Tag Archives: holiness

Truth or Lie: Reality Check – I’m Heartsick

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Do you ever feel heartsick for the church? I’m not talking about the various places that we visit on Sundays and sometimes through the week. I’m talking about the body of Christ, those people who claim to be children of God. Do you ever feel like picking her up and shaking her? Do you ever get angry and outraged at some of the foolish things she does, because you know that she’s playing with fire, and endangering her own life, as well as the lives of others? Do you ever feel like weeping and wailing and grieving and mourning for her?

I do. My heart weighs heavily on me, and I’m so deeply troubled and grieved for the people who comprise the church. You see, somewhere along the way, many of the men, women and children were taught a lie, and because that lie felt more comfortable than the truth, they bought it — hook, line and sinker. You see, in ministering about the goodness of God’s grace, many in the church have gotten the impression that it’s okay to sin, because God will forgive you if you confess your sins, and after all, He knows your heart. So what caused me to feel this heaviness today? 

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I was on Facebook last night, and someone that I go to church with had posted a poster with a saying that was crude and it included the F-bomb. Now, I’m friends with a lot of people who do not know the Lord, and while I don’t like that type of language coming from anyone, it is not as offensive to me as when it comes from a Christian. But even this posting didn’t upset me as much as the fact that another Christian actually “Liked” this post. And the fact that another Christian “Liked” this post wasn’t nearly as upsetting to me as the fact that the other Christian who “Liked” this post is a pastor that I know and love. 

Brothers and sisters, I feel it necessary to remind you that when you are born again, you are no longer the same. You must understand that you are no longer enslaved by the sins that once  held you captive. You have been set free from those sins, by God’s grace and mercy, and therefore, you must stop catering to those sins. It’s time for a reality check.

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT ~

Let me break this down for you, because it is vital that you understand, lest you be led astray and die in your sins. Before I became a Christian, I had a foul mouth. There used to be a saying, for those who cussed alot…

“You cuss like a sailor.”

Image Credit: http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/31/are-you-a-pirate/

Before I became a Christian, I heard that statement frequently. In fact, I was quite proud of that, and the fact that I knew more dirty jokes than anyone else I knew. I loved smut. I read trashy novels, watched dirty movies, cussed when I was angry, cussed when I was happy, cussed for no reason at all. Really, when you do something all the time, you get to a point that you don’t even notice when you’re doing it.

But that changed when I repented and asked Christ to save me. You see, I was reborn, not of flesh this time, but of the spirit. 

3 Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” 4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” 5 Jesus replied, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven.”

~ John 3:3-6 NLT ~

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When I was born of the Spirit, my life changed. I was no longer the woman I was before. I didn’t stop cussing and telling dirty jokes immediately. I didn’t stop smoking immediately, and I didn’t stop reading and watching smut right away. Nonetheless, I had changed. You see, before, I enjoyed those things, and was quite proud of my vices. Now, the first change I noticed was the shame that enveloped me when I cussed. Those things that I used to take pride in now grieved me. The things that I used to gleefully participate in, now disgusted me.

I tried to change my behavior, not so Christ would save me, because He already had. I wanted to change, because I loved Him and I was so grateful for what He had done for me, but the harder I tried, the more I failed, until, in utter despair, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to change me, and He heard my cries and answered me. I can’t tell you the date I stopped cussing, but I can tell you that I did, because Jesus took the curses from my mouth and replaced them with blessings. 

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One night, when I was praying to Him, He spoke to me. I can’t remember what I was praying to Him for, but I remember His words to me, “Cheryl, you keep asking Me for things, but what are you willing to give to Me?” He asked.

My response was immediate, “Anything!”

“Are you willing to give Me your cigarettes?” He asked.

“I’ll give you anything but that,” I bartered. “Lord, I’ve tried to stop smoking before. You know I can’t.”

“I know you’ve tried before,” He responded, “but this time, if you’ll give it to Me, I will take the desire away from you.”

I agreed, and He took all desire to smoke away from me. I had smoked for twenty-four years, starting when I was twelve years old, but now, the smell of cigarette smoke sickened me — literally. To this day, I can smell when someone has been smoking, and the odor is nauseating to me.

Image Credit: http://browse.deviantart.com/art/ this-is-heaven-43721431

You see, I was a new person. The Cheryl that once loved sin, now hated it, because she was a new creation. The new Cheryl loved Jesus, and she wanted to please Him. Once, I belonged to the world, and I lived as the world does, but when I was born again, I no longer belonged to the world. 

1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. 3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. 5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. 6 God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. 7 You used to do them when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.

~ Colossians 3:1-10 NLT ~

I shared all of this with you, because if you have been born again, you should not be living the same life that you lived before your salvation. You should be different. Your life should be different. Your desires should be different.

Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

~ Psalm 37:4 NLT ~

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I used to think that verse meant that God would give me a nice bank account, a new car, or a better job, and I used to pray for those things. But then, as I began to delight in the Lord, He changed my heart. No longer did I pray for the things I once prayed for… Do you remember why?

I’m a new person, and as I delighted in Him, He gave me new desires… As I delighted in Him, He gave me my heart’s desires… I now desired my husband and my children to know Him… I now longed to serve Him… I wanted to share His love with others… I wanted to love others as He loved me…

I had become someone new. What about you? When you were born again, did your life change? Or do you still laugh at the things you always laughed at? Does it grieve you when you sin? Or are you able to justify your sins?

My friends, if you are born again, and yet you haven’t changed, then it’s time for a reality check. If you’re still dropping the F-bomb, laughing at dirty jokes, posting things that should not be posted on Facebook, Twitter or your blog, or “Liking” any of those things, then perhaps you really weren’t born again, or perhaps you don’t really understand about grace…

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace. 15 So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive His approval.

~ Romans 6:14-16 NLT ~

My beloved friends, please, examine yourselves and do a reality check. It is a lie to believe that you are born again if you haven’t changed. I don’t care if you carry the title of pastor, evangelist, prophet, elder, apostle, bishop or anything else, if you “Like” someone else’s sin, if you continue in sin, then sin is your master, not God. 

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Brothers and sisters, I’m heartsick at how some have twisted God’s grace into an excuse to continue to live in sin. God is full of mercy and grace, but Jesus died for us, so that we might die to sin. That is God’s grace. Jesus did not die so that we could continue to dwell in sin. He died to set us free from sin.

So now, I ask each one of you to examine your own hearts. If after giving your life to Christ, you find that you are still living for yourself, it’s time for a reality check. 

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume His enemies. 28 Anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to His people. 30 For we know the one who said, “I will take vengeance. I will repay those who deserve it.” He also said, “The Lord will judge His own people.” 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

~ Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT ~

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Beloved, it grieves me to write such harsh words, but I must. I urge you to seek the Lord with all your heart. Examine your hearts, and if you are guilty of trampling on the Son of God and treating the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Cry out to Jesus, and walk in obedience to His will. He is full of mercy and grace, and He will save those who are truly repentant. He knows that we are not capable of changing ourselves, and if you will delight yourself in Him, He will give you new desires… desires to please Him. He will set you free from the law of sin and death, if you will simply love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Hindsight

Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your very first post.
Daily Prompt: Hindsight

I’ve only been on WordPress since October, and my first post was about the Words of Jesus – Fulfilling All Righteousness. So, this is take 2, and the very first thing I noticed about my original post is that the Scripture reference is incorrect (typo). There is no Matthew 3:18 – the quote is actually from Matthew 3:15… Therefore, no matter what I write, it’s already improved.  🙂

But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. (Matthew 3:15 NKJV)

jesus
http://i562.photobucket.com/albums/ss66/BONEFIVESTAR1/jesus.jpg

Jesus allowed John to baptize Him in order to fulfill all righteousness. That’s just a small sentence, but they are first recorded words He spoke in the gospel of Matthew, which makes them very important. The whole gospel of Matthew points to Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, and here, in this third chapter of Matthew, we see that He is not only the fulfillment of prophecy, but also the fulfillment of all righteousness.

Therefore, Christians need to ask themselves, “If Jesus said that baptism was necessary for Him to fulfill all righteousness, should we also be baptized?” 

What do fulfill and righteousness mean anyway? Dictionary.com defines fulfill this way:

  1. to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise.
  2. to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands.
  3. to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.): a book that fulfills a long-felt need.
  4. to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time: He felt that life was over
    when one had fulfilled his threescore years and ten.
  5. to develop the full potential of (usually used reflexively): She realized that she could
    never fulfill herself in such work.

Dictionary.com also defines righteousness as the quality or state of being righteous, which is characterized by uprightness or morality.

So, if Jesus said it was necessary for Him to be baptized in order to fulfill (to satisfy the requirements) all righteousness, is it necessary for us to do so as well? According to what Jesus said, baptism is a necessity in order to fulfill all righteousness.

In fact, on the day of Pentecost, (after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and after He ascended into heaven) His followers received the gift of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages (tongues), and when the people in the city of Jerusalem saw them, many of them believed in Jesus and asked what they should do. Peter replied, “Each of you must turn from your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38 NLT) 

http://www.revivechurch.org/baptism-class
http://www.revivechurch.org/baptism-class

It’s obvious from both Jesus’ response and Peter’s response that baptism is necessary to fulfill righteousness. I like how the Complete Jewish Bible translates this verse,  Kefa (Peter) answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed (baptized) on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus the Christ) into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)!” 

Do you see? When we turn to Jesus, we turn away from sin, and we turn to God. This is called repentance. And when we turn to Jesus, we must be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, or as the Complete Jewish Bible explains more clearly, we must be immersed on the authority of Jesus.

Dictionary.com gives us this definition for immerse:

  1. to plunge into or place under a liquid; dip; sink.
  2. to involve deeply; absorb: She is totally immersed in her law practice.
  3. to baptize by immersion.
  4. to embed; bury.

You’ll notice firstly, that immersion/baptism is not sprinkling, spraying or dripping. 🙂 It is to be plunged into or placed under a liquid… to involve deeply; absorb… to embed; bury. The apostle Paul explains the necessity of baptism more clearly in Romans 6.

You see, when we are baptized, we have turned away from sin, and our immersion into the water symbolizes the death and burial of our sinful nature. Then, as we arise from beneath the water (which symbolizes our grave), it symbolizes that just as Christ was resurrected from death, so we are resurrected into new life. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Messiah, he is a new creation – the old has passed; look, what has come is fresh and new! (2 Corinthians 5:17 CJB) 

How awesome is that? By submitting myself to baptism, I am submitting to Christ’s authority in my life. I’m saying that the sin that used to enslave me is dead and buried, and now I’m a new creation. Hallelujah! I’m fresh and new! You see, I’m no longer controlled by sin, even when I mess up and sin, it’s lost its control over me, because those bonds of slavery have been loosed.

Now, I have a new Master. I’m now a slave of righteousness. I submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, and His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. You see, He tells me to cast all of my cares on Him, because He cares for me.

When sin was my master, it didn’t care about me. When I was a slave to sin, I suffered much pain, and many terrible consequences for my actions. Sin was a cruel master. Sin’s ultimate goal for my life was death and eternal damnation.

My new Master, Jesus Christ, the Sun of Righteousness has given me so much more. You see, His ultimate goal for my life is an eternity spent with Him…

http://www.reliance-cc.org/whats-next/baptism/
http://www.reliance-cc.org/whats-next/baptism/

So, in conclusion, is it necessary for us to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness? Yes and no. 🙂 Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, and he certainly didn’t have a chance to be baptized before he died, yet Jesus said, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” 

So, while baptism is not a requirement, the more I study the scriptures, the more I see the necessity of baptism. Think of it this way, if you were invited to a feast at the King’s table, and you were told you could eat as much as you want of everything that was there, would you do it? Or would you say, “No thank you. I’ll just lick the crumbs off the floor.” I can’t answer for you, but I can tell you what my answer is. Hallelujah! I want it all!

Words of Jesus – Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

Do you know of anyone who is spiritually fat or filled? We are constantly bombarded with stories and images of injustices and unrighteousness, and it seriously grieves me. Does anyone else feel that way?

Right here, in this country that I love, we see politicians standing up for the very things that grieve God… The Democrats stand in favor of abortion, which is the slaughter of the unborn child. People can call that baby an embryo or a fetus, but the fact is that by the sixth week of gestation, the unborn baby has all of his/her organs. In fact, from the very instant the baby is conceived, it is a separate life living within his/her mother’s womb. Scripture actually talks about the unborn child… In fact, the Lord spoke these words to Jeremiah, the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:7 NKJV). 

If the Lord knew us before we were even placed in our mother’s womb, and he already had plans for our lives, how could any of us ever even consider killing an unborn baby? And yet, in our country from 1978-2008, over 50 million abortions were performed. That’s an average death rate of 4500-5000 abortions per year! This truly grieves the Lord… and it grieves me too. Is there anyone else who is grieved by this? Is there anyone who longs for… hungers and thirsts for righteousness? 

And when I think of what abortion has done to the lives of the many women who have been lied to… when I think of the many women who have lied to themselves and tried to convince themselves that the life growing inside of them is nothing more than a mass of tissue… when I think of the many women who have been traumatized because of their “Right to Choose” my heart breaks for the guilt and pain they still suffer today. And when I think of those who felt justified by their choice, I mourn for them too, because they have so clearly been deceived by the enemy of our souls… And YES, I hunger and thirst for righteousness… I long for that day when this evil will be outlawed!

Because I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone who is in favor of abortion… Because I hunger and thirst for righteousness, I cannot bring myself to vote for anyone who wants to change the marriage laws from one man and one woman to include homosexual marriage. God created man and woman for the purpose of procreation and the Lord commanded His people in Leviticus, “Do not practice homosexuality; it is a detestable sin” (Leviticus 18:22 NLT). 

And don’t think the Democrats are alone in their sins against God. Let’s look at the Republicans… Their hearts are for the wealthy and the truth is as they’ve shown time and time again, they have no heart for the poor… Let’s see what James tells us about this… My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others? For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” — well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom He promised to those who love Him? And yet, you insult the poor man! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord’s royal command found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing a sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law (James 2:1-9 NLT). 

When I see this evil, my heart hungers and thirsts for righteousness! And if that isn’t enough, let’s look at the man who many Christians and Churches are endorsing for the Presidency… Mitt Romney – a wealthy Mormon high priest. Brothers and sisters, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Church) is not a Christian organization. This religion was founded by a pedophile named Joseph Smith, and their Jesus is not our Jesus! They claim that their god came down to earth and had sexual intercourse with Mary and that their Jesus was conceived through this union. They also claim that their Jesus and Lucifer are brothers. They believe that the men of their religion will one day become gods, who will be married to many virgins… I don’t know what’s in it for the women of that religion. This cult has been leading millions to hell since its foundation, and yet many in the Church want to endorse Mitt Romney as President because they say he is the lesser of the two evils.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!!! Evil is EVIL!!! Don’t you hunger and thirst for righteousness??? Change has to begin in you and me before there can be a change in our country. He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 NKJV)

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

The Lord is telling us, just as He told the Solomon and the Israelites, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV).

Brothers and sisters, when you watch the news on TV, are you grieved in your spirit? When you see your family and your neighbors struggling to make ends meet, is your heart burdened? When you see a homeless person, or a drug addict, or a  prostitute, do you feel like weeping for them? Do you long for better days? Do you yearn to see people living holy and uprightly? Do you long to see the Church present herself spotless and without blemish to the Lord? If you do, then you are truly blessed… “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

©  2012

Cheryl A. Showers