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?”

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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

All Things Upheld By the Word of His Power ~ Hebrews 1:3

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Image Credit:
ubdavid.org

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 ~

Greetings beloved readers! I don’t know about you, but God is ministering to me through this study of His word. In our last study, we discovered that Jesus is the very image of God, possessing His character as well. We discovered that Jesus has the same exact mindset as God, our heavenly Father does, and that we are to have the same mindset as Christ. In closing, I cited Romans 8:17, and asked, As a child of Almighty God, and a joint heir with Christ, are we really willing to do what Paul said in Romans 8:17? And if we’re not, are we willing, to begin praying for God to give us this same mindset that Jesus, and all of His disciples (except for Judas Iscariot) had?”

Image Credit: Voice of the Martyrs
Image Credit:
Voice of the Martyrs

Did you ask yourself if you are willing to share in Jesus’ suffering? For indeed, we must be willing to share in His suffering if we are to share in His glory. Sadly, much of the church (here in America at any rate), wants to share in the glory and skip the suffering, as if that is an option, when in reality, it isn’t. Jesus even warned us, before His arrest and crucifixion, that we would suffer, so if anyone tries to tell you that as a child of God, you won’t go through trials like everyone else, remember these words of Jesus…

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 ~

Image Credit: Columna Bites of Wisdom
Image Credit:
Columna Bites of Wisdom

Now, we’re ready to move on to the next part of our study in Hebrews… and YES, we’re still studying Hebrews 1:3. There is so much for us to feast on in this one verse, as we study God’s word line by line and precept upon precept…

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 ~

Image Credit: Real Jesus Ministries, Inc.
Image Credit:
Real Jesus Ministries, Inc.

Today, in this post, we’re going to study how Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When I said we are going to study Hebrews line by line and precept upon precept, I meant exactly that. Therefore, in order for us to accomplish this, let’s look at this verse in the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

When looking for the original Greek words (for the New Testament) or Hebrew words (for the Old Testament) that were translated into the many different versions of the Bible that we are blessed with today, you usually do so by referring to either the King James Version (KJV) or the NASB. I personally prefer the NASB over the KJV, simply because people no longer speak King James English, whereas, we (Americans especially) do speak the language of the NASB. Therefore, let’s look at this verse in the NASB…

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Let’s begin by looking at the Greek word and definition for upholds:

Upholds = pherō

I.         to carry

A.     to carry some burden

i.     to bear with one’s self

B.     to move by bearing; move or, to be conveyed or borne,                         with the suggestion of force or speed

i.     of persons borne in a ship over the sea
ii.    of a gust of wind, to rush
iii.   of the mind, to be moved inwardly, prompted

C.     to bear up i.e. uphold (keep from falling)

i.     of Christ, the preserver of the universe

II.       to bear, i.e. endure, to endure the rigor of a thing, to bear                              patiently one’s conduct, or spare one (abstain from punishing                    or destroying)

III.   to bring, bring to, bring forward

A.     to move to, apply
B.     to bring in by announcing, to announce
C.     to bear i.e. bring forth, produce; to bring forward in a                             speech
D.     to lead, conduct

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Next, we will look at the Greek word and definition for all things:

All Things = pas

I.     individually

A.     each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things,                              everything

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

As we continue to search the original meaning of this passage, by looking for the Greek words and definitions, from which this scripture was translated, we will look at the Greek word and definition for by the word:

By the Word = rhēma

I.     that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken,           word

A.     any sound produced by the voice and having definite                            meaning
B.     speech, discourse

i.     what one has said

C.     a series of words joined together into a sentence (a                                declaration of one’s mind made in words)

i.     an utterance
ii.    a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative

a.     concerning some occurrence

II.    subject matter of speech, thing spoken of

A.     so far forth as it is a matter of narration
B.     so far as it is a matter of command
C.     a matter of dispute, case at law

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

The final word that we are going to research for today’s study is power:

Power = dynamis

I.     strength power, ability

A.     inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its                      nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth
B.     power for performing miracles
C.     moral power and excellence of soul
D.     the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
E.     power and resources arising from numbers
F.     power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… ~ Hebrews 1:3 — NASB ~

Now that we know the Greek words and their definitions, let’s put it together so that we can have a thorough knowledge of what this portion of Hebrews 1:3 means to us…

Image Credit: Darrell Creswell
Image Credit:
Darrell Creswell

This portion of Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Jesus upholds (to carry, to carry some burden,  to bear with one’s self, to bear up i.e. uphold [keep from falling], of Christ, the preserver of the universe) all things (each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything) by the word (that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word, any sound produced by the voice and having definite meaning, an utterance, a saying of any sort as a message, a narrative, so far as it is a matter of command) of His power (strength power, ability, inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth, power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul).

Image Credit: Obtaining God's Blessings
Image Credit:
Obtaining God’s Blessings

Beloved readers, what this means is that Jesus holds everything together.  Think about this scientifically. As far as anyone has been able to determine, our world is the only planet on which there is intelligent life (or life of any kind for that matter!). Not only that, if you were to fly to the moon or some other planet, special space suits must be worn, in order to prevent you from drifting away into space, and also in order to maintain life. However, here on earth, there is something (we call it gravity) that sustains or lives… Here, and here alone out of all the planets that we are aware of, is there the correct amount of oxygen that enables us to live. It is also only here on earth, that there is that gravitational pull, which keeps us from imploding, exploding, dissolving or floating away, and also holds everything together…

One of the things that I love about the Bible (Actually, there are many things I love about it!) is the fact that it was written by people  thousands of years ago (Under the inspiration of Holy Spirit), who did not have access to the scientific knowledge that the people of this generation have, and yet, there are many profound scientific facts contained therein…  For example, at a time in history, when everyone else believed that the earth was flat, the God-breathed scriptures described the earth as round — thousands of years before man discovered this to be true…

He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters at the boundary of light and darkness. ~ Job 26:10 — NASB ~

21 Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words He gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? 22 God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to Him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes His tent from them. ~ Isaiah 40:21-22 — NLT ~

This scripture makes it clear that it is Jesus who holds the world together. How powerful is that?  Think about it the next time you are outside, as you look at the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars. Think about it as you look at the trees and the grass, the flowers and the weeds.

Think about the fact that Jesus holds all of creation together, the next time you look in the mirror. Think about it the next time you look at your beloved. Think about the fact that He holds us together the next time you look at your children…

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 see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. ~ Colossians 1:15-17 — NLT ~

God says, “At the time I have planned, I will bring justice against the wicked. When the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm. ~ Psalm 75:2-3 — NLT ~

As we look at the world around us and the people within it, remember that it was Christ Jesus who was in the beginning with God, creating the heavens and the earth and all that is therein. You see, He is the One who has given us life. He is the One who sustains our lives, and it is He who gives life to those whom we love.

24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since He is Lord of heaven and earth, He doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve His needs—for He has no needs. He Himself gives life and breath to everything, and He satisfies every need. 26 From one man He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries.

27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us. 28 For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring.’ 29 And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone.

30 “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him. 31 For He has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man He has appointed, and He proved to everyone who this is by raising Him from the dead.” ~ Acts 17:24-31 — NLT ~

Going forth from today’s study, look at the world around you and the people around you. Take notice of the beauty of God’s creation. Even in the midst of a fallen creation, there are still glimpses of the original beauty, if we look at the world and the people therein through the eyes of Christ. Therefore, let this be your prayer until our next study…

Father, thank You for Christ who holds all of creation together. We thank You Lord that in You, we live and move and have our being. Father, please give us the heart to look at and see creation, and every man, woman and child therein through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

© 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

God Speaks ~ Hebrews 1:1-4

Image Credit: Grace Church The Blog
Image Credit:
Grace Church The Blog

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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 ~

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Enoch walked in close fellowship with God, until He took him… God spoke  to Noah and told him to build an ark… God spoke to Abraham when He appeared before him as an angel of the Lord, promising to bless all of mankind through his Seed… He spoke to Moses through the fire of a burning bush, then later, He spoke to him audibly… God spoke to Joshua, encouraging him to “Be strong and courageous…” He spoke to each of the judges who were willing to listen to Him… He spoke to Samuel in the night, calling him by name, “Samuel! Samuel!”… He spoke to King David and to King Solomon… He spoke to Elijah in a still small voice…

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. God used to speak to His people through the prophets, but when Christ came, things changed. Now, He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus. Think about this, God speaks through the One who created the universe with Him…

Image Credit: Biblical Truth
Image Credit:
Biblical Truth

1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. ~ John 1:1-5 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, do you get it? God speaks to us through the Word! He speaks to us through His Word! He, who spoke all of creation into existence… He who spoke our lives into existence, also speaks to us through His Son, the Word of God… He speaks to us through Christ, who “… radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God…” He speaks to us through Jesus, who “… expresses the very character of God…” God now speaks to us through His Son, “… who sustains everything by the mighty power of His command…”

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 see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. ~ Colossians 1:15-17 — NLT ~

Image Credit: RayNoah
Image Credit:
RayNoah

How amazing and how wonderful that the God of the universe, the Holy One of Israel speaks to us through His Son and Heir, Jesus Christ, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords! What an honor this is! It used to be that He only spoke to prophets, but now, beloved readers, He speaks through His Son Jesus to ordinary people like you and me! Imagine, hearing the voice of God Almighty as He speaks to us through His Son!

“Oh,” some may say, “I’ve never heard God speak to me.” But according to His Word, He does speak to through His Son. Could it be that those who don’t hear Him speak simply don’t recognize His voice? Let’s see what God’s Son has to say about this…

2 “But He who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep. 3 To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His voice; and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when He brings out His own sheep, He goes before them; and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” ~ John 10:2-5 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: Fr Ed's Place
Image Credit:
Fr Ed’s Place

Do you see, beloved readers? If you are a child of God, (a.k.a. – a part of the Good Shepherd’s {Jesus’} flock) then when He speaks, you will recognize His voice. Indeed, He will call you by name, just as God called the prophet Samuel so many years ago, just as a shepherd calls his sheep. For Christ Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and He calls us by our name, and when He speaks to us, if we are truly one of His sheep, the Spirit within us compels us to follow Him and obey Him.

For you see, beloved reader, when Christ “… cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven…” This same Jesus, through whom God speaks to regular people like you and me, now sits at the right hand of Almighty God in heaven, reigning and ruling with His Father. Isn’t it wonderful and amazing to know that this same Jesus, who is far greater than the angels, and whose name is above all other names, would speak to someone such as you or me?

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 on earth 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 ~

After reading all of this, what can we conclude from our study of the first four verses of Hebrews 1? 

    1. We can know that although God used to speak to us through the prophets, He now speaks to us through His Son, Jesus.
    2. We know that Jesus is heir to everything, according to God’s promise.
    3. We know that God created the universe through His Son, Jesus.
    4. We know that Jesus radiates God’s own glory.
    5. We know that the Son of God reveals the very character of God.
    6. We also know that Christ sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. 
    7. We know that after Jesus cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
    8. We know that God’s Son is far greater than the angels.
    9. And finally, we learned that Jesus’ name, given to Him by God, is far greater than any other name in heaven, on the earth below, under the seas, under the earth, or anywhere else in the universe!

Hallelujah! Isn’t it amazing how much we learned about the Lord and how He speaks to us in just four verses? I can’t wait to continue with the next part! 

Please bear with me, because I’m not sure how much writing I’m going to be able to do in the next few weeks, as my daughter-in-law (I will refer to her as my daughter from hereon, because that is what she is to me.) just had brain surgery, and I’m going to help care for six of my grandchildren. For those of you who have faith that our awesome and wonderful God and Father hears our prayers and answers them, I ask you to please pray for my son, daughter and children.  

Please pray that my daughter heals quickly, and completely, and that she would know just how precious she is to her husband (my son), my husband and me, and everyone who knows her. Pray also that my grandchildren feel God’s love for them, and that they would see how awesome and mighty He is, as He heals their mommy. Please also pray for peace within their home, because this is such a difficult time for all involved, and we all know how the enemy likes to attack when everyone is at their weakest point…

Thank you to each and every one of you for your prayers and for your patience, as my posts for this Bible study will be worked around my beautiful grandchildren’s schedules, and you can imagine how busy my husband and I will be as we help care for those precious children!

Again, thank you and may God bless each one of you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Hebrews Bible Study ~ Introduction

Image Credit: Latter Days Ministry (Not LDS or Mormons)
Image Credit:
Latter Days Ministry
(Not LDS or Mormons)

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 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. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

I love studying the Word of God, and the book of Hebrews is filled with so much wisdom. During my  study of the Law, I was going to start in one of the later chapters of Hebrews, but the problem I ran into was that as I began to study that chapter, I felt the need to back up to the previous chapter, in order to keep what I was studying in the proper context. Then, when I went further back, I felt the Spirit stirring within me, urging me to start from the beginning of Hebrews. Therefore, beginning with this post, I’m going to study the book of Hebrews, and I’d like to invite you, my beloved readers to join me as we embark on a new adventure into the Word of God…

Image Credit: morninghope.com
Image Credit:
morninghope.com

Many people believe that Paul was the author of the book of Hebrews, but the fact is that no one really knows for sure who the author was, because unlike Paul’s other epistles, Hebrews does not begin with Paul’s usual salutations…

1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News. 2 God promised this Good News long ago through His prophets in the holy Scriptures… ~ Romans 1:1-2 — NLT ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Sosthenes.

2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be His own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as He did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.

I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of His holy people throughout Greece.

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

1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.~ Galatians 1:1-2 — NLT ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 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. ~ Hebrews 1:1-2 — NLT ~

Every single book that is known to have been written by the Apostle Paul for sure,  begins with a salutation introducing himself, whereas the book of Hebrews does not. While this doesn’t definitively prove that Paul was not the author of Hebrews, it does seem very unlikely that he did write it.  It’s really not important who the human author of the book is. What’s important for everyone to know is that the book of Hebrews, like all other books of the bible, was written under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Lakeview Chapel
Image Credit:
Lakeview Chapel

Now that we are armed with the knowledge that no matter who the human author was, we are assured that God inspired the book of Hebrews, let us move on to discover who this book was written for and why it was written…

Judging the book by its content, it appears that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers, as there are many references to the Torah. Also, judging by what is contained within this book, it was written to warn the Jewish believers not to fall away from Christ. Of course, since all Scripture is God-breathed, and therefore living and active, it can also be taken as a warning to all believers (both Jews and Gentiles) to remain faithful to God.

There is one final thing for me to cover in this introduction to our Hebrews Bible Study… When studying the Word of God, I usually like to try and answer the “5 W’s”… 

    1. Who We’ve answered this question by discovering that although we are unsure of who wrote the book of Hebrews, we do know that it was originally written to Jewish believers, since there were many references to the Torah. 
      • We can also deduce that although Hebrews was originally written to Jewish believers, it is equally important to all believers.
    2. What — We know that we are studying the book of Hebrews, which is a part of the Word of God.
    3. When — We  know that the book of Hebrews was written before 95 A.D., because Clement of Rome quoted from the book of Hebrews in 95 A.D.
    4. Where Although it is not known where the book of Hebrews was written, it is thought that it was written to Jewish believers in Jerusalem, though there is now no concrete evidence to support this supposition.
    5. Why  As I stated earlier, it is thought that the book of Hebrews was written for Jewish believers who were in danger of turning away from their faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Though it may have been the author’s intent to write this letter as a means of warning Jewish believers, it is obvious that God intended this book to minister to many more, as Hebrews has become one of the foundational books used to teach and minister to all believers, both Jews and Gentiles.

As we join together, digging into this book, we’ll discover a wealth of wisdom and instruction, as well as the warnings therein. Therefore, please be sure to join me the next time, as we begin studying the book of Hebrews, starting with the first four verses. Until then, I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace. May God be gracious as He lets the light of His countenance give you peace, in Jesus’ name.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

"Let the dead bury their own dead."
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

~ Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

What do you think when you read this scripture? Does it sound harsh to you? Does it seem like Jesus is being really cold in light of the pain the disciple must be feeling at the death of his father? I always struggled with that passage, and I’ll be honest with you, I prayed the Lord would give me the wisdom to understand this and to share it with you (and me too!).

And then I started thinking about it, and the Lord opened my eyes as He taught me… Let’s take note of the first thing that Jesus says to the man — “Follow Me…” Think about it. Jesus commanded the disciple to follow Him. He gives us the same command today, and we must make a choice. Will we follow Him? Or will we go our own way?

“Follow Me”, Jesus commands us, and we mustn’t let anything get in the way of this command. We must choose to follow Him, no matter what our circumstances are. If all is well, we must follow Jesus. If it seems as though all hell has broken loose, we must follow Jesus. Our lives depend on obeying this command to follow Jesus.

Now think about this, Jesus is LIFE, and this disciple wanted to leave LIFE, to go and be with his dead father. Yes, this was his father, but his father was dead. Really, there was nothing more that could be done for his father, but there was every reason for him to follow the One in whom there was LIFE.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

Let’s look at the passage of scripture we are studying again…

21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

When I read this passage now, I see the harshness of Jesus’ response borne out of love for His disciple. The disciple wanted to leave Christ to bury a dead man first. Think about it… Not only was this disciple putting something else ahead of the Lord, he was putting a dead man ahead of Him!

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 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 1:17-18 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg
Image Credit:
http://followpurity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/jesus-hand.jpg

This disciple wanted to put a dead man ahead of the One who is the First and the Last. He was going to put a dead man, who had already lived his life — “Yes,” you may say, “but this was the man’s father!” — ahead of the One who holds the keys of death and the grave. Yes, although the dead man was the disciple’s father, he was dead. There was nothing more he could do for his father, because he was no longer among the living. What remained was the disciple, and the choice he made would determine whether he would be among the living or the dead.

Jesus’ statement, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead,” reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Deuteronomy 15, when Moses addresses the people of Israel, giving them the choice between life and death. I believe that this was Jesus’ message to His disciple and to every other man, woman and child who would follow, that they too must make a choice…

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 30:15-20 — NLT ~

Don’t you see the choice Jesus gave the young man? “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” We can follow Him and let the dead bury their own dead, or we can leave Him to be with the dead… When He says, “Follow Me,” I can almost hear Him saying, just as Moses said to the children of Israel, “Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” And now, after praying and meditating on this word, it no longer seems as though Jesus is being harsh. This passage is just another example of the wonderful, matchless and unmerited love of Christ for each and every one of us.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

I Am Blessed

Ok, I know I’ve already posted twice today, and this makes three, but my heart is filled with joy, and I just feel the need to share my blessings with all of you.

I praise God, because He has such a deep love for His children, that He moves upon the hearts of others on our behalf. I praise Him, because He has placed each one of you, my readers, into my life. It isn’t by accident that you read and follow my blog. It’s all a part of His design, so that we can pray for and encourage one another, just as it is no accident that I follow people’s blogs.

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I just wanted to take a brief moment to thank each and every one of you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read the words that the Lord gives me. I want to thank you for taking the time to comment or like when you’re led to do so. Most importantly, for those who are led to pray for me, thank you. Thank you for listening to the Holy Spirit when He leads you to pray for me. Thank you for loving me enough to pray for me. 

And now, as I get ready to close, I want to leave you with a blessing… May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He cause His face to shine on you and be gracious and lift the light of His countenance and give you peace in Jesus’ name, amen.

Much love to you all,
Cheryl

God Cries Out To His Children Through Isaiah

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How deeply the Lord loves His children! So many Christians never venture into the Old Testament, because they say it’s too difficult to understand, but I love the Old Testament. If we take the time to study the Old Testament, it will help us to understand the New Testament better. When we study the Old Testament, we see the character and the nature of God. Think of it this way:

  • The Old Testament is the prequel
  • The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament
  • The life we are living is part of the sequel.

Therefore, let’s take a look at this first chapter of Isaiah. We’re going to study this chapter a little at a time.

These visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem came to Isaiah son of Amoz during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah — all kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1 NLT)

The first verse is packed with information.

  • The first thing we learn is that a man named Isaiah, had visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
  • The next thing we learn is that Isaiah was the son of a man named Amoz.
  • The final thing we learn is that Isaiah had these visions over a long period of time (see Kings’ reigns below)
  1. King Uzziah        (788–736 BC)    Reigned 52 years
  2. King Jotham       (758–742 BC)    Reigned 16 years
  3. King Ahaz           (742–726 BC)    Reigned 16 years
  4. King Hezekiah    (726–697 BC)    Reigned 29 years

2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:2-3 NLT)

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Right away, Isaiah calls the heavens and the earth to listen to what the Lord says. You see, although the children of Israel are God’s chosen people, His word is important for all to hear… those in the heavens… the angels… the cherubim… the seraphim… the devil and his demons… all who live on earth…

Do you notice in that verse that Isaiah is crying for the earth to listen? He didn’t say, “Listen, O Israel!”  That means that this message is important for all who dwell on earth to hear. Do you see? This is a message that is not just for the Jewish people. God’s word is timeless. It’s not just for the people of long ago. It is for the people of today as well. Therefore, my friends, I cry out to you, Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! Listen to what the Lord says!”

This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.” Can you hear the voice of the Lord as He cries out? Do you feel His sorrow?

If you’ve ever raised a child who turned against you, even if only for an instant, do you remember the pain you felt? Do you remember your grief, when your child rejected you? Did you try to reason it out in your mind? “This child I raised and cared for has turned against me.”  

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I remember how I felt when my children rebelled against me. It broke my heart. I remember thinking of the love that I had lavished on my children, only to arrive at that moment when they rebelled against me. And I can remember thinking and saying something very similar to what God says here. “Even the dog appreciates me, but not my child. After all I’ve done for them, they still don’t get it. No matter how much love I’ve given them… no matter how much I’ve sacrificed… they still don’t understand.”

For all of the men and women who are parents, I’m sure you can understand these feelings. It’s very likely that you’ve experienced them too. When you’ve gone through that experience with your children, did you ever stop to think of that time when you rebelled against your parents? Did it occur to you that, “Oh my goodness! This is how I made my parents feel”?

Has it occurred to you that this is how your heavenly Father feels when we rebel against Him? He spoke those words, because His heart’s desire is that you would understand. Do you have any idea how much God loves you… how much He has sacrificed for you?

He loves you so much that He poured His life out for you on the cross, and all He asks from any of us is that we would return His love and obey Him. Isn’t that all you’ve asked of your children?

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Think about it… why does a good parent discipline his or her children? Isn’t it because we want them to grow up to be responsible adults, who are equipped to succeed in life? When you require obedience from your child, isn’t it because you know the dangers that could come to your child if he/she disobeys? 

Is it possible that God calls us to obedience because He knows the dangers that we will encounter in this life, and He wants to protect us from them? Is it possible that as any good parent, He wants us to grow up to be the men and women He created us to be, so that we will succeed in life?

Hear, O heavens! And listen, O earth! The Lord says that He formed you in your mother’s womb. While you were hidden from view, God carefully knit you together in His image, and before you ever drew your first breath — indeed, before the foundations of the earth were laid, He knew you and had a plan for your life. His plan was for your good. He wanted to give you a wonderful future filled with hope. He wanted to adopt you and be your Daddy, and all that He’s ever wanted from you, is that you would be His baby and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He said that if you love Him, you will obey Him. Therefore, I ask you, my beloved friend, Do you love Him?

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers