Tag Archives: gospel of matthew

Do You Mourn? Be Comforted…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mourn-sorrow

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

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

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

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

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

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me,
for the Lord has anointed Me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent Me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
He will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for His own glory.  (Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT)

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Who Feeds You?

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1 Then this message came to me from the Lord: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: ‘What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. 5 So My sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. 6 They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Sovereign Lord, ‘you abandoned My flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were My shepherds, you didn’t search for My sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve.’ 9 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I now consider these shepherds My enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to My flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.'”

~ Ezekiel 34;1-10 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://njministries.org

Who feeds you? In Old Testament times, the Levitical Priesthood and the prophets nourished the people, teaching them the Law, and how to live by the Law. Sadly and all too often, the priests and the prophets walked their own way, instead of following after the Lord, and they sought their own prosperity, rather than tending the “sheep” the Lord had sent them to minister to. When this happened, the people, like sheep who had gone astray, would wander away… away from their faith in God… away from God’s law… away from doing what was right… And though the priests and the prophets were tasked to be the shepherds of God’s flocks, they couldn’t be bothered with chasing after His lost “sheep,” because they were too consumed with their own desires, as the scripture above describes.

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image Credit:
http://www.thirdoptionmen.org

Let’s fast forward to the New Testament, and we can see that sadly, things were much the same as during Old Testament times. During Jesus’ time, the Scribes and Pharisees deceived many with their false teachings, as outwardly, they appeared to be righteous, but inwardly, their hearts were filled with sin…

27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

~ Matthew 23:27-28 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://biblicalproof.wordpress.com

Beloved, even now, more than two thousand years after Jesus walked the earth as the Son of Man, there are false teachers in the church, who seek to devour the sheep, rather than feeding them…

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

~ Matthew 7:15-20 — NKJV ~

My beloved readers, there are false teachers within the church today, some of whom are very popular among Christians, and even in the world, but they teach a false and unbiblical doctrine. Who is it that is feeding you, my friends?

1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

~ 2 Peter 2:1-3 — NLT ~

Many of today’s false teachers say some really nice things, that sound really good to those who are ignorant of what scripture really says… Today, I will focus on one of those false teachers, and in the next few posts, I will deal with other false teachers and false prophets. Some of those who are false prophets may surprise you, but I urge you to keep this scripture, written by the Apostle Paul in mind as you read this post and the next few posts that follow…

13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.

~ 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 — NLT ~

Image Credit: John Blake
Image Credit:
John Blake

The first false teacher that I would like to make you aware of is Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Rick Warren is also the renowned author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” and gave the invocation at President Obama’s inauguration. What follows are some examples of the false teachings espoused by Warren. Some of these examples may seem minor or even harmless. Indeed, they may even sound good, but as a teacher of the bible, we are responsible for teaching scriptures accurately, in the correct context. This is sound doctrine… Also, as teachers, we are held to a higher level of accountability than others are…

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.

~ James 3:1 — NLT ~

Firstly, on page 68 of “The Purpose Driven Life,” Warren used the following quote to prove his belief that good Christians should be open to new ideas…

The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — The Living Bible ~

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Image Credit:
SMSCS.com

Now, while this is a direct quote from The Living Bible, it is important to understand that The Living Bible is not a translation of the Bible — it is a paraphrase, and when studying the Bible, one should use a BIble translation, not a paraphrase such as The Living Bible and The Message. In  order for us to understand what this scripture truly says, let’s look at several translations of this scripture, to see if this is truly a correct paraphrase…

Intelligent people are always ready to learn. Their ears are open for knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NLT ~

The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15– NKJV ~

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge,  for the ears of the wise seek it out.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NIV ~

The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge,
And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NASB ~

As you can see from reading the different translations, the intelligent person is always ready to learn (acquire knowledge). It says nothing about being open to new ideas… In fact, Proverbs even instructs us on how to gain knowledge, and this instruction says nothing about being open to new ideas…

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

~ Proverbs 1:7 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
eewc.com

From these scriptures, you can see that the mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, which has nothing to do with being open to new ideas. In fact, in order to gain true knowledge, one must fear the Lord. This is not a new idea, but one that has been spoken repeatedly, throughout scripture, and this most definitely goes against Mr. Warren’s teaching. Again, perhaps this seems like a small thing, but remember, it is the little foxes that spoil the vine…

On page 76 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren cites The Living Bible again…

The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who are wise, who want to please God.

~ Psalm 14:2 — TLB ~

In this instance, Warren presents only part of the truth, for the Lord does indeed look down from heaven on all mankind, but what he doesn’t include is the next verse, which completes the statement…

2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

~ Psalm 14:2-3 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: The Orthodox Church
Image Credit:
The Orthodox Church

The problem with Rick Warren choosing not to include both verses in his teaching is that by not including both scriptures, he is taking the first verse out of context, as it leaves the complete thought unsaid. Not only is the complete message of this scripture left unsaid, but when Warren speaks of coming to Christ, he never mentions repentance. In  fact, rather than proclaiming the gospel of faith, in direct opposition to New Testament teaching, Warren promotes a gospel of deeds…

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs.  This one is going to be about behavior.  The first one was about creeds.  This one is going to be about deeds.  It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.”

~ Rick Warren in an interview with David Kuo
beliefnet.com — “Rick Warren’s Second Reformation” ~

Image Credit: Zachery Oliver
Image Credit:
Zachery Oliver

On the surface, that sounds good, it is important for us to live out our faith, and faith without works is dead, but Warren never really addresses the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance from sin, being born again, nor of salvation from sin…

Beloved readers, in response to mankind’s age old question, “What must we do to be saved?” we must be ever vigilant and careful to give them the correct answer in its entirety, as Peter did, when he addressed the people of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost…

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

~ Acts 2:38-39 — NKJV ~

Beloved, let us also remember that while the Lord created us for good works, so that we should walk in them, it is not the good works that save us…

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~

Friends, I feel that it’s really important to show you Rick Warren’s quote once again, in light of the scriptures, so that you can see the error in his teaching. As a matter of fact, as you read this again, I pray that you will see not only is his teaching wrong, but that you will also see that it directly contradicts scripture. Therefore, no matter how nice he appears, Rick Warren is a false teacher. Beware, my brothers and sisters.

“I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs.  This one is going to be about behavior.  The first one was about creeds.  This one is going to be about deeds.  It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.”

~ Rick Warren in an interview with David Kuo
beliefnet.com — “Rick Warren’s Second Reformation” ~

My friends, Rick Warren’s doctrine is terribly flawed. Yes, it is important for the church to do good works and to do what is right, but more importantly, the church must have faith.

6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

~ Hebrews 11:6 — NKJV ~

Beloved, it was impossible for Israel to live by the Law, and their good deeds could not save them. Now, if their good deeds could not save the Jews, what makes Rick Warren think anyone else’s good deeds can save them? And more importantly, why is he preaching a different doctrine than that which has been taught in the scriptures since the time of Christ?

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

~ Galatians 1:6-9 — NKJV ~

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

~ Galatians 2:15-16 — NKJV ~

My friends, just as Peter was instructed to feed Jesus’ sheep, so every minister of God is called to feed His sheep with love and sound doctrine. And if we see another person feeding Christ’s sheep the poison of another doctrine, we are called to expose the false doctrine, lest the poison of false doctrine harm or even kill the Lord’s sheep…

Therefore, my beloved readers, I must ask you, who is feeding you? If that person is Rick Warren, or a doctrine of works, turn away from that leader and beware of false teachers…

Please join me again, as I continue to examine some of the false teachers of today. I realize that this may not be a popular subject, and that perhaps some of the leaders you look up to may be exposed in this series, but it is necessary to address these issues for the sake of the Lord’s beloved people…

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

A Reason to Rejoice!

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

9 As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow Me and be My disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed Him.

 

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and His disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

 

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:9-13 — NLT ~

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ocsoldier.blogspot.com

Imagine what Matthew must have felt like when Jesus called him. He was a Jew, and yet he was hated by his fellow Jews because he worked for Herod Antipas, collecting taxes from the people. Not only that, tax collectors had a reputation of being extremely corrupt, extorting far more money from citizens than what the actual taxes were. Therefore, knowing how his people felt about him, with good reason, imagine how Matthew must have felt when Jesus came to his tax booth, and looking him straight in the eye, invited him to join His disciples.

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http://vimeo.com/62820471

I can’t help but wonder how Matthew felt. Did he hurry and leave his tax booth immediately to follow Jesus, joyfully bidding his fellow tax collectors and other sinners that he knew, a fond farewell, inviting them to join him for dinner later that evening, where Jesus would be the distinguished guest of honor?  I can only wonder at his joy and excitement.

As he followed Jesus that first day, what words of wisdom did he hear? Did he witness any miracles or deliverances that day? As he walked along with the One who was the Way, the Truth and the Life, did he feel humbled and grateful?

Later that evening, after spending his first day with Jesus, Matthew must have been overflowing with joy as his guests began to arrive and he proudly introduced them to Jesus. How his joy must have melted into shame as he heard the Pharisees questioning the disciples…

But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

~ Matthew 9:11 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
tvaraj2inspirations.wordpress.com/

Have you ever felt like dirt? Have you ever been on the mountaintop, only to have someone trash you, revealing all of your shortcomings and weaknesses to those you most wanted to love you? Do you know what its like to feel exposed and vulnerable? I suspect Matthew may have felt like that for awhile, until Jesus responded to the Pharisees…

12 When Jesus heard this, He said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then He added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

~ Matthew 9:12-13 — NLT ~

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everydaywithgrace.com

Can you even begin to imagine the joy and the relief Matthew must have felt as heard Jesus’ words? The Pharisees hadn’t revealed anything that Jesus didn’t already know! He already knew of Matthew’s sins, as well as those of his friends, but He chose to give them mercy and grace.

Jesus was the great physician, who had come to heal the sin-sick tax collectors and disreputable sinners, He, who had never sinned, never lied, and never cheated, wasn’t ashamed to be associated with Matthew and his sinful friends. Instead of condemning the sinners, Jesus had come to call them, just as He had called Matthew and all of the other disciples.

What’s more, not only did Jesus defend Matthew and the other sinners, He also did the unthinkable. How shocked Matthew, the other disciples, and the sinners must have been… How shocked the Pharisees must have been, when Jesus rebuked them as He ordered them to leave…

… “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.

~ Matthew 9:13 — NLT ~

Hallelujah! This scripture passage gives me such hope, as it should to everyone who reads this post and realizes that they too are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Yes, I’ve sinned. I’ve made such a mess of so many things in my life, and I am fully aware of my weaknesses.

So, my beloved readers, how do you feel about this scripture passage? Does it bless your heart? When you read it, do you feel peace? Love? Joy? Hope? Leave me a comment and let me know how this scripture passage makes you feel. May the Lord bless you, my friends!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

What’s Your Problem?

Image Credit: James Seward
Image Credit:
James Seward

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

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

~ Matthew 8:23-26 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Jesus Calms The Storm El Shaddai's Jewel
Image Credit:
Jesus Calms The Storm
El Shaddai’s Jewel

Imagine this, Jesus gets into the boat with His twelve disciples, to set sail across the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gadarenes. Sailing across the sea of Galilee, which was quite large, approximately 13 miles long by 8 miles wide, would have probably taken around 2 hours on a good day with a good wind. It seems like all is well as they take off to cross the lake, and Jesus, who is likely exhausted from ministering, goes to the back of the boat by Himself to lie down, after which, He quickly falls into a deep sleep. The disciples were probably laughing and joking, possibly discussing all that they’ve witnessed while walking with Jesus.

Suddenly, who knows how long they had already been sailing?, a wild storm arose. Now, because the Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level, and surrounded by hills and mountains that rise to 2000 feet above sea level, the air coming from the mountains is cool and dry, while the air down around the Sea of Galilee is very warm and moist, almost tropical, so, when the two air masses collide, it often sparks violent storms. Also, because the Sea of Galilee is only approximately 200 feet deep, when such storms arise, the water is churned up much quicker and more fiercely than deep water would be.

Image Credit: William Hole
Image Credit:
William Hole

Therefore, the storm that arose, rapidly became wild and brutal. I can picture the disciples rushing around the boat, doing all of the necessary things one would do when in a sailing vessel in the midst of a storm. They probably hastily lowered the sails, and threw the anchors over, in order to protect themselves and the vessel they were in, but it was all to no avail, as the storm raged on, and they began to panic.

Put yourself in their place, and try to imagine the terror they all must have felt. Before dedicating their lives to Christ, eight of the twelve men worked on the land, so their immediate terror is understandable, but let’s not forget that Peter, Andrew, John and James were professional fishermen before following Christ. They made their living on the sea, and I’m certain they had probably faced many storms on the sea, so I don’t imagine they panicked right away, as they went about their business, barking orders to the others, and trying to control the ship caught up in the tempest, but still, the storm raged, increasing its assault on the men and their sailing vessel, which seemed to get smaller and smaller, as the waves grew larger and more powerful, now washing over the sides of the boat. It seemed as if all hell broke loose, and maybe it had, and soon, even the stalwart fishermen were reduced to fear and trembling, as their lives flashed before them.

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Image Credit:
GoodSalt.com

Still the terrified disciples frantically tried scooping the water out of the boat, which was in danger of sinking or being torn asunder, when suddenly, one or more of them realized that Jesus was missing. I can almost hear them shouting to one another above the storm, “Where’s Jesus? Have you seen Him?”

“No — the last time I saw Him, He was asleep!” Can you even begin to understand their fear? They were now clinging on to the boat and to one another to keep from being washed over the side and drowning, and the last time anyone had seen Jesus, He was asleep, in the back of the boat. What if He had washed over? What if He drowned? What if they drowned? They all rushed, as quickly as they were able to move across the water-logged deck, through the hurricane force winds, and the pounding rain, to the back of the boat to see if their Lord was still there.

Can you imagine their relief at seeing Jesus, still very much alive, and sleeping peacefully though the terrible storm fumed furiously all about Him? Can you understand how their relief might have quickly turned to ire, as they all stood their soaking and trembling, fearing they were all about to die, while Jesus slept on, as though He didn’t have a care in the world?

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Image Credit:
http://farm4.staticflickr.com

Have you ever felt that way when you’re in the midst of a storm? When it seems as though all hell has broken loose around you, and you’re in danger of losing your sanity, do you ever wonder where Jesus is? When it seems as though your whole world is crashing down around you, and you’ve tried to do all of the right things, but your storm just seems to get worse and worse, do you ever wonder if Jesus even cares about you?

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with His head on a cushion. The disciples woke Him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t You care that we’re going to drown?”

~ Mark 4:38 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://www.vocations.ca

I wonder how Jesus felt, as His disciples awakened Him so abruptly? I can be pretty grouchy when someone wakes me up from a deep sleep so abruptly, and yet, given their circumstances, and given the fact that Jesus was filled with the Spirit, I imagine He felt love and patience for His battered and frightened disciples. His anger was directed, not at His disciples, but at the prince of the air, and so, after looking at His terrified, wet and wind-blown disciples, who looked as though they were on the losing side of a battle for their lives, Jesus arose…

Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

~ Mark 4:39 — NKJV ~

… Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

~ Matthew 8:26b — NLT ~

… When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.

~ Luke 8:24b — NLT ~

Now, who does it say that Jesus rebuked, and what does it mean to rebuke or to be rebuked?

re·buke[ri-byook]  Show IPA verb, re·buked, re·buk·ing, noun

verb (used with object)
  1. to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.
noun
    2.  sharp, stern disapproval; reproof; reprimand.
 Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves. Think about this… Jesus expressed sharp, stern disapproval of the wind and the waves. I’ve heard many people say that Jesus rebuked the disciples, when He spoke to them, but the bible doesn’t say that. The bible says that Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, and He spoke to the disciples…
Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.
Then He asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Then He asked them,“Where is your faith?”
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Jesus didn’t rebuke the disciples for their fear. I can almost see Him looking each one of the disciples in the eye, not in anger, but with love and compassion, as He questioned them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 

His simple questions, as He spoke to the disciples makes me think of my children (me to – even as a young adult, before I developed a relationship with the Lord), who used to be frightened by loud and violent storms, no matter how often I comforted them, and told them that they were safe in God’s hands. No amount of coaxing and teaching could rid them of their fear, and had I scolded them, their fear of storms may have grown, as they associated anger and punishment with storms. It was only as they (and I) developed their own relationship with the Lord, and began to grow stronger in their faith, that they were able to overcome their fears.
Surely, the disciples were no different. Yes, they had been walking with Jesus for a time, and they had seen Him do many miracles, but no one could have the authority to control the weather, could they? You see, though they had witnessed and even participated in many of these things, the disciples still had much growing to do, and Jesus understood this and had compassion on them, just as any good father has tenderheartedness on his children, and so I believe His questions to the disciples were spoken in love, as He gently showed them that the raging storm wasn’t their problem. Their real problem was their lack of faith…
And so, beloved readers, what’s your problem? Is your real problem the storm that is raging all about you? Is your real problem the people who have hurt you, rejected you, stolen from you, lied to you or abandoned you? Is your real problem your illness or the sickness of a loved one? Or could it be that the real problem is that your faith in the One who calms the wind and the waves is weak? If so, my beloved reader, be of good cheer, and ask the Lord, who will not withhold any good thing from His beloved friends…
The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
© 2013
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 ~

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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 ~

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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

Foxes Have Holes

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18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. 19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”

20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

~ Matthew 8:18-20 — NLT ~

So, how about it? How far are you willing to follow Jesus? Are you willing to follow Him to a Christian conference or a Christian concert? Are you willing to follow Jesus to your financial blessing? How far are you willing to follow Him?

Have you ever thought about it? Did you ever say, “Lord, I’ll follow You wherever You go”? Did you mean it? Did you ever think about what it could mean to you?

When the scribe said that to Jesus, the Lord gave him a warning… “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Think about it. Jesus didn’t say, “Hallelujah! That’s great, now come on and follow Me.” Instead, He warned the scribe that following Him wouldn’t guarantee him an easy life. Jesus was warning him that if he followed Him, the scribe might not have a place to lay His head.

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%20Of%20The%20Wild/
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He was warning the scribe that there wouldn’t be a lot of parties and fun. Following Jesus meant that there would be many lonely times, many times when he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from, and many times when people would turn against him.

So what about you? Have you counted the cost? Have you read the scriptures? Jesus had no place to live or sleep. Are you really willing to follow Him wherever He leads you, no matter where He goes?

Suppose He leads you to Crack Alley? What if He leads you to prison? What if the Lord leads you to bars and dives? What if He leads you to hang out with prostitutes and pimps? Are you willing to go wherever He goes?

Suppose the Lord never leads you to a financial blessing, and you live a life of poverty? Are you still willing to follow Him wherever He goes? Suppose the Lord has decided not to heal you physically, and you must live the rest of your life in pain and suffering? Are you willing to walk that road with Him? Are you willing to walk down a road of rejection and hatred for Christ’s sake?

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My beloved reader, if Jesus, the Son of Almighty God, the Prince of Peace, was homeless, despised and rejected, why should we expect more? If Jesus and His disciples were mistreated and falsely accused of wrong doing, should we expect things to be better for us?

Is it possible that in our pain and sorrow, God can be glorified? Is it possible that good can come from our poverty and pain? Absolutely.

Let me ask you once again, my friend, are you willing to follow Jesus everywhere, no matter how painful, no matter how frightening, no matter how lonely that road may be?

These are some of the questions I’m asking myself, since I’ve gone from a job with an income to no job and no income… I ask myself if I’m willing to follow Jesus wherever He goes even if it means that I must spend the rest of my life with the chronic/acute pain that I’ve dealt with for more than two or three years now… I sometimes wonder, as I suffer from grief over the loss of my mother, and depression from years of buried pain, “Am I willing to follow Jesus wherever He goes, even if it’s in the midst of a dark and frightening wilderness?” And my answer is much like Peter’s response to a similar question that Jesus asked him…

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

~ John 6:68-69 — NKJV ~

Beloved reader, my answer is yes. I will follow Jesus wherever He takes me, and when I am weak, I will lean on His strength. When I grow fearful, I will cling to His love for me, because perfect love casts out fear. Therefore, even though I may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me. It is His love, His rod and His staff that comforts me. I must trust that His plans for me are good, and they are for His glory. I believe that wherever He leads me, He will prosper me — not necessarily with finances, but with the fruit we all need to survive — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. Therefore, yes, I will follow Christ wherever He leads me.

So now, my friend, the ball is in your court. What will you do with this message? Will you heed Jesus’ warning, and follow Him wherever He goes, regardless of the suffering that you will endure???

2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

~ James 1:2-4 — NLT ~

Or will you heed Jesus’ warning, and turn away from Him, like the rich young man, who didn’t want to give up his belongings and his lifestyle, to follow the rough and rocky road that Jesus traveled???

20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” He told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!” 24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God. 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!

~ Mark 10:20-25 — NLT ~

Beloved reader, forget the prosperity messages you’ve heard in the past, and see what the scriptures say. We are followers of Christ, who was despised and rejected. We follow the Jesus, who had no home of His own, no wealth or worldly possessions… And yet, though He seemed poor to others, He was filled with a wealth of wisdom, mercy, compassion and love that was limitless. 

Now, my beloved friend, I’ve set the truth before you, and you have a choice to make. Will you follow Jesus wherever He leads you? Or will you go your own way? I pray you will choose life and follow Jesus.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Who do you say He is?

He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.

~ Colossians 1:17 — NLT ~

Colossians 1-17A long time ago, Jesus asked the disciples a question. I don’t think they really understood how important that question was, until, suddenly, like the flash of a bolt of lightning from the sky, one of them was given a revelation. To know the answer to that question still requires revelation to this day. Yes, anyone can repeat the answer, but when you are asked this question, don’t just answer with your head, say aloud what you believe in your heart

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then He asked them, But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you.You did not learn this from any human being.”

~ Matthew 16:13-17 — NLT ~

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This is a question of such import that every man, woman and child through the ages has had to answer  for themselves, and as Jesus said, it can’t be learned from any human being. It must be revealed to each and every one of us by Almighty God. Who do you say that Jesus is?

Some say He was just a carpenter…

Some say He was a good man…

Some say He was a good teacher…

Some say He was a great prophet…

Who do you say He is?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

~ Genesis 1:1-2 — NLT ~

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 ~

Who do you say He is?

Some say He was a troublemaker…

Some say He was a liar…

Some say He was the devil’s brother…

Some say He deserved to die…

Who do you say He is?

6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

~ Philippians 2:6-11 NLT ~

Who do you say He is? It’s the single most important question you will ever have to answer, whether in this lifetime of the next, because your answer will determine where you spend eternity…

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

~ John 11:25 — NKJV ~

Who do you say He is? There is no such thing as reincarnation. There is no Allah. Buddha can’t save you. Confucius is dead. The Jesus the Latter Day Saints worship has never existed except in the minds of those who have been deceived. The Jehovah served by Jehovah’s Witnesses is a lie, as are freemasons and all other religions, and those lies were birthed in the bowels of hell, to destroy mankind. While these words are not politically correct or popular, they are truth. There is only one way to the Father and eternal life…

6 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 ~

My beloved readers, some of you may be hurt or angry as you read these words, but please know that I share them with you out of love, because it is not the Father’s will for anyone to perish. On the other hand, the devil is a liar, and has been since the beginning, and he will tell you anything you want to hear, for the sole purpose of destroying you…

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

~ John 10:10 — NLT ~

Beloved, who do you say Jesus is? I can’t answer that question for you, because as I said earlier, this is a question we must all answer for ourselves, and that answer only comes by the revelation of God. However, I can share who I say Jesus is…

Jesus is the Son of the Living God…

Jesus is the Christ and the Messiah…

Jesus is Lord of my life…

Jesus is my Savior…

Jesus is my Deliverer…

Jesus is my Protector…

Jesus is my Hope…

Jesus is my Peace…

Jesus is my Joy…

Jesus is the Love of my life…

Jesus is the Rock of Ages…

Jesus is my Strong Tower…

Jesus is my Shelter…

Jesus is my Master…

Jesus is Holy…

Jesus is my Shepherd…

Jesus is the Ancient of Days…

Jesus is my Provider…

Jesus is my Healer…

Jesus is the Light of the world…

Jesus is my Life…

Jesus is the Lamb of God…

Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah…

Jesus is Alpha and Omega…

Jesus is the Resurrected King…

Jesus is Emmanuel {God with Us}…

Jesus is First and Last…

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life…

Jesus is KING of kings and LORD of lords…

Jesus is all of this and so much more! So now, in closing, I’ll ask you again…

Who do you say Jesus is?

Only God can reveal the answer to that question to you, and my  prayer is that everyone who reads this post will receive the revelation of who Christ is, because knowing the answer to this question will change your whole life. Remember, the answer to this question does not come from your brain. God writes the answer to this question on our hearts, and once you receive that revelation, you will never be the same…

Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.

~ 2 Corinthians 3:3 — NLT ~

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers