Category Archives: Bible Stories

What Would You Give for the Pearl of Great Value? Part 1

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

Matthew 13:44-46  NLT

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value…  Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value!  Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do?  They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure.  There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value.  Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…

23 Then He said to the crowd, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27  NLT

These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians.  Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.

John 14:23-24  NLT

Do you love Jesus?  If you do, you will obey Him.  If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him.  Do my words sound harsh?  They’re not my words.  Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father. 

Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…

Father, please forgive me for giving up on You.  Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief!  Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value.  Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You.  Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.  According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins.  Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!

As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind.  Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?

17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Mark 10:17-22  NLT

This man seemed to do everything right.  He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth.  Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value.  Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure (Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…

23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Mark 10:23-27  NLT

Hear me now…  People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any.  Do you wonder why this is?  It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value.  Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…

You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have…  I still have plenty of food to eat…  I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)…  I have a computer…  I have medical care when needed…  Do you see?  In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.

Yet, this fact remains.  My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it.  Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises?  Who am I depending on?  When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first?  Or did I turn to the doctor?  When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors?  Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years? 

Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself.  I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t.  So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink.  I just gave up on the great Treasure.  Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him.  Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain.  Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it. 

For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness.  Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope.  Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value.  How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?

For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study.  I didn’t want to think about it.  I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is.  Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me.  In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland.  I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof.  I shook with tremors constantly.  My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did!  To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.  

As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.”  I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed.  Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…  

Then I began to wonder,  “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me?  What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act?  What if He chooses not to heal my back?  Does this in any way devalue Him?  Is He not still, the great Treasure?  Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”

There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought…  Is Jesus your great Treasure?  Is He your Pearl of great value?  Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

When Birds Come to Nest in Your Branches

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

What is the Kingdom of Heaven?  Some say that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are two different things, but, if you examine scriptures, Jesus spoke of them interchangeably…

30 Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? 31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, 32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”

Mark 4:30-31  NLT

18 Then Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it? 19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19  NLT

So, again, where or what is the Kingdom of God?  How do we find it? 

Egypt-Christians-AP

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”

John 3:3-8  NLT

The first thing we need to understand about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, is that only those who are born again will be able to see and enter it.  He also tells us that the Kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit…

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”

Matthew 5:3  AMP

Jesus makes it clear in this verse that the poor in spirit (those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant) have the kingdom of heaven…  He doesn’t say that the kingdom will be theirs, using the future tense.  He spoke in the present tense, meaning this is already so.

Therefore, since Jesus tells us that we must be poor in spirit to receive the kingdom of heaven, and that we must also be born again, in order to even see it or enter it, we must be poor in spirit in order to be born again.  For it is when I was poor in spirit, that I recognized my absolute need for a Savior.  Because I am poor in spirit, I know that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.  I needed and I still need Jesus, and in order to be a part of His kingdom, I needed to be reborn.  I was already born of water from my mother’s womb, so now, I needed to be born of the Spirit.

“Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].”

Matthew 5:4  AMP

It is because I was (and still am) poor in spirit, that I began to mourn (repent) of my sins, and I cried out to Jesus to forgive me and save me.  In that instance, He heard the cries of my heart, and I was born again.  He had not only forgiven my sins, He had also cleansed me from all unrighteousness.  I was no longer the same.  I had been transformed, not because of my goodness, but because of His mercy and goodness.  Immediately, I became a part of the Kingdom of God, because His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  For, His temple is not in a building made by human hands.  According to His word, His temple is now within my body…

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  NASB

The kingdom of heaven is here on earth, among His children, who have been born of His Spirit.  When two or more of us gather together in His name, He is here, in the midst of us.  If you have been born again, you are a part of His kingdom, and you can see it…

So, what is this kingdom like???

mustard-seed

31 Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

Remember, in His other parables, Jesus said that the seed represents God’s word, and the crop that grows from it represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word, and produce a large harvest…

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Mustard Tree

Therefore, the tiny little mustard seed represents the word of God, planted into the hearts of man.  Then, that tiny little seed grew into an enormous tree, which represents the growth of the church.  Think about it, on the day of Pentecost, there were only about one hundred and twenty (see Acts 1:15) Christ followers, but after the Holy Spirit blew in, settling on them in the upper room, they rushed out into the streets, rejoicing.  Before the day was over, three thousand more believers had been added to their number (see Acts 2:41)!  Everyday after that, more and more believers joined them, as the church continued to grow enormously (see Acts 2:46-47).  Within a short time, the number of believers grew to five thousand (see Acts 4:4)As people were healed and witnessed many miracles, signs and wonders, crowds of men and women began to believe (see Acts 5:14)!  Indeed, as God’s message spread, the number of believers greatly increased.  Even some of the priests became believers (see Acts 6:7).

The church grew amazingly fast, and amazingly large.  Just look at how many people claim the Christian faith today.  In fact, as that mustard seed grew into a huge tree, birds came and made nests in it… Do you remember that the birds represented the evil one, snatching the word away  from the believers in the first parable we talked about in Sowing Seeds Begins with  Prayer?

Whenever scripture speaks to us in parables, they don’t change.  For instance, leaven (yeast) always represents sin.  The seeds in these stories, represents God’s word.  Likewise, the birds represent the evil one.  Whenever the word of God goes out, the enemy seeks to destroy it or snatch it away.  In this case, we see that the enemy has built nests within the church.  So, what does this mean?

In the parable we discussed yesterday, in The Wheat and the Weeds Know the Truth, we saw that the weeds, which were planted by the evil one, grew up right alongside of the wheat (true believers).  Likewise, today, we see the true believers (the church) represented by the mustard tree, and nesting within its branches, are the birds (those sent by the evil one, to snatch the word of God away from the believers).  Do you wonder if this is even possible?  Look at this warning from Jesus…

24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.

Matthew 24:24-25  NLT

There are deceivers in the church, right now.  They are in the pulpits, on committees, and in the pews.  Some may seem righteous, but their hearts are black.  Therefore, it is vital that you know the Truth, and the only way to know Truth is by having a close relationship with Jesus.  Talk to Him and study His word.

16 Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NASB

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32 NLT

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

Matthew 7:15-20  NLT

Beloved reader, if you walk in close obedience to Jesus, you will not be fooled by the birds in the tree.  Even if you are momentarily fooled, God will open your eyes to the truth, and when He does, you  must proclaim the truth of God’s word to others, so that they will not be fooled.  I’m not telling you to kill the birds, because the Lord will remove them, when the time is right.  I’m telling you to speak the truth in love and walk in truth. 

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.

Ephesians 4:15  AMP

15 Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

If you will do this, beloved, you need have no fear of the birds (enemies of God’s word) in the church (followers of Christ).

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Sowing Seeds Begins With Prayer

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Matthew 13:1-9  NLT

When Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling the Law and the prophets, He was here to seek and save those who were lost.  Yet, He knew that He would soon be leaving the earth, and He needed to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry, when He was gone.  Of course, He knew that we would have His Holy Spirit living within us, but there were still many things He needed to teach us about ministry.  Therefore, He shared this parable with the people.

Later, after He explained why He spoke in parables to His disciples, (see Why Parables) He explained the meaning  of this parable…

Birds ate seeds

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.

Matthew 13:18-19  NLT

Have you ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone, and he/she just doesn’t get it?  Even though the reality of Him is so real and so clear, this person simply can’t grasp what you’re saying.  This has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence.  I’ve known people who have read the bible from cover to cover, without ever hearing it speak to them.  It often seems like the most logical people believe in the most illogical things.  They’re more willing to believe in “coincidence”, rather than God’s answer to someone’s specific prayer.  Or, they might believe in some unproved theory, such as evolution or a cosmic disaster from which life evolved, rather than seeing the evidence of God’s creative design.

The reason for the disbelief of many of these people is found in Matthew 13:18-19  NLT.  Though they have heard the word of God, before it reached their hearts, the evil one came and snatched it away.  It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a person has, if the word of God never reaches his/her heart.  Therefore, don’t be discouraged when you meet someone like this, because you now know how to pray for him/her.  Pray that God’s word would reach this person’s heart, and that its roots would grow deep…

rocky gound

20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

Matthew 13:20-21  NLT

When I ministered in prison, I can still remember how mightily the Lord would work on the hearts of the women.  I remember one woman, in particular, who was so on fire for the Lord, and when she was released, she asked me to come to her home and pray for her, her new home, and her children, which I gladly did.  I took her to church with me, and she wept through the whole service.  She was so thankful to God for setting her free, and so was I, but, within a month, she was using crack again, and prostituting herself.  She ended up going to another prison.  It broke my heart.  I continued to pray for her for several years after this (I still pray for her, whenever I think of her, like now), and I visited her at the other prison, and again, after she was released from that prison.  The last I heard, she was living with a man that she wasn’t married to, but she was no longer using drugs.  Still, sadly, she also wasn’t walking with the Lord.  Oh, she knew the Christian lingo, but the fruit she bore, told another story.

I was really discouraged by this, and yet, it’s clear to me now, that she represented the rocky soil spoken of in Matthew 13:20-21  NLTFather, I pray, in Jesus’ name that You would break the rocky soil of my friend’s heart, until it is no longer hardened against Your word.  And I pray, Lord, that You would once again sow the seed of Your word into her heart, so that those seeds would take root, and those roots would grow deep into her heart.  Let faith grow strong within her, and rekindle the love and the joy she once felt for You, in Jesus’ name.

thorns

22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.

