Tag Archives: God’s love

When All Hope is Gone…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 42
Complete Jewish Bible

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

Nothing Compares…

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

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

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

Psalm 30
Complete Jewish Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Not Forgotten…

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 13
Complete Jewish Bible

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Pharaoh's Dream 1

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

Pharaoh's Dream 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isaiah 49:14-15
New Living Translation

 

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Tragedy? Or God’s Will?

Filled with hatred and rage, Joseph’s brothers had thrown him into an empty cistern (click here to learn more about cisterns).

ancient-cistern

Can you imagine the fear he felt at his brothers’ rage?  Joseph was simply doing his father’s bidding.  I’m sure he knew his brothers didn’t like him, because they had made no attempt to hide their disdain from him.  Yet, they were still his brothers, and, confident in his father’s love for him, I don’t imagine it ever occurred to Joseph that his brothers’ would ever want to kill him.

Yet, their hatred of him became nauseatingly obvious, when they grabbed him, ripping his coat off him and hurling bitter angry insults at him.  Joseph was only seventeen years old, and there were eleven of them against him.  This was no mere child’s play.  He could see the fury in their eyes, as they grabbed him.  There was no gentleness in their touch and no holding back their ire.  They hated him, and they wanted him to know it, as they roughly dragged him to the empty cistern and threw him in.

Can you imagine how Joseph must have pleaded with his brothers, begging them for mercy?  Can you imagine the utter terror he felt, as they ignored his pleas?  Then after being dragged by his brothers, he was forced into the small opening of an empty cistern, falling, who knows how many feet to the bottom?  I can picture them covering the cistern, then walking away, while the boy cried out to them, still pleading for mercy.

Alone in the dark cistern, his throat raw from crying out to his brothers for who knows how long, do you think Joseph prayed?  I can picture his tear stained face pleading with El Shaddai for mercy, as it began to dawn on him that his brothers would show him none.  I imagine he thought of his father, weeping at the pain his death would cause the old man.

Then, probably after many hours, Joseph heard the sound of the cistern’s cover being rolled away.  I imagine his heart leapt to his throat, as hope filled his chest.  His brothers had returned!  They were sorry for their actions.  Praise YHWH (Yahweh), who had heard his prayers and answered them!  As light filled the dark chamber, I believe Joseph would have forgiven his brothers.  I can picture him grinning up at them, as he stood there, bloodied and dusty, with the stains of his tears still on his cheeks.  Did he thank his brothers for their mercy, as they dropped a rope down, for him to tie around his waist, so they could pull him up?

Did his joy turn into fear once more, as they drew him up, and he saw the same hatred in their eyes as before?  Did he fear they were going to kill him?  As he looked from one brother to another, did Joseph even notice the Midianite traders at first?  Was it his brothers or the Midianites, who informed Joseph that he was now a slave?  Did his brothers smile in satisfaction, as they saw the look of horror on Joseph’s face, when the realization hit him?

Did Joseph see his brothers, with their backs turned against him, greedily dividing the 20 pieces of silver they had just earned for selling him?  Did he rue the day that he was born?  Did he wish for death at that point? Did his faith in the Most High God falter or remain strong?  How he must grieved the loss of his father, his home and yes, even his brothers!  What a tragedy for such a young man to endure!  Or was it a tragedy?  Could Joseph’s tribulation have simply been the fulfillment of God’s will?

Too often, in today’s church, we are taught to believe that if we are faithful, our lives will be filled with health and wealth.  But, if you truly study God’s word, you will discover that this is a lie straight from the pit of hell.  Jesus told His disciples, “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)

Beloved reader, His words weren’t just for His twelve original disciples.  They were for everyone who would follow Him, then and now.  We will face many trials and sorrows in our lives, just as Joseph did, just as Jesus did, and just as His disciples did.  If someone tells you any different, they are lying to you.

Joseph's Bloody Torn Coat

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are alone in your suffering.  Joseph wasn’t.  Imagine how Jacob, his father felt, when his sons returned to him with Joseph’s bloody, torn coat.  Those of us who are parents, can imagine nothing worse than losing one of our beloved children.  I can only begin to envision Jacob’s horror, as his elder sons informed him of his loss.  How he must have lamented sending his beloved son to check on his brothers that day!  Did he blame himself for Joseph’s loss?  While his other sons tried to comfort him, Jacob swore that he would go to his grave mourning for Joseph, as he wept.  (Read Genesis 37)

Did his brothers feel any remorse for their crime?  Did they, too, suffer for the sin they had committed against their brother, Joseph?  Do you think they felt pain for their father’s grief?  We’ll explore this another time.

But remember this.  As tragic as it was, if Joseph had never been sold into slavery, there would have been no need for Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, more than 400 years later.  So, was this truly a tragedy, or was it simply God’s will?  Is your life a tragedy?  Or is it, too, God’s will?

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Daddy Make Me Just Like You!

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

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

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

1 John 4:7-9  NLT

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

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

Romans 5:8-11  NLT

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

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

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:4-10  NLT

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

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

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

Philippians 1:6  NLT

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

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

God Loved Us Even Before He Created the World

Galaxy

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 ~

One of the things I love about the Lord is that He loved us even before He made the world. Isn’t that wonderful? Just think about  what that means… Who knows how old the earth is? Only God truly knows, but before He even laid the earth’s foundation, long before the earth was ever formed, God loved us. Do you know what this means?

It means that even before the heavens and the earth were made, God loved us…

It means that before we were planted in our mother’s womb, God loved us…

It means that before our mother even knew we were planted in her womb,
God loved us…

It means that before our eyes were opened in the darkness of the womb,
God loved us…

It means that before we ever drew our first breath,
God loved us.

It means that though we were born sinners from the moment we were conceived,
God loved us.

 It means that even though no one else does,
God loves us.

So, you’ve heard this before, but what does it mean to you? Perhaps, like me, you’ve lived a lifetime feeling unloved, and even though you’ve heard that God loves you or Jesus loves you, you haven’t experienced it.

Believe me, I understand those feelings. I grew up in a home where I felt unloved and unlovable. I was always in trouble for something. Sometimes I got in trouble for things I had done, and many times, for things I hadn’t done.

I hated school. When I went to school, I was tormented by the other children. I had buck-teeth, and believe me, I was called every name you can think of. Not only did my classmates hate me, my teachers did as well, and when I went home, I felt no reprieve.

When report cards would be issued every nine weeks, my grades were often lower than what my parents expected of me. This doesn’t mean that all of my grades were terrible. They just weren’t good enough. “C’s” were considered to be as bad as “F’s”, and if I received an “A” one marking period, and a “B” the next, I was subject to punishment.

Punishment for bad report cards was extreme. For a “bad” report card, both parents would beat me. Then, I would be banished to my bedroom for the following nine weeks. I was only allowed to leave my room to go to school, go to church on Sundays, and to accompany my parents when they went to visit my aunt and uncle. On those occasions, I was banished to the living room to sit by myself, while Mom and my stepfather played pinochle, and while my sister played with my cousins, who would take turns walking past me, to laugh and point at me.

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a pretty good report card, except for an incomplete in Language Arts. As an adult, I can see the stupidity in a plan I conceived, but at the time, I wasn’t thinking about the future or getting caught. I was just thinking about how I could avoid getting in trouble at that time. Therefore, even though the grade was written in red ink, I licked the tip of an eraser (a trick I had learned for erasing ink) and I erased the red “Inc.” for incomplete, and I changed the grade to an “A”.

I knew my mother would notice that the grade had been changed, so I blatantly lied, saying, “Mrs. Murray was looking at the wrong line and accidentally wrote someone else’s grade on my report card.” It’s nothing I’m proud of, but I was a believable liar, and so, I was free from punishment for the following nine weeks.

Of course, nine weeks later, we received our report cards again. Things weren’t computerized in those days. The grades on the report cards were handwritten. So, at the beginning of each class, we would read and work on lessons until the teacher called our name. Then, we would go forth, with report card in hand and the teacher would place your current grade on the report card. 

Fear and dread filled my heart when I got to Mrs. Murray’s class, and it only grew with each minute that passed. Since my last name began with the letter “P”, I was one of the last students to be called forth to receive my grade. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I walked forward, 

I was shaking all over as I handed Mrs. Murray my report card. I foolishly prayed that God would make her not notice what I had done, even though the evidence was very clear. As soon as she pulled my report card out of the envelope, she looked me in the eye and said so loudly that the entire class heard and every eye was on me, “You erased this report card.”

Fearful and ashamed, I whispered softly and desperately, “No I didn’t. You did, don’t you remember? You accidentally wrote the wrong grade on here and you had to change it.” I was so scared and so embarrassed. The kids in my class already made fun of me, and I didn’t want to give them another reason to torment me.

“No, I didn’t change your grade,” Mrs. Murray stated very loudly. “You did, and I’m going to call the principal and have him call your parents.” 

Every eye in the classroom was on me, but suddenly that didn’t matter to me. All that mattered was convincing them not to call my parents. “Please don’t call my parents,” I cried, as she walked over to the intercom and called the principal, once again telling what I had done in front of the whole classroom of students, who were snickering. Still, it didn’t matter, as long as I could convince them not to tell on me.

I begged Mrs. Murray not to tell on me, and when the principal came to the classroom, I begged him not to tell. The principal took me to the nurse’s office because I was so distraught, and she began to question me. “Cheryl, why are you so afraid for us to call your parents? Is everything okay at home? Are you afraid of your parents? Cheryl, do your parents beat you?”

As I sat there sobbing uncontrollably, I looked at the nurse with hatred. Then I responded angrily to her nosy questions, “I’m not afraid. I just don’t want to upset them. Everything’s fine. I’m not afraid of my parents. No, they don’t beat me,” I lied, answering all of her questions. I knew what she was up to. She just wanted more ammunition to get me into even more trouble than I was already in, and I wasn’t giving it to her. It wasn’t until many years later, when I was an adult, that I came to realize the nurse was trying to help me. She wasn’t trying to harm me.

When I got home from school that day at 3:30, I had to wait for two and a half hours for my mother to get home. I sat in my room, fearfully dreading her arrival, and the long wait only increased my anxiety. I knew what was coming, and I prayed God would protect me.

I was still in my bedroom when Mom got home. Dad (my stepfather) had gotten home an hour earlier, but he hadn’t said anything about report cards, and I certainly wasn’t going to bring that dreaded topic up. As soon as I heard my mother open the door my heart began to hammer my chest, and my whole body trembled. I could hear her talking to Dad about what I had done, but I couldn’t hear his response. That did not bode well, for when Mom was angry, she was loud and shrill, but the angrier Dad was, the quieter he spoke.

All too soon, I heard Mom’s feet stomping toward my bedroom, followed by the shuffle of Dad’s feet following her. Then, my door burst open and there she stood, with her eyes flashing in anger. I realized it would be foolish to lie now, and so, when I was confronted with the truth about erasing my report card and changing the grade, I admitted that I had done it and I was sorry. 

Mom and Dad were both cussing at me and telling me how worthless and stupid I was. Then one would beat me, while the other watched and waited for his/her turn. I had never seen such fury in Dad’s eyes before, as he told me that he did electrical work for the school, and that the principal was his friend. Then he spoke the words that just crushed me. For you see, though I was bruised and battered from the beatings, I eventually healed from them, but the verbal and emotional abuse took a lifetime to recover from. Indeed, it seems just when I think I’ve got it licked, those old feelings of worthlessness raise their ugly heads at me.

“I’m ashamed that Mac (the principal and my stepfather were friends) knows you’re my daughter. I wish I could tell him I don’t even know you and you’re not related to me,” my stepfather said softly and angrily. My birth father was like a stranger that wandered in and out of my life only a few times when I was growing up, and I loved my stepfather as though he was my daddy, and his words just crushed me. Then he beat me again.

After this, the first round, he and Mom left my room and Mom prepared dinner. I was summoned to the dinner table, even though I wasn’t hungry at all. “What’s wrong with your dinner?” one of them asked me.

“Nothing,” I replied, trying to swallow the big lump in my throat that wouldn’t allow me to eat.

“Do you think you’re too good to eat after your mother worked all day and then came home to fix your dinner?”

“No,” I choked out, as tears streamed down my face. I was rewarded by another beating, though I can’t remember if one or both administered it, nor can I remember who did it. I was then sent to my room, which was a welcome reprieve for me, though not for long.

Within a few minutes, I heard the stomping sound of my mother’s feet coming toward me. I hurried up and sat up, just as the door burst open. I don’t remember what words were spoken to me, only that they hurt, and then I was beaten yet again.

Off and on all night, the door would slam open, and I would be cursed and beat. I was terrified of falling asleep, for fear that the door would bang open, and Mom would curse me and beat me again. And she did, over and over again, all night long. Sometimes, I would drift away into an exhausted sleep, only to feel my arm being grabbed, as Mom pulled me from the bed and beat me over and over and over again.

I was a nervous wreck, and I believed every curse they spoke over me. I was stupid, lazy, worthless and, unlovable. I was a whole lot of other things too, but they aren’t worth writing. You get the picture anyway…

So, I grew up feeling unloved and unworthy of love. I knew the scriptures that said God so loved the world, but I truly thought that meant everyone but me. Even when I married my husband, I believed that if he knew the real me, he wouldn’t love me. Like I said, I felt I was unlovable.

i-am-chosen-before-the-foundation-of-the-world-e1392133248302

But, as I began to know Jesus more and more, I began to feel His love. Psalm 139 forever changed my life…

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

17 How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
    And when I wake up,
    You are still with me!
~ Psalm 139:13-18  NLT ~

I remember preparing a Sunday School lesson for my students, based on Psalm 139, and though I had read this before, this time the words spoke to me. God had made all the delicate inner parts of my body, and He had knit me together in my mother’s womb. Suddenly, I began to see myself through God’s eyes, and not through the warped reflection of what others thought of me, nor even what i thought of myself. God makes all things good, and that included me, with buck-teeth, scoliosis, and all that made me the unique being that I am. Indeed, He saw me before I was even born, and His thoughts about me are not terrible, but precious. Though my understanding of God’s love continues to grow, back then, it was my first glimpse of His love, and for the little girl inside me, who always hungered for love, it began to heal some of my wounds.

Fast forward to five or six years later, my daughter (who was pregnant with her first child) and I were going for a ride, and as we rode along, we talked about baby names for her little girl. As we talked about the various baby names she was thinking of, she would share the meaning of those names.

Suddenly, I asked my daughter, “Do you know what Cheryl means? “When she said, “No,” I responded, “Cheryl means “Beloved.” It was then that I heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit. “Beloved, I gave you that name before  you were conceived in your mother’s womb. Indeed, before the foundations of the world were laid, I named you Beloved, for you are My beloved.

“When you were a lonely little girl crying and longing for someone to love you, I loved you. When you longed for your parents love, I loved you with a Father’s love for My daughter. When you thought no one would ever fall in love with you, I made you My bride. Child, I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Long ago the Lord said to Israel:
“I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love.
    With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.
~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

Beloved reader, do you feel unloved and/or unlovable? If you do, rejoice, for God is no respecter of persons, He loves you just as much as He loves me, and who knows? Perhaps God had me share this lesson now, for such a time as this, so that you would know that God loved you, too, even before He created the world,

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Share the Love – August and September

Dear Beloved Readers,

Beloved Ryder Elias WynneI’ve been out of town for the last couple of weeks, celebrating the birth of my 9th grandchild, a beautiful little boy named Ryder, and I haven’t been able to spend much time online, reading everyone’s posts as much as I like to do. Also, I’ve been struggling with some serious health issues, which makes it difficult to devote as much time to this as I would like to do. Therefore, with deep regret, I will not be posting Share the Love for the months of August and September.

I ask you all to keep me lifted in prayer, as I struggle with my health issues. Please know that your prayers are deeply appreciated.

I will still be posting as the Spirit leads, but you may have noticed that I haven’t posted as much as I normally do. Please know that I appreciate each one of you, and I pray the Lord blesses each of you abundantly in Jesus’ name.

Love,
Cheryl