Tag Archive | salvation

“Charlie” & Lazarus, a parable

lazarus-01Jesus told this story to men who were lovers of money, who ridiculed Him on His teaching about using money for the Kingdom of God, about being faithful to use what what they had, and about not being able to serve BOTH God AND money.


“You either hate one and love the other, or are devoted to one and despise the other. God knows your hearts. What men value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”

“There were two men……

A rich man (we will call him Charlie) and a very poor man named Lazarus.

Charlie lived in a fine house in a gated community.

Lazarus lived on the cold sidewalk outside the gate.

Charlie was clothed in purple and fine linen.

Lazarus was “clothed” in sores.

Charlie feasted sumptuously, every day.

Lazarus begged for just a few… crumbs.

While Charlie was probably pampered by a dozen slaves, Lazarus had his sores licked by dogs.

Then….both men died.

Charlie was buried (a grand funeral, no doubt, laid out in silken robes with flowery wreathes).  He went straight to Hades, and was in torment, in anguish, in flames.

Lazarus was carried by angels to Abraham’s side where he was comforted and had access to refreshing cool water.

Charlie: “Oh, please, Father Abraham, send Lazarus with a cool drop of water for the tip of my tongue, for it is burning beyond what I can bear!”

Abraham: “Lazarus can neither hear you nor see you.  He is being comforted and healed from all the abuse and misuse he suffered on earth.  Sorry, Charlie… it’s not going to happen!  Your days of ordering slaves and servants to meet your every need are over.  Besides… there is this huge chasm between where YOU are, and where WE are.”

Charlie: “Then…. I beg you, Abraham, send Lazarus to my five brothers to warn them about this place!”

Abraham: “No, Charlie. Your five brothers have Moses & the Prophets (the Bible).  Let them listen to them!”

Charlie: “No, they do not read the Bible. They don’t know any of that. But… if you would send someone from the dead (Lazarus), they would believe him, I know!”

Abraham, with a sigh: “If they do not believe Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced if Someone (Jesus) was raised from the dead.”

~~~ from Luke 16.


Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

After Jesus’ resurrection, He joined two disciples walking to Emmaus, and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

Later, to his own close disciples, Jesus said, This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them,“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”


Oh, be prepared for your last day! Read, listen to, meditate on, believe, and obey all God says in His Word about Jesus and the gift of faith and salvation. His Word is truth. Search the scriptures, for they testify of Jesus Christ, and in them you will find  eternal life. Be a “doer” of that Word and not only a superficial “hearer.”

Using My Bible’s Concordance to Pray

HAVE YOU EVER USED YOUR BIBLE’S CONCORDANCE as a source of Bible Study or Devotional?

I don’t mean to find a particular scripture you need, but to choose A WORD, then go down the list of references on that word in your Bible – one-by-one – and consider what God might say to you about your subject… for that day or week.

(You can also use a Topical Bible, such as Nave’s if you have one.)

Recently, I’ve been wanting my prayer life to be stronger, meatier. I’ve read a few books on how to do that and heard a few sermons. Then I decided to go to the Book of Books and see how God would instruct me there.

BibleConcordanceUsing the concordance on my old KJV (which has many more references to subjects than the ESV version I read), I looked up the word PRAY, and beginning at the first one in the Old Testament, I read the referenced verse, then the surrounding verses in the passage.

I am amazed each time I do this to discover how and for what God wants me to pray. Thus far in the last couple weeks ( from Genesis, 1 Samuel, 2 Chronicles & Ezra), I’ve found:

1. pray for “good” people who need salvation (I listed a few friends who came mind.)

2. pray for believers struggling with sin in their lives (a few more listed – including myself)

3. pray for those who willfully sin and need discipline

4. pray for our country (America specifically) and the repentance and seeking God that needs to happen…beginning with believers.

5. pray for “the king & his sons” which I took to mean our president and his family. (I admit this is a hard one for me, but when I wrote down all their names, it got easier.) I begin by praying another verse from 3 John for them; “I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

I’m looking forward to what is next on the list – in a few days.

Does this sound like something YOU might like to do with prayer or perhaps with other subjects?  I’d love to hear your journey.

My Testimony


When I was about 9 years old, I asked Jesus into my heart at an evangelistic meeting at our youth camp at Hume Lake. I confessed that I was a sinner, thanked Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins, and told Him that I wanted to live for him.

Did I understand all that that meant at age nine? No. Was I sincere? Yes. Did I believe I was saved? Yes. WAS I saved? Later, I questioned that very thing.


Already plugged into an evangelical, Bible-teaching, missionary-minded church, I went to Sunday School, morning and evening services, and Wednesday Night prayer meeting with my mom. I prayed to God during those young years – simple, childish requests – and believed that He would answer them. And He did.

I was a part of the monthly missions emphasis in the elementary grades, junior high, and on into the Women’s Missionary Assoc. I learned about our mission fields and missionaries, supported, and later hosted them in my home. At the beginning it was mainly Sierra Leone, West Africa, but later we had missionaries in Hong Kong, Macau, Honduras, Nicaragua, Jamaica, and eventually India.

I never dreamed then that I would ever get to see any of those places, but God has been so gracious to allow me to go to Africa twice since we moved down to OC and came to FBC. How good he is!!

(The old timers that I grew up with in missions at that church are the ones who faithfully supported me through prayer and giving when I went to Malawi.)

I met my husband at church when he moved here from Oregon and was living with his aunt and uncle, who attended. After we were married, we got involved in different ministries in that church, including leading the older youth group for a while, some Sunday School teaching, and the building program.

Sadly in the several years that followed, I strayed from my love and commitment to the Lord. Family trials after we adopted a son (and the bitterness that sprung from them), outside interests (including immersion in Musical Theatre that helped me escape from the anxieties at home – after all, they had romance, carefree songs, and happy endings!), resentments and bitterness (from things not turning out as I’d hoped), rebellion, and unconfessed sin left me feeling distant from God. I continued in superficial service, but my heart was far from Him.

GCCMeanwhile, our little congregation disbanded and sold the church building to a growing Hispanic congregation, and we started going to Grace Community Church. I was faithful in attendance, but only to Sunday School. (The worship services with the huge, multi-voice choir and full orchestra reminded me too much of Theatre, and I’d finally gotten out of that deceptive “world.”) My heart remained cold and withdrawn. I knew I needed to “get right” with God, but I stupidly resisted.

As I listened to the messages each Sunday, I realized that our former church’s doctrine about how a person gets saved was different from Grace.   (Arminism & Calvanism)

I had grown up believing that you heard the Gospel and through the Spirit’s “wooing,” you made a decision for Christ. But under the teaching of John MacArthur and Don Green, I began hearing that Jesus’ atonement was not for the whole world as I’d learned in John 3:16, but that God foreknew and chose and called “some” (His elect) for salvation before the world even began.

  • For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined, he also called, and those who me called he also justified, and those whom He justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)

Suddenly I began to doubt my salvation. What if I wasn’t one of His elect? How would I know? I hadn’t had a huge night-day conversion like some had. I’d simply asked Jesus into my heart and believed that I was saved.  It was true that I had grown in the knowledge of God and love for Him over the years, but what if I was just deceiving myself?  What if I hadn’t been “chosen” by God to be saved?

The current rebellion and coldness of my heart made me fear even more.

open Bible pen & glassesI went up and down with this issue as FIRST I heard the teaching about God’s sovereignty, and THEN reviewed the details of my life over the past decades.  That feeling of distance from God at the time didn’t help. Was I saved or not? I asked Pastor Green how you could KNOW if you were God’s elect. He referred me to passages in I John, which we were studying.

By this we know we have eternal life….

  • If we walk in the light (1:7)…
  • keep/obey His commandments (2:3, )…
  • walk as Jesus walked (2:6)…
  • does the will of God (2:17)…
  • practice righteousness (2:26)…
  • don’t practice sinning (3:10)…
  • love and sacrifice for fellow believers (3:16-18, 4:7)…
  • believe in the name of Jesus (3:23)…
  • the witness of the Spirit (3:24, 4:13)…
  • believe that Jesus is the promised savior (5:1) and the Son of God (5:13)…
  • and love the Father (5:2).

I tortured myself asking how I measured up to all those “by this we know” verses.

I was still anxious and confused inside (okay, I was DOUBTING) when we moved to south Orange County and began attending Faith Bible Church. One of the first sermons I heard was Pastor Koh quoting John Piper asking if we would be satisfied in heaven if Jesus was not there. My heart answer scared me. Did I truly love Jesus supremely? If not, was I truly saved? Sometimes I just wished I’d led a horrible life of debauchery before, so I could see a huge difference at my conversion.

Sunday sermons kept hammering on the question of true salvation, urging us to examine our hearts to make sure we weren’t just living a “good Christian life” without truly knowing the Savior.

Gradually, during my quiet times (Yes, I had begun them again) I began to see the resentment, rebellion, and sin in my heart that I needed to deal with. I confessed those sins and more as God brought them to my mind, pleading his mercy, and receiving His forgiveness. Like the prodigal son I was coming home, but that big “election” issue still remained unsettled.

I knew Jesus had “died for my sins,” but I hadn’t then grasped the awesome truth of what that meant.

I prayed that God would just settle this question for me. To somehow SHOW me I was a Christian. Couldn’t I just see His “stamp of approval” on me – you know, instead of the Antichrist’s “666” on my hand or forehead, a “777” just so I could be SURE!

Then one morning when I was praying, begging, for some sign, I suddenly realized what a great sin I was committing. I was asking God Almighty, Creator of the universe, to single me out and show me special treatment just so I could believe, that I was one of his chosen.

I was like the Pharisees – having Jesus in their very presence, preaching and doing miracles, they had the gall to ask Him for some “sign” to prove to them who he was, before they would believe.

I was asking God to prove something to me too instead of just believing His Word!!

woman-kneelingWhen God showed me my heart – revealed this great sin of unbelief – I was horrified and I crumpled before Him. Such audacity! Such great pride! I couldn’t get low enough before Him even if I fell through the floor and kept going.

Oh, my God! I cried. I’m so sorry! How could I not just believe what You’ve said your Word instead of putting You to the test? Oh, what sin!  What a sinner I am!  Oh, God, please forgive me!

And with His great love and grace, He showed me the complete forgiveness of my sins. All had been paid for on the cross. He’d said it in His Word, but my sin, and doubt had blinded me.

Suddenly the gospel scriptures I’d read had fresh meaning.

  • In this the love of God is made manifest among us, that God sent his only son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (accepted punishment) for our sins.  1 John 4:9-10
  • But God shows His love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
  • There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2). 
  • But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5).
  • And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross(Colossians 2:13-14
  • For our sake He (God) made Him (Jesus)to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

What a glorious moment of assurance. Despite being a prideful, arrogant sinner, one who had strayed disgracefully away from Him, I was His child. He knew me, loved me, chose me, and sent his Son to save me.

All God’s righteous wrath was poured out on His innocent Son because of my sin. Jesus stood in for me and took the punishment I deserved. Then God raised Him up to prove that He was sinless in Himself.

God sees me through the blood of His Son – which blots out all my sin – and sees only righteousness. I don’t know how that can be, but God said it, and I now totally believe it.

I still need to read the gospel verses over and over to remind me of my position in Him, especially when I’ve allowed sin and distractions to take my eyes off Him. And I still struggle with pride, self-righteousness, conceit, love of glory, disobedience, and stubbornness.


reading_bibleRecently I’ve been asking God to show me how to kill these sins in life, and He reminded me that the Holy Spirit uses His Word (the “sword” of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17) to do that, so I’ve been reading the Bible more, with more thought. I’ve also asked Him to teach me to obey quickly, to submit to Him and to other authority, and to humble myself before Him.

It’s a tough learning process, and I’ve only begun. And sometimes He’s had to take me through some dark places. But it is WORTH IT.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2


Reading Acts 27 today.   What a lesson!

ship_stormPaul, on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar on trumped up capital offense charges from his Jewish brothers, is aboard a Roman transport ship, the second one since leaving Caesarea,  accompanied by the Centurion Julius,  more prisoners and soldiers, the ship’s owner, pilot and crew; two hundred, seventy-six in all.

They got a late start (late October/early November) due to (1) the various hearings Paul endured before the Roman Governors Felix and Festus and King Aqrippa, and (2) the observance of the Day of Atonement, the Jewish high holy day. The weather had turned foul, typical for that time of year, but the ship made it all the way to FAIR HAVEN on the off-wind side of the island of Crete.

PAUL: Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.  Stay here for the winter!

THE MAJORITY: (Ship’s pilot, owner, and the centurion in charge of prisoners who had the final say): NO. This is not a suitable place to winter. Let’s make for Phoenix. It’s only a short way.

So, they departed, a deceivingly auspicious warm south wind taking them to sea.

And then the TEMPEST broke loose. A Northeaster of epic proportions.Terrifying, devastating. They were only able to pause briefly on the lea side of a tiny island long enough to run supporting cables under the the boat, haul in the dingy and lower the sails. Then they could do nothing but run before the wind and endure the ferocious gale and sea. So fierce was the storm that they had to cast off the cargo, the dingy, and all the tackle just to stay afloat.

For FOURTEEN DAYS they endured this mighty storm of wind and sea and darkness, with not a glimpse of light from sun, moon or stars. They were not able to eat a bite of food. They were terrified. Abandoned. Lost. All hope of salvation gone.

And then God spoke to Paul in a vision: “I have ordained that you must speak before Caesar, therefore, you and all 276 souls with you… will NOT PERISH.”

PAUL: We must run aground on ‘some island’ (not Fair Haven where they could have wintered). Meanwhile, let’s eat a little….

They did, then threw the rest of the wheat into the sea.

CREW: (After “sounding” the depth several times) LAND, HO!!

They released the stern anchors (holding them facing the island) and let the ship go her way. But instead of landing on the beach in the bay, a reef caught her fast by the bow and the stern began to break up under the terrible pounding surf.

SOLDIERS: We must kill all the prisoners! If they escape we will be killed!

CENTURION: (Looking to Paul, remembering the promise of God that none would perish) No! Those who can swim, jump over and swim to shore. Those who can’t swim, grab a bit of flotsam and ride it to shore! GO!!!

Every person arrived safely on shore and then turned to watch the ship disintegrate into the sea. A needless total material loss.

~  ~  ~

Wow. This story taught me to “Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and LEAN NOT ON MY OWN UNDERSTANDING, to acknowledge HIM in IN ALL MY WAYS… because He will direct my path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Obedience and trust. God’s way is always best for us. But if we think our ideas are better, choose to go our own way, disregard the warnings in his Word, then we will suffer loss.

Sure, many of the natives and probably the shipmates were blessed in Malta where Paul and the others were marooned for 3 months – God works ALL THINGS together for our good for those who believe him.

But oh the blessing for the the ship’s owner and pilot if they’d have stayed in the safe fair haven when first instructed and warned… if they hadn’t taken things into their own hands… and if Julius hadn’t feared losing control over his prisoners in that town.

How do you and I respond to the warnings and the promises of safety revealed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

“For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him WILL NOT PERISH but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Sure, perhaps we might have another chance at the end of our life (or perhaps not), but what a waste!  Yes we may be saved, but what COULD we have done for Him with our lives?

WARNING:  There might not be a Paul “aboard your ship” when the end of your life is near. You may just be entirely ON YOUR OWN…