Tag Archives: bible study

United With Christ

Image Credit: One Family Under God
Image Credit:
One Family Under God

Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is a letter rich with power and meaning, for those who truly want to live the life that God has called us to. Therefore, we must make our way through it, slowly, pondering every golden nugget, so that we, like Paul, and so many other men and women, chosen by God before us, will come to say and mean, “For Christ I live, and for Christ I die.” Thus, we will continue our study from where we left off the last time, when we learned that we are Blessed With Every Spiritual Blessing in the Heavenly Realms...

The same scripture that tells us we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms, also gives us the reason why we are so blessed, hence, we must examine this scripture more closely:


All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
~ Ephesians 1:3  NLT ~


Did you see the reason for our blessings? We only receive those blessings when we are united with Christ. Therefore, in order for us to understand this and be united with Christ, let us first look in the dictionary to see what “UNITED” means…

This definition for “UNITED” comes from dictionary.com:


1.     made into or caused to act as a single entity:
a united front.

2.    formed or produced by the uniting of things
or persons:  a united effort.

3.    agreed; in harmony.


Looking at these definitions of united, we can see that to be united with Christ is to act as a single entity. In order to act as a single entity, with Christ (or with anyone), we must know Him intimately, just as a husband and wife know each other. If we are strangers, or if we don’t know Him well, how can we act as a single entity with Christ? As we go about living our lives, remember, we are a representation of Jesus, acting in His name. Therefore, we must know Him well enough to know how He would act within the context of any situation you find yourself in, and the only way you can know that is to know Him intimately.

To be united with Christ is to be agreed and in harmony with each other, and to make a united effort. I can’t think of another that I would want to be in agreement or in harmony with, can you? To be agreed with Christ, we must know what we are agreeing with, and one of the best ways to know Him is through prayer and bible study. Remember, the bible is the Word of God, which is living and active. Unlike any other book that we may read, as you read and study God’s Word, you will come to know Him, and the more you know Him, the more you will love Him, which will make it easy to be agreed with Christ and in harmony with Him.

Beloved reader, please join me in a walk through some of the many scriptures on being united with Christ, so that you and I will be able to both understand, and walk in union with our Lord. Many times in scripture, followers of Christ are called the “Bride of Christ.” This implies that a wedding has taken place, and that Christ is our husband (or groom). According to scripture, this is a sacred union…


And He said, This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” ~ Matthew 19:5-6  NLT ~


Marriage between a man and a woman is part of a sacred covenant (a binding agreement between husband, wife and God. It is to last as long as both husband and wife are alive. If one or the other dies, the other spouse is free from the covenant and may marry again if he/she so desires.) 

As it is when a man and woman marry, so it is, when we are joined in union with Christ Jesus, our Savior, except that this is an eternal covenant, which must never be broken. Therefore, just as it happens in a marriage between a man and a woman, there are many forces that will attempt to separate us from Christ, though God, our Father has expressly forbidden it. 

It is equally important for us to understand that when we are united with Jesus, we are also united with God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and with all other believers. Therefore, we must do as the scriptures command…


I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:10  NLT ~


Beloved readers, it is when we (Christ’s church), separate ourselves from one another, with our different denominations and beliefs, or between the different cultures, ethnicities and races, that we become divided.  Look at the scripture below, and see what Jesus said about this:


25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” ~ Matthew 12:25  NKJV ~


As I wrote in my last post, The Race Card and the Times We Live In:


“As long as there are “black” churches, “white” churches, “hispanic” churches, “Baptist” churches, “Methodist” churches, “Pentecostal” churches, “Holiness” churches, etc., racism, bigotry, and prejudice will never end.”


Image Credit: Biblical Proof
Image Credit:
Biblical Proof

Indeed, the fact is that as long as the church remains divided, SIN will always enter in through the divisions. There is a reason why there is so much sin within the church. (When I say the church, I am speaking of every man, woman and child who has been born again.) Therefore, as Jesus said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.” Beloved readers, I urge you to examine your hearts. How do you respond when people of a different culture or race come to your church? Do you welcome them, or do you ignore them? Be honest with yourselves. 

When you meet someone from a different denomination, do you think you are superior to them? Do you sometimes feel that only your place of worship has all of the right answers, and that everyone else is all wrong? I remember attending a church, many years ago that didn’t believe in expressing their feelings, while singing or praying. Because I loved worshiping the Lord, I would lift my hands to honor Him. Many people who attended that church were irritated by my expression of love for the Lord, and one even commented with a sour expression on her face, “I think you need to go to a Pentecostal church!”  I can smile at that memory now, but at the time, I didn’t even know what a Pentecostal church was, and the way she spoke those words, it sounded like she was cursing me.

I shared this because I want you all to be very careful of how you treat God’s children. Jesus told us that the two most important commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second one is to love your neighbor as yourself. I didn’t feel a whole lot of love coming from that person, when she made that comment to me. However, I did eventually go to a Pentecostal church, and I did feel much more at home there. Therefore, God took the comment she made to hurt me, and used it for my good.

It really doesn’t matter whether another believer is from another denomination. We really mustn’t allow that to separate us. For God didn’t intend for the Methodists to be united against the Baptists, or the Pentecostals to be united against the Roman Catholics. When the command to be united was written, it was written to all who believe in Christ. The author of Psalm 119 prayed a prayer  for unity that would be good for all of us to pray…


Let me be united with all who fear You, with those who know Your laws. ~ Psalm 119:79  NLT ~


A church united with Christ, and thus, united together was so important to Jesus, that in His last prayer, on the very night He was imprisoned, before  being crucified the next day, He prayed about it…


Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are. ~ John 17:11  NLT ~


The early church knew the importance of unity, as they gathered together, in the upper room, praying and waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit…


They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. ~ Acts 1:14  NLT ~

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. ~ Acts 2:1-4  NKJV ~


I often wonder what the early church would think about the church today. Imagine one hundred twenty men and women all gathered together, with one accord. Just think about it. Below is the Greek word and definition for one accord, found in Strong’s Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible


One Accord – homothymadon (Blue Letter Bible/ Strong’s Greek Lexicon)

1.     with one mind, with one accord, with one passion

“A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”


When we read through the book of Acts, and see all of the miracles, signs and wonders that took place, it is important to note that believers in Jesus, both male and female were united. Their one focus was to share the Gospel of Christ, first in Jerusalem, then in Judea, next in Samaria, and finally, to the ends of the earth. They were all united in their purpose, in their faith, in their hopes and dreams. They were there to give glory to God in all that they did.

As we continue to ponder Strong’s definition of “one accord,’ we come to understand that these men and women were of one mindThis means that each one of them were focused on one thought; the thought of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who had promised that He would never leave them alone. They were waiting for the promised appearance of the Holy Spirit.

As it says in the excerpt from Strong’s Lexicon, everyone of these men and women were different, yet they shared one common goal. Their goal was to wait, as Jesus had commanded them to do, ..


Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them, Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before.John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. ~ Acts 1:4-5  NLT ~

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:7-8  NLT ~


Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if plain, ordinary people, like you and me, got together, in obedience to Jesus’ command, and began to pray together. Would we see miracles, signs and wonders?


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


Why is it that Christians in third  world countries see miracles, signs and wonders? After all, we hold conferences, revivals and crusades, so why don’t we witness and participate in the miracles, signs and wonders like they do and like they did in the gospels and the book of Acts? Could it be that in biblical times, and still in third world countries, the people were of one mind and one accord, as they humbled themselves and prayed, and sought God’s face?

Is it possible that we tend to walk in our own ways, rather than living united in Christ? Would it be truthful to say that instead of conforming and transforming into the men and women God created us to be, we’ve tried to mold and conform God into who we want Him to be? Have we placed Him in the box of our men’s and women’s conferences, praise-a-thons, crusades and revivals? Instead of praying and prophesying according to God’s will, are we praying and prophesying according to our own will, or the will of those we minister to? Perhaps this is why we aren’t performing even greater miracles, signs and wonders than what Jesus did, even though He promised that we would…


“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” ~ John 14:12  NLT ~


Beloved reader, if each one of us will live united in Christ, and seek to do His will and not our own, we will be of one mind and one accord. Then, we can ask anything of the Father in Jesus’ name, and it will be done, but apart from Him, we can do nothing…


“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” ~ John 15:5-7  NLT ~


Beloved reader, my prayer for each one of us is that we would humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, and ask Jesus to not only be our Savior and Lord, but to show us how to live united in Him. Whenever the disciples were unsure about how to do something, they asked the Lord. They even asked Him how to pray! So, why shouldn’t w e ask Him to show us how to be and live united with Him? 

Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You open the eyes of our hearts, and that you would teach us what it is to live in union with You. Show us how to submit ourselves to You, and to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Show us how to pick up our cross and follow You, and show us how to count the cost, and then with full knowledge of what it will cost us to live in union with You, give us the will to say, “Yes!” to Your will and Your ways. And Lord, in the days ahead, help us to remain focused on You and the message You have given us from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, and in the coming days, as we continue this study, give us a hunger and a thirst for more of Your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Overview of Ephesians

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Road in Ephesus

Praise the Lord! Yesterday, I wrote an introduction to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and today, before we begin to really dig in to this message, we’re going to do an overview, of it and answer the five W’s about Ephesians. Therefore, let’s dig in and discover the answers to our questions.

Before we begin this overview of Ephesians, let’s ask our Father in heaven to open the eyes of our hearts…

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for leading us in this walk through Your word. I pray Lord, for each person who joins in this study of Ephesians, that You would open the eyes of our heart, and that as we begin to understand this message, our hearts  would hunger to know You better.

Lord, I pray that we would love You more, and that we will gain wisdom through Your word. I also pray that as our love for You increases, our love for mankind would increase as well, in Jesus’ name. Lord, reveal Yourself to us through Your holy word in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Before we get started on the overview, I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians. It really isn’t that long (just 6 chapters), and it will help you to answer the five W’s for yourself. Below are the links to each chapter…

Image Credit: Ephesus Theatre wanderingdanny.com
Image Credit:
Ephesus Theatre
wanderingdanny.com

The above links will take you to Bible Gateway, and if you sign in, you will discover that there are many study tools that you may use. While I’m reading, I like to highlight the verses that answer the five W’s in one color. Later, I may go back and highlight the key verse in each chapter, or sometimes, key words. You can always undo this, if you like, but I find this method of studying really helps me. Therefore, I urge you to click the links above, and keeping in mind the five W’s we learned in yesterday’s Introduction to Ephesians, highlight your answers to those questions as you go along…

  1. Who?  Paul wrote the Ephesians Epistle (epistle is a letter) to the Ephesian believers…
    1. Who wrote the book/letter?
      1. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1a  NLT ~
      2. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      3. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
    2. To Whom was the book/letter written?
      1. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1b  NLT ~
      2. And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. ~ Ephesians 1: 13  NLT ~
      3. Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. ~ Ephesians 2:11  NLT ~
      4. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near. ~ Ephesians 2:17  NLT ~
      5. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. ~ Ephesians 2:19  NLT ~
      6. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:22  NLT ~
      7. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      8. … assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending His grace to you Gentiles. ~ Ephesians 3:2  NLT ~
      9. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      10. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. ~ Ephesians 5:1  NLT ~
  2. WhatPaul wrote this letter to the Ephesians to both encourage the Ephesians, by reminding them that God chose them before the foundations of the earth were laid. He also wanted to encourage them to lead a life worthy of their calling. Also, by reinforcing how they were saved, and how they are to live as Christians, Paul also warns the Ephesian believers against false teachings, encouraging them to be ready to battle the enemy at all times…
    1. What did the author hope to accomplish by writing this book/letter?
      1. Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~
      2. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      3. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. ~ Ephesians 6:12  NLT ~
  3. WhenPaul wrote this Epistle to the Ephesians between 60-62 A.D., while he was imprisoned in Rome.
    1. When was the book/letter written?
      1. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles. . . ~ Ephesians 3:1  NLT ~
      2. Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. ~ Ephesians 4:1  NLT ~
      3. 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 6:20  NLT ~
  4. Where
    1. Where was the book/letter sent? As we stated earlier, Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesian believers, where he had spent three years, establishing a church.
      1. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 1:1  NLT ~
    2. Where was the book/letter written? As we’ve already established, Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians from his Roman prison (Ephesians 3:1, 4:1 and 6:20). 
  5. Why?  The purpose is so all of God’s children will praise and glorify Him.
    1. Why did the author of the book/letter write it? 
      1. 12 God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God. 13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as His own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that He will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify Him.

This concludes the overview of Ephesians. We will begin studying Ephesians 1 in my next post, line by line and precept upon precept. I look forward to studying with you again soon! Meanwhile, please join me as we close this post with a prayer to the Almighty.

Father, thank You so much for sending Your word to us. I pray Lord, that You would speak to each person who reads and joins this study, and that we would be drawn ever closer to You. Holy Spirit, You are the great teacher, so please Lord, teach us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Introduction of Ephesians

Ephesus Great Theater Where Rioters Accused Paul of Damaging Artemis
Ephesus Great Theater Where Rioters Accused Paul of Damaging Artemis

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.

I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. ~ Ephesians 1:1-2  NLT ~

Before studying any one of the books of the Bible, it is important to answer the 5 W’s, which will help us to have a deeper understanding of what we are studying:

  1. Who
    1. Who wrote the book/letter?
    2. To Whom was the book/letter written?
  2. What?
    1. What did the author hope to accomplish by writing this book/letter?
  3. When?
    1. When was the book/letter written?
  4. Where?
    1. Where was the book/letter sent?
    2. Where was the book/letter written?
  5. Why?
    1. Why did the author of the book/letter write it?

We’re going to dig in and study the book of Ephesians, but before we begin the study, let’s pray together. I can’t begin to stress how important it is for us to talk to the Lord about His word, and to ask Him to give us understanding of His word. Therefore, I ask you to join your heart with mine, so that we can be of one mind and one accord. 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, which is better than life. Thank You for putting it in our hearts to study Your word, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of Your will for us, in Jesus’ name.

Lord, I ask You in Jesus’ name, to give us discernment of spirits, and that You would also help us to read and understand what You are saying to us through Your word. Lord, I pray that Your word would be like a mirror, reflecting our own sinfulness and also let it reflect how You have called us to live. Father, I pray that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we nay see You and hear Your voice. Show us Your ways, Father, so that we may walk with You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

In this introduction of Ephesians, let’s begin the study by looking at Acts 19Acts 20, to get a little background. In the first verses  of Acts 19, we discover that when the Apostle Paul first arrived in Ephesus, the Ephesian believers (citizens of Ephesus) knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. They had received the baptism of John, which called for repentance from sin. Therefore, Paul told them about Jesus, and they were baptized in His name. Afterward, Paul laid hands on the Ephesians and they received the Holy Spirit. Then they began prophesying and speaking in tongues. There were about twelve of them in all. 

After ministering to those twelve men, Paul went to the synagogue, “and preached boldly for the next three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God.” Unfortunately, some stubborn Jews refused to believe Paul’s message, therefore, Paul left the synagogue, taking the believers with him, and he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus, for the next two years. According to the scriptures in this passage, Paul ministered in Ephesus for approximately three years, impacting many lives.

During the three years that Paul was in Ephesus, many miracles, signs and wonders occurred. In fact, after seeing the power of God in Paul, there were several people who tried to capitalize on that power. There was a priest named Sceva, who had seven sons, and when they attempted to cast the evil spirit out of one man, it backfired in a way they never imagined…

14 Seven sons of Sceva, a leading priest, were doing this. 15 But one time when they tried it, the evil spirit replied, “I know Jesus, and I know Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, overpowered them, and attacked them with such violence that they fled from the house, naked and battered. ~Acts 19:14-16  NLT ~

After this incident, the fear of the Lord swept through Ephesus, and many gave their hearts and lives to Jesus. However, there were still others, who were not happy with the changes taking place in their city. One man in particular, a businessman named Demetrius, who had a large manufacturing business, making silver shrines of Artemis, Apollo’s twin and the daughter of Zeus, began stirring things up. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and childbirth, among other things. After some former sorcerers, who converted to Christianity, burned their books of incantations (valued at several million dollars),  Demetrius claimed Paul’s ministry would cause people to turn away from Artemis, not only angering the goddess of this city, but also causing those businesses, who made shrines and  idols of Artemis, to lose business, and also causing Artemis to lose her prestige, thus stirring up a violent riot, until finally, the mayor of Ephesus was able to deactivate the riot and calm the angry rioters.

After the riot, Paul summoned the believers, encouraging them, before he departed. Paul  didn’t return to Ephesus again, however, that doesn’t mean that he just forgot them. Instead, when Paul was making his way to Jerusalem, for the Passover, sometime later, he sent for the elders of Ephesus, when he stopped at Myletus. When they came to him, Paul again shared the gospel with them, telling them that he would never see them again. Then he warned them against false teachers and false prophets…

31 “Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.” ~ Acts 20:31  NLT ~

36 When he had finished speaking, he knelt and prayed with them. 37 They all cried as they embraced and kissed him good-bye. 38 They were sad most of all because he had said that they would never see him again. Then they escorted him down to the ship. ~ Acts 20:36-38  NLT ~

Praise the Lord! Please take the time to read Acts 19 and Acts 20 for yourself, so you can get a feel for what Ephesus was like when Paul came to them, and what it was like when he left. It’s always good to know the background about anything you’re going to study. We’ll begin looking for answers to the five W’s in the next part of this study of Ephesians, and after that, we’ll begin to study Paul’s letter to the Ephesians line by line and precept upon precept. Until then, beloved readers, God bless you!

© 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

Far Greater Than the Angels ~ Hebrews 1:4

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, He has spoken to us through His Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son He created the universe. 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. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names. ~ Hebrews 1:1-4 —  NLT ~

Image Credit: The Gaslamp Post
Image Credit:
The Gaslamp Post

Many people in this world call upon the angels to help them. Many call upon gods created in the minds of men. Many others call upon idols created by the hands of man. And yet, there is one God and Creator of the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them. There is only one God and Creator of mankind and only one way to reach Him…

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 ~

Why would someone call on anyone else for help? In my darkest hour, in those times when I am desperate for help, I want to be sure that I cry out to the One who can help me…

You see, the angels have to answer to God, so why would I go to them first, when He is the One who must give them permission to help me? For you see, it is Christ who created the angels, and not only did He create them, but they were created for His purpose…

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through Him, God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t seesuch as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. ~ Colossians 1:15-16 — NLT ~

20 Praise the Lord, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out His plans, listening for each of His commands. 21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels who serve Him and do His will~ Psalm 103:20-21 — NLT ~

You see, beloved readers, the scriptures make it very clear that the angels were created to serve God and to carry out His plans. Therefore, if I choose to worship the angels, and seek their help, rather than His, my cries for help will be fruitless. For His holy angels cannot act on my behalf, apart from His will, and the fallen angels, who serve Satan, desire to steal, kill and destroy all of mankind. Therefore, to call on any other name, other than Jesus, whose name is far greater than the angels would be foolish.

This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave Him is greater than their names. ~ Hebrews 1:4 — NLT ~

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.  ~ Acts 4:12 — NLT ~

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

You see my friends, when we need help and when we need salvation, to call on the angels would be foolhardy, because the only way to get any help at all is to cry out to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. For there is salvation in no one else. Indeed, the only way to God the Father is through Christ, and at His name, every knee will one day bow. That means that every angel, and even every demon will one day bow to Him. Even Satan, His enemy will bow down to Him one day…

So, in those times when we are weak, call upon Jesus, who is high above all else. In those times of dismay, cry out to Him for salvation. In those times of great joy and triumph, bow down to the Almighty God, and give Him praise and glory in Jesus’ name, for He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He is far greater than the angels, and His name is far above their names!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

My Redeemer Lives! ~ Hebrews 1:3

aboveThe 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 ~

In our last study on Hebrews 1:3, we discussed how Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.  I truly love how this study is  going. There is so much for us to glean and absorb from God’s word to us and to the Hebrews, and I’m truly excited about the timing of everything.

Doesn’t it seem appropriate that we are going to spend time studying the following part of Hebrews 1:3, at this time, when Christians everywhere are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God?

… 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.

Think about it… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… There is no one righteous, no, not one… The wages of sin is death… 

god-so-loved-the-worldThe situation was grim. Mankind was lost and dying. Though it wasn’t created for man, the fact is that all of mankind was destined for hell. Though sin had separated all of mankind from God, in His mercy and His grace, God had a solution for mankind’s eternal problem…

… For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life… Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends… 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…

woundedThere is no greater love than this. God loved us so much, that He willingly sacrificed His Son for our sins, and it is at this time of year, that we celebrate His great act of love on our behalf. And Jesus could have refused to die for us, but He didn’t. Instead, He chose to suffer on your behalf and mine…

1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm? 2 My Servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in a dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract us to Him. 3 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. 

4 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! 5 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. 6 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.

7 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. 8 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. 9 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 ~

… 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 ~

After Jesus suffered and died to pay for your sins and mine, He descended into hell…

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

19 So He went and preached to the spirits in prison — 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood~ 1 Peter 3:18-20 — NLT ~

deathThe scriptures also tell us that everyone must die, and after that, face judgment, just as Jesus did, but here is the good news. Though Jesus died for your sins and mine, He arose from the dead!

27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for Him. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, we are so blessed. For when Jesus rose up from the dead, He didn’t stop working on our behalf. Indeed, this  is why believers throughout the world celebrate Christ’s resurrection every year at this time…

1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me. 2 There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” ~ John 14:1-4 — NLT ~

Therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. ~ Hebrews 7:25 — NLT ~

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. ~ Romans 8:34 — NLT ~

Isn’t it comforting to know that Jesus is sitting beside God right now, on His right side, in the place of honor, interceding for you and me?  There is no better or more able to defend us than Christ, the holy Son of God!

As we prepare to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, this weekend, let’s reflect on this…

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 ~

Beloved readers, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, let us not forget to give thanks to Him for sacrificing His one and only Son so that you and I could live…

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the gift of Your Son Jesus. Thank You Lord, for sacrificing Him for my sake, and thank You for raising Him up from the dead, so that He could prepare a place for me to live, 

And Lord Jesus, thank You for stepping in when I sin and fail God, and for pleading and interceding with Him on my behalf, because if You are for me, who could be against me. 

Thank You, Lord for the great love that You lavish on me, and forgive me for sinning against You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers