Welcome to INTO THE LIGHT Journal!

This journal is NOT about me but about the GREAT Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and ALL that He has done for me—who saved and changed (inside-out) a great sinner like me. I am attesting the words of Charles Spurgeon, "My hope lives not because I am not a sinner but because I am a sinner for whom Christ died; I don’t trust that I am holy but that, being unholy, He is my righteousness. I don't have to be rich, but I must be pure. My faith doesn’t rest upon what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, but in what Christ IS and what He has done for me. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, He looks, He touches us, and we live!" To God be all the glory through Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

In His throne of grace,

Erlinda Mejia-Olsonღღღ

The Wonder of His Name: "I AM"

By: Nancy Leigh DeMoss
(of Revive Our Hearts via INTO THE LIGHT Journal, August 31, 2014)

One of the things I love about these names of Jesus as I’ve been studying for this series on “The Wonder of His Name” is how many of these names connect the Old Testament and the New Testament together, which is of course how we should read God’s Word. It’s one great big whole. But many of these names demonstrate the deity of Christ—that He is God. And as Jesus is unfolded in the New Testament, we see that He is the same as the God of the Old Testament.


This week I want us to look at a set of names for Jesus that are highlighted in the Gospel of John. But to understand those names, and before we go to the gospel of John, I want us to go back to the book of Exodus where we see God first revealing His covenant name.

So if you’ve got your Bible with you, I encourage you to turn to Exodus chapter 3. I know as you listen to Revive Our Hearts, sometimes you’re in a place where you can stop and take notes and open your Bible, and sometimes you’re not. But if you can, let me just encourage you to be following along in your Bible because that’s how you’ll get the most out of these sessions.

Exodus chapter 3, and I’m beginning in verse 10. God says to Moses: “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God said, “I will be with you.” (vv. 10–12).

So Moses says, “Who am I?”

And God says, “It doesn’t so much matter who you are. What matters is who I am. I will be with you.” Well, then Moses asks the obvious question, “Well, who are you?” Verse 13: Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, [really, really important verse here] “I AM WHO I AM.” [Moses asked, “What is your name?” And here is his response, “I AM WHO I AM.”] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (vv. 13–15). 

Now we could do a whole series just on this paragraph. We’re going to take just one day on this “I AM” name, but we’ve got to do a little bit of digging here. So are you ready for some work, some study, a little bit of language study here?

In verse 15 we have this revelation of God’s name the LORD. That name in verse 15 is based on a verb that is found in verse 14. In the Hebrew language, the verb is the word “I AM” which means “to be, or to exist.”

YHWV is the Hebrew word. It’s a verb. It means, “to be, to exist.” And so the name the “LORD” is derived from that verb in the Hebrew and the “LORD” means “the existing one,” the One who is. It’s the most important name for God in the Bible. It’s found almost 7000 times in Old Testament. The LORD.

In fact, in the Hebrew this name is called the tetragrammaton by the Jews. You may not be familiar with that term, but it’s a word that just means “four letters.” Tetra—four, gramma—letters. Four letters, the tetragrammaton. It’s the four Hebrew consonants YHWH.

We don’t actually know how it’s pronounced. It’s sometimes pronounced Yahweh or Yehovah or Jehovah as we add vowels to those four consonants. This name is so revered by the Jews that they were not allowed to write it or to say it out loud. And most of our English translations, probably the one that you are holding on your lap render this name, YHWH, this tetragrammaton, they do it LORD with all caps. Is that how it is in your Bible?

This name LORD or Jehovah is the personal proper name of God. And this reminds us that I AM Jehovah God is a person. He’s not a figment of our imagination. He’s not a cosmic force. He’s a personal God who reveals Himself and makes Himself known. And aren’t you glad that He has made Himself known to mankind?

Now, there’s some things that we know about God because of this name, the I AM, the existing one. First of all we realize that:

He is self-existent. 
He is self-reliant. 
He is self-sufficient. 
He is the uncreated Creator. 
He is the sustainer of all that exists. 
He exists by Himself and for Himself. 
He is utterly independent. 
He is not dependent on anything or anyone else. 

He is self-existent. The I AM, the one who is. And that says to us that first of all there is a God. He is. And if there is a God, and there is, then He matters supremely. This God matters.

John Piper has said it this way. He says that: It is a cosmic outrage billions of times over that God is ignored, treated as negligible, questioned, criticized, treated as virtually nothing, and given less thought than the carpet in people’s houses.

If there is a God, and there is, then He matters. He is the self-existent One. And because He is self-existing and self-sufficient, that means for us that He is all-sufficient to meet our needs.

The I AM God, the One who exists who is everything in Himself, one package that has everything that is ever needed, that means whatever we need, whatever we lack, He is. He is the I AM God which means fill in the blank. Whatever you need, whatever you lack, He is that for you and to you. The I AM God who is all-sufficient for us. And we’ll see that as we get into these “I AM” names of Jesus.

Now, not only is the LORD, Jehovah, self-existent, He is also unchanging and unchangeable. The theological term for that is He is immutable. He says, “I the LORD[Yahweh, Jehovah] do not change” (Mal.3:6).

God is never altered by circumstances outside of Himself. Now, are you that way? No way. We are very altered by circumstances outside of us. Cold, rainy days we get down and gloomy days here in West Michigan, we can get a little blue. But God never gets blue. He never gets discouraged. He never gets altered by circumstances outside of Himself.

He never has something arise He didn’t think of or that He didn’t plan for. He never gets caught off guard. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament.

That’s so unlike us as creatures. We are continually becoming, constantly changing. I didn’t have this gray hair twenty-five years ago. We are changing. But God never changes. That’s why He’s often called “the Rock” in Scripture. He’s immutable. He’s a faithful, constant God. He keeps His promises. He can be trusted. You can depend on Him. He is the covenant-keeping I AM God. He’s unchanging.

And then number three, He’s eternal. He has no beginning, no ending. He always was. He always will be. “I AM WHO I AM” that Hebrew phrase includes the past tense of being or existing, the present tense, and the future tense of that verb “to be.” He is the eternal IAM.

We read in Revelation chapter 1, verse 4 about “him who is and who was and who is to come.” The eternal I AM. He says, “What I am today is what I always have been and what I always will be.” And this personal, self-sufficient, unchanging, eternal God, Yahweh, Jehovah, the I AM, made Himself known to Moses and to His people, and He promised to be with them.

In fact, flip over just a few pages to Exodus chapter 6. Exodus 6 all background to the IAM names of Jesus. Exodus 6, verse 6, “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am theLORD'" Yahweh/Jehovah. Now, based on who He is, God makes seven promises to His people in this paragraph. “I am the Lord . . . I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.”

Yahweh‚ the great I AM says, “I am a saving God.” He promises to rescue His people, to deliver them, to redeem them from bondage. He promises to bring salvation to His people as He delivers them through the Passover and through the Red Sea. But He also promises to bring judgment to those who oppose Him as He does to the Egyptians in the exodus.

And then in verse 7 He says: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

Here God makes a promise that He will take these Jews to be His own people; that He will bring them into relationship with Himself. He’s saying, “You don’t belong to Pharaoh; you are My people. You belong to Me—the great I AM.”

And then He says in verse 8: “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession.” He promises to bring His people into a land that He has prepared for them that He has set aside for them. And He says that He will overcome their enemies, and He will give them an inheritance.

And then He says, “I am the LORD.” He starts this paragraph this way. He says it in the middle. He says it at the end. All of what God does in His saving power, in His redeeming power flows out of the fact that He is the great I AM. I AM the LORD, Jehovah, Yahweh.

Now, when Jesus came to this earth, thousands of years later, He astonished people by claiming to be the great I AM, Jehovah. The same God who revealed Himself to Moses in the wilderness and to the Israelites in Egypt, the same God who delivered His people from captivity in Egypt was still alive. He was still at work in human history, still redeeming His people.

We see this connection between Yahweh, I AM from the Old Testament and Jesus as He comes onto the scene of human history in the New Testament. We see the connection between the two most clearly in Gospel of John. So let me ask you now to turn there to the Gospel of John. 

Twenty-four times in that gospel, Jesus says “I AM.” And seven of those statements are connected to a metaphor or an analogy. I AM the Bread of Life; I AM the Light of the world; I AM the Door; I AM the Good Shepherd; I AM the Resurrection and the Life; I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life; I AM the true Vine.

We’re going to take a look at several of those “I AM” names of Jesus over the next several days. But there are a number of instances in the Gospel of John where Jesus identifies Himself simply as I AM. And it’s often translated in our English Bibles “I am He” or “It is I.” But that pronoun “I” or “He” is not actually found in Greek text. What Jesus is saying in those instances is: “I AM. I am the great I AM.”

Let me show you a few illustrations. And you may not want to flip to all of these, but in chapter 4 with the woman at the well, she says: “'I know that Messiah is coming. . . . When he comes, he will tell us all things.' Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you . . .' Now your Bible says, “I am he.” But the actual original text just says, “I who speak to you am” (vv. 25–26). Literally, “I AM, the one speaking to you." I AM.

In chapter 6, verse 20, Jesus walks on the water toward the disciples, and He says to them in verse 20, “It is I do not be afraid.” Literally that is, “I AM do not be afraid.” He is revealing Himself to be the great I AM that the Jews knew in the Old Testament.

Turn to John chapter 8. You see this three times in that chapter. John 8 verse 24, Jesus is speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem during the Feast of the Tabernacles. And He says, “Unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins.” Verse 28: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me." 

Look at verse 56. The context here is that the Pharisees accused Jesus of having a demon, while they claimed to be the legitimate offspring of Abraham, the father of the Jews. And in verse 56 Jesus says to them, "'Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.' So the Jews said to him, 'You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?' Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am'"(vv. 56–58). An astonishing claim.

Now you would expect Jesus to say, if He was going to make this what sounded like a ludicrous case, you would expect Him to say, “Before Abraham was, I was.” Past tense. But instead He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Grammatically this makes no sense at all. Theologically it’s very important.

The Jews understood exactly what Jesus meant. They understood that He was claiming to be Yahweh. The God who had revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 3 at the burning bush “I AM WHO I AM,” they understood that Jesus was claiming to be God, the great I AM. So verse 59, “They picked up stones to throw at him.” Because if this was not true, then what He said was blasphemy, and He was deserving of death.

Now there are other instances where you can see this through the Gospel of John. Look for them the next time you read through the Gospel of John where it says, “I am He,” or “It is I.” He’s literally saying “I AM. I am Jehovah.”

The bottom line, the point of all this is that Jesus is Yahweh. He is “the LORD” of the Old Testament, the great "I AM" of Exodus, who has come to deliver His people and set them free. Now, this is not just theological trivia. This is crucial to our Christian faith for several reasons. Let me just highlight a few of those.

First of all, if Jesus is not Yahweh, if He is not Jehovah God, then His other claims are not true. But if He is Yahweh, if He is Jehovah God, then He is Lord, then everything He claimed is absolutely true. To reject Jesus, as so many around the world do today, is to reject God. People say, “I believe in God.” Many religions say this. “But not this Jesus as God stuff.” No, if Jesus is Yahweh, then to reject Jesus is to reject God.

We realize also that everything that is true of God is also true of Jesus. Jesus has all of the attributes of God. He is self-existent, self-sufficient, unchanging, eternal. He always was. He always will be. Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the great I AM in the flesh. Through Him we can know Yahweh, the great I AM. And in Jesus Christ, Jehovah, the great unapproachable I AM has drawn near to us.

Not only does Jesus have all the attributes of God, but He does the works of God. So when Jesus came to this earth, the Jews couldn’t help but think of those passages we just read in Exodus 3 and Exodus 6, as Jesus said and did things that could only be attributed to Yahweh.

As Jehovah delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus is the God who delivers and sets captives free. He has rescued us from slavery to the ultimate Pharaoh—Satan and sin. And He continues to rescue us from ourselves and from the power of sin and from our flesh and from the entanglements of this world and sin and the devil. He is the One who, one day, will rescue us from the very presence of sin. Hallelujah. I’m ready for that.

And as Jehovah in the Old Testament judged and destroyed the Egyptian army, so Jesus has come to destroy every enemy—sickness, disease, Satan, demons, and death. Now, we don’t see the fulfillment of all of that yet, but we have the promise that I AM, Yahweh, IAM that I AM will deliver us from all of those things and will judge and destroy every enemy including the final enemy of death.

And as Jehovah in the Old Testament led His people into the Promised Land, as He led them with cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, so Jesus came to lead many sons to glory. He leads us today by His Spirit who lives in us. Jehovah. Yahweh. The I AM whose name the Jews wouldn’t even say, He lives in us. How amazing is that? And He has prepared a promised land for us, a new heaven, a new earth where we will live eternally with Him.

One more take-away: Jehovah God said to Moses as He was sending him into Egypt to lead God’s people out of captivity. He said, “I AM with you.” That covered past, present and future. I AM, I have been, I will be. God had never forsaken His people in all those four hundred years of captivity.

