Yes, Mandy, there really is a Hell

 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Matthew 10:28

Our first summer in camping ministry, we had a potpourri of counselors from various church backgrounds.  One tall slim girl named Mandy grew up Lutheran and knew her Bible well.  As Mandy spoke with her campers during Bible study one week, the topic of hell came up. Mandy shared what she had learned from God’s Word.  When one of the campers went home, she told her parents, who told their pastor, who told the superintendent of camps at the head office, who called my husband to say our “counselors were not allowed to talk about hell since some churches don’t believe in it!” 

whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.  Matthew 5:22 (NKJV)

We were astounded!  Yet being new to camping ministry and young Christians ourselves, we encouraged the counselors to just keep the focus on Jesus in their Bible studies.  But if there is no hell, why does anyone need Jesus who came to save us from our sins so that we won’t go to hell?!!  Well, I can tell you, if we were in that situation again, we would pull out our Bibles and march down to the head office to show the leaders God’s Word.  And so, to paraphrase the famous line from the 1897 New York Sun editorial by the aptly named Francis Church, I reply, “Yes, Mandy, there really is a hell!  You were right all along!  Here is the proof I’ve found in God’s Word which does not lie.” Oh head office, know the truth and the truth will set you free!

The wicked shall be turned into hell,
And all the nations that forget GodPsalm 9:17 (NKJV)

Perhaps the best Bible story depicting hell is found in Luke 16:19-31. Here we meet a very poor man named Lazarus (a different Lazarus than the one Jesus’ raised from the dead). This Lazarus suffered throughout his life.  When he died, he went to Abraham’s bosom (a picture of being held in heaven in the arms of God).  At the same time, a wicked wealthy man died and was sent to hell.  From hell, this rich man could see across a large chasm into heaven, where Lazarus was being comforted on Abraham’s bosom.  The rich man begged for Lazarus to bring him some water, but Abraham said, “No, you had the good things during your lifetime, and besides there is this big chasm that separates us.”  The rich man begged for Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his family about hell, but Abraham replied, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” And so the rich man was left in hell to suffer for all eternity (Luke 16:19-31). It is interesting that Jesus raises another Lazarus from the dead in John 11! And were any persuaded by this miracle to repent?  

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  Psalm 139:8 (NKJV)

Oh, dear one, we don’t want this eternal torture for anyone, not our friends nor our family nor our worst enemies.  We want to bring them the Good News of God’s salvation through His only Son Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ)!  We want to show them through the scriptures how Moses pointed to a Savior.  Jesus is the Seed to crush satan’s head Whom God promised Adam and Eve in Genesis. He is the Passover Lamb who died for our sins in Exodus.  He is our High Priest and the Law fulfilled in Leviticus.  He is the Prophet foretold in Deuteronomy.  He is the Captan of our salvation in Joshua. He is the One the psalmist declared is poured out like water for all the world. He is the One wounded for our transgressions in Isaiah. He is the 4th person walking in the fire in Daniel. He is the ruler from Bethlehem as told by Micah.  He is Jesus Christ, the baby born to the Virgin Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  He is Yeshua Messiah, who bore our sins on the cross that all who believe in Him will escape hell, have our sins washed into the depths of the sea, and live eternally in heaven, with Lazarus on Abraham’s bosom!  (Genesis 3:15, Exodus 12:21, Leviticus 21:10, Deuteronomy 18:15, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53:5, Daniel 3:25, Micah 5:2,Micah 7:19,  Luke 2:7, Luke 2:12, 1Peter 2:24,  Pastor Tim Sheets, “Knowing Him,” Oasis Church, November 26, 2023).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read Job 33:23-30  and Jude 24-25 and see there is HOPE! Jesus is our Mediator, the One who keeps us from the pit!  Jesus’ blood He shed for us on the cross washes us clean so that we can be in heaven with Him for all eternity. Our citizenship is in heaven!  Make your salvation certain today by calling on Jesus and confessing your sins. Rejoice in our great hope, dear one!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  1Peter 1:3 (NKJV)

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

Hell and Destruction are before the Lord;
So how much more the hearts of the sons of men. Proverbs 15:11 (NKJV)

I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  Revelation 1:18 (NKJV)

If you’d like to learn more, you might enjoy reading We still need the Key and It is Finished and Leave no Doubt and My Dear Loved One. 

