the stoning of soraya 2

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 6

Image Credit: The Erratic Muse
Image Credit:
The Erratic Muse

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. 3 As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?”

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Image Credit:
this fragile tent

6 They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:1-11 — NLT ~

the stoning of sorayaThis story has always moved me deeply, but never more than now, after having watched, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”a true story about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery by her adulterous husband and stoned to death. As I watched this heartrending story of the atrocities committed in the name of Islamic law, I couldn’t help but think of a very familiar and similar story of the adulterous woman in the book of John.  I also couldn’t help but think of the Mosaic Law, which carried the same punishment for adultery as the Islamic law, and compare it to the Law of the New Covenant, which those who are born-again now live under.

In this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawwe have learned much about the Old Testament Law, as we examined whether we are called to Live By the Law and Die By the Law or not…

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1we learned that the Law does not have the power to save us, for salvation comes only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that God gave the Jews Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law of Moses and The Old Testament or Old Covenant), and from these ten Laws, the Jews created 613 laws, (known as the Tradition of the Elders), which were meant to supplement the Law of Moses.
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we began an in depth study of the first two Commandments…
    • “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” ~ Exodus 20:2-3 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6 — NKJV ~
  • Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
    Image Credit:
    Groupthink Rescue

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we continued our in depth study of the Ten Commandments, starting from the third Commandment and ending with the tenth…

    • “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” ~ Exodus 20:7 — NKJV ~
    • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” ~ Exodus 20:8-11 — NKJV ~
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not murder.” ~ Exodus 20:13 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not commit adultery.” ~ Exodus 20:14 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not steal.” ~ Exodus 20:15 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:16 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” ~ Exodus 20:17 — NKJV ~
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5we discovered that the purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and that it was only supposed to last until Jesus, the Christ came. It was never intended to be an eternal law.

the stoning of soraya 2

Never did it become more clear to me just how very wonderful and merciful our Lord is than after I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” last night. You see, if we still lived under the Old Covenant, then not only would we be bound to obey every command, we would also suffer the  punishment meted out for every command that we break… According to Old Testament Law, we would be subjected to stoning if we committed any of the following sins…

    • 13 “Suppose a man marries a woman, but after sleeping with her, he turns against her 14 and publicly accuses her of shameful conduct, saying, ‘When I married this woman, I discovered she was not a virgin.’ 15 Then the woman’s father and mother must bring the proof of her virginity to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 16 Her father must say to them, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, and now he has turned against her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying, “I discovered that your daughter was not a virgin.” But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then they must spread her bed sheet before the elders. 18 The elders must then take the man and punish him. 19 They must also fine him 100 pieces of silver, which he must pay to the woman’s father because he publicly accused a virgin of Israel of shameful conduct. The woman will then remain the man’s wife, and he may never divorce her.

20 But suppose the man’s accusations are true, and he can show that she was not a virgin. 21 The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21 — NLT ~

    • 2 When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. 3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. 4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. 6 But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. 7 The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 17:2-7 — NLT ~

    • 18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid. ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — NLT ~

The examples above are just a few of the reasons that  someone who lives under the Law of Moses and The Tradition of the Elders could be stoned. There are numerous other punishments and judgments meted out against those who break the Law, and each punishment seems quite harsh, especially to those with a western mindset. To those who reside in the Middle East, they are deemed appropriate. Indeed, as the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”revealed, these punishments are still leveled against people.

woman-caught-in-adultery (1)This is why Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman was considered to be so radical. Not only did He refuse to condemn her for the sin she committed, He turned the tables on those who wanted to condemn her with His challenge…

… “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” ~ John 8:7b — NLT ~

Suddenly, instead of looking at this woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees were forced to look inward, and examine themselves. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground, whether it was related to their accusation or perhaps their own sins, or not. All that is known, is that the powerful words He spoke forced each of her accusers to stop.

Who, among them, had the right to pick up a stone and throw it? Who, among them, could be brazen enough to cast the first stone, thereby administering the punishment she surely deserved, when by doing so, he would be declaring before God and his cohorts that he had never sinned? I can  just imagine the youngest ones, full of zeal and self-righteousness, respectfully waiting for one of their elders to cast the first stone, so they too, could join in, only to witness each one drop his stone  to the dry and barren ground, as the very oldest left with their heads bowed low in defeat and consternation. As each one of the elders left, one by one, the younger condemners were also constrained to realize that they had no more right to throw the first stone at the woman than their senior counterparts.