And God was saying to Moses, Moses who felt so inadequate. “I can’t talk. Lord, send somebody else. How will I . . .?” You know all these objections. God said, “I AM. I am all that you need. I will be with you, whatever you need I will supply.”

Well, Jesus is that same I AM, Jehovah with us. Today. As He sends you out as a mom or a grandmom or in the work place or whatever kind of ministry you’re involved in, or to love the unlovable and to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus. And we feel so inadequate and ill prepared and unable. Don’t you feel like Moses sometimes? “I can’t do this Lord.” I feel that way all the time.

Over and over again, I am reminded that Jesus is the great Jehovah I AM with me and in me and working through me. And He is all that I need. He is the all-sufficient one. He gives us Himself to fill up whatever we need or lack. So you have a thirsty soul? He says “I am living water.” You have a hungry heart? He says, “I am the Bread of Life.” You feel the weight and the curse of sin and death? He says, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” You feel lost a lot of days? Every day? He says, “I am the Way.” What do you need? What do you lack? Jesus says, “I am all that you need. I am the great I AM.”

God Turned My Mess Into A Message

By: Maryann Loveing
( of True Woman via INTO THE LIGHT Journal, August 26, 2014)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word mess as "disorderly, offensive, or unpleasant because of blundering, negligence, or misconduct." If you could put a face with this definition, it would have been mine.

My Tragic Choice
Outwardly, no one would have assumed I was a mess. I was active in our church, but I had a dead heart to the things of God. I was desperately longing for love and acceptance apart from a relationship with God, and I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I never could have imagined where this trek would take me.
There is an unexplained freedom and joy that comes when the worst facts about you are known and you have nothing left to hide.
Just this week, I had a conversation with my twelve-year-old son. I needed to share with him, as I have with my other children, about the journey the Lord has had me on. As I shared with him, there was tenderness, compassion, and forgiveness. Through my story, my son saw Jesus as our Redeemer in a greater light than he ever has before.
You see, I became pregnant at the age of eighteen and had an abortion. At the time, my hard heart just buried the regret. That plan worked for a season, and I became a confident woman working in the corporate world. I had a great job in a beautiful city, far away from my troubled adolescence.
God's Grace Invades
At the same time, God's grace began to invade my barren soul, and I began to embrace Him with responsive love. I committed to serving Him with my life. I married a godly man, having our first child just a few years later. My world felt complete. But then the unexpected happened.
On the day of my first ultrasound, I watched my baby moving inside me. Exquisite. Delicate. Vulnerable. Suddenly, my past came flooding over me. I was trembling, yet somehow made it out of the hospital before I broke down in a wave of bitter weeping. In that moment, it was as if God spoke to my heart and said, "My daughter, I am trusting you with this little life, and I love you." Under a beautiful Florida sky, I was learning the true definition of God's love. A love that led Christ to leave heaven and endure the cross. A love that enabled Him to bear all of God's wrath against sin so that He could freely give love and forgiveness to all. A love that was for me—this self-centered girl who had chosen to abort her child.
Walking in the Light
About a year after our daughter's birth, I had to tell my husband the secret from my past. Oneness in our marriage meant no more hiding. We spent two days talking through the mess, and for the first time, felt a new level of openness praying together. My husband communicated to me that he believed God wanted to use my story to impact others.
I thought, No way! This is as far as it goes!
I began to discover several powerful principles about healing from the things that bind us.
First, the power of sin is in the secret. When I hid behind what I had done, my heart developed wounds of paralyzing fear, shame, and self-loathing. But Jesus wanted to set me free! Colossians 1:13 says, "God has rescued us from a domain of darkness." I fully understand what that darkness looks like, and I'm so thankful God has removed me from that place.
Second, we need others in order to heal. The apostle James tells us, "Confess your sins to each other, and pray for one another so that you may be healed" (James 5:16). We not only need the forgiveness that comes from confessing our sins to God (1 John 1:9), but also the prayers, encouragement, and accountability of others.
Finally, God uses us most out of our areas of weakness. The apostle Paul was once in such distress that he "despaired of life itself" (2 Cor. 1:8). In the same letter, he gives us the purpose for adversity: God "comforts us in all our troubles" so that we can comfort others going through similar trouble (1:4). That can't happen unless we're willing to share our messy stories, though. There is an unexplained freedom and joy that comes when the worst facts about you are known and you have nothing left to hide. You can finally help others.
An Unexpected Ministry
Today, God has given me an unexpected ministry out of the brokenness of my abortion. After sharing with my husband, I began serving at our local pregnancy care center. I spoke at their banquet, giving public praise to the Lord for His enduring love and forgiveness.
I have the opportunity to share all over the country as my husband and I travel and share the biblical truths of honesty, humility, and forgiveness. These truths truly set us free to walk in obedience, having an eternal impact for Christ in our sphere of influence. My secret of having and hiding an abortion is one many of us share. Countless women have come up to me and said, "You just shared my story, and I've never told anyone." As I've seen others become real and vulnerable, the joy of freedom begins to radiate on their countenance. They dive into the deep end of trust with God and learn to love and worship Him in a new and fresh way.
It's been an amazing journey of God's grace. I now have six children! I blew it so badly, but God refuses mercy to no one—not even me. My life is not about me anymore. It's all about Jesus, and it's really beautiful! God, as on He could, turned my mess into a message of His redemption.

Give Unto The Lord the Glory Due To His Name

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson

PSALM 29:2 ~ "Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

During my interview it seemed as though I didn't promote myself enough to convince the interviewer to pick me. Most of the questions that were thrown at me required answers for self-promotion.  Although the interviewer was trying to make a decision sometime that week, but I already knew at the back of my mind, that the chance of me being chosen was not likely.  A week later, I turned out to be right.  Contemplating about it, the very reason why I was hesitant to sell myself (not because I don't know how) and give the answers that the interviewer wanted to hear, because of the very thought that I wanted the LORD to get all the glory. Though tempted I was to speak of myself of the LORD's given achievements in my own personal journey, but I was mindful all the time while exchanging conversation with the interviewer about the LORD, to "Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;" (v.2). Not to steal any single glory from Him. "He is a jealous God." (Joshua 24:19d). I admit, promoting myself, before I became a saved (born again) Christian, was never difficult. But now that I came to a Personal Relationship with Christ, who died for me, I became conscious of the LORD's glory, His holiness. I must decrease, Christ must increase!

video

I would like to share this devotional I read from the journal of Charles Haddon Spurgeon's, Morning & Evening. Not only it comforted my disquieted heart, but it reminded me of who the LORD is, His unfathomable grace and mercy, that I need not to be perfect to do His will.  Knowing that I did not succeed on that interview, but I remain in the LORD.  He is in control.  He is Good.  He is Holy.  He is Perfect.  He is Enough. To Him be all the glory!
God's glory is the result of His nature and His activity. He is glorious in His nature because He is holy; everything within Him is good, and lovely. The actions that flow from His character are also glorious, and they put His goodness, mercy, and justice on display. But the glory associated with His actions must be reserved for God Himself. 
Certainly, there is nothing within ourselves in which we may glory. What do we have that we have not received from His gracious hand? How careful we ought to be to walk humbly before the Lord! There is only room for one glory in the universe, and the moment we glorify ourselves we set ourselves up as rivals to the Most High. Should the dust of the desert strive against the whirlwind or the drops of the ocean struggle with the storm? 
Give unto the Lord the glory, strength, and honor due unto His name. This is a simple command, but learning to do it is one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life. "Not unto us, not unto us, [O Lord], but unto Your name be the glory." It’s a lesson that God is always teaching us-- and teaching us sometimes through the most painful discipline. Let a Christian begin to boast, "I can do all things," (without adding "through Christ who strengthens me") and before long he will have to groan, "I can do nothing," as he grovels in the dust. When we do anything for the Lord, let us understand and declare openly that, "It wasn’t me (in and of myself), but it was the grace of God working within me!" -Charles H. Spurgeon, "Morning & Evening
"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us—a sphere which especially includes you.  For we are not overextending ourselves (as though our authority did not extend to you), for it was to you that we came with the gospel of Christ;  not boasting of things beyond measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but having hope,that as your faith is increased, we shall be greatly enlarged by you in our sphere, to preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s sphere of accomplishment. But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends." -2 Corinthians 10:12-18

Only A Love For Christ

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson

1 JOHN 5:3 ~ "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome."


A meditation on the LOVE of God...

Unlocking the heart’s door.  For a heart that is searching.  Hungry for love.  For love to overflow.

Where can I find such love?

Overflowing in the wilderness of God’s sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).  In the love of God (Romans 8:28, 37-39).

Inside of me—the very core of my being, God's Holy Spirit indwells.  Moving me.  To love.  And to love in return.

Like a gentle touch of  God’s Heavenly bliss, warms my soul; so is the love of my dearly beloved.

In the faces of those who genuinely love the Lord and died for their faith in Him.  In the utterance of God's Word.  In the expression of a heart that is not afraid of being broken for Christ.

Reflecting on the beauty of God’s amazing grace fleshed out through my beautiful Saviour (John 3:16).  My admiration for such benevolence.  For such love.  For such devotion.

At the Cross, He laid His life for a wretched sinner like me (Isaiah 53).

Can I ever forget?

It’s Perfect.

Undying.

Unselfish.

So TRUE.

I drown on those heart-piercing words. God’s gift of life (Romans 6:23). His enduring goodness. His forgiveness (Psalm 118).

I ponder in the absence of hypocrisy, could I utter these words to Him?

"Your love is sufficient."
Lord Jesus, if You never added to me another thing. If all Your blessings ceased. If not one of my hearts desires were granted by You. If You chose to never answer a prayer. If only hardships were to follow me the rest of my journeys. Could I still say, "Your love, Oh Lord, is sufficient for me!"?  Do I have the audacity to lay it bare and declare that my true desire be that You, Lord Jesus, do not have to do another thing for me? ... That Your love is all sufficient.
Oh Lord, my soul is disquieted, such pure and genuine love is not an innate heart attitude of mine.  Can You make that so, Oh Lord of my soul?
I desire my life to reflect a love for YOU alone Lord Jesus.  Not a love for YOU because of what YOU give me, add to me, or keep me from.  Only a love for YOU Lord Jesus.
It is amazing that as we empty out, God fills us back in.  That even those simple things in life that we get to give and receive are sovereign. Orchestrated by Him.  God’s blessings pour out all over the earth, disguising on unfamiliar places as well as in our humble abode.  Because His love is sufficient.  
I cannot brag about my love for God because I fail Him daily. But I can brag about His love for me because it never fails (1 Cor 13:8). 
Oh, the Love of God! (Romans 8:38-39).

Jesus Christ—The Only Way To Heaven

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson

JOHN 14:6 ~ Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me"


ISAIAH 45:21 ~ "Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me."

HEBREWS 12:2 ~ "looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

I have been reading and meditating on the above Scriptures.  Mulling over, asking the LORD on what to write. Then I said, "LORD Jesus, which part of the John 14:6 verse, people don't understand that YOU are the ONLY way to God the Father? The Scripture is simple and straight to the point. Before I got saved, the first time David read this verse to me, I was stunned, speechless. I had no doubt, nor had any difficulty understanding, that You indeed, are the only way to Heaven, and I believed."

So, I went on …

How can Christians (saved in Jesus Christ) know they are true and everyone else is false? Does that ring a bell of arrogance? Realistically, it is impossible for all the major world religions to be valid ways to God the Father. As seen in the verses above, Christianity states that the God of the Bible is the Only true God and salvation is only possible by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Judaism asserts that the God of the Torah (Old Testament) is the only true God, but that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah, placing it directly at odds with Christianity—either Jesus Christ is the Messiah, or He is not.  If He is, then Judaism is not an acceptable way to God; if Jesus Christ is not, Christianity is not an acceptable way to God.  The mutual exclusion only grows when other religions are added: Islam states that Allah is the only true God, and that anyone who says Christ is the Son of God will be condemned (Qur'an, 5:72, 9:30).  Moreover, if religions other than Christianity are acceptable ways to God, then one of Christianity's basic principles is false.  In that case, can it still be said to be a valid, trustworthy religion?
1 Corinthians 15:14-19 says: 
"And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable."
No matter what belief system you adopt, you will be saying that your system is right and that the billions of people who don't accept it are wrong.  If Islam is correct, the billions of non-Muslims are wrong; if Orthodox Judaism is correct, the billions of Gentiles (non-Jewish) are wrong.  If it is correct to approve of multiple belief systems because they are all valid ways of attaining spiritual enlightenment, the billions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who believe in exclusive religions are intolerant and therefore wrong.

The skeptics may ask …

How can Christians be 100% sure that their faith in Jesus Christ is the absolute truth?  First of all, Christianity is not a religion, but is having a Personal Relationship with Christ, Himself, "the Author and Finisher of our faith," (Hebrews 12:2). A Pastor once said, "Christianity begins when all other religions in this world have died."  Being born into a Christian family or growing up in a Christian community does not make one a Christian. Culture and ethnicity don’t authenticate one's relationship with God the Father. Instead, people become Christians because they are convinced of the truth of Christianity, and, or have had experiences with God—in other words, they have solid reasons for believing Christianity to be the absolute truth—God’s Word. God is not a liar, and His Word validates it. (2 Peter 3:9a). Christians are not saying that their personal ideas are true, but that the Christian God exists, and His words are true (Proverbs 30:4-6; 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Furthermore, Christianity is unique among religions because it addresses the fact that we can never be good enough to be in the presence of a perfect, Holy God. In order to be perfectly good, we would have to be doing good all the time. If we do something wrong, we cannot undo it, thus we can no longer be considered perfect, nor can we do more good to make up for our wrongs—for perfection requires doing the most good possible at all times, and the absolute truth is, we cannot be more than perfect to make up for when we are less than perfect. If perfection is attainable then God wouldn't have sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ to save us from our sin; and Christ death on the Cross would be useless. In this case, God is contradicting His simple plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Other religions teach that we can somehow do enough good to earn heaven or nirvana, but they don't address the fact that we continually make mistakes. Christianity teaches that our sins were paid for by Jesus Christ's death on the cross, and that by accepting His payment and believing in Him we can be forgiven. We don't have to earn our way into Heaven, which is a good thing, because WE CANNOT DO IT.  Jesus Christ is the only way to God the Father.  Without the forgiveness that comes through His death and resurrection, there is no way for us to be able to stand before a Holy God.  Aren’t you glad that our God is an unchangeable God? "Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9).

Claiming that Christianity is right does not mean that Christians themselves are right about everything, or that they are innately superior to non-Christians.  What Christianity teaches is that both Christians and non-Christians "have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) and need salvation, which comes only by the grace of God, not the individual's actions or merits (Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

Christianity is prejudiced towards other beliefs … ?

Is refusing to call a belief false always the right thing to do?  For example, is it right to say that Nazism and racism are simply alternate belief systems that we should not pass judgment on, or should we condemn these beliefs as being morally wrong? If someone believes they have the right to kill or rape whomever they please, should we accept their beliefs as an alternate lifestyle, or denounce them?  Tolerance can be an admirable virtue in many circumstances, but tolerating wrong, by refusing to say it is wrong—is in itself wrong. If Christianity is true, then there is only one God and salvation comes only through Jesus Christ, and religions that deny this are not merely alternate forms of spiritual expression, but systems of belief that prevent their adherents from obtaining salvation (John 3:18). If Jesus Christ is in fact the only way to God, then to claim that He is not, is both false and dangerous.  If someone has a fatal disease, and telling them that they don't need to seek medical treatment is wrong.  If someone can only have salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour, telling them they don't need to accept Him is even more wrong, no matter how tolerant or well-meaning it may seem to be.
John 3:18 says:
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of  God."
Those who are outside of Jesus Christ are not saved, Christianity is exclusive ... ?

First of all, would a religion that taught that everyone goes to Heaven be a good religion? We would all like to ponder that we and our loved ones will go to Heaven. Yet if everyone automatically goes to Heaven, then this includes evil people as well as good people. Should an unrepentant killer go to Heaven? Should someone who enjoys tortmenting people, or who abuses children and feels no remorse or guilt, go to Heaven?  If not, then there are cases when it is morally right for people to be excluded from Heaven.

Christianity does not teach that only Christians deserve to go to Heaven.  Instead, it teaches that no one deserves to go to Heaven, because we all have sinned during our lives (Rom 3:23). We can have admittance to Heaven by agreeing with God that we are sinners and lost, and realizing that Jesus Christ is the only ONE who can save us because He died for our sins.  No church or denomination, not even praying to Mary or praying the rosary, or infant baptism, or any other good deeds you can think of can save anyone, but only through Jesus Christ (John 6:40). Thus, salvation is accessible to everyone and is intended by God for everyone: "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other." (Isaiah 45:22)
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," (1 Timothy 2:1-6)
________________________________________

Father in Heaven, I praise You for the Gospel (death, burial, and resurrection) of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Without His death on the Cross salvation is not possible, and I could still be lost.  Thank You, that I can trust in Your Word, and that my salvation in Your Son Jesus is not futile.  I also pray that many will see the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way to You, that will come to repentance and be saved.  These things I plead in the name of Your only begotten Son, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, my ultimate reason for journaling.  Amen.

Barely Standing In Places Of Pain

By: Kim Jaggers
(of True Woman via INTO THE LIGHT Journal, July 29, 2014)

"When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned . . ." (Isaiah 43:2).

... The air suddenly seemed heavier. My heart began to race, and my breathing became harder. Once again my mind raced back to that horrible time, and what had been a sunny day, became obliterated by painful memories. Once again I found myself at a "pain place." ...
Standing in Pain Places

Living in the same town where my husband took his life, my life still takes me to the place where the detectives told me they had found his body; and I sometimes have to drive very near the place where he killed himself. Seventeen years have passed. Life has moved on, and I have had many happy days, but something about these two places transport every emotion back to that gutwrenching time.

These are my pain places. We all have places that remind us of pain—where years-gone-by emotions can suddenly, almost physically, overwhelm us. For some of us, it is as if we have built an altar there, and we worship that pain. But do we have to?

As I stood in one of my pain places last week and began to feel my body shudder with those memories, God reminded me that I had never stood there alone.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:2).
Tearing Down the Pain Monument

God alone "heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3). It was as if He was asking me to finally tear down that pain monument and replace it with a monument to Him. He beckoned me to walk in freedom, even in this place that reminded me of so much pain. He asked me to allow this pain place to cause me to worship all He has done for me, rather than all the enemy had tried to do.
I will remember the pain, but I won't be consumed by it. Instead, I will praise my Father.
Remembering that God inhabits the praise of His people, I began to silently cry out praises to Him. I thanked Him for picking up my broken heart, for providing for me and my little boys, and for carrying me when I did not think I could go on. As I remembered God's goodness, it was if the demons dropped their weapons and moved on. The air began to feel lighter, and I began to notice the laughter of people around me. Once again, my faithful Father brought victory out of darkness. Once again, I looked up at heaven and smiled, remembering He is my refuge and an ever-present help in times (Psalm 46:1) and places of trouble.
That day my place of pain became a place of praise.
Now, I won't lie. I fully expect that the next time I find myself walking through the fire at my pain place, I will remember the pain. But I won't be consumed by it. Instead, I will praise my Father, who has always been with me and who is still teaching me to walk closer to Him. He is peace, hope, and joy. And we can know these precious truths, not only in our victories, but sometimes more so in our places of pain.
Prayer: Father, may those places of pain ... those places where we received the bad news, those places where we have hurt so deeply, serve to remind us of your faithfulness. May we tear down the altars to the pain, and with your help, rebuild them as altars of praise. As we stand in these places, may we be remember we are indeed still standing ... because of You. Thank you, Lord, that you alone can bring beauty from ashes in everything and at every place. Amen.

Don't Give Up On God

By: Rachel M. Tamilio
(via INTO THE LIGHT Journal, February 1, 2002)

I've seen the looks in some of your eyes. You have been wounded, hurt, and, worst of all, disappointed. Perhaps someone betrayed your trust, mismanaged your belongings, or said things that stabbed like daggers in your already fragile heart. It wasn't fair. It was not right. It wasn't called for.


Some of you have held the hands of loved ones as they passed from this world of time and space into eternity. You were with them as they suffered, you heard them gasp for their final breath. Perhaps someone's carelessness on the road put them there. It wasn't fair. It's not right. It was too early, you say as you shake your fists toward the sky wondering why.
Why would a loving God do this? If He's really there, couldn't He stop the madness we experience in the course of this life?
Perhaps your last visit to the doctor brought devastating news. "Procedures and options" were laid out before you like a menu as you tried to cope with all that was said moments ago about your condition. Unwelcome statistics and visions of treatment and suffering dance across your mind like flames in a fire. Questions pile up in innumerable amounts, and again you wonder ...
Why would a loving God do this? If He's really there, couldn't He stop the madness we experience in the course of this life?
Have you had these questions burning in your heart? You are not alone, and God does not condemn questions. God has long been accused of "not doing enough." Even when He was here in the flesh, the people of the day expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and do away with the horrible oppression and suffering of the Jewish nation. He didn't, so many did not believe and were voting with the same crowd that crucified Him in the end. They could not understand that His mission was to invite them into the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world.

To those of you who have been wounded and hurt, disappointed by someone's unfaithfulness or dishonesty, please know that the Lord is not like that. God is who He says He is( Hebrews 13:8). He doesn't change with the wind or have mood swings. He loves you. He desires your fellowship even more than you long to be truly loved (Revelation 3:20, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Galatians 4:6).

To others of you who are facing death or illness of any kind, God cares. He looks at you with compassion. He wants to comfort your spirit and soothe your aching heart. He really does. Our time on earth is very limited, but His heart yearns for you to know Him in it. Do you?

To yet others of you who perhaps have been in churches where you were condemned for your weakness, shunned for making poor choices--God has a place in His heart for you. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The greatest act of love the world has ever known was accomplished with you in mind.

The pain and weakness we experience in this life reveal to us our need for grace. In that realization, we only need to turn to Him, confess our sin before Him, and ask Him to come into our lives (1 John 1:9, Ephesians 2:8-9). As a child of God, you will never be turned away (John 10:28). You will never be excommunicated, never left alone (Hebrews 13:5). And when this life is over, you will be welcomed into Heaven, a place without tears, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4).

God aches for you, and He longs to be your Comforter. Please don't give up on Him. After all, He'll never give up on you!

Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

By: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
July 8, 1741
Enfield, Connecticut

DEUTERONOMY 32:35 ~ "To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, who were God's visible people, and who lived under the means of grace; but who, notwithstanding all God's wonderful works towards them, remained (v 28.) void of counsel, having no understanding in them. Under all the cultivations of heaven, they brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text. -- The expression I have chosen for my text, their foot shall slide in due time, seems to imply the following things, relating to the punishment and destruction to which these wicked Israelites were exposed.

That they were always exposed to destruction; as one that stands or walks in slippery places is always exposed to fall. This is implied in the manner of their destruction coming upon them, being represented by their foot sliding. The same is expressed, Psalm 73:18. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction."

It implies, that they were always exposed to sudden unexpected destruction. As he that walks in slippery places is every moment liable to fall, he cannot foresee one moment whether he shall stand or fall the next; and when he does fall, he falls at once without warning: Which is also expressed in Psalm 73:18-19. "Surely thou didst set them in slippery places; thou castedst them down into destruction: How are they brought into desolation as in a moment!"

Another thing implied is, that they are liable to fall of themselves, without being thrown down by the hand of another; as he that stands or walks on slippery ground needs nothing but his own weight to throw him down.

That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God's appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.

The observation from the words that I would now insist upon is this. -- "There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God." -- By the mere pleasure of God, I mean his sovereign pleasure, his arbitrary will, restrained by no obligation, hindered by no manner of difficulty, any more than if nothing else but God's mere will had in the least degree, or in any respect whatsoever, any hand in the preservation of wicked men one moment. -- The truth of this observation may appear by the following consideration.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. -- He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it. Sometimes an earthly prince meets with a great deal of difficulty to subdue a rebel, who has found means to fortify himself, and has made himself strong by the numbers of his followers. But it is not so with God. There is no fortress that is any defence from the power of God. Though hand join in hand, and vast multitudes of God's enemies combine and associate themselves, they are easily broken in pieces. They are as great heaps of light chaff before the whirlwind; or large quantities of dry stubble before devouring flames. We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so it is easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by: thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down?

They deserve to be cast into hell; so that divine justice never stands in the way, it makes no objection against God's using his power at any moment to destroy them. Yea, on the contrary, justice calls aloud for an infinite punishment of their sins. Divine justice says of the tree that brings forth such grapes of Sodom, "Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?" Luke 13:7. The sword of divine justice is every moment brandished over their heads, and it is nothing but the hand of arbitrary mercy, and God's mere will, that holds it back.

They are already under a sentence of condemnation to hell. They do not only justly deserve to be cast down thither, but the sentence of the law of God, that eternal and immutable rule of righteousness that God has fixed between him and mankind, is gone out against them, and stands against them; so that they are bound over already to hell. John 3:18. "He that believeth not is condemned already." So that every unconverted man properly belongs to hell; that is his place; from thence he is, John 8:23. "Ye are from beneath:" And thither he is bound; it is the place that justice, and God's word, and the sentence of his unchangeable law assign to him.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.

The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. The scripture represents them as his goods, Luke 11:21. The devils watch them; they are ever by them at their right hand; they stand waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it, but are for the present kept back. If God should withdraw his hand, by which they are restrained, they would in one moment fly upon their poor souls. The old serpent is gaping for them; hell opens its mouth wide to receive them; and if God should permit it, they would be hastily swallowed up and lost.

There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. The souls of the wicked are in scripture compared to the troubled sea, Isaiah 57:20. For the present, God restrains their wickedness by his mighty power, as he does the raging waves of the troubled sea, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further;" but if God should withdraw that restraining power, it would soon carry all before it. Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable. The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God's restraints, whereas if it were let loose, it would set on fire the course of nature; and as the heart is now a sink of sin, so if sin was not restrained, it would immediately turn the soul into fiery oven, or a furnace of fire and brimstone.

It is no security to wicked men for one moment, that there are no visible means of death at hand. It is no security to a natural man, that he is now in health, and that he does not see which way he should now immediately go out of the world by any accident, and that there is no visible danger in any respect in his circumstances. The manifold and continual experience of the world in all ages, shows this is no evidence, that a man is not on the very brink of eternity, and that the next step will not be into another world. The unseen, unthought-of ways and means of persons going suddenly out of the world are innumerable and inconceivable. Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noon-day; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell, that there is nothing to make it appear, that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man, at any moment. All the means that there are of sinners going out of the world, are so in God's hands, and so universally and absolutely subject to his power and determination, that it does not depend at all the less on the mere will of God, whether sinners shall at any moment go to hell, than if means were never made use of, or at all concerned in the case.

Natural men's prudence and care to preserve their own lives, or the care of others to preserve them, do not secure them a moment. To this, divine providence and universal experience do also bear testimony. There is this clear evidence that men's own wisdom is no security to them from death; that if it were otherwise we should see some difference between the wise and politic men of the world, and others, with regard to their liableness to early and unexpected death: but how is it in fact? Ecclesiastes 2:16. "How dieth the wise man? even as the fool."

All wicked men's pains and contrivance which they use to escape hell, while they continue to reject Christ, and so remain wicked men, do not secure them from hell one moment. Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it; he depends upon himself for his own security; he flatters himself in what he has done, in what he is now doing, or what he intends to do. Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation, and flatters himself that he contrives well for himself, and that his schemes will not fail. They hear indeed that there are but few saved, and that the greater part of men that have died heretofore are gone to hell; but each one imagines that he lays out matters better for his own escape than others have done. He does not intend to come to that place of torment; he says within himself, that he intends to take effectual care, and to order matters so for himself as not to fail.

But the foolish children of men miserably delude themselves in their own schemes, and in confidence in their own strength and wisdom; they trust to nothing but a shadow. The greater part of those who heretofore have lived under the same means of grace, and are now dead, are undoubtedly gone to hell; and it was not because they were not as wise as those who are now alive: it was not because they did not lay out matters as well for themselves to secure their own escape. If we could speak with them, and inquire of them, one by one, whether they expected, when alive, and when they used to hear about hell, ever to be the subjects of misery: we doubtless, should hear one and another reply, "No, I never intended to come here: I had laid out matters otherwise in my mind; I thought I should contrive well for myself -- I thought my scheme good. I intended to take effectual care; but it came upon me unexpected; I did not look for it at that time, and in that manner; it came as a thief -- Death outwitted me: God's wrath was too quick for me. Oh, my cursed foolishness! I was flattering myself, and pleasing myself with vain dreams of what I would do hereafter; and when I was saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction came upon me."

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant.

So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction.

So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.

Application

The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.

You probably are not sensible of this; you find you are kept out of hell, but do not see the hand of God in it; but look at other things, as the good state of your bodily constitution, your care of your own life, and the means you use for your own preservation. But indeed these things are nothing; if God should withdraw his hand, they would avail no more to keep you from falling, than the thin air to hold up a person that is suspended in it.

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. Were it not for the sovereign pleasure of God, the earth would not bear you one moment; for you are a burden to it; the creation groans with you; the creature is made subject to the bondage of your corruption, not willingly; the sun does not willingly shine upon you to give you light to serve sin and Satan; the earth does not willingly yield her increase to satisfy your lusts; nor is it willingly a stage for your wickedness to be acted upon; the air does not willingly serve you for breath to maintain the flame of life in your vitals, while you spend your life in the service of God's enemies. God's creatures are good, and were made for men to serve God with, and do not willingly subserve to any other purpose, and groan when they are abused to purposes so directly contrary to their nature and end. And the world would spew you out, were it not for the sovereign hand of him who hath subjected it in hope. There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff on the summer threshing floor.

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

The bow of God's wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood. Thus all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls; all you that were never born again, and made new creatures, and raised from being dead in sin, to a state of new, and before altogether unexperienced light and life, are in the hands of an angry God. However you may have reformed your life in many things, and may have had religious affections, and may keep up a form of religion in your families and closets, and in the house of God, it is nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction. However unconvinced you may now be of the truth of what you hear, by and by you will be fully convinced of it. Those that are gone from being in the like circumstances with you, see that it was so with them; for destruction came suddenly upon most of them; when they expected nothing of it, and while they were saying, Peace and safety: now they see, that those things on which they depended for peace and safety, were nothing but thin air and empty shadows.

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. -- And consider here more particularly,

Whose wrath it is: it is the wrath of the infinite God. If it were only the wrath of man, though it were of the most potent prince, it would be comparatively little to be regarded. The wrath of kings is very much dreaded, especially of absolute monarchs, who have the possessions and lives of their subjects wholly in their power, to be disposed of at their mere will. Proverbs 20:2. "The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: Whoso provoketh him to anger, sinneth against his own soul." The subject that very much enrages an arbitrary prince, is liable to suffer the most extreme torments that human art can invent, or human power can inflict. But the greatest earthly potentates in their greatest majesty and strength, and when clothed in their greatest terrors, are but feeble, despicable worms of the dust, in comparison of the great and almighty Creator and King of heaven and earth. It is but little that they can do, when most enraged, and when they have exerted the utmost of their fury. All the kings of the earth, before God, are as grasshoppers; they are nothing, and less than nothing: both their love and their hatred is to be despised. The wrath of the great King of kings, is as much more terrible than theirs, as his majesty is greater. Luke 12:4-5. "And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that, have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you shall fear: fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell: yea, I say unto you, Fear him."

It is the fierceness of his wrath that you are exposed to. We often read of the fury of God; as in Isaiah 59:18. "According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay fury to his adversaries." So Isaiah 66:15. "For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire." And in many other places. So, Revelation 19:15, we read of "the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." The words are exceeding terrible. If it had only been said, "the wrath of God," the words would have implied that which is infinitely dreadful: but it is "the fierceness and wrath of God." The fury of God! the fierceness of Jehovah! Oh, how dreadful that must be! Who can utter or conceive what such expressions carry in them! But it is also "the fierceness and wrath of almighty God." As though there would be a very great manifestation of his almighty power in what the fierceness of his wrath should inflict, as though omnipotence should be as it were enraged, and exerted, as men are wont to exert their strength in the fierceness of their wrath. Oh! then, what will be the consequence! What will become of the poor worms that shall suffer it! Whose hands can be strong? And whose heart can endure? To what a dreadful, inexpressible, inconceivable depth of misery must the poor creature be sunk who shall be the subject of this!

Consider this, you that are here present, that yet remain in an unregenerate state. That God will execute the fierceness of his anger, implies, that he will inflict wrath without any pity. When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the executions of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand; there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind; he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires. Nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. Ezekiel 8:18. "Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them." Now God stands ready to pity you; this is a day of mercy; you may cry now with some encouragement of obtaining mercy. But when once the day of mercy is past, your most lamentable and dolorous cries and shrieks will be in vain; you will be wholly lost and thrown away of God, as to any regard to your welfare. God will have no other use to put you to, but to suffer misery; you shall be continued in being to no other end; for you will be a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction; and there will be no other use of this vessel, but to be filled full of wrath. God will be so far from pitying you when you cry to him, that it is said he will only "laugh and mock," Proverbs 1:25-26, etc.

How awful are those words, Isaiah 63:3, which are the words of the great God. "I will tread them in mine anger, and will trample them in my fury, and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment." It is perhaps impossible to conceive of words that carry in them greater manifestations of these three things, viz. contempt, and hatred, and fierceness of indignation. If you cry to God to pity you, he will be so far from pitying you in your doleful case, or showing you the least regard or favour, that instead of that, he will only tread you under foot. And though he will know that you cannot bear the weight of omnipotence treading upon you, yet he will not regard that, but he will crush you under his feet without mercy; he will crush out your blood, and make it fly, and it shall be sprinkled on his garments, so as to stain all his raiment. He will not only hate you, but he will have you in the utmost contempt: no place shall be thought fit for you, but under his feet to be trodden down as the mire of the streets.

The misery you are exposed to is that which God will inflict to that end, that he might show what that wrath of Jehovah is. God hath had it on his heart to show to angels and men, both how excellent his love is, and also how terrible his wrath is. Sometimes earthly kings have a mind to show how terrible their wrath is, by the extreme punishments they would execute on those that would provoke them. Nebuchadnezzar, that mighty and haughty monarch of the Chaldean empire, was willing to show his wrath when enraged with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and accordingly gave orders that the burning fiery furnace should be heated seven times hotter than it was before; doubtless, it was raised to the utmost degree of fierceness that human art could raise it. But the great God is also willing to show his wrath, and magnify his awful majesty and mighty power in the extreme sufferings of his enemies.Romans 9:22. "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" And seeing this is his design, and what he has determined, even to show how terrible the unrestrained wrath, the fury and fierceness of Jehovah is, he will do it to effect. There will be something accomplished and brought to pass that will be dreadful with a witness. When the great and angry God hath risen up and executed his awful vengeance on the poor sinner, and the wretch is actually suffering the infinite weight and power of his indignation, then will God call upon the whole universe to behold that awful majesty and mighty power that is to be seen in it. Isaiah 33:12-14. "And the people shall be as the burnings of lime, as thorns cut up shall they be burnt in the fire. Hear ye that are far off, what I have done; and ye that are near, acknowledge my might. The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites," etc.

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might, and majesty, and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you, in the ineffable strength of your torments. You shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it, they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. Isaiah 66:23-24. "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?"

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!

And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands in calling and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners; a day wherein many are flocking to him, and pressing into the kingdom of God. Many are daily coming from the east, west, north and south; many that were very lately in the same miserable condition that you are in, are now in a happy state, with their hearts filled with love to him who has loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood, and rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. How awful is it to be left behind at such a day! To see so many others feasting, while you are pining and perishing! To see so many rejoicing and singing for joy of heart, while you have cause to mourn for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit! How can you rest one moment in such a condition? Are not your souls as precious as the souls of the people at Suffield, where they are flocking from day to day to Christ?

Are there not many here who have lived long in the world, and are not to this day born again? and so are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and have done nothing ever since they have lived, but treasure up wrath against the day of wrath? Oh, sirs, your case, in an especial manner, is extremely dangerous. Your guilt and hardness of heart is extremely great. Do you not see how generality persons of your years are passed over and left, in the present remarkable and wonderful dispensation of God's mercy? You had need to consider yourselves, and awake thoroughly out of sleep. You cannot bear the fierceness and wrath of the infinite God. -- And you, young men, and young women, will you neglect this precious season which you now enjoy, when so many others of your age are renouncing all youthful vanities, and flocking to Christ? You especially have now an extraordinary opportunity; but if you neglect it, it will soon be with you as with those persons who spent all the precious days of youth in sin, and are now come to such a dreadful pass in blindness and hardness. -- And you, children, who are unconverted, do not you know that you are going down to hell, to bear the dreadful wrath of that God, who is now angry with you every day and every night? Will you be content to be the children of the devil, when so many other children in the land are converted, and are become the holy and happy children of the King of kings?

And let every one that is yet out of Christ, and hanging over the pit of hell, whether they be old men and women, or middle aged, or young people, or little children, now hearken to the loud calls of God's word and providence. This acceptable year of the Lord, a day of such great favour to some, will doubtless be a day of as remarkable vengeance to others. Men's hearts harden, and their guilt increases apace at such a day as this, if they neglect their souls; and never was there so great danger of such persons being given up to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. God seems now to be hastily gathering in his elect in all parts of the land; and probably the greater part of adult persons that ever shall be saved, will be brought in now in a little time, and that it will be as it was on the great out-pouring of the Spirit upon the Jews in the apostles' days; the election will obtain, and the rest will be blinded. If this should be the case with you, you will eternally curse this day, and will curse the day that ever you was born, to see such a season of the pouring out of God's Spirit, and will wish that you had died and gone to hell before you had seen it. Now undoubtedly it is, as it was in the days of John the Baptist, the axe is in an extraordinary manner laid at the root of the trees, that every tree which brings not forth good fruit, may be hewn down and cast into the fire.

Therefore, let every one that is out of Christ, now awake and fly from the wrath to come. The wrath of Almighty God is now undoubtedly hanging over a great part of this congregation. Let every one fly out of Sodom: "Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountain, lest you be consumed."

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"How then can we be proud? Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, still gushing with encrimsoned rills; see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame. Hear the thrilling shriek, 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' And if you do not lie prostrate on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ's amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross.” -Charles H. Spurgeon-