Originally posted on A Call To The Remnant:
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Originally posted on A Call To The Remnant:
View original 463 more words
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. ~ Hebrews 11:6 — NLT ~
Did you know that it doesn’t matter how many good deeds you do, or how kind you are, if you don’t have faith, you cannot please God? It doesn’t matter how generous you are, if you don’t have faith, it is impossible for you to please God. Oh, and one more thing — if you have faith in the wrong thing, it is impossible for you to please God.
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 life. ~ John 3:16 — NLT ~
You see, the scriptures are very clear about Who you must believe in, if you want to be saved… Do you believe in God? Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus suffered, bled and died to pay for the sins of all mankind? Do you believe that after being in the grave for three days, Jesus rose from the dead?
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.” ~ John 14:6 — NLT ~
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 ~
Do you ever wonder why some people have faith in God, and some don’t? Why is it, that there are some Christians who have willingly laid down their lives for Christ? Where does such faith come from?
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NLT ~
Faith in Christ is a gift from God. Those of us, who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, don’t believe because we know something that no one else knows. We don’t believe because we’re fools who blindly believe in anything. The men and women, whose very lives center around Christ, believe because we have received the gift of saving faith, and those who do not have that faith have refused to accept the gift that God, in His great mercy and love, offers to everyone.
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 life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s Light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the Light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the Light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the Light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” ~ John 3:16-21 — NLT ~
23 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 ~
You see, beloved reader, each and everyone of us, since the beginning of time, has been offered the gift of eternal life at no cost to us. It is a free gift, paid in full, by Jesus Christ, when He suffered, bled and died on the cross to pay for your sins and mine. And not only is the free gift of eternal life offered to each and everyone of us, but also, the gift of faith to believe that this is true. (Remember, that is is by grace we are saved through faith, and that is not of ourselves, it is a gift from God.)
Therefore, those of us who love the Lord with all of our hearts, do so because He has given us the faith to love Him and believe that Jesus Christ is His Son. However, those who read this and do not love the Lord, do so because they have refused the gift of faith that has been offered to all.
Many times, I’ve seen people respond in anger when they are told that if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you cannot enter the gates of heaven. Indeed, you will never even see those gates. Those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will burn in hell, and this is not God’s fault, nor is it His will.
The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. ~ 2 Peter 3:9 — NLT ~
You see, though the gift has been offered to all, only those who accept and receive the gift are saved. If you refuse to accept the gift of saving faith that has been offered to you, it is your choice, not God’s.
And now, beloved reader, by reading this post, you have once again been offered the gift of faith that saves you, and as with any gift, you have a choice to make. Therefore, in closing, I’ll leave you with the words that Moses spoke to the men and women of Israel, when they were about to enter the Promised Land. For those words are still appropriate today, as every man, woman and child, who is able to, must make this choice. Do you want eternal life or eternal damnation? The choice is yours…
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20 — NLT ~
Cheryl A. Showers
Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.
When I’ve gone on to glory, and people remember me, my prayer is that I will be remembered as a woman after God’s own heart. I want to leave a legacy of love behind, just as Jesus did…
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is My command: Love each other.
Jesus loved His disciples so much, that He called them His friends, and He shared the things that God had spoken to Him, with His disciples. Not only that, but He willingly laid down His life for them, and for us, knowing that some would betray Him, some would deny Him, and some would bring about His death. He did this because He loved them unconditionally.
He had seen them when they argued over petty things. He had seen them when they lost their tempers. He had seen them speak when they should have been silent, and He had seen them when they were afraid. He had seen them at their worst, and He had seen them when their best wasn’t good enough. In the same way, He has seen all of the worst things about my character and yours, and He knows that our best isn’t enough to earn God’s mercy and grace, and yet, He still chooses to love us despite our shortcomings. This is the kind of love for others that I want to have. But you see, there’s so much more to His love than this. This is the love that He has for His friends, but what about His enemies?
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
I want to have so much of God’s love running through my very being, that I love my enemies, just as Jesus loved His enemies. Did you know that His love for us was so great that when we were sinners — enemies of His, Christ Died for us? I want to love like that. When people see me, I don’t care whether or not they remember me or my name. It is Christ that I want them to remember.
What legacy do I want to leave when I die? The last verse of an old hymn written by Fanny Crosby, a woman, blind from infancy, but with a deep love of the Lord, sums it up best. The title of the song is “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,” and this is final verse:
All the way my Savior leads me;
Oh, the fullness of His grace!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s blest embrace.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.
The legacy I would like to leave — the thing I want people to say about me, when they remember me is “Jesus led her all the way.” These are the words I would like written on my tombstone.
Cheryl A. Showers
If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us TONGUE.
1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 — NASB ~
If I could wake up tomorrow with the ability to speak any language that I am not currently able to speak, I would want to speak in the one universal language that is understood by every human being — the language of love. Although each of us is born with the capacity to understand this language, sadly, we aren’t born with the ability to speak it. Indeed, very few people ever truly learn the language, and though we were born with the ability to understand love, by the time we reach adulthood, most people have a distorted view of what love is.
Before one can truly speak the language of love, he/she needs to understand exactly what love is. To gain an understanding of what love is, we first need to wipe the slate of our minds clean from the lies we’ve been led to believe from the time we were children. You see, love has nothing to do with the gifts people bestow upon you, although many have come to equate love with that. If love was about the presents given to us at Christmas, then those who are too poor to afford gifts would be unable to love, and that certainly isn’t true, now, is it?
Love also has nothing to do with sex, although many people have given their bodies to others in the name of love. Now, I’m not saying that sex is evil, or that no one having sex loves his/her partner. What I am saying is that many people have sex without loving the person they are with. Those who pay for prostitutes feel no love for the person they are paying to have sex with them, and likewise, the prostitute feels no love for the person he/she is charging to have sex with him/her.
Also, there are people who move from one lover to another, over and over again. This is not love. Love is not a temporary or fleeting emotion, regardless of what you may have experienced or seen on television, or in your life, or the lives of others. This is what true love is…
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 — NASB ~
Love is patient. That means no matter how many times the person I love irritates me, I will still love that person. What’s more, because I love this person, I will learn to control my temper. Because I love someone, I will forgive him/her when they wrong me, calmly enduring any pain he/she may cause me. Because I love this person, I will strive to be understand him/her, and why he/she acts out in certain ways. This is an example of true love, but there is more…
Love is kind and is not jealous. For every man or woman who has ever had a jealous boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, read those words again. Love is kind and is not jealous. If there is someone in your life who is jealous of other people who love you, understand this… jealousy is not love. And for those reading this post who are jealous of your significant other’s loved ones, I’ll say it again, jealousy is not love. Jealousy is not a proof of your love for someone, or their love for you. Jealousy is evil. Jealousy destroys relationships. Jealousy destroys people. Jealousy can kill.
Love is kind. To love someone is to be tenderhearted toward him/her. To love someone is to put that person before yourself. To love someone is to treat them the way you would like to be treated. Love is kind.
Love does not brag and is not arrogant. Are you getting this? If someone claims to love you, and then puts you down, he/she does not love you. If someone says that he/she loves you, and treats you as anything less than his/her equal, then this person does not love you. If this person brags about him/herself, and thinks more of him/herself than he/she thinks of you, this is not love.
Love does not act unbecomingly. Love is not boastful or proud or rude. If someone treats you disrespectfully, this is not love. This bears repeating, because sadly, many people are confused about this. When someone treats you with disrespect, or as though you are less than him/her, no matter what they may claim, they are not acting in love.
Love does not seek its own. Love does not seek its own way. When you love someone, do you have to have your own way? Are you willing to let the person you say you love have his/her own way? Or do you demand your own way? If you always demand your own way or the highway, then you do not love. If the person you are with always demands his/her own way, the he/she is not loving.
Love is not provoked. Is the person who claims to love you easily angered? Do you walk around on pins and needles because you fear angering this person? Are you easily angered by the ones you say you love? Do others tread carefully when they are around you, fearful of your anger? If so, my friend, this is not how love acts. Remember, love is patient and kind.
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Do you remember every wrong done to you by the person you say you love? When you and this person have a disagreement, do you throw other wrongdoings in their face, even though you say you’ve forgiven them? Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. True love forgives completely, and though it is very hard to forget, we must choose not to remember, if we truly love someone.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Now this is really difficult, because our human nature likes to see others get what’s coming to them. It’s very natural for us to want to see someone get the punishment they deserve, and yet, if we want to walk in love and if we want to speak the language of love, then we can’t rejoice in another person’s suffering, not even if they deserve it. We can and should rejoice when the truth comes out, this is good and right. But there’s a fine line between rejoicing in the truth and rejoicing in someone’s suffering. If someone commits a crime against you or someone you love, and that person is brought to trial and found guilty by the jury, rejoice because the truth came out, and this is good. BUT we must not rejoice because the person will now have to suffer for his/her crime. To truly love and speak the language of love is indeed difficult, which is why so many choose not to love, but the rewards of truly loving far outweigh the cost.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. To truly walk in love, means that we must bear all things… No matter how difficult it is to love someone, no matter how mean or contrary the person may be, if I want to speak the language of love, I must be willing to bear their abuse, believing and hoping that all things will work together for my good, because I love God and He has called me according to His purpose, and therefore, come what may, I will endure all things. The best example of true love that I can think of is the example Jesus gave us.
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:1-11 — NLT ~
Every word Jesus spoke, every breath He took, every glance He gave, was done in love. He alone, was able to speak the language of love fluently, without a flaw. In fact, it is only in His name that anyone is able to truly speak this language, which has very little to do with the words we speak, and everything to do with our actions.
You ask me what language I would speak, and my answer is the ancient language of love. “Why?” you ask, and my answer is, “Because God first loved me, so I want to love Him and others, with that same love.” What is the first thing I would do with my new linguistic skills? I would seek the bitterest, most unlovable, hopeless person, and I would begin to demonstrate the love that Jesus gave me… the love that I described above.
Lord, hear my prayer and let me love others as You love them, with the love that You have given me. Let me speak to them with the tongues of love. Let me demonstrate that love to them by being patient and kind to them. Help me not to be jealous or boastful or arrogant. And help me not to be rude or disrespectful to them. Father, help me not to seek my own way, rather, help me to submit to others. And Lord, help me not to be easily provoked or to take into account the wrongs others may do to me. And Father, please help me not to rejoice in unrighteousness, but instead, teach me to rejoice with the truth. Strengthen me and help me to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things, just as Jesus did when He suffered and died on the cross for my sins. Lord, let my love for others never fail, just as Your love never fails, never gives up and never runs out on me. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Cheryl A. Showers
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28 — NLT ~
Have you ever felt the devastation of guilt? Do you know what it is to be weighed down by the heaviness of regret for not doing the things you should have done? Have you experienced the anguish that comes from a guilt-ridden conscience, because you did the wrong thing? Have you ever felt the endless torment of knowing that you not only let yourself down, but even worse, you failed God?
I’ve known that pain, and I felt as though the guilt and shame would kill me. I’ve known what it is to lose all hope, because the guilt and shame that I carried convinced me that I was unlovable, and that my sins were unforgivable. And though others showed me much mercy, and tried to comfort me, telling me that I hadn’t failed God, in my heart, I knew better.
You see, even though things may seem right in the eyes of man, it doesn’t change the fact that they are wrong. Even though others tried to console me, and even though they saw no wrongdoing on my part, I knew I had sinned against God. Therefore, I did what I had always been taught to do as a Christian. I confessed my sin to God.
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 ~
Have you ever confessed your sins to God and still felt the heavy weight of guilt and shame? Have you ever questioned whether you truly are forgiven? Do you know what it is to doubt your own heart? Have you ever seen the error of your ways and wondered if your whole life was a lie?
That’s how I felt. Do you remember the scripture where Jesus describes what will happen to some who did many things in His name?
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” ~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NKJV ~
I was so wracked with guilt that I wondered if I was one of those who had prophesied in His name, and yet never knew Him. Was I mistaken to believe that I was a child of God? Had I been presumptive in assuming that I was saved? I had believed some things that I’ve since discovered weren’t true. So now, what could I do?
I could start anew. I could go back to the One True Source of all wisdom. I could look to God’s word, and find life.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. ~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~
So, how can you mend a heart that has been shattered by guilt and shame? How do you rid your heart from the doubts that have been sown within it, by that same guilt and shame? You go back to the basics…
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
According to God’s word, I was no different than everyone else. I had sinned, just as everyone else has sinned. Therefore, although my guilty conscience said otherwise, according to the scriptures, which are God-breathed, I was no worse than anyone else… and it goes without saying that I am certainly no better.
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 life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. ~ John 3:16-17 — NLT ~
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. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
~ Romans 10:9-13 — NLT ~
I do confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord. He is the Lord and Master of everything. And He is certainly the Lord and Master of my life. And yes — I DO believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe it with my whole heart.
And yet, how could I know for sure that I was truly saved and forgiven? Have you ever needed reassurance? Have you ever been so consumed by the guilt and shame, that you just needed some assurance that you were indeed saved and forgiven?
8 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 ~
17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 — NLT ~
Do you see? When the time comes that we have failed God and ourselves, so that we are riddled with guilt and shame, causing us to doubt whether we can be forgiven, and whether we are truly even saved, that is when we must have faith in Christ. And this faith is not something we can earn by being good enough or by doing enough good deeds. This faith in Christ is quite simply a gift given by our gracious Almighty God, and the more we hear His word spoken aloud, the stronger our faith grows.
Now, I won’t tell you that going to church will save you, because the church can’t save anyone. And the scriptures make it very clear that salvation is a gift from God. However, I will tell you that when you gather together with your brothers and sisters in Christ, your faith will grow.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. ~ Hebrews 10:24-25 — NLT ~
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. ~ Proverbs 27:17 — NLT ~
You see, when I was so addled with guilt and shame, my natural instinct was to pull away from other believers, for in my shame, I didn’t feel that I was worthy of their love, and worse yet, I didn’t feel worthy of God’s love. And so it was, that by pulling away from other believers, my faith began to weaken, for I had no one to pray for me and with me. By hiding myself away, I had no one to encourage me and speak life to me, and I became consumed by the fear of dying.
And yet, though I was brought low, God, in His infinite mercy and grace, never let me go. He never forsook me. You see, it was also during this time, that He was leading me to leave the fellowship that I had been a part of for more than three years. I no longer belonged there, and at the time, I felt as though that was my punishment — to no longer belong in His house. But I was wrong.
I no longer belonged in that fellowship, because God was calling me elsewhere. A sister in Christ had been placing posts on Facebook about the church that she had been attending for quite awhile, and I felt the Spirit leading me to go to this house of worship, and yet, I was hesitant, because the weight of my guilt and shame left me weary and fearful. What if I still didn’t belong here either?
And yet, I still felt a pull to go to this church, and one thing was for sure… I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I hadn’t gone to worship with other Christians since before Thanksgiving, and I was hungry! I was hungry to worship and sing to God corporately with other believers, and I was hungry and thirsty to hear the word of God spoken. And so, two Sundays ago, I determined that I would attend worship service at the church my friend had been writing about for so long.
Beloved reader, do you know what it’s like to walk straight into the will of God? Do you know how good it is to receive confirmation and encouragement from His sweet Holy Spirit… to know that Jesus really does love you? I knew that I had stepped right into His perfect will for me that Sunday. The worship was like honey to my lips. And the preached word pierced right through my broken heart, as the Lord began to mend it with this message about guilt and God’s forgiveness.
You see, beloved reader, the scripture that says, For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” is true. During this whole trial, I called on His name, and He saved my life from the pit. But it wasn’t enough to merely rescue me, for you see, His love for us is much too great to stop there. That’s why He not only forgives our sins when we confess them to Him, He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. He heals the brokenhearted. Beloved reader, He healed my broken heart. And if He did that for me, He will certainly do the same for you. Just do as I did, confess your sin, and call upon His name — JESUS!!!
Cheryl A. Showers
In those days, a man continued to live at home, with his parents, until he married, unless the Lord called him to go elsewhere, and so it was with Samson. As they raised this son the Lord had blessed them with, Samson’s mother and father were very careful to follow YHWH’s instructions, and train him in the way that he should go. And as Samson reached manhood, while still living with his parents, the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in him.
Samson was a virile young man, full of vim and vigor, and though his parents loved him dearly, and considered themselves very blessed to have him, the fact is that raising him according to the instructions laid out by the Lord, had proven to be quite challenging. For Samson was very headstrong, and often very belligerent as well, when he didn’t get his own way. And now, though he was no longer a child, he still worried his parents, who knew that God had created Samson for greatness. For although he was older now, and though the Spirit of the Lord had begun to stir in him, Samson was still very rebellious.
The couple had just finished praying for their beloved son, when the door opened with a crash, and Samson entered, kissing first his father, and then his mother on the cheek, before grabbing a hand full of figs from the table. “You seem very cheerful,” his mother said with a smile, as Samson joined his parents at the table. “Where did you go today?”
Grinning broadly, Samson responded, “I was in Timnah today, Imah, and I saw the most beautiful girl there.” Turning to his father, Samson continued, “She’s a Philistine, and I want to marry her, Abba. Go and make the arrangements for me to marry her, ok?”
“Son, surely you jest!” His mother exclaimed, while Manoah pounded his fist on the table and shouted.
“A Philistine?!? Samson, have you lost your mind? Isn’t there one woman in our tribe, or even among all of Israel, that you could marry?”
“No, Abba,” he replied. “I want her. Get her for me.”
“Son, must you go to the pagan Philistines for a bride?” both his father and mother pleaded. Neither of them realized that the Lord was at work, even in this.
Finally, seeing that they couldn’t change his mind about marrying the Philistine girl, Samson’s parents went with him to Timnah, where the girl lived. As his parents slowly trudged along, Samson walked much more briskly, exuberantly pulling ahead of his parents in his eagerness to get there as quickly as possible.
And so it was that as he was walking along, Samson heard the loud roar of a lion. His heart pounded loudly, as the lion lunged at him. Then, quickly, as the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him, without even thinking, Samson grabbed the open mouth of the lion before it closed on him, and ripped the beast in half. After killing the beast, he tossed the carcass into the vineyard by the roadside, and returned to hurry his parents along. Not wanting to trouble them, he kept the lion’s attack on him a secret.
When he saw the young Philistine woman again, Samson found her more desirable than ever, and so his father proceeded to arrange the marriage between his son and the Philistine. Finally, after nearly three months of negotiations, the marriage between the two was arranged. Samson was ecstatic, and when he was returning to Timnah for his wedding, he left the path and walked into the vineyard, where he had thrown the lion’s body. As he gazed at the dead animal’s body, he saw that a swarm of bees had made some honey within its cavity.
Grinning broadly, Samson scooped a handful of the honey, bringing its golden sweetness to his lips, tasting its syrupy goodness. After enjoying his fill of nature’s sweet nectarine, he carried some to his parents. “Oh Samson!” his mother exclaimed, “How wonderful! Where did you find it?”
Laughing joyfully, Samson ignored her question, instead urging his parents to hurry to Timnah, for his wedding. The Philistine girl was a beauty, and he was eager to make her his bride. Of course the truth is that he was looking forward to the party tonight, as well.
Once they got to town, while his father was making the final wedding arrangements, Samson threw a party for thirty young men, who were companions especially chosen for him by his bride’s parents. There was much fun and revelry at the party, as the young men all laughed and joked together. In the midst of all their merrymaking, Samson came up with a new game for his companions to play.
“Friends, who wants to join me in a new game?” The young men looked at him expectantly, as he continued, “I have a riddle for you, and if any of you solve the riddle during these seven days of my marriage celebration, I’ll give you thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing.” As the young men nodded eagerly, leaning closer to hear what he had to say, Samson lifted his right hand up to them, “But,” he said, “if no one can solve the riddle, then you must give me thirty fine linen robes and thirty sets of festive clothing. Agreed?”
“Agreed,” the young men shouted eagerly. “Now tell us the riddle!”
“Very well then,” Samson replied. “Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.” After sharing his riddle with them, he burst out laughing. There was no way any of them would ever guess the answer to his riddle — not even if they had a million years to figure it out, for no one knew about the lion he had killed or the honey he had scooped up and eaten from it. He hadn’t even told his parents about it.
The men thought and thought about Samson’s riddle, only to become more and more frustrated with each wrong answer. As one day passed into another, and they were no closer to knowing the answer to the riddle, the young men began to get angry, and Samson’s laughter at their expense didn’t help their mood. For three days, they tried to guess the answer to Samson’s riddle with no luck, and finally, on the fourth day, they had enough.
While some of the young men distracted Samson, several others approached his wife, telling her, “You’d better coax your husband into telling you the answer to that stupid riddle for us. Otherwise, we’ll burn your father’s house down, with you in it! Did you all invite us to this party just to rob us and make us poor?”
With her life and the lives of her family at stake, Samson’s bride quickly approached him and tried to get him to tell her the answer to his riddle, but Samson laughingly brushed her aside, refusing to answer her, even when she burst into tears. “You don’t even love me, do you?” she cried. “You hate me, don’t you? How could you give my people a riddle and not even tell me the answer?” she desperately wept.
“Oh come on, honey,” Samson consoled her, as she lay in his arms later on that night, crying inconsolably. “I haven’t even told my parents the answer to my riddle, so why should I tell you?” At this answer, she just cried even harder.
During what should have been one of the most joyful occasions of their life, both Samson and the girl were miserable. She was despairing for fear that the men would murder her and her family, while Samson was tormented by her constant nagging and crying. Finally, on the seventh day of the celebration, unable to bear her weeping and whining any longer, Samson told her the answer to the riddle.
His young wife was both relieved and elated, and as soon as she was able to get away from Samson, she ran to explain the riddle’s answer to the young men. She knew that she was risking Samson’s wrath by doing so, but that seemed a minor thing in comparison to losing her life and the lives of her family members. The young men roared with raucous laughter when she told them. For now, the joke was on Samson, and not them.
They waited until just before sunset to approach Samson, bowing mockingly before him. Samson, certain that they couldn’t possibly know the answer to his riddle, looked down upon them, condescendingly saying, “So you think you can answer my riddle, do you?”
Then, altogether, as though they had rehearsed it, the thirty young men answered in unison, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”
At their response, Samson’s face turned beet red, as he realized that his wife had betrayed him after being married for less than a week. He was furious as he looked from one mocking face to another, and he bellowed, “If you hadn’t plowed with my heifer, you wouldn’t have solved my riddle!”
Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon the enraged bridegroom, and Samson went down to the town of Ashkelon and killed thirty men. Then, taking their clothing and their belongings, he then threw their clothing at the feet of the thirty young men. This was their payment for answering his riddle.
Afterward, still furious at his wife’s betrayal, Samson returned to his parents’ house.
Cheryl A. Showers
45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”
While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
The other day, we started looking at this scripture passage, and we saw Jesus’ warning for His disciples to be careful of the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees). Then He went on to list some of the things they were guilty of doing, such as parading around in flowing robes to gain attention and respect.
45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”
~ Luke 20:45-46 — NLT ~
It’s funny. I never noticed this before, until my daughter-in-law and I were discussing this scripture passage… The very things that Jesus condemned in this passage are practiced in nearly every church here in the United States. I can’t speak for foreign churches, as I haven’t visited any foreign churches other than some in Haiti, when I was there on a mission trip, but from what I’ve seen in movies, I’d venture to say that they too, are operated in the same way.
How many ministers dress in elaborate flowing robes when they preach, rather than dressing as everyone else in the congregation? And think about this, how many pastors, evangelists and televangelists sit up in the front of their sanctuaries, in special, throne-like chairs, rather than in the same pews the rest of the congregation sits on? Did you notice that this was one of the things that Jesus condemned the teachers of religious law for, stating, “And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”?
I can’t help but notice that the “messengers, pastors, prophets and evangelists,” who bring the word are given seats of honor in nearly every church that I’ve ever been in, how about you? And not only that, again, in nearly every church that I’ve been a part of, whenever there is a banquet or dinner, the pastor and his/her entourage are given seats at the head table. I’ve also noticed that all too often, while the other guests at the banquet must get up and fix their own plates, someone usually prepares the plates and serves them to the pastor, and his/her guests before everyone else is allowed to serve themselves. Don’t you find it ironic that the very actions Jesus found the religious leaders of His day guilty of, are the same ones practiced today, by Christian leaders, who claim to represent Him?
But that isn’t the only sin that has carried over into today’s church. Let’s examine the rest of this passage…
Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”
While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
Now, I know that most of you have heard this passage of scripture preached many times, as this poor widow is extolled for the great sacrifice she made for the Lord. The truth is, that’s how I’ve always heard it preached too, and I believed that the Lord was commanding us to give our all, like this poor widow. How about you? But then, my daughter-in-law shared some information with me that changed how I viewed this passage, and the sad thing is, that I could have understood this myself, if I had read this portion of scripture in its original context, as I teach others to do.
Just to refresh your memory, the other day, I told you that the book of Luke was originally written as a letter or a report to a man named Theophilus, and when Luke wrote the letter, it did not have any chapters or verses. Therefore, there wasn’t the separation that we now see between Luke 20 and Luke 21. So, armed with this knowledge, let’s examine this passage as it was originally written, without stopping between chapters and verses.
After cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, who sought special treatment, and dressed to be noticed, Jesus then pointed out another, even more heinous sin that they were guilty of. For these religious leaders shamelessly cheated poor widows out of their property, while pretending to be pious by praying long prayers in public. The Lord has a special love for widows and orphans, and He hates to see them cheated…
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows. And all the people will reply, “Amen.”
You can see the love God has for widows and orphans, and yet Jesus makes it clear that the religious leaders of that day took advantage of them, often forcing them to lose their property. So, how did they force them to lose their property? With their long and flowery prayers, the scribes tricked those who were poor and needy into giving all they had to the Temple treasury, leaving them destitute.
Sadly, this practice continues in the church today, as pastors, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, continue to trick the poor and needy into giving their all to the ministry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that if you want your prayers answered, you must first “sow a seed.” Or else they make the claim that if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, you are robbing God. I’ve heard them say that how much or how little you give to their ministry is a reflection of your relationship with God. I’ve heard some encourage their congregations to borrow money or pay their tithes and offerings with a credit card, and it makes me sick! I’ve even heard some say that you will “lose your blessing” or even be cursed if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, and I ask you, how are these religious leaders any different than the religious leaders, whose very same practices Jesus condemned?
As for the poor widow who gave her all in her offering of the temple tax, do you really think Jesus was commending her actions, so that others would do the same? Or is it possible that as He was cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, He looked across the way, and saw this real life example of one of the widows, who was being robbed of her property, and pointed her out to them? How many poor and needy people do you know, who faithfully send money they can’t afford to the ministries of famous televangelists, who spend the money on their own lavish lifestyles, while they themselves, don’t even have enough to make ends meet?
How many people have taken money from the mouths of their own family, in the hopes that they can earn God’s favor by giving sacrificially? And how many have given their children’s inheritance to the church, because they were afraid of angering God? How many have lived and died with nothing, because the church duped them into doing as this widow did, while its coffers are full and running over? Do you really think this pleases God?
And do you really think we can earn His favor if we just give enough money to the church? Do you really believe that you, His beloved child will lose His favor and perhaps even be cursed if you don’t obey the commands of religious leaders to give to their ministries?
Beloved, don’t you know that just as we can’t earn salvation, neither can we earn God’s favor. If you are a child of God, you have His favor simply because you are His child, and He loves you. Look at these words that Jesus spoke…
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
Am I saying that God does not want us to give? Of course not! What I am saying is that you must stop listening to men and ask God what He wants you to give, and to whom He wants you to give. And when you give, give cheerfully, because God has shown you what to give and to whom. Do not give because you are being pressured to do so by religious leaders. Instead, wait on the Lord and let Him direct your giving. And do not give because you want to earn God’s favor, or because you are afraid of losing His favor, because you can’t earn His favor with money or anything else. If you are a disciple of Christ, you have His favor simply because you are His child.
Cheryl A. Showers