Category Archives: Words of Jesus

A study of the the Words spoken by Jesus

Once Saved, Always Saved?

A friend of mine, Tammy Wallace Desantiago, posted the following question this morning on Facebook, while I was in the midst of writing something else.  After reading and replying to this question, I felt the Spirit leading me to address this issue more fully in a post.  Here is the question Tammy asked:

What is your thought on once saved always saved??
Not just your opinion but what is your scripture to cause you to stand firm on that belief?

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells us a parable about a farmer who sows seed into his field…

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”  (Matthew 13:3-9  NLT)

Jesus explained this parable to His disciples as follows:

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. 23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”  (Matthew 13:18-23 NLT)

The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingom but don’t understand it, and so the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.  We all know people like this.  These people have never tasted and seen the goodness of God.  They are not, and have not ever been saved.  That’s easy enough for us to understand.

The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom, and they immediately receive it joyfully.  But because their roots are shallow, and not deep, they fall away, as soon as there are troubles in their lives, or if they are persecuted for Christ’s sake.  Now, some might say that these people were never “really” saved, but that isn’t what Jesus said.  He said these people hear the message and immediately receive it joyfully.  The problem isn’t non-belief.  There was no question of their salvation.  The problem is that their roots aren’t deep enough… So what does that mean?

The problem with these people is that their faith is weak.  There are so many trials and tribulations in this world that we live in,  and it is so easy to be overcome by them.  However, if we are rooted in Christ’s love, we can withstand those adversities in our lives, and become stronger.  However, if our roots are too shallow, we will be devastated by the heartaches that come against us, and we will lose what little faith we had.  I believe that is why the Apostle Paul prayed the following prayer for the believers at Ephesus, and it is why I pray this prayer for my loved ones, new believers, and myself as well:

14 This is the reason I kneel in the presence of the Father 15 from whom all the family in heaven and on earth receives its name. 16 I’m asking God to give you a gift from the wealth of His glory. I pray that He would give you inner strength and power through His Spirit. 17 Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation18 This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep His love is. 19 You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God.

20 Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power He can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine21 Glory belongs to God in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time and eternity! Amen.  (Ephesians 3:14-21 GW)

The soil in the next part of the parable was full of thorns, which represent those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly, the message is crowded out by the worries of life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.  Those of you, who preach a prosperity gospel, and those who are supposedly “working for God,” though all the while, you are seeking your own wealth, whilst lining your pockets, be warned!  

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  (Matthew 6:24-34 NLT)

These people hear the word and they believe it, but somewhere along the way, other things get in the way.  They worry about making ends meet… about paying the bills… about what they will eat… about how they will eat…  what they will wear… and on and on.  These people worry… a lot.  These people need more… more money… more power… more respect… What they have just isn’t enough…  And sadly, for these people, God just isn’t enough.  It wasn’t that they weren’t saved.  It’s just that Jesus isn’t enough for them, and so they turn away to other things…

Then, there are those who hear the word, and the soil of their heart is good, so their roots go down deep.  The faith of these people is strong, but they don’t take it for granted. Daily, these people work out their faith, seeking God in everything.  These people allow God to complete the good work He has begun in them, but, they, too, are faced with choices everyday.  Will I continue to follow Christ?  Or will I go my own way?  The deeper your roots go, the easier it is  to make the right choice, but the choice is still yours to make, and there are some, who have that close, intimate relationship with Christ, and after many years of following Him faithfully, have chosen to walk away from Him…

Do you doubt this?  Do you still believe that once you are saved, you are always saved?  How would you explain this scripture, then?

For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing Him to the cross once again and holding Him up to public shame.  (Hebrews 6:4-6  NLT)

One who was once enlightened (i.e. – someone who has “seen the light” or been saturated {imbued} with saving knowledge), who has experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit (who only dwells in those who are saved), can indeed turn away from God.  It’s heartbreaking, but don’t fool yourselves by thinking or believing, “Well, they weren’t really saved to begin with.”  According to this scripture, those who are, in fact, saved, can turn away from God, because everyone, including believers, can choose to accept or reject Him.

Once Saved Always Saved

Beloved reader, don’t be fooled by the false doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved.”  This word may not sit well with many of you, but it is kinder to speak the truth, though it is painful, rather than be silent, allowing you to continue believing a lie that is straight from the pit of hell, and watch you die.

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 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(2 Timothy 4:1-4  NLT)

Beloved reader, don’t be fooled into thinking that once you are saved, you are always saved.  If you believe this, what is to stop you from living in sin, just as the rest of the world does?  You are a slave to whomever or whatever you serve.  If you live your life seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you are a slave of God.  However, if you believe that salvation allows you to live sinfully, you are a slave to sin, not Christ, and your Father is not God, but the Satan, the father of lies, whom you have chosen to believe instead.

Don’t be deceived.  We all have a choice.  Therefore, I leave you with the same choice Moses gave to Israel:

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)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Are You Salty Enough?

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”  (Matthew 5:13 NLT)

Can pure salt (sodium chloride) lose its flavor?  The answer to that question is no. However, take note of the question I asked.  I asked if pure salt could lose its flavor, and the answer is that in its purest form, it cannot.

However, in ancient times, before and when Jesus walked the earth, the salt collected was not always in its purest form. Indeed, many times it was contaminated with other minerals, and full of impurities.  Therefore, when eating of this contaminated salt, the partakers of that salt may have tasted the minerals and other contaminants, which would have given the salt an “off” flavor.

Also, salt is water soluble.  Therefore, in a humid climate, salt that has been exposed to condensation and water could be dissolved, leaving only whatever contaminants were mixed in with the salt, again, causing the salt to lose its flavor.

Dead-Sea-Israel

In Jesus’ area, salt would have been obtained from salt marshes nearby, or from the Dead Sea, and these would have been full of the contaminants I’m talking about.  For in those days, we didn’t have the factories or the ability to extract other unwanted chemicals from the salt.  Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon for someone’s salt to be flavorless or to taste “off.”

Indeed, it was fairly common, and when that happened, people would throw the useless salt out into the road, where it would be trampled into the ground.  It’s important to note that the unwanted salt was not thrown into the field or someone’s yard, otherwise, it could kill someone’s crops.  Therefore, it was safer, to throw it onto the roadways, where nothing was planted, and where it would be crushed by people and animals into the ground.

Now, armed with this knowledge, what could Jesus have meant, when He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”  (Matthew 5:13 NLT)

In what ways could a man or woman of God, the salt of the earth, lose his/her flavor?  One way that we could lose our flavor and become like useless salt, is if the Word within us is watered down or diluted.  For instance, there are many preachers, teachers, evangelists and prophets, who preach a watered down version of God’s word.

They refuse to speak of sin and the need for repentance, because they don’t want to offend anyone.  Some don’t believe the devil and his demons really exist.  Some believe in psychology and psychiatry, yet turn a blind eye to demonic possession and oppression.  Their gospel is so watered down that it is entirely flavorless.  Is it really any wonder that so many want nothing to do with the church?  After all, how is this any different than living in the world?  These people have lost their saltiness, and as Jesus said, they should be cast out.  Yet, instead, many of us embrace them!

Then, there are those who, like the salt that we discussed earlier, are filled with many impurities.  They sow seeds of discord among believers.  We all know some of them.  The Apostle Paul described these people in 2 Timothy 3:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

These flavorless preachers, teachers and prophets include many teachings that are the antithesis of scripture.  You’ve seen it.  There are so-called clergy, who believe and teach that homosexuality is of God.  They not only condone it, they even practice it and encourage others to do so!

Beloved reader, how many televangelists have you seen, who couldn’t care less about your souls? All they want is more money and power.  You’ve seen the preachers, the deacons, the elders in the church, who have no love for Jesus.  They are in these positions for the power and prestige it brings them.  You’ve seen the Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, who, though some may love youth and children, care more about making sure youth and children have fun, rather than being concerned about their relationship with Christ, not to mention those who are there as predators, and seek their own pleasure by destroying our children and youth.  You’ve also seen people in the church, who are content where they are, as long as they aren’t forced to confront their own sin.

Whether these people are flavorless because of impurities or watered down versions of the gospel, if they don’t repent and change, they will be cast out and trampled, just as Jesus said.  Beloved reader, if any of this describes you, I urge you to repent before it is too late!  Jesus makes it very clear that we are to be the salt of the earth.  We are to bring a good and rich flavor to this decaying world.

Have you ever eaten a cake that has no salt?  It is one of the most disgusting things you’ve ever tasted, because even sweet things need the savory flavor of salt.  Otherwise, it just tastes like something rotten.  If we only believe, teach and preach the scriptures that say God is love, but refuse to believe, teach and preach those scriptures that show He is also a just God, who will avenge injustice, it is like eating a sickening sweet cake that has no salt.  It is disgusting.

How can we expect our children to do what is good and right, if we don’t teach them the pure, incorrupt truth?  How can we expect anyone to do what is right and good, if we don’t show them?  As a wise person once said, we, Christians, are the only bible most of the world will ever see.  If we have lost our flavor, they will simply taste and see what it is in everyone who is without Christ… unbelief… hatred… bitterness… envy… strife… adultery…  Don’t you want others to come and do as David did in Psalm 34:8?

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Beloved reader, have you lost your flavor?  If so, I urge you to repent.  Seek the Lord, while He may be found.  He is not only a just God, but also a merciful One.

Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
(Isaiah 1:18 NKJV)

Cast away any flavorless, worldly teachings you have been exposed to.  Seek the Truth of God’s Word, so that you may be able to walk in His power and strength.  I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ, do not become like flavorless salt, lest you be cast away and trampled.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Does Persecution Still Exist?

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  (Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV)

For the last few days, I’ve pondered about what to write about persecution.  Lord, what would You have me write?  Many of us, who have been blessed to live in the United States, are often ignorant of the persecution and crimes committed against Christians.  We often, mistakenly think that the persecution of Christians and Jews is a thing of the past, but that is terribly foolish and wrong, for many of our brothers and sisters around the world are being persecuted, even now, as you read this message.

Indeed, I believe that there is coming a day, when even U.S. citizens will be persecuted for their faith in Christ.  In fact, that day has already begun.

“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.  (Mark 13:9-13 NKJV)  

We are living in dangerous times.  You don’t have to look far to see how children have turned against their parents, and parents have turned against their children.  In other countries, we’ve seen how families from other beliefs, (Hindu, Buddhist, and Islam for example) have turned against their own loved ones, by disinheriting them, beating and torturing them, and even killing them, simply because they believe in Jesus.  

The chart listed above, shows the statistics for 2018, for persecuted Christians around the world.  It is eye opening, and if you are a child of God, then this should concern you, because those persecuted Christians are your brothers and sisters in Christ.  I got this information from the following website:

www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/ 

According to these statistics, approximately 8 Christians die daily, for their faith, which totals 255 Christians monthly.  For those who live in the U.S., can you imagine waking up each day, not knowing whether this is the day that someone will betray you for your faith in Christ?  Can you imagine wondering, throughout the day, whether you may be murdered because you are a follower of Christ?  The statistics tell us that 104 people each month, which is a little more than 3 people daily, are abducted for their faith.  Imagine, being snatched from your home, your place of employment, or from the streets, because you are a Christian.  As if this isn’t bad enough, 180 women are raped, sexually harassed, or forced into unwanted marriages every month.  That’s 6 women who are raped, forced into unwanted, mostly abusive marriages and sexually harassed every day, just because they love Jesus.  Imagine the fear, shame and pain that these women endure!  66 churches every month are attacked, and 160 Christians are arrested and imprisoned for their faith, without benefit of a trial.

Beloved reader, don’t just sigh and shake your head.  Do you know that if you are a believer, you, too, may one day suffer persecution?  I don’t share this with you to frighten you, but so that you won’t be caught unaware.  Do you know that here, in the U.S., Christians are being sued for standing up for their faith, which is our first amendment right?

You don’t often hear about these things on broadcast news media outlets, or in most newspapers, because defending the rights of Christians is not part of their agenda.  Instead, many are trying to silence Christians, because true believers refuse to embrace sinful lifestyles, such as abortion, adultery, fornication and homosexuality, to name just a few.  Christians, such as our Vice-President, Mike Pence, are mocked and ridiculed for our beliefs.

Nonbelievers claim that Christians are narrow-minded and intolerant, and yet, they are the ones who are trying to silence us.  All too often, debates end in name calling and false accusations.  They do this because, All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.”  (John 3:20 NLT)  

Beloved, in these last days, don’t be shocked by the things that are happening in the world around you, and in your world.  For Jesus warned us about this…

12 “But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are My followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about Me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you.17 And everyone will hate you because you are My followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.”  (Luke 21:12-19 NLT)

Indeed, my friend, I suggest that we shouldn’t be surprised that people hate us because of our faith.  We should instead, be surprised by the ones who don’t hate us.  So, what can we do about this persecution of God’s people?  There is one thing that every one of us can do, no matter where we live, or what our circumstances are.  We can pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are suffering. The Apostle Paul even let us know what to pray for our brothers and sisters, and so did the writer of Hebrews… 

18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.  

19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike.20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should.  (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)

Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.  (Hebrews 13:3 NLT)

Jesus promised that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are persecuted for His name’s sake, and that they will receive a great reward.  Beloved, let’s be active in our prayers for our persecuted brethren, and remember, you or I could very well be the next one to be persecuted for our faith.  And if, you or I do suffer from persecution one day, hold tight to Jesus’ promise, and may we have the same attitude that Peter had…  

12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 

17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 

19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.  (1 Peter 4:12-19  NKJV)

Links to sites about Christian persecution:

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

What in the World is a Peacemaker?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 NASB)

What in the world is a peacemaker? Jesus said that the peacemakers shall be called sons of God, and as the only begotten Son of God, and the Prince of Peace, He must have been a peacemaker, right? For the commands He gave to us, and the lessons He taught, He demonstrated in His own life. Let us therefore examine Jesus’ life and discover how we, too, can become sons of God.

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace. Throughout the scriptures, we see that He repeatedly spoke of peace, and yet He had many enemies, who wanted nothing more than to destroy Him, from the time of His birth. So the peace He was speaking of, obviously had nothing to do with whether or not we have enemies.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27 NASB)

Indeed, Jesus warned us in Matthew 10:34-42, that He didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. He said that He came to set families against one another. That doesn’t sound very peaceful, does it?

I remember when I was first saved as a child of around eleven or twelve years old. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents the good news. I was sure they would be proud and happy for me. As soon as I jumped off the church bus, I hit the ground at a run, delighted to share the wonderful news of my salvation with my mommy and daddy.

Yet, their response to this good news wasn’t what I expected. Instead of rejoicing, they were angry at me and at the church bus captains that they sent me to church with every week. I was told that if I was going to turn into a holy roller, like my church bus leaders, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to church with them anymore, did I understand? I didn’t understand, but I promised to obey them. I couldn’t bear the thought of not being allowed to go to church anymore. So, I began to read my bible in secret, and I didn’t talk to them about my relationship with Jesus for many years.

I didn’t understand their reaction back then. I was heartbroken, and sure I had done something wrong. Maybe they reacted like that because I didn’t know enough to share the good news about Jesus. There was one thing I was certain of though. I knew that Jesus was and is the Son of God, and though it would have made my parents cringe, I knew that I wanted to be like my church bus captains, who loved the Lord and served Him so joyfully. They truly lived according to His ways, and I wanted to live like that too.

Beloved reader, my relationship with Jesus did not bring me peace with my family. It drove a wedge between us. There was much conflict between me and my parents throughout the years, and they often seemed to hate my faith.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ (Matthew 10:34-36 NLT)

So, if Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the One who blessed the peacemakers and said that these would be called the sons of God, didn’t come to bring peace on earth, what kind of peace was He talking about? I know without doubt that Jesus walked the walk He proclaimed, so there must be an answer to this, right? Why did He come?

1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for usBecause of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 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 5:1-11 NLT)

Beloved reader, rejoice with me, for the answer to our question is found in this scripture passage. Jesus didn’t come to bring peace on earth. He came to bring us peace with God! Do you want to be a son of God? Then work to bring others to peace with God. It is both as difficult and simple as that.

Don’t get it twisted. Even though you may be attacked at every side, and even though you are surrounded by enemies, our goal is not to be at peace with the world. Our goal is to love our enemies, even though it goes against everything we’ve been taught by the world, and seek to help them make peace with God. Keep your mind fixed on God, and don’t allow the troubles of this world to cause you to lose focus…

You will keep in perfect peace
   all who trust in You,
   all whose thoughts are fixed on You! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

Do you want to be called a son of God? Then beloved, stop seeking your peace in this world. True peace comes from knowing and loving God. True peacemakers share the peace that God has given them, with others. True peacemakers don’t lose focus of this goal…

Do you long for peace? Seek the Lord with all your heart. Trust in Him, and no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, don’t lose focus of the One who loves you with an everlasting love. While you may never have peace even in your own household, true peace comes from your relationship with God.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

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.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NLT)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

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

Do You Want to Be Free?

Who knows how long he had lived this way?  Can you even begin to imagine what it must have been like for him?  Have you ever been in that position?

His life was completely out of control.  He had no hope.  Filled with pain, fear, anger and bitterness, life was totally meaningless.  His thoughts were a jumbled mess, and most of the time, he was unable to put a sentence together in his mind, much less speak coherently.  And throughout it all, there was the constant barrage of noise coming from the voices in his head.

No one else could hear the voices, but it didn’t make them any less real, because he heard them.  Night and day, they whispered and shouted at him, constantly accusing him, telling him what a failure he was.  There was no peace.  There was no quiet.  He couldn’t escape the voices that taunted him constantly.

They were vile and evil, yet he was powerless to fight them, so he tried to escape them by cutting himself, hoping to die, but always, to no avail.  Day and night, he howled in pain and outrage, and breaking all restraints that were placed on him, he would run into the wilderness, screaming at his tormentors, which no one else could see.

Family and friends had long since given up on him.  He had no one to care about him.  He was all alone with his demons, living in a graveyard outside of town.  He was what we might call a zombie today.  Indeed, he was a dead man walking.

Do you know any walking dead men or women, boys or girls?  Do you know any like this man, filled with violence, rage, fear and animosity?  Do you know any who suffer as this man did – hearing those tormenting voices constantly attacking him?  Do you suffer as this man did?  Is there any hope?

Today, doctors use medications to quiet the voices, but those medications often leave you in a fog, with many side-effects, and though the voices are quieted, they are still there…  So, what can be done to help people?  What can be done to help you or your loved one?

schizophrenia_by_valeriobefani-d5r4unj

From a distance away, the man saw Someone step out of a boat, and he ran toward Him.  Did he somehow recognize that this One could help him?  I’ve thought about this, and I can’t imagine why the demons who tormented the man would want to run up to Jesus, because they recognized Him immediately, and they knew what would happen to them if they entered His presence.  Therefore, I can only conclude that this poor, desperate man must have felt the fear in his demonic tormentors, or perhaps he somehow knew that this was his one chance, and he made a beeline for Jesus, bowing low before Him…

Fearfully, the demons screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Please, I beg You, don’t torture me!” (Luke 8:28)

Jesus spoke to this demon, called Legion, for there were many in the man, and commanded the demons to go, casting them into a herd of pigs, who then ran off the side of a cliff, drowning in the lake below.  The keepers of the herd, upon seeing this, fled to the nearby village, fearfully telling the villagers what had happened.  When they and the villagers returned, they saw the once naked and wretched man fully clothed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, conversing with Him, and they were terribly frightened.  In their fear, they begged Jesus to leave them.  (Matthew 8:28-34 NLT)  (Luke 8:26-39 NLT)  (Mark 5:1-20 NLT)

I’ve never understood that.  Wouldn’t you think they would have rejoiced to see that poor man restored to sanity?  Wouldn’t you think they would be relieved that they no longer had to worry about him attacking them or their loved ones?  I would have thought they would have thrown a great celebration, and sought to know the One who had set this captive free…

And yet, that’s not what happened.  Just as the people of Israel didn’t want to hear the voice of God or know His ways, so these people rejected His Son.  Is it possible that they were afraid He would change their lives?  Were they afraid of the sin and the demons He might expose within them?

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 3:18-21 NLT)

What about you, beloved reader?  Will you run to Him and let Him set you free?  Or will you beg Him to leave, as the villagers in Gadarenes did?

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Justice Will Be Served

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled. 

(Matthew 5:6 NKJV)

Do you hate the injustices of this world?  Do you long for the day when those who lie, cheat, steal, kill and destroy will be repaid for their evil?  Do you long for the day when those who have been victimized will be recompensed?

Unlike this world’s “Lady Justice,” God does not turn a blind eye on evil.  He has heard your cries for justice, and mine.  Though He seems slow to answer, He sees the evil that is in this world…

Just as He saw the more than six million Jews, who were killed in the holocaust, He sees every Christian, who has been and who will be persecuted, since Christ’s crucifixion, and unless they repent, the perpetrators will pay for their crimes.  Just as the blood of Abel cried out to Him, when his brother Cain murdered him, God has seen every murder and every crime victim since that time, and their blood, too, cries out to Him (Genesis 4:1-15 NKJV)

Beloved, in our hunger and thirst for righteousness, let us not give way to sin.  Though injustice seems to rule in this world for now, let us do as the Lord commands…

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

(Micah 6:8 NKJV)

We can’t change the behavior of others, but we, who hunger and thirst for righteousness must never allow our righteous indignation to turn into evil.  Let us walk humbly and justly, and let us be merciful, even to those who have shown us no mercy.  Let Christ be our example.  Do you remember what He said as He hung between two thieves on the cross, while soldiers gambled for His clothes?

32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with Him.33 When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed Him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on His right and one on His left.  

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for His clothes by throwing dice.

(Luke 23:32-34 NLT)

If Jesus, in the midst of enduring every injustice, still found mercy to forgive those, who were yet sinning against Him, can we be excused for doing any less?  This walk of faith is not an easy one, and there is so much injustice all around us, yet we are called to live by a different standard than the rest of the world.  We are not called to be vigilantes.  Instead, we are commanded to wait on the Lord, and let Him take vengeance or show mercy, according to His will…

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:14-21 NKJV)

Beloved, do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?  God knows.  Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.  There is coming a day, when God will judge the earth, and woe to those who have refused to repent for their sins against Him and against you and the rest of humanity.  Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice?  Then you are blessed, and Jesus made a promise to each of us who have that same hunger and thirst…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.

(Matthew 5:6 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

Do You Mourn? Be Comforted…

Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4 NKJV)

Are you grieving?  Has your heart been broken?  Do you long for the pain to stop?  Take heart, beloved, for the Lord of all mercy hears your cries.  He knows your pain.  Indeed, He has suffered your pain, and He promises that we who mourn are blessed, and that we will be comforted…

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  (Hebrews 4:14-16  NLT)

Jesus knew what it was to grieve and mourn.  He mourned the death of His cousin, John the Baptist…  He mourned the death of His friend Lazarus…  He mourned for those of us who were lost in sin, pain and suffering…

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)

mourn-sorrow

Beloved reader, you do not suffer alone.  He knows your pain.  He has suffered for it and from it, and He offers His comfort to all who would receive it.  Are you thirsty?  Are you weary?  Are you worn out from trying to carry the burdens of life by yourself?

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

Beloved reader, if you are in the midst of grief, come, drink from the fountain of life.  Seek Jesus, our great Savior and Comforter.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV)

In His first recorded sermon, Jesus tells us that those who mourn are blessed, and they shall be comforted.  It’s also interesting to note that His first scripture reading in the synagogue, after He had been in the wilderness for 40 days, also dealt with the brokenhearted…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me,
for the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent Me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
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 61:1-3 NLT)

Beloved, you  are not alone in your suffering.  If you will seek the Lord with all your heart, He will comfort you…  Shalom.  Peace be with you.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

To Have Heaven, You Must Become Poor

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 5:3 NASB)

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?  We know from this teaching of Jesus that those who are poor in spirit are blessed, and that theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  So, what does it mean to be poor in spirit?  When I think of someone who was poor in spirit, my mind immediately thinks of the prophet, Isaiah when He saw the Lord…

In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

 

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

 

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”  (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)

When Isaiah saw the Lord, he didn’t boldly stand and claim his rights.  He didn’t demand anything of God.  He didn’t seek special favor from God.  Instead, in the presence of the Holy God, he was struck both by God’s holiness, and his own unworthiness.

Isaiah was poor in spirit.  He recognized his own sinfulness in the presence of God.  Isaiah knew that to God, our good deeds are nothing more than filthy rags…

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.  (Isaiah 64:6  NKJV)

To put this into perspective, let’s look at the Hebrew word for filthy rag:

`iddah, pronounced id·dä’ 

menstruation

  1. filthy rag, stained garment (fig. of best deeds of guilty people)

It sounds disgusting, but to God, our attempts at righteousness (i.e. – good deeds) are like handing Him a filthy menstrual pad.  Isaiah recognized this, and when he found himself in the presence of the Lord, he realized how dirty he was, and it humbled him.  In his humility, he didn’t try to justify himself.  Instead, he cried out for mercy, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

How do you respond when you enter the Lord’s house?  How do you enter in His presence?  Do you recognize His worth?  Do you recognize your own weaknesses?  Do you have a haughty spirit or are you poor in spirit?  If we want to enter God’s holy presence, we must be poor in spirit…

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.  (Psalm 51:17  NKJV)

Do you want to be a part of the kingdom of heaven?  Become poor in spirit…

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  (James 4:10 NKJV)

© 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

Where Do You Live?

I’ve lived in the same old farm house for the last thirty-one years.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my home.  When I’m at home, I know that I’m sheltered from the many storms that have blown through over the years.  This old house has endured blizzards, hurricanes and tropical storms, yet it has stood firm, despite being more than seventy-five years old.  That could be because the floor joists beneath this old house are whole logs (with the bark still on them), and there are actual 4″x4″ posts, (as opposed to today’s 4″x4″ posts, which are really only 3.5″x3.5″) in the walls, and the 2″x4″ boards truly  are 2″x4″ as well, (not today’s 1.5″x3.5″).

At any rate, when I’m in my home, I feel safe and secure.  If I’ve been out in the world, and someone hurts me, I long for the security of my home.  Whenever I leave my home for a long period of time, I always feel great joy, when I return to the house I live in, because home is where my heart is.

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

The same thing can be said spiritually and emotionally.  Where we abide is where we live.  Where do you live?

4 *Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it *abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you *abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who *abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not *abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you *abide in Me, and My words *abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

ménō, men’-o; a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), × thine own.

For many years, I lived (abided) in Jesus, and I was quite happy there.  I’ve preached and shared the gospel with many people, and I’ve been blessed to rejoice in the salvation of others, who came to know and love Jesus.  Yet, because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen, even when we’re in our homes, where we feel safe and secure.

Six years ago, my back started hurting, causing weakness and shooting pains in my legs.  I’ve dealt with back pain my entire life, off and on, and when it started, I figured it was just another flare up, and soon I would be back to normal, but that’s not what happened.  Before long, my back and legs were hurting constantly, and within a year, I had to stop doing prison ministry, and shortly thereafter, I had to leave my job, because I was no longer able to work.  The constant pain began to consume me.

During the next six to eight months, my mother passed away, and my children and grandchildren moved far away, to other states.  I fell into a deep depression.  I was totally overwhelmed by the darkness of pain and depression, and my faith began to waver and wane.  I was no longer abiding in Christ; I was now abiding in pain, depression, guilt and anxiety.

Because of the constant, chronic pain, I was unable to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with my mother before she died.  And although I had shared the gospel with her many times over the years, I was unable to do so, while she lay dying, and I was consumed with guilt because of that.  I questioned  my own salvation.  “How could God continue to love me, when I couldn’t even minister to my own mother?”  I thought.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; *abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will *abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and *abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

Over the next several years, I continued to abide in pain and depression.  I no longer prayed, because I was so disappointed in myself, and I was sure God was too.  I no longer felt His presence.  I simply lived in my pain and depression.  This was now my new abode, and to be frank with you, I’ve been miserable.

Then, just this week, while reading, I was reminded of the scriptures above, and I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Abide in Me.  Abide in My love.”  He was telling me to live, dwell, endure, tarry, stand in His love; in Him!  I still have the same physical pain, but I don’t have to live in and wallow in it.  Instead, I choose to immerse myself in His love for me.  His love didn’t stop because I didn’t share the  gospel with my mother one last time before she died.  My pain isn’t a punishment from God.  It’s just a part of life in this fallen world.

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)

Losing my mother, my chronic pain, and having my children and grandchildren so far away from me are just a few of the many sorrows and trials I will endure, but I don’t have to try to go it alone.  Jesus tells me to take heart, because He has overcome the world.  I’m not alone and unloved, for His love is unending, just as He is, for God is love (1 John 4:8b).

I am so very thankful to serve the God of all grace, who remains faithful to us, even in our frailties.  Yes, I continue to have chronic, sometimes debilitating pain, but I don’t have to live in pain.  Instead, while living with pain, I will live in Christ.  Where will you live?


* Emphasis added

© 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

What’s Wrong With a Little Yeast???

33 Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Matthew 13:33  NLT

In the scriptures, yeast, or leaven as it is called in some versions, represents sin or evil, either by false teachers, or sin itself.  In this study, we’re going to talk about sin, in the context of this parable…

rotten potato

Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes, and had one of the potatoes go bad?  Within a few days, if that bad potato isn’t removed right away, the whole bag will rot, ruining all of the potatoes, and the stench permeates the air.  The same is true for sin, which is why Paul rebuked the Corinthian church, in his first letter to them.  At the time, there was a man in the church, engaging in sexual immorality, and Paul confronted the church for not only allowing this sin to continue in the church, but for boasting about it…

Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:6-8  NLT

The same is true for any sin in our lives.  It starts out as a seemingly insignificant thing, but it grows at an alarming rate, often destroying not only person engaged in the sin, but many others as well.  A good example of this is Adam and Eve…

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, I’m sure they never fully  comprehended the devastation that would follow.  Indeed, they probably didn’t even understand the full scope of how sin and death would soon ravage, not just them, but the entire earth.  I’m certain it never occurred to either of them that their relationship would be harmed, when they determined to eat the fruit God had warned them not to eat.  Yet, let’s look at what happened  as a result of their sin…

The very first relationship that was harmed by Adam and Eve’s determination to sin, was their relationship with God, Who came to walk with them in the cool of the day…

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

Genesis 3:8-10  NLT

Until that time, the man and woman had walked in the Garden of Eden naked and unashamed, but when they ate of the fruit, they immediately felt shame.  In their shame, they hid from the God who created them, loved them, breathed His life-giving breath into them, and walked and talked with them.  That one, seemingly insignificant sin (eating the forbidden fruit), destroyed their relationship with their Creator.  Could it be that it wasn’t the act of eating the fruit, but the decision to disobey God’s command, that destroyed their relationship with Him?

When they disobeyed God, their own relationship was also spoiled.  It would never be the same again… 

11 “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

12 The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

Genesis 3:11-12  NLT

Rather than simply answering, “Yes,” to God’s question, Adam immediately threw Eve under the bus, turning against this woman that he had recently rejoiced in, blaming her for his sin…

23 “At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone,
    and flesh from my flesh!
She will be called ‘woman,’
    because she was taken from ‘man.’”

Now, just one sin damaged a relationship that had been perfect up until then.  How could Eve look at Adam the same way?  Imagine how betrayed she must have felt.  Hadn’t Adam been right there with her, when she sinned against God?  Had she twisted his arm?  Why had he turned against her?

Additionally, not only was their relationship with God and themselves damaged, so too, was their relationship with God’s creation…

13 Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, you are cursed
    more than all animals, domestic and wild.
    You will crawl on your belly,
    groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the
woman,

      and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike His heel.

Genesis 3:13-15  NLT

Now, not only were their relationships damaged, but that one sin damaged the entire animal kingdom.  No more would the serpent walk.  It would now crawl on its belly.  Instead of walking in peace with mankind, there would now be enmity between the woman and the serpent… 

No longer, would there be only joy in childbearing.  Because of their sin against God, Eve, and every one of her daughters thereafter, would labor and experience pain in childbearing, some even to the death.  Surely, Adam and Eve never thought of this, when they disobeyed God’s command…

16 To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply
Your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children;
Yet your desire will be for your husband,
And he will rule over you.”

I love how The Voice translates this verse.  I think it reveals how devastating the consequences of Eve’s sin was to womankind, and the relationships of man and woman as well…

16     (to the woman) As a consequence of your actions,
        I will increase your suffering—the pain of childbirth
    And the sorrow of bringing forth the next generation.
    You will desire your husband; but rather than a companion, He will be the dominant partner.

Genesis 3:16 VOICE

How many women, since Eve’s day, have longed for a better relationship with their husbands?  How many have sought and failed to find the perfect husband, to love them unconditionally, really listen to them, understand them and treat them as an equal partner?  How many women, throughout the world, must bow to their husband’s every desire, no matter how egregious?  How many women have been and continue to be beaten, abused and mistreated, as a direct result of Adam and Eve’s sin against God?  I’m certain that neither of them foresaw the devastating results of their one “little” sin. 

Don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t believe that all of the evil that has fallen on the earth is the result of God’s punishment against mankind.  To be sure, they were punished, but I believe God was also describing the consequences that their sin had set in motion.  Indeed, even those words didn’t share the full scope of what would soon take place, not only in their lives, but in the lives of every other human, who would follow.  When we sin, we have no idea how many people or how many generations will be effected by our sin

17 And to the man He said,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
    whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
    All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
    though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
    will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
    from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
    and to dust you will return.”

Because of Adam’s choice, man would have to labor and sweat, to produce crops to eat.  This would be no easy task for him, because now the ground was cursed.  No longer would all of the soil be fertile.  Now, man would have to plow and dig, hoe and weed to produce a crop.  Eventually, locusts and grasshoppers would destroy crops, as well as floods and famines and other disasters.  Man would have to fight the elements in order to provide food for his family, until the day he died.  Then, he would return to the dust from whence he had come, and all of this, because he had chosen to eat the forbidden fruit.

Then, after clothing Adam and Eve with animal skins, they were banished from the Garden of Eden.  No longer would they walk with God and talk with Him in the cool of the evening.  No longer would they have access to the tree of life.  Now, their lives would be filled with pain and toil, simply because they had chosen to eat the forbidden fruit…

I’m sure they never dreamed that their beloved son Cain, would kill his younger brother Abel, as a result of their sin.  They never imagined that Cain’s descendants would be given to the same violence as Cain.  They had no way of knowing that all of their descendants, except for Noah and his family would one day be wiped from the face of the earth, because their wickedness was so great.  Because of one “little” sin, all of these things and more happened.

Look around our world today.  Homosexuals are marrying one another, and brazenly displaying their sins publicly.  Children rebel openly against their parents.  Lies, murder, adultery, idolatry and all sorts of evil abound, as the love of mankind waxes cold, because of one little sin.

This is why Jesus and Paul compared sin to yeast.  Only a little bit will spread through all of the dough.  Do you have any sin in your life?  Perhaps it’s just a “little” sin, but that “little” sin can have devastating consequences, and who knows how many people and generations will be effected by it.

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:14-16  NLT

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

1 John 1:8-9  NLT

Despite mankind’s rebellion against Him, God hasn’t left us without hope.  When He punished Adam and Eve and told them the consequences of their actions, He also made a promise…

15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15  NLT

You see, because of the disobedience of one man, every generation thereafter, has suffered the consequences of his rebellion.  Every single one of us has been born into sin.  We all have a sinful nature, because of Adam and Eve’s one “little” sin.  Yet, God, in His mercy, has given us the hope for redemption.  He has made a way for us to walk with Him, and talk with Him, and to have everlasting life…

18 Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone. 19 Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:18-19  NLT

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

Acts 2:38-39  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. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.” 12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on Him. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13  NLT

Beloved, today is the day of salvation.  Don’t let sin destroy your life and the lives of who knows how many other people.  Repent, and call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

When Birds Come to Nest in Your Branches

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

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

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

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

Mark 4:30-31  NLT

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

Luke 13:18-19  NLT

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

Egypt-Christians-AP

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

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

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

John 3:3-8  NLT

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

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

Matthew 5:3  AMP

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

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

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

Matthew 5:4  AMP

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

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

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  NASB

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

So, what is this kingdom like???

mustard-seed

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

Matthew 13:31-32  NLT

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

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

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Mustard Tree

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 24:24-25  NLT

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

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

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  NASB

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

John 8:31-32 NLT

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

Matthew 7:15-20  NLT

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

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

Ephesians 4:15  AMP

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

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP

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

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

The Wheat and the Weeds – Know the Truth

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:24-30  NLT

Let’s examine this parable and discover its meaning…

24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.

Matthew 13:24  NLT

We learned yesterday, from Sowing Seeds Begins with Prayer, that the good seed that was planted, represents the word of God that was planted in the hearts of people…

1 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.

John 1:1-4  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

Jesus is the word of God.  He is the living, and the spoken word of God.  Every scripture that has ever been inspired or God breathed, points us to Jesus.  And Jesus made it clear that He is the only Way to God.  He made it clear that He is the Truth, and that He is Life.  Those who hear this and understand this, represent the good seed that the farmer spread onto the ground…

Let’s look at a portion of the prayer that Jesus prayed for those representing the good seed, on the night before He was crucified…

13 “Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy. 14 I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15 I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. 17 Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth. 18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth…”

John 17:13-19  NLT

This is such an important passage for the good seed.  Do you see what Jesus said?  He gave us God’s word.  He gave us Himself.  When we become the good seed, by hearing and believing God’s word, He makes us holy. 

Jesus knew that He would be crucified the next day, and so He asked the Father to make us holy by His truth.  Do you remember who Jesus said the Truth is?  God’s word, Jesus, is Truth.  We become holy, good seed, by God’s Truth – Jesus…

weeds and wheat

25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

Matthew 13:25-26  NLT

Who is the enemy of God?  We all know that the devil is God’s enemy, but did you know that the devil isn’t God’s only enemy?

1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrongyou want only what will give you pleasure.

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit He has placed within us should be faithful to Him.

James 4:1-5  NLT

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe Me! 46 Which of you can truthfully accuse Me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

John 8:42-47  NLT

The weeds that were planted among the wheat or the good seed, weren’t just the devil.  It included religious leaders, and people who call themselves men and women of God, though they really hate the truth.  Paul even warned Timothy about this…

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

2 Timothy 3:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus didn’t tell these parables just because He liked telling good stories.  He was telling them to prepare His people then and now, and to warn them.  Today, in the church, (I’m not talking about  the various buildings, where people attend services.  I’m talking about the people themselves, who claim to be Christ followers.) there are many false beliefs and practices, which have sprung up over the last two thousand years, since Christ’s death and resurrection.  Some false beliefs and ideas came from merging true Christianity with pagan practices.  Others came from people trying to make Christianity more appealing to the masses, by ignoring obedience, and making Christianity more worldly.  Still other false practices and beliefs came from the very pit of hell, in order to deceive the people of God. 

Because of this, we have men and women in the pulpit, preaching lies to their congregations.  Some deliberately deceive their followers, while others unwittingly do so, as they repeat the lies that they have been taught, ignorant of the truth themselves.  That is why it is vital for each person to pray to the Almighty in Jesus’ name, asking Him to reveal the Truth to them.  Also, when you read a book by a Christian author, or a post, such as this one, pray and seek the truth in the scriptures for yourself.  I’m human, and though I don’t want to mislead anyone, I do make mistakes.  See if what I’m telling you lines up with the word of God.  Likewise, whenever you read something by any Christian author, see if it lines up with God’s word.  Beloved reader, you don’t want to be mislead, because God isn’t going to separate the weeds (the deceivers) from the wheat (true Christ followers), until the last day…

27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

Matthew 13:27-30  NLT

The deceivers and the deceived continue grow along with the lovers and believers of the truth.  Therefore, pray, study and read God’s holy scriptures, for in them, you will find the truth…

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Sowing Seeds Begins With Prayer

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

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

Matthew 13:1-9  NLT

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

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

Birds ate seeds

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

Matthew 13:18-19  NLT

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

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

rocky gound

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

Matthew 13:20-21  NLT

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

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

thorns

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

Matthew 13:22  NLT

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

fertile soil

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

Matthew 13:23  NLT

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

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

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

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

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

Sweet Little Lies

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. ~ Psalm 51:6  NASB ~

Image Credit: Written Reality
Image Credit:
Written Reality

We live in a sinful world filled with deception and governed by the father of lies. We’re taught from a young age to hide our feelings, and put on a happy face, no matter what is going on inside of us. Those who have been raised in an abusive family are taught from a young age to deny and hide the truth, using any means of deception necessary to protect the abuser(s). We’re even taught that it’s better to tell a “little white lie” than to hurt someone. Even Fleetwood Mac alluded to “sweet little lies,” in their 1987 hit song, “Little Lies,” but are lies really sweet?

How do you trust someone who lies to you, when lies are the polar opposite of the truth. As a matter of fact, scripture makes it very clear where both lies and the truth come from…

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 ~

44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ~ John 8:44  NLT ~

How do you feel? Do you think it’s okay to tell little white lies? What makes a lie white? If some lies are white, are other lies black? Where do you draw the line?

According to the bible, Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Also according to scripture, Jesus said that He is the Truth. Please note that nowhere in the bible do the scriptures imply a difference in types of lies (i.e. – white lies or black lies). Indeed, the scriptures make it very clear that not only is the devil a liar, he is the father of all lies. Wow. Just think about that for a minute. If the devil (God’s enemy) is truly the father of all lies, then there is no such thing as white lies. Furthermore, the scripture says that when the devil lies, it is consistent with his character.

So, keeping this in mind, what do the scriptures say about God’s character???

God is not a man, so He does not lie.
He is not human, so He does not change His mind.
Has He ever spoken and failed to act?
Has He ever promised and not carried it through?
~ Numbers 23:19  NLT ~

29 And He who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will He change His mind, for He is not human that He should change His mind!”  ~ 1 Samuel 15:29  NLT ~

This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began. ~ Titus 1:2  NLT ~

18 So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. ~ Hebrews 6:18  NLT ~

According to Hebrews 6:18, it is impossible for God to lie, just as there is no truth in the devil. Therefore, when we become a child of God, Jesus, who is the Truth, dwells in our hearts, and if He dwells within our hearts, then how can we participate in any lie? Yet, sadly, so many people, Christians included, are confused about this, because they have bought into the lies the world has repeated to them, rather than seeking the truth from their Father.

Image Credit: God Follower Blog
Image Credit:
God Follower Blog

Think about it this way, God’s Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of all of His children, who are believers in Jesus Christ. Now, if I am walking in the Spirit, I will not even utter a white lie, because it is impossible for God to lie, and when I walk in the Spirit, I am walking in obedience to God. However, if I choose to share a sweet little lie, for a good reason, then, I am walking in my flesh, and it is sin.

Who is truly a good friend, one who lies and tells you what you want to hear, or someone who tells you the truth, even though it may be painful to hear? Do you want to confide in someone who promises to keep your confidence, but tells you sweet little lies or the one who always speaks the truth?

Finally, beloved readers, consider this. Lies do not lead to freedom. Indeed, they bind us in a tangled web…

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive! ~ Sir Walter Scott ~

Do you truly want to be free and walk in complete liberty? Then seek and speak only the truth beloved friend. Don’t be a slave to someone else’s lies, or worse yet, your own!

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

Finally beloved reader, I leave you with this warning from Revelation…

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” ~ Revelation 21:8  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Do You Believe? ~ Matthew 9:27-31 (Part 1)

Image Credit: St-Talka.org
Image Credit:
St-Talka.org

27 After Jesus left the girl’s home, two blind men followed along behind Him, shouting, “Son of David, have mercy on us!”

28 They went right into the house where He was staying, and Jesus asked them, Do you believe I can make you see?”

“Yes, Lord,” they told Him, “we do.”

29 Then He touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” 30 Then their eyes were opened, and they could see! Jesus sternly warned them, “Don’t tell anyone about this.” 31 But instead, they went out and spread His fame all over the region. ~ Matthew 9:29-31 — NLT ~

Do you believe that Jesus can…? Fill in the blank and ask yourself, “Do I believe that Jesus can heal my disease? Free me from painGive me a childGive me a home? FoodClothingDeliver me from fearDepressionAddictions? Do I believe that Jesus can forgive meLove meChange me?

When I began to truly follow Jesus, dedicating my whole life to Him, I could feel my faith growing stronger and stronger, as I read and studied God’s word…

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. ~ Romans 10:17 — NASB ~

Image Credit: Apostolic Titbits
Image Credit:
Apostolic Titbits

One of the ways our faith can grow is from hearing God’s word. We can hear His word when we go to church on Sundays, but hearing His word only once a week, will not help your faith to grow. If we want to have the faith that moves mountains, then we must know His word for ourselves. Indeed, we must know Christ  for ourselves, and there is no better way to know Him than to read His word and spend time talking and listening to Him.

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 ~

Do you believe that Jesus can change your life? Can He heal your broken body? Can He mend your broken heart? Can He restore broken relationships?

But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. ~ James 1:6-8 — NLT ~

How strong is your faith? When Jesus asks you, “Do you believe I can make you (fill in the blank)how will you respond? Do you believe He can do anything, or do you doubt it?

I’ll be honest with you… I have such a strong faith that Jesus will help others, but when it comes to me personally, though I desperately long to believe, I struggle. I don’t think the struggle is so much can He, as will He? For the last three years, I’ve suffered with constant, chronic debilitating back pain, and I’ve prayed for relief, which hasn’t come.

When I first started dealing with this pain, I sensed the Lord telling me that this is something I must go through. So what does that mean, exactly? Is this a temporary thing? Or is it something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life? I desperately want to believe that  this won’t be forever, but I’m not sure. I want to pray according to God’s will for this, but I’m not sure what His will for me is… Is my faith weak? How about yours? What do we do when our faith is weak???

There was another person in the bible who loved the Lord and wanted to believe in Jesus’ power to help him, yet, like mine, his faith was much too weak. Yet this man didn’t allow that to stop him. Do you remember the man whose son was possessed by an evil spirit that caused him to have violent seizures, and wouldn’t allow the boy to speak? He brought his son to Jesus, hoping that He would heal and deliver his son, but when he arrived, Jesus wasn’t there, so he asked the disciples to cast the demon out. However, they were unable to do so, and the man was left feeling as dispirited as I’ve felt about my chronic back pain…

Then, of course, there were also naysayers in the crowd, who further depressed the poor crestfallen man, by stirring the pot. You know the kind of people I’m talking about. Instead of encouraging and empathizing your plight, they instead try to stamp out any faith you might still hold onto, by adding their opinions… “I told you, there’s nothing anyone can do”… “You don’t really believe God can do anything about your problem, do you???” This is the scene Jesus came upon when he returned to His disciples…

Image Credit: bongodogblog
Image Credit:
bongodogblog

16 “What is all this arguing about?” Jesus asked.

17 One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, “Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.”

19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to Me.”

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!” ~ Mark 9:16-24 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Darrell Creswell
Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

Have you been there? You want to believe, and you know you should believe, but there’s still a part of you that just can’t believe. Not only that, but others have seen your situation, and added their opinions, and though you’ve tried not to listen to the negativity, it’s still registered in your brain, and you have that doubt on top of your own. 

The father of this boy had heard that Jesus was a miracle worker, and though he desperately wanted to believe, his boy had been like this for a long time.  Still, he had worked up his courage, and brought his boy, and the disciples had tried to cast the demons out to no avail. How discouraged he must have felt! 

Have you been there? I have. I’ve had several people, from several different churches, pray over me and prophesy that I am healed, though I really haven’t been. I’ve had some tell me to walk in my healing, even though I’m still in pain, denying the pain, though it remains. They’ve commanded me to walk around the church, when I can barely hold myself up, let alone make a trek around the church. I’ve been told to ignore my pain, and though I’m in excruciating pain, I should repeat over and over, “I am healed.”  Jesus never told anyone to deny their condition. He always deals in truth.  

Therefore, I am left with this realization… I am a lot like the father in this story. I desperately want to believe that Jesus will heal me, but I’m not sure that He will… Though I believe that He can, what if it’s not His will to heal me?

22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.”

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

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” ~ Mark 9:22-24 — NLT ~

In the beginning of this study, Jesus asked the blind men, “Do you believe I can make you see?” (Matthew 9:28 — NLT) Later, He told the father of the demonized boy, “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?.. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”  (Mark 9:23 — NLT ) Therefore, in light of this study, I will join with  the boy’s father, tell ing the Lord, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 — NLT)

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers


All bible references are taken from Bible Gateway. Do you want to look up a scripture, but can’t remember where to find it? Try finding it on Bible Gateway, a wonderful website that includes many different bible versions, study aids and helps. Bible Gateway is a great resource for all believers to grow in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

Death is Defeated ~ Matthew 9:23-26

Image Credit: Imagens Biblicas
Image Credit:
Imagens Biblicas

23 When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, He saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. 24 “Get out!” He told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at Him.25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside. ~ Matthew 9:23-26 — NLT ~

Nothing was too hard for Jesus to do. He gave sight to the blind (Matthew 9:27-31; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 8:22-26; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43; John 9). He healed lepers (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16; Luke 17:11-19). He healed those who were paralyzed (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26; John 5:1-15). He also performed many other miracles, some that are written in the Bible, and others that aren’t…

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. ~ John 21:25 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Every Knee Shall Bow, by J. Kirk Richards
Image Credit:
Every Knee Shall Bow, by J. Kirk Richards

Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to us, when we read that among the many miracles He performed in the name of God, He raised the dead. Jesus was fully aware of the power and authority God had given Him. Therefore, He walked in the complete fullness of God.

He was and is the Son of God. Therefore, He had authority over everything in heaven and on earth. This included authority over every living creature…

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 earth11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11 — NLT ~

authority over every animate and inanimate object

36 As He rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of Him. 37 When He reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of His followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

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

39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke Your followers for saying things like that!”

40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” ~ Luke 19:36-40 — NLT ~

Image Credit: David & Jonathan Inc.
Image Credit:
David & Jonathan Inc.

authority over the angels in heaven and the demons that roam the earth…

53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly~ Matthew 26:53 — NLT ~

33 Once when He was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—began shouting at Jesus, 34 “Go away! Why are You interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 

35 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” He ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further

36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this Man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey Him, and they flee at His command!” ~ Luke 4:33-36 — NLT ~

... authority over every curse…

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NASB ~

authority over every sin…

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to His own town. Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.” 

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does He think He’s God?” 

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 

7 And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority. ~ Matthew 9:1-8 — NLT ~

authority over every illness, whether curable or incurable…

16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and He healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17 — NLT ~

Jesus’ authority even included the wind and the waves…

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

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

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

Image Credit: Peace Be Still, by James Seward
Image Credit:
Peace Be Still, by James Seward

Jesus Christ, Son  of God and Son of Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, has ALL AUTHORITY on heaven and on earth. This all encompassing power includes the power  of life and death. Therefore, because of His great power and authority, He was able to walk into that house filled with mourners grieving the death of a little girl and after shutting them up, He then threw them out of the house, allowing only the little girl’s parents and His disciples to enter the house with Him and go to where the little girl lay, dead on her bed…

Image Credit: Sunday Education
Image Credit:
Sunday Education

41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. ~ Mark 5:41-43 — NLT ~

So what does this mean to us? My beloved readers, it means everything to us! For you see, our whole hope is built on Christ’s authority over death, because each day that we live, we are also draw one day closer to our death. Now, for the very young, that day seems far off, but for those who are middle-aged and beyond, that day becomes more and more imminent. Therefore, Christ’s authority over death is our only hope…

14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. ~ Hebrews 2:14-15 — NLT ~

I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. ~ Revelation 1:18 — NLT ~

25 For Christ must reign until He humbles all His enemies beneath His feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 — NLT ~

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, Jesus’ authority to raise that little girl from the dead wasn’t just a one time event. He raised others, and at the end of time as we now know it, He will finally destroy death, once and for all! That means our loved ones who were born-again before their death, will be resurrected. That also means that if we, who are born-again, die before His return to earth, we will be resurrected as well.

Thank You, Lord, for Your compassion and grace. Thank You so much for sacrificing Your One and only Son for us, and Lord, thank You for making a way for us to be reborn in the Spirit. Lord, I praise You for conquering sin and death, so that we, Your children, could live with You throughout eternity. In Jesus’ name I  pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Jesus – My Hero

"Touch of Faith" Simon Dewey
“Touch of Faith”
Simon Dewey

19 So Jesus and His disciples got up and went with him. 20 Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind Him. She touched the fringe of His robe, 21 for she thought, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. ~Matthew 9:19-22 — NLT ~

Image Credit: MUSETRACKS
Image Credit:
MUSETRACKS

Long before Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Britney Spears and Alec Baldwin (just to name a few) had to deal with paparazzi following them wherever they go (even to the men’s or ladies’ room), Jesus dealt with them. In fact, He was dealing with paparazzi before the word was even thought up. Of course they didn’t have cameras back then, but Jesus had to deal with the rest of it. He was followed everywhere He went (except when He was able to slip away into the wilderness to be alone and pray to His Father). He was constantly being stopped on the street and hemmed in by the crowds of people, who all seemed to want something from Him…

And now, here He was, on His way to help someone else, and the crowds are pushing in all around Him. Try to imagine what it must have been like. The crowd was so thick that the disciples were surprised that Jesus would have noticed being touched by any one person, but of course, this was Jesus, and as big as that mob of people was, He still noticed when someone simply touched the hem of His garment…

43 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. 44 Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of His robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched Me?” Jesus asked.

Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against You.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched Me, for I felt healing power go out from Me.”47 When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of Him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched Him and that she had been immediately healed. ~ Luke 8:43-47 — NLT ~

Image Credit: I AM, The Word, and The Comforter
Image Credit:
I AM, The Word, and The Comforter

Now I would imagine that poor woman was scared out of her wits. There were people crowded in all around Jesus, so in order for her to get close enough to touch the hem of His garment, she would have had to push and shove her way through the throng. She was healed instantly when she touched His hem, so since her business was finished, she turned to leave. Then Jesus stopped and turned around, asking, “Who touched Me?” 

Can you imagine how Alec Baldwin would have reacted? Or how about Britney Spears or Justin Bieber? Any one of them would have very likely reacted violently to her touch, creating a big scene, probably humiliating her or even physically accosting her. After all, they’re really important people, in their own eyes…

But she didn’t touch one of them. She touched the most important Man to ever grace the earth with His presence. She didn’t touch the clothes of just any man, she touched the clothes of God’s Son. She didn’t just touch a king’s clothes, she touched the King of king’s clothes. She didn’t just touch some lord’s clothes. She touched the Lord of lord’s clothes. And how did He respond to this – this nobody?

Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. ~ Matthew 9:22 — NLT ~

How can you help but love Him? He was the only One to ever walk the face of the earth who could have looked around at the rest of humanity and felt superior, because He is SUPERIOR, and yet He not only treated the woman with respect and with kindness. He actually took the time out of His busy schedule to encourage her! “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” 

Have you ever seen such love? Such grace? Such mercy? Such compassion? The only One who has ever walked this earth and truly was entitled to EVERYTHING, expected nothing and gave His all. Unlike the ones we call heroes today, He truly gave ALL that He had, because He placed everyone else above Him.

Beloved readers, just as He had compassion on the woman with the issue of blood, He has compassion on YOU. As He encouraged her, He wants to encourage YOU. Jesus loves you and He loves me just as much as He loved that woman, and you know what? Jesus is my hero!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

A Teachable Moment

HubPages How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling
HubPages
How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling

14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”

15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:14-17 — NLT ~

When I read this passage, I think of children, who often compare their circumstances with those of others… For example:

“My mom makes me do the dishes, so why doesn’t your son/daughter have to do them?”

“My dad makes me take the trash out, so why don’t your children have to do it?”

Image Credit: Organic and Simple, That's Church!
Image Credit:
Organic and Simple, That’s Church!

You get the picture. Doesn’t it seem that way to you? Now, if I’m to be totally honest with you, comments like that are very irritating to me, and I used to get very impatient with my children when they would make petty comments like that. If John’s disciples had come to me with that question, I probably would have snapped at them and put them in their place… I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad I’m not Jesus…

Jesus was neither angry nor irritated with John’s disciples, even though they were complaining and criticizing His disciples. In fact, by criticizing His disciples for not fasting, John’s disciples were really criticizing Jesus, for not training His disciples properly. Yet Jesus took no offense from their accusations. Instead, He did something wonderful for them, whether they realized it or not.

You see, Jesus turned their accusations into a teachable moment. Rather than giving them a tongue-lashing, as I might have done, He spoke to them gently, and patiently. Instead of condemning them for having the audacity to question Him, He chose to teach them, and in lieu of telling them that it was none of their business, He explained why His disciples did not fast…

Bride Waiting for Christ15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  ~ Matthew 9:15 — NLT ~

Jesus’ response to John’s disciples was simple enough for everyone to understand. In fact, it was simple enough that even now, more than two thousand years later, it remains reasonable…

Women often cry at weddings, but the tears they shed are tears of joy, not sadness. At the wedding reception, there is usually a lot of laughter and fun, as people eat and drink in honor of the bride and groom. It’s supposed to be a time of merriment and celebration.

Jesus explained that His presence here on earth was in many ways, like the presence of the groom at his wedding.  Would you mourn at the wedding, as long as the groom was there? Of course not! Therefore, as long as Jesus was here on earth with His disciples, why should they fast and mourn? Besides, there would come a day, when Jesus, (our Groom) would no longer be here on earth with them, and there would be plenty of time to fast and mourn then…

Image Credit: Children Bible Studies
Image Credit:
Children Bible Studies

But this wasn’t the only lesson Jesus was teaching them that day, and perhaps this lesson He was teaching was not only for John’s disciples, but for His disciples as well, though many have always assumed the words He spoke were simply to those who questioned them. For just as a parent will teach not only the child who is asking such a foolish, perhaps even rebellious question, but will also teach a lesson to the obedient child as well, so Jesus did in this case…

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:16-17 — NLT ~

When a child first learns to read, would the teacher give the child “War and Peace,,” by Leo Tolstoy as a reading assignment? Of course not, because that would be much too difficult for the child to read, and it would only result in frustrating the child at the very least. At its worst, this assignment could cause the child to give up on reading altogether…

It was the same with the disciples. Several of these guys were fishermen, one was a tax collector and another was a zealot. None of these men were priests, prophets, Pharisees or Sadducees. These weren’t religious men, therefore, they weren’t used to submitting to various religious practices  like the Pharisees, Saducees, prophets and priests were. Also, many of John the Baptist’s disciples were likely Nazarites, just as he was, and since John often fasted, his disciples were used to living a “fasted” lifestyle, therefore, fasting was not as difficult for them as their complaints made it seem.

However, as I said before, Jesus’ disciples had a much different background than these other men, and for someone not used to fasting, it is quite difficult, which is why Jesus talked about patching old clothing with a new patch. To do so, would place too much pressure on the old cloth, thereby causing it to rip and tear. It is also why Jesus made the reference of placing new wine into old wine skins. Again, the pressure would cause the wine skins to burst, thereby rendering it useless. In the same way, to expect the disciples, who were untrained and undisciplined in fasting, and certain other religious practices, before they were ready, could cause them to break under the pressure, and perhaps render them useless.

Image Credit: 9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT
Image Credit:
9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT

It makes me sad sometimes, when I see a new Christian being put to work on various “projects” or committees, before they’ve had a chance to grow in the faith. For all too often, the majority will become burned out, and many will turn away from the Lord, going back to their old lifestyle that they’re used to…

When I became a mother, my baby was completely dependent on me for everything. He couldn’t even hold his own head up by himself. He needed me to support and protect him… He couldn’t feed himself. He needed me to provide his milk, and its source was from within me… He couldn’t communicate, except to cry. He needed me to understand his needs… He couldn’t get around by himself. I had to carry him everywhere…

In the same way, when a person is born again, whether they are a child or an adult, they are a babe in Christ, and just as a baby needs his parents to support him and protect him, so  a babe in Christ needs the Lord to lead other more mature believers to support him and protect him. Just as a newborn is unable to feed himself, so too, a new born again believer needs other, more mature believers to feed (teach) him on the word of God, and just as a newborn baby cannot eat steak, neither can a new believer digest more complicated doctrinal beliefs…

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment ~ 1 Peter 2:2 — NLT ~

12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. ~ Hebrews 5:12-14 — NLT ~

Furthermore, as a baby has a difficult time communicating his needs, a new believer also has a difficult time communicating and sharing his needs. The new believer hasn’t yet learned our language and our customs, therefore, he only knows how to respond to things the way he has always responded and communicated. And just as that baby needs his mommy to figure out what he needs, more mature believers and mentors are going to need to figure out what the new born again believer needs… 

When you look at this passage of scripture through these eyes, we begin to get a glimpse of Jesus’ great love and compassion for both His own disciples at the time, for John’s disciples, and for His future disciples, you and me. Praise God for these words of Jesus, which are always filled with love, grace and mercy!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

The Exact Representation of God’s Nature ~ Hebrews 1:3

Image Credit: wallpaper4god.com
Image Credit:
wallpaper4god.com

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NLT ~

Praise God! Today, we’re going to continue our examination of Hebrews 1:3. In our previous post we learned about how Jesus, the Son of God, radiates God’s own glory, how He is the Light of the world, and how His Light gives us life. Let’s look at the next part of this scripture…

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God… ~ Hebrews 1:3a — NLT ~

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature ~ Hebrews 1:3a — NASB ~

In order to understand the meaning of this very important passage, let’s look at the Greek words used for representation and nature…

Representation = charaktēr

I.     the instrument used for engraving or carving
II.    the mark stamped upon that instrument or wrought
out on it.

        1. a mark or figure burned in (Lev. 13:28) or stamped on, an impression
        2. the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise reproduction in every respect, i.e. – facsimile

Nature = hypostasis

I.     a setting or placing under

        1. thing put under, substructure, foundation

II.    that which has foundation, is firm

        1. that which has actual existence the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing
          1. a substance, real being
        2. the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution
          1. confidence, firm trust, assurance

This is such a beautiful revelation. Not only does Jesus radiate God’s own glory, He also expresses God’s character. Have you ever longed to know God? I mean to really know Him, not just about Him…

expression of the glory of godTo know God, we must first know His Son, because Jesus is the exact image of God. He is the precise reproduction of His Father in every respect

Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father! So why are you asking Me to show Him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak are not My own, but My Father who lives in Me does His work through Me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen Me do.” ~John 14:9-11 — NLT ~

“The Father and I are one.” ~ John 10:30 — NLT ~

37 “Don’t believe Me unless I carry out My Father’s work. 38 But if I do His work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe Me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father.” ~ John 10:37-38 — NLT ~

Christ is the visible image of the invisible GodHe existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation… ~ Colossians 1:15 — NLT ~

Image Credit; delivertheword.com
Image Credit;
delivertheword.com

In Exodus 33:20, the Lord tells Moses that no one can see His face and live. However, Jesus made it clear that anyone who has seen Him, has seen the Father. I’ve always found it interesting that not everyone who saw Jesus saw God…

You see, many who saw Jesus had hearts that were too hard to recognize Him as the visible image of the invisible God…

10 He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. 11 He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. ~ John 1:10-11 — NLT ~

If Jesus were to come to you, or if you were to meet Him somewhere, would you recognize Him? I pray with all my heart that I would know Him, but the truth is, that He does sometimes visit His people without revealing who He is at the time… 

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was thirsty, and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited Me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave Me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for Me. I was in prison, and you visited Me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You? Or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show You hospitality? Or naked and give You clothing? 39 When did we ever see You sick or in prison and visit You?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed Me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give Me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite Me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give Me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit Me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help You?’

45 “And He will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these My brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help Me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:34-46 — NLT ~

Animated-Beautiful-Flowers-Pictures-21That’s why it’s so important for us to pray that we have the same mindset that He did… Indeed, in Jesus, we see the steadfastness of mind that is in God the Father.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. ~ Philippians 2:5-7 — NKJV ~

I can do nothing on My own. I judge as God tells Me. Therefore, My judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the One who sent Me, not My own will. ~ John 5:30 — NLT ~

We see in Christ, the mind of God, and as His followers, we are to have the same mindset that Jesus has. You see, a Christian is a follower of Christ, His disciple, a child of the Most High God. Therefore, if we truly belong to Him, our thoughts will be His thoughts…

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 ~

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.~ Philippians 4:8 — NLT ~

1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. ~ Colossians 3:1-4 — NLT ~

Do you see, beloved readers? Sometimes, we get so caught up in the struggles and worries that we must endure here on earth, that we lose hope. Have you ever heard the saying, “They’re so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good”?  The truth is, that this saying is just another example of how the enemy distorts God’s word. The truth of the matter, and the real cause for concern is that there are too many who are so earthly minded that they’re no heavenly good. This bible study is so good not only for you, beloved readers, but for me. We must all (certainly I must) keep our minds set on heaven, so that we don’t become disheartened by our earthly circumstances…

We see in Christ the firmness, the courage and the resolution that is in God, as well as the confidence, firm trust and assurance…

54 Jesus answered, “If I want glory for Myself, it doesn’t count. But it is My Father who will glorify Me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ 55 but you don’t even know Him. I know Him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know Him and obey Him. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to My coming. He saw it and was glad.”

57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” ~ John 8:54-58 — NLT ~

27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29 for My Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.” ~ John 10:27-30 — NLT ~

As Jesus said “I Am He,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! ~ John 18:6 — NLT ~

Do you see the courage Jesus exhibited as He spoke these words? Can you see the power He possessed? So much power enveloped Him, that when the soldiers, who had come to arrest Him, heard Him say that He was the “I AM” they were looking for, the power of His authority knocked them off their feet.

Indeed, Jesus possessed such courage and resolution, such firm assurance that He was doing the will of the Father, and that was all that mattered, that He set His face like flint and rode into Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing that by the time it was over, He would be arrested, tortured, convicted and crucified. A question for each one  of us to ponder, as we close this lesson, is this… As a child of Almighty God, and a joint heir with Christ, am I really willing to do what Paul said in Romans 8:17? And if I’m not, am I willing to begin praying for God to give me this same mindset that Jesus, and all of His disciples (except for Judas Iscariot) had?

And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering. ~ Romans 8:17 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: this fragile tent
Image Credit:
this fragile tent

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

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

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

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

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

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

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

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

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

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

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

the stoning of soraya 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 2)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Image Credit: maninthemaze.com
Image Credit:
maninthemaze.com

The other day, we started looking at this scripture passage, and we saw Jesus’ warning for His disciples to be careful of the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees). Then He went on to list some of the things they were guilty of doing, such as parading around in flowing robes to gain attention and respect. 

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Luke 20:45-46 — NLT ~

It’s funny. I never noticed this before, until my daughter-in-law and I were discussing this scripture passage… The very things that Jesus condemned in this passage are practiced in nearly every church here in the United States. I can’t speak for foreign churches, as I haven’t visited any foreign churches other than some in Haiti, when I was there on a mission trip, but from what I’ve seen in movies, I’d venture to say that they too, are operated in the same way.

Image Credit: Mike Dubose
Image Credit:
Mike Dubose

How many ministers dress in elaborate flowing robes when they preach, rather than dressing as everyone else in the congregation? And think about this, how many pastors, evangelists and televangelists sit up in the front of their sanctuaries, in special, throne-like chairs, rather than in the same pews the rest of the congregation sits on? Did you notice that this was one of the things that Jesus condemned the teachers of religious law for, stating, “And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Image Credit: St. Landry Catholic Church
Image Credit:
St. Landry Catholic Church

I can’t help but notice that the “messengers, pastors, prophets and evangelists,” who bring the word are given seats of honor in nearly every church that I’ve ever been in, how about you? And not only that, again, in nearly every church that I’ve been a part of, whenever there is a banquet or dinner, the pastor and his/her entourage are given seats at the head table. I’ve also noticed that all too often, while the other guests at the banquet must get up and fix their own plates, someone usually prepares the plates and serves them to the pastor, and his/her guests before everyone else is allowed to serve themselves. Don’t you find it ironic that the very actions Jesus found the religious leaders of His day guilty of, are the same ones practiced today, by Christian leaders, who claim to represent Him?

But that isn’t the only sin that has carried over into today’s church. Let’s examine the rest of this passage…

Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
Kathy Howard

Now, I know that most of you have heard this passage of scripture preached many times, as this poor widow is extolled for the great sacrifice she made for the Lord. The truth is, that’s how I’ve always heard it preached too, and I believed that the Lord was commanding us to give our all, like this poor widow. How about you? But then, my daughter-in-law shared some information with me that changed how I viewed this passage, and the sad thing is, that I could have understood this myself, if I had read this portion of scripture in its original context, as I teach others to do.

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Image Credit:
growingtogether.cc

Just to refresh your memory, the other day, I told you that the book of Luke was originally written as a letter or a report to a man named Theophilus, and when Luke wrote the letter, it did not have any chapters or verses. Therefore, there wasn’t the separation that we now see between Luke 20 and Luke 21. So, armed with this knowledge, let’s examine this passage as it was originally written, without stopping between chapters and verses.

After cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, who sought special treatment, and dressed to be noticed, Jesus then pointed out another, even more heinous sin that they were guilty of. For these religious leaders shamelessly cheated poor widows out of their property, while pretending to be pious by praying long prayers in public. The Lord has a special love for widows and orphans, and He hates to see them cheated…

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

~ James 1:27 — NLT ~

Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows. And all the people will reply, “Amen.”

~ Deuteronomy 27:19 — NLT ~

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Bless India!

You can see the love God has for widows and orphans, and yet Jesus makes it clear that the religious leaders of that day took advantage of them, often forcing them to lose their property. So, how did they force them to lose their property? With their long and flowery prayers, the scribes tricked those who were poor and needy into giving all they had to the Temple treasury, leaving them destitute.

Sadly, this practice continues in the church today, as pastors, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, continue to trick the poor and needy into giving their all to the ministry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that if you want your prayers answered, you must first “sow a seed.” Or else they make the claim that if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, you are robbing God. I’ve heard them say that how much or how little you give to their ministry is a reflection of your relationship with God. I’ve heard some encourage their congregations to borrow money or pay their tithes and offerings with a credit card, and it makes me sick! I’ve even heard some say that you will “lose your blessing” or even be cursed if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, and I ask you, how are these religious leaders any different than the religious leaders, whose very same practices Jesus condemned?

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Bless India!

As for the poor widow who gave her all in her offering of the temple tax, do you really think Jesus was commending her actions, so that others would do the same? Or is it possible that as He was cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, He looked across the way, and saw this real life example of one of the widows, who was being robbed of her property, and pointed her out to them? How many poor and needy people do you know, who faithfully send money they can’t afford to the ministries of famous televangelists, who spend the money on their own lavish lifestyles, while they themselves, don’t even have enough to make ends meet? 

How many people have taken money from the mouths of their own family, in the hopes that they can earn God’s favor by giving sacrificially? And how many have given their children’s inheritance to the church, because they were afraid of angering God? How many have lived and died with nothing, because the church duped them into doing as this widow did, while its coffers are full and running over? Do you really think this pleases God?

And do you really think we can earn His favor if we just give enough money to the church? Do you really believe that you, His beloved child will lose His favor and perhaps even be cursed if you don’t obey the commands of religious leaders to give to their ministries?

Beloved, don’t you know that just as we can’t earn salvation, neither can we earn God’s favor. If you are a child of God, you have His favor simply because you are His child, and He loves you. Look at these words that Jesus spoke…

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

~ Matthew 7:7-11 — NKJV ~

Am I saying that God does not want us to give? Of course not! What I am saying is that you must stop listening to men and ask God what He wants you to give, and to whom He wants you to give. And when you give, give cheerfully, because God has shown you what to give and to whom. Do not give because you are being pressured to do so by religious leaders. Instead, wait on the Lord and let Him direct your giving. And do not give because you want to earn God’s favor, or because you are afraid of losing His favor, because you can’t earn His favor with money or anything else. If you are a disciple of Christ, you have His favor simply because you are His child.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 1)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

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Layoutsparks.com

Warning! Many readers may find the following post offensive as it goes against much of what many of us have been taught to believe. I make no apologies for this post, as I am staying true to the Word of God. And though it goes against what most of us have learned in the church, it is truth, and therefore, it must be shared.

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

~ John 8:31-32 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
revivalorriots.org

So, my friends, are you ready for some truth? Did you know that there is such a thing as “churchianity”, and that “churchianity” is much different than Christianity? Did you know that according to Wickepedia’s “Religion in the United States”, 73%-80% of Americans claim to be Christian? Now, I don’t like to be a harbinger of bad news, but the fact is that although many claim to be Christians, the truth is that there are fewer Christians than non-Christians — but don’t take my word for it. Look at what Jesus… Messiah… Son of God… the Christ… founder of Christianity, had to say about the subject.

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 ~

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

~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
vimeopro.com

So, beloved readers, as you can see from these scriptures, many who claim to be Christians don’t even know Jesus, and this includes many in the church. Now, armed with this knowledge, you have to begin to wonder, how much of what we have been taught to believe is what Jesus taught, and how much of it is simply the teachings of those who cast out demons in His name and perform miracles in His name, but in reality, they never even knew Him?  And how can we — you and I — know the difference?

It starts in your heart. Do you know Jesus? I don’t mean do you know Him like you know President Obama, meaning that you know about Him or that you might recognize Him if you saw Him on the street. I mean — do you know Him?

Let me explain it this way… In April, my husband and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. I’ve lived intimately with that man for so long now that I know him inside and out. Yes, there are times when his response to something will surprise me, but for the most part, I know what he thinks about different subjects without him saying a word. I know what makes him angry and exactly what buttons to push if I want to get a rise out of him. I know how to make him smile, and I know how to make him laugh out loud. Sometimes, when he looks at me from across the room, though he doesn’t even say a word, I hear him saying, “I love you, Sweetie.” You see, after 33 years of intimacy, I know my husband.

intimacy-with-God-300x255This is how God longs for us to know Him. It is how He longs for us to know His only Son, Jesus, and how He wants us to know His Spirit. The only way we can know Him like this is to spend time with Him, by talking to Him, and by being still in His presence and waiting, listening for Him to speak to us. The only way we can know Him is to read His word, because though He spoke those words thousands of years ago, to many different writers, His word is living and active, and it still speaks to us today.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~

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disciplemakingleaders.com

Are we good so far? I haven’t said anything too offensive yet, have I? You see, before I can get to the meat of this subject, I had to lay the foundation first. For a large number of people in the church and out of it have deluded themselves into believing that being a Christian is nothing more than membership into the “right” church. Sadly, for most, church has become nothing more than being a part of the right club… Just as you have the Lion’s Club, the Moose Lodge, the Elk’s Lodge, the VFW, the Exchange Club, the Masonic Lodge and so many more exclusive clubs, so you also have your choice of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Holiness Church, the Apostolic Church, the Church of the Brethren, the Church of Christ, the Berean Church, the Roman Catholic Church and so many other churches to choose from.

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lawgospelaction.wordpress.com

And, just as the various clubs have different bylaws to follow, so also, the different churches have different rules and regulations for their members to follow…. For instance, some baptize by sprinkling water on the member, some baptize by pouring water on the member and others baptize by immersion. Some claim that you cannot be saved unless you are baptized, while others claim that baptism is merely an outward symbol of an inward change and that salvation can be had with our without baptism.

Some churches believe that when partaking of communion, you must only use unleavened bread, while others believe that only wafers will do, and still others believe that a whole loaf of bread should be passed around. Still other churches believe that you should only drink wine when taking communion, while others believe that to drink wine is sinful and only grape juice will do.

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barrywallace.wordpress.com

There are some churches that believe that when you partake in communion, it is symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus that was shed for us on the Cross, while there are still other churches who believe that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ when you partake of it.

So, my question is, with so many differing rules and regulations, which is right and which is wrong, and how can I know the difference? Am I practicing Christianity? Or am I practicing churchianity? Let’s begin by looking at the following scripture passage.

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Let’s begin to look at this passage bit by bit, starting at the beginning. The first thing to note is who was speaking, what they were talking about, when this happened, and where this took place…

One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to Him.

~ Luke 20:1 — NLT ~

Who was speaking — Jesus 
What was He talking about — He was teaching the people and preaching the Good News 
When did this happen — One day 
Where did this take place — In the Temple

Now, one important thing to notice is that the passage I am writing about, as well as everything else that happened in both chapters, is that it all took place on this “One day“. Right before Jesus warned the people to beware of these teachers of religious law, they had already tried to trap Him several times. I encourage you to read both Luke 20 and Luke 21 in their entirety, to get a clear picture of what was going on, when Jesus spoke to the people.  Also, as you read these 2 chapters, keep in mind that when Luke wrote this book, he wrote it as a personal account to a man named Theolophilus, and there were no chapters and verses when he wrote it. Therefore, Luke 20 and Luke 21  both flowed together as a part of what happened “One day“.

With this in mind, we see Jesus addressing the people after the priests and the elders had come, challenging His authority, followed by the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees) and their spies, who tried to trap Him into saying something against the Roman government so they could have Him arrested, then followed by the Sadducees (who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead), who tried to ensnare Jesus with a question about the resurrection. Boldly addressing each one of their attempted ruses, Jesus displayed both His wisdom and His authority, as He turned His focus on His disciples, warning them.

46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

~ Luke 20:46-47 — NLT ~

Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the teachers of religious law. Back then, the teachers of religious law were the priests and elders, the scribes, the Pharisees and the Saducees. Today, it could mean pastors, priests, bishops, elders, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, cardinals, popes and many other religious leaders. And how can you recognize those leaders that Jesus is talking about? He made it real easy for us to recognize them. They are the ones who like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings when they walk in the marketplace.

Think about some of those who love to preach in their flowing, lavish robes. Oh, they claim that they are their “priestly garments,” and that it is biblical, but is it really? (I warned you that I was going to offend some people and challenge your beliefs.) Only the levitical priests were ordered by God to wear specific robes, and those robes were not man made designs, but according to God’s pattern. “But,” you might say, “These robes show my office… my calling… my status… I am a royal priest…” Perhaps, but isn’t the same true of every Christian?

 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NLT ~

I’ve been told that I need to purchase a robe, so that when I preach the Word of God, I will look the part. Really? When Jesus, the Son of God preached the Good News, He didn’t have a special robe to wear. In fact, as we see here, He even spoke out against it. So I ask you, are those who wear these robes and demand that others wear them as well practicing Christianity or “churchianity”?

Before you get too angry with me, please note that I’m not saying that some of these people aren’t genuine Christians. Many are, but they, like all of us, have been misled about many things in the church. It’s time for Christians to wake up and begin practicing Christianity as Jesus taught us, and not the “churchianity” that the church has taught so many of us.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

~ Ephesians 5:10-14 — NLT ~

So,  we see Jesus warning His disciples not to parade around in flowing robes like the scribes and Pharisees, so they can receive resectful greetings from people in the marketplace. How many preachers, evangelists and televangelists revel in the respectful adoration they receive from their followers, who dare not call them by name, but are instead required to address them as “Pastor… Prophet… Evangelist… Minister…?” 

Far too many times, I’ve seen various ministers followed by an entourage of servants, expecting them to carry their bibles for them, as well as water and something to wipe the sweat from their brow. Some even expect their servants — er – followers — to wipe the sweat for them. How is it that Christ’s ministers, who are called to be Christlike, expect others to serve them, when Jesus came to serve others? Doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Look at Jesus’ instruction to His disciples…

42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

~ Mark 10:42-45 — NLT ~

Now, my friends, if this was Jesus command to His disciples over 2000 years ago, and if He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, has this command changed? Of course not. Jesus calls us to serve, not to be served. He doesn’t want us dressing up in flowing robes, or the finest clothes,  so that people will admire our finery, as we lord it over them and preach. He doesn’t want us preaching to draw attention to ourselves, rather, all focus should be on God. And understand this, God isn’t impressed by our flowery language, flashy robes and the things that impress people. He looks at our heart, and it is the love and passion for Him and for His word that draws Him to us.

Therefore, beloved readers, let’s ask ourselves, are we practicing Christianity or “churchianity”? Do you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Or do you love the attention you get when you stand before people, preaching and/or prophesying? Do you serve others? Or do you expect others to serve you? Do you follow Christ? Or do you follow those who walk around in their ostentacious robes, seeking the adulation of others? Do you follow those who expect you to serve them?

Beloved reader, I urge you to pray about the things that I’ve shared with you, and more importantly, see what God’s word says about them. Then, we’ll continue with part 2 of this series – Churchianity vs. Christianity.

© 2014
Cheryl Showers

My Soul Longs for You, Lord

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1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. 2 I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before Him?

3 Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” 4 My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:1-6a — NLT ~

Times and seasons change, and much as we love those mountaintop experiences, they don’t last. For as surely as we will enjoy the highs, there will also be those times when we are brought low. And as joyful as those high times are, the valley experiences will carry as much or more pain…

depressedSo how do we endure? And why, if I’m a child of the Most High God, can’t I stay on top of the mountain? I’ve been told, and even foolishly believed it myself, that Christians aren’t supposed to be depressed or discouraged. And those who do experience such emotions are at the very least, weak and faithless Christians or at worst, not really even Christians at all…

Father, forgive me for all of the foolish things that I’ve believed over the years, based on what men say, rather than what Your word says. Forgive me, Father, for the times I’ve condemned myself and others, for the pain we were enduring due to being weighed down by a spirit of heaviness. 

When I think of all of the biblical heroes who suffered from depression during their lifetimes, I am ashamed for the pain I’ve added to others who suffered from it, due to my ignorance…

King David suffered from depression many times during his life, when King Saul sought to kill him… when his murderous, adulterous affair with Bathsheba was revealed, resulting in the death of their first-born son… when his son, Absalom tried to steal his kingdom from him, just to name a few…

Job_113-1180Job, a blameless man of complete integrity, was quite depressed after losing his family, fortune, and his health. Having to endure the hurtful speculation of his friends about what could have caused his loss only served to increase his pain, and as if his friends’ criticism wasn’t bad enough for the poor man to endure, his wife went to him and told him that he might as well just curse God and die!  Then, there was Elijah, one of the Old Testament’s greatest prophets, who in just one day, called fire down from heaven, consuming both his offering and the offerings made to the false gods of 400 other prophets. As if that demonstration of God’s power through His servant Elijah wasn’t enough, Elijah then singlehandedly killed those 400 false prophets, before falling into a deep depression just a few hours later, when the wicked Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him…

After being imprisoned, and with his impending beheading looming ahead, John the Baptist fell into depression, which led him to doubt and question the very thing that he had once been so certain of…

2 John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, 3 “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

~ Matthew 11:2-3 — NLT ~

john_the_baptist_in_prison_350Now, remember, this is the same John, Jesus’ cousin, who leapt in Elizabeth’s (his mother’s) womb, when Mary (who was pregnant with Jesus) greeted her. For even in utero, John recognized the Savior that he was to be the forerunner for. And when he saw Jesus again, at the Jordan River, more than thirty years later…

John testified about Him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’”

~ John 1:15 — NLT ~

John also made this testimony about Jesus…

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A Man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize Him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that He might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon Him.33 I didn’t know He was the One, but when God sent me to baptize with water, He told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that He is the Chosen One of God.”

~ John 1:29-34 — NLT ~

Here, we see that even this mighty man of God’s faith wavered in the midst of depression and anxiety, and it’s important to see how Jesus responded to John, so that we, too can respond to our brothers and sisters who may be in the midst of depression and anxiety in a like manner…

4 Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— 5 the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 6 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.’”

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 8 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces.9 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    and he will prepare your way before you.

11 “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! 12 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. 13 For before John came, all the prophets and the law of Moses looked forward to this present time. 14 And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come. 15 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

~ Matthew 11:4-15 — NLT ~

Do you see that in Jesus’ response to John’s question there is no condemnation of John for his weakness? Instead, Jesus affirmed what John already knew and had testified to, before he was imprisoned and discouraged… “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.'” You see, Jesus was telling John that Isaiah’s prophecy of Messiah (Isaiah 61:1) was being fulfilled through Him. He also encouraged John not to turn away because of Him, because God would bless him… 

I also love what Jesus then told the others about John. Instead of calling John a loser because of his discouragement and doubt, Jesus informed them that John was more than a prophet. He also let them know that John was Messiah’s forerunner, and that none who had ever lived was greater than John the Baptist… Isn’t that wonderful? In the midst of John’s terrible situation and his depression, Jesus still counted him as great in the Kingdom…

helpesless8trackscoverTherefore, knowing that so many great men and women of God suffered from depression and discouragement, how can we as Christians, condemn one another by minimizing the feelings of a brother or sister in Christ, who is depressed? Is it really fair for us to claim that a “good Christian” should not experience the depths of depression, when clearly, scripture shows us something altogether different? Should we hurl accusations of the person’s faith being “weak”? Or should we pray for our brother or sister, and encourage him/her with the word of God?

5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God!

~ Psalm 42:5-6 — NLT ~

Do you suffer from depression and discouragement, man or woman of God? Be encouraged! You are not alone. Men and women of God throughout the centuries have suffered through and overcome depression, and it does not make them any less a man or woman of God. Indeed, those who suffer through these difficult times often learn to draw closer to the Almighty One, who alone is able to deliver us from our pain! May the Lord bless you and set you free!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Joyce Meyer – Anointed Woman of God or Heretic? (Part 1)

Image Credit: Zachery Oliver
Image Credit:
Zachery Oliver

I love the Lord, and I love His word. In fact, I’m very passionate about Him, His word, and His people. His word is life, therefore, it is of utmost importance that we know His word and not twist it or alter it in any way. Otherwise, we run the risk of leading many people astray.

Teach me Your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end.

~ Psalm 119:33 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
ubdavid.org

This scripture is a promise to the Lord, that if He will teach me His decrees, I will keep them to the end. Now, it’s important that I share with you what keep means in this scripture, because it means much more than I ever realized until I studied it.

The Hebrew word for keep is natsar (pronounced nä-tsār’), which means:

I. to guard, watch, watch over, keep

A. to watch, guard, keep
B. to preserve, guard from dangers
C. to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
D. to guard, keep secret
E. to be kept close, be blockaded
F. watchman (participle)

~ Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon Blue Letter Bible ~

Image Credit: jesuscultureawakening.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
jesuscultureawakening.blogspot.com

When I look at Psalm 119:33 in this context, I realize that I have made a commitment to my heavenly Father to not only keep His word by obeying it, but that I will also keep watch over His word and guard it with fidelity, to preserve it from those who would twist it and try to altar its true meaning. I don’t claim to be a great prophet or even a great woman of God, but when I see someone misusing the word of God, or claiming lies in His name, a fire burns within me, and I must speak out and warn the people who follow false doctrines or false teachers.

I don’t like writing negative things about other people, especially those who claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ, however, I feel that the Lord has called me to be a watchman on the wall. It isn’t a job I asked for, but ever since I read the following passage in Ezekiel, many years ago, I have felt compelled to warn people from sinning against the Lord, and from following false doctrine and false teachers.

16 After seven days the Lord gave me a message. He said, 17 “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for Israel. Whenever you receive a message from me, warn people immediately. 18 If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 19 If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.

20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”

~ Ezekiel 3:16-21 — NLT ~

Image Credit: jacobcherians.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
jacobcherians.blogspot.com

Now I fully understand that these words were spoken to Ezekiel, commanding him to warn the people of Israel to repent, however, those words spoken to him by God also apply today. There are still people sinning and in danger of burning in hell for eternity, and if I know the truth, and fail to warn them, or if I fail to speak out against those who are leading others astray, doesn’t that make me as guilty as the false teachers are? Therefore, as distasteful as it may seem to some, I must speak out against false teachings and false teachers!

English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, ...
English: Author: myroslava (Myroslava Luzina, Kyiv, Ukraine). Source: own camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this reason, I must cry out to you, my beloved readers, against Joyce Meyer and the false doctrines she teaches. Yes, I’m well aware that there are many of you who love her and admire her, and on the surface, it seems like her teachings are good for people. But don’t be fooled, my friends, because many of her teachings are unbiblical, and if you follow her teachings, they could lead you straight to hell.

I realize that I’ve made some pretty strong claims, therefore, please allow me to share some of the false doctrines that I know of, followed up with Scripture, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to continue to follow Joyce Meyer or not. Remember, my friends, to study the Word of God, for it is vital to your relationship with Him, and it will help you to discern the truth from lies…

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

~ 2 Timothy 2:15 — KJV ~

I’ll leave my concerns about money for another post. For this post, I’m just going to dive right in to expose several false doctrines taught by Joyce Meyer, and the best place to begin are right at the foundations of our faith… What follows is a soundbite of Joyce Meyer sharing some of the blasphemous heresy that she tries to pass as Christian doctrine…

Jesus Became Sin and Ceased to be the Son of God

Just to ensure that you indeed heard what you thought was said, I’ve included a written quote of what Joyce Meyer stated below…

“He could have helped Himself up until the point where He said I commend My spirit into Your hands, at that point He couldn’t do nothing for Himself anymore. He had become sin, He was no longer the Son of God. He was sin.”

Image Credit: samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com
Image Credit:
samuelatgilgal.wordpress.com

Excuse me? How could she make such a preposterous claim that Jesus was no longer the Son of God? Jesus was the Son of God in the beginning. He was the Son of God when He walked on earth. He was the Son of God when He died. He is the Son of God today, more than 2000 years after He died on the cross and was resurrected, and He will always be the Son of God throughout all eternity… Indeed, according to Scripture, Jesus is God, and God always has been and always will be.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

~ John 1:1-2 ~

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

~ Hebrews 13:8 ~

1 Lord, through all the generations
You have been our home!
2 Before the mountains were born,
before You gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, You are God.

~ Psalm 90:1-2 ~

Image Credit: souldelights.com
Image Credit:
souldelights.com

Unfortunately, that is not the end to the heresy espoused by Joyce Meyer. Let’s see what other views of Jesus’ death on the cross she has… In her 1991 book entitled “The Most Important Decision You’ll Ever Make”, second printing, May 1993, Joyce Meyer made the following claim…

He became our sacrifice and died on the cross. He did not stay dead. He was in the grave three days. During that time he entered hell, where you and I deserve to go (legally) because of our sin. He paid the price there.

~ page 35 ~

Here’s the thing — if you don’t already know the whole truth, this sounds right. Jesus did become our sacrifice, and He did die on the cross. Jesus was in the grave for three days, and during that time, He did go to hell. And none of us could argue the fact that we all deserve to go to hell because of our sin. Sounds good so far, right?

There’s only one problem with what Joyce stated in her book, but it’s a major problem. In fact, this one statement she made is grounds for calling her a heretic. You see, Joyce Meyer claimed that Jesus paid the price for our sin in hell, and not on the cross! That is absolute heresy, and totally goes against scripture.

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

~ Galatians 3:13 ~

He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.

~ 1 Peter 2:24 ~

Do you understand this? Christ paid for your sins and my sins on the cross, NOT in hell! There are numerous scriptures that show that Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, but the words of Jesus on the cross say it all.

After Yeshua had taken the wine, He said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting His head droop, He delivered up His spirit.

~ John 19:30 ~

I realize that this version of this scripture may not be as familiar to people as the King James version, where Jesus said“It is finished,” however, I love how the Complete Jewish Bible says, “It is accomplished!” 

I think it’s important to understand exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “It is finished (accomplished).” Therefore, I would like to share the Greek word, teleō (pronounced te-le’-ō), for finished, that was used in this scripture. 

I. to bring to a close, to finish, to end

A. passed, finished

II. to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, (so that the thing done corresponds to what has been said, the order, command etc.)

A. with special reference to the subject matter, to carry out the contents of a command

B. with reference also to the form, to do just as commanded, and generally involving the notion of time, to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil

III. to pay

A. of tribute

Just look at the meaning of teleō, particularly number II. When Jesus said that it is finished, He was saying that He had completed and fulfilled the command that He had been given, and now it was accomplished. What Jesus accomplished on the cross was enough, and nothing more was required to save us. He was the Lamb without spot or blemish, who was sacrificed as the atonement for our sins. With His blood sacrifice on that cross, He completed His mission.

My friends, there is so much more that I want to share with you about this topic. There is more that you need to know about this heretic. For those who follow Joyce Meyer’s ministry, I urge you to pray about what I have shared with you, and please come back and read my next post about Joyce Meyer. 

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Joel Osteen – True or False Gospel? (Part 2)

English: Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Houst...
English: Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greetings beloved readers! As promised, I am continuing the series on false teachers. Specifically, this post is a continuation of my post on Joel Osteen. In my first post on him, {Joel Osteen – True or False Gospel? (Part 1)}, I focused on Larry King’s interview with him. In this post, I want to focus on other statements and teachings by Joel Osteen, so you can see that his interview with Larry King wasn’t just a fluke or a one time thing.

In an interview with Michelle A. Vu, Christian Post in April 2012, Osteen was asked if he considered himself a preacher of the prosperity message, and if it was heresy. His response, along with my thoughts on his response follows:

Osteen: You know, I don’t consider myself a … I don’t really know what the prosperity gospel is. The way I define it is that I believe God wants you to prosper in your health, in your family, in your relationships, in your business, and in your career. So I do … if that is the prosperity gospel, then I do believe that.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:
oprah.com

This sounds so good and positive, and yes, the Lord cares about our health, our relationships and our families. I’m also certain He cares about our business and careers, though not necessarily in the way that Mr. Osteen implies. What concerns the Lord first and foremost is whether we bring glory to Him. Have we repented and been born again? Do we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength?

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 ~

As you can see from this scripture, we were created for God’s glory. As I think about that, my heart and my mind goes immediately to the man who was born blind, and later healed by Jesus…

As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” His disciples asked Him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

~ John 9:1-3 ~

Image Credit: bible-daily.org
Image Credit:
bible-daily.org

Why was this man born blind? According to Jesus, he was born blind so that the power of God could be seen in him. Just think about it. This man was born blind, and throughout his childhood and into his adulthood, he remained blind. Imagine how difficult and trying his childhood must have been. Imagine how difficult his adulthood must have been. How would a blind man find work in that day and age? What kind of career could he hope for? And yet, it was God’s will that he remain blind for all of those years, until he met Jesus. It was God’s will for Jesus to restore his sight, so that God’s power working through Jesus would be revealed in him. It seems to me that God was more interested in showing His power in this man than in any career or business venture the man could have been involved in…

I don’t believe we are supposed to go through life defeated and not having enough money to pay our bills or send our kids to college. So you know, when I hear some of that, I think that is not who I am, he doesn’t know me or what I teach. Because he is saying God doesn’t believe that… there is no demand, I don’t think I’d put it like that but I always talk about God rewards obedience. When you follow His way, the Bible says that His blessings will chase you down and overtake you.

Image Credit: flickr.com
Image Credit:
flickr.com

This sounds really nice, especially to someone who is struggling financially, with no job, no income, and mounting bills. But is it true? If God wanted everyone to have enough money to pay their bills and send their kids to college, then why are there so many poor people? And why did Jesus say this?

“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.”

~ Matthew 26:11 ~

No one was more obedient than Jesus, and yet He was homeless…

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay His head.”

~ Luke 9:58 ~

Image Credit: ImageShack.us
Image Credit:
ImageShack.us

Jesus never sinned, and yet He was never rewarded with money or a career. Instead, His obedience led Him to Golgotha, where He was beaten, mocked, spit on and nailed to the cross, where He died. All of His disciples, except for John were martyred. And all of them, though they were obedient to the Lord, were tortured an suffered much. None of the apostles were blessed with lots of money and a good career, and certainly none of them, except for possibly Paul, went to college, nor did their children. So why should we expect the Lord to bless us financially, when we certainly haven’t suffered for the sake of the gospel?

Image Credit: examiner.com
Image Credit:
examiner.com

Just this year, Osteen joined forces with Oprah Winfrey, (who denies the truth of the Gospel), in a televised class entitled, “I Am: Life is How You See It”. I have a problem with this on several different levels.

First of all, if Osteen truly is a man of God — if he truly is a servant of Christ, then why would he team up with Winfrey, who spouts New Age rhetoric?

14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? 15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians 6:14-15~ ~

The other problem I have with Osteen and Winfrey’s class is the title of it… I Am is the name of God..

13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.’

~ Exodus 3:13-15 ~

Image Credit: oprah.com
Image Credit:
oprah.com

For a pastor, who claims to be a Christian to join forces with a New Age leader, to minister to the spiritual needs of people is outrageous. Further, to entitle their class, “I Am” is blasphemous. Anytime a Christian ministers to the spiritual needs of people, he/she should point the way to salvation through Christ, but how can he do this when his co-leader is teaching New Age principles? Furthermore, the I Am that Oprah and Joel are pointing people to is themselves, not the Lord. Just look at this exchange between Joel, Oprah and a man named Saul, who has problems trusting people since his father committed suicide.

Oprah Winfrey, “I would say to you, can you trust yourself? Would you say that?”

Saul, “I am unable to trust because I feel that.”

Oprah Winfrey, “Okay I would say to you and I have, I am no pastor at all. But I would say to you can you trust yourself? Would you say that too pastor?”

Joel Osteen, “Absolutely!”

Oprah Winfrey, “Can you trust yourself? I mean you may be afraid of what somebody else is going to do. But can you trust yourself? Do you trust yourself enough to know that if somebody harms you, if somebody is not going to be advantageous to you, then you can make a decision to move out of that relationship, can you trust yourself enough to do that?”

Saul, “I think so.”

Oprah Winfrey, “You think so, alright I love that.”

Joel Osteen, “That is good. I think that is perfect. Right, well I think…..”

Oprah Winfrey, “What I am’s can he start today? What I am’s can he start?”

Joel Osteen, “I am not fearful. I am confident. I am excited about my future. I think Saul you have to realize that you know God will bring the right people across your path, part of that healing is being open to say, “Okay God I was hurt before and I couldn’t trust, but God I am going to be open enough, vulnerable enough to trust that you are bringing the right people across my path and like Oprah said you will feel that His Spirit in here the still small voice when something is not right. But you have got to know God has right people in your future and… You know don’t let one bad break ruin the rest of your life. It doesn’t have to you, you can move forward.”

Image Credit: oprah.com
Image Credit:
oprah.com

Did you notice that throughout this whole exchange, Jesus Christ was not mentioned once — not even one time! I wouldn’t expect Oprah or “Saul” to acknowledge Him, but Joel Osteen claims to be a Christian pastor. Therefore, it is shocking for him not to mention Jesus even once. Further, for a pastor to agree with a New Age teacher, and encourage someone to trust himself, rather than to trust Jesus, totally goes against scripture…

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?

~ Jeremiah 17:9 ~

Why would a pastor, knowing that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, encourage someone to trust in himself, especially, when scripture commands us to:

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

~ Proverbs 3:5-6 ~

Also, how can Joel Osteen promise that “God will bring the right people across your path”, when he has no knowledge of whether Saul has asked Jesus Christ to be his Lord and Savior? How can he presume that Saul “will feel that His Spirit is here the still small voice when something is not right”, without knowing if Saul is a born-again Christian or not?

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

~ Colossians 2:8 ~

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

~ Romans 16:17-18 ~

In my last post and this one, I’ve shared several valid reasons