Matthew 13:22  NLT

Have you ever met someone who worries about everything, all the time?  As I read Matthew 13:22  NLT, my heart goes out to someone that I love dearly, and I’m moved to pray for this beloved person, for whom I haven’t known how to pray.  In all honesty, I simply get so frustrated with this loved one, that I don’t even bother to pray.  Father, forgive me for my impatience, and please touch the heart of this loved one, and remove the thorns of worry and anxiety that plague him/her constantly.  Lord, just as You sent Your word and healed many others, I ask You to send Your word to my loved one, after the thorns are removed, and heal him/her, in Jesus’ name.

fertile soil

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Of course, everyone wants to minister to someone who will truly hear and understand God’s word, but having lived with farmers for the last thirty-five years, I’ve learned a few things about soil.  Did you know that not all soil is good for planting?  Most times, soil has to be worked, fertilized and prepared for planting.  Then, once it’s been planted, it needs to be weeded and tended.  Knowing this, isn’t it just possible, that Jesus told this parable to the disciples (and to us too!), so they wouldn’t just give up on people? 

Perhaps, we need to begin praying for God to work the soil of the hearts of those we love and minister to, so they will be prepared to receive the word of God, when it is planted…

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Sacrificing to the fire of Molech

21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Moloch, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 18:21  NLT

The worship of Moloch is believed to have begun with the Phoenicians, a group of people who inhabited Canaan between 1550 BC and 300 BC.  Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility, was considered to be Moloch’s consort.  Therefore, those who worshiped Moloch, also worshiped Ashtoreth.  Sexual immorality, prostitution, fortune telling and divination, usually in a grove of trees, were all a part of Ashtoreth worship.  As part of their worship of the fertility idol, women often sacrificed either their hair or their chastity to it…

Because Ashtoreth was considered Moloch’s consort, ritual prostitution was an important part of worshiping Moloch, as well.  Yet, what sticks out in most people’s mind, when thinking of Moloch, is the abhorrent practice of sacrificing children (usually firstborn sons), to the idol, by “passing them through the fire.”  It is thought that Moloch idols were giant metal statues that had a bull’s head and a man’s body.  There was a hole in the stomach, or an open mouth, in which a fire blazed.  Parents would place their children and babies on the statue’s outstretched arms, which were angled like a ramp, so that the children would roll or slide down the slippery arms, into the raging fire, to be burned alive.  People sacrificed their infants and children to ensure prosperity for themselves and their future children.

The whole thing sounds disgusting, doesn’t it?  Just last week, I was reading about one of Judah’s most wicked kings, King Ahaz, and it was while reading about him (2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28), that I started thinking about Moloch, and the depths of mankind’s depravity…

Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years.  He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done.  Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel.  He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire.  In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.  He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.

2 Chronicles 28:1-4  NLT

Do you wonder how someone could sacrifice his/her own child to an idol?  I remember reading about this practice as a child, feeling horror that such a thing ever happened.  Now, as an adult mother of two, and grandmother of ten, I feel even greater horror that this ever took place.  Yet, what is even more disturbing to me, is the fact that this wasn’t just an isolated event in history.  You see, men and women throughout the world continue to sacrifice their children for their own prosperity.  The only thing different, is the name of their idol.  Although men and women no longer sacrifice their children to Moloch, here in the United States, they sacrifice their children to an idol called “Choice.”

Woman 20 Weeks Pregnant With Twins Has Abortion Last Week
Woman 20 Weeks Pregnant With Twins Has Abortion Last Week

Again, just last week, during the same time period that I was reading about King Ahaz, I saw an article about a mother (click picture link above), who decided to abort her unborn twin girls at twenty weeks gestation, because she already has daughters, and doesn’t want any more girls.

What an abomination!  Just as King Ahaz, sacrificed his children for selfish reasons, this woman chose to murder her unborn twins, because they  were girls.  And, just as Ahaz and this woman sacrificed their children on the altar of Moloch, or “Choice”, so, too, do many others.

The Lord said to Moses, “Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel.

“If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Moloch, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I Myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled My sanctuary and brought shame on My holy name by offering their children to Moloch. And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Moloch and refuse to execute them, I Myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Moloch.

Leviticus 20:1-4  NLT

I’m not suggesting we stone women who abort their babies, nor those doctors who perform the abortions.  However, I do believe it is important for us to cry out against abortion, and to try to influence our government legislators to revoke the current laws that legalize the murders of the unborn.  If we do not take a firm stance against the idol of “Choice,” God Himself made it clear that He would turn against us and our families, cutting us off from His community.  With 57,762,169 unborn babies aborted since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade made abortions legal in this nation, is it any wonder that our country is in such turmoil?  And yet, if we will stand against this evil, and turn from our wicked ways, God promises that He will heal our land…

14 Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14  NLT

While it’s true, the unborn are not placed on Moloch’s golden arms and rolled into the flames, as children were in Ahaz’s day, there are a number of different, but no less inhumane ways in which the unborn are sacrificed today.  Also, while they are not consumed by flames, we must understand that unborn babies feel pain, just as a newborn infant, a toddler, a child of any age, or an adult, like you and I feel pain…  (For more information, click this  link about Fetal Pain)

  • “At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG).”
    — Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto
  • An unborn baby at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain. … Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.”
    — Robert J. White, M.D., PhD., professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University

It is utterly foolish and naive to believe that abortion is the mother’s choice only, and it hurts no one else.  Obviously, it not only kills, it also hurts the tiny human within the mother’s womb.  To understand this, let’s look at what is involved in some of the abortion procedures performed in the United States…

  • RU-486 – a drug that can be taken after the mother misses her period, and can be taken up to the second month of pregnancy.  This drug works by blocking progesterone, which is necessary to nourish the developing baby.  Without this hormone, the baby cannot grow, and it will die.  A second drug is administered to stimulate the uterus, so that it will begin contracting, and the baby will be expelled.
  • Suction Aspiration – after the woman’s cervix is paralyzed and stretched open, a hollow, plastic tube is inserted in the woman’s uterus.  It has a sharp, knife-like edge as it cuts and suctions parts of the unborn baby and its placenta from the walls of the uterus into a bottle.
  • Dilation and Evacuation – performed after the third month of pregnancy.  After the cervix is dilated and expanded, the abortionist inserts an instrument (similar to pliers), grabs hold of the unbaby’s limbs, and begins tearing and pulling the limbs from the baby’s body, until all that remains is the baby’s head.  The final part of the procedure is to crush the baby’s skull and remove it.  After the procedure is completed, like a puzzle, the nurse must place the various parts in order to ensure that the entire baby was removed.

For those who wish to read more about it, there are several other abortion procedures that are performed in the U.S., which you can learn about by visiting How Are Abortions Done?  

Abortion is a violent, invasive act, and sometimes, we get so caught up in the philosophy of it, that we lose sight of the brutality of it.  Many people claim that while abortion is not for them, all women should be able to choose their own course.  For those who refuse to take sides, I have included a video of an actual abortion procedure.  To watch this procedure and still uphold a woman’s right to choose, is to endorse infanticide, which makes us no better than other countries that engage in such atrocities…

http://www.herestheblood.com/

Everyone must take a stand on this issue, and if you refuse to stand on the side of life for every unborn child, you have chosen death.  I leave you with the words that Moses spoke to the Israelites before they crossed into the promised land, and like he did, I urge you to choose life!

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

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 30:11-20  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Hosanna!

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: The Redeeming Sacrifice
Image Credit:
The Redeeming Sacrifice

He heard the roar of the crowd from a distance, as the young donkey He rode, slowly trudged toward Jerusalem.  He was a Man on a mission, and He was determined to accomplish that which He had been sent to do. Nothing or no one would stop Him.  He would do just what He and His Father had planned to do before the foundation of the earth was laid.  Indeed, for the joy that was set before Him, He would do what was necessary, enduring the pain, though He despised the shame of the cross.

Sitting astride the donkey colt, He quietly watched the throng of humanity, many dancing and shouting, and spreading their capes and coats on the ground before Him.  Others cut palm branches off the trees and laid them on the ground, so that it appeared to be a predominately green carpet (much like today’s red carpet is used for special events and for special people to walk upon),  inlaid with the colorful garments the people had laid down for the King of kings to ride upon.

Image Credit: Sweet Older Sister
Image Credit:
Sweet Older Sister

As He observed the mass of humanity singing praises and dancing before Him, Jesus didn’t just see a crowd, He noticed each individual.  He took note of the woman, whom He had healed from the issue of blood, rejoicing in His presence, and smiled gently at her.  He saw Bartimaeus, nevermore to be known as Blind Bartimaeus, since Messiah had healed him, wildly waving his palm branch when Jesus came near.  He then laid it down in front of Jesus, and prostrated himself to His Savior and Healer, in worship.  Jesus grinned at his enthusiastic worship, filled with love for each and every one of His people, as they cried out to Him with fervor, shouting:

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: Request.org
Image Credit:
Request.org