Image Credit: glogster.com
Image Credit:
glogster.com

Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this post, and how it ties in with the series Live By the Law/Die By the Lawplease allow me to enlighten you. There are many, many men and women born-again believers who get caught up in trying to live by the Law. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, God loves it when we obey Him, but He does not love it when we get so caught up in trying to live by every jot and tittle of the Law, and we also place that demand on others. You see, living by faith and living by the Law may produce the same outward effects, but the difference between the two lies within the hearts of mankind.

1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. ~ Galatians 3:1-7 — NLT ~

You see, one who lives by  the Law does so because he/she is trying to gain the approval of God and mankind. One might try to obey every letter of the Law in order to receive the accolades of man. Or one may try to obey the Law for fear that if he/she doesn’t, he/she may lose his/her salvation. A person who lives by the Law may do so because he/she believes that he/she must be an example for others to follow. One who lives by the Law is usually self-righteous, and lacking humility, though this person may not even realize it. A person who follows the Law often sees the sin in others, and sometimes feels superior to those who just don’t “get it.”

10 But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of Law, which says, “It is through obeying the Law that a person has life.”

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:10-14 — NLT ~

On the other hand, one who lives by faith walks in obedience because he/she loves the Lord, and it feels good to do those things that please Him. One who walks by faith does so regardless of what others may say. This person walks in the Spirit, doing those things He leads him/her to do, confident that he/she is a child of the Most High God, saved by His grace through faith. This person knows that his/her salvation has nothing to do with his/her behavior, and that he/she did not choose Christ because it was Christ who chose him/her. The person who lives by grace is humble, fully aware that he/she is no better than anyone, even the vilest sinner. 

1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the Law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole Law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the Law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, the whole point of this post and of this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawis that those who choose to live according to the Law rather than by the Spirit, must understand that they will then be judged according to the Law, and it is important to remember that there is no one who is righteous. Other than Jesus Christ, no one has ever obeyed the entire Law.

20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:21 — NLT ~

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

Beloved reader, I am not saying that the Law is evil. What I am saying is that we must live by the Spirit, not by the Law. I’ll close with the following scripture, and I encourage you to pray about this post, and seek the Lord’s face regarding what we have studied here.

30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. ~ Romans 3:30-31 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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meanmesa.com

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5

Image Credit: Jeff Hughes
Image Credit:
Jeff Hughes

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3 and Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we studied each of the Ten Commandments, and its meanings. We also examined our own hearts to see which of the laws we have been guilty of breaking, as I confessed to you that I have been guilty of breaking all of God’s Laws. Of course, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but even if you have only ever broken one command of the Law of Moses, you’re just as guilty as I am, according to Scripture.

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. ~ James 2:10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

Before we move on with our study of the Law, I want to share a comment that I received in reference to the third commandment, from a fellow blogger and biblical teacher, Ben Nelson, author of the blog, Another Red Letter Day. The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” and I offered up several examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain. However, Ben offered an excellent example that I hadn’t thought of until I read his comment. In fact, for me, it was an “aha” moment, and because it is so prevalent among many people, I felt that it was very important to share his comment with you. Ben stated, “I have often thought along the lines that Taking the Lord’s name is when I take the name of Christ as my own – aka – i am a Christian, and then i live like the world – i have taken His name and polluted it before men.” I have nothing to add to this or take away from it. Ben is right, and this is an excellent example of how many people take the Lord’s name in vain. Indeed, it’s an excellent example of how I once took the Lord’s name in vain.

Now, in our continuing study of the Law, we’ve reached the point where we discover that each and every one of us is guilty of breaking the Law. Indeed, the Law’s purpose is to reveal our guilt, and it does this well…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Now, we must understand if we are to continue trying to follow the Law, or should we just cast it aside? Are we required to maintain the Law, in order to maintain our salvation? If we choose one, do we lose the other? How can we determine what we are required to do? What does the Word of God tell us about the Law?

Image Credit: parablesblog.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
parablesblog.blogspot.com

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34 — NLT ~

According to this scripture passage, the Law of Moses was not an eternal law. It was only temporary, lasting until God’s new covenant was established. Also, according to Galatians 3:19, the Law was only designed to last until Jesus came. 

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

20 You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. ~ Colossians 2:14-23 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, don’t you see that the Law was given to reveal mankind’s sinful nature, but Jesus cancelled the record of charges against us, by nailing them to the cross? Think about this, the Law has NO power to save anyone. It is the blood of Christ that has saved us from bondage to sin and death, certainly not because we follow the Law. 

Indeed, by following the rules of the world, we do no one any good, because these rules provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. As a matter of fact, it was Christ’s death on the cross that destroyed the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, and because of His death on the cross, those who believe in Him have been set free from the Law of sin and death. Therefore, why would His followers continue to subject themselves to the Law, which led to death?

14 For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. ~ Ephesians 2:14-16 — NLT ~

7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ~ 2 Corinthians 3:7-14 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
meanmesa.com

Beloved, does a veil cover your eyes? Do you see that the Law brings only death? If so, turn your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Look to Him for salvation, and love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. For those who truly love Christ and walk in His Spirit will obey His commands, which are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love Jesus and follow these commands, then we are following the Law that God has written on  our hearts, rather than the Law written on stone tablets, which were destined to fade away. 

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, will you choose to live by the Law and therefore die by the Law? Or will you choose to love the Lord Jesus with your whole heart, thereby fulfilling His Law? The choice is yours… 

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we studied the first and second commandments and how each one exposes the sin within us. In this post, today, let’s look at the other Commandments in light of the scripture above…

Exodus 20:2-17
~ 3 ~

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Image Credit: Jeremy Myers
Image Credit:
Jeremy Myers

Okay friends, I’m sure everyone thought of those people who curse using God’s name, am I right? I don’t know about you, but I confess, that I was guilty of doing this before I came to the Lord, and even as a young Christian.

But, have I broken this commandment since then? Sadly, if I’m to be completely truthful, yes, but not by cussing using His name. To take God’s name in  vain is so much more than using His name as an expletive. Have you ever spoken in His name, when He didn’t tell you to do so? Have you ever presumed to speak for Him, without His permission? Have you ever said, “O my God” or “Jesus”? Have you ever spoken His name thoughtlessly, without really thinking of Him at all? Have you ever prophesied to someone, telling them, “The Lord said…” when in reality, you didn’t Him speak?

My friends, all of those things are examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain, and I confess to you that I have taken His name in vain, and I’m so thankful for His mercy on me.

~ 4 ~

Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
Image Credit:
Groupthink Rescue

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Well, my friends, have you ever or do you break this command? Now, I can just hear some people saying, “I go to church every Sunday, so this is one command that I don’t break.” But, I’m going to question that… Does going to church on Sundays equate to remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy?

When you get up on Sunday morning and get ready for church, how are you feeling? Do you awaken with joy in your heart, feeling well rested and thankful that this is the day that the Lord has made? As you’re preparing yourself for church, is there aught in your heart against anyone? As you are on your way to go and worship, have you already begun to worship? Are you thinking about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, or are you thinking of who you will see when you get there? Are you already singing His praises, or are you irritated with your children? As you enter into His sanctuary, were you glad when they said, “Let us go into the House of the Lord?” 

While the service is going on, are you seeking the Lord’s face, or is your mind wandering? Are you intent on worshiping the Lord, or are you bored? As the word is being preached, are you thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch? When you leave the worship service, is your mind still set on the Lord, or are you thinking of other things? Do you spend the rest of the day resting and thinking of the goodness of God, or do you spend the rest of the day thinking of other things?

Honestly, in light of this, I seldom remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. How about you?

~ 5 ~

Image Credit: Holly Barrett
Image Credit:
Holly Barrett

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Now, maybe you’re thinking that this one doesn’t need any explanation, and perhaps you’re right. It’s easy to honor parents who were good to you, but what if you come from a dysfunctional family? How do you honor a father who abused you? How do you honor a mother who didn’t protect you? Or how do you honor a father who abandoned you? How do you honor a mother who turned tricks for a living?

Does it honor them to hold a grudge against them? Of course not. We all know that Jesus commands us to forgive others as our Heavenly Father forgives us. And what if you forgive your parents for hurting you, but they never repent of their behavior? Does it honor them for you to pretend the abuse never happened? Does it honor them for you to continue allowing them to abuse you?

Oftentimes, church leaders can harm those members who have been abused, by heaping guilt on them because they do not have a close relationship with their parents. Sometimes, they will insinuate that you haven’t truly forgiven them, because you don’t visit them or talk to them, and often, they will cite the fifth commandment when doing so.

