Category Archives: Devotions

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Don’t Teeter On the Edge

Today is the day that millions of Christians around the world celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  After suffering, bleeding, and dying for the sins of mankind, Christ descended into hell, to preach to those men and women who died in the great flood. 

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but He died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but He was raised to life in the Spirit. 

19 So He went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood.

1 Peter 3:18-20  NLT

1 Peter 3-18What a wonderful reason to celebrate!  Jesus suffered and died for our sins (yours and mine) once, for all time, in order to bring us safely home to God.  He suffered a physical death, and then He was raised to life in the Spirit.  And because His love for mankind extended even to those who were dead, He even went and preached to those spirits who were in prison, every single man, woman and child, who had died in the great flood.  The scriptures don’t say what came of that, and I’m not going to even venture a guess.  All that I can say for sure, is that those lost souls were blessed to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.

Now, you may be wondering what any of that has to do with us, and rightfully so.  You see, even though this is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, I can’t help but think about the many people who are teetering on the edge of a great precipice.  For, although many faithfully attend church on Easter Sunday, dressed in their beautiful new springtime fashions, and many claim to be children of God, how many truly do know Him?  And does church attendance have anything to do with it?

The fact is that for many years, I went to church, took my children to Sunday School, was a fairly nice person, and whenever anyone asked about my religion, I said I was a Methodist or a Christian, even though I really had no relationship with Jesus.  I did my best to teach my children right from wrong, and I went to church, because I thought it was good for my  children.  I didn’t go because I needed to go to church.  I had no idea that I, like many of you today, was teetering on the edge of a steep cliff, ready to fall into the deep abyss of hell, below.

Deuteronomy 30-19

Beloved reader, do you know that it’s not enough to say you’re a Christian, if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus?  It’s not enough to go to church every Sunday, or only on the special Sundays, if you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sins.  Beloved, it isn’t enough to be a good person, because the fact is, that no one is good enough to  be a child of God. 

10 As the Scriptures say,

“No one is righteous—
    not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
    no one is seeking God.
12 All have turned away;
    all have become useless.
No one does good,
    not a single one.”

Romans 3:10-12  NLT

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

Romans 3:23  NLT

Think about it, beloved reader.  What would have been the point of Jesus suffering and dying for the sins of mankind, if we were already good enough to get to heaven without Him?  If that was the case, He could have stayed in heaven, and we could have worked our way  there.  But that wasn’t the case, because as the scriptures clearly say, there wasn’t even one person who was good enough. 

Therefore, knowing that none of us could come to the Father on our own, Jesus made the way open to people like you and me.  He knew that based on our own merit, each and every one of us was condemned to death…

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

Beloved, there is only one way to reach the Father, and that way is through Jesus Christ, His One and only Son.  You see, long ago, before the foundation of the world, God, through Christ, made this way for mankind.  Now, how is that for love?  Before He made us in His own image, He knew we would sin and rebel against Him, and He could have just changed His mind and said, “Forget it.  They’re too much trouble,” but He didn’t.  Instead, He made a way for us, the Only way.

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

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.

Ephesians 1:4-7  NLT

You see, beloved, God doesn’t care about your pretty new Easter outfit, or your new Easter bonnet.  He cares about you.  More specifically, He cares about your heart.  Whom, or What do you love best?  For that is your real God.  Do you love Jesus?  Or do you love family, friends, power or money more?  Beloved, it isn’t what we call ourselves that makes us a Christian or not.  WHO or WHAT we have placed first in our hearts that really matters.

Let me just briefly share with you the depths of God’s love for you…

16 For this is how God loved the world: 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

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8  NLT

Finally, beloved, the scriptures are very clear that salvation is found in Christ alone…

12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Acts  4:12  NLT

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 declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11  NLT

Beloved, God has made the way of salvation very clear, and contrary to what many believe, there is NO other way.  Therefore, if you are teetering on the edge, I beg you to cry out to Jesus!  For if you teeter on the edge for too long, you may find that it’s too late.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers


Edge

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.

What Are You Worth?

Price

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.


If you were to put a price on yourself, what would you say you’re worth?  Would you say you are worthy of all the love, joy and peace that every human longs for?  Or would you say you’re worthless?  How do you value yourself?  Is your value based on what others say about you?  Or is it based on what you think of yourself?  Do you think more highly of yourself than you should?  Or do you devalue yourself?  How should we value ourselves?

