Category Archives: Heart Songs

Addressing the Elephant in the Room…

When his brothers got ready to leave Egypt, Joseph called the manager of his palace once again, and ordered, “Fill the men’s packs with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money just inside his pack.  Then, put my silver goblet just inside the youngest one’s pack, along with his grain money.”  The manager of the palace did as he was commanded.

The brothers left with their donkeys at daybreak, but before they were far from the city, Joseph gave this order to his palace manager, “Chase after those men and when you catch them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!'”

So, the palace manager took off and chased them, and when he caught up with the brothers, he exclaimed, “Why have you repaid good with evil?  Why did you take my master’s silver cup that he uses to predict the future?  What you have done is evil!”

Joseph’s brothers were shocked at the man’s accusation, and replied, “Why do you speak this way, my lord?  We would never do such a thing, may heaven forbid it!  Don’t you remember?  When we found the money inside our packs, we brought it back to you from the land of Canaan!  So how could you think that we would steal silver or gold from your lord’s palace?”  Confident that they were guilty of no crime, they finished with, “If you find the goblet on any one of us, put him to death — and the rest of us will serve as your slaves!”

“No,” the palace manager replied.  “The one who has my lord’s silver goblet will be my slave, but the rest of you will be blameless.”  Then, each one of the brothers hurriedly placed his pack on the ground and opened them.  The manager searched each bag, starting with the eldest brother, and ending with the youngest, and he found the governor’s silver goblet where he had planted it, in Benjamin’s pack.

When the brothers saw this, they moaned and ripped their clothes in grief.  Each of them remembered their father’s fearful countenance, when he had finally allowed Benjamin to travel to Egypt with them.  Losing Benjamin, on top of his continued grief for Joseph, would kill him, and then, his death would be on their shoulders, too.  Each of them, except for Benjamin, who didn’t know of their sin against Joseph, realized their sins had finally caught up with them.  They believed that God’s retribution was finally upon them.  Therefore, each one quickly reloaded his donkey and returned to the city to face the governor.

Joseph was still in his palace, when Judah and his brothers arrived, and all of them fell down before him on the ground, trembling with fear.  Joseph was startled to see that all of them had returned, and he said, “How could you do this to me?  Don’t you know that I’m able to see into the future?”

Judah fearfully replied, “O my lord, what can we say?  There’s no way for us to prove our innocence.  God is repaying us for our sins, so here we are.  We have all returned to be your slaves, not just the one with whom my lord’s silver cup was found!”

Again, his brothers surprised him, and Joseph replied, “Heaven forbid!  I would never do such a thing.  Only the man who stole my goblet will be my slave, and the rest of you may go in peace to your father.”

Judah’s heart broke as he remembered both his father’s fear of losing Benjamin just as he’d lost Joseph, and the promise that he had made to protect Benjamin from harm.  So, he arose and beseeched Joseph, “Please, my lord!  May I speak freely with you, without arousing your anger?  For you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself.” 

At Joseph’s nod, Judah proceeded, “Do you remember when you asked us, ‘Do you have a father?  Or a brother?’  We truthfully answered your questions, my lord, telling you about our father, who is an old man, and about our youngest brother, who is a child of his old age.  We told you that this youngest brother also had a full brother, who is dead, and that he alone is all that remains of his mother’s children, and our father loves him greatly.

“Then, when you ordered us to bring our brother down to you, so that you could see him, we told you, ‘The boy can’t leave his father, for if he were to leave him, our father would surely die.’  When we told you this, my lord, you said that we would not see your face again, unless we brought our brother back with us, so we went back home to your servant, my father, and told him what you had said, and when our father told us to return to Egypt to buy some grain, we told him that we couldn’t.

“We said, ‘We can’t go down to Egypt again, unless our youngest brother is with us, because the governor won’t let us see his face without him.'”

Wiping tears from his eyes, Judah drew a deep breath, and continued, “Then your servant, my father, said, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons.  The one left and never returned, for he was surely torn to pieces by some wild animal.  Now, if you take this son away from me too, and something happens to him, you will send this white-haired old man down to his grave with grief.’

“So, how can I go to your servant, my father, without his youngest son?  For his heart is bound up with the boy’s heart, and when he sees the boy isn’t with us, it will kill him.  If his heart is broken yet again, the grief will send our white-haired father to his grave, and it will be my fault.  For I, your servant, guaranteed my brother’s safety.  I told my father, ‘If I fail to bring him to you, then I will bear the blame forever.’

“Therefore, my lord, I beg you to let me stay as your slave instead of the boy, and let him return home to my father with our brothers.”  Judah sobbed, remembering Jacob’s pain when he lost Joseph, because of his and his brothers’ sin.  Now, more than twenty years later, his father still grieved for Joseph, and losing Benjamin would no doubt kill him.  “Please, my lord,” Judah pleaded, “allow me to stay as your slave, and let Benjamin return to our father, for I couldn’t bear to see his anguish, if I return without him.”

When he saw their compassion and discerned their repentance, Joseph could contain himself no longer.  He ordered his servants and attendants to leave the room immediately.  Then, when no one but his brothers remained, Joseph wept loudly, and revealed himself to them.  More than twenty years of torment were loosed with Joseph’s tears.  Indeed, he wailed so loudly, his entire household and even Pharaoh’s household heard his keening.

“I am Joseph!” he gasped in the midst of his wailing.  “Is it true that my father, Jacob, still lives?”  His brothers were so dumbfounded at the governor’s actions, that they couldn’t speak at first.  So, Joseph beckoned his brothers, “Please!  Come closer.”

elephant in the room 3

They approached him hesitantly, as fear and hope warred within each of them.  “I’m Joseph, your brother, whom you sold as a slave to Egypt,” he told them.  Their eyes widened in alarm, as the truth of their sin was finally exposed, and the elephant in the room was addressed for the first time in more than twenty years.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said, as the tears continued to flow down his cheeks.  He looked into the eyes of each of his brothers, who had betrayed him, starting with Reuben, the oldest, all the way down to Zebulun.  As he looked into each of their eyes, they at first tried to avert his gaze, but then they each looked back at him, and tears soon flowed from their eyes too.

Meanwhile, Benjamin stared at Joseph, completely enthralled by his brother, and filled with joy.  He couldn’t wait to share the good news with his father that Joseph, who had been lost to them for more than twenty years was found.  He couldn’t wait to see his father’s joy when he discovered that his son, whom he thought was dead, still lived!

Joseph grinned at him, then turned back to his other brothers.  “Don’t be sad and angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here,”  Joseph said again, as he fully addressed the elephant in the room.  “For it was really God who sent me ahead of you to preserve your lives.  Indeed, the famine that has been over the land for the last two years will continue for yet another five years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

“Don’t you see?”  Joseph asked.  “God sent me ahead of you to ensure that you will have descendants on earth and to save your lives in a great deliverance.  So, it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of all his household and ruler over the whole land of Egypt.”

Joseph drew closer to them and said, “Brothers, hurry up and go to my father.  Tell him that Joseph says, ‘Elohim has made me lord of all Egypt!  Come down to me and don’t delay!  You will live in the land of Goshen and be near me with your children, your grandchildren, flocks, herds and everything you own.  I will provide for you there, so you won’t be impoverished because five more years of famine are yet to come.’

Artistic close up of an African elephant in black and white

“Brothers, you can see with your own eyes see that it truly is me, Joseph, speaking to you.  Benjamin, you see with your own eyes that I am truly Joseph, your long-lost brother!  Now go,”  Joseph said, as yet more tears began to flow from his eyes.  “Tell my father how honored I am in Egypt and everything you have seen, and hurry up and bring him down here to me!”  Finally, Joseph gathered Benjamin into his arms, and wept as he embraced him.  Benjamin, too, wept into Joseph’s neck.  Joseph then kissed all of his brothers, washing them with his tears.  Then, Joseph’s brothers finally began to speak to him, and each one finally gazed at the elephant in the room, the horrible sin they had tried to bury, and addressed it…

If we acknowledge our sins, then, since he is trustworthy and just, he will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.  (1 John 1:9 Complete Jewish Bible)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

When All Hope is Gone…

The burden Joseph’s brothers carried on their shoulders, when nine of them, and not ten, left Egypt was crushing.  “How are we going to tell Abba that Simeon is now imprisoned in Egypt, and their governor wants to see Benjamin as well?”  Reuben choked out, as he fought back the tears that flowed freely from his other brothers eyes.  As the eldest brother, he had to be strong for the others.  “This could kill him!”

“I know,” Judah sighed.  “But perhaps El Shaddai will show him mercy.  For it was we, who sinned against Him, when we sold Joseph into slavery and death, not Abba.  This punishment should be ours alone.”

“Maybe,”  Levi said.  “But I’ve noticed that every time we sin against El Shaddai, everyone, even the innocent, ends up suffering.  Look at Abba.  He has suffered enormously since Joseph died, and look at Benjamin.  He certainly committed no sin, and yet, he too, has suffered.  Since Joseph’s death, Abba won’t let him out of his sight.  He smothers Benjamin in his grief.”

The brothers nodded in agreement, then fell silent, as they made their way home, with their donkeys.  They made camp by a river, as the sun began to set, and a few collected firewood, while others led the donkeys to the river to drink.  Then, after the donkeys had their fill of water, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and discovered his money on top of the grain.  He face paled, and he began to tremble, as he called for his brothers to come.  “Look!  My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!”

Their hearts sank, as they gazed at the money in his sack of grain, and they, too, began to tremble.  Fear filled their hearts and minds, and they asked each other, “What has God done to us?”  But no one had an answer to that question.  Needless to say, no one slept well that night, and they were up before dawn.  They quickly packed their belongings, and were headed home, just as the sky began to lighten.

When the brothers got home to the land of Canaan, they went to see their father, Jacob.  There was no point in putting things off.  “Did you get the grain?”  Jacob asked, expectantly.

“Yes Abba,” Reuben spoke for the group, and continued, “but the man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us.  He accused us of being spies scouting the land.  We told him that we are honest men, not spies.  We said that we are twelve brothers, sons of one father.  We told him that one brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan,

“Then the man who is governor of the land said, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men.  Leave one of  your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  Then I will know you are honest men and not spies.  Then I will give you back your  brother, and you may freely trade in the land'”

Tears welled up in Jacob’s eyes, as he gazed at his sons.  “He took Simeon?”  Jacob whispered and the brothers nodded, with their eyes downcast.  Then they opened their sacks, and everyone saw the bag of money, which they had used to pay for the grain, in each man’s sack.  Jacob began to wail, and he mournfully ripped his robe, as terror swept over him and his sons. Then he exclaimed to them, “You are robbing me of my children!  Joseph is gone!  Simeon is gone!  And now you want to take Benjamin, too.  Everything is against me!”

Reuben knelt down in front of his father, and the tears he had kept at bay for so long, ran down his face and into his beard.  He gently placed his hands on his father’s shoulders and waited for Jacob to look into his eyes.  Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you.  I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

Overwhelmed by grief and anguish, Jacob had lost all hope.  He had forgotten that El Shaddai, the All Sufficient God, cared for him and his sons.  He forgot the visions and dreams he had received from El Shaddai over the years.  He forgot the many times El Shaddai had provided for him and his family.  He forgot the promises El Shaddai had made to him, his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham, before him.  In his pain, Jacob was blind to the many blessings El Shaddai had given him.  He only saw what he had lost. “My son will not go down with you,” he spat at Reuben.  “His brother, Joseph, is dead, and he is all I have left.  If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.”

Beloved reader, have you ever felt such searing pain and loss?  Have you been so blinded by grief that you are no longer able to even see the many blessings God has given you?  I have.  When such agony envelops you, it is impossible to rise above it, as wave after wave of despair encompasses you.  But thanks be to God!  Even in the midst of our suffering, He is with us, ready to heal and deliver us from those broken places, if we will seek His face.  When we are overwhelmed with hopelessness and grief, let’s cry out to God, as this psalmist did:

Psalm 42
Complete Jewish Bible

Just as a deer longs for running streams,
God, I long for you.
I am thirsty for God, for the living God!
When can I come and appear before God?

My tears are my food, day and night,
while all day people ask me, “Where is your God?”
I recall, as my feelings well up within me,
how I’d go with the crowd to the house of God,
with sounds of joy and praise from the throngs
observing the festival.

My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for the salvation that comes from His presence.
My God, when I feel so downcast,
I remind myself of You
from the land of Yarden, from the peaks of Hermon,
from the hill Mizar.
Deep is calling to deep
at the thunder of Your waterfalls;
all Your surging rapids and waves
are sweeping over me.
By day Adonai commands His grace,
and at night His song is with me
as a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
under pressure by the enemy?
10 My adversaries’ taunts make me feel
as if my bones were crushed,
as they ask me all day long,
‘Where is your God?’ ”

11 My soul, why are you so downcast?
Why are you groaning inside me?
Hope in God, since I will praise Him again
for being my Savior and God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

The Heavy Weight…

When Jacob’s ten eldest sons left Canaan for Egypt, guilt weighed heavily on each of them.  Foremost in their hearts and minds was the image of their father, so frail and old now, with fear for his youngest son, Benjamin etched in his face, as he refused to let him travel with them.  Their father had been such a strong and vital part of their lives, as he cared for them and their mothers over the years.  He had always had such a strong, unshakable faith in El Shaddai, but in the years since Joseph’s death, even his faith seemed to have failed him.

Nothing had worked out as they had imagined it would.  Their evil actions hadn’t brought them more of their father’s love, without Joseph there to steal it.  Instead, it had brought them more pain and loneliness.  Instead of earning their father’s undivided love, they had earned his fear and distrust, as well as a heavy burden of guilt, like a massive weight that threatened to break them, as they carried it with them everywhere they went.  Indeed, in the twenty years since they had sinned against their brother, Joseph, their burdens had only grown heavier.

When they entered into Egypt, they learned that they would have to ask Egypt’s governor to allow them to purchase the grain needed for their families to survive, due to the severity of the famine.  Therefore, they lined up, behind the others who had gathered to collect the much needed grain.  Finally, after waiting for many long hours, the ten brothers stood before the governor of Egypt, and immediately dropped to their knees and bowed before him.

Joseph, the governor, paled at the sight of his ten older brothers, bowing down before him.  He recognized them instantly, and caught his breath, as his heart pounded furiously within his chest. It felt like it might break free from his ribs.  As the lump in his throat grew, Joseph fought the tears that threatened to spill.  Looking at them now, bowed down before him, he couldn’t help but remember the dreams he’d had as a youth, in which, his brothers had bowed down to him.

Struggling to pull himself together, Joseph’s voice was harsh as he spoke to his brothers, “Where are you from?”

“We come from the land of Canaan,” they replied.  “We have come to buy food.”

Although he had immediately recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize Joseph, and why should they?  In their minds, they imagined that he had probably died, or at the very least, was still a slave to a foreign master.  Joseph didn’t reveal himself to his brothers.  Instead, he pretended to be a stranger, and said to them, “You are spies!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.”

How rigidly he must have held himself, so as not to break down in front of these brothers that he had loved as a child, only to be betrayed by them when he was just a teenager.  Beloved reader, have you known the pain of betrayal at the hands of a family member?  If so, surely you can understand how difficult it must have been for Joseph to maintain control of his emotions.  How conflicted he must have felt.  For, on the one hand, he loved these brothers, and he must have longed for news of their family.  Yet, on the other hand, he must have felt an intense explosion of rage welling up within him, to see his betrayers, for the first time in twenty years.

Proverbs 29:11
Complete Jewish Bible

A fool gives vent to all his feelings,
    but the wise, thinking of afterwards, stills them.

Fear gripped the brothers’ hearts, and they quickly responded to Joseph’s accusation, “No, my lord!  Your servants have simply come to buy food.  We are all brothersmembers of the same family.  We are honest men, sir!  We are not spies!”

Joseph continued his charade.  “Yes, you are!  You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become,” he insisted.

“Sir,” the brothers replied, desperate to make him understand, “there are actually twelve of us.  We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan.  Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.”

Still, Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies!  This is how I will test your story.  I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here!  One of you must go and get your brother.  I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison.  Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true.  By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”

So, Joseph put them all in prison for three days.  How tormented he must have been, as all of the emotions that he thought were long gone, came rushing over him.  It was like reliving his brothers’ betrayal and brutality all over again.  How he must have cried out to ‘Elyon, to strengthen him, and give him wisdom.

Psalm 3
New King James

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.” Selah

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah

On the third day of their imprisonment, Joseph spoke to them again.  “Look, I am a God-fearing man.  If you do as I say, you will live.  If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison.  The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families.  But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.  This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.”  The brothers agreed to Joseph’s terms.

Speaking among themselves, the weight of their burden of guilt was evident, when they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph, long ago.  We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen.  That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

Tears ran down Reuben’s face, as he asked, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?  But you wouldn’t listen.  And now we have to answer for his blood!”

His brothers, who still didn’t know Joseph’s true identity, had no way of knowing that he understood every word that they had spoken, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.  Upon hearing his brothers’ words, he turned and walked away from them and began to weep.  The emotions, and the weight he had been carrying for more than twenty years, was simply too much to bear, as his brothers openly spoke of his betrayal.

So deep was their own fear and anguish, that the brothers took no notice when Joseph turned away from them.  They were all lost in the midst of a storm that had been brewing for more than twenty years.  When Joseph regained his composure, he spoke to them again, and chose Simeon from among them.  He ordered Simeon to be tied up before their eyes.

Then, Joseph ordered his servants to fill his brothers’ sacks with grain.  He also gave them secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack, and he gave them supplies for their journey home.  So, although ten brothers had started on the journey to Egypt, only nine returned home, and the weight they carried grew heavier with each step…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Nothing Compares…

Adonai had truly blessed him.  Joseph smiled as he gazed at his wife, Asenath, who slept on their sleeping mat, her arms gently cradling their second son, Ephraim, who was born the day before.  Her belly was still swollen from carrying their son, but Joseph didn’t care if her belly stayed that way, for she was by far the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and she was his.  After giving her a gentle peck on the cheek, Joseph slid from the covers, and walked around to the other side of their sleeping mat.

As he knelt down beside his wife and his newborn babe, he was struck by how tiny and perfect the child was.  He had ten fingers and ten toes, each one with nails.  He had long dark eyelashes, like his imma.  He smiled as the babe suckled in his sleep, though nothing was in his mouth.

Joseph stood and tiptoed quietly to the cradle, where his firstborn son, was also sleeping, his long, dark lashes resting quietly on his chubby cheeks.  He gently caressed Manasseh’s soft cheek, smiling as the toddler gave a contented sigh.  After leaning over and placing a gentle kiss on Manasseh’s forehead, Joseph quietly exited the bedroom, and walked onto the balcony, where he knelt down on his prayer mat.

Psalm 30
Complete Jewish Bible

I will exalt You, Adonai, because You drew me up;
You didn’t let my enemies rejoice over me.
Adonai my God, I cried out to You,
and You provided healing for me.
Adonai, You lifted me up from Sh’ol;
you kept me alive when I was sinking into a pit.

Sing praise to Adonai, you faithful of His;
and give thanks on recalling His holiness.
For His anger is momentary,
but His favor lasts a lifetime.
Tears may linger for the night,
but with dawn come cries of joy.

Once I was prosperous and used to say,
that nothing could ever shake me —
when You showed me favor, Adonai,
I was firm as a mighty mountain.
But when You hid Your face,
I was struck with terror.

I called to You, Adonai;
to Adonai I pleaded for mercy:
“What advantage is there in my death,
in my going down to the pit?
Can the dust praise You?
Can it proclaim Your truth?
10 Hear me, Adonai, and show me Your favor!
Adonai, be my helper!”

11 You turned my mourning into dancing!
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 so that my well-being can praise You and not be silent;
Adonai my God, I will thank You forever!

“How my lips praise You, the living God, who saw me in my time of trouble, and in Your great mercy, You heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears!  When my brothers tried to kill me, You, O Lord, heard my cries, and saved my life from the dark pit.  When they sold me into slavery, even then, O Lord, You heard my desperate pleas, and sent me to a kind master.  In the midst of slavery, You  set me over my master’s entire household.  Then, when his evil wife tried to seduce me, You kept me from being killed for a crime I had not committed.  Even in the dark dungeon, where I became a prisoner, lower than a slave, You raised me up, and gave me charge over the prison.

“Then, if that were not enough, You raised me again, from the dark dungeon, to Pharaoh’s second in command, over the entire nation of Egypt!  You gave me a beautiful wife, who loves me, and a son, Manasseh, to help me forget all my troubles, and my father’s family, who betrayed me.  And now, You have blessed me, yet again, with another son, Ephraim, for you have made me fruitful in this, the land of my grief.

“Who is like You, O Adonai?  Who can compare to You, my King?  Indeed, there is no one like You, Adonai.  For You are King of the Nations, and none can compare to You.  Indeed, there is no other god who would stoop so low, as to lift a prisoner and a slave from his prison!

“Adonai, I give You thanks, not only for what You have done for me, but for the seven years of abundance You have given to my wife’s people.  As the time of famine draws nigh, El Shaddai, thank You for providing for our needs by giving us these seven years of abundance, to carry us through the the dreadful famine.  Thank You for seeing to it that my children will not go hungry, nor will the people of this land, for You have provided for all our needs.

“And Adonai, I would be remiss, if I failed to ask for Your hand of blessing to fall on my father, Israel, and his household, especially Benjamin, my full brother.  Protect them, ‘Elyon, from all evil, and deliver them from the coming famine.

“O Adonai, guard my heart from bitterness.  Please, ‘Elyon, bless the brothers who betrayed me also, for my father loves them deeply, and I would not want him to suffer anymore pain and anguish by losing yet another son.  Therefore, please protect Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar and Zebulon.  Most importantly, El Shaddai, protect Benjamin from all harm, especially at the hands of our brothers.  Don’t let them do to him, what they did to me, Adonai!  Protect him.

“Adonai, You alone are worthy of praise.  You alone are holy and just.  In You alone, I have placed my trust, and I know that nothing in heaven or on earth, nothing in the oceans and the seas, nor in the graves, indeed nothing on the highest peak of the highest mountain, nor nothing in the lowest valley can compare to You.  It is to You that I pledge my life, O Adonai, for nothing compares to You.

“In times of feasting, I will praise You.  Even in the coming famine, still, my lips will sing Your praises, for nothing compares to the greatness of knowing You, Adonai!”

Rising from his prayer mat, Joseph lifted his gaze towards the heavens, smiling, as he heard Ephraim’s wails from the bedroom.  “No, Adonai, nothing compares to You!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Not Forgotten…

In the time after the cupbearer’s release, Joseph ran the prison like a well-oiled machine.  He cared for the prisoners, the guards and even the accounting and record books.  Indeed, no other prison or business for that matter, ran so smoothly, for the Lord continued to be with Joseph and bless him.

While he toiled in prison, a full two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams one night, that deeply troubled him.  When day broke, Pharaoh arose, and immediately sent for all of Egypt’s magicians and wise men to seek an interpretation of his disturbing dreams.  However, not one of them was able to interpret the dreams’ meaning to him, which caused him even more anxiety.  “Is there no one in this entire land that can help me?” he cried out.

“Your majesty,” the chief cupbearer finally spoke up.  “Forgive me, for today, I am reminded of my failure.  Do you remember when you were angry with your officials, and arrested the chief baker and me, sire?”  At Pharaoh’s impatient nod, the cupbearer quickly continued.  “One night, while we were in prison, both the baker and I had dreams, which greatly disturbed us.  The next morning, a young Hebrew man, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, came to care for us, and asked why we were so downcast.  So we told him our dreams, and he interpreted each one of our dreams individually, for us.  What’s more, those dreams came to pass, just as he had prophesied.  I was restored to my office, and the baker was impaled.”

“This is true?”  Pharaoh asked.  At the cupbearer’s solemn nod, Pharaoh summoned Joseph to court.

Joseph, meanwhile, was in the midst of his morning prayers, before beginning his duties as the warden’s assistant. 

Psalm 13
Complete Jewish Bible

How long, Adonai?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long must I keep asking myself what to do,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long must my enemy dominate me?

Look, and answer me, Adonai my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death.
Then my enemy would say, “I was able to beat him”;
and my adversaries would rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in Your grace,
my heart rejoices as You bring me to safety.
I will sing to Adonai, because He gives me
even more than I need.

 

Then, as he finished his prayers, guards from the royal palace came and led him quickly out of the dungeon.  After Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes, he was led into Pharaoh’s presence, where he respectfully knelt, his heart pounding frantically.  “O Adonai,” he silently prayed.  “Protect me and deliver me from my foes.  Give me wisdom, to know when to speak and when to be silent.  Adonai, let me speak Your words, and not my own.”

“Last night, I had two dreams,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “and there is no one here, who can interpret them, but I was told that you are an interpreter of dreams.  Is this true?”

“Pharaoh, I am not the interpreter of dreams.  El Shaddai is the giver and interpreter of dreams.  If you will share your dream with me, El Shaddai will give you an answer that will give you peace,” Joseph said gently.

Pharaoh's Dream 1

“Very well,”  Pharaoh responded.  “In my dream, I stood at the edge of the river, and I saw seven fat and sleek cows emerge, and they fed on the swamp grass.  After they came, seven more cows emerged from the river, but these cows were sickly and emaciated.  I’ve never seen such a sorry group of cows in all of Egypt!  Then, the scrawny, miserable cows ate up the seven fat cows, but even after they’d devoured them, you would never guess they’d had anything to eat at all.  For they were still as miserable and sorry looking as they were before they ate.

Pharaoh's Dream 2

“At this point, I awakened, but I quickly drifted off to sleep again, and I had another dream.  In this dream, I saw seven full ripe ears of grain growing out of a single stalk, and after that, I saw seven more ears of grain spring up, but they were thin and shriveled up by the east wind.  And then, right before my eyes, I saw the shriveled ears swallow up the seven ripe ears of grain!

“This morning, when I awakened, I summoned my magicians and wise men, and I shared these dreams with them, but not one of them could explain them to me.  Are you able to interpret these dreams?”  Pharaoh questioned Joseph.  

Joseph listened intently to what Pharaoh shared, while also listening to what the Spirit of the Lord spoke to his heart.  Now, he felt the peace that only comes from ‘Elyon, as he drew in his breath and began to speak.  “Pharaoh’s dreams are the same.  God has told Pharaoh what He is about to do.”

Joseph spoke with the authority that only comes from God, and Pharaoh and his counselors all leaned forward, to hear every word he uttered.  “The seven healthy cows and the seven good ears of grain represent seven years.  Likewise, the seven scrawny cows and the seven blighted ears of grain also represent seven years of famine.  This is what ‘Elyon, has shown Pharaoh He is about to do.

“There will be seven years of abundance throughout the entire land of Egypt, but afterwards, there will be seven years of famine.  Indeed, the famine will be so dreadful, that Egypt will forget all of the abundance from the previous seven years.  Indeed, the famine will consume the land, and it will be truly disastrous.

“Do you wonder why this dream was doubled for Pharaoh?  It is because the matter has already been decreed by Elohim, and it will happen according to His word very soon.

“Therefore, Pharaoh should look for a wise and discreet man to put in charge of the land of Egypt, so that he can appoint supervisors over the land to receive a twenty percent tax on all of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.  All of the food produced during the coming seven years of abundance should be gathered.  Some should be used for food in the cities, and the rest should be stored.  This will be the land’s food supply for the seven years of famine that will follow the seven years of abundance, so that the people do not perish as a result of the famine.”

Joseph’s demeanor and his wise suggestions impressed Pharaoh and all of his officials.  Pharaoh looked at his officials and asked, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”  His officials agreed wholeheartedly with Pharaoh, so Pharaoh released Joseph from his position as a slave and prisoner that day, and placed him in command of all of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh himself.

“There is no one as wise and discerning as you,” Pharaoh told Joseph.  “Therefore, today, I am placing you in charge of my entire household.  You will rule over all my people, and they will obey what you say.  Only when I rule from my throne, will I be greater than you.”  Then, removing his signet ring from his finger, Pharaoh placed it on Joseph’s finger and continued, “This day, you will not only rule my household, but the whole land of Egypt.  I, Pharaoh, decree that without your approval no one is to raise his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt.  Furthermore, your name shall henceforth be Zaphenath-paneah.” 

Pharaoh then called his servants to bring him fine linen clothing, and a gold chain, which he placed around Joseph’s neck.  Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife, whose name was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On.  So, at the age of thirty years, Joseph took charge of the entire land of Egypt, serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

Afterward, Pharaoh sent some of his servants to the royal stables, to bring his second best chariot to Joseph, telling him ride the chariot throughout the land of Egypt.  As Joseph rode the chariot through the streets of Egypt, his servants ran before him, shouting, “Bow down!” to the citizens of the land.  Thus, when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt.  

In the midst of all that was happening around him, Joseph found time to give thanks to Almighty God.  For though others may have forgotten him, the Lord had not forgotten him.

Beloved reader, do you think the Lord has forgotten you?  Do you feel as though you are alone in your circumstances?  Fear not, for though a woman may forget her child, God will not forget you.  If you continually seek Him, you will find Him.  He has a plan for you, His beloved child, even in the midst of the worst circumstances.  You are not forgotten.

Isaiah 49:14-15
New Living Translation

 

14 Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us;
    the Lord has forgotten us.”

15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I would not forget you!”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Forgotten…

He rose early, as he did every day, to pray and give thanks to the Almighty, before he set about his work…

Psalm 5:2-4
Complete Jewish Bible

Give ear to my words, Adonai,
consider my inmost thoughts.
Listen to my cry for help,
my king and my God, for I pray to You.
Adonai, in the morning You will hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my needs before You
and wait expectantly.

Because he had found favor with God, and with the prison warden, Joseph was awarded his own cell, which, though it was still a prison cell, afforded him much needed privacy.  Thus, he was able to spend uninterrupted time alone with ‘Elyon in the mornings and every evening, when he retired.

Joseph had quickly established a daily routine, when the warden promoted him, and he made sure that the prison was kept as clean as it was possible to keep a prison in that day and age.  Because of this cleanliness, pestilence and plagues within the prison had dropped dramatically.  Rodents no longer had free reign over the prison, but were soon killed and burned, which also cut down on disease within the inmate population.

Joseph also made sure that the prisoners were fed decent rations, twice daily, and that they had access to plenty of water.  He treated them as he wished to be treated, never taking more for himself than they were allotted.  Additionally, Joseph visited each of the prisoners daily, to ensure that no rioting or violence would break out.  He separated those prisoners who couldn’t get along with others, from the rest of the inmates, so that bullying and fighting were kept to a minimum.

The warden was both pleased and amazed at all that Joseph had accomplished in such a short time.  The prison was cleaner and healthier than it had ever been before, which made his job easier, and also made him look good to his superiors.

One morning, as Joseph made his rounds, visiting his fellow inmates, he saw the two most recent convicts sitting on their sleeping mats against the wall, looking utterly sad and dejected.  Both of them were servants of Pharaoh.  One had been his cupbearer, the one tasked with serving and tasting drinks, to ensure that Pharaoh was not poisoned.  The other man had been Pharaoh’s chief baker, the one in charge of all of the baked goods, both breads and pastries, served to Pharaoh.

Both of these men had somehow angered Pharaoh, and he’d had them cast into prison for their misdeeds.  They had been imprisoned for a few days already, and both had seemed resigned to their current status, until this particular morning, when Joseph checked on them.  Now, their distress, evident on each of their faces, concerned Joseph, so he gently asked them, “Why are you looking so sad today?”

The cupbearer replied, “We both had dreams last night, and we don’t understand them.”

“And here, in this prison, there is no one to interpret our dreams for us,” the chief baker chimed in.

Kneeling down on the floor with them, Joseph gently asked them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God?  Tell your dreams to me, please.”

Cupbearer Dream 1

The chief cupbearer then shared his dream with Joseph.  “I dreamed there was a vine in front of me, and the vine had three branches, which budded, and suddenly began to blossom.  Almost immediately after they bloomed, clusters of ripe grapes appeared on the branches.  I had Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, so I took the grapes and pressed them into his cup, and gave the cup to him.

The Lord gave Joseph, whom, you may recall, had experienced many dreams and interpretations in his own life, the wisdom he needed to interpret the cupbearer’s dream.  “This is what your dream means,” he told the cupbearer.  “The three branches are three days.”  Joseph gently reached across to the man, and lifted his his chin, so that his downcast eyes rose to meet Joseph’s gaze.  “Within three days, Pharaoh will lift your head and restore you to your position as his cupbearer, and you will be giving Pharaoh his cup, as you did before, but please don’t forget me, when everything is restored to you.  Please show me this kindness, by mentioning me to Pharaoh, so that he will release me, too, from this prison.  For the fact is that I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, though I did nothing to deserve such a fate, and even now, I am unjustly imprisoned, though I have done no wrong.

With gratitude and hope in his eyes, the cupbearer replied, “Indeed, good friend, I will remember you and tell Pharaoh about you, when I am released from this dreadful place.

Chief baker dream

Upon hearing the favorable interpretation of his friend’s dream, the chief baker eagerly shared his dream with Joseph.  “In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread on my head.  The top basket had all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.  What could this mean?

Joseph answered the man gently and honestly.  “The three baskets you saw are three days.  Within three days, Pharaoh will impale your body on a pole, and you will not even receive a burial, for the birds will devour your flesh.

“That can’t be!” the man sputtered, fearfully.

With tears of compassion in his eyes, Joseph softly touched the man’s shoulder.  “Seek Adonai while He is available, call on Him while He is still nearby.  Abandon your wicked ways and your evil thoughts; turn to Adonai, and He will have mercy on you; turn to my God, for He will freely forgive you.”

With bitterness boiling inside him, the angry baker spat out, “Seek your God?  What has He done for me, except sentence me to death?  No!  I will cry out to Ra, the sun god, to shine his blessings on me, and to Osiris, the god of the dead, to deliver me!  You can keep your God and your false interpretations.  Now leave me!

Joseph rose and left the cell sadly, for by rejecting El Shaddai, the man had surely sealed his fate.  Still, Joseph remembered both men in his prayers each day, hoping the chief baker would repent and seek Adonai, before he was executed, and also praying that the cupbearer would also seek and find Adonai.  He faithfully visited the men and served their rations to them, each day, and on the morning of the third day, he came to them once more.  “It is time now.  Please come with me,” Joseph ordered the men, as he unlocked their cell.  

Both men came forward, eager to leave their dark cell behind them.  “Where are you taking us?” the chief baker asked suspiciously.

“I am taking you to bathe and put on fresh clothing.  Then you will go to the Captain of the Guard, and he will take you to see Pharaoh,” Joseph replied.

“Good,” the baker replied.  “When I see Pharaoh, I will tell him how you mistreated me, and you will receive the punishment you are due!”  Joseph, with a heavy heart, for the man’s unrepentant soul, gave no response, as he led the two to the bathing area.  When they finished bathing, he then led them to the Captain of the Guard, who led both men away.  

Joseph had done all that he could for both men.  They were now in the hands of ‘Elyon, and of Pharaoh.

That third day was also Pharaoh’s birthday, and he had a lavish party for all of his officials.  The chief cupbearer and the chief baker were both led to the party, and both rejoiced as Pharaoh called them forth.  As they approached the throne, both knelt before Pharaoh, with their heads bowed and right fists against their hearts, in a pledge of loyalty to him. Pharaoh walked first to his chief cupbearer, and lifted his head, ordering him to stand.  He then restored him to his former position as chief cupbearer, and presented him with his royal chalice.  Tears ran down the cupbearer’s cheeks, as he accepted the chalice in gratitude.

Pharaoh then walked to the chief baker, and lifted his head.  The baker eagerly arose, and with malice for Joseph in his heart started to speak, but Pharaoh silenced him.  Then, just as Joseph had prophesied, Pharaoh ordered his former chief baker to be impaled.  The man was immediately hauled away and impaled, and, as Joseph had prophesied, there was no burial for the unrepentant baker, for the birds devoured his flesh.

All that Joseph had prophesied had come true, but, sadly, the cupbearer had forgotten him. So Joseph remained in prison, for a crime that had never been committed.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

My Shelter

Cast down into darkness, the pain of his wounds was nothing compared to the anguish of his heart.  He grieved for his lost relationship with his master, whom he had loved and served faithfully, these many years, since he was sold into captivity.  “O Adonai,” Joseph wept.  “How could my master, Potiphar believe the wicked lies of that woman?  Yes, she is his wife, but he knows what she is like!  How could he believe such a thing of me?  You know, O Adonai that I was not even tempted by her wicked ways.  Indeed, I was repulsed by her.”

He remained in the place where he had been cast down for only the Almighty knows how long, but eventually, Joseph lifted his head from the cold and dank floor, looking around in the darkness of his new abode.  As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw the forms of others, imprisoned with him.  Some laughed and jested, using epithets, while others withdrew into themselves, staring blankly into space, neither seeing or hearing what went on around them.  Joseph shuddered.

“‘Elyon, You are the Most High God,” Joseph whispered softly.  “And it is in Your shelter, under Your wings that I dwell.  I will say of You, Adonai, that You are my refuge and my fortress, my God!  In You, I will trust.  You will rescue me from the trap of the hunter and the plague of calamities.  You cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I am sheltered.  Indeed, Your truth is my shield and protector.”

Joseph’s head snapped around to the noise of raucous laughter, as some of his fellow inmates kicked and bullied another, weaker prisoner, who tried to cover his head and his sides with his hands and arms, curling into a ball, to protect his vital parts.  Eyes snapping, Joseph arose to his full height, glaring down at the man’s tormentors. “Enough!” he spoke with all of the authority he had been given by ‘Elyon.  “Get away from this man immediately.  You will not torment him while I am here.”

The bullies looked up at Joseph, standing above them, so strong and mighty.  Then, without argument, they backed down.  He had spoken to them with such power, that none, not even the biggest bully dared to cross him.  Joseph, whispered his thanks to Adonai, as he knelt down to the man, who was still curled up in a ball.  Gently, he checked his wounds, ripping his own clothing, to bind the worst of them up.  The man thanked him profusely, and watched and listened, as Joseph continued to pray.

“I will not fear the terrors of night or the arrow that flies by day, or the plague that roams in the dark, or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.  A thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand; but it won’t come near me.  I will keep my eyes open, and I will see how the wicked are punished.”

“Who is this god that you pray to?” the man asked Joseph.  “You speak to Him so familiarly, as though you knew Him.  Is He not offended, as other gods are, when you speak to him in such a personal way?”

Joseph smiled gently at the man.  “No, my friend.  My God is not offended.  He is the God of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is the living God, the only true God.  Indeed, if you will makeAdonai, the Most High, who is my refuge, your dwelling-place, no disaster will happen to you, no calamity will come near your tent; for He will order His angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.  They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone.  Indeed, you will tread down lions and snakes, young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.

“Because I love Him, He will rescue me; because I know His name, He will protect me.  I will call on Him, and He will answer me.  He will be with me when I am in trouble.  He will extricate me and bring me honor.  He will satisfy me with long life and show me  His salvation.  He will do the same for you, my friend, if you will make Him your dwelling place.

The entire prison had fallen silent, when Joseph shared this good news with his fellow inmate.  Now, many began to question Joseph about his God, even the warden, who had come to see why the prison had become so calm and quiet.  It was clear to Joseph that God had a plan for him, even in this dark and dirty place, and with his face set like flint, he spoke silently to God in his heart, “Yes Lord.  I will follow You and obey You, even in the darkest of prisons.”

Because of his love and obedience, the Lord was with Joseph, and showered him with His faithful love.  Joseph became the warden’s favorite that day, when he brought God’s peace into the often violent prison, and before long, he put Joseph in charge over all the prisoners, and everything that happened in prison.  Indeed, because the Lord continued to shower His love on Joseph, and the prison now ran so smoothly, the warden no longer had any worries…

Beloved, even in the midst of prison, Joseph was able to not only find peace, but to thrive, because he understood that His dwelling place was in the shelter of ‘Elyon, the Most High God, not the prison where he currently resided.  Where is your dwelling place?  No matter where you reside, you, too, can have peace that passes all understanding and even thrive, as long as you dwell in the shelter of the Most High God…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Psalm 91
Complete Jewish Bible

You who live in the shelter of ‘Elyon,
who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai,
who say to Adonai, “My refuge! My fortress!
My God, in whom I trust!” —
He will rescue you from the trap of the hunter
and from the plague of calamities;
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His truth is a shield and protection.

You will not fear the terrors of night
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the plague that roams in the dark,
or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand;
but it won’t come near you.
Only keep your eyes open,
and you will see how the wicked are punished.

For you have made Adonai, the Most High,
who is my refuge, your dwelling-place.
10 No disaster will happen to you,
no calamity will come near your tent;
11 for He will order His angels to care for you
and guard you wherever you go.
12 They will carry you in their hands,
so that you won’t trip on a stone.
13 You will tread down lions and snakes,
young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him;
because he knows my name, I will protect him.
15 He will call on Me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble.
I will extricate him and bring him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with long life
and show him my salvation.”

Please, Help Me to See God!

Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.  (Matthew 5:8 NKJV)

Does this seem like an impossibility to you?  Do you feel as though you’ve seen too much, done too much and had too much done to you to ever have a pure heart?  God knows that I have felt this way for most of my life.  Though you don’t know my heart, and though I can’t know yours, God knows.  Indeed, it was God who described the condition of everyone’s heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.  (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV)

So, knowing this, how could Jesus, bless those with a pure heart?  Do they really exist?  And, knowing this, how could He make it seem possible for anyone to achieve this?  I’ve been dreaming about this message all night, as the Lord placed scripture after scripture into my heart, and if you’ve longed to see God, but despaired of it ever happening, because of the things you’ve done in life, have I got good news for you!  For, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

Let’s look at King David.  King David had it all.  He loved the Lord, and God had blessed him with the kingdom of Israel, and the love of his people.  He walked uprightly before God, and was seen on many occasions singing and dancing before the Lord.  And yet, like you and me, King David’s heart was just as deceitful as our hearts are.  Do you remember what happened? 

During the time of year, when kings went to war, we discover that King David stayed behind, in Jerusalem.  For whatever reason, David chose not to be where he should have been, and after waking from a nap, he walked out onto the roof and looked around.  And while he was standing there, he saw a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 

Now, instead of averting his eyes from her and leaving his perch on the roof, David he sent a servant to find out who she was.  After discovering that she was married, you would have thought that this man of God would have forgotten about her, but instead, he summoned her to his presence and committed adultery with her.  Before too long, Bathsheba (the woman) informed David that she was pregnant. 

It never occurred to David that he should repent, and ask for her husband’s (Uriah) or God’s forgiveness.  Instead, he began to plot, to cover his sin.  Have you ever been there?  When you’ve sinned against God and man, have you tried to cover it up?  Though it shames me, I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never tried to hide my sins. 

David sent a message for Uriah to come home, hoping that he and his wife would have sex, and then Bathsheba could claim that their child was Uriah’s.  However, it turns out that Uriah was a much more honorable man than David was, and he refused to enjoy the comfort and pleasure of sleeping with his wife, while his fellow soldiers were suffering in the midst of the war.  David didn’t give up, though.  He invited Uriah to dinner that evening, and got him drunk, hoping to get him to sleep with his wife, while under the influence, but even then, Uriah refused to betray his duty to his fellow soldiers.   

So, rather than repenting and confessing his sin to Uriah and to God, David plotted another plan… one that involved Uriah’s murder.  David sent Uriah back to the front lines, where the battle was the fiercest, and ordered the other men to be pulled back, so that Uriah would be killed in battle. 

When Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, learned that Uriah had been killed in battle, she mourned for him.  Then, once her period of mourning was over, David married her, and she became one of his wives.  Before long, she gave birth to a son.  But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.  (1 Samuel 11 NLT)

Indeed, God was so unhappy about what David had done, that he sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront him with his sin.  When he realized that Nathan speaking of his sin, David confessed and repented of it, and God forgave him.  However, the consequences for David’s sin were great.  (1 Samuel 12 NLT)  Still, knowing the consequences of his sin, David prostrated himself before God, confessed his sin and repented.

1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.  (Psalm 51 NKJV)

Beloved, oftentimes, we think that because our sins are forgiven, we shouldn’t suffer the consequences for those sins, but this isn’t true.  Though Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, in this world, we still suffer sin’s consequences.  Yet, if we truly repent, as David did, though we pay the consequences of our sin, we can still be washed clean, even as David was.  Do you wonder if David will ever get to see God, because of his sin?  I believe he will, for even in the New Testament, David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart.  

And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’  (Acts 13:22 NKJV) 

Even after these terrible sins against God and man, David remained a man after God’s own heart.  Doesn’t that give you hope?  It gives me great hope.  Yet, if what Jesus said is true, then how can our heart be made pure, so that we, too, can see God?  We must do as David did, and repent and confess our sin to God…

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9 NKJV) 

Do you want to see God?  Then you must have a pure heart.  How can you have a pure heart?  Confess your sins to God, repent from them, and ask Him to cleanse your heart, just as David did, and your heart, beloved reader, will be made pure, and you will see God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Lord Have Mercy!

In a world filled with bitterness and injustice, it’s no accident that after sharing the beatitude about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus followed it up with the beatitude on mercy…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.  (Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV)

In this world, where mothers and fathers mourn the lives of their children, murdered by men full of violence, we need mercy as well as justice.  In this world, where men, women and children are raped and tortured, we need both mercy and justice.  In this world, where governments lie, cheat and steal from their citizens, we need mercy to go hand in hand with justice.

What is mercy anyway?  For much of my life, I’ve confused mercy with forgiveness, but in this study, I was moved to seek out the biblical definition, as well as the world’s definition, and I was surprised to discover that mercy and forgiveness are two different things.  Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is as essential to our walk with Christ as mercy is, but Jesus addresses that elsewhere.  So, for now, we are going to talk about mercy…

This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:

[mur-see]

noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.

  1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offenderan enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassionpity, or benevolence:  Have mercy on thpoor sinner.
  2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
  3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty. 
  4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
  5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

According to Strong’s Lexicon, this is the Greek word translated as mercy in this scripture, and its definition:

eleeō

[e-le-e’-ō]

verb

to be compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace):—have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, shew) mercy (on).

Beloved reader, in this world that often shows little to no compassion for those who are hurt and afflicted, Jesus commands us to be merciful.  In this world of unrighteousness, we are to show mercy to our enemies, to our friends, to our family, to the poor and forgotten… Indeed, we are to show mercy to everyone we come in contact with.

Do you want to receive mercy?  Be merciful.  Show compassion on those who are less fortunate than you are.  Show compassion to those who are more fortunate than you.  Show compassion to all you come in contact with.

Think about it, even as He was suffering, hanging, naked and dying on the cross, Jesus looked down and saw those who had tortured and hung Him gambling over His clothing, and instead of calling on God to strike them dead (which justice surely demanded), He was moved with pity for them.  Can you imagine feeling pity for your tormentors, in the midst of your suffering?  Jesus did, and He cried out to His Father, not to condemn them, but to have mercy on them…

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)

Beloved, if Jesus, who was and is wholly righteous, could have mercy enough on those, who yet tortured Him, to forgive them, how can we do any less?  “But He is God,” you might say.  “It’s harder for me to forgive, because I’m not God.”  If you are truly a child of God, then His Spirit lives within you, and enables you to show mercy.

How much harder was it for Jesus, who knew no sin, to suffer at the hands of sinful man?  How much harder was it for Him to have mercy on me, knowing how many times I have let Him down in the past, present and future?  And yet, He continues to pour His mercies on us…

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.  (Psalm 103:11-18 NKJV)

Beloved, this walk with Christ is not an easy one.  We are tested and tried at every turn, just as Jesus said we would be.  And yet, by His grace, and in His strength, we can run this race, for He will give us the endurance to see it through.  It’s time for us to stop seeing everything through the eyes of the world, and start seeing things through the eyes of Christ.

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Then you will be filled, as you show mercy to others.  And as you show mercy to others, rejoice!  For you are blessed, and you will receive that same mercy from the God of all mercy, and let’s not forget:

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”  (Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Meekness Isn’t Weakness

Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.(Matthew 5:5 NKJV)

What does this mean exactly?  I’ve heard many definitions of meek throughout the years, but what does it truly mean to be meek?

The Greek word for meek, used in this scripture is:

praÿs – pronounced prä-ü’s

mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness

Dictionary.com defines meek this way:

meek

adjective,meek·er, meek·est.

humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others.
overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame.
Obsolete gentle; kind.
According to these definitions, Jesus said that those who are gentle of spirit and have mild dispositions will inherit the earth.  I have to confess, I need to work on this…
When I think of meekness, I think of Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was arrested. Do you remember His response, when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss on the cheek?  He accepted His “friend’s” kiss, knowing all the while why he was there, and what he had done to Him.  He even called him “friend.”  
I would have railed against him, and shouted at that traitor!  I may have even hit him, but Jesus offered His cheek to him.  Jesus, could have struck that vile betrayer down, with just one word, but He didn’t…
Do you remember what happened when the Roman soldiers and Temple guards asked for Jesus, the Nazarene? I am He,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed Him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said I am He,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!  (John 18:1-10 NLT)
Do you remember Jesus’ response when Peter grabbed a sword and slashed the ear off of the high priest’s slave a few minutes later?  Instead of making a run for it (as I surely would have done) Jesus took the time to perform a miracle, placing the ear of this man, who was there to harm Him, back where it belonged, then submitted to those who were there to arrest Him.  (Luke 22:47-53 NLT)
Do you think Jesus was weak?  Do you think He couldn’t have destroyed those who were there to destroy Him?  Think again.  Jesus could have called down thousands of angels to rescue Himself.  He could have slain these men with just a word, but instead, He chose gentleness, and in doing so,  He exhibited His greatest strength.  (Matthew 26:47-56 NLT)

You see, for Jesus, submitting meekly to His Father’s will was far more important than giving a mighty display of His strength.  Submitting to the torture meted out by a violent mob, in accordance with His Father’s will was more important than giving them the divine retribution they were due.  Dying for their sins, your sins, and my sins was far more important to Him, than giving us the justice we deserved… 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)

In both His life and His death, Jesus demonstrated the way we are to live.  When He told us, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” He wasn’t merely speaking empty words.  He both lived and died according to everything He said and taught…

Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance,
nothing to attract us to Him.
He was despised and rejected—
a Man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weaknesses He carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!
But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him
the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
He was led away.
No one cared that He died without descendants,
that His life was cut short in midstream.
But He was struck down
for the rebellion of My people.
He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal;
He was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him
and cause Him grief.
Yet when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands.
11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because of His experience,
My Righteous Servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.  (Isaiah 53 NLT)

As I study these words of Jesus, I am struck by how much I have to learn.  I am struck by my own weakness.  Lord, show me Your ways.  Help me to be meek, even as You were meek, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

All You Can Eat…

When Jesus was tempted by the devil, the prince of the air challenged the Prince of Peace (Shalom) to turn stones into bread, and this was Jesus’ response to him:

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:4 NLT)

Let’s think about His response.  Jesus, the very Word of God, who created the universe and all that is in it, said that we need more than bread to sustain us.  In fact, the Word said that our sustenance comes from every word spoken by God…

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.  (John 1:1-5  NLT)

It was through His Word, that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.  It is in this Word that we live and move and have our being…

14 So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  (John 1:14  NLT)

16 From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.  (John 1:16-18 NLT)

It is by this Word that we live…  This is the Word that we must feed on…  It’s like going to an all you can eat banquet or buffet, only this food is good for you, and there are no calories!

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!  (Psalm 34:8  NLT)

Are there some who still say, “But I want some bread?”  Then join me in this all you can eat banquet… For Jesus, the Word of God, is also the Bread of Life!

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the true Bread from heaven. 33 The true Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.  (John 6:32-35  NLT)

Just in case you don’t understand that your very life comes from Christ, He goes into even more detail…

47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the Bread of Life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the Bread from Heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever; and this Bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is My flesh.”

52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what He meant. “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” they asked.

53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent Me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 I am the true Bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”  (John 6:47-58  NLT)

To make it clear, we are to feast on the Word of God, for this is where we will find life.  And unlike the bread we feed to our flesh, you can’t overindulge on this Bread.  This Bread of Life will fill us, and breathe new life into us.  The Bread of Life won’t leave us feeling sick and bloated, no matter how much we eat of it.  Instead, our strength will be renewed and restored…

Beloved, have you tasted this Bread of Life?  Do you feast on the Word of God?  Have you tasted and seen how good He is?  If not, come to the banquet, and eat your fill, then have some more.  For this is an all you can eat banquet, and as Jesus said, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Daddy Make Me Just Like You!

Just recently, I’ve been worshiping to this song by Jason Upton, over and over.  It has become the cry of my heart.  As the daughter of the Most High God, the more I learn of Him through experience and through His Word, I find myself more and more wanting to be like my Abba, my Daddy

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:7-9  NLT

God is Love.  Real love is that God loved us and sent His Son, Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins.  I’m not there yet.  God has given me a greater love for mankind than I could ever have imagined, yet, I cannot truthfully say that I would be willing to sacrifice either of my children for anyone’s sake…  Daddy make me just like You!

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:8-11  NLT

I have such a hard time loving my enemies.  It’s hard to love someone who hates me or those I love.  Yet my Daddy loved me when I was His enemy.  In fact, before He adopted me, when I was still a child of His enemy, the devil, He loved me and you!  Daddy make me just like You!

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ 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. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:4-10  NLT

God, my Daddy, is rich in love and mercy.  And He has made me, and you, if you are His child, an example of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us.  Do you wonder how far that grace extends?  His mercy, love, grace and kindness to us is so great that when He raised Christ from the dead, He raised us up right along with Jesus, and seated us in the heavenly realms.  What kind of love is this?  Daddy make me just like You!

How amazing is the love of Father God for His adopted sons and daughters.  How could we not long to be like Him?  Once He has captured our hearts, there is nothing more we can desire than to truly be like Him, and praise God!  He knows that we, in our humanity, could never achieve our hearts desire to be like Him on our own, and so we, the sons and daughters of the Most High God have this assurance…

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6  NLT

My prayer for each and every child of God is that He will continue His work within each and every one of us, so that each one of us will be like our Daddy…  Daddy make each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ just like You!

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

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

Why Parables???

I love the parables of Jesus.  They give me something to ponder and pray about.  My prayer is that my ears would not simply hear the words, but that I will listen to His words, heed them, and understand them.  Father, open my ears, that I may hear.  Open my eyes, that I may see, and open my heart and mind, so that I may understand Your words and live in obedience to them.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Jesus often spoke to people in parables, and His disciples asked Him why He did this…

10 His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do You use parables when You talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Matthew 13:10-17  NLT

These words sound harsh to many, but they give me hope.  Have you ever tried to share the truth of the gospel to someone, and no matter how clear it is to you, they just don’t get it?  Indeed, they don’t even want to hear about this Jesus, who has captured your heart.  Have you ever walked away from a situation like this, feeling like a failure?  I have…

Yet, perhaps the failure wasn’t mine.  Perhaps, in His great wisdom, this was part of the lesson that Jesus gave His disciples (that includes all of His followers), so that they would continue in the work that He gave them, even when they felt as though they had failed.  I have shared the gospel with friends, family, people I love, and with enemies, sometimes, with great success.  Other times, I’ve faced abysmal failure, which left me feeling ill-equipped and unworthy of sharing this Good News.

Yet, as I read these words of Jesus, my heart wonders, “Is it possible that they heard, but they didn’t listen?  Could they have seen, and yet not seen?”  Again, I am reminded of something else Jesus spoke to His disciples…

44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

John 6:44  NLT

When I think of the prophets of long ago, crying out for the people of God to repent, they weren’t welcomed with open arms and open hearts.  No, they were mocked, scorned and ridiculed, at best.  Many were even assaulted, and murdered for sharing God’s Good News.  Many were killed by the religious leaders of their day. 

So, why is it, that I expect things to be easier for me?  Why is it, that I expect the church to embrace me in love, when I don’t have any words that will tickle their ears?  Though I speak the truth in love, most still don’t want to hear it. 

15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

Matthew 13:15  NLT

Still, we must continue to speak the truth in love, and proclaim the good news whenever we are given the opportunity…

1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach (proclaim) the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Timothy 4:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Every man, woman and child, who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been given the honor and the privilege of sharing the Gospel with those we come into contact with.  Therefore, let us not be discouraged when it seems that no one is listening, or that no one really cares.  It is our joy and honor to speak the truth in love, and trust the Father to draw whomever He will to Jesus.  It is also our privilege to call upon the Lord to open the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of those with whom we share the Gospel, and let Him reap the results.

I ministered in prison for ten years, and during that time, I saw many of the same women leave and return to prison again and again.  Sometimes, I was certain they had finally seen the light, only to watch in sorrow, as they returned to prison again and again.  Yet, I don’t believe my time there was wasted, because I only know what the Lord led me to speak and do.  I don’t know who really listened and understood in their heart, but God does.  My time wasn’t wasted, because I obeyed Him, and I drew closer to Him, as He filled my heart with love for the women I ministered to.  We may never see all of the results of our labor, before our time in this life is finished, but let us be like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the prophets who have gone before us…

1All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT

Father, I pray that You would continue to give us, Your children, eyes to see and ears to hear You.  Give us hearts that are willing to obey You and walk humbly with You, O Lord.  Show us Your ways, and let us not look to the right or to the left, but help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You. 

Please help us not to be discouraged by what seems like failure to us.  Instead, give us a willing spirit to speak Your word in and out of season, no matter whether it is received by others or not.  And when our work here is finished, Father, let us be able to join Paul in saying…

Finished the Race - 1

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

2  Timothy 4:7-8  NLT

© 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

Heart of Worship

Heart of Worship

The following post showed up on my daughter’s Facebook news feed the other day, and led to great discussion, and deep pondering:

“What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for His people to come together?”
—David Platt

“Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.”
—Tozer

What if there was no stage?  Why does there have to be a stage in ministry?  Aren’t we supposed to be one in Christ?

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29  NKJV

Jesus didn’t need to stand on a stage.  He ministered wherever He went, and people listened, because they were hungry for the truth.  He didn’t need an opening band to warm the crowd up.  He warmed them with His love.  Jesus ministered, not only on the temple steps, but in the streets, at funerals, wherever He went.

He didn’t preach nice ear-tickling sermons.  He wasn’t politically correct.  Indeed, society’s leaders hated Him, because He cried out against sin and injustice, and He spoke words that were contrary to their belief system.  He offered them nothing of this world,  and yet, people were drawn to Him anyway…

43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. 44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up…”
— John 6:43-44  NLT
— Read John 6:20-70

Jesus didn’t depend on a contemporary worship service, or a charismatic speaker to draw the people to Him.  He knew that only One could draw mankind to Him, and that was His Father.  What makes us think, that with our many “programs” today, we can draw people to Jesus?  Only God can do that, and while we may draw many people to our mega-churches or our mini-churches, we aren’t called to make church members of all nations, tribes and tongues.

We are called to make disciples (followers of Christ) of all nations, but how can we do this, if we are so focused on our various programs that we’ve lost sight of the only One who can draw people to Him?  How can we make disciples of all nations, when we are busy building bigger and better churches?  Didn’t Jesus command us to GO and make disciples of all nations?  We can’t do that within the four walls of the church.  We must go into the world, speaking the truth in love, as we follow God’s Holy Spirit, and allow our Father to draw men to Christ.

Yes, we must join one another in prayer, and disciple others, so that they, too, can go into the world, allowing God to minister through them, and draw still more to Christ.  Entertainment is not necessary.  Yes, it’s great to sing praises to the Lord.  Scriptures command us to do so, but it is for His glory, not our own.  It is to bless Him, not ourselves.  We are called to worship Him, not to entertain ourselves.

Is it any wonder that more people are not drawn to churches?  Much of what they receive in church, they can receive in the world.  Our churches have become so comfortable with their traditions, and programs, that they no longer have room for the gospel of truth.

What if we went to church one Sunday, and there was no music or band playing?  What if we went to church one Sunday, and there was no one on a stage?  What if we went to church one Sunday, and the only words spoken were the words of God?  What if we went to church and everyone humbled themselves and prayed, and repented of their sins, and sought God’s face?  What if this became the norm?  What if, after humbling themselves, praying and seeking God’s face, men and women left the building, going into the world, and making disciples of all nations…  of this nation???

What if you, and I started this today, within our own home?  Brothers and sisters, the people of this world want something genuine and real.  I want something genuine and real, don’t you?  I want to hear God’s voice, not another man’s voice.  I want to walk in obedience to God’s will, not man’s whim, don’t you?  What if God’s people, those of us, who call ourselves children of the Most High, would humble ourselves and pray and repent, and seek God’s face?  What if we turned from our wicked ways?  Is He not still the same God, who promised to hear from heaven and come down, and heal our land?  If ever a nation needs healing, ours does!

Father, hear our cries, as we stop “doing church as usual.”  Hear us, Lord, as we (I) humble ourselves before you.  Lord, I seek Your holy face, and I turn from all my wicked ways.  Forgive us of our sins, and heal our land.  Lord, draw us closer to Jesus, and draw those who are lost, beginning with the leaders of this country, Father, to Jesus!  Draw our families and our loved ones to Jesus, Lord.  And also draw our enemies to Jesus, Father.  Unite us with one mind, one body, and one Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

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

Fight the Good Fight

Fight

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate?


What does it mean to fight, and is there ever a good reason to fight?  Is there anything worth fighting for?  Or against?

There are several different definitions for the word fight, in dictionary.com.  However, for the sake of this post, I will use the following definition:


verb (used without object), fought, fighting.

7.

to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.

8.

to contend in any manner; strive vigorously for or against something:

He fought bravely against despair.
verb (used with object), fought, fighting.

9.

to contend with in battle or combat; war against:

England fought Germany.

10.

to contend with or against in any manner:

We are currently living in a time, when many of the values that we hold dear in our hearts, are being turned upside down, and those of us, who call ourselves Christians, are expected to accept these changes silently.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being labeled “intolerant,” “homophobes,” “bigots,” “haters,” or worse.  So, we’re left with a question, “Do we strive and fight against these changes that seem to be inevitable, no matter what we do?  Or do we meekly accept the changes that grieve our very souls, in order to keep the peace?”

Fought the Good Fight
I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about these things, and, no matter what the world thinks of me, in the end, I have to be true, not to myself, but to the God and Creator of the universe, the One whom I serve, and love with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  When I am at the end of life, here on earth, as we know it now, and I meet with my Father, face to face, I want to be able to look at Him and say, the same words that the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.


So, what things are worth fighting for?  Certainly the lives of those, who are unable to care for or defend themselves, specifically unborn children.  Although, those who have been pro-choice have tried, for years, to claim that life begins only after a baby is born and takes his/her first breath, ultrasound and many other tests that are done routinely, prove otherwise.

Those of us who are pro-life, know that the instant the sperm fertilizes the egg, life begins, because in order to grow, something must be alive.  We know this from a physical standpoint, when at 12 weeks, we are  first able to hear the heartbeat of that unborn baby, and we know this from a spiritual standpoint, because scripture tells us of this fact…

 


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.

Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as My prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 NLT


Psalm 139-16

According to  the word of God, we live before we are even born, because He already knows us, even then.  Now, whether someone shares my spiritual beliefs or not, is beside the point, because I believe this with all my  heart, and because I believe this, I must fight for the life of every unborn child.  An unborn baby is  not merely a parasite, he/she is a living human.  Therefore, according to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, the fact is, that abortion is the murder of an unborn baby.   Whenever someone snuffs out the life of the unborn child, you are stealing the very rights that every man, woman and child has been endowed with.  With every life that has been taken by means of abortion, you are taking the place of their Creator, and saying that their life is not as important as the mother’s life.  With each abortion, that is performed in this country that guarantees these rights, the child is denied the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These are the very things our forefathers believed were worth fighting for.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are God-given rights (They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…), NOT man-made rights.  Therefore, mankind DOES NOT have the right to take away someone else’s rights, whether those of grown men and women, those of little children and infants, or those of babies, who have yet to draw their first breath, while they grow in the safety of their mothers’ wombs.

As a follower of Christ, I must fight the good fight for these precious children, who are unable to speak for themselves…  Jesus made His love for children very clear, and He also made it clear that those who harm children have a heavy price to pay…

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:1-5 NLT

Beloved readers, when I think of the millions of abortions that have been performed in the United States, since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, my heart breaks, because for every single one of those millions of unborn babies who was not welcomed into this world, millions of mothers, fathers, nurses and doctors were not only denying the children their right to live, they were also telling Jesus that He was not welcome in their lives either.

So we come back to the word fight.  Are there things worth fighting for?  Absolutely.  It is certainly worth fighting for the life of every unborn child, who has yet to draw his/her first breath.  Is there anything worth fighting against?  Again, the answer is absolutely.  Until we draw our  final breath, we must fight against evil, no matter what form it takes.

We must fight against the evil of racism, whether it comes in the form of white men hating black, hispanics or other ethnic groups, or whether black men hate white men.  For, no matter what form it comes in, racism is ugly, and those who hate others because of their skin  tone, also hate the God and Creator, who created ALL MANKIND in His image.

We must fight against the evil of sin, in every form, because it, like cancer, kills.  Until we draw our last breath, we must fight against hatred, bitterness, cruelty, and anger.

We must fight against anything that is detrimental to the family, as God created it to be.  For, in order to truly create a family, there needs to be a father (a man), and a mother (a woman).  Since the beginning of time, this has been the only way for a child to be conceived.  Without a man’s sperm, and the woman’s egg joining, mankind will cease to exist, and the fact remains that no matter how man has tried to alter this fact, both a man’s sperm, and a woman’s egg are still required to create life, and it will always be this way, no matter how man may try to alter or procreate in other ways.

Perhaps many of you  are now calling me intolerant, because I say that homosexuality and lesbianism are abhorrent to creation, because no matter what attempts they may make to change this, it cannot be done.  Lesbian women still need man’s sperm cells in order to procreate, and homosexual men still need women’s eggs and their uterus, in order for procreation to occur.  I didn’t design it this way, God our Creator did.  In fact, the Apostle Paul felt that homosexuality was a battle worth fighting over, more than 2 thousand years ago…

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:24-32  NLT

Now, more than 2 thousand years later, this is still a fight worth fighting.  Numerous children are being led astray by the lies the homosexual community spouts as they try to convince the public that homosexuality and lesbianism are normal, and should be accepted by all.  Yet, the fact remains that this lifestyle is not, nor has it ever been normal or right.  Those who choose to maintain this lifestyle choice do so, in rebellion to God, our Creator.

Ephesians 6-12

I’m sure that there are some, who are very angry and offended by what I have written here, but I don’t write these words to stir up strife.  Let me be very clear to all who question my motives, I do not hate homosexuals and lesbiansIndeed, I love them, for they are men and women, just like those of us who do not participate in that lifestyle.

My children have done many things that I didn’t like, when they were growing up.  Indeed, the truth is, that I hated some of the things they did, but I never once hated my children.  I never once stopped loving them.  The same holds true with those who call themselves gay.  Although I hate the homosexual acts they commit, and though I abhor many of the things they say, I don’t hate them.

Perhaps some of you reading, think me intolerant, and you’re absolutely correct.  As I have stated all along, in this post, there are some things that are worth fighting for, and some things worth fighting against.  Homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, beastiality, pedophilia and other sexually deviant practices are sin against one’s own body, and against the bodies of others, and should not be tolerated, much less encouraged, under any circumstance, and while I have breath, I will speak out against such practices, and I will write against them, because such lifestyles are unhealthy and deadly.

More importantly, I fight against these things, regardless of the consequences, because these practices are against God’s will, and when I stand before my maker one day, I want to be able to say these words to my Lord and Savior:

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 NLT

© 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 = 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

1-the-greatest-commandment-rose-santuci-sofranko

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

Letting Go – The Pain and Joy of Being a Mother

My daughter, son-in-law and family
My daughter, son-in-law and family

As I sit here this Mother’s Day, with all of my children and grandchildren living miles and miles away from me, (some live 350 miles away, and the rest of them live more than 700 miles away from me), I am contemplating what it means to be a mother…

When I was a little girl, growing up, feeling unloved and unwanted, I dreamed of one day having children and a husband, who would always love me, no matter what.  When I grew up, and became a mother, that dream changed…  Oh, I still wanted my children and my husband to always love me, no matter what, but that was no longer my main goal.  As I held both my son and my daughter in my arms after each one of them was born, I felt an overwhelming love for them, which cannot be described.  Then, as I looked at the man that I had vowed to love, honor and cherish as long as we both shall live, I was awash with a flood of love for him as well.  Suddenly, having someone to love me was no longer my priority.  For, in an instant, God had changed the selfish longings of a little girl into an unselfish desire.  Now, my number one priority was to make sure that my husband and my children always knew that they were loved, no matter what.