 …and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 (NKJV)

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  John 20:28-29 (NKJV)

(See also Deuteronomy 32:22, Job 21:30, Job 26:6, Psalm 11:6, Psalm 21:9, Psalm 73:18-19, Psalm 140:10, Proverbs 1:12, Proverbs 5:5, Proverbs 7:27, Proverbs 9:18, Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 27:20, Proverbs 15:24,  Proverbs 20:26, Isaiah 14:15, Isaiah 14:19, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 13:24-49,  Matthew 18:8-9, Matthew 23:33, Matthew 24:29-51, Matthew 25:30-46, Mark 9:42-48,  Luke 3:17, Luke 12:5, John 5:22-30, John 5:46-47, John 8:32, 2Thessalonians 1:8-9, 2Peter 2:4-11, 2Peter 2:17, James 3:6, Jude 23, Revelation 20:15)

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘In the day when it went down to hell, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of it. I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back. I caused Lebanon to mourn for it, and all the trees of the field wilted because of it. I made the nations shake at the sound of its fall, when I cast it down to hell together with those who descend into the Pit; and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to hell with it, with those slain by the sword; and those who were its strong arm dwelt in its shadows among the nations.  Ezekiel 31:15-17 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Healing and a Home

…I am on my way to find a place to stay. Judges 17:9 (NKJV)

Time for another update for those of you following our MOLD STORY… in early October we are moving from our summer camper to a guest house near the one we stayed in last winter.  We could move a few weeks sooner, but thought it would be fitting to stay in the camper for the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34), the yearly time when Jews celebrate their pilgrimage in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt.  Do you remember how the Israelites quickly forgot the Lord’s great deliverance and miracles at the Red Sea?  They were yearning to go back to Egypt for the garlic and cucumbers (Numbers 11:5).  Those are actually two crops that did very well at our old house on Dry Creek.  The cucumbers were even so delicious and plentiful two years ago that at the time as we were eating them, I commented, “These must be the kind of cucumbers that made the Israelites want to return to Egypt!” Though we still miss it, we aren’t praying to go back to Egypt, just praying for that new place to call home.  

God continues to provide. While we were hoping to be in our permanent home by now, we count our blessings. We are so thankful for our camping summer at the home of a dear friend in a camper on-loan from other dear friends. We are so thankful for the owners who have invited us to stay in their guest house this winter, where we’ll have beds and indoor plumbing!  There will be many windows to let in the winter sunshine, and a gas stove to make it warm and cozy.  And our son will be able to have his chickens in the nearby field, just as he did all summer near the camper.  God is so good! 

And yet, “healing and a home, healing and a home, healing and a home”… we still cry out to the Lord over and over like the persistent widow of Luke 18, often praying David’s Psalms again and again for God says… Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me (Psalm 50:15) One day it struck me how healing and a home are two things we receive when we go to heaven. God promises us…

HEALING: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:  Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.  Psalm 103:2-3 (NKJV)

HOME:  Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:1-2 (NKJV)

Does this mean we must wait for heaven for healing and a home? No!  My friend Shannon reminds me when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), we can ask for these gifts of healing and a home now.  And so, I continue to claim His promises that by His stripes I am healed (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) and that my God shall supply all our need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  I was even lying in bed singing My Healing Song the other day when the pains were so awful.  I reminded Him, He is YHVH Rapha, our healing God, and YHVH Jireh, our provider! And I continue to praise Him and knock at His door with my prayers… on earth as it is in heaven, on earth as it is in heaven, on earth as it is in heaven.  

…The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.  Deuteronomy 33:12 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8. Along with healing and a home, what other gifts of heaven can we enjoy NOW while still in this world? Peace, joy, salvation… why not make a list and claim these promises for you and your family today?!  Dear one, I pray that whatever you are facing right now, you will persevere, wait on the Lord, be steadfast, press on, keep trusting Jesus, and continue to pour out your heart to Him in prayer.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. Isaiah 32:18 (NKJV)

They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. Psalm 36:8 (NKJV)

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4 (NKJV)

From Jenny’s Journal: 2 Samuel 6:14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might… Then Jenny wrote before the Lord with all her might, even though she has a terrible tummy ache, and we are homeless.  But the sun is shining through the camper window and the sky is blue and we have Your Words of comfort and promise, Jesus, the hope of healing and a home here and now, and also someday in heaven. We have Your salvation because of Your work on the cross and the blood You shed (that drop was for me). We have Your Holy Spirit inside us to comfort and guide us,. And so, Abba Father, dearest Jesus, I lift my hands and heart and pen to You in a dance of praise! I love You so much! Be glorified today! Be glorified in my life! Be glorified in saving our nation! I come and worship and bow down and kneel before the Lord, my God, my Maker, be exalted above the heavens, may Your glory be over all the earth!

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Still Aiming High

Recently, I was saddened to receive from my mom an obituary for a high school classmate who was one year ahead of me. We shared the same first name, ran on the same track and cross country team, and both lived in the north part of town. She had the sweetest smile and was so kind to me, the slower underclassman. Her obituary told of running for a small college in Iowa after high school and setting many records there. Then she went on to serve in the political arena. I wept because there was no mention of church or faith in Jesus Christ. That could have been my story (except for the running records).

We attended high school in a budding midwestern college town called Ames, Iowa. Long run days led us into the countryside where we were surrounded by cornstalks, while easy workout days took us by the local ice cream shop.  At every every pep rally and home game, we proudly sang the school fight song, “Students of Ames Senior High, proud of our school are we, cheering the orange and the black, on to a victory (go-fight-win!), comrades in work and in play, loyal and true are we, doing our best for our high school, Ames High aims high! Ames High aims high! Ames High aims high!

After high school, I walked-on as a cross country runner at Iowa State University where I was the slowest one on the team. Often, as I cried at the end of the line as we ran our 1000 meter repeats, I wished I had gone to a small college where I might have been on the varsity squad. But if I had not been at Iowa State University in 1985, when I lost my beloved cross country team and coaches in a plane crash as they flew home from a second place finish at nationals, I may never have come to a saving faith in Jesus. It was that ISU tragedy that made me run away from God for two years, before the prayers of dear friends brought me back to the feet of my Savior (who washed away all my sins and messes).

It hasn’t been an easy road since the day I gave my life to Jesus, but it is a blessed path and the only highway I want to follow. His straight path leads me to the narrow gate at heaven’s door. He has been beside me each day to encourage me, above me to watch over me, and within me to give me His peace. As I wept for my dear old running friend, I thought of my other classmates who might not have found Jesus after high school, and I long to tell them, there is still time to turn to Him. He is patiently waiting for all His children to come to Him before He returns to this earth. And the signs of the times are pointing to His imminent arrival, with wars and rumors of wars, good being called evil and evil being called good, and a lawlessness the likes of which America has never seen. Jesus is coming soon and I want you to be ready.

Dear one, I invite you TODAY to be one of Jesus’ comrades in work and in play, in service and in prayer. I invite you to live up to our fight song motto of loyalty and truth, for Jesus is our greatest example of this, loyal in giving His life for us on the cross to pay for our sins, loyal in rising again as the first-fruit from the grave, claiming victory over death so that all who believe in His name will have eternal life with Him. And He promises that you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).

Dear classmates, keep aiming high. God tells us in His Word,  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:2-4). And so I follow His path, and I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Please, aim high with me!

And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved… 
Joel 2:32 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: I implore you to keep aiming high by putting your faith in Jesus Christ, He is the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6). Jesus came for the Jews first and also for the Gentiles (everyone else!). If you’ve been putting it off, please don’t delay any longer, for none of us knows when we will have our last day on earth. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. Mark 1:15 (NKJV)

If you haven’t prayed the sinner’s prayer, please pray with me right now…Dear Jesus, I want to be in your family.  I want to be Your child and be washed clean from all the bad things I’ve done in my life, all the times I didn’t listen to You, all the times I went my own way.  Please scrub away all my selfishness and pride and_______ and everything else I’ve done that is not of You. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be with me each day.  Help me walk on Your straight and narrow path.  I believe You are my Savior who died for my sins. I believe You rose again and are preparing a place for me in heaven. I believe You are the only Way, the only Lord, the only God.  Please help me live as Your child from this moment forward.  Thank you for loving me and dying for me and letting me be in Your family.  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17 (NKJV)

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12 (NKJV)

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15 (NKJV)

Thank you for reading my devotion. If you liked today’s message, you may enjoy reading what I’ve been doing since high school, and my Dear Loved One and Get on the Ark posts. I also encourage you to explore my blog, My TEA CUPP Prayers. My mission is to invite ladies everywhere to TEA with the King of kings, bringing them and all their families into the kingdom of God. I’m still aiming high!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982