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


You can email your question to Esther at:
dearesther7@yahoo.com

    



 


August 22, 2016

Dear Esther,

Why do you think some people don’t want to talk about the end times and the things that will take place (Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, etc.)? I have so many family members who profess to be Christians, but don’t want to have any discussion at all about the end times. They always say the same thing—“It doesn’t matter, we just have to be ready.”

Usually, they will be the ones to begin the discussion on something biblical or spiritual, but if the conversation even drifts to the Rapture or anything else prophetic, there is an abrupt, often angry response. I am always caught off guard. I guess I shouldn’t be. I think discussing the end times makes one more “urgent” in witnessing.

Thanks Esther,

Whitney

Dear Whitney,

You ask an excellent question. I have asked the same question myself, many times. How can anyone who loves the Lord not be interested in anything and everything in Scripture, especially things relating to these last days? Prophecy covers about one-third of the Bible.

I know a number of people whom I believe love the Lord but do not want to touch the Scriptures that point to end-times prophecy. They are very busy living their everyday lives but seem to be somewhat oblivious to the vast number of prophetic Scriptures playing out before our very eyes.

Some people have the Scriptures completely misinterpreted and don’t understand that Israel is God’s chosen nation. They think the Christian church has replaced Israel, which of course is a false teaching. Large movements are underway teaching that this world is going to get better by Christians getting heavily involved in the matters of the world, and then Jesus will return.

But that is not at all what the Scriptures teach. The Bible says the world is going to get worse and worse, the church will be removed in the Rapture before all hell breaks loose (sudden destruction) and it will take the Lord Himself to save the world at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. This world is without a doubt headed for judgment and very tough, frightening times.

I have heard a number of people even deny the truth of the Rapture because they don’t study their Bibles. At some point they heard someone considered an “authority” say that the Rapture is a fabrication. Yet these same believers seem to understand many other things about the Bible. Far too many people place their faith in mankind’s teachings and not in God’s inherent Word.

Many believers are genuinely confused. They have had little or no teaching at church from their pastors or Bible teachers on the important topic of prophecy. Many people accept anything they hear from a Bible teacher, mentor or a pastor without studying the Scriptures for themselves (as the Lord commands).

Some people may be opposed to discussing the end-times because they cannot contribute anything to the discussion. They have never studied the prophetic Scriptures; so rather than sound foolish or admit a need to learn—they would rather throw up a barrier and change the subject all together. Letting pride override an opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge is never a good thing.

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

Far too many people want to be spoon fed by others, which is a dangerous way to learn the Scriptures. Some Bible teachers and pastors do an excellent job but many simply regurgitate and repackage what they have heard all their lives from others, and do not base their sermons or teachings directly from the entire Bible. They tend to pick and choose leaving out many important Scriptures. This is how false teachings and confusion have entered the church.

Or some come up with new doctrines apart from the Bible and introduce even more confusion and false teachings, promoting their way to personal glory by insisting that they have discovered hidden meanings to some passages—“new” missing prophecies which are nothing more than hyperbole. A “wow” factor penetrates the Christian world and careful biblical scrutiny is replaced with man-invented dogma that is nothing more than speculation filled with loopholes that do not make sense.

People are more charmed by those who know how to promote themselves and their ideas, rather than taking time to search the Scriptures themselves, and realize the ideas being bantered about are very often nothing more than personal interpretations, and not biblical truth.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Many Bible colleges and seminaries do not teach Bible prophecy. They frequently teach from books and Bible concordances written by men who have overlooked the prophetic Scriptures. Discernment seems to be a real problem not only when identifying the true teachings of the Bible—but life in general. Decisions and choices are made without carefully thinking things through. The strength and depth of a person’s day-to-day relationship/walk with the Lord determines their degree of sound discernment, for the most part.

Another factor to consider is that many people shy away from talking about prophecy because of false predictions. So many people have made one prediction after another about when the Rapture will happen or that they are having visions and dreams about things, which have never transpired. I have book written in the 1800s wherein the author was convinced the Rapture was about to happen at any moment and that his generation was the last.

These false prophecies discredit the true Christian church. Rather than seeing these false teachings and predictions as part of biblical prophecy coming true, believers who do not fully study and understand the Scriptures see false prophets, teachers and their failed prophecies as only a problem for the church, and do not recognize that Bible prophecy actually coming to pass.

If the same people who shy away from learning and discussing the last days prophecies would understand that Jesus Himself said that false teachers and prophets would be prevalent in the last days—they would see that all those false predictions are a sure sign that we are living in the last days—as written in God’s Word.

Just because false predictions made by false prophets and teachers exist, it does not mean that the actual prophetic Word of God in the Bible is not correct. All it means is that some people for whatever reasons have disseminated their own ideas, predictions, perceptions and not biblical ones. On the Internet you can find dozens and dozens if not hundreds of false predictions that seem to feed upon one other.

Another aspect and I think, one the biggest reasons why some believers do not want to deal with the last days, is because they are more attached to this world rather than Jesus. Church attendance only, and perhaps some social gatherings take the place of a true relationship with Jesus Christ and spiritual growth.

A person can be a believer but never get past the early stages of their rebirth or they may not be truly be born-again. They might carry a Bible around but rarely read it. Many factors can play into why so many people want to ignore one-third of the Bible. And this is where it gets a bit dicey…

We never want to sound accusatory or wrongly judgmental, but a personal inventory of how deeply some people are committed to the Lord must come into play in this matter. Is a person truly committed to the Lord—or to his or her own agenda? Do professing believers really want Jesus to come back soon or are they too busy living lives as carnal social Christians?

I have spoken to some people who will talk about God in a general way but then when it comes to any in-depth discussions they get uncomfortable and even say, “Well, what if everyone is wrong? We have to plan our lives as if Jesus isn’t coming back soon.”

The Scriptures do teach that we need to live responsibly (to stay occupied) but that we must also watch and be alert. If someone actually states, “We must be ready,” that is a good thing but in order to be ready, we must know what time it is and what season in which we live. We are commanded to watch and be aware. Those who say, “Prophecy doesn’t matter” are wrong. It does matter, because God says so. He commands us to be aware:

Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33, 35, 37).

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure,to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

Because there is a lack of sound biblical leadership in the majority of churches discipleship has not been taught. Every church should have classes in discipleship. Sharing the gospel is to be the first priority but the Lord urges that we are to study the entire Bible, and not just pick and choose from it. We are to be ready at all times to answer questions about the Scriptures, which include end-times passages.

“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

I can identify another matter that might cause people to not involve themselves in Bible prophecy, because it is evident from websites on the Internet and material disseminated all over the world—that some teachers of Bible prophecy are not balanced in their approach to teaching the prophetic Scriptures.

Some seem to forget that the gospel is first and foremost to be an obvious part of any prophetic teaching. Instead, a salvation verse might be very briefly added at the end of someone’s lecture, book or article. Glory to God is not apparent; the work is more about the Bible teacher, author or preacher.

Some people who are rightly bothered by this type of unbalanced teaching may without meaning to, become unbalanced in their own way of accepting the Scriptures by omitting Bible prophecy all together.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

We cannot be sure what causes people to behave in certain ways, but if a person is unwilling to learn all of Scripture, including one-third of the Bible dealing with prophecy, then they are not giving their best to the Lord. Some people go through the motions of Christianity by heavy church involvement or learning only parts of the Bible.

I am personally convinced that some professing Christians do not really believe all of what is written in the Bible. They are not truly surrendered to Christ and some most likely are not truly born-again—but outwardly go through the motions as if they are.

Whitney, we must pray that all believers will place the Lord and the entire Word of God first in their lives and come to understand that the prophetic Word of God is for encouragement—to act as a guide for the signs of the times, and a warning to us so we can be better prepared for His return.

And I agree, by understanding biblical prophecy’s urgency factor we can be a more effective witness to the unsaved by pointing out the prophetic Scriptures that far too many “believers” choose to dismiss.

God bless you for your faithfulness,

Esther

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).


August 15, 2016

Dear Esther,

Let me first state that I know I am a sinner, I’ve perfected the art of sinning I guess you can say. I struggle every day with sin. I do consider myself a Christian.

Let me just get to me. I’m a 55 year old man, been married twice in my life. My first wife ran off on me with a friend of mine while I was serving in the Army overseas in Korea. We divorced in 1993, in 1999 I remarried another woman.

I know this is bad to say but, I wasn’t totally in love with this woman, but she was, and still is a wonderful woman, she really takes good care of my needs. For this, I married her, I figured as time went along, I would grow to love this woman as a husband should love his wife.

Years have passed, we’ve been married now for 17 years, just had our anniversary. But, it’s not been an easy road. I have made mistakes along the way. It has been years, 8 to be precise, since we’ve had a physical relationship. It’s just as much, if not more, my fault than hers. About three years ago, I cheated on her.

This is a shame that hangs over my head even to this day, I have a hard time of forgiving myself for doing this to her. But it just wasn’t a onetime thing, I carried on a relationship with this other woman for some time, two years I must admit.

I have fallen in love with this other woman. That’s a fact, it’s not a lustful attraction, this other woman is everything I’ve ever dreamed I’ve ever wanted in a woman. If I try to tell you the type of connection I have with her it would not even be believable.

I told my wife about the affair, I don’t know what I expected to happen. She took it pretty hard. But you know what, to this day she still stays by my side. It hasn’t been easy for her but she’s still there. I don't really know why.

My problem is this: I do love my wife. But I have read in the Bible, that we are to love our wives as much as Jesus loves the Church. Like I said, I do love my wife, but I have no passion, no desire for her. Since I’ve told her about the affair, we’ve tried to be intimate, but my heart is just not there.

Yes, I’m still very much in love with this other woman and in my heart, that’s where I want to be. But I also know how divorce is not favored by God, just as adultery, just as lying, I could go on and on of all the sins I’m guilty of. But I cannot change the way I feel.

I love my wife, I hate the thought of hurting her again, and again. I've caused her so much pain in the last year, and yeah, it breaks my heart that I have done so.

I have prayed to God, but I hear no answer. I fear that I’m so deep in sin that God has turned away from me. I’m asking God for the path I should take. The other night, my wife, who has very little family told me that she only has her mom, brother, and me in her life. I have a big family, and they are like family to her as well. I also have two grand babies by my first wife.

I ask myself, if I could probably make my wife happy for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I can ever have a physical relationship with her again, that’s a problem. But other than that, I could probably make her happy. But what about me?

Am I to spend the rest of my life being unhappy, making someone else happy? I read once that I’m responsible for my own happiness, I’m not responsible for others happiness. But I have taken responsibility for her happiness.

Does God want me to stay in a relationship for those reasons? Does He want me to sacrifice my life, my happiness for her happiness? Does God want me to be happy? Like I said, I’ll be 56 in a couple of months, I hope to get a good 20 to 30 years left out of my life. I feel if I stay with my wife those years will be shortened.

I’m lost, I’ve turned to God, but I hear nothing. I love God, I want nothing more to be a good servant to God. I want happiness in my life. I want love in my life. I want to be with a woman that I love so very much and want to share with her everything in my life.

I’m lost. I don’t know what or where to go. I pray, but hear nothing. What does God want of me? I know I have brought this all on myself. I can’t go back in time and change anything, I can’t change the way my heart feels. What is to become of me?

Thank you for reading,

Miserably Unhappy


Dear Miserably Unhappy,

I have read your letter a number of times, and I am left wondering what kind of commitment you have to the Lord Jesus. I don’t think any of your problems will be resolved until you decide if you want to fully serve the Lord, which means placing Him first in your life.

This would be a good time to reevaluate your position in Christ. Do you lead your wife in prayer? Do you attend worship services and Bible studies together? Do you spend time with Christian friends who take their faith seriously?

I also think it would be appropriate for you to seek out a male pastor who knows his Bible and speak to him about your concerns. Your issues would be best handled by a strong male pastor or Bible teacher.

It sounds to me like you have a decision to make whether you will die to self and live for Christ or if you will become part of the lukewarm modern Laodicean church. This is what Jesus has to say about that church:

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

I will remind you that this life is very temporary. Do you want to spend eternity with the Lord in a place that is so awesome, that all the “feel good” pleasures of this life cannot even be compared to? Or, do you want to live for the pleasures of this life and risk your eternal destiny?

I understand people change over the years, but I see no reason why your wife should not have your total commitment. You say you love her but have no passion for her. Do you have passion for Jesus Christ? He had passion for you when He allowed Himself to be relentlessly tortured and then hanged on the Roman cross for your sins.

Godly love is not only a feeling. Love is a commitment backed up with action, it is a choice. We choose to indulge in the flesh or we choose to be guided by the Spirit of God.

Yes, men are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. That love is a selfless, sacrificial love. Christ put His Church and all of humanity first and sacrificed for her on the Cross. That is what He expects from a husband—to place his wife before himself.

If you are still cheating on your wife, then you are digging your own grave. You say you have fallen “in love” with the other woman. Even if you are no longer having a physical relationship with her, you are committing adultery in your heart.

Can you really respect a woman that would engage in an affair with a married man (you!)? Could this other woman really respect you knowing you are married but cheating?

If you do not want to live with your wife anymore, then you must be honest. But you must also continue to provide for her monetarily because she has done nothing wrong to warrant a divorce. Seventeen years is a lengthy time to spend with someone you don’t seem to be committed to.

I hope you will chose Christ over your own perceived “needs.” Reading your Bible and getting to a male pastor for counseling is one way to try to get on the right path.

A common mistake many people make is to see how they can fit Jesus and their “faith” into their lives. It should be the other way around. Jesus should come first, and then we automatically make better choices.

The way we live our lives reflects our relationship with the Christ. Unless a renewing of the mind takes place the flesh can take over one’s life to the point where you are right now. A true conversion reaps good fruit.

 A true Spirit-filled believer has a changed life of honor and obedience unto the Lord which becomes evident for all to see. “Feelings” change to reflect the Lord’s teachings and a desire to please Him takes precedence above all else.

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

Until we genuinely surrender our lives to Christ, and really get what that means, then life will be an ongoing rollercoaster ride. When we don’t know the teachings of Christ and truly apply them to our lives, we can get stuck on ourselves and stuck in a pattern of self-destruction. As believers, it is our responsibility to learn God’s Word.

You have expressed concern that the Lord does not answer your prayers. The Lord can and does turn away from prayers for many reasons.

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).

Notice in the Scripture I just cited we learn that God will not honor prayers if we turn away from the truth—by not studying His Word, and getting to know and understand it. Prayer and Bible study go hand in hand. In order to have true fellowship with Jesus, prayer and Bible study are what He asks of His followers.

Reasons for Unanswered Prayer:

1. Refusing to hear truth (Proverbs 28: 9).
2. Refusing to humble one self (2 Chronicles 7:14).
3. Forsaking God 2 (2 Chronicles 15:2).
4. Provoking God (Deuteronomy 3:26).
5. Hardheartedness (Zechariah 7:12-13).
6. Lack of charity (Proverbs 21:13).
7. Regarding iniquity in the heart (Psalm 66:18).
8. Wrong motives (James 4:3).
9. Dishonor of companion (1 Peter 3:7).
10. Unbelief (Matthew 17:20-21; 21:22).
11. Sin (James 4:1-5; John 9:31; Isaiah 59:2).
12. Public flaunting of prayer to appear holy (Matthew 6:5).
13. Vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7).
14. Unforgiveness (Matt. 6:14-15; Mark. 11:25-26).
15. Hypocrisy (Luke 18:9-14).
16. Being discouraged (Luke. 18:1-8).
17. Worry and anxiety (Philippians 4:6).
18. Doubting––double-mindedness (James 1:5-8).

Along with seeking out a good pastor, I strongly recommend that you get very serious about studying and learning the Word of God—so it becomes an intrinsic part of you. You will not be able to play games with yourself and genuinely serve the living God once you really understand His teachings. Marriage is sacred to God. So much so that He even calls His Church His “Bride.”

Once you really begin to absorb the Scriptures, and once a person is truly born-again by the Spirit of God, his or her perception of this earthly life will change. I pray that will happen for you and that you will realize this “love” you have for the other woman should be abandoned.

In the book of Revelation we learn about the Seven Churches that Jesus specifically addressed.

The Ephesian church was initially a good church but there came a point where their love for the Lord weakened. They had left their “first love.” Jesus commended the believers of Ephesus for their work and their patience. He applauded them for not tolerating evil teachings and for courageously calling out evil men who claimed to be apostles.

Faithful believers in the Ephesian church did not allow false apostles and false teachers to mingle with them. They were fundamentalists who held fast to the truth and did not compromise their relationships with the Lord.

Even though the Ephesian church had many strong believers who fought the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12), some slowly fell away and left their first love—the Lord Jesus.

“But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).

The churches of today would do well to emulate the forthright convictions of the Ephesian church members who did not leave or fall away from their commitment to Jesus.

As leaving one’s first love for someone new, a death blow is dealt to a relationship; the same is true of our relationship with the Lord. Many Christians leave their first love of Jesus by becoming distracted by the “pleasures” of this world and become too “busy” with work, family, hobbies, entertainment or other interests.

Instead of putting Jesus first, many believers place Christ last in their daily lives. When we leave our first love (the Lord), our testimony is greatly weakened or destroyed all together. A going through the motions “Christianity” replaces an authentic relationship with the living Savior.

The believers in the church of Ephesus had not totally left their first love, but their service to the Lord had become impersonal, ritualistically formal and perfunctory. (Sounds like your attitude toward your wife.) Their dedication and devotion to the Lord had fallen to a very low level, and the Holy Spirit was no longer in control.

Jesus urged and commanded the assembly of the Ephesian church to remember from where they had fallen and to repent. If they did not do as Jesus admonished, He promised that He would remove their church. Sadly, they did not repent and the light of that church went dark some time later.

Is Jesus first in your life? Is He your first love? If you find you are losing interest in Him and are no longer as committed to Jesus as you once were, reconciliation can begin today. If you recognize that you have been slipping away from the Lord, He can—without a doubt, restore your love for Him; and bring joy to your marriage by understanding His precepts and living for Him.

All you have to do is cry out to Him and resolve to walk with Him and not away from Him. Jesus promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). All believers should do the same for Him.

I hope you will think carefully about my suggestions and that you will take the steps necessary to heal your life and your marriage.

No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Any one of us could take our last breath at any moment. Please think about that.

I wish you and your wife the very best.

In God’s love,

Esther

 “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10).