My son and daughter-in-law
My son and daughter-in-law

In a world filled with condemnation and hatred, I’ve always loved my children, and I strove to ensure they knew that they were loved.  When they sinned or did anything wrong, I always wanted them to know that although I hated their sin, I still loved them.  When I was angry with them, still burning brightly within my heart was a deep, unending love for them.  After all, these were my babies.

Like most mothers, I was and am very protective of my children.  I struggle with the desire to shield them from all of the pain that every man, woman and child has endured, since Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, and yet, I know that this is foolish.  For the scriptures make it clear that everyone must endure troubles, in order to grow endurance and to become complete in the Lord…

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  ~ James 1:2-4  NLT ~

At times, I have felt like a mama bear, protecting her cubs.  There’s a built-in radar within me that KNOWS when someone is hurting one of my children, and nothing infuriates me  more than to see my child in painl. So, just as a mama bear will attack anyone that may only seem to be a threat to her cubs, I have been known to do the same, spending my rage on the person(s) I deemed dangerous, only to look back on the situation, years later, and understand that there may have been an important lesson that God wanted to teach my child.  Yet, rather than trusting in Him, with His unlimited power and love, to protect my children, I trusted in myself, with my limited mortal imperfections, and in the process, sometimes did more damage than good…..

One of the hardest, most painful lessons anyone, who desires to be a good and godly mother, must learn, is that our children, who are such a wonderful gift to us, are ours, only on loan.  From the time we first hold our infants in our arms, we must remember to hold  them lightly and gently.  For if we hold on to them too tightly, we may squeeze the life out of them.  If we look to the bible for examples of women, who were good mothers, the mother, who comes to my mind, is Hannah, mother of Samuel, the prophet of God.

Hannah was so desperate to have a child, that she cried out to the Lord, praying fervently.  In her desperation, she made this vow to the Almighty…

And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to You. He will be Yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”  ~ 1 Samuel 1:11  NLT ~

When I think of Hannah’s desperation for a child, I remember when my husband and I decided to have a child.  Would I be able to conceive a child?  What if I couldn’t have a child?  Did you experience that same desperation for a child?  Does every woman that wants a child experience that desperation?

Look at the price Hannah was willing to pay just so she could have a child to lavish her love on.  For, when Hannah held her beloved baby in her arms, she knew that she would only be able to hold him for a very short time.  Then, she would have to relinquish him to her heavenly Father.

What pain intermingled with everlasting joy, Hannah must have endured, when her beloved baby, Samuel was born.   As he suckled at her breast each time she nursed him, did Hannah contemplate that the time was nearing, when she would wean him, and she must let go of her hold on her beloved Samuel and release him to Eli, the priest and into God’s service?  Mothers, as you hold your infants in your arms, and let them nurse at your breast, do you understand that each time he/she nurses, you are one step closer to letting go of him/her?  With each new development, he/she achieves, holding his/her head up, cooing, laughing, you are one step closer to that moment, when you must relinquish your hold on your child, and let him/her go.

As I look at Hannah, I see much to admire in her.  She longed for a child, so much so that she made a vow to give him back to God, if only He would give her this child.  How exquisitely precious, yet painful it must have been as she held her child to her breast, knowing that as soon as he was weaned, she would keep her covenant with God, and return Samuel to Him.  What bittersweet joy she must have felt, as she changed each dirty diaper, knowing that as long as he nursed and dirtied his diaper, he would remain with her.  Yet when he was weaned, she must let him go.

Surely, she must have been tempted to “forget” her vow to the Lord, yet she remained true  to her word,  and her son grew to be one of Israel’s greatest judges and prophets.  In her obedience and willingness to let go of her son, she enabled him to be all that he was created and called to be.  How sad it would have been for both Samuel and Israel, if this brave and faithful mother had refused to let her son go!  In refusing to let her son go, she could have ruined Samuel’s great destiny.

Then, there is the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, who let go of his beloved son, knowing that in doing so, his son would leave home  and probably live a life of sin.  Indeed, the son did exactly what his father had feared he would do.  He squandered every penny of his inheritance on loose living and loose women.  Then, after losing all of the money his father had entrusted him with, the son really hit rock bottom, living on the streets, homeless, because of his recklessness.  Don’t you think the father grieved for his son, longing for him to return, so he could rest assured, knowing that his son was safe in his presence?  Though the father longed for his son’s love and obedience, he let him go, just as God lets us go our own way.  By letting his son go, the father won his son’s heart in the end, and his son returned a better man after living a sinful, adulterous life, because he was now humble and appreciative of his father’s love.

Mothers, when your child walks away from you, even though you know they’re walking into a life of sin, don’t be afraid to let him/her go.  For the tighter you hold your child to yourself, the further you are pushing him/her away from you.  Yet, by letting him/her go, you are giving God the opportunity to begin a good work in him/her, that He may not have been able to do, because you were always pushing Him away, as you tried to solve your child’s problems.

Are there other examples of mothers letting their children go?  Sure there are!  What would have happened if Mary hadn’t let go of Jesus?  What would have happened if Elizabeth had refused to let her son, John live in the wilderness, wearing camel hair and eating locusts and wild honey?  Beloved mothers, entrust your children to God, and let them go.  As long as we try to hold on to our children, we deny them the right to grow up strong and whole.

Do I wish my children lived closer to me?  Of course I do, but I choose to let them go where God leads them, and I trust Him to care for them and provide for their needs.  After all, my Father can do a much better job in taking care of my children, than I can.

The Evil All Around Us

The evil all around us permeates the atmosphere, invading homes, neighborhoods, cities, towns, municipalities, states, regions and nations with fear and angst, deception and theft, as well as hatred and murder.  From racist cops to criminals and terrorists, including many others in between, evil is all around us.  How did this evil get here, and who is responsible for it? 

While most people like to believe that mankind is basically good, with only a few who are capable of evil, I subscribe to another, less popular viewpoint.  It is my belief that since Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, forbidden to them by God Almighty, the Creator of mankind, everyone birthed thereafter, was born with a sinful nature, which makes each one of us susceptible to evil.  Indeed, as the knowledge of man increases, so does his capacity for evil, and it is the sin, into which we are all born, that destines us to death. 

Image Credit: nymphschampions.wicki.com
Image Credit:
nymphschampions.wicki.com

Many, who don’t ascribe to my views often pose this question to those who believe as I do, “If all of mankind is truly born into sin, then how can there be any good people?  The answer to that question is that the Creator of all humanity has given everyone a free will, which enables them to choose whether to succumb to their sinful nature, or choose to do good.  Furthermore, He gave people (who, because of their sinful nature, were all condemned to die once, and after that, receive judgment), the option to receive the free gift of salvation and redemption, if they would simply choose to have faith in Him and His Son, Jesus.  However, as simple as that sounds, our humanity rebels against the notion that our salvation rests on something as simple as having faith in the One who created us.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 
(Romans 5:12  NLT) 

Adam’s single act of disobedience to God’s command led to the first murder, which, incidentally, was also the first death, when his and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, killed his younger brother, Abel, in a jealous rage.  I’m certain, that when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, in an act of rebellion against their Creator, they never dreamed that this single act of disobedience would lead to the devastating loss of not just one, but two sons.  For when Cain slew his brother, Abel, not only was Abel lost to them, but Cain was as well, for the Lord punished him by cursing the ground he walked on, forbidding it to yield crops to him.  He also banished Cain from the land, and condemned him to walk the land as a homeless wanderer.  From Cain’s vicious and murderous attack on Abel, man grew more and more sinful, and more and more violent.  If Adam’s one act of disobedience could have such devastating effects, that have continued to grow more and more horrible, with each generation that followed, how do we effect the world and the people around us, when we reject our Creator and His commands?

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. 
(Ecclesiastes 7:20  ESV)  

Image Credit: truth459.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
truth459.blogspot.com

Because each of us is born with a sinful nature, sin is instinctual to us.  Children need to be taught what good is, and how to do it.  Yet, no one has ever had to teach a child how to sin, because that comes naturally to us.  Have you ever noticed that when a child begins to crawl around and walk, discovering the world around him, he immediately begins discovering the many dangers around him?  Though we try to baby proof our homes, there is always some danger that the toddler discovers, that causes our hearts to pound in fear for him.  It is during this time, that we begin to tell the little one, “No,” and the child quickly learns what “No” means.  However, although that child knows that it is wrong to touch certain objects or to go to certain places within (or sometimes even outside) of the home, for some reason, the child seems to gravitate towards those things.  Did you ever wonder why that is?  It is because that baby, just like every other baby born after Adam ate the forbidden fruit, is born with a sinful nature, and it is the responsibility of the parents and those who are involved in that child’s life to teach him what is good, and how to do good.

Though all of us have different weaknesses, every one of us has been guilty of some wrongdoing, and no one had to instruct us on how to do the wrong thing.  Indeed, no one even needs to tell us that it is wrong.  For just as we are all born with a sinful nature, we are also born with the knowledge of right and wrong, because God, in His infinite mercy, has written His law on the hearts of mankind, so that no one can truly say, “I didn’t know my actions were wrong.”  In fact, that very law that is written on our hearts not only checks our actions, but even our very thoughts, so that we also feel guilty, when we are simply thinking about those things that are wrong.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
(Romans 2:14-15  NLT)

“If this is true,” some may ask, “then why do so many people commit such heinous crimes, without feeling any guilt?”  The answer to this question is very simple, yet very profound.  For although we may feel guilty when we first commit a sin, the more we engage in that or other sins, the less guilty we will feel about it, until, eventually, our conscience is seared. 

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.  Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.  13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
(Hebrews 3:12-13  NLT)

This is true for all sins, no matter how big or small they may seem to be.  For God does not measure the size of a sin to determine one’s guilt or innocence.  God hates ALL sin, because sin is deadly.  It’s like cancer, killing and destroying every cell within us, until we, like every man, woman and child, since Adam sinned against God, finally die.  For those, whose hearts are hardened against God when they die, there will be no other chance for redemption.  Those, who choose to believe in their Creator, and His Son, Jesus, will receive eternal life, though their earthly bodies have died.

Yet, in spite of God’s great mercy and compassion on mankind, the overwhelming majority of mankind will choose to reject their Creator, choosing, instead, to follow their own sinful nature.  Although God has written His law on the hearts of humanity, they will still choose to go to hell, rather than heaven.  Indeed, despite the knowledge that is written on every heart, they will still choose to ignore that knowledge and follow the road to destruction.  They even make jokes about it, saying, “Well, if I go to hell, I won’t be alone.  All of my friends will be right there with me.” 

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” 
(Matthew 7:13-14  NLT)

When I look at the world we live in today, it both saddens and sickens me to see how much evil has increased since I was a child.  When I was a child, there were the occasional fights in school, talking too much in class and chewing gum.  Most crimes were limited to big cities, which were far away, and though we had bomb drills, and lived during the Cold War, we had no fear, for who would ever be foolhardy enough to dare attacking us on American soil?

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 
(Matthew 24:12  NLT)  

Now, I am fifty-four years old, and in today’s world, children and their parents fear they might not come home from school, alive, each day.  We now live in a world, where children plot and kill their parents, and where not only fathers, but also mothers, murder, abuse and molest their own children.  There are also police, who are corrupted by power, and use it to commit violence and homicides against both innocent citizens and unarmed criminals, thereby violating their duty to protect and defend.  Though they have made an oath to heal to the best of their ability, and to do no harm, doctors and nurses murder the very patients they have sworn to care for.  Yes, things like this have been happening since Adam’s rebellion, yet it is becoming more and more prevalent, and the crimes that people commit against one another are becoming more and more heinous.

Image Credit: openwalls.com
Image Credit:
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As we look at the evil all around us, and perhaps even within us, it would be easy to lose heart.  Yet, the very God who created us, also loves us with an unfathomable love, and He knew, long before He created the heavens and the earth, that Adam would sin against Him, thereby ushering sin into His beautiful creation.  Therefore, because sin is so deadly, God had a plan worked out for the redemption of mankind, who was created in His image, even as He breathed life into Adam and Eve.

For the penalty for sin is death, and because sin is so deadly, there are no exceptions.  Whether you eat a forbidden fruit, or whether you destroy the life of another human being, the requirement for the atonement of sin is the death of the sinner, for the sins he has committed.  Yet, despite the evil all around us, God’s love for mankind was so great that He made a way to redeem the life of man…

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)  

God knew the depths to which the depravity of man would sink, still, even so, His love for us was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son, so that we could live.  He knew that Nero would be born, and that he would commit terrible, torturous atrocities against those who followed Christ.  He knew that Adolf Hitler would one day, destroy the lives of untold millions, and in the process, slay six million Jewish men, women and children.  God knew that Osama bin Ladin would rise up and kill thousands, in the name of his false god, Allah, as he spewed out violence and hatred.  God also knows that one day the antichrist will rise up against Christ and His people, torturing and killing countless men, women and children.  Still, God chose to give the life of His one and only Son, so that you and I could live and be with Him in eternity.  And don’t think that Christ had no say in the matter, for He made it very clear that His love, is so great, that He laid His life down for us willingly…

17 “The Father loves Me because I sacrifice My life so I may take it back again.  18 No one can take My life from Me.  I sacrifice it voluntarily.  For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.  For this is what My Father has commanded.” 
(John 10:17-18  NLT) 

Yes, it is true that we live in a world with evil all around us, yet we don’t have to be discouraged or afraid.  For Jesus has told us in His word that as long as we live here on earth, there will be pain and tribulation, but we mustn’t fear, for He has overcome the world.  In fact, the word of God also tells us something else that many Christians in the western hemisphere have chosen to ignore…

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  13 Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.  16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name!  17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.  And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?  18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” 

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.
(1 Peter 4:12-19  NLT)

Sadly, not only do these “leaders of the church” ignore this passage, they also accuse those who suffer of having weak faith, causing believers to doubt their own faith in God, sometimes even causing them to turn away from the Lord, because they feel hopeless.  Those so called “leaders,” who make these false claims that someone’s suffering is their own fault, because a true child of God would claim healing and walk in it, will be held accountable for every false statement they have made in the name of God.  Indeed, the blood of every man, woman and child they have caused to stumble and turn away from God, will be on their hands.  For those who do these things, causing emotional pain and spiritual death, are just as evil as those who cause physical harm to another human being, and God will hold them accountable for every sin they committed in the name of Jesus.

As I stated earlier, there is evil all around us.  The spirit of evil dwells in the hearts and souls of many men and women, and it also exists in Satan and his demons.  Even so, when the enemies of our souls attack us, remember this, and take hope; though the evil all around us can steal our bodies and our minds, those who belong to Christ, should have no fear, for the evil cannot touch our spirits, which belong to Christ, and will one day arise from the grave in triumphant victory, clothed in our heavenly bodies.  Therefore, when you read of evil in the news, or watch it on the television, fear not!  For if God is for us, who can be against us?

It’s Not a Black Thing or a White Thing – It’s a Jesus Thing

The following is a letter that I posted on Facebook this morning, and I believe it’s important enough to post here as well, for it is vital to the life of our church and nation:

Greetings to ALL My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To each and every man, woman and child, who has surrendered themselves to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, out of a heart filled with love and gratitude to our Savior, who willingly paid the penalty of death for your sins and for mine, I greet you in the name of Jesus.  I’m writing this letter to you because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for this beautiful nation that God has blessed us with.  I have always felt honored and blessed to live in this great nation, which was founded on the principles that…

… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… (Declaration of Independence)


I believe with all my heart that this is true, not because the Declaration of Independence says so, but because the bible tells me so…

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.  For you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.  (Galatians 3:26-29  NLT)

Beloved readers, do you understand what this means? It means that once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus, Himself!  It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, a servant or a king, black or white or any other shade in between, you are a child of God, who loves each of His children equally.  It doesn’t matter whether you are very intelligent, or whether you have a learning disability, your Daddy (Abba/Father) loves you just as much as He loves His other children.  It doesn’t matter if your parents loved you more or less than your siblings, because God is your Father now, and He is just.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  He loves you just as much as He loved King David, the Apostle Paul, Peter, James and John.  Do you understand?

If you understand this, you need to understand something else.  When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you become God’s child, you also gain some new siblings, who are also children of God.  Do you know what this means?  It means that you have brothers and sisters from every race and culture, and because they are your siblings, you have to love them, no matter what, because Daddy loves them, and if Daddy thinks they’re worthy of His love, don’t you think they’re worthy of yours too?

Now, I’ve told you that I’m writing this letter because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for our wonderful nation, and I’ve established a very good case for why we should love ALL of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, so now, I’m going to take this love thing a step further, before I share my grief with you.  Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, not only are we supposed to love our brothers and sisters, but according to the bible, we’re supposed to love our enemies too…

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 you45 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.”  (Matthew 5:43-48  NLT)

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)

After reading these words of Jesus, it is very clear that God expects us to love each other AND our enemies. There is no wiggle room, no way to escape this.  And, beloved reader, please allow me to make this perfectly clear, for it is of the utmost importance that you understand.  Jesus isn’t saying, “Try to love your enemies.”  He isn’t saying, “Love good people.”  Jesus is COMMANDING us to LOVE our enemies.  Do you still need more evidence?

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:9-13  NLT)

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15  NLT)

Do you want to be forgiven?  Then forgive ALL who hurt you.  Do you want to remain in God’s love?  Then love ALL mankind.

This brings me to the reason for my grief.  We are all aware of the deep rooted racial anger that exists in our country.  It is like a dark plague that is killing the church and this once great nation.  You may ask why I say it is killing the church, and I will tell you, but first, I will remind you of my love for each and every one of you, my beloved readers, friends and enemies.  Some may read what I am saying and take offense, and I can live with that. However, one of the things that truly grieves me is that some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord may take offense, and it is this very thing that is killing the church.

Let’s talk about what is going on in our country, not as black or white people, but as Jesus’ people, okay?  You see, when we became children of God, we took on HIS identity.  I am no longer defined by my race or ethnicity, and neither are you, brothers and sisters.  I am now called “Christian,” and when I interact with people of the world, I want them to see Christ in me, not the white in me.  Also, when I look at my brothers and sisters of different races, I don’t see the color or lack of color in them, I look to see the same Jesus, who lives in me, in them too.  When I see the Christ in you, my beloved brothers and sisters, how can I help but love you?

Not only that, but when I look at those who don’t know Christ, it isn’t their color that I care about, it’s their heart.  My heart is filled with love for those who don’t know Christ, because I know the One who could set them free from their anger and bitterness against people of different races.  I grew up in a racist household, and I know firsthand that racism breeds bitterness, and that terrible root of bitterness chokes the life out of every other relationship the bitter person has.

Church, the reason I’m grieving is because WE are supposed to be different from the world.  WE are the ones who are supposed to be setting the examples for the world, and yet, how many of us have found ourselves caught up in the anger that is all around us?  How many of us are part of the problem, instead of trying to be part of the solution?  What if God’s people united as ONE, just as Jesus prayed we would be, and what if we humbled ourselves and prayed, and turned from our wicked ways?  And what if we joined together, seeking God’s face, and asking Him to bring unity and love to our land?  I believe God would hear our cry and He would heal our land.  Do you know why?  Because the bible says so.

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14  NKJV)

But sadly, something is preventing us from uniting and praying together, and do you know what that something is?  This may be offensive to you, but the words I write are written in love.  My heart’s desire is for God to heal our land, and in order for this to happen, we must humble ourselves, but PRIDE is preventing this from happening.  You see, there are some among us, who are proud of our race.

Now, I have to be honest with you, and if it offends you, I encourage you to study God’s word, and pray about it.  You see, there are some white people who are proud of their lack of pigment.  There are also some black people who are very proud of their dark pigment.  Now, here’s where I stand on the matter.  I’m white, but I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it.  I didn’t choose to be white.  In fact, I had nothing to do with it, because long before He laid the foundations of the earth, God had determined that I would be a white woman.  He’s the One who carefully formed me, and knitted me together in my mother’s womb, and for reasons that only He knows, He didn’t bless me with as much melanin as some of my darker brothers and sisters.  That’s okay.  I don’t feel slighted.  In fact, in the whole scheme of eternity, my lack of melanin, and someone else’s abundance of melanin is really unimportant.  After all, the current tent that I dwell in is only temporary, and at nearly fifty-four years old, it’s starting to break down.  In fact, one day in the not so distant future, it will finally wear out, and my spirit will leave this body.  At some point in time that only God knows, I will eventually receive an eternal body (my forever body), which will never wear out and die, so why should I care about the color of my current flesh?

Indeed, people of God, why should any of us care about our skin tone?  You don’t have to tell me the answer to my next question, but it is something you need to pray and talk to our Father about it.  Do you have white pride?  Do you have black pride?  Are you prideful of your race?  If so, you need to lay that pride aside and humble yourself and pray for forgiveness. You do know that Lucifer was cast down out of heaven, because he was proud of the body God had given him, right?  Do you think that God likes racial pride?  Think again.  If you want something to boast about, children of God, boast about this:

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31  NLT)

14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.  (Galatians 6:14-16  NLT)

Beloved children of God, it’s time for us to stop allowing our flesh to control our thoughts and our attitudes.  It’s time for us to stop taking sides in the current trouble our nation faces.  The fact is that there are good white cops, and there are bad white cops. There are good black cops, and there are bad black cops.  There are good black men, who have been the innocent victims of bad white cops, and vice versa.  However, there are also dangerous and criminal black men, who have attacked good white cops, and been shot in self-defense, and vice versa.  So, what can we, as children of the Most High God, do to bring peace and righteousness to our land???

We can start by repenting of any pride that we may be clinging to.  We can unite as One church in this battle for peace in our land – no more “white” churches or “black” churches.  Let us come together as One people, not to preach or shout or argue about why “I” am right and “You” are wrong. Instead, let us come together as the sons and daughters of God, and let us humble ourselves, as Jesus did…

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:1-11  NLT)

My beloved brothers and sisters, do you want to heal our land and bring about a true and lasting peace?  Or, do you want to hold on to your bitterness and anger? Do you want to prove that you are right, holding fast to your pride?  Or do you want to surrender it to Christ and join together with ALL of your brothers and sisters, humbling ourselves and praying?  Do you want people to see the black or white in you?  Or do you want them to see the Christ in you?  Are you willing to risk offending friends and family for the sake of the cross?  Or are you ashamed of this gospel of peace?

Shall we teach our children to respect law enforcement officers and pray God removes the bad ones?  Or should we teach them to rebel against the law? Shall we love our friends and hate our enemies? Or shall we love our enemies, with no regard to race, and bless them, as Jesus commanded?  The choice is yours.  Shall we choose a time to unite and come together to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face?  Or will we hold on to our bitterness and malice towards another race, refusing to forgive?  The choice is yours.  If you want to meet and join together, please leave a comment, and we can figure out where and when to join together and cry out to Jesus for our children, our law enforcement officers and our land.

In closing, I’d like to share the priestly blessing with each one of you.  For not only are we children of God, but we are also a royal priesthood…

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” 

In the blessed name of Jesus, I remain,

Your Sister Cheryl

© 2015
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

What is Love?

love_heart_uidaodjsdsew

Yesterday, people from all over the world celebrated Valentine’s Day, the day of love, which begs the question, “What is love, anyway?”

Love is something that most human beings long for and seek for most of their lives. I truly believe that within every man, woman and child, there is a place within our hearts that needs to love and to be loved. There’s a place within us that longs to know and to be fully known, and yet despite our obvious flaws, still be loved completely…

Almost my entire life has bee spent seeking the love and approval of others… family… friends… strangers… and even enemies! Rejection from family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what, left me feeling alone and unworthy of love. All too often, I would prayerfully and tearfully ask God what was wrong with me. Why was I so unlovable?

Because of the pain I felt from the rejection of those family members, I was blind to those who truly did love me, just as I am. I was blessed with a husband and children who love me very deeply, and yet, I spent most of my life waiting for them to see the “real me”, which would cause them to reject me too.

As a child, I had to fight to win my parents’ love and approval, and unfortunately, all too often, I failed in my plight. As a result of this, I grew up feeling unloved. For I always did something terrible, which caused them to withhold their love from me. 

Knowing how my family felt about me, I was certain that the God of heaven and earth, who knows all and sees all, could never love me. He has seen the best in me, and the worst in me. He knows every bad thing I’ve ever done and ever thought of doing. He also knows every bad thing that I will someday do, and so I was convinced that He couldn’t love me, until I began to hear His voice…

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

~ Psalm 139:14  NASB ~

I had always felt ugly and defective, both inside and out. As a child, I had buck teeth and a curved spine, which caused me to have to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. And yet now, the Lord was telling me that He had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had made me fearfully and wonderfully in His image. Even so, I still doubted that God could really love me. After all, I had grown up believing that I was unlovable, so how could He love me?

Long ago the Lord said to (Cheryl) Israel:
“I have loved you, My (daughterpeople, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

I was amazed. How could the Lord of all Creation, the King of Glory possibly love me? And yet He not only loved me; He also drew me to Himself. What an amazing God and what an amazing love!

I accepted the great gift of His love, and yet, there was still the little girl within me that wondered, “If God had really loved me and chosen me from the foundations of the world, why had I always felt so unloved? Why had I always felt so alone? What was wrong with me?”

You see, I wasn’t questioning God’s goodness. I was questioning my own worth. I was certain there was something terribly wrong with me, something ugly and unlovable. Then, one night, as I was driving with my daughter, who was pregnant with her first child, while we were discussing baby names and their meanings, the Lord spoke to my heart…

Glancing at my daughter, as I drove, I suddenly said, “Do you know what Cheryl means?”

“No,” she responded, “what does it mean?”

“It means ‘Beloved,'” I replied. 

“Yes, My child. Your name is Beloved, because you are My beloved. I loved you and chose you before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it is I who named you. For you are My beloved, and I have always loved you.”

Suddenly, everything made sense. I am lovable, because God loves me. I am worthy of love, because God has made me worthy, and if God has that kind of love for me, isn’t it possible that He loves you as well? 

Now, my outlook has changed. After all, if God could love me so much, that He would sacrifice His one and only Son in exchange for my life, then how could I not love people, even my enemies, just as He did? Because He loves me so much, I can’t help but share His love with others.

So, what is this love that God has for us, and that He commands us to share with others? Paul, an apostle of Christ, and a great man of God, gives us a wonderful image of what love is, in 1 Corinthians 13…

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

~ 1 Corinthians 13  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

A Day in the Life…

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. ~ Matthew 24:12 NLT ~

I watched the news Friday night, and as I watched, I wept. Since then, I haven’t been able to get the news out of my mind or my heart. An old Beatles song came to mind as well, and I just couldn’t shake it, so take a listen to the song, before you read on or listen while you read.

Corporal Nathan Cirillo
Corporal Nathan Cirillo

Please bear with me as I share what I saw and heard on Friday night, that caused me to weep… On Friday, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the twenty-four year old soldier who was needlessly slain Wednesday, was taken home, to be laid to rest. He was driven home along the Highway of Heroes, while hundreds of Canadians gathered to pay tribute to him, as he made his way to his home and final resting place.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

On Wednesday, after ruthlessly shooting Corporal Cirillo, his assassin, thirty-two year old, Islamic convert, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then charged through Canada’s parliament, before being fatally shot by Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers. Not only did an innocent young man lose his life, but also, his assassin, their lives cut terribly short.

The following day, when parliament reconvened, Sargeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, was hailed as a hero for killing Zehaf-Bibeau before he could murder or harm anyone else. You could see tears rolling down the staunch officer’s cheeks, as he stood otherwise composed, while the members of parliament gave him a standing ovation, and I couldn’t help but cry for this brave man too, for though he had done the right thing by killing the killer before he could kill anyone else, he would have to live and come to terms with the knowledge that he had taken a human life.

This whole story is heartbreaking. An innocent twenty-four year old, with his whole life ahead of him, including a wife and a six year old son, who will now grow up fatherless, not to mention a brother and parents, was senselessly slain. As a parent of two grown children, I can’t imagine losing one of my children. In the natural scheme of things, parents are usually the first to pass on, and I can’t even begin to imagine how devastating this loss must be to Corporal Cirillo’s family. How could I not weep over this story?

Thomas Eric Duncan
Thomas Eric Duncan

Another story covered, was the ebola epidemic, and the nurses who cared for Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, who was forty-two years old, when he died of the deadly ebola virus in the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The nurses who spoke to reporters seemed to be genuinely compassionate, as they shared what it was like to care for the dying man. One nurse in particular said that he held Mr. Duncan’s hand, staying by his bedside, in the place of his family members, who were not allowed to be there, because of the danger  of catching the highly infectious disease.

Other nurses shared how their community has responded to them. One said that her niece was asked not to return to school for twenty-one days, even though they don’t even live together. Still others said they were being shunned by various friends and businesses, who were fearful of the medical team contaminating them with the virus, even though the virus is transmitted by body fluids, and is not airborne.

Again, I couldn’t help but weep, for Mr. Duncan, who caught the deadly disease when he buried his pregnant daughter, who died from it. In the aftermath of his falling ill with the dreaded disease, both the Liberian government and the Dallas County prosecutor considered filing criminal charges against the dying man for bringing the disease to the United States.

How ironic this is, when it was the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that failed to test and treat Mr. Duncan immediately, when he arrived in the Emergency Room on September 24, 2014. When Thomas Duncan told the ER staff he had just returned to the United States from Africa, they should have questioned him more closely about where in Africa he had come from. He should also have been tested for ebola, based simply on the knowledge that he had come from Africa, where the ebola epidemic rages on, yet instead of admitting him to an isolated unit and testing him for the disease, they dropped the ball, sending him home with antibiotics, which could not fight the disease; and to his family, thereby putting them at risk of catching the ebola virus.

When Thomas Duncan returned four days later, on September 28, 2014, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital dropped the ball yet again, with this very sick patient. Yes, they admitted him to an isolated room, but they failed to treat the disease until six days later, on October 4, 2014, when they treated him with an experimental drug. Sadly, it was too little, too late, and Mr. Thomas Duncan died on October 8, 2014.  Had he been tested and treated immediately, there is every reason to believe that Thomas Duncan would have survived the disease, like every other patient who has been treated here in the United States. Again, how could I not weep over the injustice of this?

Man-attacks-police-with-hatchet-jpgAlso in the news was a recap of the unprovoked attack by a man armed with a hatchet on Thursday, who struck two police officers, one on his arm, and other on his head, before he was shot and killed by the two other officers who were there. Sadly, an innocent bystander, a twenty-nine year old woman, was shot in her lower back. Yet again, I couldn’t help but cry, and still, the news continued.

Jaylen Fryberg
Jaylen Fryberg

Friday, during the early lunch at a high school in the state of Washington, Jaylen Fryberg, a fourteen year old freshman, shot and killed a female student, and wounded four others, before shooting and killing himself. It was said that he shot both family members and friends. What could be so wrong, that he would do something so terrible? I couldn’t seem to help myself, as I sat in my recliner, weeping for the lost souls, who placed no value on human lives.

The final story was an uplifting story, yet it, too, broke my heart. Lauren Hill, nineteen years old, and a Freshman at Mount St. Joseph University, near Cincinnati, Ohio, is also a basketball player. After discovering she had a malignant brain tumor that was terminal, Lauren’s response was, “Can I at least still play basketball?”

Lauren Hill
Lauren Hill

Wearing jersey  number 22, Lauren gets up early every morning to practice with her team. Though the tumor has weakened her coordination and energy, Lauren still pushes herself to come to practice. Her goal has been to play NCAA basketball for Mount St. Joseph University since she first found out about her tumor, but because it is likely that she has only a couple of weeks left to live, the NCAA did something unprecedented. Because Lauren’s situation is so urgent, the NCAA made a special exception to change the Division III school’s opener against Hiram College to Nov. 2, despite its rules that require seasons to start later in November.

Lauren’s hopefulness is inspiring. Her goal isn’t just to live to play that one game. She has stated that she hopes Sunday’s game will just be her first basketball game with  her team, and that many others will follow. Again, how could I not weep as I witnessed this young woman’s courage in the face of certain death?

As I sat in my recliner weeping, I wondered what was wrong with me. After all, it’s not as though I knew any of the people in these stories personally, but then, just as quickly, another thought ran through my  mind. “There’s nothing wrong with you for weeping for those who are suffering. Instead, you should ask, “What’s wrong with the people who are not as affected by these stories?”

Sadly, far too many people have become desensitized to the pain of others, Even Christians have become hardened to the pain of strangers. Many adults and young people watch horror films and murder shows, not to mention the nightly news, with all of the violence going on throughout the world, while still others play violent games, and search out violent websites. After viewing so much violence and killing, many people have become desensitized to these things.

However, for those of us who are Christians, this should not be. It’s easy not to feel personally affected by the suffering of someone we don’t know, and have never seen, yet, as followers of Christ, we are to love even those we don’t know, and when you love someone, you care about what happens to them, even if you haven’t seen him/her for a long time. In fact, look at this command for Christians…

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. ~ Romans 12:15  NASB ~

Beloved reader, when is the last time you wept because of the plight of people you may not even know? When you hear of human trafficking; of children being sold as sex slaves; of men, women and children dying of dreadful diseases like ebola; of tragedies like hurricanes and tornadoes destroying people’s homes and even killing them, do you feel the weight of their pain? Does your heart ache for the abused and misused? The prophets wept for the people of Judea and Israel, especially Jeremiah. Jesus wept for Mary when He saw her weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus…

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and [h]was troubled, 34 and said,“Where have you laid him?” They *said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. ~ John 11:33-35  NASB ~

Beloved reader, if you find yourself unmoved by the pain and suffering of others, then you need to pray for God to change your heart of stone…

26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26  NASB ~

Ask the Lord to fill you with His love for others. Ask Him to help you to love others the same way that He loves them. Ask Him to help you to weep with those who weep, and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For this is God’s will for His children. In fact, Jesus commands us to love even our enemies…

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” ~ Matthew 5:43-48  NASB ~

Finally, beloved readers, ask your heavenly Father to help you to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice, in Jesus’ name. For He is faithful to His children, and if we delight ourselves in Him, and ask for anything according to His will, He will give us the desires of our heart…

14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. ~ 1 John 5:14-15  NASB ~

Take delight in the Lord,
    and He will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4  NLT ~

Beloved reader, don’t become desensitized (hard of heart). Rather, weep for those who are hurting and struggling. Weep for those who are lost. Weep for the many nations, including our own, who are bent on going to hell.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Who Are You Worshiping For?

My daughter sent me the following video clip of Victoria Osteen, exhorting her congregation, a few days ago, and as I watched it, I couldn’t help but feel sickened and uneasy in the pit of my stomach. In the clip, Mrs. Osteen gave the congregation at Lakewood Church, and the television audience, reasons to worship God, that left me both shocked and disgusted as I watched. Like someone who witnesses a terrible crime or accident, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, nor could I stop myself from listening to every word that she spoke, in stunned silence.

I’ve already written about Joel Osteen, and the false gospel  he preaches and teaches (see bulleted links below).

Yet, although I’ve researched Joel Osteen’s false gospel, I never gave much thought about his wife, Victoria, and her beliefs and teachings, until I watched this video clip (see below).

I concur with Bill Cosby’s statement tacked on at the end of Victoria Osteen’s exhortation. For that truly is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard coming out of a minister’s mouth. Indeed, after listening to Mrs. Osteen’s heretic urging and teaching in this video, I feel compelled to address the things she said from a biblical standpoint.

“So I just want to encourage every one of us to realize, when we obey God, we’re not doin’ it for God. I mean that’s one way to look at it. We’re doin’ it for ourself, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy this morning.

“So I want you to know this morning, just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doin’ it for God, really. You’re doin’ it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

Victoria OsteenWhen Mrs. Osteen stated that when we obey God, we’re not doing it for Him, but for ourselves, I was shocked and disgusted by how narcissistic her exhortation was. Let’s be clear about this, the Lord, our God is a jealous God, and though He loves us with an everlasting love, He is God and we worship Him because He alone is worthy of worship…

“You must not have any other god but Me.”  ~ Exodus 20:3  NLT ~

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject Me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love Me and obey My commands.  ~ Exodus 20:4-6  NLT ~

By suggesting that we worship for ourselves, Victoria Osteen is inviting her followers to be as prideful and self-serving as Satan was when he tried to exalt himself over God. Those who do as Mrs. Osteen suggested, are setting themselves up as gods or idols, and God makes Himself very clear about the dangers of idol worship. Whenever anyone chooses to exalt himself above God, he/she will earn His wrath, just as Lucifer did. Further, just as Lucifer was brought low for his pride, so will all, who exalt themselves above God, be brought low.

12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son            of the morning! You have been thrown down to the            earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13   For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and          set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the          mountain of the gods far away in the north.
14 I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the                 Most High.’
15 Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the         dead, down to its lowest depths.  ~ Isaiah 14:12-15            NLT ~

17 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your            beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of            splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed            you to the curious gaze of kings. ~ Ezekiel 28:17  NLT        ~

"Cut Down - The Pride of Nebuchadnezzar" by: Slavujac
“Cut Down – The Pride of Nebuchadnezzar”
by: Slavujac

Don’t be deceived! Those who dare to exalt themselves above the Lord will be brought low, if not in this lifetime, then certainly when they come to the judgement seat of Christ. A good example of this can be found in Daniel 4, when King Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself above God by not acknowledging that all of his accomplishments were a result of God’s goodness to him. Instead, Nebuchadnezzar bragged that his accomplishments were a result of his own doing, crediting himself, rather than God. As a result, King Nebuchadnezzar was brought very low. (Click the link to Daniel 4, above, to read the whole story.)

Mrs. Osteen also claimed that God wants us to be happy, and that He takes pleasure in our happiness. Now, while that sounds really nice, it isn’t true. The fact is that mankind is often very happy when he is sinning, and this most certainly does NOT please God.

24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. ~ Hebrews 11:24-25  NLT ~

The fact is that by encouraging people to worship to please themselves instead of God, Mrs. Osteen is aiding Satan, who comes to steal, kill and destroy, by robbing and cheating people out of the blessings that could be theirs. Not only that, but those who refuse to worship the Lord in spirit and truth will be punished. Let’s examine the consequences of choosing not to worship God for His name’s sake…

Take delight in the Lordand He will give you your heart’s desires. ~ Psalm 37:4  NLT ~

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! ~ Philippians 4:4  NASB ~

47 If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, 48 you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until He has destroyed you. ~Deuteronomy 28:47-48  NLT ~

The consequences for not worshiping and obeying the Lord in spirit and in truth are serious. That is why it is vital for every believer to study and know God’s word, for it is easy to be led astray. Let’s see what the scriptures say about how we should worship and obey the Lord…

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. ~ Philippians 2:12-18  NLT ~

Beloved readers, as we examine the scriptures, do you see where it tells us to worship to please ourselves? In each of the scriptures above, we are commanded to delight ourselves in the Lord, or to rejoice in the LordNOT in ourselves. In fact, Paul tells us to obey God with deep reverence and fear. There’s certainly no room to be self-centered in that command. Then, as we worship and obey Him with deep reverence and fear, God will reward us by giving us the desire to do what pleases Him. Again, it says NOTHING about worshiping to please ourselves. Our goal is to do what pleases God.

Image Credit: Pinterest - Carmen Woodie
Image Credit:
Pinterest – Carmen Woodie

Beloved readers, please do not get tangled in the false teachings and false doctrines of mankind. Instead, seek your answers from God’s word. The following scripture is my heartfelt prayer for each person who reads this post…

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2  NLT ~

Beloved readers, God is worthy of our worship. All too often, we sometimes confuse ourselves or others by trying to make worship more appealing to the masses. We confuse people into believing that worship is singing hymns, or “Praise and Worship” music, but that is not what worship is.

Worship is declaring God’s “worth.” We can declare God’s worth in many ways. One way to worship God is through obedience. The first time that “worship” is mentioned in the bible is when God commanded Abraham to take his son, Isaac, up the mountain, to offer him as a sacrifice to Him, in Genesis 22:

“Stay here with the donkey,” Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”

Image Credit: christianslikeme.net
Image Credit:
christianslikeme.net

The Lord had asked Abraham to sacrifice his precious son, whom he had long waited for, and offer him as a burnt sacrifice. Now, here’s one thing I’m certain of, this act of worship did not make Abraham happy. In fact, I feel certain that this was the hardest thing Abraham had ever had to do. Now, if Abraham had been listening to Victoria Osteen, he might have sung a “worship” song that made him happy, rationalizing that since he was happy with his choice of worship, then God must be happy too.

Now, just think about this for a minute. If Abraham had done as Mrs. Osteen suggested, he would not have heard the angel of the Lord… he would not have seen the ram in the bushes and sacrificed it to God… he would not have proved that he truly did fear and revere the Lord… he may not have become the father of many nations… God’s Son, Jesus, may not have come from his bloodline…

Beloved readers, in closing, I leave you with these scriptures about worship. I urge you to worship the Lord according to His word, NOT Victoria Osteen’s word…

24 “For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” ~ John 4:24  NLT ~

Come, let us worship and bow down.
    Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker… ~ Psalm 95:6  NLT ~

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.'” ~ Luke 4:8  NLT ~

28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire. ~ Hebrews 12:28-29  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Whoever Has the Son Has Life…

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

Image Credit: Whoever has the Son has eternal life.
Image Credit:
Whoever has the Son has eternal life.

What a powerful scripture! “Whoever has the Son has life…”

When we’re drowning in sorrow, as long as the Son of God dwells within us, we have life.

When pain overtakes our body, we still live, despite the affliction, because Christ lives within us.

No matter what we endure for His name’s sake, we still have life, as long as He remains within our hearts.

And though our world crumbles and falls, even still, we live in His name.

Yes, although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are assured that though we die, yet, we shall live, when the Son of God is our Lord and Savior.

Image Credit: Nevada Pain
Image Credit:
Nevada Pain

I live with chronic back pain that keeps worsening with the passage of time. It often renders me unable to do the simplest daily activities, things that you never even think about, until you can no longer do them for yourself. I now require help to do things such as…

  • Bathing myself…
    • Dressing myself…
      • Cooking…
        • Cleaning…
          • Handicap Parking…
            • Walking (I must use a cane)…
              • Shopping (I must use a scooter)…
                • Playing with my grandchildren…

My husband now carries the load of cooking, cleaning and caring for me, and while I am so thankful for this good man, I also worry that I’ve become a burden to him. When I express this concern to him, he asks me if I thought he was a burden, whenever he’s been sick and unable to do anything, and my answer is, “No, of course not. I love you.”

He then smiles at me, and replies, “I love you too,” and I know this is true. I don’t understand how or why, but I am so grateful to my God and Savior, who knew me before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, and chose me to be His. I am thankful, because He knew, long before He placed me in my mother’s womb, that I would one day suffer with chronic back pain, and He had a plan to help me endure it. For three years before I was born, He had created a little boy, who would one day grow up to be my husband. So, knowing the love and patience that would be required to help me endure, He gifted my husband with love, joy, patience, gentleness and kindness…

Image Credit: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Image Credit:
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

I wish I could tell you that I’ve accepted my circumstances graciously, but that would be a lie. My faith has been attacked from every side, and there have been many times when I’ve given up. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to believe that God will answer my prayers for others, than it is to believe that He will answer my prayers for myself. Therefore, like the father of the boy with the murderous deaf-mute spirit that tried to kill him, by throwing him into the fire or water, while his body was overcome with convulsions, I find myself uttering his same desperate cry to Jesus…

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

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

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

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

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with His disciples, they asked Him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” ~ Mark 9:20-29  NLT ~

Like this boy’s father, I desperately want to believe that Jesus will heal me, but what if that isn’t His will? What if His will is for me to endure this pain for reasons I don’t know? Oh, I know that many churches tell us that it is not God’s will for His people to suffer, but how do they explain the suffering endured by every one of the great heroes of faith?

  • Abel was murdered by his own brother because he offered a more acceptable gift to God than his brother…
    • Joseph suffered unjustly, betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave. Then he became a prisoner in a country far from his home…
      • David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered greatly, chased by the murderous King Saul, losing his and Bathsheba’s first child to death, and later, betrayed by one of his own sons…
        • Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, for he suffered greatly for the Kingdom of God.
          • Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were thrown in a fiery furnace…
            • Daniel was thrown in a den of lions...
          • 13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  ~ Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT ~
        • 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. ~ Hebrews 11:35-40  NLT ~

Now, many might argue that these are all Old Testament examples, and that we are living under the New Covenant, not the Law, and that is true. However, let us not forget that God is the same today, yesterday and forever…

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 ~

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.  ~ Malachi 3:6  NLT ~

While it is true that the examples above are Old Testament references, it is also true that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Not only did Old Testament men and women of God suffer for His name’s sake; New Testament men and women of God suffered as well…

And, because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, let us not forget that Old Testament and New Testament Christians weren’t the only ones to suffer…

  • Joni Eareckson Tada, a wonderful woman of God, with a powerful ministry, was in a terrible diving accident as a teen, and though she prayed for healing, it was God’s will for her to remain a quadriplegic, while still ministering for His glory.
    • Dave Roever, a godly man who served his country faithfully in the unpopular Vietnam war, was badly wounded by a hand grenade that exploded in his hand. Though his face was badly disfigured, he still gave glory to God, and ministered throughout the United States as an evangelist, then eventually returned to Vietnam as a missionary, at the Lord’s leading.
      • Patsy Clairmont, another woman of God, suffered for many years as an agoraphobic (fear of open places and crowds), before becoming an author and minister for the Lord.
        • Fanny Crosby, author of more than 8,000 hymns, loved the Lord and served Him faithfully, though she remained blind her entire life. And, rather than lamenting her circumstances, she once said, “Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind… for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

Therefore, despite the things I’ve been taught, when I examine the scriptures and the history of the church, I have come to realize that it isn’t God’s will for His people to remain trouble free, no matter what we’ve been told. In fact, it seems to me that it is in the dark times of suffering, in our weaknesses that God’s strength is revealed. In fact, even the apostle Paul asked God to remove his suffering…

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10  NLT ~

As I study the word of God, concerning suffering, I am beginning to understand that those who have claimed that my suffering is God’s punishment against me, are absolutely wrong, and it is they who do not understand what God’s word truly says about suffering…

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5  NKJV ~

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2-4  NLT ~

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. ~ Romans 8:18  NLT ~

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT ~

As I read the Word of the Lord, my faith is being renewed and restored. For too long, I’ve allowed the false teachings and the opinions of others to weigh me down, filling me with fear and doubt, which only magnifies the physical pain I must endure. As I write these words and share the words the Lord has given me, I believe that God will use them to strengthen and encourage others who are suffering as well. 

Beloved readers, don’t allow false teaching and man’s opinions to influence you. If someone tells you that it isn’t God’s will for you to suffer, or if they blame your circumstances on your lack of faith, don’t allow those words to fill you with shame. If someone tells you that your suffering is a punishment from God, or an attack from the devil, don’t allow those words to influence you.

Instead, 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 NLTBeloved readers, don’t assume that your suffering is a punishment from God or an attack from the devil. And don’t assume that your suffering is not a part of God’s will for your life, because nothing happens by chance, and if you are truly a child of God, and you are living in obedience to Him, then He will keep you in His will. In fact, don’t even waste your time asking why you are suffering. Instead, remember these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples…

33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33  NLT ~

Finally, beloved readers, no matter what you are suffering, the most important thing for you to cling to is your relationship with Jesus. Have you been born again? If so, then whatever your circumstances are, no matter how much pain and suffering you endure, no matter how oppressed and depressed you are or have been, rejoice, because you have life!

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.” ~ John 11:25  NLT ~

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

In closing, I would like to share this final word with those people who are suffering and have never been born again. If you have read this post all the way to the end, rejoice, because God has not given up on you, and He can turn your suffering into a reason to rejoice, as well. It is not by chance that you found this post and read it; it is because God has led you here so that you can be born again and live.

In order to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you don’t have to pray a “Sinner’s Prayer.” You just need to  believe and do what the following scriptures say…

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  ~ Romans 3:23  NLT ~

According to this scripture, everyone has sinned against God, (except for Jesus, who was the Son of God and completely without sin). This means that every man, woman, boy and girl has sinned. It means that you have sinned, and I have sinned too. It means that even preachers and prophets have sinned. The scripture tells us that everyone has failed to meet the standard that God has set for us. This means that just as the worst criminal has fallen short of God’s glorious standard, we, too, have fallen short of His glorious standard. Do you believe this?

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 ~

According to God’s Law, the penalty for sinning and falling short of His glorious standard is death. As you can plainly see, there is no differential for how big or how small the sin is. It simply says that the payment or wages for sin is death. It sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But God had a rescue plan for us…

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. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.  ~ John 3:16-21  NLT ~

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 ~

27 Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. 28 In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for Him. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28  GNT ~

Do you believe this? Would you like to be born again and saved, so that you can spend eternity with the King of all kings and Lord of all lords? Would you like to have a personal relationship with the One who loved you before He laid the foundations of the earth?

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

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

Do you believe all of this? If so, openly declare it, so that all will know that you have been reborn. Then, to help you grow in your faith, begin reading and studying the Bible, for its pages contain God’s word. You don’t need to read large portions either. Instead, before you begin to read, ask God to give you an understanding heart. Then, read a small portion of it… (i.e. – John 1 is a good place to start, so begin reading John 1:1-5. Then, read it again, out loud, and meditate {think} about what it says. You might want to study just that small portion for a week, and write your thoughts about it. Then, begin reading the next portion and meditate on it.) [If you don’t have a bible, you can visit Bible Gateway and read the bible in any version you prefer. Try several different versions, and see which ones are the easiest to understand.]

Also, ask God to place other believers in your life, so that you can worship with them and grow spiritually. Welcome into the family of God, beloved reader. If I can help you in your new walk with God, write me a message and I will answer you and pray for you. God bless you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Overcoming the Spirit of Heaviness

R.I.P. Robin Williams by: DanDynamite

R.I.P. Robin Williams
by: DanDynamite

Exactly two weeks ago, today, Robin Williams, a much loved comedian,  unexpectedly died by his own hand. Sadly, as is often the case in such situations, most of his adoring fans, as well as his friends and family,  never saw it coming. Why would someone as exuberant and seemingly joyful as he was, choose to take his own life? The answer to this question can be summed up in one word:

Depression

Dictionary.com defines depression this way:

1.    the act of depressing.
2.    the state of being depressed.
3.    depressed or sunken place or part; an area lower than
        the surrounding surface.
4.    sadness; gloom; dejection.
5.    Psychiatry. a condition of general emotional dejection
        and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged
        than that warranted by any objective reason.

Depression is as old as sin, and God’s word lets us know that it is a spirit. In fact, Isaiah 61:3 gives us the name of this spirit:

To console those who mourn in Zion,
   To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
   The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
   That they may be called trees of righteousness,
   The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
    ~ Isaiah 61:3   NKJV ~

TodaysBibleVerse.com
TodaysBibleVerse.com

None of us is exempt from experiencing feelings of sadness, fear and pain during our lifetime, and those feelings are perfectly normal in our sinful and imperfect world. For though God created a beautiful and perfect world for us to live in, that perfection was forever lost to mankind when Adam and Eve, father and mother to all humanity, chose to sin, and in so doing, handed their God-given dominion to Satan, whose mission is to steal, kill and destroy every man, woman and child from the face of the earth, according to Jesus, whose intent is to give us an abundant life…

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My       purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 
~ John 10:10  NLT ~

Image Credit: Subconsciously Thinking
Image Credit:
Subconsciously Thinking

Those who have never experienced depression, have a difficult time empathizing and understanding what it is like, for those who live with it. In fact, I always had difficulty understanding it, until I began to experience it for myself, more than a year ago. Depression truly is a spirit of heaviness, and those who carry that weight often falter and fail beneath the it, regardless of how strong, or joyful, or spiritually grounded they are.

Often, the person who is battling with depression slips under the radar, unnoticed, because they wear many different masks. I know this because I’ve worn those masks too, in an effort to appear “normal.” That spirit of heaviness is almost always accompanied by tormenting spirits that whisper accusations of worthlessness to the depressed person, reminding him/her of past or recent failures, and threatening to expose them. The spirit of fear is also closely associated with depression, as it magnifies the person’s current state, threatening to bring every one of his/her fears to fruition.

I’ve been under attack from these spirits for more than a year now, in addition to living with severe chronic back pain, and to be very honest, the weight of the depression has been heavier than any weight I’ve ever carried. I’ve been constantly tormented with accusing voices whispering how worthless I am, and that I am no longer able to minister or bless God. Because I require assistance from my husband to help me get dressed, and to cook and clean and take care of the household chores that I was once able to do, I hear those tormenting voices telling me that I’m wearing my husband down, and that I’m nothing but a burden to him, though he assures me that he loves me, and that caring for me is not a burden to him. Still, the accusations continue, wearing me down emotionally and spiritually, while the pain continues to wear me down physically. And yet, I put on my happy mask when I meet with others, fearing their condemnation on top of what I am already dealing with.

Have you ever experienced the weight and pain that comes from the spirit of heaviness? Do you try to hide what you are going through, to try and avoid more condemnation? Do you think it’s possible that Robin Williams dealt with those same spirits? 

Do you know what motivates me to continue each day, despite the war that’s being waged against my body, soul, mind and spirit? It is the fear of the Lord. You see, though my body is failing, and though discouragement is all around me, I still BELIEVE in the Lord of all creation. I still believe that He is good, and that His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, and to give me a hope and a future. Although I don’t understand how or why, I believe that God will cause my pain and suffering to work together for my good, because I love Him, and He has called me according to His purpose, not mine…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  ~ Proverbs 1:7  NASB ~

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11  NLT ~

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  ~ Romans 8:28  NLT ~

Since the onslaught of the spirit of heaviness against me, I have come to understand why some people choose to end their lives, especially those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ. There have been many times when my faith and hope have wavered and faltered, and yet, by God’s grace, they never completely die.

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!”  ~ Lamentations 3:19-24  NLT ~

Beloved reader, if you are in the midst of a deep and dark depression, be encouraged. Nothing is ever hopeless, because the God I serve is the Almighty God, and with God, all things are possible. Please don’t give up on yourself or God, like Robin Williams did in his pain. Although he was seeking to end his pain, he may have unknowingly carried his pain into eternity. For now, he must answer to God for the life that he took when he committed suicide. Furthermore, if Robin wasn’t born again, then he will spend all of eternity in torment, separated from God. 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  ~ John 3:3  NLT ~

This is part of the devil’s cruel deception to mankind. He convinces mankind that there is no God, and then he fools them into killing themselves, thereby ensuring that these men will spend an eternity in hell. I pray that Robin Williams had a personal relationship with Christ, and that he is now in the arms of his creator, for that is the only way his torment will be ended. Sadly, nothing more can be done to help Robin Williams, but there is still time  for you, beloved reader.

Remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and if you have accepted His free gift of salvation, He will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Him to give you rest and give you peace. He will provide for all of your needs. If you will cast all your cares on Him, He will strengthen you and order your steps. 

Beloved reader, if you are going through the dark valley of depression, fear not, for He promises to remain with those who belong to Him, protecting them from all evil.  He is also the God who comforts His beloved children. 

Do you remember when I told you about those tormenting demons, who constantly wear you down with their accusations? Well, my God promises that He will prepare a feast for me in front of my enemies, and He will honor me by anointing my head with oil. I will overflow with His blessings, and His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 – A psalm of David
New Living Translation

1      The Lord is my shepherd;
       I have all that I need.
2      He lets me rest in green meadows;
       He leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
       He guides me along right paths,
       bringing honor to His name.
4      Even when I walk
       through the darkest valley,
       I will not be afraid,
       for You are close beside me.
       Your rod and Your staff
       protect and comfort me.
5      You prepare a feast for me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
       My cup overflows with blessings.
6      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.

Finally, beloved readers, I encourage you to cast all your cares on Jesus, for He cares for you. God’s word commands us not to worry about anything, instead, we are to pray about it. Beloved reader, these words are not for you alone, but also for me. With each scripture that I’ve shared with you, I’ve felt the peace of God that passes all understanding. 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.  ~ 1 Peter 5:7  NLT ~

As you read each one of the scriptures that I’ve shared with you, I loose God’s Holy Spirit on you. I pray that He would breathe new life into your dry bones, so that you will live in Jesus’ name. I pray that as you speak each one of His words out loud, healing would begin in your heart and your mind. I bind the spirit of heaviness in each one who reads this post, and I loose God’s perfect peace on you.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  ~ Philippians 4:6-7  NLT ~

May God bless and comfort each one of you, my beloved readers, and may the mind of Christ be in you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

It’s Time for a Change

Image Credit: neo (un) orthodoxy
Image Credit:
neo (un) orthodoxy

I’m getting older now, and while at fifty-three, I’m not ancient, I’ve still lived long enough to witness and be a part of many changes. Also, while I’m not yet ready to die, (Lord willing), I have reached the place in life, when we begin to comprehend our own mortality. My body is not as strong as it once was, and for the last three years, I’ve been living with chronic pain, which often renders me immobile. Though I’m still able to walk, the pain of doing so is often so excruciating that I’m confined to my recliner. This same recliner once belonged to my mother, who suffered from the same disabling back and leg pain.

Frankly, this isn’t the way I thought I would be spending this part of my life. I had envisioned a life filled with ministry, as I continue d ministering in prison for many years to come, as well as ministering wherever the Lord would send me, preaching the gospel and worshiping Him in dance. But all of that changed, when the back pain that I had dealt with off and on since childhood, (I have scoliosis, and have dealt with back pain off and on ever since I can remember.) came to stay in 2011. As early as 2008 and 2009, I began to notice that my pain was occurring more and more frequently, though I was able to tolerate it, because I still had more good days than bad.

However, by 2011, the pain had become my constant tormentor, and I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings for work. The job I had once loved, was now a chore, which steadily grew more and more difficult to continue, while still, the pain continued to increase like a cumbersome, misshapen burden, continually tormenting me. By 2012, the pain had become so torturous that I began praying as soon as I got out of my car, “God, please help me make it across this parking lot to my office. Please help me, Lord. O God, please help me get to the building. Help me walk to the time clock, Lord…” On and on my prayer continued, and after I clocked in, I prayed for God to help me walk from the time clock to my office…

I’ve worked since I was fifteen years old, and I have always been a very dependable employee. I could always be counted on to get to my job on time, every day that I was scheduled to work, however, I began calling out frequently due to the pain, and on the days I was able to come to work, I had to fight the pain in order to get up and get ready on time. Because I missed so much time from work, my boss told me that I had to apply for FMLA, in order to keep from losing my job. Therefore, on September 1, 2012, I was placed on FMLA for twelve weeks. At the end of the twelve weeks, my pain had only grown in its intensity, and I was unable to return to work. The pain affected not only my job, but also my hopes and dreams for ministry, and I was forced to resign from prison ministry as well as my job. 

A few months later, my mother passed away. I was devastated. A month after losing my mom, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a serious and contagious intestinal virus. Most often contracted by the elderly, this viral infection can sometimes be deadly. Then, to top that off, a few weeks after I was released from the hospital, my daughter, her husband and their children, who had been living with my husband and me, packed up and moved more than eight hundred miles away from us.

All of this happened within a five month span, and after losing so much, so quickly, I fell into a deep depression that I’m still trying to climb out of. As the reality of my own mortality became evident to me, I found myself battling many demons I had thought were long gone, but now, in my weakened state,  they rose up against me, much stronger and more ferocious than ever. I faced demons of rejection, fear, and anxiety, as well many others. On top of this, I came to the realization that many of the things I had long dreamed of doing, would never come to pass, because of the constant pain I now lived with. 

I won’t lie. Though I am a born-again, spirit-filled believer in Christ, I lost hope, when the Lord didn’t answer my impassioned plea for healing. Instead, my pain grew worse and worse. In the process of losing my mother, I felt that I had failed both her and God, which caused me to question my salvation. I fearfully worried that when the time comes to meet my Maker, would He look at me and say,   “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”? I was afraid that He would, and as crazy as this might sound, coming from a woman, who was once certain of her Father’s love for her, I began to fear that I had somehow lost His love, because I was so unworthy.

Without His love, my hope was gone as well. For how can anyone ever hope for anything without His love? How is it even possible to live, apart from His love? I was miserable. I was afraid of dying, and yet my reason for living was gone. My ministry was over. My mother was gone, as were my daughter, son and my grandchildren. I shudder to think of what might have happened to me if not for my beloved husband.

For more than a year, I grieved, as my emotional and spiritual pain matched my physical pain. When I first realized the seriousness of my back pain and came to comprehend that this pain wasn’t merely temporary, but chronic, I prayed that God would heal me.  As I stood in the shower, crying aloud because the pain of simply standing to take a shower was now so intolerable, I would beg Him to heal me… 

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

~ Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV ~

I don’t know about you, but I hate pain, and I desperately wanted to believe that I would be healed from the many medical problems in my spine. Yet, no matter how much I wanted to believe this, something within me (I believe it was the Lord.) said that I would not be cured, and that I must go through this. That isn’t what I wanted to hear. 

So, how do you pray, when the pain is sometimes more than you can bear, yet you know this is God’s will for you?

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  NKJV ~

O, how this verse speaks to me on so  many different levels! For those who are in the midst of constant pain as I am, whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or all of the above, just look at another translation of this verse, and let it wash over you. The Voice ™, a fairly new translation of the bible, released in 2012, is a beautiful translation of God’s word. In fact, today is the first time I’ve read from this translation. Let’s look at Philippians 4:6-7 in The Voice ™… 

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  VOICE ~

This verse just speaks to me. I have been so anxious about so many things during the last year and a half, and the first thing thing I read in this scripture is, “Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.” In all honesty, while in the midst of all my struggles, I haven’t spent a lot of time praying. Yet this scripture commands me to pray, instead of being anxious. Is it possible, I wonder, that if I had spent more time praying in the last year and a half, I might not have suffered from anxiety? Even though the pain of my spinal condition is something that I must live with, if I continually pray about it, I’m certain He’ll help me endure it. 

The next portion of this scripture has tripped me up, in this time of pain and suffering… He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” Wow. God commands us to be thankful for what has come, and I have been anything BUT thankful. While I haven’t been like Job’s wife, saying, “Curse God and die,” I haven’t been thankful for the pain that has come to my life, either. In fact, to tell you the truth, I’ve spent way too much time crying, whining and complaining, and it hasn’t made me feel any better. In fact, the truth of the matter is that I’ve been perfectly miserable. 

Therefore, I believe a change is in order…

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  VOICE ~

Image Credit: Q4 Consulting
Image Credit:
Q4 Consulting

I’ve decided to do exactly as this scripture commands. Whenever I feel anxious about things, I will  pray. Not only that, but this scripture commands that I pray about everything, because God longs to hear my requests. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know? I’ve never even considered that before. Have you? Think about the magnitude of this…

… He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. ~ Philippians 4:6   VOICE ~

I don’t know why Almighty God would long to hear my request, but I feel blessed and encouraged that He does. Praise God! I wonder… is it possible that God has allowed all of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain to enter my life because He longed to hear my requests? When I think of my pain in this light, it becomes easier to thank God for what has come. 

Finally, in Philippians 4:7I discover yet another reason to give thanks to God for what has come…

And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:7  VOICE ~

When I pray about everything, I overcome those feelings of anxiety, and I am able to give the Lord what He longs for. How awesome is it to know that we are able to fulfill one of the Lord’s longings, simply by praying to Him about everything? When I give the Lord what He longs for, not only do I overcome my anxiety, I also receive the gift of having God’s peace watching over my heart and my mind in Jesus…

Yes, it is indeed time for a change in my life. How about you, beloved? Have you been dealing with pain and suffering in your  life? If so, how did you respond to the pain? Did you pray about everything, giving thanks for what has come into your life? Or were you anxious as I was, neglecting to pray and give thanks? If so, maybe it’s time for a change in your life too. Why don’t you join me in obeying this scripture, and let’s see if the peace of God that is promised descends on our lives, in Jesus’ name?

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Something Beautiful

Image Credit: Dr. Dana Marie
Image Credit:
Dr. Dana Marie

There’s an old gospel song that never fails to move me.  The words were written by Gloria Gaither, and her husband, Bill Gaither composed the music in 1971.  If my life was a television show, I would make this my theme song.  For though the tune is old and outdated, and despite the fact that I’m not a fan of Southern Gospel music, this song strikes a chord, deep within me.  Listen to the words of this song, and as you listen, know that my prayer is that these words will minister to you, and that God will make something beautiful of your life…

Beloved reader, I don’t know about you, but there’s been a whole lot of ugliness in my life. I’ve had many ugly things said and done to me, that left me feeling ugly and broken in their wake…   And sadly, I’ve also said and done ugly things, and those things left me feeling even dirtier and uglier.

Cheryl - Grade 3_v1The fact is that my earliest childhood memories are filled with ugliness. My mother and my birth father were divorced when I was just a toddler, and my father quickly married the woman he had committed adultery, with while still married to my mother. Before long, he  went on to father another daughter, and played a very active part in her childhood, while I could count the number of times I saw him, as a child, on one hand. This left me feeling unwanted, unloved and abandoned. Have you ever been there?

Meanwhile, my mother fell in love with the man who became my stepfather as soon as she got her divorce papers.  I often felt ugly and unlovable, while growing up with my mother and my stepfather.  I was always in trouble for one thing or another. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of my stepfather angrily lifting me from the table by my left arm, while he beat me with his free hand, as I dangled midair, like a pinata. My crime? Failure to eat my peas. (To this day, I HATE peas!)

I share these stories because I want you to form an image in your mind of a little girl, who felt ugly, unwanted and rejected. Children like this are not pleasant to be around, and I certainly wasn’t. Indeed, I had a huge chip on my shoulder, and because I felt so ugly and rejected, I also felt very sorry for myself. I was whiny and clingy, and the harder I worked to hold on to people, and tried to make them love me, the more I pushed them away from me. I didn’t understand that at the time.  

Looking back through the eyes of time, I now see that my desperate longing for love only turned all of my relationships into high maintenance jobs.  For I required constant reassurance that I was loved.  I constantly needed someone to demonstrate their love for me and make a declaration of their undying love, thereby proving my worth.  It was a vicious cycle.

Cheryl - Grade 6
Cheryl – Grade 6

Because I was so desperate to win the approval of my parents, teachers and peers, I lied. I lied alot. I lied because I was afraid of what would happen if the truth about me was known. I lied because I felt justified in doing so. I lied so much that sometimes, I even convinced myself. I lied because I was ugly, inside and out, and because I hated myself, I was convinced that no one could ever love the “real” me.  Therefore, I lied as I tried to be someone, anyone other than me.  Beloved reader, do you know what it’s like to hate yourself and to feel ugly and unworthy?  My prayer for those who do, is that God will heal your broken heart.

When Jesus saved me, He delivered me from many things… lying… bitterness… smoking…  But some areas in my life took longer for me to overcome, and there was one area in particular, that took much longer for me to overcome. You see, years of rejection, combined with physical, sexual and emotional abuse left me feeling different, unworthy and alone. I felt uglier than anyone else and unworthy of God’s love…


3 To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory. ~ Isaiah 61:3  NLT ~


Cheryl - Grade 7
Cheryl – Grade 7

And so, in His great love and mercy, God began to minister to the ugly little girl who still lived inside of me. You see, I grew up being told how stupid and worthless I was, and how ugly too, and I believed it was so. Therefore, God had to change the way I thought…


2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~ Romans 12:2  NLT ~


As  I began to read and study the word of God, my way of thinking began to change, as promised, in the scripture above. I discovered that much of what I had been told and taught wasn’t really true. In fact, I realized that many things I believed about myself were nothing more than lies…


“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32  NLT ~


The more I