I want to speak to those of you who want to do the right thing, and yet you struggle, because you don’t know how to honor parents who have been less than honorable. I speak to you as one who has struggled with the same issues. I loved my parents, despite years of abuse, and no repentance, and I forgave them. I spent many years apart from my parents, while much of my family judged me as a bad daughter, because they didn’t know of the abuse. The fact is they probably still feel that way, because most still don’t know.

So, how did I honor my parents? I honored them by staying away. I honored them by refusing to pretend the abuse didn’t happen. I honored them by respecting their wishes when my stepfather told me to leave and never come back. I honored them by staying away, so they wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable around me, and by staying away from the rest of the family and letting them believe the worst of me, so they wouldn’t turn against my parents.

I honored them by obeying the Lord’s gentle prodding to enter back into their lives the last couple of years they lived. I honored them by forgiving them each time they added to my hurt. I honored them by loving them, even though they never said the three words I desperately longed to hear, “I’m sorry, Cheryl.” I honor them by continuing to love them.

Is this how I recommend others, who have been hurt and abused by their parents, to act? Partially. I understand that every circumstance is different, and our heavenly Father understands that as well. My only two recommendations for you are to love and forgive your parents. By doing this, you honor them. As far as the rest goes, treat your parents as you would want your children to treat you, and by doing this, you will honor them, regardless of whether they are good or bad parents.

Have you broken this commandment? I did, many times, but by God’s grace, I learned to honor my parents.

~ 6 ~

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M. Leone Bracker

“You shall not murder.”

I know, most of you think you haven’t broken that commandment, but I’ll be honest and confess to you that I have. In fact, you could say that I’m a serial killer, in light of these scriptures…

Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. ~ 1 John 3:15 — NLT ~

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. ~ Matthew 5:21-22 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, are any of you as guilty of breaking this commandment as I am?

~ 7 ~

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“You shall not commit adultery.”

Beloved readers, before you say you haven’t broken this commandment, let’s look at Jesus’ definition of the command…

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28 — NLT ~

In light of Jesus’ definition of adultery, have you broken this law?

~ 8 ~

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“You shall not steal.”

When I was young, I used to “borrow” my mother’s jewelry and makeup, and wear it to school. Whenever my conscience pricked me, I would reason that I was only “borrowing” her things, and that I would put it back. However, the fact is that I knew my mother did not want me to take her things, and if she ever found out, I would be toast.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I also knew that when you take something that isn’t yours, without the owner giving you permission to take it, then it is stealing.

I knew this, even though I wasn’t a Christian yet. I knew this because even though I didn’t yet know Christ, God’s law was written on my heart.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. ~ Romans 2:14-16 — NLT ~

Not only that, when you work for someone, if you lie about the hours you work, it is stealing. If you spend the time you are being paid to work, doing other things, you are robbing the person who pays you. If you take anything that belongs to your place of employment, it is stealing.

Have you ever “borrowed” something without asking for the owner’s permission first? Have you ever goofed off or slacked off, when you should have been working? Beloved readers, that’s stealing. Have you ever broken this command?

~ 9 ~

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“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Have you ever lied and said someone did something that they didn’t do? As a child, this was one of my worst traits. I can’t tell you the number of times that I blamed my younger sister for the things that I did. Of course I would excuse myself by reasoning that since she was the favored child, she wouldn’t be beaten or punished as severely as I would have been, but even though this may have been true, it couldn’t cleanse me from the guilt I felt for lying and bearing false witness against my sister. Beloved reader, has there ever been a time in your life when you bore false witness against someone else?

~ 10 ~

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

Gollum by: DarDesign
Gollum
by: DarDesign

Have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else? Have you ever thought to yourself that the other person doesn’t deserve that treasure as much as you do? Beloved readers, that’s coveting. Have you ever broken this command?

In the last post and this post, we reviewed the Law of Moses, also known as the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of breaking every single command. Indeed, every time I study the Ten Commandments, I realize once again, how terribly I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, just as this Scripture tells us…

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

Friends, the Law was never meant to save us. The reason God created the Law was to do exactly what it says in the Scripture above. It was meant to show us how sinful we are…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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Beloved, the Law of Moses was only designed to last until the Child, Christ Jesus, came. My friends, He has come, gone back to heaven, and is coming again, and He fulfilled every single one of the Law’s commands. Therefore, what are we to do with the Law, now? Should we turn our backs on it and live in complete disobedience to it? May it never be! We’ll look for the answer to this question in Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5.

Meanwhile, continue to seek the Lord, study His word, and pray fervently for Him to open the eyes of your heart, so that He will give you an understanding of His will for your life. May God bless you as you not only learn and gain an understanding of His word, but as you also apply His word to your life.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

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In my last post, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that the Jews turned the Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law or the Law of Moses), into six hundred thirteen laws, known as the Tradition of the EldersTheir purpose in creating all of these laws, as convoluted as it seems, was to protect the Ten Commandments. They purposed that following the Tradition of the Elders would ensure the people’s obedience to the Law of Moses. If you haven’t been following this series and would like to start at the beginning, please click, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1.

Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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In addition to learning about the Tradition of the Elders, we discovered the purpose for the Law, which is stated in today’s scripture, Romans 3:20and also in the Scripture above… Today we are going to study the Law of Moses or the Ten Commandments as it is best known, while keeping in mind the Law’s purpose, which is to show people their sins. As we make our way through each of these commandments one by one, I encourage you to search your heart to see where you have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, while I search my own.

Exodus 20:2-17 — NKJV
~ 1 ~

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“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is God’s first command, and sadly, I’ve broken this command too many times to count. You see, before I knew Christ, as my Lord and Savior, everything came before God, and the truth is that even as a born-again Christian, there have been too many times when I failed to put God first. In fact, the truth is that even now, after serving the Lord for many years, there are still times that I have to repent because I’ve put my own desires ahead of Him and His desires for me. Do you ever struggle with this command?

~ 2 ~

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

When I was younger, I struggled with the meaning of this Command. Was the Lord saying that it is a sin to draw, or carve or paint? After all, it seemed that His instructions were very clear and specific. Do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…” Indeed, this is how this scripture has been interpreted by many people throughout the ages, and it sure seems to be the correct assumption, when you take this quote out of its context.

However, I always had a hard time believing that God hates art. After all, He is the giver of our gifts and talents. Now, as I grew in my love and knowledge of the Lord, I came to see that I was incorrect in the way that I had interpreted this verse. You see, this Command is not about the artwork as much as it is about the condition of the artist’s heart and/or the one who owns the art work. Let’s look at this Command again, in the whole context:

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“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

Let’s also take a look at the Hebrew word translated as “carved image” in the New King James Version, and graven image,” in the King James Version of the Bible: 

Pecel = idol or image. 

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Do you see the whole picture? God doesn’t hate artwork. He doesn’t hate knick-knacks, pictures, paintings, sculptures or statues. His concern and His Command was about our heart, and our relationship with Him. Do you remember what the children of Israel were doing while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments from God? They were melting their gold and and pressuring Aaron to create a golden calf to worship instead of the Living God!

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Do you imagine He didn’t know what was going on when He wrote that Command? Think about this, the same God who told the people not to create any images in heaven or earth, also Commanded the artists to create golden cherubim (which are in heaven) to go on top of the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. He commanded the artists to create the menorah to resemble an almond tree with buds, branches and flowers (all of which are on the earth), and He commanded those who sewed the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle to weave angels into them.

Beloved readers, let’s examine our hearts. Do you, or have you ever worshiped any idols? Before you answer, let me share a few examples of idol worship with you… 

    • Do you, or have you ever worshiped or prayed to any pictures, paintings or photographs?
      • i.e. — I’ve seen people who in the midst of a disaster, will risk their lives to save photographs of their loved ones. I may offend you by saying so, but this is an example of idol worship.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed to or worshiped a carved or graven image?
      • i.e. — This would include praying to a crucifix, using rosary beads, a picture of anything or any one, including a picture of Jesus. Again, this may be offensive, but if you worship or pray to any man made image, this is idolatry, even if you say that you are worshiping Jesus.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed or worshiped a loved one or created a shrine for your loved one?
      • i.e. — This too, may be offensive to many, but I must speak the truth. When a loved one dies, if we respond to his/her death by creating a shrine for them, and go to this place to pray to or talk to your deceased loved one, this too, is idolatry.
    • Perhaps you’ve done none of the above, but do you, or have you ever chosen to watch a program on t.v., or attend a sporting event, when you felt the Lord calling you to spend time with Him? If so, beloved reader, this too, is idolatry.

I don’t know about you, but in light of all this, I have to confess that I have been guilty of idolatry. You see, beloved reader, we’ve only looked at the first two commandments in the Law, and the Law has already shown me that I am a sinful woman in need of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. For He alone can set me free from the bondage of sin and death. 

My friends, I don’t know if you have been born again or not, but, if you have broken God’s law, then you are in need of a Savior. We’ve only looked at two of the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of breaking both of those Laws, and here’s what the bible says about it…

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

If you want to be set free from a life of sin and death, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, for whosoever calls upon His name will be saved. The bible tells us what we need to do…

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10 — NLT ~

If you, like me are a Christian, who has sinned against God, repent and confess your sins to God, as He commands in His word…

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~

Thank you for joining me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3and I pray you will join me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4as we continue this study of the Law with the other Commandments. 

This is my prayer for each one of us as we continue to study the Law… Father, I pray that as we study what Your word says about Your Laws, that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we would not only gain head knowledge. Let Your word be planted deep within our hearts, and help us to apply all that we learn from You and about You, so that we would walk in Your Spirit, and not in our flesh. I pray Lord, that you would take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. I also ask You to give each one of us a teachable spirit, so that we would not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your word, because Jesus said that we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free… And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed. Father, I praise You and I thank You for all that You have done, for all that You are doing, and for all that You will do for each one of us as we continue in this study of Your Law and what it means to us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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LIVE BY THE LAW/DIE BY THE LAW ~ PART 2

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For the Law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 — NLT ~
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In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1, we came to the conclusion that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and not by our obedience to the Law. Otherwise, all would be condemned to eternal damnation, because no one aside from Jesus has ever been 100% faithful in obeying the Law, and the penalty for sin is death.
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As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one.” ~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
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For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
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Yet, because of God’s great love for us, despite our sinful nature, Jesus, who was completely faithful in obedience to God’s Law, paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, in order to redeem us from the Law of sin and death.
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NKJV ~
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In this, the second installment of Live By the Law/Die By the LawI want to further study the Law and its purpose. Let’s begin by defining the Law. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, you will see references to the Law of Moses. This refers to the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the stone tablets, while he was on Mt. Sinai.

These commandments were given to the children of Israel, (Israelites or Jews) and they were to live by these laws. Now, over time, the Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law took the Ten Commandments given to them by God, and created 613 laws, known as the Tradition of the Elderswhich were supposed to help the people obey God’s Ten Commandments. In theory, if the people kept these rules, they would be obeying the Law.

Isn’t it just like mankind to take something holy and pollute it with our own wisdom? Perhaps their intentions were good in developing these additional laws for men to follow, in order to protect the Law of God, given to them by Moses, but the outcome was not good. You see, the Pharisees who created these additional laws were very strict about following them, down to the smallest detail. In fact, they were so careful to follow all of the rules, that they lost sight of the Law of God, which dealt with the hearts of mankind…
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37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.

42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “You have insulted us, too, in what You just said.”

46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’

50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.

52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” ~ Luke 11:37-52 — NLT ~
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Sadly, all of those religious laws created by the Pharisees only  served to alienate the people from God. Instead of making it easier for the people to obey God’s original Ten Commandments, it only served to make obedience to God’s commands more difficult. The Law of Moses was complicated by the Pharisees’ additional six hundred thirteen laws.

When Jesus came along, He angered the Pharisees by speaking out against some of their foolish laws. Then, He took the Law of God, and simplified that which had been complicated by the Pharisees, dividing the Law into two parts. He revealed that the Law of God is summarized and divided into two parts. The first four commandments concern our relationship with God, while the second half of the commandments concern our relationship with mankind. The scriptures below show us how Jesus summed up the Law of Moses.
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30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 — NKJV ~
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You see, beloved reader, God’s Law was never about following ten rules or six hundred thirteen rules. God’s Law concerned the hearts of all mankind, and by obeying the first half of the Commandments, man could demonstrate his love for God. Furthermore, by obeying the second half of the Law, man would demonstrate his love for humanity, but sadly, because of our sinful nature, we are unable to follow the Law in its entirety, which is why Christ came to live, die and arise from the grave. He was and is our only hope for salvation and deliverance from the sin that binds each one of us.

For the Law was not given to the Jews to save them, for Christ is the One who saves. So, beloved reader, if the Law was not given to save mankind, why was it given?
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Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~
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We know now that the Law was given to show people their sins. In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we’ll examine the Ten Commandments and see exactly how the Law still serves to show people their sins.

I pray that as we continue in this study, we’ll learn what it means to live in the love and liberty our Savior calls us to. May the Lord bless each of you, beloved readers, as you continue to grow in His grace.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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Biblical Proof

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1

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Are Christians bound by the Law? What does it mean to be bound by the Law? Are those Christians who are Gentiles required to live by the Laws given to the Jews? What is the purpose of living by the Law? Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved? When we fail to live by the Law, do we lose our salvation? Must we follow the Law in order to maintain our salvation?

Has anyone else ever grappled with these questions? When it comes to questions of such great import, I don’t like to rely on man’s answers, because man’s wisdom is finite, whereas God’s wisdom is infinite. Human words and beliefs are fallible, whereas God’s Word is infallible. We humans are corrupt, self-righteous, prideful, vindictive and sinful, whereas God is Good, Just, Merciful, and full of Grace and Love. The words of mankind have no power to change lives, and will soon fade away, whereas the Word of God is Living and Active, Sharper than any two-edged sword. His Word has the Power to change lives. His Word has the Power to save, heal and deliver.

Therefore, for those all important questions that I asked above, let’s look to God’s Word for the answers. Firstly, let’s start from the beginning, and work our way onward… Are we required to live by the Law in order to be saved?

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God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NLT ~
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For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~
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Beloved readers, the first all-important fact that you must know and understand is that God saves us by His Grace. Our salvation has NOTHING to do with how good we are, nor does it have anything to do with how many Commandments we have kept. Indeed, the salvation of mankind rests solely on God’s Grace and His great Love for us.

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16 “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16 — NLT ~
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16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life17 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 — NKJV ~
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us~ Romans 5:8 — NKJV ~
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Beloved reader, take careful note of when God loved us and saved us. He loved us while we were still in the midst of our sins. Do you see? Christ died to save us while we were still sinners, breaking the Law. The fact is that we wouldn’t have needed a Savior if we were able to follow the Law ourselves. Indeed, my friends, even the Jews, (the ones to whom the Law was given), are unable to keep the Law. Therefore, why would I, a Gentile, think that I can either earn or keep my salvation by obeying the Law?

9 Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.

10 As the Scriptures say,
“No one is righteous— not even one.
11 No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away; all have become useless.
No one does good, not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.
Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
1
5 “They rush to commit murder.
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6 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”

19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NLT ~
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9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”
13 “Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; 
“The poison of asps is under their lips”; 
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
17 And the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ~ Romans 3:9-20 — NKJV ~ 
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Do you see that according to God’s Word, NO ONE can be made right with God by doing what the Law commands, because the Law simply shows us how sinful we are. Not only that, but the Law applies to those to whom it was given — the Jews, not the Gentiles. Furthermore, if the Jews, to whom the Law was given, were unable to follow the Law to the letter, why would anyone in the Church insist that the followers of Christ must live under the Law? 

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Image Credit:
Biblical Proof

Beloved readers, please join me as we embark on a study of God’s word, so that we will know His Law and how it applies to us. The Word of God will have very little impact on anyone, unless we apply it to our lives. It is my hope that through this study, we will all come to a better understanding of God’s Word, His Law and His expectations for us. I pray that your roots will grow deep into His love and that you will come to understand, as all of God’s children should, how long and how wide, how high and how deep His love for you really is, though it is too great for any of us to fully grasp. I pray that as each of us delve into the Word of God, He will speak to us. I have no desire to tell anyone what to believe… instead, it is my heart’s desire that as we embark on this study, each one of you will listen, as His Word speaks for itself. I pray for all of this in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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It’s a Matter of Faith — Little Faith

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Image Credit:
Darrel Tank

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. 24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this Man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey Him!” ~ Matthew 8:23-27 — NLT ~

Image Credit: James Seward
Image Credit:
James Seward

This is one of my favorite scripture passages. I love reading how Jesus arises in the midst of the storm and rebukes the wind and the waves, telling them, “Peace! Be still!” It blesses me to think that He cared enough about the disciples to calm the storm that was raging all about them, and it makes me wonder, does He love me enough to calm the storms in my life? Does He love you enough to calm the storms in your life?

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Image Credit:
devotions4misfits.wordpress.com

To believe in the possibility that Jesus loves me, knowing that He knows my every thought and every secret deed requires faith. And sometimes, I just don’t know if my faith is strong enough. Now, when it comes to believing that He loves you or someone else, I have great faith. When it comes to believing that God will step in and move on your behalf, I have no problem.

You see, it is easy to have faith in God for someone else, but it is another thing to have faith in God for yourself. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love this story so much, because in it, I can see that I’m not that much different than the disciples who walked with Jesus everyday, and knew Him physically, as well as spiritually.

Although they knew Jesus intimately and actually saw Him work miracles, signs and wonders, their faith was still small. They had seen Him work wonders in the lives of others, but could He or would He work on their behalf? They were afraid to believe that He would, and sadly, I understand that fear.

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Image Credit:
NancyPH Lord of the Arts
wetcanvas.com

You see, it began when I was a child. I can remember not doing my homework and then praying for a blizzard, so that I could stay home from school and get my work done, and I really had great faith that He would come through for me, but He never did. I didn’t understand it. Why didn’t God answer my prayers, when He knew that my parents would beat me and curse me? Was it because I was so bad, and I just wasn’t worthy of His love? At the time, this was the only answer that made sense to me. After all, He knew the things that I had done, and even worse, He knew the things that I thought. Have you ever felt like that?

The sad thing is that we don’t always outgrow those childhood disappointments, and they can hinder us as we get older. I grew up believing that God helps others, (just as the disciples probably thought), but not someone like me, until the storms in life began to batter me. Have  you been battered by the storms in life? Have you longed for the Savior to rebuke the wind and the waves in your life?

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Image Credit:
Bimartins.deviantart.com

If so, we must do as the disciples did. They shamelessly cried out to Jesus, while He slept peacefully. As they wakened Him, the disciples shouted, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?” Isn’t that what we all want to know? My life is falling apart, and the storms keep on raging against me, and Jesus, do You really care about me?

Now, let’s look at how Jesus responded to His panicked disciples…

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. ~ Matthew 8:26 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
covenantcrabco.com

The scriptures show no indication that Jesus was angry with His frightened disciples. Instead, He takes the time to answer them, before calming the wind and the waves. “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Now, pay attention! After telling them that they had little faith, Jesus still got up and rebuked the wind and the waves, thereby causing a great calm. Do you see that,  beloved reader? Even though their faith was small, He still answered their prayer, and calmed the storm.

Image Credit: Darrell Creswell
Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

How does your faith measure? Is it little faith, or great faith? If it is just little faith, can you still believe that Jesus loves you, and that when you delight yourself in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart? Beloved readers, Jesus loves us far more than we know, and if you are willing to admit that you have little faith, and ask Him to increase your faith, He will! Remember the father of the demon possessed boy…

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:21-24 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
The Writer’s Pen

You know that Jesus saw the pain in that man’s eyes, and he heard it in the man’s voice as he cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Friends, I understand what that man was saying. “I believe, but help me Lord, because I believe for others, but not for me and mine. Lord, please help me overcome my unbelief!”

And Jesus’ response to this man’s plea? It was the same as His response to the disciples. Jesus heard the cry of his heart, and He healed the man’s son, thereby helping him to overcome his unbelief. For the disciples, He calmed the wind and the waves. He did it for their sake, to increase their little faith.

So, what do we do when our faith is little? We cry out to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith and…

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. ~ Hebrews 12:2 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
Faith MySpace Layouts

Do you see that? Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. The author of a book is the one who writes the book, creates the characters and endows them with their various abilities, and it is the same with the author of our faith. It is He who created each one of us, and it is He who gives us our various gifts and abilities. Therefore, if Jesus is the author of our faith, then He is the One who gave us our faith to start with, and it is He who finishes our faith. Therefore, if I cry out to Him to increase my faith, since that is His will for you and me, will He not honor that request? Of course He will.

Image Credit: Designs by God
Image Credit:
Designs by God

Do you have little faith? Then do as the father of the boy did, and do as I do. Ask Jesus to help you overcome your unbelief… And one more thing, when you read God’s word, read it out loud, so that you can hear the words as they are spoken. Memorize His word, so that you can speak it to yourself and to others…

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God~ Romans 10:17 — NKJV ~

If you want your little faith to grow, cry out to Jesus and speak and listen to God’s word, because faith comes from hearing the word of God. By crying out to Jesus, you are crying out to the Word of God, to increase your faith. And by reading and speaking His word out loud, you are speaking the words of the author and finisher of your faith — the One who is writing your existence and your faith, and by doing so, your little faith will grow… Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not (Jeremiah 20:9b).

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