold ourselves accountable to the Scriptures. I had a situation where my own sister was a lot like the one you wrote about last week. My sister thinks she is saved but she is as nasty as they come. I know we are saved by grace but I cannot see how that means we can behave like the unsaved and be truly Christian.

My sister has not shown any good fruit -- ever. Salvation does not come cheaply. Jesus suffered terribly for us. But so many people think that because they make a profession of faith that they can still live their lives any way they want. They do not understand that we are to repent and that the renewing of our minds is also part of the calling the Lord gave us. We are supposed to be “new in creatures in Christ.” I often think about that very troubling Scripture in Matthew 7:21:

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Anyway, you mentioned public schools in your response and I have been wondering if you know anything about the Common Core agenda that is being implemented in many of the public schools? I don’t hear much of about it except from a few sources that mention it briefly. I would appreciate anything you can share.

Thanks,

Joanne


Dear Joanne,

Thank you for your letter and kind words. What you say is true. A real problem exists in the church when people think they can use God’s grace to mean a change from the old person to the new person in Christ—as an incidental thing—that may or may not happen. They forget the Scriptures that call us to be holy. We can never earn our way into heaven but it is by our fruit as you and the Scriptures say, that we will know those who are genuine in their walk with the Lord (Matthew 7:20).

Some people simply cannot get past certain behaviors. Is that free will and rebellion working in an unrepentant heart or is it a mental/emotional disorder that God will take into account? Only God knows for sure who is truly saved but He certainly gives us plenty of admonitions that we are to follow His commands.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:14).

But of course the Lord knows we are fallen creatures and no matter how hard we try, we are going to fall at some point and not always keep His commandments. That is exactly why He died for us, to take away our sin. It is the intent of the heart that is crucial to a believer’s walk with the Lord. That is where grace comes in.

It is by His grace and grace alone that we are saved. But if professing believers have wicked agendas and deliberately hurt others again and again, then an examination of whether one is truly in the faith is necessary, 2 Corinthians 13:5:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”

One of the marks of a Christian is a changed life and a godly attitude as evidence of the Holy Spirit living within. A born-again believer does not scheme and go out of his or her way to cause harm to another.

Now regarding your question about Common Core, yes I can share a bit about it.

Common Core Standards Initiative is the most recent education program coming from the Obama Administration.

Common Core should concern every God-fearing individual because it will affect everyone at some point. Common Core is part of this administration’s plan for spreading socialism, redistributing the wealth and destroying the suburbs. According to Stanley Kurtz, author of Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, one of Obama’s biggest plans is to create socialism in America is through Common Core education.

A nationalized education system is contrary to States rights and the U.S. Constitution. A national education program, top-down, centrally controlled is not what our Founding Fathers ever wanted. Simply put, it is anti-Christian and un-American. The Founding Fathers knew that by controlling all the information going into the minds of people, despotic governments and dictators could take over a nation.

Education then becomes indoctrination and propaganda. Our Founding Fathers purposely left the word education out of the Constitution; education was left to be up to the under the States and to local parental control.

Some of the education laws against national standards, curriculum control are: 1) The Department of Education Organizational Act (1979), 2) The General Provisions Act and 3) The Elementary and Secondary Act (1965) and most recently amended by the No Child Left behind Act of 2002. Each of these says the same thing: “The federal Department of Education shall not be involved in developing, supervising or controlling instructional materials or curriculum. Actually, parents and local school boards are to be in charge of education.

Bill Evers, a Research Fellow of the Hoover Institute located at Stanford, stated the following about the importance of local control:

“The insight of competitive federalism is that the 51 State school boards are better than a single federal executive branch office, and 15,000 local school boards are better than either 51 State school boards or a single federal office.”

Here are some insights as to what the Common Core agenda is about:

Common Core will control and dictate to teachers what they can and cannot teach: According to Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education of New York University, the reaction of teachers is: “A maelstrom of pent-up resentment over being forced to do what’s wrong for kids and being afraid of losing gainful employment by speaking out.”

By controlling the information going into the minds of the people, dictators are able to take over a nation. Schools then become the indoctrination and propaganda centers; only that which the dictator or “president” wants is allowed to be taught. This is illustrated with the education program under Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Common Core also contains a “master teachers corps” which this administration has formed which will spy on teachers and administrators similar to those in Nazi Germany to make sure only the “proper” teachings are being taught. Students in Hitler’s time were also trained and rewarded for spying and reporting on their teachers. Teachers who dared speak out against Nazism were fired and most of them also ended up in Concentration camps.

Common Core is the final stage of taking control of the public school curriculum, rewriting American history and calling it social studies -- undermining national sovereignty, promoting environmentalism, requiring multiculturalism, restructuring government and redefining education as job skills.

To illustrate this we need only look at the authorized and funded textbook titled: We the People. It uses the word “ideas” in place of “self evident truths.” It speaks of the U.S. Bill of Rights as a document of the document of the eighteenth century, “reflecting concerns and issues of the age in which it was written,” Ina n attempt to imply the Bill of Rights is no longer for today.

Back in the 1940s (and earlier), globalist visionaries agreed that biblical Christianity must be quenched -- or changed -- before a world government could be established. The World Health Organization, WHO), a UN agency is tied to this elitist agenda. Behavior modification processes implemented for decades have greatly contributed to the demise of Christian values. Their re-interpretation and eventually eradication of the concept of right and wrong has been the basis of child-training, little by little, step by step.

These Marxist globalists want to push their agenda through worldly anti-God psychological tactics and by using sociology in the primary school, leaving other topics at the bottom of the academic list (dumbing down students). They strive to “eliminate social and emotional barriers to learning.” One cannot help but wonder if this includes the Christian faith and a biblical view of what is right and wrong. Or the Constitutional rights that protect religious freedom. We already see evidence that the globalist agenda is undermining Christian-Judeo values.

The mass psychology of these elitists has already dramatically changed our world. The war against Christian symbols and holidays may be the most obvious symptom. God has been banned from traditional Christian celebrations, art projects, seasonal songs and American history.

Concerned parents, teachers and patriotic Americans are expressing their objections to this godless method of “education.” Our very wise Founding Fathers believed that the best government was small, local government; closest to the people it governed; that it is best when governed by parents and small local school boards, not by the Federal government.

Parents and others are concerned that Common Core will take away more parental rights over their children. The fact that parents were not even consulted or had any idea that such a curriculum was in existence shows the lack of concern and regard for parents’ rights.

Personal data collection is part of Common Core. Extensive databases will track over 400 criteria on each child: Salary or Wage, Dwelling Ownership, Family Income Range, International Code Number, Neglected or Delinquent Status, Medical Treatment, Medical Laboratory Results, Religious Affiliation, Religious Consideration, Voting Status, Social Security Number (SSN), etc.

Cursive handwriting will no longer be taught. This would keep students from reading the original documents of our Founding Fathers as well as letters from their grandparents. Students are expected to become proficient in keyboard skills instead.

Math standards are being lowered. According to James Milgram who is a professor emeritus of math at Stanford University and served as a member of the Validation Committee for Common Core national standards for math, he said: “The Core Mathematics Standards as written to reflect very low expectations.” Common Core of a Trojan Horse for Education Reform, Orlean Koehle, p.32.

English literature, many writings considered to be great classics are also being systemically removed. Attorney Emmit McGrourty said that Common Core English standards remove much classical English literature. Having children read manuals instead of reading as much literature, would not help them develop their critical thinking skills. Common Core of a Trojan Horse for Education Reform, Orlean Koehle, p. 33.

Sandra Stotsky, who is the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform, sat on the Common Core review for Language Arts. She stated that “Common Core will lead to a low level of literacy for all high school students.”

To sum up the outrageous problems with Common Core, Anthony Esolen, a professor of Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization of Providence College in Rhode island, says the following:

What appalls me the most about the Common Core Standards is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art, thought and literary form. It is the sheer ignorance of the lively imagination. We are not programming machines; we are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women. Frankly, I do not wish to be governed by people whose minds and hearts have been stunted by a strictly utalitarian miseducation.

Joanne, the information presented here is just a small sampling of how our education system is being systemically changed to try to control our children and destroy traditional Judeo-Christian values. We know that the Bible teaches there is coming a day when a the architects of the one world government will strive to complete an unyielding loyalty of their victims which will not tolerate loyalty to God , country or family.

They will use the very powers of the government they seek to destroy to separate children from their parents influences at birth, “protect” them from spiritual influences of the church and the moral precepts of God, which are instilled by the families. But school districts in “local control” states can dump Common Core Standards. Local school boards probably have the right to remove their school districts from the new Common Core academic standards that are being forced on school districts by state education officials.

It is important to educate ourselves on this demonically inspired plot to destroy our great nation, our families and children. A good book to read is one I quoted from earlier, Common Core of a Trojan Horse for Education Reform, written by Orlean Koehle.

But be of good cheer, Jesus has overcome the world. So many prophetic signs are converging before us and taking hold. Our job is to reach as many people as we can with the gospel while there is still time. As believers we have Christ, our Blessed Hope and the Rapture of the church and it can’t come too soon.

A good way to start or end the day after praying is to read aloud Psalm 91:

“He who dwells in the (shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!’For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.

You will only look on with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.

‘Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. ‘With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.”

May the Lord have mercy on us and take us home soon!

In God’s love,

Esther

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).


September 8, 2014

Dear Esther,

I love your ministry of helping and encouraging others! May God continue to bless you for your work. I am not sure how to even begin. My heart hurts so much, actually aches. I grew up a minister’s daughter. I am in my late 30s. Married 20 years to a godly man. I’m a homeschooling momma to our teenage son.

It feels like I was born in the church, having attended twice on Sundays, Sunday school and everything else since I was christened. I am a fifth generation born-again Christian. I come from a family of many pastors.

I say all that just to say that how I was raised, and my influences have all made me who I am today. I am thankful as I have been blessed. I love the Lord so much. Thank God I’m saved! I asked Him into my heart at age 5. Again at age 18 as a rededication to Him since I really understood more at 18 than at 5 of the seriousness/commitment to serve and believe and love Jesus with all my heart.

So anyway, things have been good in my life for the most part. Good childhood and great marriage. On top of that, blessed very well financially. My husband makes a 6 figure income. NOT saying it to boast, as believe me, he is so humble.

We are very frugal/minimalist types, we give most away and we don’t take it for granted, and it’s just money. We couldn’t care less if we go broke tomorrow. All that matters is Jesus. “Take the world, just give me Jesus! But having a luxury company car, being able to be a stay at home mom/wife our entire marriage, from age 18 to 39... causes jealousy in others. That is my issue.

I have always been a good girl. I am nice. I love kindness, love helping and love giving. I am also sensible and sensitive to others. I don’t flaunt money or give in the open for all to see. I try super hard to just be a girl after God’s own heart.

I am not a perfect person or claim to be but all in all, honestly, ask anyone who knows me, they would all say I am the sweetest, meekest person they know. Though saying that doesn’t sound meek. But I just need to let you know the truth of who I am so you can understand my issue.

My issue is that I have a younger sister who is extremely jealous and competitive.

She didn’t grow up with the same influences as I did. She is 5 years younger. By the time I was out of high school and married, my dad stepped down as a pastor after his brother died. My uncle was a pastor, too, and they were so close. My dad has continued to guest-preach/fill in at churches ever since.

But my sister didn’t grow up being so involved with church as I did. That is partly what makes her who she is now (not as spiritually minded). Some may describe her as lukewarm or worldly. On top of that, she is a teacher. I home school. Something she takes issue with. Her teaching environment seems to be toxic/gossipy with other teachers. They have an attitude about being better than others, they are “career women.” I find nothing wrong with her being a teacher. In fact I support her. But she has this attitude of competitiveness.

We have a huge family, lots of cousins, and she has issues with most everyone. She cuts people out of her life if they (to quote her): “Have nothing to offer” her. She has a really difficult reputation. The family thinks she is mean, prissy, hard, snobby etc.

On the other hand.. Everyone loves, me. I’m the one they call for anything; prayer, holiday meals, visiting etc. I guess because I am nice and sweet, quiet but loving.

Over the last year and half since we moved closer to my sister’s town to be nearer to her and my parents, she has taken her jealousy to another level. She has tried to bad mouth me, hurt me, yell at me. She has been a mean bully. Most of my family would never tolerate it. They’d tell her off! But I just take it and take it.

I can’t even list the many examples of meanness and manipulation that she has used toward me. She is trying to cut me out of her life. I think it’s because it hurts her that I’m blessed and likeable. But she could be too, if she would just be kind and sweet.

I have prayed and Lord knows how many times I cried over this. I don’t like anyone not to like me, as unrealistic as that is. But I keep loving her despite the awful things she says and does. I tried to show her that there is no competition necessary. I also gave her many things to show love. I’ve reached out many ways over and over.

My parents say she’s just difficult. They are praying, too, for the situation as its getting awkward now where she avoids family functions because she doesn’t want to be near me! My dad also feels it’s a spiritual thing and prays it will be broken so healing and restoration can happen.

But it seems hopeless and I feel like it will take a miracle for us to have a normal sister relationship. In the meantime, it has broken my heart. I just want everyone to get along, I want peace and love. Life is too short for family issues.

And then I also think, “Well, maybe this is my “cross to bear.” Life’s been good except this one major family issue.

I realize so many others have bigger problems. But this is my burden, and it makes my heart ache so badly that I’m being treated so unkindly and it is heart breaking that we don’t have a good relationship. Such a shame!

Things could be so wonderful. She has a sister in me who is loyal, would love her to pieces, help, give, do anything in the whole wide world for her but she is missing out, and so am I, on a fun close loving relationship and friendship.

It hurts and there’s nothing I can do. I can only keep praying, loving her from a distance and remain helpful whenever possible.

Any advice?

Thanks most kindly.

Many Blessings,

From: A Broken Hearted Sister


Dear Broken Hearted Sister,

I am glad you reached out. Thank you very much for your words of appreciation. You sound like an exceptional person very deserving of kindness and love from family and friends.

It sounds like you have done anything and everything to show unconditional love to your sister. Jealousy is a very tough nut to crack. It is rampant in the church and everywhere throughout this broken world. Competitive jealousy is a driving force in the fast lane of self-created misery.

The problem is clearly a spiritual one. From what I have read it does not sound like your sister has a genuine relationship with the Lord. Pride is always at the root of jealousy and until the person harboring jealousy can see his or her own shortcomings, there is little hope of having an authentic relationship with that person.

You can stand on your head in the middle 5:00 rush hour traffic, risk you life to prove your loyalty and love, and you will still be rejected. By harassing you, and now ignoring and rejecting you, your sister is making a strong statement, albeit a very foolish and immature one.

It is her way of trying to show she doesn’t need what you have to offer; but that’s not true. She would like to have your blessings, so by trying to harm you she is in essence trying to destroy you, and her need to not be who she is.

Good, reliable friends are so hard to come by and if she cannot appreciate you then she is a fool. Her pride and need for control is something that is hurting her more than it is hurting you. But she is too caught-up in herself to realize she is creating her own misery and walking down that very broad road that will ultimately take her to an eternity of permanent separation from the Lord is she does not change and repent.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

It is obvious that you have been very kind to your sister even while she mentally and emotionally pummels you, and tries to harm you. Perhaps in her mind she is perceiving a threat (that simply does not exist). It is her own contrived perception.

When a person is as kind and as caring as you, yet treated rudely—even viciously—then you can be sure that the problem is with the other person. Some people just need to be mad and overreact with an attitude of indignation. They are not living a Christian life by any stretch of the imagination.

If someone is truly a born-again believer there is no excuse for treating friends and family rudely, and neglecting them. Unbalanced hostile people are spiritually depraved. They might even talk about the Lord all the time but it is by a person’s behavior that the real person is known.

We cannot change people and when this type of rejection and abuse is interjected into a relationship it is very hurtful. Neglect is a form of abuse. Sometimes I think some people will get into heaven on the basis of insanity/mental illness -- because too often some professing Christian “friends” are anything but attentive, loving and thoughtful. They seem to be unreliable, unbalanced, controlling and too “busy” to bother. And here you are doing anything possible to enrich your sister’s life by making yourself available to her (that is the biblical way).

In one of my books I wrote: “We should never be too busy doing ‘work’ for God that we pay little attention to those who are reaching out to us.” Now in your case with your sister, it is tough to see any evidence of her making efforts to live a godly life; doing godly things that she might use as an excuse to ignore you and try to shut you out of her life. But by using her role as a teacher -- that is her way of trying to show superiority toward you. She may as well be mocking Jesus when she mocks you.

What she fails to understand is that by homeschooling your son, you and your husband are taking responsibility for his education, as the Bible teaches parents should. Yet in her carnal mind she is foolishly trying to use her profession as a power play against you, to try to belittle you. This is very unfortunate, especially if she teaches at a public school where God is not welcome. Your sister sounds very lost. She doesn’t seem to understand it is she who is on the wrong side of how to educate children so they learn godly precepts.

Your love for your sister is admirable, especially after she has taken so many steps to hurt you. But you have already found out that nothing you say or do will bring her into an authentic relationship with you (at this time).

For your own peace of mind, the best thing you can do is what you are already doing: Pray for her. Pray that she will have a true born-again relationship with the Lord. Until she does, it does not sound like she will recognize how the conflict she is causing for the entire family stems from her own selfish irrational thinking, resulting in her cruel behavior. You want peace. She wants conflict.

Considering the circumstances, you must find a way to detach yourself from her abuse. That does not mean you have to stop loving her as your sister. As you say in your letter, you can love her from a distance. But in order to function in good health and be in a position to serve the Lord to the best of your ability, your sister’s drama must take a distant back seat in your life.

Some people actually get a thrill from hurting others. She is aware of how much her rejection of you, your goodness and love -- bothers you. Rejecting you and what you have to offer feeds her warped sense of self-pity. Don’t give her the satisfaction of seeing that you are frustrated about it. It is great that you want everybody to just get along, but that is not her thinking at all.

The best thing you can probably do for her is let her live her own life with the hope that her bad behavior will catch-up with her. Be cordial when you must interact with her but don’t go out of your way to “save” her from herself. Continue to be your loving, caring self but don’t have any expectations that you will be appreciated by your sister at this time.

She obviously needs to have a few tough life breaks (heartbreaks) and then she might begin to examine herself. And even then there is no guarantee that she will. If the opportunity presents itself you can tell her you will always be there for her, but let her go for now.

Ask the Lord to give you peace within yourself about this so you can be free of your sister’s emotional stranglehold over you. Give the entire situation over to the Him. God can make a way when there seems to be no way and in time she may just come running to you—knowing that you are the one she can count on. So don’t think all your love for her is lost. But your sister needs time to fumble and fall before her pride can begin to be broken.

In the meantime I suggest to try not to focus on her so much. Use all the love and goodness you have to reach others for Christ. Use your tremendous generosity to love and serve other family members, and individuals who would welcome your friendship. Your heartache may not go away completely, but it will diminish when you give your love and attention to those who will appreciate you and not play games with you.

God knows how brokenhearted you are and He will comfort you. Trust Him to work in your sister’s life in ways that you simply cannot, and I would not be surprised if sometime in the future you write and tell me that your sister has had a wonderful change of attitude and is back in your life. Prayer can change things.

A passage that comes to mind is quite fitting in your situation. It might sound harsh, but it pretty much sums it up:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6).

You have already tried to be a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9). It’s time to let your sister go until she takes responsibility for her hatred and selfish godless behavior. One more thing: We know prayer can change things. But we don’t know if your sister will ever want to take responsibility for her selfish rude self.

She has free will and as I said before, she may have to get knocked down a few times before she even begins to take a look at how she causes her own problems. We’ll hope and pray for the best but please try to let it go. It’s God’s battle to fight. So many other people would love to have a friend like you!

God bless you, dear Sis for your caring heart.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).


September 1, 2014

Dear Esther

Before I tell you my reasons for writing, I want to say something about your column. I have noticed that you have been blessed with a gift to see things from a man’s or a woman’s point of view, which is not an easy thing to do. However, more important, I feel that your responses are well received and respected, because they are mostly based on God’s perspective, which He makes clear in His Word.

There is just one more thing I should mention. I enjoy your letters so much that I could spend hours reading them. Whether a person’s thoughts or actions are right or wrong, you have such a lovely way of presenting them with the truth. Your words are kind and encouraging, and are expressed in such a loving manner. This is truly meekness and it is pleasing to the Lord.

My reasons for writing might be a little different from the letters that normally cross your desk—or perhaps not. I actually have more than one question, but they are relevant to my story and situations. Opening up my life to the world like this is a very difficult thing for me to do, but I’m hoping to get answers so that some important issues in my life can be resolved.

Esther, I am a Christian, but I didn’t come to Christ until I was forty-eight years old. We all know what life can be, living in Satan’s workshop for forty-eight years. It was by the grace of God that I made it that long without Him.

As I was approaching adulthood, I never doubted that one day I would fall deeply in love, get married and have lots of children just as my parents did. They were my example of what marriage should be. They not only loved each other, but they respected and cherished one another. I assumed that would be the same life for me. However, as the years went by, and never even coming close to a proposal, I began to wonder if something was wrong with me.

Was I not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or worthy of being someone’s wife? Those were the questions that plagued me year after year. My friends began to get married, one after the other. By the time I was in my early twenties, practically, my entire group of friends was already married. I wondered why I couldn’t land a husband as well. It was a sharp blow to my ego and to my self-esteem.

I became obsessed over the mere thought of being an “old maid.” I know it sounds crazy, but I stopped attending weddings and baby showers, because it was just too painful for me. I was so envious and angry that it wasn’t happening to me, that I lost many friends, because I didn’t want to be around the “happy couples” anymore. Sad, isn’t it?

While still in my twenties, I dated a fellow and through the course of time, the relationship developed into a closer one. I thought I had found “Mr. Right.” WRONG! Inevitably, the relationship came to an end, because of an unintended pregnancy. I knew he wasn’t thrilled about it, but it revealed a side of this man that I had never seen before!

Sparing you most of the horrid details of the suffering he laid upon me, the worst things I had to deal with was the feeling of being betrayed and being fearful of his threats. He made it clear that he wanted no part of this child and he was going to make sure there would be no child support demands in the future.

He ordered me to have an abortion, and I was too spineless to stand up to him and say, “NO! Like it or not, this baby belongs to the both of us and YOU alone don’t get to decide what happens to it!” The trouble was, I was scared, and having a meager salary and no college education, I knew I couldn’t take care of a child alone, so I felt as though I had no other choice but to have the abortion. I was afraid and I didn’t know where to turn. He was so mean that he made sure I went ahead with the procedure by having his friend, who was a nurse working at the same hospital, spy on me to confirm that the abortion had taken place. (There were no privacy laws then.)

Afterward, I felt so ashamed and guilty. I wept constantly, never being able to tell anyone about it. I’ve carried this awful secret throughout my life. I hate when the topic of abortion comes up; especially when my Christian friends, who are nurses, talk about their patients that had abortions. One of them said that she only does what is necessary to take care of her patients, and nothing more. When they are in pain, she says “You just had an abortion, what do you expect?” She said she has no empathy for them whatsoever.

That broke my heart. I don’t think she would have made those remarks if she had any inkling that I was one of those sinful women years ago. People need to be careful about what they say and to whom they say it to. I am not denying that abortion is a grievous sin—it is. But, because it is such a heinous sin, and they never had to be in that situation, they don’t realize how some women truly agonize over their decision or even have the abortion under direst.

Every woman whose has had an abortion, will stand before God, but He is the judge, and no one else. I don’t expect everyone to understand, but as for Christians, I ask; what about forgiveness, where is the compassion that Jesus expects from His children? Are they so pious that they cannot see the beam in their own eyes? Didn’t Jesus say, “Those without sin cast the first stone?” Whether people admit it or not, everyone has skeletons in the closet. I don’t want to see what’s in theirs!

Twenty-four years later, I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I trust that God has forgiven me for all of my sins, including murdering my child. But even now, knowing that God has forgiven me, and in my heart I know that this issue is settled between me and the Lord, I still can’t me bring myself to tell anyone about what I did.

Esther, my first question is this: Am I being dishonest or hypocritical by not telling people about my abortion? Could it be pride that stops me? I just feel that this sin was between me and God, and it is forgiven. What is the point of telling people about it now?

I am very aware that sin always has consequences. If I’m not mistaken, consequence means effect, result or outcome. So, I think the consequence for my sin is not being able to forget about my deed, even though God has forgiven me and I have forgiven myself. I use to think my consequence was that God would not allow me to get marry, especially while I was still in my childbearing years, because maybe, He could not trust me with another child, being that I didn’t do right by the first one.

But now, I think that would be punishment, not a consequence. Am I correct? If not please explain. Well, I am much older and hopefully wiser than I was twenty-four years ago.

Sometimes I get lonely and ache for human touch. I want to have someone to come home to and share my life with. But, I have managed to I find purpose in my life, and that is serving God, which brings me much pleasure. Now, I am in my sixties and after years of wrestling with this issue, and praying—I mean really praying about it, I still don’t know if God’s answer about marriage is no or wait.

One thing I am positive about, and that is if marriage is in God’s plan for me; it won’t be long before it a reality. However realistically, I don’t have many years left. On the other hand, if it is not in His plans, He will gives me unambiguous peace about the answer being no.

So, what do you think, Esther? Am I foolish for feeling the way that I do? Is it all a pipedream? Is love only for the young or for those who found love in their youth and still have it in their old age? I feel as though I have a lot of love to give, and I still feel that I was called to married life, even if it’s just for a while. What do you suggest for an older woman who continues to wait for her “Adam?”

Isabella


Dear Isabella,

Thank you for your very kind sentiments. I appreciate them so very much. Rest assured I am a “she” as the name Esther denotes. I can tell you it is the Lord and His grace that give me the ability to be “Esther” and respond to the dear people who reach out to for love and guidance. It is my blessing, for sure. I have a very broad background and this is one of the ways the Lord has given me to serve Him and others.

Regarding your question about the abortion. My answer is, “Absolutely not, you are not being dishonest or hypocritical.” That event is between you and God. And it is in your past. It is no one else’s business. People can be very unkind and use such things against others and furthermore, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. In fact, it would be wise not to talk about it unless you feel the Lord leading you to help someone who is in a similar situation. Scripture teaches that we should not dwell on the past:

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13).

And as far as the heartless Christian nurses you mention, shame on them for their self-righteous attitudes. Since they are professing Christians they might revisit this Scripture:

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).

And I don’t believe God kept you from getting married because of your past sin. You have asked for His forgiveness and repented and He is not going to hold a grudge. So please stop beating yourself up. The Lord loves you and promises His forgiveness. We serve a merciful God.

It is tough to discern why you have not married. One thing I can tell you from the many letters I receive; most marriages are in serious trouble. So many men are abusive to their wives. I have not yet received on letter where the man is asking for guidance about an abusive wife. and so many problems exist.

Did you ever consider that God has been protecting you from a situation that would not be good for you? Even in Christian circles so many women are hurting and barely hanging on wishing they were free form their marriages. That is not to say there are not many great Christian men, but we need more.

I can understand wanting to feel cared for and have a physical loving touch, etc. Finding a core group of true believers should help fill that void. And a change of thinking would help. Instead of thinking of yourself as an “old maid” think of yourself as married to the Lord. He really is your true husband. And this life, dear Isabella is not our true home. The Lord has better plans for you. We are so conditioned by society to think some things have to be done a certain way otherwise something is wrong with us.

It is much harder to serve the Lord when one has a family because time becomes a real balancing act. Consider yourself blessed that you are able to give the Lord all of your attention when others cannot. Focus on your true home and think of this life as the temporary one that it is.

I don’t know how you are involved in serving the Lord but I am sure you could bless many by even being a surrogate mom or grandma. You sound like such a sweet person and if you can build an adopted family, that could fill some of your needs. As far as connecting with a man for marriage; if that is what the Lord has in mind for you, the right man will appear without you having to make any effort. No, I don’t think it is a pipedream at all.

“So shall the knowledge of wisdom be to your soul; if you have found it, there is a prospect, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:14).

Your life is hardly over and you could still meet someone that God intends for you. But I would not dwell on it. Go about your life and if the Lord has someone in mind for you, he will come into your life. And you will know it when someone is right for you. He must be strong Christian man otherwise your life will quickly become a living hell. Trust me; from all the letters I get, an unequally yoked marriage is hell on earth.

The important thing is to continue walking with the Lord trust the Lord Him that He is with you and know what is best for you. Keep seeking His guidance and carry His love in your heart. Try to be joyful and count the blessings you do have. If there is a “Mr. Right” for you, it is not at all too late.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Please don’t hesitate to reach out again. It usually takes me a couple of weeks to catch up with all the letters I receive -- but I do make an effort to get to everybody.

God bless you sweet Isabella, and may the Lord’s favor shine brightly upon you.

In God’s love,

Esther

“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” (Jeremiah 29:11).



August 25, 2014

Hi Esther,

Thank you that you stand up for Jesus Christ, and are not ashamed of His name. Your articles are very encouraging and help me realize that others face the same problems I do.

The Lord saved me about 20 years ago. At that stage I attended a Pentecostal church, which I remained with for many years. As per the norm now days the preaching and teaching went off the rails.

I left the church and have not attended a church for a while now. It is quite difficult to find a good Bible-based teaching church in South Africa.

I have felt a tug on my heart to worship with other believers. There is a church near my home which still preaches the need to repent and be forgiven of sins, through Jesus Christ.

The problem is this: This church practices the laying on of hands whereby people are prayed for and then fall over backwards onto the floor. Nowhere in Scripture have I come across this.

Could you please advise?

Regards,

Alan


Dear Alan,

Thank you for your thoughtful words of appreciation. I am sorry you are having trouble finding a good, solid Bible teaching church. It is a real problem everywhere. I know of few good churches here in the United States. Most of them have sold-out in one way or another; many falling into the category you speak of. Falling backwards onto the floor and losing control of oneself is not biblical.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, "When I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11).

The term “slain in the Spirit” is used in the Charismatic circles to designate a supposed movement of the Holy Spirit upon a person. The claim is that the Holy Spirit moves with such power on a person that the person is “slain” (so overcome by the presence of the “Spirit” that he or she falls down to the ground being completely overcome).

Many evangelists have televised meetings where Christians gather together. Some of these meetings have special times of healing or “receiving the Spirit.” This is where the “evangelist,” who is supposedly anointed to be able to do this goes around putting his hand on peoples’ foreheads causing them to fall down to be “slain in the Spirit” as they are overcome by the presence of what is claimed to be the the Holy Spirit. This display is unfortunate since it is unverifiable, ostentatious, and could very well be nothing more than the overcoming power of emotions of a person.

On the other hand, it is possible that the Holy Spirit could move so powerfully on a person that he/she is overcome. After all, God is incredibly powerful. But, the problem is not with this possibility but with whether or not it is biblical. We must always seek to remain as close as possible to the Word of God and let it guide our words and practices, as you Alan, are doing. So, let’s look at the Word of God:

Perhaps the closest occurrence we can find in the Bible to being slain in the Spirit is where Paul the apostle fell to the ground when Jesus appeared to him:

“And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me’” (Acts 9:3-4).

Is this being slain in the Spirit? No, it is not. But it is an instance where people fell to the ground when the presence of the Lord was strong. Some people have reported incidents where the power of the Lord was so strong that they were forced to bow to their knees. But the result was worship and adoration, not a lack of bodily control.

Nevertheless, let’s look at some additional Scriptures used to support being “slain in the Spirit”:

“And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men” (Matthew 28:2-4).

“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said to them, 'I am He,’ they drew back, and fell to the ground” (John 18:3-6).

“At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads’” (Acts 26:13-14).

We can see that in the presence of God people fall to the ground. This is natural and proper given the majestic holiness of Almighty God compared to our sinfulness. Falling to the ground in the presence of the Lord is to be expected. But, does this mean that being slain in the Spirit is biblical?

When someone is slain in the “Spirit,” he or she is usually touched on the forehead by a pastor or teacher or evangelist, etc. This touch alone seems to be the compelling means by which a person receives this movement of the “Spirit.” The person is then incapacitated for a period of time. Again, is this biblical? Apparently not, since there is not a single instance in the New Testament where someone is touched on the forehead and falls to the ground due to the presence of the “Spirit.”

Furthermore, the danger in this phenomena is that it can be set-up by the teacher who appears as someone special, an “anointed” individual with the power to cause the Spirit to move on people. They then congregate around this individual and view him/her as a specially-anointed person. This is inherently dangerous, especially given the numerous theological errors taught by many of the TV evangelists.

This is not to say that the Spirit of God cannot knock someone down, or that the Spirit of God does not move today. Of course the Holy Spirit is still very active in the church. But, given the overt sensationalism in the TV church movement, the numerous unbiblical practices and teachings that occur, and the over-eagerness of people to be slain in the “Spirit,” I would be cautious about accepting this type of phenomena as a move of the Holy Spirit. [1]

Alan, if you have met some people that you resonate with at the church you are going to or anywhere else in your home town, consider starting your own ministry. Pray about this and see how the Lord leads you. Home churches are becoming very popular due to the politics, weirdness and aberrant teachings in too many of today’s churches. Seek out others who are in similar situations and work together to create an atmosphere of worship and Bible study.

I don’t see what else you can do unless you go to all the Christian churches in your community and see how they operate. But from what you say that option sounds like it is very limited. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about what their beliefs are and what they teach. If the pastor or whomever it is that you speak with cannot give you answers to your questions, then you know that is the wrong place for you.

Today with the Internet it is possible to connect with so many people. Even getting involved in a good Christian blog where others share and encourage one another is another way you can fellowship with others. Ask the Lord to guide you as you go forward to find the right situation for you. He is there for you and will guide you.

Keep in mind the most important times are the ones that you personally spend with the Lord, one on one. It is then when you can best discern His “still small voice” and receive the guidance for your life. His sweet fellowship cannot be replaced and it is often when we cannot connect with others to worship Him with us, that we grow the most in the Lord. Solitude can reap great rewards when we are give our all to Him.

It can be very discouraging not to have a home church or a consistent core group of believers to fellowship with, but in time, the Lord will bring true believers into your life you can spend time with. Use this time to draw closer to Him. Vow to keep filling your mind with Scripture; focus on His teachings and you will feel a peace in your life that will help dissipate the aloneness you feel. Trust that He knows what is best for you.

God sovereignly works all things according to His will and rules over all things. He cares for the birds, the flowers and He will then, certainly care for His children. Ask Him to bring the right people into your life. Ask Him to guide you to a solid place of fellowship and worship. It could very well be to start your own home ministry or to find a designated place in your community where you can gather together with like-minded believers. A few small steps could start something wonderful for you and others seeking true Christian fellowship.

Please keep in touch with me and let me know if you find a new church or a way to gather together with other true believers. Seriously think about taking small steps toward starting your own ministry. God can bring His children together in ways we cannot, and open doors that need to be opened when the time is right. Our job is to be obedient and place Him in first in our lives 24/7.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6a).

Notes
[1] http://carm.org/


August 18, 2014

Dear Esther

I have read you every week for a while now and find you to be wise and knowledgeable through your walk in the Lord. Mature. I, on the other hand, am still rather wet behind the ears in my walk. I constantly pray for wisdom, discernment and knowledge from the Lord (as I want to understand His truth, the ONE AND ONLY truth), as I mature in my walk with Him.

I feel in my heart that I know His truth regarding an issue that came-up at work tonight, but would like the input of one more mature than I am.

A co-worker and I discuss issues all the time regarding the Lord and the ‘signs of the times.” He mentioned the teaching given at his church Sunday. He said it was an excellent lesson on submitting to authority. Government authority. What he got from the teaching was that we are to totally submit to our government because it is of God.

I’ve heard stories of government officials pushing 501(c)3 churches to present Romans 13 this way in order to keep their 501(c)3 status. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know.

I believe the verses in Romans 13 are based on a government that rules by God’s Word, that a godly government is there to keep US from committing evil, not to make us submit to evil. If you take it the way he obviously did, then by all rights, all who are left on earth after the Rapture should submit to the government of the Antichrist and take the mark of the beast. It would also mean we went against God when this nation was founded on its refusal to bow to England’s tyranny.

When I disagreed with him on the meaning of submitting to government authority (as in any government opposed to God’s Word and evil), he asked me how would I be able to repent for resisting what God put in place if they killed me. I was floored.

I do agree with one thing he said, that we get the government we deserve. As a nation, we are getting what comes when we turn our backs on God and are turning our backs on Israel. I, however, disagree that we are to submit to tyranny and evil. That is submission to Satan.

Esther, the days grow darker by the minute. It’s a time for Christians to stand for God, not to submit to the devil. Am I wrong in my interpretation?

Your sister in Christ,

Leigh


Dear Leigh,

Thank you for your very kind words of appreciation. You are not as “wet behind the ears” as you think. I would say you are right on target. No, you are not wrong. Romans 13 is being used out of context. It is always dangerous to take one verse alone and try to build a doctrine around it.

Your concern is very valid. We are to follow what the Bible teaches and if something goes against the teachings of the Bible then we are not to participate. Something like gay marriage or abortion may be legal in some states but we, as believers, know better and are not to condone such things. And these practices are both heavily supported by the current administration and many state governments.

Your point about the 501(c3) churches is an important one. This is a sensitive topic for some folks. Recently, I heard a Christian lawyer read over the radio some of the rules and conditions that go along with the 501(c3) tax exempt status. It was frightening. All constitutional rights are essentially denied.

The majority of the churches in America have organized as “501c3 tax-exempt religious organizations.” This is a fairly recent trend that has only been going on for about fifty years. Churches were only added to section 501c3 of the tax code in 1954.

We can thank the late Senator Lyndon B. Johnson for that. Johnson was no ally of the church. As part of his political agenda, Johnson had it in mind to silence the church and eliminate the significant influence the church had always had on shaping “public policy.”

Although Johnson proffered this as a “favor” to churches, the favor also came with strings attached (more like shackles). One need not look far to see the devastating effects 501c3 acceptance has had on the church, and the consequent restrictions placed upon any 501c3 church; 501c3 churches are prohibited from addressing, in any tangible way, the vital issues of the day.

That is why you don’t hear most pastors addressing the huge problems in this country. Instead of relying on God for their needs, they rely on the State; a total contradiction of what Scripture teaches. These preachers might even present verse by verse teachings from the Bible but they are silent as to the social issues of the day that are very much affecting our culture.

For a 501c3 church to openly speak out, or organize in opposition to anything that the government declares “legal,” even if it is immoral (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, etc.), that church will jeopardize its tax exempt status. The 501c3 has had a chilling effect upon the free speech rights of the church.

Much confusion exists today over “separation of church and state.” There seems to be no shortage of debate over the original intent of America’s Founding Fathers, and their views on how far religious influence may extend in matters of “public policy.” One issue, however, appears to be well settled, and is agreed on by everyone; America’s Founding Fathers never intended there to be a State-Church system.

Throughout most of our history there were no State-Churches. Churches in America were commonly known as “free-churches.” Yet today, State-Churches have become the norm. Most church members now attend a State-Church without even realizing it.

Most churches in America today are organized as “non-profit tax-exempt religious corporations.” Have churches always operated as incorporated 501c3 organizations? No, this is a relatively recent trend that began in the 1950s. Prior to that churches operated as churches, and they were much better off, in every respect.

An incorporated church is a “creature of the State” and declares the State is its “Sovereign.” Incorporation does not protect a church from being sued, but only ensures that it can be sued; 501c3 churches have limited freedom of speech and are restricted in speaking out on vital moral issues of the day. [1]

Let’s read this Scripture:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth’”(Matthew 28:18).

So the “powers that be” must be subject to God or they don’t have any authority. The preachers who are teaching that we all should submit unto wicked rulers in our government are ignoring the fact that even the “higher powers” are subject to other higher powers, and many in history have deliberately ignored those higher powers in order to commit wicked actions.

It is necessary to have government. If there were no laws there would be complete chaos and criminals would terrorize people even more than they do today. As Christians we are subject to the righteous justice of the law, like the punishment of evildoers, but when the evildoers themselves become the governors and officers of the land, we are not commanded to submit to evil rule and ordinances. We cannot serve Man by breaking God’s laws.

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).

If a leader is doing good works, and punishing evil, then Christians should be submitting to that authority, but what if a ruler is a terrorist to the good works (teachings) of the Bible? If he/she is a terror to good works, then we need not be afraid of his/her power.

We subject ourselves to leaders (rulers) until they are a terror unto good works, and then they no longer have authority in those particular areas of wickedness. God’s Word is the standard of measurement we use to determine if a ruler is good or evil, and if that ruler is evil, then they have no authority.

Christians who teach they are to be obedient to wicked governments should be embarrassed, and we have a duty to rebuke these preachers.

Some preachers are correctly teaching that all higher powers are ordinances of God (i.e. God allows good and evil governments both to exist), but incorrectly teaching that we make ourselves submissive to them no matter what. If you follow the logical reasoning of that argument, those same pastors are teaching we should make ourselves submissive to Satan (as you, Leigh have already determined!).

I think your friend at work is confused and so is his church. I would suggest you don’t get into heavy conversations with this person on this topic because I don’t think you will get anywhere. Sometimes it is best to be cordial and simply change the topic to something else. Use your good energy to help bring the unsaved to Christ, while we still have time in these last days.

It is my experience that self-righteous people cannot be reasoned with; it is best not to get caught-up in their web of convoluted proselytizing. Pray that the Lord will awaken your co-worker. You have already let him know the truth; now it is up to him whether he receives it or if chooses to hang on to his wrong thinking.

Leigh, you will find people in the Christian world who will attempt to convert you to their particular way of thinking and ignore key Scriptures that refute their particular (flawed) ideas. We cannot appeal to people who think they are spiritually superior. Consider it a blessing when such people gravitate away from you.

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

In God’s love,

Esther

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Timothy 4:3).

Endnotes

[1]http://hushmoney.org/


August 11, 2014

Dear Esther,

I am a born again believer, yet I am confused by the terms “filled with the Spirit,” and “baptized in the Spirit.” Can you possibly expound on this and tell me what the difference is? I would greatly appreciate it.

Valentina


Dear Valentina,

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit occurs the very moment we turn to Christ by faith (1 Corinthians 12:13). At the moment of our spiritual birth, the Spirit of God comes to live within us bringing Christ to our hearts. He then places us (spiritually baptizes us) into what is termed the Body of Christ or Body of Messiah (His church).

The Holy Spirit never takes a vacation or goes away on long walks. Once filled with the Holy Spirit, one is always filled with the Holy Spirit. However, considering the way we can all “fall short” and the carnal manner in which some believers continue to conduct their lives, one wonders if the Holy Spirit truly lives inside some of them, or if they were ever truly saved.

“For as many who are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:14-18).

Accepting Christ—being “born-again” one day and subsequently receiving the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) at a later time is not Scriptural. However, being “filled” with the Holy Spirit is an ongoing, continuous experience in the sense that it is up to each one of us as believers to allow the Holy Spirit to direct our lives, our behavior, to be continually filled by Him—to yield to Him. In that regard we can and should be “filled” with the Holy Spirit often. We should do our best every day to give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit and avoid quenching His loving guidance.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

The Holy Spirit is the abiding presence of Christ’s presence within us. Scripture dogmatically reveals if the Spirit of God does not live in us, we do not belong to Him. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit happens to every truly repented believer once and only once at the time of salvation; just as salvation is a one-time gift—a “done deal” so to speak. I have heard some Christian church leaders say, “We are a Spirit-filled church,” implying that they have a special move of God or something beyond what other true Christian churches have.

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Roman 8:9).

All genuinely born-again believers are Spirit-filled or they are not truly saved, and there are no special or additional “fillings” of the Holy Spirit given to select individuals. As born-again believers, we are all equal in Christ. However, how each individual treats and relates to the Holy Spirit is a strong determining factor for spiritual growth. In that sense only, some churches are more Spirit filled than others, only because of the way each individual at that church relates to the Holy Spirit. Through prayer and true devotion to the Lord we are continuously filled. [1]

What is the difference of being baptized with the Spirit and filled with the Spirit?

These two terms being baptized in the Spirit and filled with the Spirit have become synonymous with each other but they are distinct in the Scriptures and should not be confused.

Scripture shows that the baptism of the Spirit happens at our salvation experience.

John came baptizing in water but said, “There is one who will come after me. . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8; Matthew 3:11; John 1:33). In Acts 1:4-5, after His resurrection Jesus said: “You will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” In John 14:16, Jesus told us that the Father, “He will give you another helper, that He will be with you forever.”

The phrase “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” is not used in Scripture but baptized “with” the Holy Spirit is used twice; Acts 1:5 and Acts 11:16 (which refers to Jesus’ statement in Acts 1:5). The phrase “with” - Greek- en; a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state).

In Acts 2, the 120 in the upper room were baptized by the Spirit, which is what Jesus told them to wait for in Acts 1:5.

Some people were filled with the Holy Spirit before the New Testament: Numbers 11:16-17. God had the Spirit put upon the 70 elders to empower them for service. Verse 17: “Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them.”

The prophet Ezekiel wrote: “And He said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you. Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me” (Ezekiel2:1-2).

This was before there was a baptism with the Spirit in the New Testament. Speaking of John, “He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15); his mother “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41).

John’s father “Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied” (Luke 1:67).

Even “Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Luke 4:1).

Is the baptism of the Spirit a salvation experience or a separate experience of the Spirit after one is saved? The Bible’s consistent teaching is that there is only one Spirit baptism - at salvation, but there are many fillings. This Spirit baptism occurs once for every believer; it is the new birth. The baptism of the Spirit is given to all believers alike, (1 Corinthians 12:13).

ALL believers are baptized by the Holy Spirit, (Galatians 3:27). ALL believers have been baptized into Christ. What is available to all of us are subsequent fillings that keep us walking in the Spirit’s power to live a life pleasing to the Lord and pursue serving Him and doing His will.

“And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18), Jesus is the baptizer, making every believer today part of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is given to bring believers into the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Galatians 3:26-27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Meaning to wear him to be seen on the outside like a garment; we are to be living epistles.

On the day of the Pentecost the apostle Peter promised unsaved Jews that they would receive the Holy Spirit as a gift when they repented and were baptized. It was promised to people who had not YET been born again. Acts 1:5 says that they would “be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 2 does not mention Spirit baptism but shows the result. Verse 4 says: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:4: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

This is why tongues or prophecy accompanied the baptism of the Spirit, to show a group of people were saved, that they received the Holy Spirit. Each time a different people group received the Holy Spirit in their salvation they exhibited a manifestation to validate them.

The Jews who first received the Spirit and spoke in tongues preached to other Jews at Pentecost. Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” They, (the 3,000 recipients) received the Spirit from hearing the word and believing, but this time you can see in Scripture they did not speak in tongues.

The Samaritans that Peter and John came to had already received the Word of God, were baptized and still did not have the Spirit.

Then “they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” ( Acts 8:17).

Later to Peter’s amazement in Acts 10, Peter saw firsthand the Gentiles come into the covenant of grace. Acts 10:44-45: ”While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. … the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” The gift was the Spirit from above, and produced the new birth before Peter could finish his sermon.

In Acts 11:16 Peter states that by Spirit baptism, salvation began for the Gentiles; both groups were saved and put in the body the same way.

If you are not baptized in the Holy Spirit then you are not “in Christ.” Romans 8:9 states: “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, the Holy Spirit's indwelling makes the body of the believer his temple (Ephesians 2:21-22), individually and collectively.

It is a Spirit baptism from above that buries us with Christ into his death (Romans 6:3-7). Individuals could not be considered believers before they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, as is evident from Paul’s question, to those in Acts 19:1-7: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Therefore the presence, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is essential to proving salvation. Paul’s question in Acts 19:2 is significant, “Into what then were you baptized?”

Paul makes it clear that it is necessary for the Holy Spirit -- that which is called baptism with the Holy Spirit: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.”

At Pentecost Christ was the Baptizer, with the Spirit (Acts 1:5). When they received the Holy Spirit they possessed the new life in Christ through being born-again. This is repeated in Acts 8 and Acts 10 for the Gentiles. There is no command in Scripture that tells us to be re-baptized by the Holy Spirit because that is what takes place in salvation.

Teaching another baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who are born-again is not correct; the Bible teaches to be filled and refilled as a continual and necessary process. We do not lose the Holy Spirit in us, nor do we get more of Him. What this means is that He gets more of us. We give him control of our lives daily; we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to the Lord each day, and he fills us with himself and has control over our lives.

Being Filled

Ephesians 5:18-19 states: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

This is the tense of being continually filled, meaning often; it is not a one-time event as the baptism of the Spirit is. In contrast, the filling of the Spirit is a continuous activity. Paul makes a contrast that our being filled with the Spirit does not have the same effect as drinking alcoholic beverages, but is the opposite. A Spirit-filled Christian has his Bible in his heart. As David said, “thy word I have his in my heart that I may not sin against you.” It is essential to KNOW the Word to live a spiritual life.

Being filled with the Spirit means one has self-control. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is self-control (Gr. egreitei), not lacking it. The Holy Spirit is given to believers so that they might have the power to live like Jesus and be different than they were before. It is a matter of giving up areas of our lives over to the Holy Spirit’s control to have Him fill it with the Spirit. As we walk with the Lord and obey, He continually fills us with His Spirit so we are progressing in the sanctification process and can be more effective in other people’s lives.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The filling of the Spirit is a command not an option (Ephesians5:18). Being filled has to do with allowing the Spirit to be the dominating influence over our lives, not letting selfishness or the world influence our lives. It is about yielding, allowing His control to influence and affect our character which will have others see Christ through our lives. It is putting loving behavior into action and not operating from a place of self-centered control toward others.

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is related to them being filled with the Spirit; Colossians1:9-10: “[We] do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

There is no command in Scripture that tells us to be re-baptized by the Holy Spirit. Why? Because it is something that immediately happens when one is born-again. Teaching another baptism with the Holy Spirit for those who are born-again is not correct; the Bible teaches to be filled and refilled as a continual and necessary process.

When faith is exercised at the moment one believes, the Holy Spirit indwells us (Galatians 3:2).

The Greek perfect tense is used in 1 John. 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 5, 18. It emphasizes an action that was completed in the past but continues unchanged into the present. It means it is instantaneous, regeneration is not a process, but its effect continues to the present. We are justified and are presently being sanctified and will one day be glorified.

In the book of Acts, the endowment of power was for their witnessing, by preaching of the Word. The power was seen in transforming lives when people’s sins were forgiven through the gospel being preached. Boldness, not just tongues, was the common denominator of being filled with the Spirit. “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them...when they saw the boldness of Peter...” (Acts 4:8,13). “They [the believers] were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (4:31).

“Brother Saul...was filled with the Holy Spirit.... Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues... (9:17, 20). “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit...speaking boldly in the Lord (Acts 13:45-46,52, 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:2). A Spirit filled person or church will be bold in proclaiming the truth, the gospel and standing against error. “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).

What many believe as a separate baptism should more accurately be called a filling of the Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is a daily occurrence, to be baptized with the Holy Spirit (baptized into the Body by the Holy Spirit) happens only once. So the baptism with the Spirit is what takes place at salvation which places us into the Body of Christ and He indwells us. The filling of the Spirit is part of our sanctification, our discipleship, as we give over the areas we need to for His control. [2]

Valentina, I hope these answers will give you a better understanding on this important topic regarding being “filled with the Spirit,” and “baptized in the Spirit.”

God bless you and thank you for your letter.

Esther

Endnotes
[1] A Better World Is Coming Soon - Don’t Miss It, Updated Expanded 2013 Edition, pages 231-232, Olsen, Kit, World Bible Society.
[2] http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp212.htm