1 Peter 1-18-19

It makes sense to look to the One who created us.  He alone knows why He made us, and what we were made for.  How does God, our Creator value us?  In order to understand how God values us, it is important to know what our purpose is.  What were we created for?


Bring all who claim Me as their God, for I have made them for My glory.  It was I who created them.

Isaiah 43:7  NLT


We were created for God’s glory.  Think about that.  We weren’t created to be garbage thrown in a rubbish heap.  We weren’t created to be nothing or no one.  We were created for God’s glory.  Do you know what that means?

It means that everyone who is reading this post right now, and struggling with his/her self-worth, must now realize that you were created for a great purpose.  Dictionary.com defines glory this way:


noun, plural glories

  1. very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown:  to win glory on the field of battle.
  2. something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride:  a sonnet that is one of the glories of English poetry.
  3. adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving:  Give glory to God.
  4. resplendent beauty or magnificence:  the glory of autumn.
  5. a state of splendor, magnificence, or prosperity.
  6. a state of absolute happiness, gratification, contentment, etc.:  She was in her glory when her horse won the Derby.
  7. the splendor and bliss of heaven; heaven.

This is life-changing.  If everyone, who calls themselves a child of God, could see themselves through His eyes, it could change the world.  When I see that I was created to bring the glory to God that is due Him, it changes me.  No longer am I content to remain stagnant, for I was created to give glory to God Almighty, my Creator, and the Creator of the universe.

Matthew 10-29-31

I can no longer view myself as stupid or worthless, (things that others have said about me), because God created me to bring glory to Him, and how can something with no worth glorify God?  Furthermore, how can something stupid accomplish the goal that God has set forth for him/her to accomplish?

What else does God say about our worth?  Let’s begin at the beginning…


26 Then God said, “Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in His own image.
    In the image of God He created them;
    male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:26-27 NLT


Beloved reader, you need to understand this, not only with your mind, but with your heart and soul as well.  I don’t care if you were born with all of your limbs, some of your limbs, or none of your limbs.  It matters not whether you’re as smart as someone else, or whether you’re a slow learner.  It doesn’t matter if you like what you see when you look in the mirror, or if you don’t like it.  None of these things matter, because YOU were created in the image of God.  Do you understand this?  YOU were created to give God glory, and He created YOU in His image.  Therefore, when you look in the mirror, and hate what you see, you are not just hating yourself, you are hating the Creator who made YOU in HIS image.  You not only see yourself as worthless, but you see your Creator as worthless, because YOU look like HIM!

What else does your Creator say about your worth???


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

17 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!

Psalm 139:13-18 NLT


Let’s really take the time to examine this passage, because it really shows our value in God’s eyes.  In verse 13, we read that God made all of the delicate, inward parts of our bodies.  He made the parts we can see, and the parts that can’t be seen.  He made the parts we like, and He made the parts that sometimes bring us shame.  He made every single delicate inward part of our bodies, and He labored over them too.

Psalm 139-13-14

For those who have ever knitted anything, or tried to knit, you know that it is a labor intensive skill.  In order to execute it properly, the one who is knitting must pay careful attention to each stitch, because just one slipped or missed stitch can ruin the entire piece.  Not only must careful attention be paid, but the knitter must also possess a high degree of skill, for the project to turn out properly.  Knitting is not something to be rushed through.  It takes time, patience, and skill.  Therefore, when you realize that God carefully knit you together in your mother’s womb, you realize that He was taking special care during the nine months that you were being created in your mother’s womb.


14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:14 NLT


Just look at this!  God wasn’t just making some simple little sweater, when He created you.  He was creating a wonderfully complex being, unlike any other that He had created before.  He was creating the unique individual that is you, and His workmanship on you (and me too) was marvelous!  Go ahead.  Look in that mirror again, and take a really good look at the wonderfully marvelous person that God created to bring Him glory.


15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:15-16 NLT


Let this thought fill you.  While you were being created in utter seclusion, God was watching over you.  He saw you before you were born, and you were so precious to Him, that He wrote a book about YOU.  He wrote about every single moment that would happen in your life, including this moment, right now, as you read these words.  He didn’t just dictate what your life would be like.  He wrote this book about you, because He knew you, and He knew the things you would go through, and the choices (both the good and the bad) you would make.  He wrote this book, because you were so important, so valuable to Him, that your life was worth writing about.


17 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!

Psalm 139:17-18 NLT


Understand this, beloved reader.  God thinks about you – alot!  In fact, He thinks of you so much, that His thoughts of you cannot be numbered, and each one of those thoughts are precious! In order for you to truly understand how important this is, let’s see how dictionary.com defines precious


adjective

  1. of high price or great value; very valuable or costly:  precious metals.
  2. highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality:  precious memories.
  3. dear; beloved:  a precious child.

Beloved reader, God’s thoughts of you are precious, because you are of great value to Him.  You are His precious child, created for His glory.  Indeed, His love for you is so great, that He willingly sent His only Son to pay the penalty for your sins (and mine!).  It was for you (and me too!) that Jesus willingly suffered, bled and died, so that we wouldn’t have to.  Jesus went to death, hell and the grave, and on the third day, He arose from the grave, so that you and I could live eternally.  And though it is appointed once for a man to die, judgment follows, and those who are called children of God, the ones whom He created for His glory, will arise to everlasting life…

So, beloved reader, what are you worth?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Legacy

Legacy

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


I’ve thought often about the legacy I will leave when I’m gone, especially as I grow older.  I want to leave a lasting legacy of good.  I don’t have to be remembered by a lot of people.  What’s more important is that people remember that “Jesus Led Me All The Way.”

Jesus Led Me All the Way

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NLT

I want to leave my children and my children’s children the great gift of knowing and loving Jesus.  I would be beyond happy, if when people spoke of me after I’m gone, they would say, “The only thing I can remember about Cheryl is that when she prayed for me, I felt the powerful presence of God.”   It would bless me if someone said, “She reflected God’s presence in her life.” 

As crazy as this may sound to some, I want to leave behind a world that hates me, not because I was hateful to the world, but let them hate me because they hate my Lord and Savior.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to Me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of Me, for they have rejected the One who sent Me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate Me and My Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated Me without cause.’

John 15:18-25 NLT

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.

2 Peter 2:11-12 NLT

I want to leave a legacy of honor and truth, not only to those who love me, but also to those who hate me.  I want to share the unfailing love that I have received from God, to all that I come in contact, whether they return that love or not.  My hope is that with each day and each year that passes, I will be more and more like Jesus, so that those who know me, will see past my flaws, and see Christ, who lives within me.  Finally, when my time in this life is over, let this  song be sung at my funeral, and let this phrase from the song, by Fanny Crosby, be written on my tomb:  “Jesus Led Me All the Way”

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

God Hears Our Voice, and He Answers Us

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

A friend of mine wrote a short post on Facebook, thanking God for listening to us, and for not only listening, but for speaking to us as well, and the Spirit within me leaped for joy.  Have you ever taken the time to meditate on that thought?

Just think, the God and Creator of the universe and all that is within it, not only hears my voice, but He recognizes it from the noisy cries and shouts of billions of people, and animals, and machinery.  He hears my weakest whisper in the midst of bombs going off, gunshots ringing, and the shouts of angry mobs, and in spite of all that the God of all must do, He’s not too busy to pause and listen to me.  And just think, with all that He is doing, to prepare for great and terrible day of the Lord, He makes time to speak to me, and not just to me, but to everyone who calls upon His name!

Just stop what you’re doing right now, and think about that for a minute…  If you are a child of God, He listens to you, when you cry out to Him, and even when you’re too weak to utter His name, and when you don’t even know how to pray or what to pray for, He sends His Spirit to pray for you…

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 NLT

Isaiah 65-24

I don’t know about you, but I find that so encouraging.  When I am at my weakest, and everyone else has turned their backs on me, God hears my cries, and He answers them.  When I have failed God, and broken His heart yet again, in His mercy, He still listens to me when I cry out to Him.

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell you what He did for me.
17 For I cried out to Him for help,
    praising Him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw His unfailing love from me.

Psalm 66:16 NLT

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times God has heard my cries and delivered me.  And when I have forgotten how great His love is for me and for you, He reminds me yet again, by listening, and responding to my cries.  And get this, this love that I’m telling you about is not just aimed at me.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  His love for us knows no bounds.  If you won’t take my word for it, then take King David’s…

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles...

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:4-6, 15-17 NKJV

Imagine that!  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this, yet I know it is true, because this poor woman has cried out to the Lord over and over again, and He has heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears.

How can I help but respond with love to the One who loves me with such a fierce love?  How can my heart not beat faster at the sound of His voice?  How can I not love the One who sacrificed everything for my sake?  How can you not love the One who gave His all for you, and leans close to hear your voice?

I love the Lord because He hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalm 116:1-2 NLT

Thank You Father, for the great love You have for Your children.  Thank You for hearing our voices above the cacophony all about us, and most importantly, thank You for actually listening and responding to us, too.  Thank You, Lord for Your still small voice, and help us, help me, to be still, and listen. 

Help me to wait on You Lord, and teach me how to bless You, just as You bless me.  Lord, I pray that those who read this will rejoice in You, because no matter what’s going on in the world, You still have time to listen to Your children, and to answer them.  Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that You will continue to hear us when we call upon You, and that You will continue to answer and show us great and mighty things that we don’t know.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience – How Important is it Really???

Many believers are under the misconception that because we are saved by grace, obedience is no longer necessary.  In fact, there are some who consider grace to be a license to sin.  So, in response to these prevailing attitudes, I have a question…  How important is obedience, really?

love-is-obedience

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to His voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23 NLT

Yes, this is an Old Testament reference, but let’s not forget this fact; the New Testament God we serve, is the same God who was in the Old Testament, and He hasn’t changed…

I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:6-7 NLT

22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The people surrounded Him and asked, “How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe Me. The proof is the work I do in My Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe Me because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29 for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are One.

John 10:22-30 NLT

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 NLT

17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

James 1:17 NLT

You see, beloved friends, whether we lived in Old Testament times, New Testament times, or in the hereafter, God remains the same.  Therefore, since God found obedience pleasing in Old Testament times, and since He hasn’t changed, then we can infer that God still finds obedience pleasing and that He always will.  Furthermore, when we rebel against God by disobeying Him, then we have committed a sin as bad as the sin of witchcraft.  And though we are saved by grace, through faith, (Praise God!), God still commands and desires our obedience.

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Moreover, because Jesus and God the Father are One, then His commands are God’s commands, just as God’s commands are His.  So, when we read Jesus’ words, we can also deduce that His words are God’s words, and it is the Lord who tells us:

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

Do you love Him?  Then, you MUST obey His commandments.  We don’t obey His commandments in order to be saved, because we know that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus…

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

Therefore, we respond to God with love, as a result of His wonderful gift of salvation to us, and if we love Him, then we will obey His commandments.  What’s more, obedience is so important to Jesus, that He spoke to His disciples about it the night before He died…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

I’ll ask you again.  Do you love Jesus???  Let’s see what He says about love and obedience…

“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.

John 15:9-17 NLT

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The scriptures are very clear.  Obedience is absolutely necessary, if we love God.  It’s not an option; it’s a requirement, not for salvation, but for remaining in God’s love.  Think about it.  If Jesus’ whole life was lived in obedience to God, then how can we even begin to think that we are exempt from obedience?  Again, make no mistake, we must obey God, if we call ourselves His children…

46 So why do you keep calling Me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to Me, listens to My teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.

Luke 6:46-49 NLT

21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

Beloved friends, it doesn’t matter how eloquent a preacher is, if he doesn’t live in obedience to God, it means nothing.  It doesn’t matter how much you talk about the love of God, if you don’t obey Him, you simply don’t love Him, and if you don’t love Him and obey Him, then how can you remain in His love?  Do I sound harsh?  These aren’t my words, or my interpretation of the scriptures.  This is what Jesus said…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.

John 14:21 NLT

“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.

John 15:9-10 NLT

Beloved, here is the truth.  If you have been saved by God’s grace, you can’t help but respond to Him in love, and the out-flowing of that love is the desire to please the One who loved us, while we were still lost in sin.  When you truly love Christ, it isn’t a sacrifice to give up on our old ways.  What becomes of utmost importance to us, is the yearning to live a life that brings glory and honor to Him, and disobedience no longer has any place in our lives.

Does this mean that we will never mess up again?  Of course not!  As long as we walk in this body of flesh, there will be times when we sin and fall short of God’s glory.  The difference between one who lives a life of obedience for Christ, and fails from time to time, and one who refuses to live a life of obedience, is that the one will fall, repent, and cry out to God for mercy and help, while the other will justify his/her sin.

As you can see, beloved reader, obedience is not an option.  It is vital to the life all who truly love Christ.  So, let’s examine our own hearts and ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Does my love show in my obedience to His word?”  Please join me in praying this prayer that David prayed…

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience = Love/How to Be Filled With the Holy Spirit

Spirit filled

18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18-19  NLT

The first part of Ephesians 5:18, (Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…”) is a no-brainer.  We’ve all known and loved people who allow drunkenness to ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones as well.  Too much liquor over a short time, can at the very least, cause people to act foolishly, and at the very most, cause death, either from alcohol poisoning, or by drinking and driving.  Drunkenness leads to a loss of self-control, and clouds one’s mind, leading to broken families, broken marriages and much pain, to oneself and to those who care about that person.  This is a warning that all should heed.

Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.

Ephesians 5:18b-19

… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  Be filled with the Holy Spirit…  What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit?  On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples how to be filled with the Holy Spirit…

john14_15-16

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you. 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live. 20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. 21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”

John 14:15-21  NLT

Let’s examine this passage closely, and see what Jesus says about being filled with the Holy Spirit.  The very first thing we must do, according to Jesus is to love Him and obey His commandments.  Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I love Jesus?”  If we do, we will obey His commandments.  These aren’t my words or interpretation, they are the words of Jesus…

15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15  NLT

Those are powerful words.  Obedience isn’t popular these days.  Perhaps obedience has never been popular, but it is absolutely necessary, especially if we claim to  love Jesus.  Do you love Jesus?  If you do, obey Him.  Do you hate Him?  Then don’t obey Him.  It’s just that simple.  Those who truly love Jesus, obey Him.  Jesus makes this very clear to us.

22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

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. 25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. 26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”

John 14:22-26  NLT

A lot of people say they love Jesus, but their lives tell another story.  All who truly love Jesus will do what He says.  Again, those aren’t my words.  They are the words of Jesus.  Anyone who doesn’t love Him, will not obey Him.  These words force us to examine our own hearts.  Do I obey Jesus?  Or do I rebel against Him?  What are Jesus’ commandments?  An expert in religious law once asked Jesus this question:

36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40  NLT

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Do we love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?  According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest command.  Therefore, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will obey His commandments, and that means that not only will we love Him, but we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves. 

So, who is our neighbor?  When He was asked that question, by an expert of religious law, Jesus answered by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to an injured man, who normally would have been his enemy; while those who should have loved him and cared for him, left him to die.  (See Luke 10:30-37)  Therefore, according to Jesus, our enemies are our neighbors, and we must show them love and mercy.

So, let’s ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Do I truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?”  If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must obey His commands.  We must love our neighbor and our enemy, as we love ourselves…

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.

Before we continue with our study of being filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s examine our own hearts.  This command that Jesus gives us is not an easy command.  It isn’t easy to obey this command to love our enemies. 

I’ve heard many people preach and teach about loving your enemy, and I’ve heard a lot of false teaching about it, so I want to be sure that we truly understand Jesus’ command.  The best example for knowing how to love our enemy comes from none other than Jesus.  Let’s see how He handled His enemies, beginning with His betrayer, Judas Iscariot…

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God. So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.

John 13:1-5  NLT

Fully aware that Judas Iscariot had betrayed Him, Jesus still chose to lovingly wash his feet.  Later, after the foot washing was done, Jesus spoke about His betrayer…

18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats My food has turned against Me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah. 20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes My messenger is welcoming Me, and anyone who welcomes Me is welcoming the Father who sent Me.”

21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!”

John 13:18-21  NLT

Think about what Jesus must have felt as He knelt down on His knees to wash Judas Iscariot’s feet, knowing that this man, whom He had loved and cared for, was His betrayer.  What strength Jesus showed, in kneeling before him, and washing his feet, just as He had washed the feet of His other disciples.  What kindness He showed Judas, by not revealing His betrayer’s identity to the other disciples…

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom He could mean. 23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. 24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s He talking about?” 25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

26 Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. 27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” 28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. 29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

John 13:22-30  NLT

Whenever I read John 13, I can’t help but marvel at the great love Jesus showed to His betrayer.  Although He knew very well that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), as well as His betrayer, Jesus treated Him with great lovingkindness and mercy.  Just think about it, the closer you are to someone, the more painful the betrayal.  Jesus loved His disciples like brothers, and this brother’s betrayal cost Jesus His life.  Yet, even knowing this, Jesus didn’t shout his name out, so the other disciples would perhaps take care of Judas Iscariot on their own, and get rid of  him, using any means necessary.  Instead, Jesus lived what He taught.  He lived a life of love and obedience.

What about you?  Have you ever been betrayed?  Have you been stolen from, lied to, used or abused?  Do you love your abuser?  Or do you hold on to your pain, hating those who have hurt you and betrayed you?  Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?  Then choose to obey Jesus’ commandments, starting with His command to love…

Father, I pray that You would touch the heart of every person who reads these words, and that You would fill our hearts with Your love.  Help us to love those who don’t love us.  Help us to love those who love those who have harmed us.  Help us to love others, just as You have loved us.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers