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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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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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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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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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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

Go Away And Leave Us Alone!

28When Jesus arrived on the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gadarenes, two men who were possessed by demons met Him. They lived in a cemetery and were so violent that no one could go through that area. 

29They began screaming at Him, “Why are You interfering with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torture us before God’s appointed time?” 30There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. 31So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

32“All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered t he pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

33The herdsmen fled to the nearby town, telling everyone what happened to the demon-possessed men. 34Then the entire town came out to meet Jesus, but they begged Him to go away and leave them alone.

~ Matthew 8:28-33 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
http://www.multipleworlds.net/Gadarene_Deliverance.html

This is one of the  most mind-blowing, confusing portions of scripture there is for me. Just think about this… Two violent, demon-possessed men were the first ones to move forward and greet Jesus. These two men lived in a cemetery, where the townspeople avoided them, because they were so violent and dangerous.

Now imagine how terrible life must have been for these two men… Although they were demon-possessed, surely, they experienced moments of sanity, where they longed to be delivered and set free from the demons that tormented and tortured them. Was it during one of these brief moments of sanity that  the two men learned of Jesus’ arrival and sought Him out? Only the Lord knows. When they approached Him, did they plan to ask Him to set them free? After reading this story in the book of Mark, I think it’s very possible that at least one of the men wanted to be set free…

1 Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. 2 And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3 who had his dwelling among  the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, 4 because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in places; neither could anyone tame him. 5 And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting  himself with stones.

6 When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. 7 And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

~ Mark 5:1-7 — NKJV ~

Do you see what the man did? Look at Mark 5:6…

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him.

~ Mark 5:6 — NKJV ~

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The demon-possessed man ran up to Jesus and worshiped Him! Now think about this — Jesus healed many demon-possessed men and women, but none of the others ran towards Him to worship Him, except for this man. Therefore, it is entirely possible that at least one of the two demon-possessed men, who lived in that cemetery, tried to escape the demons that tormented  him and his friend day and night, so that he might be set free. And hallelujah, Jesus not only set him free, but the other man as well!

30 There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding in the distance. 31 So the demons begged, “If you cast us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

32 “All right, go!” Jesus commanded them. So the demons came out of the men and entered the pigs, and the whole herd plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

~ Matthew 8:30-32 — NLT ~

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Matthew wrote about two demon-possessed men, while both Mark and Luke only mentioned one, in their versions of the story. Although Mark and Luke only refer to one of the demon-possessed men, it does not mean that there weren’t two men. It only means that Mark and Luke only referred to one of the men for some reason not known to us.

Nonetheless, at Jesus’ command, the demons left the men and entered a herd of pigs, and sent them plunging down the steep hillside, where they drowned in the water.

Image Credit: James Tissot
Image Credit:
James Tissot

Now, there were some herdsmen nearby, who witnessed the whole thing. I wonder what they were thinking when they saw Jesus cast the demons out of the two men. Did they rejoice at the marvelous miracle that had just taken place before them, as the lives of two men were restored? Or were they frightened and angry over the death of the pigs?

When the townspeople came and saw the two men, who had formerly been so vile and dangerous, now clothed and in their right minds, talking with Jesus, did they delight in the fact that these former pariahs were now model citizens? Were they overjoyed that their people would no longer live in fear of the two demon-possessed men escaping their chains and possibly harming someone? Their response blows my mind. 

Sadly, the citizens of the town seemed more upset about the death of the pigs than the deliverance of the demonized men. Friends, think of this — what if the King of Glory came to your town and set the homeless, schizophrenic free, sending the demons that tormented him into the town’s stray cats, who end up plunging themselves to their death? Would you delight in the homeless schizophrenic’s new found freedom? Or would you be outraged that the Lord sent the demons into the town’s stray cats, who then plunged to their death? Would you welcome this King of Glory into your town, inviting Him to stay, or would you respond as the townspeople responded when the two demonized men were set free, and beg Jesus to please leave and go away?

I have to be honest with you — I find it shocking that the people asked Jesus to leave their town, after He delivered the two dangerous men, changing them from violent criminals to gentle men. Were the people really more concerned for the swine than for the two men, not to mention their citizens and tourists? Now, examine your hearts, my friends, how would you respond? Would you ask Jesus to stay forever? Or would you ask Him to go away and leave you alone???

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

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

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

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

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as if I were dead. But He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

~ Revelation 1:17-18 — NLT ~

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

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

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

15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. 16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.

17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, 18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.

19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — NLT ~

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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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01_Gallery%20Pics/01_Spirit
%20Of%20The%20Wild/
107_TheEaglesNest1_Pic.jpg

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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http://darrellcreswell.files.
wordpress.com/2012/03/i-love-jesus.jpg

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

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for me to continue with the tithing series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, while I was temporarily out of commission. Thanks also to everyone who has been praying for me. I truly appreciate your prayers, more than you know…

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Image Credit:http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

And now, let’s continue with the fifth part of the series, To Tithe or Not To Tithe?. In the last few posts, we’ve compared Old Testament teachings about tithing to New Testament teaching. Now, let’s take a look at the early church to see if they tithed. Let’s also see where their money went, and how they got it…

“It is admitted universally that the payment of tithes or the tenth of possessions, for sacred purposes, did not find a place within the Christian Church during the age covered by the apostles and their immediate successors.”

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
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“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
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44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
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Image Credit:
http://usafreemoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/
bag_of_money_wallpaper-other.jpg

As you can see from the scripture above, and from the references above, the early church did not tithe. Instead, all of the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. Now take note of who shared… All of the believers shared… This included apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists, as well as everyone else…

Next, let’s look at what they shared… And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. ~ Acts 2:44 — NLT ~ Wow. Just think about this. All of the believers shared everything they had. Obviously, there would have been no apostles, pastors, prophets, teachers and evangelists who were independently wealthy from the tithes and offerings they received from other believers, because they would have shared everything they had. There would have been no worshipers or Christian musicians who charged people to see them and listen to their music, because it all would have been for the glory of God.

Finally, it’s important for us to see who the early church shared everything they had with… They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. ~ Acts 2:45 — NLT ~ The early church shared with those in need. Money was not collected to pay ministers, but to give to those who were in need.

“The New Testament nowhere explicitly requires tithing to maintain a ministry or a place of assembly.”

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
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As you can see, giving in the early church differs greatly from the church today, who gives first to pay for clergy, buildings, maintenance, heat and air conditioning for the buildings, utilities, administrative staff and administrative costs, and a portion goes to whatever denomination the church members belong to. It is only after this and so many other expenses are met, that the money taken in is shared with those in need, and then, it is often given very selectively, after those in need meet certain criteria. I can’t help but wonder what Jesus or the early apostles would think of the giving of tithes, which are given to support many pastors, evangelists and televangelists, who never even come in contact with those who are in need?

“The silence of the N.T. writers, particularly Paul, regarding the present validity of the tithe can be explained only on the ground that the dispensation of grace has no more place for a law of tithing than it has for a law on circumcision.”

