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 don't claim that I know everything about life. But one thing I am certain, that apart from the love and mercies of Christ—I AM NOTHING. "... God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."(Galatians 6:14). I’m 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!"

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 10:36)

Serving in Christ's throne of grace,

Erlinda Mejia-Olsonღღღ

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted: The Answer To The WHY Is WHO

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson
“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
There wasn’t a dry eye when Naghmeh Abedini shared her story during the recently concluded, True Women ’14 Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the wife of a Christian American Pastor Saeed Abedini—who is currently imprisoned in one of Iran’s toughest prisons since 2012 because of his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I didn’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I couldn’t keep a dry eye myself as I was reading the testimony of faith of Pastor Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini, and the letter, Pastor Saeed Abedini wrote for their daughter, Rebekka Grace’s 8th birthday on September 12th, 2014. Pastor Saeed’s faith in Christ in facing his present predicament in prison is so great that it enables him to endure constant torture, beatings, or even death. It made my own trials and testings in life looked like a grain of sand.

With good intentions at heart, I am sure Pastor Saeed longs to be home with his wife and two children back in the USA. The words he wrote to his daughter didn’t simply mean for us to feel sorry for him and pray for his release. His testimony has become a blessing and encouragement to me as I seek and serve the Lord Jesus Christ to all people, at all places and time … in all seasons of life.

If you want to know more about Pastor Saeed and help, here is the link.  Here is Pastor Saeed's Letter to Rebekka Grace:
My Dearest Rebekka Grace, 
HAPPY 8th BIRTHDAY!
You are growing so fast and becoming more beautiful every day. I praise God for His faithfulness to me every day as I watch from a distance through the prison walls and see pictures and hear stories of how you are growing both spiritually and physically.
Oh how I long to see you.
I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY. In your mind you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.
The answer to the WHY is WHO. WHO is in control? The LORD JESUS CHRIST is in control. 
I desire for you to learn important lessons during these trying times. Lessons that you carry now and for the rest of your life. The answer to the WHY IS WHO. The confusion of “WHY has all of this happened?” and “WHY your prayers are not answered yet” is resolved with understanding WHO is in control...the LORD JESUS CHRIST, our GOD! 
God is in control of the whole world and everything that is happening in it is for His good purpose, for His glory, and will be worked out for our good (Romans 8:28). Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives. 
I want you to read the book of Habakkuk. He had the same question as you. But see that the Lord answered him in Habakkuk 2:3, “the vision comes and doesn’t delay on time, wait for it.” Mommy and I always had big desires to serve Jesus and had great vision to be used for His Kingdom and for His Glory. So today we pay a cost because God, who created us, called us to that. 
And so I want you to know that the answer to all of your prayers is that God is in control, and He knows better than us what He is doing in our lives and all around the world. 
Therefore declare as Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-Nego did in Daniel 3:17–18!
“If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” 
And learn and declare as Habakkuk did that even if we do not get the result that we are looking for, God is still good and we WILL praise His Holy Name.
Habakkuk 3:17–19:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
Then my dear beloved daughter Rebekka Grace, I pray God will bring me back home soon. But if not, we will still sing together as Habakkuk did HALLELUJAH, either separated by prison walls or together at home. 
So, let Daddy hear you sing a loud Hallelujah that I can hear all the way here in the prison! 
I am so proud of you my sweet courageous daughter. 
Glory to God forever, Amen. 
Kisses and Blessings,
Daddy
Friend, are you always wrestling with WHYs in your own life?  The answer to the WHY is WHO. We know that our world is falling apart. Our human mind is limited.  Until the Lord Jesus Christ comes back again, there will always be trials and testings wherever you go, whoever you are. Even in our solitude our burdens keep echoing in the corner of our hearts and minds. You are exhausted! You want to run away! You want to hide! But you cannot! The WHYs are piling up like a mountain you cannot climb.  But when we rest our mind of WHO is in control, the WHYs become unruffled, unflustered, at ease.

The answer to the WHY is WHO.

GOD is the WHO.  He is in control.  He always was.  He will always be.

The answer to ALL our WHYs is the LORD Jesus Christ, our GOD and our Redeemer!
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10)
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References:  True Woman, Revive Our Hearts, BE HEARD Project/Saeed

There Is Hope In God

By: Erlinda Mejia-Olson

2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-5 ~ "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. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ."


Has your life been invaded with a debilitating illness? Don’t allow it to break your spirit. Though your body can be thoroughly afflicted and you may have a great struggle. But keep trusting in God’s love, which is greater than all of these, and your spirit shall remain strong.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited...

It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the Spirit.
(Anonymous)

*******
Why must I bear this pain?  I cannot tell,
I only know my LORD does all things well.
And so I trust in God, my all in all,
For He will bring me through, whatever be fall.

*******
Each Step of the Way

I’m following Jesus,
One step at a time
I live for the moment
In His love divine.
Why think of tomorrow
Just live for today
I’m following Jesus
Each step of the way.

The pathway is narrow
But He leads me on
I walk in His shadows
My fears are all gone
My spirit grows stronger
Each moment, each day
For Jesus is leading
Each step of the way.

*******
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I was once lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.
(John Newton)

Amazing Grace … nothing we have done to deserve God’s grace.
But only what the LORD Jesus did for us on that one Calvary day.

Every breath is a gift from God.  Be joyful.  Be thankful.  Each day that He blesses us is a chance to live a new life.  A chance to make a difference in the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Only one life 'twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.
(Charles Thomas Studd)
May the LORD grant you peace and hope as you face each coming day.

~Psalm 73:25-26 ~
"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

Have You Been Born Again?

By: J.C. Ryle, revised by INTO THE LIGHT Journal

A Jewish religious leader named Nicodemus once visited Jesus. Like many people, Nicodemus expected that his good life would earn him a home in Heaven when he died. Imagine how he felt when Jesus said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3)

Jesus explained to Nicodemus that the new birth is a spiritual change that can only be brought about by God alone:  “I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:11). The moment the lost sinner repents of his sins and trusts Jesus as the only one who can save him from the eternal judgment of his sins, he is born again. God gives him a spiritual nature through which he can understand and enjoy the things of God: that person is spiritually born into God’s family! What Jesus told Nicodemus 2,000 years ago is just as true today. We may try to live a good life, go to church, or engage in other commendable activities, but we still must be “born again” in order to be a member of God’s family.

Have you been born again? This is life’s most important question, because your answer will affect all your eternity.

How can you know that you have been born again? The Bible lists six characteristics of someone who has been “born again”.  These are not requirements in order to be born again, but life’s changes that show God is at work in your life. They are evidence that you have truly been born spiritually into a new, life-changing relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

1. Believing in Christ
1 John 5:1a ~ “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” 

Someone who is born again believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. That He was sent by God the Father to pay the penalty for man’s sin by His death on the Cross. His resurrection from the dead on the third day is proof that He is able to forgive us and bring us into fellowship with the Father. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). A born again Christian does not merely know the facts about Jesus Christ, but he has entrusted his life to Him as Savior. The child of God does not depend on his church, his good deeds, or his pastor to bring him eternal life. The Bible says, “But as many as received Him (Jesus Christ), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)

2. Practicing Righteousness
1 John 2:29 ~ “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.”

For the person who is born again, Christ is not only a Savior but also an example. Believers are to keep God’s commandments (John 14:15; John 15:14), to please God. The true Christian lives to please his Heavenly Father and tries to avoid those things God hates.

3. Loving Other Christians
1 John 3:14 ~ “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.”

Like Jesus, the child of God loves even his enemies, but he has a special love for those who are fellow believers. They may be different from him in race, personality, and culture, but they are all members of the same family. “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,” (1 John 3:11).

4. Overcoming the World
1 John 5:4 ~ “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

Someone who is born again does not follow the world’s ever-changing standard of right and wrong.  He does not mind opposing the world’s ways, because he seeks God’s praise more than man’s and fears offending God more than offending man.

5. Not Habitual Sinning
1 John 3:9 ~ “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.”

The true Christian does not habitually sin, because he wants to please God. Although he is far from perfect, he knows that “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).  If he does sin, he can confess it directly to God, for “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:19)

6. Keeping Oneself Pure
1 John 5:18 ~ “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,”

A person who is born again tries not only to avoid sin, but also to avoid anything that may lead to it. He is like a soldier in enemy territory continually on guard. He knows he can’t keep temptation from coming, but by knowing God’s Word and through prayer he can resist it.

The Test
These are six characteristics of a “born again” Christian. Each of these traits may not be equally obvious in your life. But if you are born again, God is developing these traits in you. Are you born again?

If you have never been born again or you are not sure, you can be sure right now. Pray right now, asking God to forgive your sins, turn from sinning, and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior.  For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)
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Reference: J.C. Ryle, "Have You Been Born Again?" Bible tract, Good News Publishers;
Bible references: NKJV, ESV, KJV

How Do You Know You Are Going To Heaven?

By God’s Simple Plan Of Salvation: What Does It Mean To Be Saved (Born Again)?

"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment," (Hebrews 9:27).

Dear Friend,

God is asking you the most important question of life. Your joy or your sorrow for all eternity depends upon your answer. The question is: Are you saved? It is not a question of how good you are, nor if you are a church member, but are you saved? Are you sure you will go to Heaven when you die? God says in order to go to Heaven, you must be born again. In John 3:7, Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born again." In the Bible God gives us the plan of how to be born again—which means to be saved. His plan is simple! You can be saved today.

How?

First, you must realize you are a sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Because you are a sinner, you are condemned to death. "For the wages (payment) of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). This includes eternal separation from God in Hell ...."it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement" (Hebrews 9:27). But God loved you so much He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place. "...He hath made Him (Jesus, Who knew no sin) to be sin for us ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus had to shed His blood and die. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11). "...without shedding of blood there is no remission(forgiveness)" (Hebrews 9:22). "...But commandeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Although, we cannot understand how, God said my sins and your sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. He became our substitute. It is true. God cannot lie. "God ... now commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). This repentance is a change of mind that agrees with God that one is a sinner, and also agrees with what Jesus did for us on the Cross.In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: "...'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...'" Simply believe on Him as the one who bore your sin, died in your place, was buried, and whom God resurrected. His resurrection powerfully assures that the believer can claim everlasting life when Jesus is received as Savior. "But many as received Him, to them gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13). Whosoever includes you. Shall be saved means not maybe, nor can, but shall be saved.Surely, you realize you are a sinner. Right now, wherever you are, repenting, lift your heart to God in prayer. In Luke 18:13, the sinner prayed: "God be merciful to me a sinner." Just take God at His Word and claim His salvation by faith. Believe, and you will be saved. No church. no lodge, no good works can save you. Remember, God does the saving. All of it.

Just Pray:

Oh, Father in Heaven, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe that His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I believe that apart from Your Son's finished works on the Cross, there is no other way I can go to Heaven except through Him and in Him alone. I now receive Him as my Lord and Personal Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen."

God simple plan of salvation is: You are a sinner. Therefore, unless you believe on Jesus Who died in your place, you will spend eternity in Hell. If you believe on Him as your crucified, buried, and risen Savior, you receive forgiveness for all of your sins and His gift of eternal salvation by faith. You say, "Surely, it cannot be that simple." Yes, that simple! It is Scriptural. It is God's plan. My friend, believe on Jesus and receive Him as Savior today. If His plan is not perfectly clear, I'm encouraging you to read this journal over and over again, until you understand it. Your soul is worth more than all the world. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). Be sure you are saved. If you lose your soul, you miss Heaven and lose all. Let God save you this very moment. God's power will save you, keep you saved, and enable you to live a victorious Christian Life. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).Do not trust your feelings. They change. Stand on God's promises. They never change. After you are saved—there are three things to practice daily for spiritual growth: Pray—you talk to God. Read your Bible—God talks to you. Witness—you talk for God. After you are saved—you should be baptized (by water immersion, a symbolic picture of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection) in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ as a public testimony of your salvation, and then unite with a Bible-believing church without delay. "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..." (2 Timothy 1:8) ..."Whosoever therefore shall confess (testify of) Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 10:32).