He knew that some genuinely thought that He was Messiah, but their faith was weak, and though they celebrated Him that day, they would revile Him in just a few days hence, and He felt a pang of pain in His chest.  There were others who were roaring and rejoicing with the crowd that day, and caught up in the excitement of it all, but they never knew Him.  Just a few days later, He knew that they too, would be caught up in the hysteria of another crowd, and then, they would no longer shout, “Hosanna (Save Now!) to the Son of David (the giant slayer)!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  On that day, these same people would shout, “Crucify Him!  We will take responsibility for His death – we and our children!”  Again, though the crowd rejoiced, Jesus’ heart was  heavy.  Though they had no way of knowing, He knew what was before Him, and how the journey, begun on this day, would end.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

~ Luke 19:38  NLT ~

“Rabbi (Teacher).  He heard the angry voices of the Pharisees, vying for His attention, and He fixed His saddened gaze on them.  “Rabbi, rebuke Your followers for saying things like that!”  He looked at each one of them, then, taking note of their self-righteous indignation, as they stood there piously, looking at Him and His followers with barely veiled contempt. His heart was especially heavy, as He gazed at these men, who saw, and yet didn’t see.  Perhaps their situation was the most dire, for they acted so religious, but they rejected the power that could make them godly.

Image Credit: rl-blesses.tumbler
Image Credit:
rl-blesses.tumbler

Sighing, Jesus replied to their angry demand, “I tell you, if they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”  Then, as the little donkey on which He rode, drew closer to Jerusalem, the pain in His heart was too much to contain, and He wept. As he sat upon the little donkey, and stopped to look upon Jerusalem, God’s holy city, He spoke these words, though no one responded…

42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

~ Luke 19:41-44  NLT ~

Then, setting His face like a stone, Jesus continued His trek into Jerusalem, and remembered the words of the prophet, Isaiah…

Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set My face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.

~ Isaiah 50:7  NLT ~

As I have read and reread the accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I’ve often wondered how He felt that day.  He knew who He was and why He was there. He knew that by the end of the week, He would be tortured and hung on the cross to die a painful death.  He knew that while the crowd was rejoicing, there were many, who wanted Him dead, perhaps, even some of those who rejoiced that day.  What a great love He had (and has) for us, that He was willing to endure the pain and the shame of the cross, so that we might live!

I pray that you will be blessed and take the time to meditate on all that Christ did, and still continues to do for each one of us, as we remember His life, death and resurrection this week. God bless you!

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Help Me Lord, I Need An Answer!

He had never felt so dejected, so all alone before. Though he cried out to God over and over, He was silent.  He was a strong and fearless man, as long as he was hearing the voice of God, and as long as His Spirit rested on him, but from the time of his arrest, YHWH remained silent, leaving him with nothing but time…

Time to reflect on his life and wonder, “Could it be that I misunderstood?  Is it possible that I got it all wrong?  El De’ot (God of Knowledge), please give me wisdom!  Reveal the truth to me!” he cried in anguish, thinking back on his ministry.

Image Credit: Pinterest
Image Credit:
Pinterest

He had heard of his destiny from the time he suckled on his mother’s breasts, as both parents shared the miraculous events leading up to his birth.  His father, Zechariah, a priest of the Almighty, who served in the Temple, told John about his visit from Gabriel, one of YHWH Tzevaot’s (God of Hosts’) angelic warriors.  It was Gabriel who informed Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had found favor with YHWH, and that Elizabeth would give birth to a son, whom Zechariah was to name John.  Gabriel also told his abba (father) that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth, and that he would bring joy to many.

“Adonai,” John whispered in the silent darkness of the dungeon, “from the time of my birth, I never so much as took a sip of wine or allowed any other alcoholic drink to  pass my lips, according to the command Your angel, Gabriel gave to my Abba. I lived in the wilderness, and I cried out to the people, according to Your word:

“‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…’  (Matthew 3:2  NLT)

“And Adonai, I was fearless and bold, knowing I was doing what You had called me to do. When the Pharisees and Saducees came to watch me baptizing many in Your name, I cried out to them in righteous anger:

Image Credit: Matthew James Collins
Image Credit:
Matthew James Collins

“You brood of snakes!  Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Then He will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.  (Matthew 3:7b-12  NLT)

“And El Shaddai, I was so certain, when I saw Jesus that day and baptized Him, that He was the long awaited One, but now, in this foul and wretched dungeon, I haven’t heard You speak to me, and my heart is heavy.  Could I have been wrong?  O YHWH!  Speak to me, please!”  Yet, though he cried out, there was no comfort to be found in that dreadful dungeon, where the only certainty seemed to be his impending death.

The nights were the worst, for it was then that the darkness was thickest, and it was then that the tormenting doubts were at their worst.  During the days, there was a thin shaft of light that came through a small window, high above him.  John tried to keep track of each new day, by that small bit of light, but as his strength ebbed, with little nourishment, and only a cup of water in the morning and at night, he lost all track of time.

One day, he heard the voices of his disciples, calling down to him from the small window above.  Though he couldn’t see them, he rejoiced to hear their voices, picturing each one in his mind.  His eyes filled with tears, as his disciples reported the many things that Messiah was doing.  It had been so long since he had heard a report from Adonai, and as he listened to their report, John stood up and called two of his disciples by name, telling them, “Go to Jesus for me, and ask Him:

Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

Image Credit: Christian Assembly Church
Image Credit:
Christian Assembly Church

His disciples departed quickly, to do their prophet’s bidding, while John sank to the prison floor, and closed his eyes.  Exhaustion overwhelmed him, and within minutes, he was asleep.  It was dark, when he awakened.  His throat was dry and parched, as though all of his saliva had been blown away in a desert sand storm.  Disoriented, he shook his head, trying to see in the vast darkness, but there was only black all around him.  He was unable to even see himself, let alone his surroundings.

“John!” he heard a familiar voice calling his name in the darkness, somewhere above him.  “Are you in there John?” the voice of his disciple called, as John suddenly realized where he was and who was calling out to him.

“Yes!” he tried to shout, but his dry and raspy voice sounded more like the croak of a frog, than the shout of a prophet of God.  “Did you find Him?  What news do you bring?  What did he say?”  Closing his eyes, tears welled up in them once again, and John breathed a soft prayer to El Elyon (Most High God)“Please, El Roi (God who sees me), let this be the answer to my prayers.”

“We found the Rabbi (Teacher), John,” they spoke in unison, hoping John would find comfort in their message.

“Did you ask Him if He is Messiah or if we should look for someone else?” 

“We did, John and Jesus told us to:

Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, ‘God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.’  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

“That’s all He said, John, nothing else.  Is there anything else we can do for you?”

“No,”  John said.  “You’ve done enough.  Thank you.  Go quickly now, before someone discovers you here.”  His disciples quickly departed, promising to come back to visit him again, as soon as they could.

Tears rolled freely down John’s cheeks, mingling with the mucous from his nose and falling to the dirt floor of the dungeon, as John whispered to himself, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

John repeated the words again, smiling through the tears, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

Rejoicing, John began to repeat the words of the prophet Isaiah, that his father, Zechariah had taught him so many years ago, when he was just a boy…

“And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.  The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.  The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.  Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.  And a great road will go through that once deserted land.  It will be named the Highway of Holiness.  Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.  Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.  10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.  They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.  (Isaiah 35:5-10  NLT)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”  (Isaiah 61:1  NLT)

Again, John repeated the message Jesus had given Him, laughing aloud as joy welled up within him, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

“El Chaiyai (God of my life), thank You.  This poor man cried, and You heard me and saved me out of all my troubles.  You sent Your word out to me, and it produced the fruits of joy and peace, accomplishing exactly what You meant it to accomplish, and it has prospered me.

“Thank You for Your lovingkindness in the midst of my weakness.  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.  Adonai, I am not offended because of Messiah.  I can now die in peace, because You have spoken to me in the depths of darkness and misery.”

I love this story of John the Baptist, because it shows his humanity.  John was a strong and powerful man of God.  Even Jesus, Messiah, the Son of the Living God, respected John.  In fact, after John’s disciples departed to deliver Jesus’ message to him, Jesus said this about John:

“What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, and he will prepare Your way before You.’

28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”  (Luke 7:24-28  NLT)

Do you want to know one of the reasons I love this story about John the Baptist?  It is because Jesus honored John by telling this to everyone after John had asked if He was truly the Messiah.  Jesus wasn’t angry when John, in a time of weakness, doubted.

Think about it, John’s father, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s prophecy of John’s birth to him and his wife, and because of his doubt, Zechariah was made mute, until after John’s birth.  I’m certain that his father must have shared this with his son, on more than one occasion, as he grew up, and now, John was imprisoned, and faced with his own doubts.  In light of Gabriel’s response to his father’s question, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”  (Luke 1:18  NLT)  I wonder if John feared Jesus’ response to his question, “Are You the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

It’s obvious that there is a difference in the questions that were asked.  Zechariah’s doubt stemmed from the fact that he simply didn’t believe what Gabriel had told him.  John’s doubt was different.  He was at a low point in his life (Can you relate?), imprisoned and alone, no longer able to minister as he had been called to do, and in his weakness, he became uncertain.  It wasn’t that he didn’t believe.  He had lost everything, and that’s when he started to question.

Have you ever been there?  I have.  When I was no longer able to continue ministering in prison, because of my back problems, I had questions.  If I could no longer work and no longer minister in prison, was my life over?  Was I a disappointment to God?  Had I imagined that I was called by God to minister?  Like John, I struggled with these questions.  And I cried out to God for comfort and reassurance, and for awhile, all I heard was silence.

There’s another reason why I love this story so much.  The reason why this story blesses me is because of the way that Jesus answered John’s question:

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

Jesus could have simply replied, “Yes,” but I don’t think that would have assuaged John’s doubts.  You see, John needed a word from God.  He needed to hear the word from the Word.  From the time he was in his mother’s womb, he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and after his birth, I’m certain that Zechariah and Elizabeth shared God’s word with him, in preparation for the ministry he had been called to.  Therefore, the only thing that could mend John’s broken heart and renew his hope, was the word of God.  Knowing this, Jesus answered him by quoting Isaiah’s prophecy about Messiah’s coming.

It is the same way with me, and all who seek the truth.  When I need the truth, I find it in God’s word.  When I am anxious or fearful, I find peace in the word of God.  When I am uncertain or unsure of what my next step should be, I find my answer in God’s holy word. For peace, joy, certainty and truth can only be found in the Word of God.

After having to give up my job and my prison ministry, I was crushed, because I thought God would no longer be able to use me if I was stuck at home.  And then, I heard a message from the Lord, instructing me to begin writing again, something that I hadn’t had time to do for many years.

Then the Lord said to me, “Write My answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”  (Habakkuk 2:2  NLT)

I was excited to do what He had called me to do, and then this thought came to me, “I should start a blog.”  Now perhaps that doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary to you, but at the time that thought came to me, I had no idea what a blog was.  I had heard the word before, but no one had ever explained it to me, and I was never interested enough to know what it was, until the Lord placed it in my spirit to start a blog.  Therefore, in October, 2012, I started a blog, and this has become my ministry.

Image Credit: Bob Bugg
Image Credit:
Bob Bugg

Beloved reader, are you in a dark place right now?  Do you have questions and uncertainties?  If so, I encourage you to pray and seek your answers in God’s word.  It is easier now, than ever before, to search for the answers you need from God’s word.  You have only to use your favorite search engine online, and enter “Scriptures about _________.”  You fill in the blank.

Also, you can read scriptures from just about any bible version you want at the sites listed below.  There are many other sites as well, but the top three are ones that I use most frequently.

If you are looking for answers like John the Baptist was, or like I do, I encourage you to seek those answers in the word of God.

12 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)

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Working Toward Something Good and Beautiful

Image Credit: Health Care Diary
Image Credit:
Health Care Diary

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve written or posted anything. During that time, my pain medication has been elevated, due to a continued increase in the pain I suffer. The increased pain medication has made it nearly impossible for me to write, as I have been unable to stay awake long enough to read, write or think with any clarity. Then, when the pain meds wear off, the intense pain also renders me unable to write, as I struggle unsuccessfully, to get my mind off the pain and focus on something else.

Then, in the midst of this, my FaceBook account was hacked by someone pretending to be me. This imposter created a clone of my account, and began contacting some of my friends, trying to obtain personal financial information from them. Needless to say, I reported this to FaceBook, and I’ve closed my account for the time being…

Image Credit: Landon Gilfillan
Image Credit:
Landon Gilfillan

Meanwhile, for the last nine days, my husband and I have been visiting our daughter and son-in-law, and three of our nine grandchildren. This precious time with my family has given me great joy, despite the pain I’m in, and last night, before bed, my granddaughters asked me to share a bible story with them. This completely blessed me, for there is nothing I’d rather do than share God’s word with people, and especially with my beloved grandchildren…

Therefore, I shared Daniel 1 with them last night, and I will continue sharing the story of Daniel and his friends each night for the rest of our visit… So, after beginning to tell Daniel’s story to my grandchildren and preparing to share the next chapter with them tonight, I felt a stirring within me to write. This urge to write has been missing for the last few weeks, but now, I found myself wanting to share Daniel’s story with you…

Image Credit: Point of Power
Image Credit:
Point of Power

As you may already know, when King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army invaded Judea, the Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to make Judea’s King Jehoiakim his prisoner and take him back to Babylon. The Lord also allowed his army to rob His holy Temple, carrying some of its sacred vessels back to fill the treasury of Babylon’s false gods. Among those captured in the invasion, were members of Judah’s royal family, and several members of nobility. It was from these members of royalty and nobility, that Nebuchadnezzar chose the brightest young men who were also the most handsome, to be trained to serve in his royal court.

Among those chosen to be trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court were four young men named, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Then, possibly in an attempt to make them forget their roots, one of the first things Nebuchadnezzar did, was to change the names of his captives. Thus, Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s name was changed to Shadrach, Mishael’s name became Meshach and Azariah became Abed-nego.