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
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2 Corinthians 9 encourages the Corinthian believers, and us as well, to give to those who are in need. It is not a command to tithe to any church, but to give to those who are in need. It also encourages believers to determine in their hearts how much to give, and not to give reluctantly or in response to pressure. It does not command us to tithe our income…

In fact, after studying the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that tithing is part of the Old Covenant, which was fulfilled by Jesus. Further, Old Testament tithing never included the people’s income – rather, they tithed their produce and their meat. Finally, we must remember that we are no longer under the law, therefore, if we tithe, we are placing ourselves under the law…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

I’d like to share one final thought about tithing and giving. The Lord wants us to give to the poor, orphans and widows. He wants us to give with a cheerful heart, not under compulsion. What if we listened to Holy Spirit as the early church did, and gave accordingly, not limiting ourselves to a 10% tithe? The early church shared freely of everything they had. If they had  nothing to give, they felt no shame for it. The early church didn’t need a lot of money to share the gospel with their coworkers, families, friends and acquaintances. 

My friends, I urge you to prayerfully consider what you’ve read in this series, and give according to what Holy Spirit leads you to give. Don’t limit yourselves by tithing to a place of worship. Instead, let Holy Spirit lead you to give to those in need, according to the will of God. 

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? Update

Greetings Friends,

Please forgive me for taking so long with my next post. Since returning home from my trip out of town, I’ve been under the weather, and with medication changes, unable to focus. Please keep me in your  prayers. I will be continuing this series and seeing it through its completion, so I ask for your continued patience.

May the Lord bless you!

Love,
Cheryl

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 4)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/ 2013/05/old-testament- tithing-passages- response.html
Image Credit:
http://slaveoftheword.blogspot.com/
2013/05/old-testament-
tithing-passages-
response.html

I’m really enjoying this study, and I don’t mind confessing that I’m learning as we go along too. I have also tithed for most of my walk with Christ, (at least since I seriously started serving Him), and until I complete this study, I will reserve my final judgment on tithing. What I am discovering is that many of the things I’ve always believed or been taught to believe about tithing were based not on what the scriptures say, but on the teachings of the church. Also, please understand that I am not telling anyone that they should not give as the Lord leads you to give, and until we complete this study, I’m not even telling you to stop tithing, especially if you feel that it is sinful not to tithe. 

The purpose of this study is for us to discover what the word of God truly says regarding tithing in the church. Please let me be very clear about one thing before we continue with our study, because several people have expressed concern that I might be encouraging you not to tithe. I am encouraging you to join me in this study of God’s word, and after we have completed the study, if you choose to continue tithing or to stop tithing, I encourage you to do so based on what the bible says, NOT because I told you to do so. Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s continue our bible study with Malachi 3:10…

10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://www.templesanjose.org/ JudaismInfo/faq/temple wall.htm
Image Credit:
http://www.templesanjose.org/
JudaismInfo/faq/temple
wall.htm

In Malachi 3:10, the Lord instructs the Levite priests to, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” 

In our previous studies, we learned that tithes were seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks. We also learned that 10% of these tithes were given to the Levite priests, who were dedicated to a life of service to the Lord and His temple, and had no land of their own, in order to provide food for them and their families. Therefore, in order to ensure that the Lord’s priests would always have enough to eat, the Lord instituted the tithe. This information is important, because it explains why it was important that there be food in God’s house.

Now look at the first part of that scripture again, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house…” What was the storehouse, and where was it? (2 Chronicles 31)

  • The storehouse was where the tithes and offerings were kept until they were distributed to the priests.
  • The storehouse was located within the temple. 

There are several reasons why this scripture does not apply to Christians… 

  • Firstly, as I shared with you before, tithes were never cash or credit…
    • Tithes were for a sacrifice to God, and food for the Levite priests.
      • The priests served the Lord in the temple, offering sacrifices, playing music, mediating to God for the sins of the people, etc.
      • Because their lives were dedicated to the Lord, and they had no land of their own, 10% of the tithes were given to the Levite priests for food for them and their families.
      • After Christ was crucified, there was no longer a need for the priests to serve in the temple, because Jesus became our High Priest.
  • The temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and has not been rebuilt.
    • Therefore, there is no longer any storehouse.
    • Further, since Christ was crucified, He became the final sacrifice, and there is no longer a need to present tithes and offerings to the Lord to be sacrificed… In fact, it was never our sacrifices that the Lord desired…
      • You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.
        Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand—
        you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.
         ~ Psalm 40:6 
      • I want you to show love,
        not offer sacrifices.
        I want you to know me
        more than I want burnt offerings. 
        ~
        Hosea 6:6
    • Levite priests are no longer necessary, there is no longer a need to collect tithes to feed them.
    • Since the temple was destroyed, there is no longer a storehouse for the tithes to be brought to.
Image Credit: http://blog.adw.org/ wp-content/uploads/ Faces_of_Christ.jpg
Image Credit:
http://blog.adw.org/
wp-content/uploads/
Faces_of_Christ.jpg

Now, some claim that the storehouse we are now supposed to bring our tithes and offerings (cash and credit, no longer food, although scripture makes no mention of this change) to, is the church. However, according to the scriptures, the church is not the building or the place where we worship…

  • 22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. ~ Ephesians 1:22-23 — NKJV ~

According to the scriptures, Christians are the church. We are the body of Christ, not the building that we go to worship at. If I am in my home, then my home houses the church, but it is not the church. If I am in my car or Walmart, then they house the church, but they are not the church. When I go to my place of worship on Sundays, as soon as the men and women of God show up, that is where the church is, but as soon as we leave that building, although it may be dedicated to God, it is not the church. 

Not only that, but the bible tells us in several different places that not only are we (all Christians) the church, but we are also the temple of the Holy Spirit.

  • Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself… 1 Corinthians 6:19 — NLT ~
  • 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22 — NKJV ~

So, the tithes and offerings were brought to the storehouse for the purpose of sacrificing to God, and feeding the Levite priests. There is no longer any need to do either, because Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins once and for all. Further, consider this…

  • you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5 — NIV ~
      • And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. ~ Romans 12:1 — NLT ~
  • But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NIV ~

The tithes and offerings were taken to the temple and given to the priests. If all Christians are the church and temple of the Holy Spirit, and if we are also a holy and royal priesthood, then it’s important to know this fact. The Levite priests were not required to tithe, because a portion of the tithes were to feed them. 

Therefore, since we are a royal priesthood, and the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, are we bound by the law to tithe? Also, let us not forget that the Lord doesn’t desire sacrifices, and the sacrifice that is required of all believers is for us to offer our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, which is pleasing to the Lord. Brothers and sisters, this is truly the way to worship God. As I study the scriptures, which tells us that we are not bound by the law, why would God command His people to obey this law? And would He change the terms, requiring priests to pay tithes now, and changing the food offerings to cash or credit offerings? And to whom and where would God’s holy priesthood present tithes?

I urge you to prayerfully study the scriptures, asking the Lord to reveal the truth to you through His word. I also encourage you to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 5)when we will continue our study.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 3)

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Image Credit:
http://thepropheticbooksofbible.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/tithe.gif

Welcome to the third part of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, and thank you for your patience in waiting for part 3. I just left my daughter’s home in GA and headed for home yesterday, and was unable to finish this post during my last few days there. However, I’m home now, and hopefully, Lord willing, I will be able to continue on this series more regularly. If you’re just starting this series, please be sure to check out the following posts first…

In part two of this series, I said that we would be studying Malachi 3:8-10…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

In part two of this series, we began the study with verse 8…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

In verse 8 we learned:

  • The Lord spoke these words these words to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.
  • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings.
    • He required a tithe of seeds and fruit
    • He required a tithe of herds and flocks
  • When Jesus was crucified on the cross, as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of man, there was no longer any need for sacrifice in the Temple…Since there is no longer any need for sacrifices to be made, there is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)
Image Credit: http://www.tithing.com/wp-content/ uploads/2012/02/tithing-on-trial.jpg

Now, we’ll continue the study, with verse 9 of the passage…

9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.

I have heard this message directed at Christians, and have sat under pastors who have said that not only are people cheating themselves out of a blessing for not bringing our tithes to the storehouse, but they are also bringing God’s curse on themselves. However, as we learned in To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)this specific message was never intended for Christians. The Lord spoke this message to warn the Levite priests who had turned away from Him, and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law. Further, we also learned that the tithe was not 10% of one’s income. It was not cash or credit. The tithe was seeds and fruit, and herds and flocks, which the people were giving. 

  • Therefore, the Lord was telling the Levite priests that they were cursed with a curse. (Remember, they were still under the Law)

For those who would imply that this law applies to Christians, and if we as Christians do not give 10% of our income, we will be “cursed with a curse”, please consider this:

13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

~ Galatians 3:13-14 — NKJV ~

Brothers and sisters, this post is short and sweet, because I really want you to focus on these verses from Galatians 3. When someone speaks a curse over you for not tithing or for not living by the law, remember that Christ set us free from the curse of the law, and whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

Please be sure to join me for the next post in our study of To Tithe or Not To Tithe?, when we will continue this study, focusing on verse 10.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

~ Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/worshiphousemedia/ resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg
Image Credit:
http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/worshiphousemedia/
resource/images/main/s/mo/pow/ss/tithesandoffering.jpg

First of all, let me state very clearly, I love the Lord, and I don’t want to rob Him. I don’t want to sin against God. I want to love Him and serve Him, and be a blessing to Him. My heart’s desire is to be a woman after God’s own heart. I want to know Him and understand His word. I want to be all that God has called me to be, and I want to walk in the liberty that He has given me…

Therefore, let’s begin To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2) by looking at verse eight of Malachi 3…

8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.

~ Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: http://cdn1.tillhecomes.org/wp-content/ uploads/2012/01/Malachi-3.jpg
Image Credit:
http://cdn1.tillhecomes.org/wp-content/
uploads/2012/01/Malachi-3.jpg

One of the first rules when studying scripture is to discover who, what, when, where and why. Therefore, let’s start first with who…

  • Who was speaking in this passage?
    • God was speaking
  • To whom was God speaking?
    • To find out who God was speaking to, I had to go back to the beginning of Malachi, where I discovered that God was speaking to the priests, not the people, who had brought their tithes, and it was the priests who failed to distribute them according to the Law.
  • What was God saying?
    • He accused the priests of robbing Him in tithes and offerings.
    • The priests were not presenting the tithes and offerings to the Lord as they should, instead, keeping the best of the tithes and offerings for themselves, while offering the Lord blind, sick and lame sacrifices.
  • When did God speak these words?
    • Malachi was written some time between 440 and 400 B.C.
  • Where did God speak these words?
    • The word of the Lord came to Israel.
  • Why did God speak these words?
    • He spoke these words to warn the priests who had turned away from Him and were not treating the sacrifices they were to make to Him seriously, to repent and obey the Law.

When studying the scriptures, after determining the 5 W’s, we also need to see if these scriptures apply to us (Christian believers) today… Therefore, at this point, it’s really important for us to understand what the tithes and offerings that the Lord was talking about, were. Just so everyone is on the same page, let’s look up the Law’s tithe requirement…

  • Leviticus 27:30-33 (NKJV) — 30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
  • We see here that the tithe was food, both from the fruit of the land and from animals
    • The Lord did not require monetary tithes and offerings
    • The tithes and offerings required were food, which was given to the priests, who were to offer a tithe of what they received to the Lord.
    • The rest of the tithes and offerings were given to the priests, who owned no land to grow or raise their own food, because their lives were dedicated to the Lord.
Image Credit: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2 W3n19aM/s320/tithe.jpg
Image Credit:
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_
sdEWIhL1Dsc/TK0l3D3Zl
VI/AAAAAAAAADI/C8N2
W3n19aM/s320/tithe.jpg

Does the Lord still require these tithes and offerings, as required by the Law? Of course not! For Christ paid all of our debts once and for all…

11 And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

~ Hebrews 10:11-18 — NKJV ~

When Christ died on the cross, there was no longer any need for sacrifices, because He paid for the sins of mankind once and for all. Therefore…

  • There is no longer any need for priests to offer sacrifices, approach God on our behalf, or mediate for our sins, for Christ is our High Priest…
    • For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus — 1 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)
    • 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)

My beloved Messianic readers, if you have given your life to Christ, you are a new creation, and you are no longer bound by the Law. Beloved Gentile believers, you have never been bound by the Law, and you shouldn’t allow anyone to deceive you into giving your freedom away…

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

My beloved readers, I do not want to influence anyone, nor do I want to tell you what to do or believe. However, there are those who try to shame and coerce the people of God into giving money to their ministries by misusing  the Word of God, and my desire is that the men and women of God will read and study His word so they will know what God’s will for His people truly is.

Therefore, I encourage you to pray about what you are reading here, and seek God’s face. Also, please don’t misunderstand what you are reading or what I am saying. As you read this  series, please be sure you hold this scripture close to your heart as you pray…

You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

~ 2 Corinthians 9:7 — NLT ~

 Thank you for reading, my friends, and please, be sure to join me for To Tithe or Not To Tithe (Part 3), when we continue our study of Malachi 3:8-10…

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

caddo-7-word

This post is dedicated to our good friend Sis Caddo. Although she is temporary hiatus, my prayer is that she will remember how much we all love her, and I will continue with the Sis “Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!” until she returns to us. Meanwhile, I know that she still stops by to visit her friends, and so in honor of Sis Caddo, who really loves acrostics, I tried my hand at an acrostic below. God bless you BIG Sis Caddo, we love you!!! 😀 Continue reading Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Personal Prayer Request Update

Image Credit: Michael Sandstrom
Image Credit:
Michael Sandstrom

Greetings to All of My Beloved Readers,

Thank you for your kindness and your prayers for my recovery. Though I’m no longer in the hospital, I have a way to go before I can say I’m fully recovered. I truly appreciate all of your prayers, and I ask you to continue to lift me up. I’m not able to share what’s going on with me right now, but God knows, and I believe He’s big enough to lead you in how to pray for me and when to pray for me, and one day, Lord willing, when I have a good testimony that glorifies God to share with you, I will do so!

On the positive side, I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to get my post for Share the Love completed on time for tomorrow’s publication, but God is so good, and the post was completed in record time, as He led me in what to share with you. I pray the Lord continues to bless each one of you abundantly, and as soon as this is posted, I think I’ll turn in for the night. 

Many blessings and much love to you,

Cheryl A. Showers

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Image Credit: http://gracepieces.com/
Image Credit:
http://gracepieces.com/

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

THE WORLD HATES OUTCASTS
JESUS LOVES OUTCASTS!

I am so grateful that Jesus loves the outcast, the broken, the ugly, the unwanted, the unlovable, of whom I am chief among them. He looks at those the world despises and He says, “Come, My beloved! For I have loved you with an everlasting love. With cords of love, I have drawn you to Me. For I know the plans I have for you — plans to prosper you and not to harm you. I have plans to give you hope and a future. Fear not, for I am with you and I will never leave you nor forsake you. Though your mother and father forsake you, I will lift you up! Come to Me, all of you who are weary, tired, worn out and exhausted, and I will give you rest. Stop trying to fight your own battles, My beloved, for the battle is the Lord’s! Be still, and know that I am God. Humble yourself under My hand, and in due season, I will lift you up! Continue reading Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Image Credit: http://gracepieces.com/
Image Credit:
http://gracepieces.com/

Hallelujah! I’m so glad Sis Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays are back, because they bless me. 😀 Therefore, without further ado, I give you my seven words…

Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord!

21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

~ Job 1:21-22 — NKJV ~

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

caddo-7-word

Welcome back, to Sis Caddo and her Seven Word Sundays! Hallelujah!

Redeemed of the Lord, LET’S SAY SO!

Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!

    Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.

~ Psalm 107:2 — NLT ~

16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

~ Romans 1:16-17 — NLT ~

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,

~ Psalm 107:2 — NKJV ~

Reminder – May Share the Love

Greetings Beloved Readers and Fellow Bloggers!

PrintThis is just a friendly reminder that on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, I will be sharing the love once again with another blogger. I’m really excited to Share the Love with this month’s blogger…

I suspect that many of you are unfamiliar with this blogger, but once you read some of her posts, I have no doubt that you will want to follow her and read more of what the Lord has placed on her heart to write about. This will be the fourth blog that I’ve featured on Share the Love since the Lord placed it on my heart to begin this project, and I can’t tell you how much it has blessed me to do this post each month. 

When the Lord placed it on my heart to Share the Love each month, by featuring a different blogger, so that I could bless and encourage them, I had no idea that I was the one who would be blessed by this venture. The scriptural premise that this monthly feature is based on comes from 1 Thessalonians… Continue reading Reminder – May Share the Love

Daily Prompt: Turn, Turn, Turn

Daily Prompt: Turn, Turn, Turn

by michelle w. on April 8, 2013

For many of us, winter is blooming into spring, or fall hardening into winter. Which season do you most look forward to?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2a/Spring-daisy-fleabane_-_Virginia_-_ForestWander.jpg

Spring is my favorite time of year
Petals burst forth in a glorious example of
Resurrection from a seed once dead

Imitating God’s glorious gift of
New life for all who will believe in His
Grace and His Gospel of Life

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Shine On Award, Beautiful Mama Blog Award, Super Sweet Blogging Award

Greetings My Beloved Readers,

During my illness, and possibly before and possibly since (does anyone else ever lose track of time?) I was nominated for several blogging awards. Some awards I had already received, so I couldn’t accept them, though I am deeply appreciative that someone would think of me for an award. If I missed an award, or failed to acknowledge your nomination of me, please accept my humble apologies, and grant me your mercy and grace, because I truly got behind in reading communications while I was ill, and afterward, it was quite overwhelming, as I’m sure you understand.

Since I got so far behind, I’m going to attempt to just combine my acceptance for these awards into one acceptance. At almost 52 years old, I’ve learned to work smarter, not harder. 😀 Therefore, without further ado, what follows is my acceptance for the Shine On Award (It’s really pretty and shiney, and I love all things shiny and sparkly), the Beautiful Mama Blog Award (I am a mama, and as far as the beautiful part goes, my mama always said, “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone”), and the Super Sweet Blogging Award (It’s a pretty picture of cupcakes, now you know I love cupcakes, so I have to accept this one)…

shine_on

Shine On Award Rules:
Swift Expression

1. Link back to the blogger who nominated you – Swift Expression

2. Put the Award on your blog.

3. Share 7 little secrets about yourself.

4. Nominate 5 – 10 other bloggers who make others happy too.

Seven Little Secrets About Me:

  1. Image Credit: http://thepraiseandworshipconnection.blogspot.com/ 2010/12/hallelujah-factor.html

    One of my favorite sayings is “Hallelujah!”, which means God be praised, and if you were to meet me and talk to me in person, you would frequently hear that exclamation bursting forth from my lips! After all, there are a whole lot of things to praise God about, even when I’m going through a bad time.

  2. Coming from a small family, I’ve always longed for a large family, and God has seen fit to answer that unspoken prayer… While I only have two children, I am expecting my eighth grandchild in May, and my ninth grandchild in July – Hallelujah!
  3. Flower and Sparkle Cupcake
    Flower and Sparkle Cupcake

    My husband and I got one of our granddaughters a guinea pig for Christmas a year ago, and it turns out that we bought a pregnant guinea pig, who had four little piggies. My daughter decided they would keep one (another female, so there would be no more little piggies), and the pet store graciously accepted the other three little piggies when they were weaned from their mama, Hallelujah!

  4. My granddaughter named the guinea pig that we bought her “Sparkle Cupcake” and her baby was named “Flower,” and I’m not sure how it happened, but when my daughter and her family moved away, my husband and I came to be the proud owners of Sparkle and Flower – Hallelujah!
  5. mump_0409_01_z+1974_ford_mustang_ii_coupe+silver_exterior_side_viewMy first car was a white 1974 Ford Mustang II, which I was quite proud of, even though we had to turn the air conditioner off when we drove up a mountain, because it just didn’t have much power.
  6. I love to sing (though not everyone loves to hear me), and I can think of a song for just about any topic or situation, and sometimes in the middle of conversations, I will burst into a song about whatever it is we happen to be discussing.
  7. LOVE worshiping in dance, and over the years, I have started several dance ministries – the first one, Signs of Light, was comprised of teens who did sign language and interpretive movement to worship songs; the second one, Vessels of Mercy, began with a group of five of us, who ministered to female inmates first, and then to our home church – the group eventually grew to a membership of seventeen; the third group that I began was comprised of only two, and we traveled to many churches, colleges and seminars and ministered.

Beautiful Mama Blog Award Rules:
Musings and Rants

  • Click the award image, save it and use it in your acceptance post.
  • List 3 things you love about motherhood.
  • Nominate other deserving mamas; you may choose as many as you like. (And let them know of the nomination)
  1. Obviously, I love my children, and though they are adults now (my son, the oldest, will be 30 in May, and my youngest, just turned 28), they will always be my babies.
  2. I loved taking my children for rides. Often, when one needed to talk privately, we would climb into my mini-van and take a ride, sometimes parking beside a pond, or (on the rare occasions that I had money, we would go through the drive through and sit in the parking lot), while we talked about whatever was on their minds. I would always ask the Lord to give me the wisdom to know how to respond to their questions or issues, and He never failed me.
  3. I had the blessing and honor of leading both of my children to Christ.

Super Sweet Blogging Award
Musings and Rants

  • Answer the question listed below
  • Nominate other blog friends (if you want)
  • Post the award logo somewhere on your blog.
  • Send a link to the nominees so they are aware you are giving them the award and/or tag game.

Here is your question nominees to get your awards:

Name the one thing you are grateful for today (excluding this tag game/blog award.)

I am so grateful that God chose me to be His beloved daughter:

“You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.”

~ John 15:16 NLT ~

His word makes it very clear that He chose me, because He loves me, and because it gave Him great pleasure to choose me…

Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the wonderful kindness He has poured out on us because we belong to His dearly loved Son. He is so rich in kindness that He purchased our freedom through the blood of His Son, and our sins are forgiven. He has showered His kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

~ Ephesians 1:4-8 NLT ~

Hallelujah! Isn’t that a wonderful thing to be grateful for? 

And now, in no particular order, her are the five people that I would like to nominate for all of the awards above (yes, I really mean all for all – why not? And if one of my nominees is not yet a mother, perhaps she will be someday :D):

  1. Anna Bachinsky – if you want to be inspired, please take the time to check out her blog, A journey of faith… 
  2. Carri – this beautiful woman loves the Lord, loves her little “Muppin” and is a homeschooling mom (something I secretly longed to do, but did not have enough confidence in myself or God at the time) – go ahead and visit her blog, 

    Grace Unveiled

  3. Wendy – I love Wendy’s poems and pictures that glorify God. Her blog, GREENLIGHTLADY, is an inspiration… I should ask her what made her choose the name of her blog — regardless, her blog is a must read!

  4. Diana Rasmussen – What a beautiful, eye catching blog, Prayers and Promises is! Diana is a mom, gifted songwriter and poet who genuinely loves the Lord. You must visit this site and be blessed by it!
  5. Martha L. Shaw – this multi-talented woman is a teacher, writer and woman of God I encourage you to visit her site, In Love With The Lord Poetry and Prose as well as the other sites above!

Truth or Lie: Reality Check – I’m Heartsick

Image Credit: http://www.mzaeen.net

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? 

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

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 ~

Image Credit: http://browse.deviantart.com/art/Jesus-198299071

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. 

Image Credit: http://emahgoday.deviantart.com/art/ Strongest-Man-Alive-310738200

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 ~

Image Credit: http://www.pics22.com

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 ~

Image Credit: http://jennbowers.deviantart.com/art/ It-is-Finished-159107918

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

Share the Love – April 2013

PrintGreetings Everyone! I have been eagerly looking forward to sharing this month’s Share the Love featured blog with you. I started blogging in October, and this is one of the first blogs that I discovered. This blog site is a veritable treasure trove of wisdom and biblical insights. Do you want to gain an understanding of God’s word? Do you want to hear the heartbeat of the Father? Do you wish people would stop complicating God’s word? Do you long for good, sound biblical teaching? Do you long to know the word of God, but hate the boredom that too often accompanies the teaching? Then, my friends, you are in for a treat this month, as I Share the Love with Ben Nelson and his blog, Another Red Letter Day

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How many of you know that there are a whole lot of blogs and websites here in cyberspace that teach a whole lot of twisted theology? People come up with all kinds of crazy rules and regulations that are not biblical. Many focus so much on the sinfulness of mankind, that they fail to share the good news of redemption. Still, others focus only on the warm fuzzies, talking about God’s love for His people, which is true, but they fail to inform the people that while God is love, He is also a holy and just God who hates and punishes sin. I shared all of this so you will see what a joy it was for me to discover Another Red Letter Day. As you click the links and visit this blog, I know that you will be blessed and overjoyed at the fresh, sound teaching that permeates this site…

Here are just a few of the posts that have knocked my socks off. One thing that I love about Ben’s teaching is that he doesn’t rush through whatever topic the Lord has placed on his heart. He takes his time in unfolding God’s word before his students and peers, so that everyone has a chance to grasp what is being shared. At the same time, Ben keeps his lessons brief each day, so that we don’t have time to be bored. He whets our appetites just enough just enough to make us hungry for the continuation of the subject, thus allowing us to chew and ponder on what we’ve learned that day. Please be sure to check these posts out:

  • Thy Name, Part 1– Have you ever studied the names of God? I love studying the names of God. So many of my wounds have been healed, as I learn just who my God and Savior is.
  • Thy Name, 8 (well 9) Old Testament names of God – I love studying the Old Testament names of God. There is such power, when I pray to Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals), when I need His healing touch. And when I am anxious, peace can be found when I cry out to Jehovah Shalom (the God of my perfect peace). 

  • Thy Name, 7 (well 8) New Testament names of God– Do you know the New Testament names of God? Have you ever cried out to the Bread of Life, to the Alpha and the Omega, to the King of kings and Lord of lords?

Please be sure to read those powerful posts, and make sure you “like” the posts that move you, and leave a comment to Ben too. As fellow bloggers, you know part of the joy in blogging is in chatting with your readers and hearing your input. I’ve been very blessed to engage in some great conversations with my fellow bloggers, and I know this will bless Ben as well.

One of the things I like to do when I Share the Love with someone is to find out which of all the posts my featured bloggers have written, is their favorite(s). This was quite a challenge for Ben, who has written more than 350 posts and counting, for his blog, but here are a couple of his favorite posts, and after reading them, I understand why they were his favorites, as I was blessed by them as well!

One of my all time favorites is a post called Condemnation or Conviction. The big revelation to me on this topic has been, first, that repentance is a gift, and further that when God gives repentance, it carries the promise of freedom and victory. True repentance actually leads to victory over sin.”

~ Ben Nelson ~

Ben also had another favorite that he wanted to share with you, and after reading it, I was deeply moved by the revelation that he imparts from God’s word to us.

“One other post that is rooted in some revelation I received working through some really tough times with a friend is Where was Jesus in Your Worst Moment? which turns the “Footprints” poem upside down a bit.”

~ Ben Nelson ~

As I said earlier, Ben has written more than 350 posts so far, and I have far too many favorites to list them all, but I just can’t close without telling you about one of the studies that Ben shares each week. Every Saturday is known as Song of Songs Saturday (this link will take you to a full listing of all of the Song of Songs Saturday posts written so far). Also, please make sure you visit Why SOS Saturdays? for an explanation of this study. Below is just a taste of my favorites from this category:

  • Fine as Wine – See if you’re not as captivated by the Lover of our souls, as the maiden in this story is…
  • That Name!– SOS Saturday – This is my absolute favorite post of all that Ben has written, and truthfully, I haven’t found any that I dislike. However, this post just captures my heart from the very beginning, causing me to fall deeper in love with the Love of my life! There’s just something about the name of Jesus, that sets the captive free, breaks the chains that bind us, that heals the broken hearted! Jesus – Just say the name… Breathe in the breath of life, and then expel it over a lost and dying world, and see what happens… Jesus…

In closing, I want to urge you, my beloved readers, to visit Another Red Letter Day, and take your time perusing the many different categories and posts. Also make sure you take the time to read the posts that Ben and I recommended to you. They are well worth your time to read them.

When you visit, be sure to “Like” those posts that you like, and please, take time to leave a comment to  Ben. As fellow authors and bloggers, you all know how much it means to you, when someone drops a word on your posts. Having said that, I just want to remind everyone to remember their blogging etiquette, opposing views are welcome, as long as they are presented with respect. Please remember my purpose for presenting the Share the Love post every month. 

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT)

Finally, my beloved readers, I just have to leave you with one more recommendation before I close this post. As you know, this past week was a solemn and holy time as we prepared for the joyous resurrection celebration, and when I read this post by Ben, I was deeply moved, and I believe you will be moved as well:

Many blessings to you, my beloved readers. I just know that you will be blessed as you read these posts from Ben Nelson on Another Red Letter Day.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

caddo-7-word

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

His Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness

9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

As I sit here, battling nausea, I am thankful – for His unending love and faithfulness… for His mercies that are new every morning… for His grace… that this too shall pass… Meanwhile, I will trust in the Lord and lean on His strength…

His Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness

Thank You, Father, for Your perfect strength, which holds me and carries me in my weakness… Thank You for Your great love, Lord, for Your perfect strength and Your perfect love…

His Strength is Made Perfect in Weakness

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

When Life Just Doesn’t Seem Fair! ~ Part 2

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Here I am again, talking about the unfairness of life. Sometimes it really stinks, doesn’t it? I get so angry sometimes when I see the opulent living some people enjoy because they have swindled those less fortunate to support their lifestyles. Where is the justice in that? And what about the leaders of various countries, who live lives of decadence, while the citizens of those countries live meager lives, struggling just to find food and water for themselves and their families, never mind shelter!

For that matter, am I the only one who is outraged by our very own congress, who has the authority to vote for their own pay raises each year? How is it that they are allotted this privilege, when the rest of society must earn their raises based on merit, and even then, much of society still does not receive the raises necessary to make ends meet, regardless of how hard they work, and how dedicated they are to their various employers? Is that fair? I think not!

And what about those who get away with falsely accusing others, in order to cover their own shortcomings? I’ve been both a victim of this, as well as a witness to others who have suffered wrongly because of the lies of others. Is this fair? Of course not. That’s why I want to continue encouraging you, my brothers and sisters, to read the Word of God, and see that you’re not alone in this, as we learn how to deal with life’s unfair reality.

5 Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you. ~ Psalm 37:5 NLT

Beloved, as I did yesterday, I want to continue today, breaking Psalm 37 down, because it is so rich and full of wisdom and hope, and today, we’re going to camp right here at verse 5…

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http://wallpaperscristaos.com.br/christianwallpapers
/commit-your-way

Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you. This is huge. Stop and think about this for a while, then ask yourself, “Do I commit everything to the Lord?” Think about it… have you given Him all of your hopes, all of your joy, all of your plans and all of your dreams? Have you given Him your parents, your siblings, your spouse and your children? Have you given Him your friends, your acquaintances, your co-workers and your boss? Have you given Him your entire life, to do as He pleases?

When you commit everything you do to the Lord, you do as Christ did…

5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. 7 He made Himself nothing; He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. 8 And in human form He obediently humbled Himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross. ~ Philippians 2:5-8 NLT

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Jesus committed everything He did to the Lord. His whole life – indeed, His whole purpose was to please God in everything He did. When He was treated unfairly, He never said, “You don’t know who you’re messing with. I’m a child of God, and you have no right to treat me like that. I know my rights,” like so many of us do. He knew who He was, and yet, He willingly laid His rights and privileges as the Son of God aside, so that God’s will might be accomplished, and not His own…

“Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine.” ~ Luke 22:42 NLT

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When I dare to complain about the unfairness of life, I find it very difficult to get past Jesus’ life. I’ve served God faithfully for more than twenty-five years now, and my husband and I haven’t had any income since November 2012… I’ve been hurt, abandoned and rejected by people that I love many times throughout the years… I just lost my mother, and she was only seventy-four years old… Less than a month after losing my mother, I found myself in the hospital, which I can’t afford, with a possibly deadly illness, and yet, when I think about Jesus and all that He endured for my sake, I just can’t bring myself to complain about the unfairness of it.

You see, even though I’ve had no income since November 2012, the Lord has been so very kind to me by making a way for my husband and me to keep our house. I have a roof over my head…

But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of My own, not even a place to lay My head.” ~ Luke 9:58 NLT

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Wow – how unfair is that? I, a sinner saved by His grace and His suffering have a home and a place to lay my head, while the Son of Man did not…

And though I’ve been hurt, abandoned and rejected throughout the years, the Lord has graciously and mercifully brought reconciliation in many circumstances, while other times, He has placed new people in my life, who love me and accept me as I am, so how can I complain about the  unfairness of it?

3 He was despised and rejected — a Man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care. ~ Isaiah 53:3 NLT

Image Credit: http://tazi-san.deviantart.com/art/Silent-Lamb-62444292

How can I complain about the unfairness of suffering pain, abandonment and rejection, when Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the world, left His home in glory to seek and save the lost ~ people like me, and His very own people ~ the ones He came to seek and save, hated Him and rejected Him? How can I whine about life’s unfairness, when He was hated and rejected to the point of death, and those people that He loved so much and came to rescue (people like you and me) turned our backs on Him? But even so, He didn’t whine or complain about it. He endured the shame and rejection and chose to rescue us anyway, even though we treated Him so unfairly…

I lost my mother, and then less than a month later, I wound up in the hospital with a potentially deadly illness, but dare I complain about that? No, my beloved, I can’t even complain about that, when I think about Jesus, who died at only thirty-three years of age. He died such a horrible, agonizing death, at such a young age, and He didn’t have to do it. He was beaten, spit upon, lied about and rejected, and He didn’t even argue about it. He didn’t tell His Father it was unfair, and He didn’t tell the scribes and pharisees it was unfair… 

“No one can take My life from Me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For My Father has given Me this command.” ~ John 10:18 NLT

Brothers and sisters, in those times when life seem so unfair, don’t lose heart, and don’t be discouraged. Instead, let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who willingly endured all of the shame and the pain for the joy that was set before Him…

2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy He knew would be His afterward. Now He is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. 3 Think about all He endured when sinful people did such terrible things to Him, so that you don’t become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. ~ Hebrews 12:2-4 NLT

My beloved brothers and sisters, life is indeed very unfair, because we live in a fallen and sinful world, but don’t despair. No matter how bad our suffering, praise God, none of us have given our lives in our struggle against sin. And as Psalm 37:5 tells us, if we commit everything to the Lord and trust Him, He will help us…

This is my prayer for those of you who are currently suffering from the unfairness of life…

Heavenly Father, I pray that You would arise and show Yourself strong on behalf of my brothers and sisters, who are suffering from the unfair and unjust attacks from the enemy of our souls. I pray, Lord, that You would give them wisdom to know that if You are for them, no one can stand against them, and that You cause all things to work together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose for them.

Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that my brothers and sisters would commit everything they do to You, and that they would walk in Your ways, no matter how difficult the road may be. I pray that You would enable them to say, like the apostle Paul: 

“17 For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT

In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, amen and amen…

May the Lord bless each one of you, my beloved readers, and I look forward to sharing with you again, as we continue this in depth study on the unfairness of life and Psalm 37.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Set Me Free!

The following story is for the __picture it & write blogging challenge. When I saw this image a few days ago, I knew I had to respond…

Image Credit: http://ermiliablog.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/__picture-it-write-53/

As soon as Jesus got out of the boat, He was met by a man who came out of the burial caves there. This man had an evil spirit in him and lived among the tombs. Nobody could keep him tied with chains any more; many times his feet and his hands had been tied, but every time he broke the chains and smashed the irons on his feet. He was too strong for anyone to control him. Day and night he wandered among the tombs and through the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones. ~ Mark 5:2-5 GNT

He had lived a lifetime in pain and loneliness. Most people called him crazy and stayed far away from him, afraid of what he might do to them. Doctors said he was a paranoid schizophrenic and tried to control the voices within him with medication, but not even their strongest medication could completely silence those terrible, dreadful voices that made him crazy… and wild… and violent… 

Because they couldn’t hear them, they tried to tell him the voices weren’t real. But he knew better. Those demonic voices were just as real as the doctors and everyone else. Because they couldn’t see them, they tried to convince him that the demons he saw didn’t really exist — that they were merely figments of his imagination, but again, he knew better. He had imagined things in his lifetime, and he knew the difference between what was imagined and what was real. The demons were around him and within him, tormenting him night and day, day and night.

Image Credit: http://inkspirationalmessages.com/2012/09/a-legion-of-trouble/

They thought they were helping him by placing him on medications to “quiet the voices and  stop the hallucinations,” but they weren’t helping. Instead, the medications caused him to feel sick and nauseated, rendering him unable to function and fight against the demons. He still heard their dreadful, tormenting voices and saw them, though they were hazier with the medication…

He had begun seeing and hearing the demons as a child, but no one took him seriously. They thought his “imaginary friends” were harmless and cute, and they didn’t believe him when he told them that it was his “friends” who broke his toys… and started the fights with other children… and cut him… and caused his “meltdowns”…

As he grew older, his behavior grew more and more violent. Other children avoided him. He began to play games… drawn to dark games with witches and wizards and dragons… The make-believe worlds in these games became his reality, and he began to read demonic books and study things of the occult world, and his harmless and cute “imaginary friends” began to openly revolt against him, as the many clamorous voices within him refused to be silent, allowing him no rest.

They were the ones who forced him to cut himself. It was they, who caused him to hurt the animals. He didn’t want to, but the demons tortured him until harried and exhausted, he no longer had the strength to fight them, and so he surrendered to their will. His surrender only made the demons stronger, and each time he submitted to their cruelties, first hurting himself and then animals, they demanded more and more from him.

It had now escalated to the point that even with the medicine, he was unable to rest… He would be unable to resist their demands much longer, and they were commanding him to take a human life… He didn’t want to do this horrible thing, but he was powerless. The demons and the medicine had rendered him helpless, and he had lost all control of his body. 

Image Credit: http://kingpaton.deviantart.com/art/Chains-Of-Sin-39094777

While he lay naked and spent in the cemetary just outside of town limits, shackled by demonic chains unseen by mortal man, but there nonetheless, he began to weep, crying, “Set me free of these chains! Does anybody out there hear me?” One of the demons kicked him while he was down, causing him to curl up in a fetal position on his side, as he  continued to cry desperately for help.

“God please!” he cried, “I know I’ve done many terrible things, but please, Lord, set me free! I don’t want to live like this for the rest of my life,” he sniffled. “I want to love and be loved.”

Another demon kicked him harder this time, knocking the air out of him and hissing, “Silence! Don’t you dare speak that name,” another one backhanded him, striking his mouth and breaking several teeth, which lodged in his throat, causing him to choke on them. Helplessly gagging and spitting up blood and bile, he was finally able to dislodge the teeth from his throat and vomit them out. Things were much worse than ever before, and yet, for the first time, in all of the years the demons had reigned and ruled in his life, the man sensed fear emanating from them! 

They were so scared of that name that they didn’t dare even utter it. He had once heard a preacher say that if you call on the name of Jesus you would be saved, and there was no other name that could save you. “Could this be true?” he wondered silently, so that they wouldn’t hear. One thing he had discovered years ago… no matter how powerful the demons seemed, and though he could hear them talking and see them, they did not have the power to read his thoughts.

“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them.” ~ Acts 4:11-12 NLT

Another thing he knew about the demons is that they hate the name of Jesus. “Maybe,” he continued to think silently, “if I call on Jesus, He will hear me, and set me free! One thing is certain,” he thought grimly, feeling lucid for the first time in years, “I cannot kill a human being or another animal, even if it means that they must kill me. At least, then, I would be out of my misery… Or is it true that I would be condemned to spend all of eternity with them?”

He winced and closed  his eyes, as another demon placed a sharp rock in his hand, commanding him to gash himself with it yet again. “Enough,” he rasped, and gasping for air, he weakly cried, “Jesus! Please, forgive me!” He gulped, as tears of repentance began to roll down his gaunt cheeks, “Jesus, help me, please. I know I have sinned against You, and I am not worthy to tie your shoes.” 

Though the demons around and within him continued clamoring for his attention, he set his face like flint, as he continued to pray. “I know that I am guilty of many atrocities, and that I don’t deserve Your forgiveness, but please, Lord! I don’t want to be bound by these demons anymore. I don’t want to hurt anyone or anything else. Jesus please save me!” 

Image Credit: http://jtbarts.com/2012/11/set-free-jesus-my-ransom/

Suddenly, the air all around him became fresh, as a gust of wind blew into the cemetery,  causing the demons to screech louder than ever before, but not at him. This time, they shrieked in fear, as the Almighty Son of the Living God appeared before them, holding a set of keys in His hand, walking toward the demonized man, as the demons all around him, against their will, bowed low to the ground. “Silence!” Jesus commanded sharply, as He unlocked the chains that had bound the man for so many years, and lifted him to his feet.

The man’s knees buckled beneath him, as he willingly bowed low before the King of Glory, and kissed His feet. “Forgive me, Lord,” he whispered, as Jesus again pulled him to his feet and looked deeply into his eyes.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus spoke to him compassionately, “your sins, though they are many, are forgiven.” 

The demons, still bowed low, began to whine, “Don’t torture us,” they begged. “Please don’t send us to the abyss. Instead, please send us into that herd of pigs,” they pleaded, and Jesus did as they asked, casting them into the herd of two thousand swine that was nearby. And when they entered the herd of swine, the maddened pigs – every one of them – charged off the side of the mountain, into the the raging river below.

The man became aware of his nakedness, and Jesus, filled with compassion covered him with His cloak. As Jesus prepared to return to His heavenly throne, the man, now in his right mind, begged Jesus to take him with Him, but Jesus told him to stay, and share the good news about His love for all mankind with the people of his community…

The man did  as Jesus commanded, walking the streets and talking to the addicts, the prostitutes and the pimps. He spoke to the poor and the lost, sharing the good news about Christ. And he spoke to the other “crazy and insane ones” who saw demons, telling them the name of the One who would save them and set them free, Jesus, the One who had set him free… He shared what Jesus had said to him before He returned to His throne…

” And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.” ~ Matthew 16:19 NLT

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

caddo-7-word

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness (reaches up) to the skies. 
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice (flows) like the great deep.
 O LORD, You preserve both man and beast.
How priceless (amazing!) is Your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men find
 Refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
(Psalm 36:5-7 NIV)

Words of Jesus – “Not Everyone Who Says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ Shall Enter The Kingdom of Heaven…” Part 2

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ 

(Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

How well do you know God? I’m not talking about how much you know about Him. There are many people who know a whole lot of Scriptures, but they don’t know God.

Image Credit: http://www.thebiblechristian.com/?p=7874

Just because you read a book about someone doesn’t mean that you know him/her. Because you read something written by an author does not mean that you actually know him/her. Many of you who read my posts do not know me, even though what I’ve written has come straight from my heart and reveals much about me; while others who read my posts have come to know me very well. How is it that you all read the same words that I have written, and perhaps even follow my blog, and yet, only a few know me?

Image Credit: http://thepastorssnack.blogspot.com/2010/09/intimacy-with-god-part-4.html

The answer has to do with relationship and intimacy. Some, who have read my words, respond to me, the author of those words. They talk to me, via their comments, and I respond to them. As we begin responding to one another, we come to know and love one another. We become intimate. As we become intimate with one another, both listening and hearing what the other is saying, we begin to see one another’s heart, and as we open up to one another, we come to love one another.

We also learn to see the flaws that each of us have, because we are still human after all, but those flaws do not change our love for one another. If anything, when we see the sin in our brothers and sisters, we hurt and we ache for our brothers and sisters, crying out for their release from the sin, which like a cancer, can destroy them. The knowledge of the sin in our brothers’ or sisters’ lives does not cause us to love them any less; rather it causes us to love them all the more, while we hate that sin which is destroying them, and wage war against it…

In this same way, many who read and study the Word of God do not know Him, because they fail to respond to Him, the Author of those words. Now some may admire and respect His Word, and may know more about His words than others, but they have missed the most important thing. You see, although they admire those words, they have failed to respond to the Author of those words. Rather than taking the time to respond to Him, and listen to His response to them, they just admire Him from afar.

Some people believe the words that He has written, and they apply them to their lives, just as some have admired Socrates and live by his words…

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

Socrates

Others admire Ghandi and live by his words…

A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.

Ghandi

Still others admire Plato and live by his words…

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.

Plato

While people may admire these philosophers and live by what they say, the people do not actually know them. In the same way, while many people know Jesus and admire Him, many even try to live according to the Ten Commandments, this does not mean that they actually know Him personally, and intimacy is the very foundation of Christianity. This is why Jesus said:

“Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to Me as ‘Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey My Father in heaven. On judgment day many will tell Me, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.’

(Matthew 7:21-23 NLT)

Image Credit: http://myjesuslovesme.wordpress.com/page/4/

So, what does Jesus mean when He says we must obey His Father in heaven? How do we know if we really do know Jesus? He makes it plain for us in His word:

 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

(John 15:10-14 NKJV)

Do you see that? If we obey Jesus’ commandments, we will abide in His love… By this we will know that we are saved… So what does He command us to do?

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

(John 15:12 NKJV)

What is the greatest command that God gave us… the one that all of the Law and the prophets is based on?

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

(Matthew 22:37-40 NKJV)

Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ, my friends? Do you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you love your neighbor as yourself?

I didn’t ask you if you love church, or the bible, or TBN or the God Channel. I asked if you love Jesus… Do you love Him first and best? Remember, the greatest command is to Love God.

Image Credit: http://friarphillip.blogspot.com/2011/08/august-19-hinge.html

How about your neighbor? You know who I mean… Do you love your lazy co-worker who leaves you to pick up after him? Do you love your nosy neighbor who all the time sticks her nose into your business? Do you love your neighbor who says he loves you to your face, then stabs you in the back when you’re not looking? Do you love your neighbor, who is also your enemy? Remember… Jesus tells us to love one another as He loved us…

Do you know how wide and how long, how high and how deep His love for you really is? Let me remind you… While you and I were still sinners, doing the things that pleased ourselves, without a thought of Christ, He loved us. When you and I turned our backs on Him and rejected Him, Jesus still loved us. When you and I stumble and fall, Jesus still loves us. When we denied Him, He loved us still… In all of the sins we committed against Him, He not only kept on loving us, He forgave us! Not only did He forgive us… He picked us up and cleaned up our mess…

Now, I’ll ask you again, do you love God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? Do you love your neighbor the same way Jesus loves us?

If your answer to either of those questions is no, then you, my friend truly don’t know Christ, and if you don’t know Him, you don’t know the Father… And if you don’t know them, then when Jesus returns, it doesn’t matter how many good deeds you’ve done, He will say to you, I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized.” (Matthew 7:23b NLT)

It’s up to you, my beloved readers and followers… Do you want to know the Author of these 66 books we call the bible? Respond to Him. Develop a relationship with Him by talking to Him and listening to Him, as He speaks to you through His Word. My prayer for each one who reads these words of mine is that when Jesus returns, He will look at you and say, “Come here, My beloved. I’m so glad we’ve come to know one another, and that you did everything I authorized you to do!”