Image Credit: Minister to the Heart
Image Credit:
Minister to the Heart

To further enhance the change in the lives of Nebuchadnezzar’s captives, they were sent to live in his palace, where they would be trained in the Babylonian ways for three years. Daniel and his friends meekly went along with all of these changes, until they were presented with food from the king’s table. While these rations were very generous and were gratefully received by other prisoners, to be forced to partake of this food, would defile Daniel and his friends before the Lord, and they would rather die than be seen as unclean by their God. 

Therefore, carefully choosing his words, Daniel spoke for himself and his friends to the king’s chief eunuch, asking that he and his friends be served nothing but vegetables, grains and water. Ashpenaz, the chief eunuch, refused, but Daniel was persistent, and quietly spoke to the guard that the chief eunuch assigned to him and his compatriots…

12 “Please, do us a favor. Put us, your servants, to the test for the next 10 days. Give us a vegetarian diet and water. 13 When the time is up, you can see for yourself our condition and compare it to the condition of the other young men who are eating from the king’s table. Then, after you have seen what has happened, do whatever you think is best with us, your servants.”

14 So the guard agreed to do as Daniel requested. He tested them on a diet of only vegetables, grains, and water for 10 days. 15 When the 10 days were up, he looked them over and noticed that Daniel and his friends were better off than all the young men eating from the king’s best foods. They looked healthy and well nourished, 16 so the guard continued to hold back their royal rations and replaced them with a strictly vegetarian diet. 17 Through all of this, God conferred upon these 4 young men superior abilities in literature, language, and wisdom. God had given Daniel an additional gift, too: the ability to interpret visions and dreams. 18 When the 3-year period of training and conditioning, as set by the king, was over, the king sent for the candidates; the chief of the royal eunuchs himself escorted them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king interviewed all of them and found that none of the candidates were any better than Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they were each assigned an important place in the king’s court.  ~ Daniel 1:12-19  VOICE ~

As I think about this story, and I ponder my own situation, which seems so hopeless and untenable, I’m struck by the presence of God in Daniel’s life. Think about it. Daniel was a God-fearing Jewish boy, whose desire was to serve God faithfully in Judea, in the midst of God’s chosen people. Yet, instead of having his dream fulfilled, Daniel and his friends were cruelly snatched from the arms of their loved ones and deposited into the midst of heathens. Also, rather than serving the country they loved, in Jerusalem, home of God’s holy Temple, they were now forced to serve a pagan king, who served pagan gods. Nothing had gone the way it should have, and Daniel’s dreams of ministering had been snatched away from him… Or had they?

As I think about my own situation, it all seems so hopeless. I’m in so much constant pain, that I’m unable to stand and minister like I once did. My dreams of ministering for the Lord seem to be beyond my grasp right now. I’m no longer able to preach and minister in the prisons like I once did, and my dance ministry has also fallen to the wayside, for how can you dance, when merely standing, sitting, walking or laying cause excruciating pain?

Still, as I read about Daniel, I’m struck by the knowledge that God not only knew about Daniel’s situation, it seems that He orchestrated it, for His glory…

The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar the victory and allowed him to take King Jehoiakim of Judah as his prisoner. At the same time, He permitted the Babylonian king to rob God’s temple of some of its sacred vessels and carry them away to Babylonia (called Shinar), which was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to fill the treasury of his own gods, Marduk and Nebo.

After the king returned home, he commanded Ashpenaz, chief of the royal eunuchs, to bring some of the Israelites who had been taken captive to the palace. These included members of Judah’s royal family and the nobility.  ~ Daniel 1:2-3 VOICE ~

Now, if God orchestrated the events in Daniel’s life, and in the lives of His chosen people, doesn’t it seem plausible that He would also orchestrate the events in my life and yours? To be kidnapped and taken to a country far away, seems like a horrific experience, and yet, when you realize that God was behind it, this dreadful event is miraculously changed into a reason for hope and even joy. 

Likewise, a life of constant chronic pain was not a part of the life I dreamed of having. I dreamed of preaching throughout the country, in prisons and churches and wherever else God sent me, but I now see that what I had once thought was God’s will for my life, was really only my own hopes and dreams for my life. They were my plans, not His. Furthermore, knowing that this chronic pain is not some tragic misfortune caused by the devil, unbeknownst to God, but rather, it is all a part of His plan for my life, makes my current circumstances worth rejoicing over…

28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.  ~ Romans 8:28 VOICE ~

Now, as I look at Daniel, who was snatched from his home, never to return again, I can see that God orchestrated everything in his life, changing it into something beautiful and good. So, if God orchestrated Daniel’s painful events into something good and beautiful, don’t you think it’s possible (even likely) that since I love Him, He has been orchestrating everything in my life to work toward something good and beautiful?

What about you, beloved reader? Have your circumstances been difficult? Be of good cheer. For as long as you love Him and are called according to His purpose, God will orchestrate everything in your life to work toward something good and beautiful.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers