Tag Archives: joy

Please, Help Me to See God!

Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.  (Matthew 5:8 NKJV)

Does this seem like an impossibility to you?  Do you feel as though you’ve seen too much, done too much and had too much done to you to ever have a pure heart?  God knows that I have felt this way for most of my life.  Though you don’t know my heart, and though I can’t know yours, God knows.  Indeed, it was God who described the condition of everyone’s heart.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.  (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV)

So, knowing this, how could Jesus, bless those with a pure heart?  Do they really exist?  And, knowing this, how could He make it seem possible for anyone to achieve this?  I’ve been dreaming about this message all night, as the Lord placed scripture after scripture into my heart, and if you’ve longed to see God, but despaired of it ever happening, because of the things you’ve done in life, have I got good news for you!  For, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  

Let’s look at King David.  King David had it all.  He loved the Lord, and God had blessed him with the kingdom of Israel, and the love of his people.  He walked uprightly before God, and was seen on many occasions singing and dancing before the Lord.  And yet, like you and me, King David’s heart was just as deceitful as our hearts are.  Do you remember what happened? 

During the time of year, when kings went to war, we discover that King David stayed behind, in Jerusalem.  For whatever reason, David chose not to be where he should have been, and after waking from a nap, he walked out onto the roof and looked around.  And while he was standing there, he saw a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. 

Now, instead of averting his eyes from her and leaving his perch on the roof, David he sent a servant to find out who she was.  After discovering that she was married, you would have thought that this man of God would have forgotten about her, but instead, he summoned her to his presence and committed adultery with her.  Before too long, Bathsheba (the woman) informed David that she was pregnant. 

It never occurred to David that he should repent, and ask for her husband’s (Uriah) or God’s forgiveness.  Instead, he began to plot, to cover his sin.  Have you ever been there?  When you’ve sinned against God and man, have you tried to cover it up?  Though it shames me, I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never tried to hide my sins. 

David sent a message for Uriah to come home, hoping that he and his wife would have sex, and then Bathsheba could claim that their child was Uriah’s.  However, it turns out that Uriah was a much more honorable man than David was, and he refused to enjoy the comfort and pleasure of sleeping with his wife, while his fellow soldiers were suffering in the midst of the war.  David didn’t give up, though.  He invited Uriah to dinner that evening, and got him drunk, hoping to get him to sleep with his wife, while under the influence, but even then, Uriah refused to betray his duty to his fellow soldiers.   

So, rather than repenting and confessing his sin to Uriah and to God, David plotted another plan… one that involved Uriah’s murder.  David sent Uriah back to the front lines, where the battle was the fiercest, and ordered the other men to be pulled back, so that Uriah would be killed in battle. 

When Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, learned that Uriah had been killed in battle, she mourned for him.  Then, once her period of mourning was over, David married her, and she became one of his wives.  Before long, she gave birth to a son.  But the Lord was displeased with what David had done.  (1 Samuel 11 NLT)

Indeed, God was so unhappy about what David had done, that he sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront him with his sin.  When he realized that Nathan speaking of his sin, David confessed and repented of it, and God forgave him.  However, the consequences for David’s sin were great.  (1 Samuel 12 NLT)  Still, knowing the consequences of his sin, David prostrated himself before God, confessed his sin and repented.

1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.  (Psalm 51 NKJV)

Beloved, oftentimes, we think that because our sins are forgiven, we shouldn’t suffer the consequences for those sins, but this isn’t true.  Though Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, in this world, we still suffer sin’s consequences.  Yet, if we truly repent, as David did, though we pay the consequences of our sin, we can still be washed clean, even as David was.  Do you wonder if David will ever get to see God, because of his sin?  I believe he will, for even in the New Testament, David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart.  

And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’  (Acts 13:22 NKJV) 

Even after these terrible sins against God and man, David remained a man after God’s own heart.  Doesn’t that give you hope?  It gives me great hope.  Yet, if what Jesus said is true, then how can our heart be made pure, so that we, too, can see God?  We must do as David did, and repent and confess our sin to God…

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9 NKJV) 

Do you want to see God?  Then you must have a pure heart.  How can you have a pure heart?  Confess your sins to God, repent from them, and ask Him to cleanse your heart, just as David did, and your heart, beloved reader, will be made pure, and you will see God.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Lord Have Mercy!

In a world filled with bitterness and injustice, it’s no accident that after sharing the beatitude about those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus followed it up with the beatitude on mercy…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.  (Matthew 5:6-7 NKJV)

In this world, where mothers and fathers mourn the lives of their children, murdered by men full of violence, we need mercy as well as justice.  In this world, where men, women and children are raped and tortured, we need both mercy and justice.  In this world, where governments lie, cheat and steal from their citizens, we need mercy to go hand in hand with justice.

What is mercy anyway?  For much of my life, I’ve confused mercy with forgiveness, but in this study, I was moved to seek out the biblical definition, as well as the world’s definition, and I was surprised to discover that mercy and forgiveness are two different things.  Don’t get me wrong, forgiveness is as essential to our walk with Christ as mercy is, but Jesus addresses that elsewhere.  So, for now, we are going to talk about mercy…

This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:

[mur-see]

noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.

  1. compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offenderan enemy, or other person in one’s power; compassionpity, or benevolence:  Have mercy on thpoor sinner.
  2. the disposition to be compassionate or forbearing: an adversary wholly without mercy.
  3. the discretionary power of a judge to pardon someone or to mitigate punishment, especially to send to prison rather than invoke the death penalty. 
  4. an act of kindness, compassion, or favor: She has performed countless small mercies for her friends and neighbors.
  5. something that gives evidence of divine favor; blessing: It was just mercy we had our seat belts on when it happened.

According to Strong’s Lexicon, this is the Greek word translated as mercy in this scripture, and its definition:

eleeō

[e-le-e’-ō]

verb

to be compassionate (by word or deed, specially, by divine grace):—have compassion (pity on), have (obtain, receive, shew) mercy (on).

Beloved reader, in this world that often shows little to no compassion for those who are hurt and afflicted, Jesus commands us to be merciful.  In this world of unrighteousness, we are to show mercy to our enemies, to our friends, to our family, to the poor and forgotten… Indeed, we are to show mercy to everyone we come in contact with.

Do you want to receive mercy?  Be merciful.  Show compassion on those who are less fortunate than you are.  Show compassion to those who are more fortunate than you.  Show compassion to all you come in contact with.

Think about it, even as He was suffering, hanging, naked and dying on the cross, Jesus looked down and saw those who had tortured and hung Him gambling over His clothing, and instead of calling on God to strike them dead (which justice surely demanded), He was moved with pity for them.  Can you imagine feeling pity for your tormentors, in the midst of your suffering?  Jesus did, and He cried out to His Father, not to condemn them, but to have mercy on them…

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)

Beloved, if Jesus, who was and is wholly righteous, could have mercy enough on those, who yet tortured Him, to forgive them, how can we do any less?  “But He is God,” you might say.  “It’s harder for me to forgive, because I’m not God.”  If you are truly a child of God, then His Spirit lives within you, and enables you to show mercy.

How much harder was it for Jesus, who knew no sin, to suffer at the hands of sinful man?  How much harder was it for Him to have mercy on me, knowing how many times I have let Him down in the past, present and future?  And yet, He continues to pour His mercies on us…

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18 To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.  (Psalm 103:11-18 NKJV)

Beloved, this walk with Christ is not an easy one.  We are tested and tried at every turn, just as Jesus said we would be.  And yet, by His grace, and in His strength, we can run this race, for He will give us the endurance to see it through.  It’s time for us to stop seeing everything through the eyes of the world, and start seeing things through the eyes of Christ.

Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Then you will be filled, as you show mercy to others.  And as you show mercy to others, rejoice!  For you are blessed, and you will receive that same mercy from the God of all mercy, and let’s not forget:

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”  (Lamentations 3:22-24 NKJV)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Do You Mourn? Be Comforted…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mourn-sorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Where Do You Live?

I’ve lived in the same old farm house for the last thirty-one years.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my home.  When I’m at home, I know that I’m sheltered from the many storms that have blown through over the years.  This old house has endured blizzards, hurricanes and tropical storms, yet it has stood firm, despite being more than seventy-five years old.  That could be because the floor joists beneath this old house are whole logs (with the bark still on them), and there are actual 4″x4″ posts, (as opposed to today’s 4″x4″ posts, which are really only 3.5″x3.5″) in the walls, and the 2″x4″ boards truly  are 2″x4″ as well, (not today’s 1.5″x3.5″).

At any rate, when I’m in my home, I feel safe and secure.  If I’ve been out in the world, and someone hurts me, I long for the security of my home.  Whenever I leave my home for a long period of time, I always feel great joy, when I return to the house I live in, because home is where my heart is.

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

The same thing can be said spiritually and emotionally.  Where we abide is where we live.  Where do you live?

4 *Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it *abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you *abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who *abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not *abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you *abide in Me, and My words *abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

ménō, men’-o; a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), × thine own.

For many years, I lived (abided) in Jesus, and I was quite happy there.  I’ve preached and shared the gospel with many people, and I’ve been blessed to rejoice in the salvation of others, who came to know and love Jesus.  Yet, because we live in a fallen world, bad things happen, even when we’re in our homes, where we feel safe and secure.

Six years ago, my back started hurting, causing weakness and shooting pains in my legs.  I’ve dealt with back pain my entire life, off and on, and when it started, I figured it was just another flare up, and soon I would be back to normal, but that’s not what happened.  Before long, my back and legs were hurting constantly, and within a year, I had to stop doing prison ministry, and shortly thereafter, I had to leave my job, because I was no longer able to work.  The constant pain began to consume me.

During the next six to eight months, my mother passed away, and my children and grandchildren moved far away, to other states.  I fell into a deep depression.  I was totally overwhelmed by the darkness of pain and depression, and my faith began to waver and wane.  I was no longer abiding in Christ; I was now abiding in pain, depression, guilt and anxiety.

Because of the constant, chronic pain, I was unable to spend as much time as I wanted to spend with my mother before she died.  And although I had shared the gospel with her many times over the years, I was unable to do so, while she lay dying, and I was consumed with guilt because of that.  I questioned  my own salvation.  “How could God continue to love me, when I couldn’t even minister to my own mother?”  I thought.

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; *abide in My love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

Over the next several years, I continued to abide in pain and depression.  I no longer prayed, because I was so disappointed in myself, and I was sure God was too.  I no longer felt His presence.  I simply lived in my pain and depression.  This was now my new abode, and to be frank with you, I’ve been miserable.

Then, just this week, while reading, I was reminded of the scriptures above, and I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, “Abide in Me.  Abide in My love.”  He was telling me to live, dwell, endure, tarry, stand in His love; in Him!  I still have the same physical pain, but I don’t have to live in and wallow in it.  Instead, I choose to immerse myself in His love for me.  His love didn’t stop because I didn’t share the  gospel with my mother one last time before she died.  My pain isn’t a punishment from God.  It’s just a part of life in this fallen world.

33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

(John 16:33 NLT)

Losing my mother, my chronic pain, and having my children and grandchildren so far away from me are just a few of the many sorrows and trials I will endure, but I don’t have to try to go it alone.  Jesus tells me to take heart, because He has overcome the world.  I’m not alone and unloved, for His love is unending, just as He is, for God is love (1 John 4:8b).

I am so very thankful to serve the God of all grace, who remains faithful to us, even in our frailties.  Yes, I continue to have chronic, sometimes debilitating pain, but I don’t have to live in pain.  Instead, while living with pain, I will live in Christ.  Where will you live?


* Emphasis added

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

What Would You Give for the Pearl of Great Value? Part 1

44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field.

45 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

Matthew 13:44-46  NLT

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value…  Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value!  Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do?  They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure.  There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value.  Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…

23 Then He said to the crowd, If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me. 24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? 26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27  NLT

These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians.  Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…

23 Jesus replied, All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them. 24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.

John 14:23-24  NLT

Do you love Jesus?  If you do, you will obey Him.  If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him.  Do my words sound harsh?  They’re not my words.  Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father. 

Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…

Father, please forgive me for giving up on You.  Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief!  Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value.  Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You.  Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead.  Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love.  According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins.  Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.  Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!

As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind.  Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?

17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. 19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”

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.

Mark 10:17-22  NLT

This man seemed to do everything right.  He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth.  Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value.  Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure (Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…

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!”

26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”

Mark 10:23-27  NLT

Hear me now…  People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any.  Do you wonder why this is?  It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value.  Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…

You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have…  I still have plenty of food to eat…  I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)…  I have a computer…  I have medical care when needed…  Do you see?  In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.

Yet, this fact remains.  My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it.  Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises?  Who am I depending on?  When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first?  Or did I turn to the doctor?  When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors?  Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years? 

Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself.  I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t.  So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink.  I just gave up on the great Treasure.  Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him.  Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain.  Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it. 

For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness.  Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope.  Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value.  How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?

For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study.  I didn’t want to think about it.  I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is.  Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me.  In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland.  I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof.  I shook with tremors constantly.  My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did!  To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.  

As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.”  I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed.  Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…  

Then I began to wonder,  “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me?  What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act?  What if He chooses not to heal my back?  Does this in any way devalue Him?  Is He not still, the great Treasure?  Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”

There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought…  Is Jesus your great Treasure?  Is He your Pearl of great value?  Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Sowing Seeds Begins With Prayer

Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake. A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore. He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Matthew 13:1-9  NLT

When Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling the Law and the prophets, He was here to seek and save those who were lost.  Yet, He knew that He would soon be leaving the earth, and He needed to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry, when He was gone.  Of course, He knew that we would have His Holy Spirit living within us, but there were still many things He needed to teach us about ministry.  Therefore, He shared this parable with the people.

Later, after He explained why He spoke in parables to His disciples, (see Why Parables) He explained the meaning  of this parable…

Birds ate seeds

18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: 19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.

Matthew 13:18-19  NLT

Have you ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone, and he/she just doesn’t get it?  Even though the reality of Him is so real and so clear, this person simply can’t grasp what you’re saying.  This has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence.  I’ve known people who have read the bible from cover to cover, without ever hearing it speak to them.  It often seems like the most logical people believe in the most illogical things.  They’re more willing to believe in “coincidence”, rather than God’s answer to someone’s specific prayer.  Or, they might believe in some unproved theory, such as evolution or a cosmic disaster from which life evolved, rather than seeing the evidence of God’s creative design.

The reason for the disbelief of many of these people is found in Matthew 13:18-19  NLT.  Though they have heard the word of God, before it reached their hearts, the evil one came and snatched it away.  It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a person has, if the word of God never reaches his/her heart.  Therefore, don’t be discouraged when you meet someone like this, because you now know how to pray for him/her.  Pray that God’s word would reach this person’s heart, and that its roots would grow deep…

rocky gound

20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.

Matthew 13:20-21  NLT

When I ministered in prison, I can still remember how mightily the Lord would work on the hearts of the women.  I remember one woman, in particular, who was so on fire for the Lord, and when she was released, she asked me to come to her home and pray for her, her new home, and her children, which I gladly did.  I took her to church with me, and she wept through the whole service.  She was so thankful to God for setting her free, and so was I, but, within a month, she was using crack again, and prostituting herself.  She ended up going to another prison.  It broke my heart.  I continued to pray for her for several years after this (I still pray for her, whenever I think of her, like now), and I visited her at the other prison, and again, after she was released from that prison.  The last I heard, she was living with a man that she wasn’t married to, but she was no longer using drugs.  Still, sadly, she also wasn’t walking with the Lord.  Oh, she knew the Christian lingo, but the fruit she bore, told another story.

I was really discouraged by this, and yet, it’s clear to me now, that she represented the rocky soil spoken of in Matthew 13:20-21  NLTFather, I pray, in Jesus’ name that You would break the rocky soil of my friend’s heart, until it is no longer hardened against Your word.  And I pray, Lord, that You would once again sow the seed of Your word into her heart, so that those seeds would take root, and those roots would grow deep into her heart.  Let faith grow strong within her, and rekindle the love and the joy she once felt for You, in Jesus’ name.

thorns

22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.

Matthew 13:22  NLT

Have you ever met someone who worries about everything, all the time?  As I read Matthew 13:22  NLT, my heart goes out to someone that I love dearly, and I’m moved to pray for this beloved person, for whom I haven’t known how to pray.  In all honesty, I simply get so frustrated with this loved one, that I don’t even bother to pray.  Father, forgive me for my impatience, and please touch the heart of this loved one, and remove the thorns of worry and anxiety that plague him/her constantly.  Lord, just as You sent Your word and healed many others, I ask You to send Your word to my loved one, after the thorns are removed, and heal him/her, in Jesus’ name.

fertile soil

23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Matthew 13:23  NLT

Of course, everyone wants to minister to someone who will truly hear and understand God’s word, but having lived with farmers for the last thirty-five years, I’ve learned a few things about soil.  Did you know that not all soil is good for planting?  Most times, soil has to be worked, fertilized and prepared for planting.  Then, once it’s been planted, it needs to be weeded and tended.  Knowing this, isn’t it just possible, that Jesus told this parable to the disciples (and to us too!), so they wouldn’t just give up on people? 

Perhaps, we need to begin praying for God to work the soil of the hearts of those we love and minister to, so they will be prepared to receive the word of God, when it is planted…

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Why Parables???

I love the parables of Jesus.  They give me something to ponder and pray about.  My prayer is that my ears would not simply hear the words, but that I will listen to His words, heed them, and understand them.  Father, open my ears, that I may hear.  Open my eyes, that I may see, and open my heart and mind, so that I may understand Your words and live in obedience to them.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Jesus often spoke to people in parables, and His disciples asked Him why He did this…

10 His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do You use parables when You talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.
    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,
    you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
    you will not comprehend.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

Matthew 13:10-17  NLT

These words sound harsh to many, but they give me hope.  Have you ever tried to share the truth of the gospel to someone, and no matter how clear it is to you, they just don’t get it?  Indeed, they don’t even want to hear about this Jesus, who has captured your heart.  Have you ever walked away from a situation like this, feeling like a failure?  I have…

Yet, perhaps the failure wasn’t mine.  Perhaps, in His great wisdom, this was part of the lesson that Jesus gave His disciples (that includes all of His followers), so that they would continue in the work that He gave them, even when they felt as though they had failed.  I have shared the gospel with friends, family, people I love, and with enemies, sometimes, with great success.  Other times, I’ve faced abysmal failure, which left me feeling ill-equipped and unworthy of sharing this Good News.

Yet, as I read these words of Jesus, my heart wonders, “Is it possible that they heard, but they didn’t listen?  Could they have seen, and yet not seen?”  Again, I am reminded of something else Jesus spoke to His disciples…

44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up.

John 6:44  NLT

When I think of the prophets of long ago, crying out for the people of God to repent, they weren’t welcomed with open arms and open hearts.  No, they were mocked, scorned and ridiculed, at best.  Many were even assaulted, and murdered for sharing God’s Good News.  Many were killed by the religious leaders of their day. 

So, why is it, that I expect things to be easier for me?  Why is it, that I expect the church to embrace me in love, when I don’t have any words that will tickle their ears?  Though I speak the truth in love, most still don’t want to hear it. 

15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to Me
    and let Me heal them.’

Matthew 13:15  NLT

Still, we must continue to speak the truth in love, and proclaim the good news whenever we are given the opportunity…

1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach (proclaim) the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

2 Timothy 4:1-5  NLT

Beloved, Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples of all nations.  Every man, woman and child, who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been given the honor and the privilege of sharing the Gospel with those we come into contact with.  Therefore, let us not be discouraged when it seems that no one is listening, or that no one really cares.  It is our joy and honor to speak the truth in love, and trust the Father to draw whomever He will to Jesus.  It is also our privilege to call upon the Lord to open the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of those with whom we share the Gospel, and let Him reap the results.

I ministered in prison for ten years, and during that time, I saw many of the same women leave and return to prison again and again.  Sometimes, I was certain they had finally seen the light, only to watch in sorrow, as they returned to prison again and again.  Yet, I don’t believe my time there was wasted, because I only know what the Lord led me to speak and do.  I don’t know who really listened and understood in their heart, but God does.  My time wasn’t wasted, because I obeyed Him, and I drew closer to Him, as He filled my heart with love for the women I ministered to.  We may never see all of the results of our labor, before our time in this life is finished, but let us be like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the prophets who have gone before us…

1All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT

Father, I pray that You would continue to give us, Your children, eyes to see and ears to hear You.  Give us hearts that are willing to obey You and walk humbly with You, O Lord.  Show us Your ways, and let us not look to the right or to the left, but help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You. 

Please help us not to be discouraged by what seems like failure to us.  Instead, give us a willing spirit to speak Your word in and out of season, no matter whether it is received by others or not.  And when our work here is finished, Father, let us be able to join Paul in saying…

Finished the Race - 1

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.

2  Timothy 4:7-8  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

He Restores My Soul

Survival

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started. (Prompt idea by Biola ‘Leye.)


In response to today’s Daily Prompt, I’m simply going to share yesterday’s post, which is the best example of my current survival story.  Because of God’s grace, I’m not only a survivor, He has made me an overcomer!


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

For the last four years, I was in a dark and heavy place, and though I still breathed, I was dead.  You see, I was in the valley of the shadow of death, and in all truth, it was so overwhelming, that I gave up.  In the depths of my pain, both physical, emotional and spiritual, I fell down in that dark and deadly valley, and I had no will to get up and begin walking through it.  I just didn’t have the strength.  I thought my life was over, and what a horrible way to leave this world.  My faith was shaken, my heart and my body were broken, and so, I spent almost four years, sitting in my recliner and feeling sorry for myself.

Meanwhile, the dark valley of the shadow of death just got darker and darker, until the darkness was so thick and oppressive, that I was overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness.  My physical pain was so great, that I took multiple pain medicines, all prescribed by my doctors, and instead of lessening my pain, they only helped me to sleep through the last four years.  My mental and emotional state was so fractured, that I needed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to stop the pain inside my heart.  The problem with this was that these meds only helped me to stop caring.  They stopped the strong emotions that all of us were born feeling.  The sad thing is, though the anti-depressants were supposed to stop those painful feelings, in truth, they stopped my feelings of life and joy and hope, while the pain never completely subsided.

teen-prescription-drug-abuse

And then, two weeks ago today, I stopped taking all of my medication – cold turkey.  Hear me, beloved, this is not the smartest way to stop taking addictive pain medications and anti-depressants, unless the Lord leads you to do so.  The Lord led me to do this, and I went through withdrawal, but amazingly, it wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it might be.  I had headaches, diarrhea, hot flashes, chills, nausea, and extreme weakness.  I cried when I read, cried when someone spoke to me, cried when no one spoke to me.  I just cried, and cried a lot.  And yet, despite these side-effects, life began to stir within me.  I was feeling.  I was alive.  My emotions had awakened, and even more important, my spirit awakened.

As for the chronic back pain that I have suffered with, for the last four years, it’s not that much worse without the pain meds.  Indeed, I now realize that they weren’t helping my pain at all.  If anything, they caused a whole different kind of pain, on top of what I was already suffering, and now that I’m no longer going through withdrawal (thanks be to God!), I find that while living with chronic pain can be devastating, living with deadened feelings and the emotional pain that comes from that, is infinitely worse.

I share all of this, not because I want sympathy or pity, but because I want to testify about what God has done to me.  I was dead, although I continued to breathe.  I could no longer hear the voice of the Lord through the fog that surrounded me, and consequentially, I lost hope.  I lost my joy, and those who have worshiped with me in the past, know that God has given me a wonderful spirit of joy.  Indeed, the joy of the Lord was my strength, and when I lost that joy, my strength ebbed away.

After leading me to stop taking all of my medications (yes, every single one of them!), something amazing happened, in the midst of going through withdrawal, and feeling pretty rough, some of the thoughts that have tormented me for the last four years returned to me.  In the last four years, I had to stop leading prison ministry, which I loved doing… I lost my job, because I was no longer able to work due to the pain… My husband and I became impoverished (no exaggeration)… My mother died, and a month later, my daughter and her family moved over 700 miles away… My daughter-in-law went through brain surgery, and she and her husband moved nearly 325 miles away… I had no ministry… I lost my family…

Suddenly, for the first time in four years, I heard the voice of the Lord, clearly – not through a dark foggy tunnel.  “Cheryl, My beloved, I have given you all of your heart’s desires.  You never dreamed of a career.  All you ever wanted was to get married and have children, so that you would finally have a family who loves you.  I gave you a husband who has loved you and treasured you for more than 35 years.  I gave you two children, who married, blessing  you with two more children, and they love you and treasure you.  Even though you came from a small family, you always wanted a big family.  I’ve given you 10 grandchildren.  You have that big family, and though they are far from you now, they are closer to you than many, whose children live near them.  Yes, you have chronic back and leg pain, but you are loved by your family.  More importantly, child, you are loved by Me, and that’s why I have given you your heart’s desires.  You are no longer able to minister in prison, but your ministry has not ended.  It has changed.  Now you minister by writing according to My will.  Even though you have suffered, My Son suffered more, for your sake.  Even though you were impoverished, I still moved on the hearts of others, to give you a home to live in, and food to eat.  Beloved daughter, your future is secure.”

As I heard those words so clearly, the withdrawal symptoms and my physical pain became tolerable.  I suddenly realized how blessed I am, and I repented and asked the Lord to forgive me for not appreciating all that He’s done for me.  And then, in the midst of going through withdrawal, I began to praise Him for giving me my heart’s desires.

Then, last night, I read a post about an upcoming evening worship service, and the Spirit within me leapt for joy.  You see, in the last four years, I’ve only been to corporate worship services a handful of times, because Sunday mornings are so difficult for me.  Arising early in the morning has been impossible for me, because the pain is always worst in the mornings, and when you stop attending worship services, you lose contact with the friends you had made over the years, because their lives have moved in different directions than yours.  Also, I felt lowly in the sight of faithful church attenders, because I was no longer able to attend regularly, and I was sure they were judging me as one who was lost.  Indeed, some did judge me, but certainly not everyone, as I had thought, in the midst of my depression.

Also, there were a small handful of people, who genuinely loved me, even while I was in such a dark place.  Many people have lots of friends, but I never have.  However, the few friends that I do have, are priceless.  Those friends sought me out, when I had shut myself away.  They prayed for me, and encouraged me, even when they were unable to visit me.  Two friends in particular stand out to me, my beloved friend Tammy, who would talk to me and encourage me on Facebook, and my beloved friend Laura, who lives with chronic pain as well.  Yet despite her chronic pain, Laura has gone out of her way to visit me, pray for me, listen to me and love me, even when I was unlovable.  You see, God didn’t give me a bunch of friends.  Instead, He chose to give me just a few exceptional friends that I truly treasure.  I remember, during my depression, thinking that if I died, no one would come to my funeral, and be there for my husband, and perhaps there won’t be, but God will be there for him, if anything ever happens to me, and really, how many people have the kind of friends that I do?  Many simply have a lot of acquaintances.  I am blessed.

You see, the demons from hell may have thought that I was down for the count.  I thought so, but that’s because I had been blinded to the great power of the God who loves me and created me.  You see, He has always pursued me with His love, and He will always continue to do so.

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23:6  NLT

The most wonderful thing to happen to me these last two weeks is the realization that came to me last night, as I was rejoicing over the upcoming worship service I’m attending.  For, the Lord has restored my soul.  I can feel, love and rejoice again.  I have hope in the God who has loved me, when no one else did.  I have hope in this God who has healed me from so many other problems, and now He has once again healed me and delivered  me from prescription drug addiction and a four year bout with the darkest depression imaginable.  Hallelujah, I am alive again.  He has restored my soul!  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23:3-4  NASB

I have shared this testimony for two reasons.  First of all, I share this testimony to give others hope.  For if God would deliver me from living in darkness and death, He will surely do the same for you as well, if you will allow Him to.  You must simply obey His voice.  In my case, He commanded that I stop taking all drugs, and He made it unbearable for me to continue taking them, despite what the doctors said.  I don’t know what He will command you to do, but whatever He commands, do it!  Then, watch Him restore your soul!

The second reason I have shared this testimony is very simple.  I share my testimony for my sake and for the sake of others who read it as well.   There is still a devil who wants to steal from me, kill me and destroy me.  Indeed, he very nearly did, except for the unfailing love of the Father, who loves me.  He wants to do the same to you.  Therefore, there is only one way to overcome him, and that is by the blood of the Lamb, which has already been shed on my behalf, and by the word of my testimony.  You see, in the face of Jesus’ blood, and my testimony of Christ’s salvation and the goodness of God, the enemy is overcome!  He is defeated.

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
    salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT

Beloved reader, whether you are dealing with the same or different issues, be encouraged.  The God who unfailingly loves me, loves you just as much as He loves me, and He wants to heal and deliver you from the dark hole that you may find yourself in.  Simply cry out to Him in Jesus’ name, listen for His command – then obey Him!  Fear not!

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Exodus 14:13-14  NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Inside Israel – Remembering the Holocaust

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve shared a letter from our sister in Christ, who is Inside Israel, but when I read the email she sent the other day, in remembrance of the 6,000,000 (yes, six million) Jews who were martyred, during World War II, for their race, culture and faith in the One True God, that we Christian Believers love and worship, I had to share it.  As you read this email, let those of us who have been grafted in, always remember God’s love for His chosen people has never waned, and one day, they, the true branches will also proclaim the name of Jesus, bringing even greater blessings to us!

12 Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the people of Israel turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when they finally accept it.

Romans 11:12  NLT

 Beloved readers, as you read this email from our beloved sister Inside Israel, let us also remember to pray for the peace of Israel, who is still very much hated by the rest of the world:

Wailing_Wall_Jerusalem_Victor_2011_-1-2

Shalom again to Holocaust Memorial and Remembrance Day…Yom h’Shoar…Welcome, Lord of all comfort and Truth into this day.  Invade the hearts of those whose hearts have been so damaged by the unimaginable and yet still hope against hope that there is Truth, Hope and justice…May we who have seen The Face of Truth, Hope and Justice bring your Light into this darkening world. 
 
                Yes, it has been ‘Yom h’shoar’ (Day of Holocaust literally but called the Remembrance day for the martyrs of the Holocaust, or just Holocaust Memorial day) once again, with its full ‘shock’ of entry and time of deep reflection. 
                How does one begin to grieve or share the grief of 6,000,000,000…six million? 
                One at a time. 
                Our Knesset holds a ceremony ‘Unto every person there is a name’ .  It goes like this: (a quote from the Jerusalem Post)

“Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel and her daughters lit a candle in her mother’s name, and in memory of her relatives killed in the Jado concentration camp in Libya, where 2,600 Jews were sent, 562 of whom died. Gamliel’s great-grandfather, Shia Bracha, was sent to the camp from Tripoli, and was killed while trying to escape, and her grandparents lost a daughter from malnutrition in Jado.

“Modern Israel owes part of its establishment to the heroes who underwent the hell of the Holocaust and rose from it to fight for Israel’s independence, thus ensuring the continuation of future generations in Israel,” Gamliel said. “The recognition in recent years of Holocaust survivors and victims of the Nazi regime in Arab countries is for me, as the daughter of a Holocaust survivor from Libya, is the closing of a circle and does justice to a large group in Israel that did not receive the recognition it deserves.”

Others who lit candles were Holocaust survivors Esther Meron, Avraham Ivanir, Fruma Galant, mother of Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant, and Svetlana Sorokin, mother of MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union), as well as Company for Location and Restitution of Holocaust Victims’ Assets Director-General Dr. Yisrael Peleg.

Next, MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) read from Psalms, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yaakov Yosef said Kaddish and an IDF cantor chanted the El Maleh Rachamim prayer.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein began the name-reading by reading the names of children who perished in the Sharogorod Ghetto in Transnistria, where his grandparents and mother survived the Holocaust.

President Reuven Rivlin read the names of soldiers killed in the War of Independence who were the last surviving members of their families, as well as the names of their relatives who were murdered by the Nazis. His wife, Nechama Rivlin, read names of relatives, and had to stop in the middle to compose herself, as she was crying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept his annual tradition of reading a poem his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, wrote in 1941 in Israel, when he lost touch with his family in Europe and did not know what happened to them. They all perished in the Holocaust.

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor said she and her cousins did research to find out names and details about relatives who were killed in the Holocaust…” AND SO ON IT GOES.
 
‘Poignant’…’emotional’…’indescribable’…these are the words that come to me as I seek to, yes, describe the day that I have sought to describe for 21 years now.  At 10:00am the eerie wail of the siren sounded throughout the country for two minutes while a nation stood silent and at attention, agreeing to share a mantle of grief far too heavy to be borne alone on the shoulders…fewer and fewer…of tattooed old people.  For one day in the year they open the coffin of a closet where the dark memories lie hidden and share the unimaginable openly, in schools, on television and in ceremonies or homes, so that we can all carry it together with them.  We listen to their stories…sit and have tea with them…weep with them…hug them.  The stories are collected…written…dramatized…’They must never forget!’ they cry.  ‘The world must never never forget!’ they yell collectively…but their voices grow ever weaker.  It has been 70 years now since the Holocaust.  Many of them have lived this long because they have a burning passion to ‘Having survived…survive!’…but they are dying because they are, after all, just flesh and blood. 
                A new and hopeful thing has cropped up.  It is called ‘Zikeron b’salon’ or literally ‘Memory in the livingroom’.   I was listening to a report about it and they said that several years ago some young people were speaking of a need that they had to find further expression concerning the Holocaust.  Children here learn about it in school from pre-school…and the studies continue through the army and university.  During the last year in high school they participate in ‘The March of the Living’…a trip to Auschwitz death camp.  Suddenly they are post army and university and it all comes to an end.  A small group of young adults decided to ‘meet in the livingroom’, hear a testimony in person or on a tape, and to hold their own discussion and ceremony.  It caught on with young people all over the country and this year there were hundreds of such meetings. 
                Yes, it is taken ‘personally’.  Life from the dead…hope from ashes. 
                Last week one of our patients died.  Ada Steinberg was 96 and lived with a ‘helper’.  Originally from Russia, she had never married, made aliyah alone as a teenager, became a professor and had many friends…but she outlived them all!  That was a chilling thought to me when she told me that her last friend died.  She was now ‘all alone’…but she went on and became very close to her ‘helper’.  She died quietly in her sleep last week and I asked my boss…who would ‘sit shiva’ for her (mourn her in the Jewish tradition).  He stopped and said ‘I don’t know.’ That wasn’t like my boss.  He knows ALL of these things!  ‘Was she in the shoah?’ I asked him.  To my surprise, he didn’t know that either.  It took me quite awhile searching online to find anything about her but finally, on the Yad V’Shem website, (take a look) www.yadvashem.org/  amongst the recorded testimonies, I found hers.  It is in Hebrew and so it will take me awhile to listen, but I intend to.  She had a name.  She was brave. 
                I was raised with the Holocaust.  Today I found myself wondering how it had ‘colored’ my world.  I guess I will never know really.  I was very very small, perhaps two, when I first became ‘aware’ (yes, really) of the Holocaust.  I had very thick curly dark hair and I was with my Mother.  It was summer.  I remember the dress that I was wearing.  A woman stopped to talk to my mother and she reached out and put her fingers in my hair and began running them through lovingly, but even then at that young age I knew ‘something wasn’t right.’  I remember her getting down on her knees and looking at me and saying over and over ‘I had a little girl like you once, yes, I had a little girl just like you…’.  My Mother sheltered me behind herself and I was holding on to her knees (that is how I guess my age…knee high).  But that was only my first encounter.  Holocaust survivors began pouring into our neighborhood in NY, USA…and there was a ‘scary feeling’ about them…something of death held on to them and it haunted me.  In our apartment there were books and photos of the newly liberated camps.  I would lay on the floor and look at the pictures…and wonder. 
                My conclusion then was: ‘We must be such an awful people to be so deeply hated.’
                HOW THANKFUL I AM THAT THE ONE WHO WAS DISPISED AND REJECTED PURSUED ME AND SAVED ME OUT OF THE HELL THAT I FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED IN!
                So I stood outside of work at 10:00am this morning when the siren pierced the air and prayed for Kala Zeltzer, Yaakov and Ruth Lork and the other survivors that I know by name…for them to be comforted face to Face by The One Who is truly able to understand and bare even their grief…and lead them safely home. 
                It is late and this is nothing like I intended to share…but it just got too late.  I couldn’t let the day slip by without baring witness to it…least we forget. 
                I hope to write more in a couple of days.  God bless you all.  Lovingly, your sister here.

What Are You Worth?

Price

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.


If you were to put a price on yourself, what would you say you’re worth?  Would you say you are worthy of all the love, joy and peace that every human longs for?  Or would you say you’re worthless?  How do you value yourself?  Is your value based on what others say about you?  Or is it based on what you think of yourself?  Do you think more highly of yourself than you should?  Or do you devalue yourself?  How should we value ourselves?

1 Peter 1-18-19

It makes sense to look to the One who created us.  He alone knows why He made us, and what we were made for.  How does God, our Creator value us?  In order to understand how God values us, it is important to know what our purpose is.  What were we created for?


Bring all who claim Me as their God, for I have made them for My glory.  It was I who created them.

Isaiah 43:7  NLT


We were created for God’s glory.  Think about that.  We weren’t created to be garbage thrown in a rubbish heap.  We weren’t created to be nothing or no one.  We were created for God’s glory.  Do you know what that means?

It means that everyone who is reading this post right now, and struggling with his/her self-worth, must now realize that you were created for a great purpose.  Dictionary.com defines glory this way:


noun, plural glories

  1. very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown:  to win glory on the field of battle.
  2. something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride:  a sonnet that is one of the glories of English poetry.
  3. adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving:  Give glory to God.
  4. resplendent beauty or magnificence:  the glory of autumn.
  5. a state of splendor, magnificence, or prosperity.
  6. a state of absolute happiness, gratification, contentment, etc.:  She was in her glory when her horse won the Derby.
  7. the splendor and bliss of heaven; heaven.

This is life-changing.  If everyone, who calls themselves a child of God, could see themselves through His eyes, it could change the world.  When I see that I was created to bring the glory to God that is due Him, it changes me.  No longer am I content to remain stagnant, for I was created to give glory to God Almighty, my Creator, and the Creator of the universe.

Matthew 10-29-31

I can no longer view myself as stupid or worthless, (things that others have said about me), because God created me to bring glory to Him, and how can something with no worth glorify God?  Furthermore, how can something stupid accomplish the goal that God has set forth for him/her to accomplish?

What else does God say about our worth?  Let’s begin at the beginning…


26 Then God said, “Let Us make human beings in Our image, to be like Us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in His own image.
    In the image of God He created them;
    male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:26-27 NLT


Beloved reader, you need to understand this, not only with your mind, but with your heart and soul as well.  I don’t care if you were born with all of your limbs, some of your limbs, or none of your limbs.  It matters not whether you’re as smart as someone else, or whether you’re a slow learner.  It doesn’t matter if you like what you see when you look in the mirror, or if you don’t like it.  None of these things matter, because YOU were created in the image of God.  Do you understand this?  YOU were created to give God glory, and He created YOU in His image.  Therefore, when you look in the mirror, and hate what you see, you are not just hating yourself, you are hating the Creator who made YOU in HIS image.  You not only see yourself as worthless, but you see your Creator as worthless, because YOU look like HIM!

What else does your Creator say about your worth???


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

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

Psalm 139:13-18 NLT


Let’s really take the time to examine this passage, because it really shows our value in God’s eyes.  In verse 13, we read that God made all of the delicate, inward parts of our bodies.  He made the parts we can see, and the parts that can’t be seen.  He made the parts we like, and He made the parts that sometimes bring us shame.  He made every single delicate inward part of our bodies, and He labored over them too.

Psalm 139-13-14

For those who have ever knitted anything, or tried to knit, you know that it is a labor intensive skill.  In order to execute it properly, the one who is knitting must pay careful attention to each stitch, because just one slipped or missed stitch can ruin the entire piece.  Not only must careful attention be paid, but the knitter must also possess a high degree of skill, for the project to turn out properly.  Knitting is not something to be rushed through.  It takes time, patience, and skill.  Therefore, when you realize that God carefully knit you together in your mother’s womb, you realize that He was taking special care during the nine months that you were being created in your mother’s womb.


14 Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:14 NLT


Just look at this!  God wasn’t just making some simple little sweater, when He created you.  He was creating a wonderfully complex being, unlike any other that He had created before.  He was creating the unique individual that is you, and His workmanship on you (and me too) was marvelous!  Go ahead.  Look in that mirror again, and take a really good look at the wonderfully marvelous person that God created to bring Him glory.


15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Psalm 139:15-16 NLT


Let this thought fill you.  While you were being created in utter seclusion, God was watching over you.  He saw you before you were born, and you were so precious to Him, that He wrote a book about YOU.  He wrote about every single moment that would happen in your life, including this moment, right now, as you read these words.  He didn’t just dictate what your life would be like.  He wrote this book about you, because He knew you, and He knew the things you would go through, and the choices (both the good and the bad) you would make.  He wrote this book, because you were so important, so valuable to Him, that your life was worth writing about.


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

Psalm 139:17-18 NLT


Understand this, beloved reader.  God thinks about you – alot!  In fact, He thinks of you so much, that His thoughts of you cannot be numbered, and each one of those thoughts are precious! In order for you to truly understand how important this is, let’s see how dictionary.com defines precious


adjective

  1. of high price or great value; very valuable or costly:  precious metals.
  2. highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality:  precious memories.
  3. dear; beloved:  a precious child.

Beloved reader, God’s thoughts of you are precious, because you are of great value to Him.  You are His precious child, created for His glory.  Indeed, His love for you is so great, that He willingly sent His only Son to pay the penalty for your sins (and mine!).  It was for you (and me too!) that Jesus willingly suffered, bled and died, so that we wouldn’t have to.  Jesus went to death, hell and the grave, and on the third day, He arose from the grave, so that you and I could live eternally.  And though it is appointed once for a man to die, judgment follows, and those who are called children of God, the ones whom He created for His glory, will arise to everlasting life…

So, beloved reader, what are you worth?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Legacy

Legacy

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


I’ve thought often about the legacy I will leave when I’m gone, especially as I grow older.  I want to leave a lasting legacy of good.  I don’t have to be remembered by a lot of people.  What’s more important is that people remember that “Jesus Led Me All The Way.”

Jesus Led Me All the Way

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NLT

I want to leave my children and my children’s children the great gift of knowing and loving Jesus.  I would be beyond happy, if when people spoke of me after I’m gone, they would say, “The only thing I can remember about Cheryl is that when she prayed for me, I felt the powerful presence of God.”   It would bless me if someone said, “She reflected God’s presence in her life.” 

As crazy as this may sound to some, I want to leave behind a world that hates me, not because I was hateful to the world, but let them hate me because they hate my Lord and Savior.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to Me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of Me, for they have rejected the One who sent Me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates Me also hates My Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate Me and My Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated Me without cause.’

John 15:18-25 NLT

11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.

2 Peter 2:11-12 NLT

I want to leave a legacy of honor and truth, not only to those who love me, but also to those who hate me.  I want to share the unfailing love that I have received from God, to all that I come in contact, whether they return that love or not.  My hope is that with each day and each year that passes, I will be more and more like Jesus, so that those who know me, will see past my flaws, and see Christ, who lives within me.  Finally, when my time in this life is over, let this  song be sung at my funeral, and let this phrase from the song, by Fanny Crosby, be written on my tomb:  “Jesus Led Me All the Way”

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

God Hears Our Voice, and He Answers Us

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

A friend of mine wrote a short post on Facebook, thanking God for listening to us, and for not only listening, but for speaking to us as well, and the Spirit within me leaped for joy.  Have you ever taken the time to meditate on that thought?

Just think, the God and Creator of the universe and all that is within it, not only hears my voice, but He recognizes it from the noisy cries and shouts of billions of people, and animals, and machinery.  He hears my weakest whisper in the midst of bombs going off, gunshots ringing, and the shouts of angry mobs, and in spite of all that the God of all must do, He’s not too busy to pause and listen to me.  And just think, with all that He is doing, to prepare for great and terrible day of the Lord, He makes time to speak to me, and not just to me, but to everyone who calls upon His name!

Just stop what you’re doing right now, and think about that for a minute…  If you are a child of God, He listens to you, when you cry out to Him, and even when you’re too weak to utter His name, and when you don’t even know how to pray or what to pray for, He sends His Spirit to pray for you…

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 NLT

Isaiah 65-24

I don’t know about you, but I find that so encouraging.  When I am at my weakest, and everyone else has turned their backs on me, God hears my cries, and He answers them.  When I have failed God, and broken His heart yet again, in His mercy, He still listens to me when I cry out to Him.

16 Come and listen, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell you what He did for me.
17 For I cried out to Him for help,
    praising Him as I spoke.
18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
    the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
    He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
    or withdraw His unfailing love from me.

Psalm 66:16 NLT

I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times God has heard my cries and delivered me.  And when I have forgotten how great His love is for me and for you, He reminds me yet again, by listening, and responding to my cries.  And get this, this love that I’m telling you about is not just aimed at me.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  His love for us knows no bounds.  If you won’t take my word for it, then take King David’s…

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles...

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:4-6, 15-17 NKJV

Imagine that!  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this, yet I know it is true, because this poor woman has cried out to the Lord over and over again, and He has heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears.

How can I help but respond with love to the One who loves me with such a fierce love?  How can my heart not beat faster at the sound of His voice?  How can I not love the One who sacrificed everything for my sake?  How can you not love the One who gave His all for you, and leans close to hear your voice?

I love the Lord because He hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because He bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalm 116:1-2 NLT

Thank You Father, for the great love You have for Your children.  Thank You for hearing our voices above the cacophony all about us, and most importantly, thank You for actually listening and responding to us, too.  Thank You, Lord for Your still small voice, and help us, help me, to be still, and listen. 

Help me to wait on You Lord, and teach me how to bless You, just as You bless me.  Lord, I pray that those who read this will rejoice in You, because no matter what’s going on in the world, You still have time to listen to Your children, and to answer them.  Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that You will continue to hear us when we call upon You, and that You will continue to answer and show us great and mighty things that we don’t know.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Obedience – How Important is it Really???

Many believers are under the misconception that because we are saved by grace, obedience is no longer necessary.  In fact, there are some who consider grace to be a license to sin.  So, in response to these prevailing attitudes, I have a question…  How important is obedience, really?

love-is-obedience

22 But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
    your burnt offerings and sacrifices
    or your obedience to His voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
    and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
    and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23 NLT

Yes, this is an Old Testament reference, but let’s not forget this fact; the New Testament God we serve, is the same God who was in the Old Testament, and He hasn’t changed…

I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned My decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

Malachi 3:6-7 NLT

22 It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. 23 He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The people surrounded Him and asked, “How long are You going to keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe Me. The proof is the work I do in My Father’s name. 26 But you don’t believe Me because you are not My sheep. 27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from Me, 29 for my Father has given them to Me, and He is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are One.

John 10:22-30 NLT

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 NLT

17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

James 1:17 NLT

You see, beloved friends, whether we lived in Old Testament times, New Testament times, or in the hereafter, God remains the same.  Therefore, since God found obedience pleasing in Old Testament times, and since He hasn’t changed, then we can infer that God still finds obedience pleasing and that He always will.  Furthermore, when we rebel against God by disobeying Him, then we have committed a sin as bad as the sin of witchcraft.  And though we are saved by grace, through faith, (Praise God!), God still commands and desires our obedience.

john-14-15-free-bible-verse-desktop-wallpapers

Moreover, because Jesus and God the Father are One, then His commands are God’s commands, just as God’s commands are His.  So, when we read Jesus’ words, we can also deduce that His words are God’s words, and it is the Lord who tells us:

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

Do you love Him?  Then, you MUST obey His commandments.  We don’t obey His commandments in order to be saved, because we know that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus…

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

Therefore, we respond to God with love, as a result of His wonderful gift of salvation to us, and if we love Him, then we will obey His commandments.  What’s more, obedience is so important to Jesus, that He spoke to His disciples about it the night before He died…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

I’ll ask you again.  Do you love Jesus???  Let’s see what He says about love and obedience…

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is My command: Love each other.

John 15:9-17 NLT

john-1423_5561_1024x768

The scriptures are very clear.  Obedience is absolutely necessary, if we love God.  It’s not an option; it’s a requirement, not for salvation, but for remaining in God’s love.  Think about it.  If Jesus’ whole life was lived in obedience to God, then how can we even begin to think that we are exempt from obedience?  Again, make no mistake, we must obey God, if we call ourselves His children…

46 So why do you keep calling Me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to Me, listens to My teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.

Luke 6:46-49 NLT

21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.

Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

Beloved friends, it doesn’t matter how eloquent a preacher is, if he doesn’t live in obedience to God, it means nothing.  It doesn’t matter how much you talk about the love of God, if you don’t obey Him, you simply don’t love Him, and if you don’t love Him and obey Him, then how can you remain in His love?  Do I sound harsh?  These aren’t my words, or my interpretation of the scriptures.  This is what Jesus said…

15 If you love Me, obey My commandments.

John 14:15 NLT

21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.

John 14:21 NLT

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

John 15:9-10 NLT

Beloved, here is the truth.  If you have been saved by God’s grace, you can’t help but respond to Him in love, and the out-flowing of that love is the desire to please the One who loved us, while we were still lost in sin.  When you truly love Christ, it isn’t a sacrifice to give up on our old ways.  What becomes of utmost importance to us, is the yearning to live a life that brings glory and honor to Him, and disobedience no longer has any place in our lives.

Does this mean that we will never mess up again?  Of course not!  As long as we walk in this body of flesh, there will be times when we sin and fall short of God’s glory.  The difference between one who lives a life of obedience for Christ, and fails from time to time, and one who refuses to live a life of obedience, is that the one will fall, repent, and cry out to God for mercy and help, while the other will justify his/her sin.

As you can see, beloved reader, obedience is not an option.  It is vital to the life all who truly love Christ.  So, let’s examine our own hearts and ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus?  Does my love show in my obedience to His word?”  Please join me in praying this prayer that David prayed…

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;

    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:23-24 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

White as Snow…

whiteassnow

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
    I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
    I will make them as white as wool.
(Isaiah 1:18  NLT)

As I look at the white snow outside, I’m struck by its beauty.  It is in gazing at the pristine whiteness of the snow, that my thoughts turn to the purity of God.  For He is purer than the whitest snow.  He is holy.  He is righteous.  What’s more, He hates all impurities. even the most minute impurity.

How is it then, that such a clean, holy and righteous God would love someone like me?

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

(Romans 5:8  NLT)

Isn’t that mindblowing?  Think about all of the sins that you’ve commited in your life; every sinful act, every sinful word, every sinful thought.  Think about every rebellious act that you’ve ever committed; every time you knowingly chose to do the wrong thing, every time you chose not to do the right thing.  Think about every time you hated someone… according to scripture, that is the same as murder in God’s eyes.  Think about every time you used God’s name in vain; not just the times you used His name as a curse, but also the times you spoke erroneously in His name.  What about all of the lies you’ve spoken, the gossip you  spread, the condemnation you brought on others?  Did you long for those things that weren’t yours?  Were you envious of others?  Did you ever lust after anyone?  It was while we were in the midst of this filth, that God looked on us with love.

It was when we were bitter that He loved us.  Think about the times you doubted God, were angry at Him and rebelled against Him, choosing instead, to go your own way.  It was even then, that He loved us.  How amazing is that?

As I think about how He loved us in the midst of my sins, I am reminded of the song that we sang on the day that I was saved.  It is an old hymn, “Just as I Am”, that has been sung many times, as people made the choice to serve God, and it blessed me then, as a 11 or 12-year-old girl in the 70’s, and now, as a 54-year-old grandmother.

For those of you, who have never known of the love of Christ, I pray that you know and experience His great love for you today.  God loves you, no matter how great your sin, and He loves you way to much to leave you that way.  You don’t have to try to straighten up for Him to accept you.  Come to Him just as you are, and let Him clean you up.  Listen to these words of promise from the Lord, Himself…

United in the Word
United in the Word

18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”

(Isaiah 1:18  NKJV)

As you listen to the words of the song below, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, and ask Him to set you free from the sin that binds you.  If you find it difficult to believe that God loves you, and He can set you free, ask Him to reveal the truth to you.  If you seek Him, you will find Him…

For those, who already know and love Him, as you listen to the words of the song below, rejoice and give Him thanks, for the great love that He has lavished on you, in Jesus’ name.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Victory in Jesus

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17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.  

(James 4:17 NLT)

I haven’t written anything in months and months.  Actually, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything.  I’ve been dealing with pain and medication issues, sleep depravation, and depression, so to tell the truth, I just haven’t felt like writing, and the few times I started to write something, I fell asleep.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time reading or studying God’s word.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time with Him either.  So, when I saw something that reminded me of the scripture above, I felt motivated to do something good.  Therefore, even as I write this, another scripture comes to mind, and I am sure the Lord is speaking to me, yet when I just now turned to that scripture, so I could paste it here, I backed up so I could read the scripture in its context, and again, I can hear the Lord patiently speaking to my heart…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

I’m in the midst of a spiritual battle, which has been raging against me and wreaking havoc in my life for three and a half years, and the truth is, at some point, not too far into this battle, I gave up.  Unlike Paul, the apostle of Christ, I stopped fighting the good fight.  And I deceived myself into believing I couldn’t do anything about it, because I can’t do the things I used to do.  Yet now, as I write, I again hear the Lord’s voice whispering to me…

10 Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—
Salvation and power
And the Kingdom of our God,
And the authority of His Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
Has been thrown down to earth—
The one who accuses them
Before our God day and night.
11 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
And by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
That they were afraid to die.

I sense the Lord urging me to share my testimony of the last few years, that led me to my current state.  I feel Him pressing me to once again, place the belt of truth around my waist as I wear the rest of God’s armor and carry the sword of the Spirit.  So, please, bear with me, as I take you back approximately three and a half years.

I had been in constant pain for more than a year.  My back hurt so bad, that it felt as though it would snap in two, yet I struggled to hold on to my job, because neither my husband or I are rich, but it was getting more and more difficult to go to work.  I can remember praying as I walked across the employee parking lot to the building, “Please Lord, help me take just one more step.  Oh God, help me to make it to the building.  Lord Jesus, please help me.”  The pain was excruciating, but it didn’t end once I was in the building.  Then, I had to pray for Him to help me walk down to the basement and to the time clock.  Then, once I punched in, I prayed for the Lord to help me walk all the way down the long hall to my office.  It was horrible, and it got to the point that I started writing my time down and having someone initial it, so I could have my co-worker in the office, who did payroll along with me, manually enter my time into the system when I clocked in and out.  The pain got so bad, that I would avoid going to the bathroom, which was just next door to my office, until I absolutely had to go, because it hurt so bad to walk.  Then, at lunchtime, my co-worker would go and get my lunch for me, so I could remain sitting.  Of course, sitting at the desk all day caused another kind of pain, but it was certainly more tolerable than standing or walking.

My mother, who lived in the nursing home, where I was employed, lived two extremely long corridors down from my office, and my pain was so terrible, that I stopped visiting her as often, and when I did, I waited until I got off, and made the long walk to my car, then drove around to see her.  I came to regret that I didn’t visit her more often, but in all honesty, I was struggling just to make it through the day, and by the time I got off, I was in too much pain, and I was just too exhausted to visit her.

I wasn’t sleeping at night either, because the pain kept me awake. Therefore, my husband had to drive me to work the last few months, because I was in so much pain, and I was so worn out, that I was afraid of falling asleep at the wheel.  I started missing more and more time, and at the end of August, my boss told me I’d better file for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), or I was in danger of losing my job, so, I filed for intermittent FMLA.  However, when my boss and the HR (Human Resources) department saw my many diagnoses and my prognosis, they told me that I didn’t qualify for intermittent FMLA.  Instead, I would have to go out on a full FMLA, and I couldn’t return to work, until my doctor signed a release stating that I was now able to work full-time.  Both the company and I knew that I wouldn’t be returning, and so, August 31, 2012 was the last day I worked.

I was also a prison minister, and at the beginning of January, 2013, I had to resign, because I was unable to sit or stand long enough to minister to the inmates.  Also, I was feeling too defeated to to minister the gospel of hope to the inmates.  It broke my heart when I had to stop ministering in jail, and I began to dip into depression.

Then, my mother became ill, and had to be admitted to the hospital.  It was extremely difficult to see how sick my mother was, but I went to see her during the day, and the long walk to the elevator, and then to her room was nearly more than I could bear.  Sometimes, when my husband came with me, he would get a wheelchair and push me to her room.  However, he had a job, so he couldn’t always come.  My sister worked, and because I was now not working, I wanted to help her and stay overnight at the hospital with Mom, so she wouldn’t have to, but my pain was so bad that I just couldn’t stay every night.  I did stay a few times, but the pain was horrid.

At that time, I was taking massive doses of pain medication, which made it hard for me to even function, and although I was taking hardcore pain killers, they weren’t killing the pain, which continued to increase.  From April of 2011 until sometime in 2014, not a day  went by that I wasn’t in pain, and it was wearing me down.

On top of that, my sister and I were having issues.  I’m sad to say, we’ve always had a difficult relationship.  I love her with all my heart, and I think she loves me, but we’re two different people, or maybe we’re both an awful lot alike.  Still, whatever the reason, we’ve always had trouble communicating and getting along.  Perhaps my sister remembered all the times I played hookie from school by faking illness, and though she never came out and said so, I don’t think she believed I was really in as much pain as I was.  Whatever the case, every time I went to visit Mom, I could feel her anger fill the room, as she ignored me, or spoke sharply to me.

My response to the situation was equally wrong, I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, so I would sit there watching Mom in silence, engulfed in self-pity, because I hate conflict, and I was afraid of making her angrier than she already was.  I really wanted to be there for my mother, but I also wanted to just run away from the painful situation, like I had done my entire life.  Whenever things got too painful or difficult, I tried to run away and avoid it, by trying to ignore the problem and pretending it didn’t exist.  If I couldn’t physically avoid the painful situation, as was the case at that time, then I tried to zone out mentally and think of other things.  I sometimes asked friends or my husband to accompany me, so I could feel that I had at least one person there who loved me.

Again, I was in the midst of a spiritual battle, and my enemy was not my sister, yet, rather than remaining firm in my faith and standing against the enemy of my soul, I reverted to my childhood ways, and responded to things the way I did when I was a little girl.  You see, instead of humbling myself and completely trusting my loving Father to carry me through the pain, I simply gave up without a fight, and allowed the enemy to steal my faith, my joy, my health, and my peace.  I forgot one very important thing that could have sustained me through everything that was happening…

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

(Philippians 4:13  NLT)

Instead, I reverted to a passive-agressive state.  I became a self-pitying martyr, and I felt very justified about it.  But the fact is I should have clung to my faith, instead of reverting back to the little girl I once was.

On February 15, 2013, my mom passed away, and it ripped my world apart.  At almost fifty-two, I became an orphan, and Satan’s demons and my own mind waged a terrible war against me, and by this time, I was incapable of fighting back.  I was a basket case.  I was wracked with guilt, feeling that I should have done more to save my mother’s life.  I began having nightmares about dying, and I was terrified that I would die and go to hell, because I didn’t help my mother.  I was so disappointed in me, that I was sure God must feel the same way about me.

After all, I was supposed to be a strong minister of God, but I was a failure.  Worse yet, even though others tried to tell me it wasn’t so, I knew that God knows my heart, so how could He possibly love me or forgive me?  I couldn’t even forgive myself.  After the funeral, I couldn’t bear to be around my sister and my other relatives, who I was sure hated me too, so I went home with my husband and my children, who comforted me.  Yet, I couldn’t believe that the Lord would want to comfort me, and so I fell deeper into depression, as I walked in the valley of the shadow of death, forgetting this important thing…

Even when I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
    for You are close beside me.
Your rod and Your staff
    protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

(Psalm 23:4-5  NLT)

It is only now, as I sit here, writing these words, that I can see the truth.  God was with me in that dark valley.  Not only was He with me, He was close by me, protecting me and comforting me the whole time, yet, because I had given up on myself, and more importantly, on Him, I felt no comfort.  It is only now, as I read the timeless words of the 23rd Psalm, that I realize if I had gone to the gathering after Mom’s funeral, that He would have honored me by preparing a feast before all who were against me, and anointing my head with oil.  Instead of allowing Him to fill my cup to overflowing with blessings, I allowed self-righteousness and self-pity to fill my cup to overflowing, a cup that also overflowed with pain, fear and illness.

Two weeks after my mother died, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a horribly debilitating and sometimes deadly stomach infection.  I was now out of work, uninsoured, living on only $500 a month, and so sick I thought I was dying.  I remember praying in the ER this scripture from  Jeremiah, more to convince myself, than out of faith, because I was truly convinced that I was dying, and going to hell.

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV)

I was quickly descending into the deepest, darkest depression of my life, and I still had a little farther to fall.  A week or two after I left the hospital, my daughter and her family, who had been living with us at the time, moved more than 700 miles away.  Suddenly, our house was empty.

Then, there was the church that I was attending at the time.  I was no longer in church every Sunday, and whenever the doors were open.  Instead, the pain and the medication I was taking, made it very difficult to go to church and sit for hours, not to mention the fact that I was afraid to drive myself, because I would fall asleep at the drop of a hat.  I also found myself dozing in church, which made me feel extremely guilty.  Then, there were different “ministers” who would pray for me.  Some would declare I was healed, and because they said so, I should feel better, but the fact was, I wasn’t better.  I also felt that the Lord told me that this was something I was going to have to walk through, and when I expressed this, I was accused of having weak faith.  One visiting “minister” even said that I had brought this chronic pain on myself, because I wasn’t faithful enough.

In my ever deepening descent into the dark pit of depression, I found myself at the bottom.  I no longer left the house, except to go to my doctors’ appointments, and I cried constantly.  I was consumed by pain, both physical and mental, and I saw no way out of the darkness.  When my husband treated me with lovingkindness, I felt so unworthy of his love, but he never gave up on me.

Through his kindness, and through the wisdom and kindness of the Christian counselor I saw, I began to ascend out of the deepest darkness.  However, I never fully recovered.  I still struggle with depression, and I still live with chronic pain, although thankfully, it is no longer unending.  I hurt most of the time, but occassionally, I do have  good days, and I am thankful for them.  Yet, there is one area that I haven’t fully recovered from.  You see, I felt that I lost the purpose for my life.

Chains are Gone

And then, the Lord began to minister to me today, reminding me that anyone who knows the good he ought to do, and doesn’t do it, sins, and as I began to write and ponder on that, He led me to the next scriptures…

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9  NLT)

Do you know what?  I’ve forgotten to rejoice in the Lord!  Do you know that my husband and I have lived off of his small pension only, for more than three years?  Yet, the Lord made a way for us to keep our home, and during a time when we’ve had less to live on than ever before in our married life, our house looks better than it ever has, and we’ve actually had more through the generosity of others, that God moved to act on our behalf.  Isn’t that a reason to rejoice?

You see, I’ve been so caught up in my pain and depression, that I took my focus off God, and those things that are true and honorable, and right and pure and lovely, and admirable, and I looked within myself, at my chronic pain and the losses that I’ve suffered, and as I did so, the blackness smothered me with hopelessness.  I stopped fighting the good fight, until today, when the Lord spoke so clearly to me, urging me to put on my armor and fight back against the enemy of my soul, and against the darkness of my own mind.

Therefore, let me share the good things that God has done for me in the midst of my pain.  He has given me a few good, pain-free days, and even though most days are still really painful, some days, the pain is actually tolerable, and I rejoice in that too.  After more than three years of doing battle with Social Security Disability, I finally won my case, and I now receive my disability pay, and though it might not seem like a lot by some people’s standards, to me, it is huge.

In the midst of our poverty, my husband and I didn’t starve, for God provided us with food assistance.   Although it has been very hard for me to live so far away from my children and my ten grandchildren,  He has made a way for us to see them a couple of times a year.  No, it might not be as often as I’d like, but a little is better than none, isn’t it?

Then, what do I do, when I’m at home, so far away from the children and grandchildren that I love so much?  I have a wonderful and loving husband, who has been patient and kind to me.  When I have so much, why should I dwell on the bad things in my life?

I serve the Creator of the universe, and He loves me.  He never stopped loving me, and it was only when I began to focus on my problems, rather than the good things He has done for me, that I fell into darkness.  And now, today, even though I’ve been fighting nausea and sickness all day, I found that as I began to focus on Him once again, even though I don’t feel well, it is well with my soul.  Thank You Father, for Your unending kindness and Your undying love.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

It’s Not a Black Thing or a White Thing – It’s a Jesus Thing

The following is a letter that I posted on Facebook this morning, and I believe it’s important enough to post here as well, for it is vital to the life of our church and nation:

Greetings to ALL My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

To each and every man, woman and child, who has surrendered themselves to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, out of a heart filled with love and gratitude to our Savior, who willingly paid the penalty of death for your sins and for mine, I greet you in the name of Jesus.  I’m writing this letter to you because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for this beautiful nation that God has blessed us with.  I have always felt honored and blessed to live in this great nation, which was founded on the principles that…

… all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness… (Declaration of Independence)


I believe with all my heart that this is true, not because the Declaration of Independence says so, but because the bible tells me so…

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female.  For you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.  (Galatians 3:26-29  NLT)

Beloved readers, do you understand what this means? It means that once you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus, Himself!  It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, a servant or a king, black or white or any other shade in between, you are a child of God, who loves each of His children equally.  It doesn’t matter whether you are very intelligent, or whether you have a learning disability, your Daddy (Abba/Father) loves you just as much as He loves His other children.  It doesn’t matter if your parents loved you more or less than your siblings, because God is your Father now, and He is just.  He loves you just as much as He loves me.  He loves you just as much as He loved King David, the Apostle Paul, Peter, James and John.  Do you understand?

If you understand this, you need to understand something else.  When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you become God’s child, you also gain some new siblings, who are also children of God.  Do you know what this means?  It means that you have brothers and sisters from every race and culture, and because they are your siblings, you have to love them, no matter what, because Daddy loves them, and if Daddy thinks they’re worthy of His love, don’t you think they’re worthy of yours too?

Now, I’ve told you that I’m writing this letter because my heart is filled with love and grief for the church, and for our wonderful nation, and I’ve established a very good case for why we should love ALL of our brothers and sisters in the Lord, so now, I’m going to take this love thing a step further, before I share my grief with you.  Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, not only are we supposed to love our brothers and sisters, but according to the bible, we’re supposed to love our enemies too…

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:43-48  NLT)

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16  NLT)

After reading these words of Jesus, it is very clear that God expects us to love each other AND our enemies. There is no wiggle room, no way to escape this.  And, beloved reader, please allow me to make this perfectly clear, for it is of the utmost importance that you understand.  Jesus isn’t saying, “Try to love your enemies.”  He isn’t saying, “Love good people.”  Jesus is COMMANDING us to LOVE our enemies.  Do you still need more evidence?

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. 10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in His love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  (John 15:9-13  NLT)

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15  NLT)

Do you want to be forgiven?  Then forgive ALL who hurt you.  Do you want to remain in God’s love?  Then love ALL mankind.

This brings me to the reason for my grief.  We are all aware of the deep rooted racial anger that exists in our country.  It is like a dark plague that is killing the church and this once great nation.  You may ask why I say it is killing the church, and I will tell you, but first, I will remind you of my love for each and every one of you, my beloved readers, friends and enemies.  Some may read what I am saying and take offense, and I can live with that. However, one of the things that truly grieves me is that some of my brothers and sisters in the Lord may take offense, and it is this very thing that is killing the church.

Let’s talk about what is going on in our country, not as black or white people, but as Jesus’ people, okay?  You see, when we became children of God, we took on HIS identity.  I am no longer defined by my race or ethnicity, and neither are you, brothers and sisters.  I am now called “Christian,” and when I interact with people of the world, I want them to see Christ in me, not the white in me.  Also, when I look at my brothers and sisters of different races, I don’t see the color or lack of color in them, I look to see the same Jesus, who lives in me, in them too.  When I see the Christ in you, my beloved brothers and sisters, how can I help but love you?

Not only that, but when I look at those who don’t know Christ, it isn’t their color that I care about, it’s their heart.  My heart is filled with love for those who don’t know Christ, because I know the One who could set them free from their anger and bitterness against people of different races.  I grew up in a racist household, and I know firsthand that racism breeds bitterness, and that terrible root of bitterness chokes the life out of every other relationship the bitter person has.

Church, the reason I’m grieving is because WE are supposed to be different from the world.  WE are the ones who are supposed to be setting the examples for the world, and yet, how many of us have found ourselves caught up in the anger that is all around us?  How many of us are part of the problem, instead of trying to be part of the solution?  What if God’s people united as ONE, just as Jesus prayed we would be, and what if we humbled ourselves and prayed, and turned from our wicked ways?  And what if we joined together, seeking God’s face, and asking Him to bring unity and love to our land?  I believe God would hear our cry and He would heal our land.  Do you know why?  Because the bible says so.

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  (2 Chronicles 7:14  NKJV)

But sadly, something is preventing us from uniting and praying together, and do you know what that something is?  This may be offensive to you, but the words I write are written in love.  My heart’s desire is for God to heal our land, and in order for this to happen, we must humble ourselves, but PRIDE is preventing this from happening.  You see, there are some among us, who are proud of our race.

Now, I have to be honest with you, and if it offends you, I encourage you to study God’s word, and pray about it.  You see, there are some white people who are proud of their lack of pigment.  There are also some black people who are very proud of their dark pigment.  Now, here’s where I stand on the matter.  I’m white, but I’m neither proud nor ashamed of it.  I didn’t choose to be white.  In fact, I had nothing to do with it, because long before He laid the foundations of the earth, God had determined that I would be a white woman.  He’s the One who carefully formed me, and knitted me together in my mother’s womb, and for reasons that only He knows, He didn’t bless me with as much melanin as some of my darker brothers and sisters.  That’s okay.  I don’t feel slighted.  In fact, in the whole scheme of eternity, my lack of melanin, and someone else’s abundance of melanin is really unimportant.  After all, the current tent that I dwell in is only temporary, and at nearly fifty-four years old, it’s starting to break down.  In fact, one day in the not so distant future, it will finally wear out, and my spirit will leave this body.  At some point in time that only God knows, I will eventually receive an eternal body (my forever body), which will never wear out and die, so why should I care about the color of my current flesh?

Indeed, people of God, why should any of us care about our skin tone?  You don’t have to tell me the answer to my next question, but it is something you need to pray and talk to our Father about it.  Do you have white pride?  Do you have black pride?  Are you prideful of your race?  If so, you need to lay that pride aside and humble yourself and pray for forgiveness. You do know that Lucifer was cast down out of heaven, because he was proud of the body God had given him, right?  Do you think that God likes racial pride?  Think again.  If you want something to boast about, children of God, boast about this:

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31  NLT)

14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. 15 It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. 16 May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God.  (Galatians 6:14-16  NLT)

Beloved children of God, it’s time for us to stop allowing our flesh to control our thoughts and our attitudes.  It’s time for us to stop taking sides in the current trouble our nation faces.  The fact is that there are good white cops, and there are bad white cops. There are good black cops, and there are bad black cops.  There are good black men, who have been the innocent victims of bad white cops, and vice versa.  However, there are also dangerous and criminal black men, who have attacked good white cops, and been shot in self-defense, and vice versa.  So, what can we, as children of the Most High God, do to bring peace and righteousness to our land???

We can start by repenting of any pride that we may be clinging to.  We can unite as One church in this battle for peace in our land – no more “white” churches or “black” churches.  Let us come together as One people, not to preach or shout or argue about why “I” am right and “You” are wrong. Instead, let us come together as the sons and daughters of God, and let us humble ourselves, as Jesus did…

1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.  6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.  When He appeared in human form, 8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

9 Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:1-11  NLT)

My beloved brothers and sisters, do you want to heal our land and bring about a true and lasting peace?  Or, do you want to hold on to your bitterness and anger? Do you want to prove that you are right, holding fast to your pride?  Or do you want to surrender it to Christ and join together with ALL of your brothers and sisters, humbling ourselves and praying?  Do you want people to see the black or white in you?  Or do you want them to see the Christ in you?  Are you willing to risk offending friends and family for the sake of the cross?  Or are you ashamed of this gospel of peace?

Shall we teach our children to respect law enforcement officers and pray God removes the bad ones?  Or should we teach them to rebel against the law? Shall we love our friends and hate our enemies? Or shall we love our enemies, with no regard to race, and bless them, as Jesus commanded?  The choice is yours.  Shall we choose a time to unite and come together to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face?  Or will we hold on to our bitterness and malice towards another race, refusing to forgive?  The choice is yours.  If you want to meet and join together, please leave a comment, and we can figure out where and when to join together and cry out to Jesus for our children, our law enforcement officers and our land.

In closing, I’d like to share the priestly blessing with each one of you.  For not only are we children of God, but we are also a royal priesthood…

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” 

In the blessed name of Jesus, I remain,

Your Sister Cheryl

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Hosanna!

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: The Redeeming Sacrifice
Image Credit:
The Redeeming Sacrifice

He heard the roar of the crowd from a distance, as the young donkey He rode, slowly trudged toward Jerusalem.  He was a Man on a mission, and He was determined to accomplish that which He had been sent to do. Nothing or no one would stop Him.  He would do just what He and His Father had planned to do before the foundation of the earth was laid.  Indeed, for the joy that was set before Him, He would do what was necessary, enduring the pain, though He despised the shame of the cross.

Sitting astride the donkey colt, He quietly watched the throng of humanity, many dancing and shouting, and spreading their capes and coats on the ground before Him.  Others cut palm branches off the trees and laid them on the ground, so that it appeared to be a predominately green carpet (much like today’s red carpet is used for special events and for special people to walk upon),  inlaid with the colorful garments the people had laid down for the King of kings to ride upon.

Image Credit: Sweet Older Sister
Image Credit:
Sweet Older Sister

As He observed the mass of humanity singing praises and dancing before Him, Jesus didn’t just see a crowd, He noticed each individual.  He took note of the woman, whom He had healed from the issue of blood, rejoicing in His presence, and smiled gently at her.  He saw Bartimaeus, nevermore to be known as Blind Bartimaeus, since Messiah had healed him, wildly waving his palm branch when Jesus came near.  He then laid it down in front of Jesus, and prostrated himself to His Savior and Healer, in worship.  Jesus grinned at his enthusiastic worship, filled with love for each and every one of His people, as they cried out to Him with fervor, shouting:

“Hosanna to the Son of David;
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

Image Credit: Request.org
Image Credit:
Request.org

He knew that some genuinely thought that He was Messiah, but their faith was weak, and though they celebrated Him that day, they would revile Him in just a few days hence, and He felt a pang of pain in His chest.  There were others who were roaring and rejoicing with the crowd that day, and caught up in the excitement of it all, but they never knew Him.  Just a few days later, He knew that they too, would be caught up in the hysteria of another crowd, and then, they would no longer shout, “Hosanna (Save Now!) to the Son of David (the giant slayer)!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest!”  On that day, these same people would shout, “Crucify Him!  We will take responsibility for His death – we and our children!”  Again, though the crowd rejoiced, Jesus’ heart was  heavy.  Though they had no way of knowing, He knew what was before Him, and how the journey, begun on this day, would end.

“Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord!  Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”

~ Luke 19:38  NLT ~

“Rabbi (Teacher).  He heard the angry voices of the Pharisees, vying for His attention, and He fixed His saddened gaze on them.  “Rabbi, rebuke Your followers for saying things like that!”  He looked at each one of them, then, taking note of their self-righteous indignation, as they stood there piously, looking at Him and His followers with barely veiled contempt. His heart was especially heavy, as He gazed at these men, who saw, and yet didn’t see.  Perhaps their situation was the most dire, for they acted so religious, but they rejected the power that could make them godly.

Image Credit: rl-blesses.tumbler
Image Credit:
rl-blesses.tumbler

Sighing, Jesus replied to their angry demand, “I tell you, if they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”  Then, as the little donkey on which He rode, drew closer to Jerusalem, the pain in His heart was too much to contain, and He wept. As he sat upon the little donkey, and stopped to look upon Jerusalem, God’s holy city, He spoke these words, though no one responded…

42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”

~ Luke 19:41-44  NLT ~

Then, setting His face like a stone, Jesus continued His trek into Jerusalem, and remembered the words of the prophet, Isaiah…

Because the Sovereign Lord helps Me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore, I have set My face like a stone, determined to do His will.  And I know that I will not be put to shame.

~ Isaiah 50:7  NLT ~

As I have read and reread the accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, I’ve often wondered how He felt that day.  He knew who He was and why He was there. He knew that by the end of the week, He would be tortured and hung on the cross to die a painful death.  He knew that while the crowd was rejoicing, there were many, who wanted Him dead, perhaps, even some of those who rejoiced that day.  What a great love He had (and has) for us, that He was willing to endure the pain and the shame of the cross, so that we might live!

I pray that you will be blessed and take the time to meditate on all that Christ did, and still continues to do for each one of us, as we remember His life, death and resurrection this week. God bless you!

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Help Me Lord, I Need An Answer!

He had never felt so dejected, so all alone before. Though he cried out to God over and over, He was silent.  He was a strong and fearless man, as long as he was hearing the voice of God, and as long as His Spirit rested on him, but from the time of his arrest, YHWH remained silent, leaving him with nothing but time…

Time to reflect on his life and wonder, “Could it be that I misunderstood?  Is it possible that I got it all wrong?  El De’ot (God of Knowledge), please give me wisdom!  Reveal the truth to me!” he cried in anguish, thinking back on his ministry.

Image Credit: Pinterest
Image Credit:
Pinterest

He had heard of his destiny from the time he suckled on his mother’s breasts, as both parents shared the miraculous events leading up to his birth.  His father, Zechariah, a priest of the Almighty, who served in the Temple, told John about his visit from Gabriel, one of YHWH Tzevaot’s (God of Hosts’) angelic warriors.  It was Gabriel who informed Zechariah that he and his wife, Elizabeth, had found favor with YHWH, and that Elizabeth would give birth to a son, whom Zechariah was to name John.  Gabriel also told his abba (father) that John would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth, and that he would bring joy to many.

“Adonai,” John whispered in the silent darkness of the dungeon, “from the time of my birth, I never so much as took a sip of wine or allowed any other alcoholic drink to  pass my lips, according to the command Your angel, Gabriel gave to my Abba. I lived in the wilderness, and I cried out to the people, according to Your word:

“‘Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…’  (Matthew 3:2  NLT)

“And Adonai, I was fearless and bold, knowing I was doing what You had called me to do. When the Pharisees and Saducees came to watch me baptizing many in Your name, I cried out to them in righteous anger:

Image Credit: Matthew James Collins
Image Credit:
Matthew James Collins

“You brood of snakes!  Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.

“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be His slave and carry His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Then He will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into His barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.  (Matthew 3:7b-12  NLT)

“And El Shaddai, I was so certain, when I saw Jesus that day and baptized Him, that He was the long awaited One, but now, in this foul and wretched dungeon, I haven’t heard You speak to me, and my heart is heavy.  Could I have been wrong?  O YHWH!  Speak to me, please!”  Yet, though he cried out, there was no comfort to be found in that dreadful dungeon, where the only certainty seemed to be his impending death.

The nights were the worst, for it was then that the darkness was thickest, and it was then that the tormenting doubts were at their worst.  During the days, there was a thin shaft of light that came through a small window, high above him.  John tried to keep track of each new day, by that small bit of light, but as his strength ebbed, with little nourishment, and only a cup of water in the morning and at night, he lost all track of time.

One day, he heard the voices of his disciples, calling down to him from the small window above.  Though he couldn’t see them, he rejoiced to hear their voices, picturing each one in his mind.  His eyes filled with tears, as his disciples reported the many things that Messiah was doing.  It had been so long since he had heard a report from Adonai, and as he listened to their report, John stood up and called two of his disciples by name, telling them, “Go to Jesus for me, and ask Him:

Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?'”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

Image Credit: Christian Assembly Church
Image Credit:
Christian Assembly Church

His disciples departed quickly, to do their prophet’s bidding, while John sank to the prison floor, and closed his eyes.  Exhaustion overwhelmed him, and within minutes, he was asleep.  It was dark, when he awakened.  His throat was dry and parched, as though all of his saliva had been blown away in a desert sand storm.  Disoriented, he shook his head, trying to see in the vast darkness, but there was only black all around him.  He was unable to even see himself, let alone his surroundings.

“John!” he heard a familiar voice calling his name in the darkness, somewhere above him.  “Are you in there John?” the voice of his disciple called, as John suddenly realized where he was and who was calling out to him.

“Yes!” he tried to shout, but his dry and raspy voice sounded more like the croak of a frog, than the shout of a prophet of God.  “Did you find Him?  What news do you bring?  What did he say?”  Closing his eyes, tears welled up in them once again, and John breathed a soft prayer to El Elyon (Most High God)“Please, El Roi (God who sees me), let this be the answer to my prayers.”

“We found the Rabbi (Teacher), John,” they spoke in unison, hoping John would find comfort in their message.

“Did you ask Him if He is Messiah or if we should look for someone else?” 

“We did, John and Jesus told us to:

Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  And tell him, ‘God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.’  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

“That’s all He said, John, nothing else.  Is there anything else we can do for you?”

“No,”  John said.  “You’ve done enough.  Thank you.  Go quickly now, before someone discovers you here.”  His disciples quickly departed, promising to come back to visit him again, as soon as they could.

Tears rolled freely down John’s cheeks, mingling with the mucous from his nose and falling to the dirt floor of the dungeon, as John whispered to himself, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

John repeated the words again, smiling through the tears, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

Rejoicing, John began to repeat the words of the prophet Isaiah, that his father, Zechariah had taught him so many years ago, when he was just a boy…

“And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.  The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.  The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.  Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.  And a great road will go through that once deserted land.  It will be named the Highway of Holiness.  Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.  Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.  10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.  They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.  (Isaiah 35:5-10  NLT)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.”  (Isaiah 61:1  NLT)

Again, John repeated the message Jesus had given Him, laughing aloud as joy welled up within him, The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.

“El Chaiyai (God of my life), thank You.  This poor man cried, and You heard me and saved me out of all my troubles.  You sent Your word out to me, and it produced the fruits of joy and peace, accomplishing exactly what You meant it to accomplish, and it has prospered me.

“Thank You for Your lovingkindness in the midst of my weakness.  The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.  God blesses those who are not offended because of Me.  Adonai, I am not offended because of Messiah.  I can now die in peace, because You have spoken to me in the depths of darkness and misery.”

I love this story of John the Baptist, because it shows his humanity.  John was a strong and powerful man of God.  Even Jesus, Messiah, the Son of the Living God, respected John.  In fact, after John’s disciples departed to deliver Jesus’ message to him, Jesus said this about John:

“What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. 27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending My messenger ahead of You, and he will prepare Your way before You.’

28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”  (Luke 7:24-28  NLT)

Do you want to know one of the reasons I love this story about John the Baptist?  It is because Jesus honored John by telling this to everyone after John had asked if He was truly the Messiah.  Jesus wasn’t angry when John, in a time of weakness, doubted.

Think about it, John’s father, Zechariah doubted Gabriel’s prophecy of John’s birth to him and his wife, and because of his doubt, Zechariah was made mute, until after John’s birth.  I’m certain that his father must have shared this with his son, on more than one occasion, as he grew up, and now, John was imprisoned, and faced with his own doubts.  In light of Gabriel’s response to his father’s question, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”  (Luke 1:18  NLT)  I wonder if John feared Jesus’ response to his question, “Are You the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”  (Matthew 11:3, Luke 7:19  NLT)

It’s obvious that there is a difference in the questions that were asked.  Zechariah’s doubt stemmed from the fact that he simply didn’t believe what Gabriel had told him.  John’s doubt was different.  He was at a low point in his life (Can you relate?), imprisoned and alone, no longer able to minister as he had been called to do, and in his weakness, he became uncertain.  It wasn’t that he didn’t believe.  He had lost everything, and that’s when he started to question.

Have you ever been there?  I have.  When I was no longer able to continue ministering in prison, because of my back problems, I had questions.  If I could no longer work and no longer minister in prison, was my life over?  Was I a disappointment to God?  Had I imagined that I was called by God to minister?  Like John, I struggled with these questions.  And I cried out to God for comfort and reassurance, and for awhile, all I heard was silence.

There’s another reason why I love this story so much.  The reason why this story blesses me is because of the way that Jesus answered John’s question:

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen— the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of Me.  (Matthew 11:4-6, Luke 7:22-23  NLT)

Jesus could have simply replied, “Yes,” but I don’t think that would have assuaged John’s doubts.  You see, John needed a word from God.  He needed to hear the word from the Word.  From the time he was in his mother’s womb, he had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and after his birth, I’m certain that Zechariah and Elizabeth shared God’s word with him, in preparation for the ministry he had been called to.  Therefore, the only thing that could mend John’s broken heart and renew his hope, was the word of God.  Knowing this, Jesus answered him by quoting Isaiah’s prophecy about Messiah’s coming.

It is the same way with me, and all who seek the truth.  When I need the truth, I find it in God’s word.  When I am anxious or fearful, I find peace in the word of God.  When I am uncertain or unsure of what my next step should be, I find my answer in God’s holy word. For peace, joy, certainty and truth can only be found in the Word of God.

After having to give up my job and my prison ministry, I was crushed, because I thought God would no longer be able to use me if I was stuck at home.  And then, I heard a message from the Lord, instructing me to begin writing again, something that I hadn’t had time to do for many years.

Then the Lord said to me, “Write My answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.”  (Habakkuk 2:2  NLT)

I was excited to do what He had called me to do, and then this thought came to me, “I should start a blog.”  Now perhaps that doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary to you, but at the time that thought came to me, I had no idea what a blog was.  I had heard the word before, but no one had ever explained it to me, and I was never interested enough to know what it was, until the Lord placed it in my spirit to start a blog.  Therefore, in October, 2012, I started a blog, and this has become my ministry.

Image Credit: Bob Bugg
Image Credit:
Bob Bugg

Beloved reader, are you in a dark place right now?  Do you have questions and uncertainties?  If so, I encourage you to pray and seek your answers in God’s word.  It is easier now, than ever before, to search for the answers you need from God’s word.  You have only to use your favorite search engine online, and enter “Scriptures about _________.”  You fill in the blank.

Also, you can read scriptures from just about any bible version you want at the sites listed below.  There are many other sites as well, but the top three are ones that I use most frequently.

If you are looking for answers like John the Baptist was, or like I do, I encourage you to seek those answers in the word of God.

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  (Hebrews 4:12  NLT)

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Children of the Promise

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Forgive me for the delay in this study on Ephesians. Unfortunately, I’ve been under the weather for awhile. However, I’m feeling better now, and I’m anxious to get back to this study.

As you may remember, we’ve been studying Ephesians 1:5, as we discover what it is to be an adopted child of God. Today, we’re  going to dig a little deeper into this study, and discover what it is to be a Child of the Promise. The Apostle Paul wrote these mournful words in his letter to the Romans, as he explained that to be a child of God, you must first be a child of the promise…

Children of the Promise

My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed His glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them His law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping Him and receiving His wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ Himself was an Israelite as far as His human nature is concerned. And He is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

Well then, has God failed to fulfill His promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.

~ Romans 9:2-8  NLT ~

As we read Paul’s heartfelt statement regarding his Israeli brothers and sisters, we discover that being born a Jew does not ensure they are children of God…

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when He said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fallBut anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

~ Romans 9:30-33  NLT ~

Hallelujah! This is too important to miss. Not all Jews are children of God, because they are not children of the promise. In fact, Jesus informed the Pharisees that though they were Jews, and descendants of Abraham, they were not children of God…

38 “I am telling you what I saw when I was with My Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. 40 Instead, you are trying to kill Me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. 41 No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God Himself is our true Father.”

42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me!44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies…”

~ John 8:38-44  NLT ~

Though His words were harsh, they were true. Instead of telling people what they wanted to hear, Jesus always spoke the truth. For though the Pharisees were descendants of Abraham, they were not children of God. They were children of the devil, who also rejects and hates the truth. This is true of all men, not just the Pharisees. If you are not a child of God, (a child of the promise), then you are a child of the devil.

Therefore, we need to know, (not just in our minds, but more importantly, we need to know within our hearts) what a child of the promise is. Let’s see what the word of God tells us about children of the promise…

30 What does all this mean? Even though the Gentiles were not trying to follow God’s standards, they were made right with God. And it was by faith that this took place. 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? instead of by trusting in Him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path. 33 God warned them of this in the Scriptures when He said,

“I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, But anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”

~ Romans 9:30-33  NLT ~

According to this passage, children of the promise are those who have faith in Christ. Children of the promise know that we cannot get right with God by keeping the law. Children of the promise understand that apart from Christ, we’re not capable of keeping the law on our own. Therefore, a child of the promise must trust in Christ to make us right with God…

21 Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? 22 The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. 23 The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of His promise.

24 These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. 25 And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia,because she and her children live in slavery to the law. 26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. 27 As Isaiah said,

Rejoice, O childless woman,
you who have never given birth!
Break into a joyful shout,
you who have never been in labor!
For the desolate woman now has more children
than the woman who lives with her husband!”

28 And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. 29 But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit.

30 But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.” 31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.

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 4:21-5:1  NLT ~

This scripture from Paul’s letter to the Galatians gives us a beautiful contrast between the children of the promise, and those who are not the children of the promise…

Children of the Slave Wife

Children of the Promise 

Born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise…

God’s own fulfillment of His promise… 

Live in slavery to the law… 

Free from the law… 

Like Ishmael, the child born by human effort… 

Like Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit… 

Persecute the children of the promise… 

Persecuted by those who are enslaved… 

Will not share the inheritance of the children of the promise… 

Will receive the inheritance..

Tied up in slavery to sin and the law… 

Free from slavery to sin and the law… 

As you can see, the children of the promise,  who are the children of God, are those who have faith in God, and also trust in Christ Jesus. Therefore, the question each of us must ask ourselves is, Am I a child of the promise? Or am I a slave to the law, as I continue to try to obtain God’s promise by trying to keep the law without trusting in Christ? 

Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that those who read and participate in this study would be children of the promise. I pray that You would draw each person to You, so that they could taste and see how good You are.

For those who lack faith, Lord, please give them the faith they need to believe that Jesus is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. For those whose faith is weak, I pray that You would strengthen it, and for those who already have strong faith in You, Father, please make their faith in You even stronger, in Jesus’ name. 

Lord, make each one of us Your children of the promise. Help us to grow each day in our faith, so that we may bring glory and honor to Your name. Amen.

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

 

What is Love?

love_heart_uidaodjsdsew

Yesterday, people from all over the world celebrated Valentine’s Day, the day of love, which begs the question, “What is love, anyway?”

Love is something that most human beings long for and seek for most of their lives. I truly believe that within every man, woman and child, there is a place within our hearts that needs to love and to be loved. There’s a place within us that longs to know and to be fully known, and yet despite our obvious flaws, still be loved completely…

Almost my entire life has bee spent seeking the love and approval of others… family… friends… strangers… and even enemies! Rejection from family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what, left me feeling alone and unworthy of love. All too often, I would prayerfully and tearfully ask God what was wrong with me. Why was I so unlovable?

Because of the pain I felt from the rejection of those family members, I was blind to those who truly did love me, just as I am. I was blessed with a husband and children who love me very deeply, and yet, I spent most of my life waiting for them to see the “real me”, which would cause them to reject me too.

As a child, I had to fight to win my parents’ love and approval, and unfortunately, all too often, I failed in my plight. As a result of this, I grew up feeling unloved. For I always did something terrible, which caused them to withhold their love from me. 

Knowing how my family felt about me, I was certain that the God of heaven and earth, who knows all and sees all, could never love me. He has seen the best in me, and the worst in me. He knows every bad thing I’ve ever done and ever thought of doing. He also knows every bad thing that I will someday do, and so I was convinced that He couldn’t love me, until I began to hear His voice…

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

~ Psalm 139:14  NASB ~

I had always felt ugly and defective, both inside and out. As a child, I had buck teeth and a curved spine, which caused me to have to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. And yet now, the Lord was telling me that He had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had made me fearfully and wonderfully in His image. Even so, I still doubted that God could really love me. After all, I had grown up believing that I was unlovable, so how could He love me?

Long ago the Lord said to (Cheryl) Israel:
“I have loved you, My (daughterpeople, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

I was amazed. How could the Lord of all Creation, the King of Glory possibly love me? And yet He not only loved me; He also drew me to Himself. What an amazing God and what an amazing love!

I accepted the great gift of His love, and yet, there was still the little girl within me that wondered, “If God had really loved me and chosen me from the foundations of the world, why had I always felt so unloved? Why had I always felt so alone? What was wrong with me?”

You see, I wasn’t questioning God’s goodness. I was questioning my own worth. I was certain there was something terribly wrong with me, something ugly and unlovable. Then, one night, as I was driving with my daughter, who was pregnant with her first child, while we were discussing baby names and their meanings, the Lord spoke to my heart…

Glancing at my daughter, as I drove, I suddenly said, “Do you know what Cheryl means?”

“No,” she responded, “what does it mean?”

“It means ‘Beloved,'” I replied. 

“Yes, My child. Your name is Beloved, because you are My beloved. I loved you and chose you before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it is I who named you. For you are My beloved, and I have always loved you.”

Suddenly, everything made sense. I am lovable, because God loves me. I am worthy of love, because God has made me worthy, and if God has that kind of love for me, isn’t it possible that He loves you as well? 

Now, my outlook has changed. After all, if God could love me so much, that He would sacrifice His one and only Son in exchange for my life, then how could I not love people, even my enemies, just as He did? Because He loves me so much, I can’t help but share His love with others.

So, what is this love that God has for us, and that He commands us to share with others? Paul, an apostle of Christ, and a great man of God, gives us a wonderful image of what love is, in 1 Corinthians 13…

13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

~ 1 Corinthians 13  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

God’s Child

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~


Image Credit: Weighing the Facts
Image Credit:
Weighing the Facts

As I was reading my last post, I was unsatisfied in my spirit.  I felt that I hadn’t completely gone into what it is to be adopted by God, and I didn’t feel that I could move any further in our study, until we dig a little deeper into this subject.  Therefore, while the last post served as an introduction of what it is to be adopted into God’s family, this post will delve into what it is to be God’s Child.


God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. 

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~


Let’s closely examine this scripture.  “God decided in advance to adopt us…”  Other bible versions word it this way:


He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—

~ Ephesians 1:5  NIV ~


He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,according to the kind intention of His will…

~ Ephesians 1:5  NASB ~


Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…

~ Ephesians 1:5  KJV ~


God had already decided that through Jesus Christ He would make us His children—this was His pleasure and purpose.

~ Ephesians 1:5  GNT ~


Some versions of the bible say that God predestined us to be adopted by Him through Christ, so what exactly, does predestined mean? According to dictionary.com, the definition for predestined is:

to destine in advance; foreordain; predetermine

Throughout the church age, there have been many arguments and splits within the church based on the doctrine of predestination.  Many feel that if we are predestined to be adopted by God, then that negates our free choice.  However, that just isn’t so.

When a couple decides to adopt a child, they predestine a child to become theirs.  They then choose the child or children they want to adopt, and those children are predestined to become their children.  So, after they adopt those children, they take them home and they shower them with love, raising them as their own.  Perhaps some of those children love their adoptive parents, and they do their best to bless their parents for the rest of their lives.

However, a few of their adoptive children do not love their parents.  They spend their childhood running away from their parents, and when they are grown, they leave their parents for good.  It doesn’t matter to them how much love their adoptive parents gave them, nor do they care about their inheritance from them.  They only seek to please themselves.

Now, I ask you, although these children were predestined to be adopted by their parents, did they have any choice about whether they would receive or reject the gift of love that was offered to them?  In the same way, God decided, to adopt us into His family through Jesus, yet, just like any other adopted child, He allows each one of us the freedom to choose whether they will accept this wonderful gift of love He offers us, or whether we will reject it.  What about you? Will you accept the gift of adoption He has offered you?

Before you decide, let’s discuss the benefits of becoming a child of God…


But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

~ Galatians 4:4-7  NLT ~


This scripture lists several the benefits of being a child of God.  Firstly, it is important to understand that every man, woman and child is born in slavery.  Does this sound crazy to you?  Are you  thinking, “Wait a minute! I live in a free country.”  Perhaps you do live in a free country, just as I do, but it doesn’t change the fact that you, like me, are born enslaved.  So, what are we enslaved to?  We are all enslaved to sin.


Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”

~ John 8:34  NLT ~


For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

~ Romans 3:23  NLT ~


As I’m sure you would agree with the scripture, everyone, including you and I have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.  In fact, we are all born in sin.  Did you ever notice that children don’t have to be taught how to misbehave?  We have to teach them how to be obedient and how to behave properly, but sin seems to come naturally to them.  This is because ever since Adam ate  the forbidden fruit, all of his descendants (except for Jesus, the Son of God), are born as slaves to sin.

It all sounds pretty hopeless, except for one thing…


But when the right time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent Him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that He could adopt us as His very own children. And because we are His children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are His child, God has made you His heir.

~ Galatians 4:4-7  NLT ~


Do you see the wondrous news?  At just the right time, God sent His Son to be born of a woman and subject to the Law.  God sent Jesus to buy freedom for us, (you and me) who were slaves to the law and to sin, so that He could adopt us as His very own children.

Now this is important.  When God adopted us as His own children, we were set free from our slavery to sin and the law.  I am no longer a slave to sin, because Christ set me free, and then God, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them, adopted me as His daughter!  Once He adopted me, He placed His Son’s Spirit within me, so that now, I realize that I am not the same.  I am no longer unworthy, because He made me worthy of His love, His protection and His freedom.  I now have a heavenly inheritance, because He loved me enough to make me His own dear child, just as Jesus is!

There is so much more to share about this adoption, and what it is to be a child of God.  Please join me for the next post, when we will continue our study of what it is to be a child of God.

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Adopted Into God’s Family

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Image Credit: The Journey of Faith
Image Credit:
The Journey of Faith

For every heart that has ever been broken, destroyed by abandonment, rejection and betrayal, and for those that have not, you have been loved with an everlasting love before there was time.  These words the Lord spoke to Israel are for all who will call upon His name:

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

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

Do you doubt that these words are meant for everyone who will call on His name?  Not only did God love Israel with an everlasting love, He also loves ALL of mankind with a love so strong that He was willing to sacrifice His One and Only true Son for the sake of ALL of us.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

~ John 3:16  NLT ~

Those who have been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed all long for that one thing. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, there is an ache deep within your heart, a longing for love that cannot be quenched.  And how do I know this?  I know this because I am one of the broken, abandoned, rejected, and betrayed, and my first memories are of a little girl who had a hunger for Someone to love me no matter how bad, or how ugly, or how undesirable and unlovable I was.

When I was very young, my mother and father divorced.  After they divorced, I can count on one hand the number of times I saw my birth father again. Now that I’m an adult, I understand that my father’s abandonment was not because I was bad, ugly, undesirable or unlovable.  Instead, it was his problem, but as a child, I believed every single one of those things about myself. 

God-knows-uWhen I was around two and a half, my mother married my stepfather, a man that I grew up thinking was my daddy until right before I entered the first grade, and I had to learn how to write my name.  You see, up until that time, I thought my name was Cheryl Mitchell, and I already knew how to write that, but now I learned that my real name was Cheryl Payne, and I didn’t really belong to the man I called Daddy.  I wondered why God had made someone like me.  You see, even then, I knew there was a God, and though I didn’t yet know Him personally, He knew me, for He was the One who had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had a plan for my life.

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

~ Psalm 139:13-16  NLT ~

I was one of those children that trouble seems to follow, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that I was the one following trouble.  I hated school, from the first day I set foot there.  It seemed like I was always in trouble once I was in school.  When my parents went to parent/teacher conferences, they were told that I could do better if I would just apply myself.  I always dreaded those parent/teacher conferences, which would lead to my parents’ cussing me and telling me how worthless and stupid and lazy I was, as they beat me over and over and over again.  I was afraid to go to sleep at night, because they would come into my room over and over again throughout the night, until they went to bed, pulling me out of the bed and beating me yet again.

Cheryl - Grade 6
Cheryl – Grade 6

When I was in the sixth grade, I really did something stupid,  You see, if I brought home a bad report card, I would receive several beatings, then be punished for the following nine weeks, until the next report cards were issued.  My punishment consisted of being banished to my bedroom to study for those nine weeks. I was not permitted to go outside, receive phone calls, play or watch television during those long weeks. I was only allowed out of my room to use the bathroom, eat dinner, go to school and to go to church.  I thank God for the church bus that would pick my sister and me up on Sunday mornings, because that was when I was able to laugh and sing and feel loved.  

Anyway, when I was in the sixth grade, I received an “Inc.” (Incomplete) on my report card for not writing my fire prevention essay.  Don’t ask me why I didn’t write it, because I honestly couldn’t tell you.  I knew the incomplete was coming, but I didn’t worry about it until it was actually there, on my report card.  When I saw that grade, I panicked, and then I got this “brilliant” idea.  I had learned that if you licked the tip of an eraser, you could erase ink.  As soon as I got home from school, before my parents came home, I did just that, and changed my grade from an “Inc.” to a “G” (the equivalent of an “A”).  I actually got away with my ruse until nine weeks later, when report cards were once again issued.

In those days, we carried our report cards to each class and the teacher would call you forward and print your grade on the report card.  My heart pounded all morning long, and through lunch, until it was time to go to my Language Arts class.  By then, I was really worked up.  I must have had millions of butterflies in my stomach – so many that I was beginning to feel ill.  When my teacher called me, my whole body shook with fear, yet still, I walked forward to her desk.  As soon as she took my report card out of the envelope, she looked at me and stated loudly, “You erased this!”

I looked behind me, hoping against hope that my classmates hadn’t heard her, but of course, all eyes were on me.  I shook my head emphatically, as I looked her in the eye and whispered, “No I didn’t.  You did. Don’t you remember?  You accidentally put someone else’s grade on here, and you changed it,” but she wasn’t buying it.  

“You erased this report card and I’m calling the principal.”  With that said, she stood up and walked over to the intercom to call the principal. I was truly panicked by this time, and I didn’t care that my classmates were all staring at me as I cried and pleaded with her not to call the principal, but to no avail.  She stood by the intercom and told the principal what I had done, and he hurried to our classroom, where I was weeping inconsolably, and pleading with her and then him not to call my parents.

At that point, I was such a wreck, that they sent me to the nurse’s office.  The nurse tried to quiet me, and then she began prying into my business, asking why I was so afraid.  She asked me if my parents beat me.  Did they abuse me?  As she questioned me, all of my fear now turned to anger and hatred, not against my parents, but against her.  I was already in enough trouble, without her being nosy and trying to make things even worse for me.  It wasn’t until nearly thirty years later, that I realized she wasn’t being nosy.  She was trying to help me, but I was too blinded by fear and misplaced anger to realize it.

I thought about running away, but I didn’t know where to run to, and I was too afraid to do it.  So, I just sat in my bedroom waiting until my mother came home at 6:00 that evening.  By then, my fear had grown immensely, and with good reason.  Soon, the bedroom door was opened, and there stood my mommy and my stepfather, whom I thought of as my daddy.  My mother began shouting at me, and then my daddy began to speak, and the angrier she got, the louder she was, while the softer his voice got, the more I feared him.  They told me how stupid and lazy I was.  They said that I was worthless and nothing but trouble.  And then, my daddy said the words that really crushed me, “I’m ashamed that anyone thinks you’re my daughter.”

Then they each took turns beating me, but as bad as the beatings were, the thing that still hurts, even now, at 53 years of age, were those words spoken by my “daddy,” the man I truly adored.  I wasn’t angry at him or my mother, though, because they were right, I thought.  I believed every single curse they spoke over me, and it took many years for the Lord to finally set me free from them.  All night long, until she finally went to sleep, my mother would sit in the den smoking cigarettes and thinking about what I had done, and the more she thought about it, the angrier she became, again and again.  Then, she would burst into my bedroom, snatch me out of bed and begin beating me again and again.  I laid in the bed, shaking with fear, and crying, and it seemed like every time I would begin to doze off, my door would slam open, and I would be snatched from the bed and beaten again and again.

I was punished for the following nine weeks until the next report card was issued and my grades were good, but until then, I was berated over and over again.  I wasn’t angry with my mommy and daddy though.  I was angry with my teacher and myself.  I hated her for many years, but I hated myself for many more.  

On the church bus every Sunday, we would learn different scriptures, and one of the first ones I learned was John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Now, I remember my thoughts when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” 

“Yeah,” I thought, “but He doesn’t love me.  He knows how bad I am.  He knows everything about me, and there’s no way He could ever love me.”

It wasn’t until many years later, on a Saturday as I prepared a Sunday School lesson for children who were the same age that I had been when I first heard those words, “For God so loved the world…” that He revealed to me that those words included me too.  While preparing a lesson on Psalm 139, as I read, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “Cheryl, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  It was I who knit you together in your mother’s womb, and I knew every single day of your life before you were born, and I loved you.” 

Beloved reader, can you believe that? Those words are not just for me. They’re for you, too. And get this, the very same God who knit each and every man, woman and child in their mother’s womb, decided long before then that He would adopt those of us who wanted Him to be their Daddy.

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

Isn’t that wonderful? And do you know why He chose to adopt us?  He didn’t do it because He pitied us, or because He felt like it was something He should do. No!  He adopted us into His own family through Jesus because He wanted  to do it!  Not only that, it gave Him great pleasure to adopt us!!!

Beloved reader, has your heart ever been broken, abandoned, rejected and betrayed?  Have you ever felt unloved and unlovable?  Have you ever longed for a Daddy who would lavish His love on you, without feeling like you must earn His love?  Do you have a hole in your heart that cries, just as mine did, “Please won’t Somebody love me, even though I don’t deserve it?”  

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Image Credit:
Pinterest.com

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.

~ 1 John 3:1  NIV ~

Beloved reader, my whole life, I felt like I was nothing but a burden to my family, who I loved deeply.  But I now have a Daddy who loved me long before He formed the earth, and He chose me to be His adopted daughter, because I bring great pleasure to Him.  

I shared all of this with you, not to make you pity me, but so you can rejoice with me.  For you see, I was always loved, even when I felt like no one loved me, and I am no better or worse than you.  God loves you, just as much as He loves me, and if you want to experience that love, call upon His name.  The following prayer that Paul prayed many, many years ago is the prayer that I now pray for every person who reads this post:

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.17 Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

~ Ephesians 3:14-20  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Holy and Without Fault

Image Credit: The Aletheia Chronicle
Image Credit:
The Aletheia Chronicle

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

Are you as amazed as I am, at the lengths that God has gone to, in order to win our hearts and rescue us from sin? God looks at mankind, knowing that we are sinful from the time we are born. It’s our nature to sin, and God is fully aware of that…

The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. ~ Genesis 6:5  NLT ~

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Image Credit:
Pinterest

Still, the Lord saw something in us that He loved. Despite the sin that enslaved and controlled each and every one of us, God saw something worth dying for. Doesn’t that amaze you? It blows me away! I know myself pretty well, and when I examine my own heart, I can’t imagine why anyone would be willing to die for me, let alone the Creator of the Universe, whom I’ve hurt too many times to count…

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 NLT ~

I feel like jumping up and down for joy as I write and share these words with you. How exciting! In order to comprehend just how wonderful this is, we need to understand that God, also known as Yahweh, Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our Strong Tower, and by many other wonderful names, is holy…

No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2  NLT ~

Now what is the importance of God’s holiness, and what does it mean to you and me? Firstly, Ephesians 1:4, the scripture we’re studying, tells us that God chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault. Therefore, we must know and understand what holiness is, so that we can be the people God chose us to be, in Jesus’ name…

 The Hebrew word for holy is qadowshwhich means:

sacred, holy, Holy One, saint, set apart

Image Credit: Share A Verse
Image Credit:
Share A Verse

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. Therefore, I have written the word and definition from the Hebrew translation. Obviously, holy in reference to the Lord, would be the definition Holy One, for He is the only God who is holy. Though other nations chose to worship other Gods, Yahweh alone was the only Holy One, and because of His holiness, He called His people to be holy like Him…

For I, the Lord, am the One who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. ~ Leviticus 11:45  NLT ~

Now, the New Testament, unlike the Hebrew, was written in Greek, which was a common language, spoken by most nations at that time. Therefore, the Greek word for holy is hagios, which means:

most holy thing, a saint

Now, I know that some churches only refer to certain people as saints, after they have died, however, when we read God’s holy word in its proper context, it says that He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. Sometimes, we miss out on what God is truly saying, because we listen to what “the church” tells us, without looking to see what God says in His word. According to Ephesians 1:4, God chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes… There was no gathering of apostles, priests, cardinals, bishops, priests, pastors or even the pope, who determined whether we were holy or saints. God alone chose us in Christ.

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9  NLT ~

Beloved readers, do you see what God has chosen us for in Christ? He has chosen us – not just people who receive a title from mankind, but you and me to be a holy nation of royal priests, so that we can show others the goodness of God. According to the Hebrew and Greek definitions of holy, we have been chosen to be sacred, set apart from the world, and saints who are holy.

So, what does this mean to us? Firstly, I can be none of the things God chose me to be unless I am in Christ, for apart from Him, we can do nothing…

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:5  NLT ~

It is also very important for us to remember that God in Christ chose us to be His royal priesthood of saints, not us, and not anyone else, be it a preacher, priest or anyone else…

You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. ~ John 15:16  NLT ~

Beloved readers, it is clear from the scriptures that we have been chosen to be holy (set apart, sacred, a saint), so that we can show others the goodness of God. Sadly, many people who call themselves Christian are no different than everyone else. The King James version of the bible declares that we are a peculiar people, and yet, if we live and behave as everyone else, how are we peculiar?

It’s really sad that you can often tell, just by looking at them or speaking to them, when someone is Islamic, because they often dress differently than us, and they live differently as well. Yet, with a few exceptions, most people could not tell if someone is a born-again Christian or not, because so many continue to live and do as the world does (i.e. – telling little white lies, gossiping, cussing, hating people who are different than they are, fearful of saying “Jesus Christ,” except when they are taking His name in vain…), and so the list goes on and on. 

Beloved reader, please join me today and let each one of us examine our hearts, and let us also ask God to do so as well. This is a wonderful prayer that David prayed, and if we ask God to do this, He will be faithful to help us…

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends You,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.                       ~ Psalm 139:23-24  NLT ~

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

God Loved Us Even Before He Created the World

Galaxy

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Whoever Has the Son Has Life…

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

Image Credit: Whoever has the Son has eternal life.
Image Credit:
Whoever has the Son has eternal life.

What a powerful scripture! “Whoever has the Son has life…”

When we’re drowning in sorrow, as long as the Son of God dwells within us, we have life.

When pain overtakes our body, we still live, despite the affliction, because Christ lives within us.

No matter what we endure for His name’s sake, we still have life, as long as He remains within our hearts.

And though our world crumbles and falls, even still, we live in His name.

Yes, although we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are assured that though we die, yet, we shall live, when the Son of God is our Lord and Savior.

Image Credit: Nevada Pain
Image Credit:
Nevada Pain

I live with chronic back pain that keeps worsening with the passage of time. It often renders me unable to do the simplest daily activities, things that you never even think about, until you can no longer do them for yourself. I now require help to do things such as…

  • Bathing myself…
    • Dressing myself…
      • Cooking…
        • Cleaning…
          • Handicap Parking…
            • Walking (I must use a cane)…
              • Shopping (I must use a scooter)…
                • Playing with my grandchildren…

My husband now carries the load of cooking, cleaning and caring for me, and while I am so thankful for this good man, I also worry that I’ve become a burden to him. When I express this concern to him, he asks me if I thought he was a burden, whenever he’s been sick and unable to do anything, and my answer is, “No, of course not. I love you.”

He then smiles at me, and replies, “I love you too,” and I know this is true. I don’t understand how or why, but I am so grateful to my God and Savior, who knew me before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, and chose me to be His. I am thankful, because He knew, long before He placed me in my mother’s womb, that I would one day suffer with chronic back pain, and He had a plan to help me endure it. For three years before I was born, He had created a little boy, who would one day grow up to be my husband. So, knowing the love and patience that would be required to help me endure, He gifted my husband with love, joy, patience, gentleness and kindness…

Image Credit: Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson
Image Credit:
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

I wish I could tell you that I’ve accepted my circumstances graciously, but that would be a lie. My faith has been attacked from every side, and there have been many times when I’ve given up. I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to believe that God will answer my prayers for others, than it is to believe that He will answer my prayers for myself. Therefore, like the father of the boy with the murderous deaf-mute spirit that tried to kill him, by throwing him into the fire or water, while his body was overcome with convulsions, I find myself uttering his same desperate cry to Jesus…

20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth.

21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father.

He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if You can.”

 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, He rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” He said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!”

26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up.

28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with His disciples, they asked Him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?”

29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” ~ Mark 9:20-29  NLT ~

Like this boy’s father, I desperately want to believe that Jesus will heal me, but what if that isn’t His will? What if His will is for me to endure this pain for reasons I don’t know? Oh, I know that many churches tell us that it is not God’s will for His people to suffer, but how do they explain the suffering endured by every one of the great heroes of faith?

  • Abel was murdered by his own brother because he offered a more acceptable gift to God than his brother…
    • Joseph suffered unjustly, betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave. Then he became a prisoner in a country far from his home…
      • David, a man after God’s own heart, suffered greatly, chased by the murderous King Saul, losing his and Bathsheba’s first child to death, and later, betrayed by one of his own sons…
        • Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet, for he suffered greatly for the Kingdom of God.
          • Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were thrown in a fiery furnace…
            • Daniel was thrown in a den of lions...
          • 13 All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  ~ Hebrews 11:13-16  NLT ~
        • 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.

But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.

36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. ~ Hebrews 11:35-40  NLT ~

Now, many might argue that these are all Old Testament examples, and that we are living under the New Covenant, not the Law, and that is true. However, let us not forget that God is the same today, yesterday and forever…

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8  NLT ~

17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.  ~ James 1:17  NLT ~

“I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.  ~ Malachi 3:6  NLT ~

While it is true that the examples above are Old Testament references, it is also true that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Not only did Old Testament men and women of God suffer for His name’s sake; New Testament men and women of God suffered as well…

And, because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, let us not forget that Old Testament and New Testament Christians weren’t the only ones to suffer…

  • Joni Eareckson Tada, a wonderful woman of God, with a powerful ministry, was in a terrible diving accident as a teen, and though she prayed for healing, it was God’s will for her to remain a quadriplegic, while still ministering for His glory.
    • Dave Roever, a godly man who served his country faithfully in the unpopular Vietnam war, was badly wounded by a hand grenade that exploded in his hand. Though his face was badly disfigured, he still gave glory to God, and ministered throughout the United States as an evangelist, then eventually returned to Vietnam as a missionary, at the Lord’s leading.
      • Patsy Clairmont, another woman of God, suffered for many years as an agoraphobic (fear of open places and crowds), before becoming an author and minister for the Lord.
        • Fanny Crosby, author of more than 8,000 hymns, loved the Lord and served Him faithfully, though she remained blind her entire life. And, rather than lamenting her circumstances, she once said, “Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind… for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

Therefore, despite the things I’ve been taught, when I examine the scriptures and the history of the church, I have come to realize that it isn’t God’s will for His people to remain trouble free, no matter what we’ve been told. In fact, it seems to me that it is in the dark times of suffering, in our weaknesses that God’s strength is revealed. In fact, even the apostle Paul asked God to remove his suffering…

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10  NLT ~

As I study the word of God, concerning suffering, I am beginning to understand that those who have claimed that my suffering is God’s punishment against me, are absolutely wrong, and it is they who do not understand what God’s word truly says about suffering…

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~ Romans 5:3-5  NKJV ~

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. ~ James 1:2-4  NLT ~

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later. ~ Romans 8:18  NLT ~

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT ~

As I read the Word of the Lord, my faith is being renewed and restored. For too long, I’ve allowed the false teachings and the opinions of others to weigh me down, filling me with fear and doubt, which only magnifies the physical pain I must endure. As I write these words and share the words the Lord has given me, I believe that God will use them to strengthen and encourage others who are suffering as well. 

Beloved readers, don’t allow false teaching and man’s opinions to influence you. If someone tells you that it isn’t God’s will for you to suffer, or if they blame your circumstances on your lack of faith, don’t allow those words to fill you with shame. If someone tells you that your suffering is a punishment from God, or an attack from the devil, don’t allow those words to influence you.

Instead, 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33 NLTBeloved readers, don’t assume that your suffering is a punishment from God or an attack from the devil. And don’t assume that your suffering is not a part of God’s will for your life, because nothing happens by chance, and if you are truly a child of God, and you are living in obedience to Him, then He will keep you in His will. In fact, don’t even waste your time asking why you are suffering. Instead, remember these words that Jesus spoke to His disciples…

33  “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33  NLT ~

Finally, beloved readers, no matter what you are suffering, the most important thing for you to cling to is your relationship with Jesus. Have you been born again? If so, then whatever your circumstances are, no matter how much pain and suffering you endure, no matter how oppressed and depressed you are or have been, rejoice, because you have life!

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.” ~ John 11:25  NLT ~

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.  ~ 1 John 5:12  NLT ~

In closing, I would like to share this final word with those people who are suffering and have never been born again. If you have read this post all the way to the end, rejoice, because God has not given up on you, and He can turn your suffering into a reason to rejoice, as well. It is not by chance that you found this post and read it; it is because God has led you here so that you can be born again and live.

In order to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you don’t have to pray a “Sinner’s Prayer.” You just need to  believe and do what the following scriptures say…

23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  ~ Romans 3:23  NLT ~

According to this scripture, everyone has sinned against God, (except for Jesus, who was the Son of God and completely without sin). This means that every man, woman, boy and girl has sinned. It means that you have sinned, and I have sinned too. It means that even preachers and prophets have sinned. The scripture tells us that everyone has failed to meet the standard that God has set for us. This means that just as the worst criminal has fallen short of God’s glorious standard, we, too, have fallen short of His glorious standard. Do you believe this?

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  ~ Romans 6:23  NLT ~

According to God’s Law, the penalty for sinning and falling short of His glorious standard is death. As you can plainly see, there is no differential for how big or how small the sin is. It simply says that the payment or wages for sin is death. It sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? But God had a rescue plan for us…

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in Him. But anyone who does not believe in Him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.  ~ John 3:16-21  NLT ~

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  ~ John 14:6  NLT ~

27 Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. 28 In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for Him. ~ Hebrews 9:27-28  GNT ~

Do you believe this? Would you like to be born again and saved, so that you can spend eternity with the King of all kings and Lord of all lords? Would you like to have a personal relationship with the One who loved you before He laid the foundations of the earth?

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4  NLT ~

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10  NLT ~

Do you believe all of this? If so, openly declare it, so that all will know that you have been reborn. Then, to help you grow in your faith, begin reading and studying the Bible, for its pages contain God’s word. You don’t need to read large portions either. Instead, before you begin to read, ask God to give you an understanding heart. Then, read a small portion of it… (i.e. – John 1 is a good place to start, so begin reading John 1:1-5. Then, read it again, out loud, and meditate {think} about what it says. You might want to study just that small portion for a week, and write your thoughts about it. Then, begin reading the next portion and meditate on it.) [If you don’t have a bible, you can visit Bible Gateway and read the bible in any version you prefer. Try several different versions, and see which ones are the easiest to understand.]

Also, ask God to place other believers in your life, so that you can worship with them and grow spiritually. Welcome into the family of God, beloved reader. If I can help you in your new walk with God, write me a message and I will answer you and pray for you. God bless you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Overcoming the Spirit of Heaviness

R.I.P. Robin Williams by: DanDynamite

R.I.P. Robin Williams
by: DanDynamite

Exactly two weeks ago, today, Robin Williams, a much loved comedian,  unexpectedly died by his own hand. Sadly, as is often the case in such situations, most of his adoring fans, as well as his friends and family,  never saw it coming. Why would someone as exuberant and seemingly joyful as he was, choose to take his own life? The answer to this question can be summed up in one word:

Depression

Dictionary.com defines depression this way:

1.    the act of depressing.
2.    the state of being depressed.
3.    depressed or sunken place or part; an area lower than
        the surrounding surface.
4.    sadness; gloom; dejection.
5.    Psychiatry. a condition of general emotional dejection
        and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged
        than that warranted by any objective reason.

Depression is as old as sin, and God’s word lets us know that it is a spirit. In fact, Isaiah 61:3 gives us the name of this spirit:

To console those who mourn in Zion,
   To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
   The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
   That they may be called trees of righteousness,
   The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
    ~ Isaiah 61:3   NKJV ~

TodaysBibleVerse.com
TodaysBibleVerse.com

None of us is exempt from experiencing feelings of sadness, fear and pain during our lifetime, and those feelings are perfectly normal in our sinful and imperfect world. For though God created a beautiful and perfect world for us to live in, that perfection was forever lost to mankind when Adam and Eve, father and mother to all humanity, chose to sin, and in so doing, handed their God-given dominion to Satan, whose mission is to steal, kill and destroy every man, woman and child from the face of the earth, according to Jesus, whose intent is to give us an abundant life…

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My       purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 
~ John 10:10  NLT ~

Image Credit: Subconsciously Thinking
Image Credit:
Subconsciously Thinking

Those who have never experienced depression, have a difficult time empathizing and understanding what it is like, for those who live with it. In fact, I always had difficulty understanding it, until I began to experience it for myself, more than a year ago. Depression truly is a spirit of heaviness, and those who carry that weight often falter and fail beneath the it, regardless of how strong, or joyful, or spiritually grounded they are.

Often, the person who is battling with depression slips under the radar, unnoticed, because they wear many different masks. I know this because I’ve worn those masks too, in an effort to appear “normal.” That spirit of heaviness is almost always accompanied by tormenting spirits that whisper accusations of worthlessness to the depressed person, reminding him/her of past or recent failures, and threatening to expose them. The spirit of fear is also closely associated with depression, as it magnifies the person’s current state, threatening to bring every one of his/her fears to fruition.

I’ve been under attack from these spirits for more than a year now, in addition to living with severe chronic back pain, and to be very honest, the weight of the depression has been heavier than any weight I’ve ever carried. I’ve been constantly tormented with accusing voices whispering how worthless I am, and that I am no longer able to minister or bless God. Because I require assistance from my husband to help me get dressed, and to cook and clean and take care of the household chores that I was once able to do, I hear those tormenting voices telling me that I’m wearing my husband down, and that I’m nothing but a burden to him, though he assures me that he loves me, and that caring for me is not a burden to him. Still, the accusations continue, wearing me down emotionally and spiritually, while the pain continues to wear me down physically. And yet, I put on my happy mask when I meet with others, fearing their condemnation on top of what I am already dealing with.

Have you ever experienced the weight and pain that comes from the spirit of heaviness? Do you try to hide what you are going through, to try and avoid more condemnation? Do you think it’s possible that Robin Williams dealt with those same spirits? 

Do you know what motivates me to continue each day, despite the war that’s being waged against my body, soul, mind and spirit? It is the fear of the Lord. You see, though my body is failing, and though discouragement is all around me, I still BELIEVE in the Lord of all creation. I still believe that He is good, and that His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, and to give me a hope and a future. Although I don’t understand how or why, I believe that God will cause my pain and suffering to work together for my good, because I love Him, and He has called me according to His purpose, not mine…

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.  ~ Proverbs 1:7  NASB ~

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  ~ Jeremiah 29:11  NLT ~

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.  ~ Romans 8:28  NLT ~

Since the onslaught of the spirit of heaviness against me, I have come to understand why some people choose to end their lives, especially those who do not have a personal relationship with Christ. There have been many times when my faith and hope have wavered and faltered, and yet, by God’s grace, they never completely die.

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in Him!”  ~ Lamentations 3:19-24  NLT ~

Beloved reader, if you are in the midst of a deep and dark depression, be encouraged. Nothing is ever hopeless, because the God I serve is the Almighty God, and with God, all things are possible. Please don’t give up on yourself or God, like Robin Williams did in his pain. Although he was seeking to end his pain, he may have unknowingly carried his pain into eternity. For now, he must answer to God for the life that he took when he committed suicide. Furthermore, if Robin wasn’t born again, then he will spend all of eternity in torment, separated from God. 

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”  ~ John 3:3  NLT ~

This is part of the devil’s cruel deception to mankind. He convinces mankind that there is no God, and then he fools them into killing themselves, thereby ensuring that these men will spend an eternity in hell. I pray that Robin Williams had a personal relationship with Christ, and that he is now in the arms of his creator, for that is the only way his torment will be ended. Sadly, nothing more can be done to help Robin Williams, but there is still time  for you, beloved reader.

Remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and if you have accepted His free gift of salvation, He will never leave you or forsake you. Trust Him to give you rest and give you peace. He will provide for all of your needs. If you will cast all your cares on Him, He will strengthen you and order your steps. 

Beloved reader, if you are going through the dark valley of depression, fear not, for He promises to remain with those who belong to Him, protecting them from all evil.  He is also the God who comforts His beloved children. 

Do you remember when I told you about those tormenting demons, who constantly wear you down with their accusations? Well, my God promises that He will prepare a feast for me in front of my enemies, and He will honor me by anointing my head with oil. I will overflow with His blessings, and His goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23 – A psalm of David
New Living Translation

1      The Lord is my shepherd;
       I have all that I need.
2      He lets me rest in green meadows;
       He leads me beside peaceful streams.
    He renews my strength.
       He guides me along right paths,
       bringing honor to His name.
4      Even when I walk
       through the darkest valley,
       I will not be afraid,
       for You are close beside me.
       Your rod and Your staff
       protect and comfort me.
5      You prepare a feast for me
       in the presence of my enemies.
       You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
       My cup overflows with blessings.
6      Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue          me all the days of my life,
       and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Finally, beloved readers, I encourage you to cast all your cares on Jesus, for He cares for you. God’s word commands us not to worry about anything, instead, we are to pray about it. Beloved reader, these words are not for you alone, but also for me. With each scripture that I’ve shared with you, I’ve felt the peace of God that passes all understanding. 

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.  ~ 1 Peter 5:7  NLT ~

As you read each one of the scriptures that I’ve shared with you, I loose God’s Holy Spirit on you. I pray that He would breathe new life into your dry bones, so that you will live in Jesus’ name. I pray that as you speak each one of His words out loud, healing would begin in your heart and your mind. I bind the spirit of heaviness in each one who reads this post, and I loose God’s perfect peace on you.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  ~ Philippians 4:6-7  NLT ~

May God bless and comfort each one of you, my beloved readers, and may the mind of Christ be in you!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

FREE MERIAM YEHYA IBRAHIM

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. (1 Peter 5:8-9 ~ NLT)

Meriam Ibrahim WesternJournalism.com
Meriam Ibrahim
WesternJournalism.com

This past weekend, those of us who live in the United States of America, celebrated Memorial Day, a time for us to honor those who fought and died, as well as those who continue to fight, so that we can live in freedom. Because of the sacrifice of our forefathers, we are granted certain inalienable rights, and among those are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is because of the first amendment to the constitution, that I am free to worship my God in spirit and in truth. Because I live in a country that recognizes this fundamental freedom, I can openly declare to everyone who reads this post that I believe that I am a child of God Almighty, and I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, who was crucified for the sins of mankind, was dead for three days, and arose from the dead on the third day. I can also tell you without fear of reprisal, that Jesus Christ will come again on the clouds.

Martin Wani, Meriam's Son GistOnThis.com
Martin Wani, Meriam’s Son
GistOnThis.com

Freedoms we take for granted, are what makes Meriam Ibrahim’s situation so untenable. If you haven’t heard, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, a Sudanese Christian woman, married to U.S. citizen, Daniel Wani, was sentenced to death by hanging, for apostasy two weeks ago, and imprisoned in a Sudanese prison with her twenty month old son, a U.S. citizen. When she and her child were imprisoned, she was eight months pregnant.

Since then, Merriam gave birth to a daughter, who was born a month prematurely. Neither her husband, or her attorney have been permitted to see Merriam or her newborn. Hence, no-one is sure of their health. However, when Daniel saw her last week, before she gave birth, she was shackled in her cell. Since giving birth, Meriam’s sentence will now be delayed for two years, to allow her to nurse her baby, in accordance with Sudanese law.

So, what’s the point of this post? This is not just a sad story for everyone to sigh and say, “What a shame!” As citizens of the WORLD, each and every one of us have been given certain unalienable rights. Though some nations guarantee these rights, that’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about the rights given to ALL MANKIND by our CREATOR, who gives everyone a free will to choose who and what to believe…

Because we are all men and women, I’m asking you to take a stand and cry out on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim’s behalf. This is not a cry for any one race, religious group or culture, but a cry for humanity. Whatever your faith, surely you can see the wickedness that is being perpetrated against this woman, her husband and her children, simply because of her faith. I am a strong Spirit-filled Christian, however, if I heard about someone from another faith being imprisoned and executed for his/her faith, I would cry out on that person’s behalf as well.

Meriam Ibrahim to be hung inilah.com
Meriam Ibrahim to be hung
inilah.com

Therefore, I urge everyone who reads this post, to go to http://beheardproject.com/Meriam and sign the petition demanding the government of Sudan to free Meriam Yehya Ibrahim and her children from prison. Christians, please, also pray for this sister in Christ…

Finally, remember, Christianity is not a crime!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

A Teachable Moment

HubPages How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling
HubPages
How to Handle the Tattle Tale and the Tattling

14 One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?”

15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:14-17 — NLT ~

When I read this passage, I think of children, who often compare their circumstances with those of others… For example:

“My mom makes me do the dishes, so why doesn’t your son/daughter have to do them?”

“My dad makes me take the trash out, so why don’t your children have to do it?”

Image Credit: Organic and Simple, That's Church!
Image Credit:
Organic and Simple, That’s Church!

You get the picture. Doesn’t it seem that way to you? Now, if I’m to be totally honest with you, comments like that are very irritating to me, and I used to get very impatient with my children when they would make petty comments like that. If John’s disciples had come to me with that question, I probably would have snapped at them and put them in their place… I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad I’m not Jesus…

Jesus was neither angry nor irritated with John’s disciples, even though they were complaining and criticizing His disciples. In fact, by criticizing His disciples for not fasting, John’s disciples were really criticizing Jesus, for not training His disciples properly. Yet Jesus took no offense from their accusations. Instead, He did something wonderful for them, whether they realized it or not.

You see, Jesus turned their accusations into a teachable moment. Rather than giving them a tongue-lashing, as I might have done, He spoke to them gently, and patiently. Instead of condemning them for having the audacity to question Him, He chose to teach them, and in lieu of telling them that it was none of their business, He explained why His disciples did not fast…

Bride Waiting for Christ15 Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  ~ Matthew 9:15 — NLT ~

Jesus’ response to John’s disciples was simple enough for everyone to understand. In fact, it was simple enough that even now, more than two thousand years later, it remains reasonable…

Women often cry at weddings, but the tears they shed are tears of joy, not sadness. At the wedding reception, there is usually a lot of laughter and fun, as people eat and drink in honor of the bride and groom. It’s supposed to be a time of merriment and celebration.

Jesus explained that His presence here on earth was in many ways, like the presence of the groom at his wedding.  Would you mourn at the wedding, as long as the groom was there? Of course not! Therefore, as long as Jesus was here on earth with His disciples, why should they fast and mourn? Besides, there would come a day, when Jesus, (our Groom) would no longer be here on earth with them, and there would be plenty of time to fast and mourn then…

Image Credit: Children Bible Studies
Image Credit:
Children Bible Studies

But this wasn’t the only lesson Jesus was teaching them that day, and perhaps this lesson He was teaching was not only for John’s disciples, but for His disciples as well, though many have always assumed the words He spoke were simply to those who questioned them. For just as a parent will teach not only the child who is asking such a foolish, perhaps even rebellious question, but will also teach a lesson to the obedient child as well, so Jesus did in this case…

16 “Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

17 “And no one puts new wine into old wine skins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”  ~ Matthew 9:16-17 — NLT ~

When a child first learns to read, would the teacher give the child “War and Peace,,” by Leo Tolstoy as a reading assignment? Of course not, because that would be much too difficult for the child to read, and it would only result in frustrating the child at the very least. At its worst, this assignment could cause the child to give up on reading altogether…

It was the same with the disciples. Several of these guys were fishermen, one was a tax collector and another was a zealot. None of these men were priests, prophets, Pharisees or Sadducees. These weren’t religious men, therefore, they weren’t used to submitting to various religious practices  like the Pharisees, Saducees, prophets and priests were. Also, many of John the Baptist’s disciples were likely Nazarites, just as he was, and since John often fasted, his disciples were used to living a “fasted” lifestyle, therefore, fasting was not as difficult for them as their complaints made it seem.

However, as I said before, Jesus’ disciples had a much different background than these other men, and for someone not used to fasting, it is quite difficult, which is why Jesus talked about patching old clothing with a new patch. To do so, would place too much pressure on the old cloth, thereby causing it to rip and tear. It is also why Jesus made the reference of placing new wine into old wine skins. Again, the pressure would cause the wine skins to burst, thereby rendering it useless. In the same way, to expect the disciples, who were untrained and undisciplined in fasting, and certain other religious practices, before they were ready, could cause them to break under the pressure, and perhaps render them useless.

Image Credit: 9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT
Image Credit:
9 Dangerous Warning Signs of BURNOUT

It makes me sad sometimes, when I see a new Christian being put to work on various “projects” or committees, before they’ve had a chance to grow in the faith. For all too often, the majority will become burned out, and many will turn away from the Lord, going back to their old lifestyle that they’re used to…

When I became a mother, my baby was completely dependent on me for everything. He couldn’t even hold his own head up by himself. He needed me to support and protect him… He couldn’t feed himself. He needed me to provide his milk, and its source was from within me… He couldn’t communicate, except to cry. He needed me to understand his needs… He couldn’t get around by himself. I had to carry him everywhere…

In the same way, when a person is born again, whether they are a child or an adult, they are a babe in Christ, and just as a baby needs his parents to support him and protect him, so  a babe in Christ needs the Lord to lead other more mature believers to support him and protect him. Just as a newborn is unable to feed himself, so too, a new born again believer needs other, more mature believers to feed (teach) him on the word of God, and just as a newborn baby cannot eat steak, neither can a new believer digest more complicated doctrinal beliefs…

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment ~ 1 Peter 2:2 — NLT ~

12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. ~ Hebrews 5:12-14 — NLT ~

Furthermore, as a baby has a difficult time communicating his needs, a new believer also has a difficult time communicating and sharing his needs. The new believer hasn’t yet learned our language and our customs, therefore, he only knows how to respond to things the way he has always responded and communicated. And just as that baby needs his mommy to figure out what he needs, more mature believers and mentors are going to need to figure out what the new born again believer needs… 

When you look at this passage of scripture through these eyes, we begin to get a glimpse of Jesus’ great love and compassion for both His own disciples at the time, for John’s disciples, and for His future disciples, you and me. Praise God for these words of Jesus, which are always filled with love, grace and mercy!

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 2)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
maninthemaze.com

The other day, we started looking at this scripture passage, and we saw Jesus’ warning for His disciples to be careful of the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees). Then He went on to list some of the things they were guilty of doing, such as parading around in flowing robes to gain attention and respect. 

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Luke 20:45-46 — NLT ~

It’s funny. I never noticed this before, until my daughter-in-law and I were discussing this scripture passage… The very things that Jesus condemned in this passage are practiced in nearly every church here in the United States. I can’t speak for foreign churches, as I haven’t visited any foreign churches other than some in Haiti, when I was there on a mission trip, but from what I’ve seen in movies, I’d venture to say that they too, are operated in the same way.

Image Credit: Mike Dubose
Image Credit:
Mike Dubose

How many ministers dress in elaborate flowing robes when they preach, rather than dressing as everyone else in the congregation? And think about this, how many pastors, evangelists and televangelists sit up in the front of their sanctuaries, in special, throne-like chairs, rather than in the same pews the rest of the congregation sits on? Did you notice that this was one of the things that Jesus condemned the teachers of religious law for, stating, “And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Image Credit: St. Landry Catholic Church
Image Credit:
St. Landry Catholic Church

I can’t help but notice that the “messengers, pastors, prophets and evangelists,” who bring the word are given seats of honor in nearly every church that I’ve ever been in, how about you? And not only that, again, in nearly every church that I’ve been a part of, whenever there is a banquet or dinner, the pastor and his/her entourage are given seats at the head table. I’ve also noticed that all too often, while the other guests at the banquet must get up and fix their own plates, someone usually prepares the plates and serves them to the pastor, and his/her guests before everyone else is allowed to serve themselves. Don’t you find it ironic that the very actions Jesus found the religious leaders of His day guilty of, are the same ones practiced today, by Christian leaders, who claim to represent Him?

But that isn’t the only sin that has carried over into today’s church. Let’s examine the rest of this passage…

Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Kathy Howard
Image Credit:
Kathy Howard

Now, I know that most of you have heard this passage of scripture preached many times, as this poor widow is extolled for the great sacrifice she made for the Lord. The truth is, that’s how I’ve always heard it preached too, and I believed that the Lord was commanding us to give our all, like this poor widow. How about you? But then, my daughter-in-law shared some information with me that changed how I viewed this passage, and the sad thing is, that I could have understood this myself, if I had read this portion of scripture in its original context, as I teach others to do.

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Image Credit:
growingtogether.cc

Just to refresh your memory, the other day, I told you that the book of Luke was originally written as a letter or a report to a man named Theophilus, and when Luke wrote the letter, it did not have any chapters or verses. Therefore, there wasn’t the separation that we now see between Luke 20 and Luke 21. So, armed with this knowledge, let’s examine this passage as it was originally written, without stopping between chapters and verses.

After cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, who sought special treatment, and dressed to be noticed, Jesus then pointed out another, even more heinous sin that they were guilty of. For these religious leaders shamelessly cheated poor widows out of their property, while pretending to be pious by praying long prayers in public. The Lord has a special love for widows and orphans, and He hates to see them cheated…

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

~ James 1:27 — NLT ~

Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows. And all the people will reply, “Amen.”

~ Deuteronomy 27:19 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Bless India!
Image Credit:
Bless India!

You can see the love God has for widows and orphans, and yet Jesus makes it clear that the religious leaders of that day took advantage of them, often forcing them to lose their property. So, how did they force them to lose their property? With their long and flowery prayers, the scribes tricked those who were poor and needy into giving all they had to the Temple treasury, leaving them destitute.

Sadly, this practice continues in the church today, as pastors, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, continue to trick the poor and needy into giving their all to the ministry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that if you want your prayers answered, you must first “sow a seed.” Or else they make the claim that if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, you are robbing God. I’ve heard them say that how much or how little you give to their ministry is a reflection of your relationship with God. I’ve heard some encourage their congregations to borrow money or pay their tithes and offerings with a credit card, and it makes me sick! I’ve even heard some say that you will “lose your blessing” or even be cursed if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, and I ask you, how are these religious leaders any different than the religious leaders, whose very same practices Jesus condemned?

Image Credit: Bless India!
Image Credit:
Bless India!

As for the poor widow who gave her all in her offering of the temple tax, do you really think Jesus was commending her actions, so that others would do the same? Or is it possible that as He was cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, He looked across the way, and saw this real life example of one of the widows, who was being robbed of her property, and pointed her out to them? How many poor and needy people do you know, who faithfully send money they can’t afford to the ministries of famous televangelists, who spend the money on their own lavish lifestyles, while they themselves, don’t even have enough to make ends meet? 

How many people have taken money from the mouths of their own family, in the hopes that they can earn God’s favor by giving sacrificially? And how many have given their children’s inheritance to the church, because they were afraid of angering God? How many have lived and died with nothing, because the church duped them into doing as this widow did, while its coffers are full and running over? Do you really think this pleases God?

And do you really think we can earn His favor if we just give enough money to the church? Do you really believe that you, His beloved child will lose His favor and perhaps even be cursed if you don’t obey the commands of religious leaders to give to their ministries?

Beloved, don’t you know that just as we can’t earn salvation, neither can we earn God’s favor. If you are a child of God, you have His favor simply because you are His child, and He loves you. Look at these words that Jesus spoke…

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

~ Matthew 7:7-11 — NKJV ~

Am I saying that God does not want us to give? Of course not! What I am saying is that you must stop listening to men and ask God what He wants you to give, and to whom He wants you to give. And when you give, give cheerfully, because God has shown you what to give and to whom. Do not give because you are being pressured to do so by religious leaders. Instead, wait on the Lord and let Him direct your giving. And do not give because you want to earn God’s favor, or because you are afraid of losing His favor, because you can’t earn His favor with money or anything else. If you are a disciple of Christ, you have His favor simply because you are His child.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 1)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
Layoutsparks.com

Warning! Many readers may find the following post offensive as it goes against much of what many of us have been taught to believe. I make no apologies for this post, as I am staying true to the Word of God. And though it goes against what most of us have learned in the church, it is truth, and therefore, it must be shared.

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

~ John 8:31-32 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
revivalorriots.org

So, my friends, are you ready for some truth? Did you know that there is such a thing as “churchianity”, and that “churchianity” is much different than Christianity? Did you know that according to Wickepedia’s “Religion in the United States”, 73%-80% of Americans claim to be Christian? Now, I don’t like to be a harbinger of bad news, but the fact is that although many claim to be Christians, the truth is that there are fewer Christians than non-Christians — but don’t take my word for it. Look at what Jesus… Messiah… Son of God… the Christ… founder of Christianity, had to say about the subject.

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

~ Matthew 7:13-14 — NLT ~

21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’

~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
vimeopro.com

So, beloved readers, as you can see from these scriptures, many who claim to be Christians don’t even know Jesus, and this includes many in the church. Now, armed with this knowledge, you have to begin to wonder, how much of what we have been taught to believe is what Jesus taught, and how much of it is simply the teachings of those who cast out demons in His name and perform miracles in His name, but in reality, they never even knew Him?  And how can we — you and I — know the difference?

It starts in your heart. Do you know Jesus? I don’t mean do you know Him like you know President Obama, meaning that you know about Him or that you might recognize Him if you saw Him on the street. I mean — do you know Him?

Let me explain it this way… In April, my husband and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. I’ve lived intimately with that man for so long now that I know him inside and out. Yes, there are times when his response to something will surprise me, but for the most part, I know what he thinks about different subjects without him saying a word. I know what makes him angry and exactly what buttons to push if I want to get a rise out of him. I know how to make him smile, and I know how to make him laugh out loud. Sometimes, when he looks at me from across the room, though he doesn’t even say a word, I hear him saying, “I love you, Sweetie.” You see, after 33 years of intimacy, I know my husband.

intimacy-with-God-300x255This is how God longs for us to know Him. It is how He longs for us to know His only Son, Jesus, and how He wants us to know His Spirit. The only way we can know Him like this is to spend time with Him, by talking to Him, and by being still in His presence and waiting, listening for Him to speak to us. The only way we can know Him is to read His word, because though He spoke those words thousands of years ago, to many different writers, His word is living and active, and it still speaks to us today.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
disciplemakingleaders.com

Are we good so far? I haven’t said anything too offensive yet, have I? You see, before I can get to the meat of this subject, I had to lay the foundation first. For a large number of people in the church and out of it have deluded themselves into believing that being a Christian is nothing more than membership into the “right” church. Sadly, for most, church has become nothing more than being a part of the right club… Just as you have the Lion’s Club, the Moose Lodge, the Elk’s Lodge, the VFW, the Exchange Club, the Masonic Lodge and so many more exclusive clubs, so you also have your choice of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Holiness Church, the Apostolic Church, the Church of the Brethren, the Church of Christ, the Berean Church, the Roman Catholic Church and so many other churches to choose from.

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Image Credit:
lawgospelaction.wordpress.com

And, just as the various clubs have different bylaws to follow, so also, the different churches have different rules and regulations for their members to follow…. For instance, some baptize by sprinkling water on the member, some baptize by pouring water on the member and others baptize by immersion. Some claim that you cannot be saved unless you are baptized, while others claim that baptism is merely an outward symbol of an inward change and that salvation can be had with our without baptism.

Some churches believe that when partaking of communion, you must only use unleavened bread, while others believe that only wafers will do, and still others believe that a whole loaf of bread should be passed around. Still other churches believe that you should only drink wine when taking communion, while others believe that to drink wine is sinful and only grape juice will do.

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Image Credit:
barrywallace.wordpress.com

There are some churches that believe that when you partake in communion, it is symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus that was shed for us on the Cross, while there are still other churches who believe that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ when you partake of it.

So, my question is, with so many differing rules and regulations, which is right and which is wrong, and how can I know the difference? Am I practicing Christianity? Or am I practicing churchianity? Let’s begin by looking at the following scripture passage.

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Let’s begin to look at this passage bit by bit, starting at the beginning. The first thing to note is who was speaking, what they were talking about, when this happened, and where this took place…

One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to Him.

~ Luke 20:1 — NLT ~

Who was speaking — Jesus 
What was He talking about — He was teaching the people and preaching the Good News 
When did this happen — One day 
Where did this take place — In the Temple

Now, one important thing to notice is that the passage I am writing about, as well as everything else that happened in both chapters, is that it all took place on this “One day“. Right before Jesus warned the people to beware of these teachers of religious law, they had already tried to trap Him several times. I encourage you to read both Luke 20 and Luke 21 in their entirety, to get a clear picture of what was going on, when Jesus spoke to the people.  Also, as you read these 2 chapters, keep in mind that when Luke wrote this book, he wrote it as a personal account to a man named Theolophilus, and there were no chapters and verses when he wrote it. Therefore, Luke 20 and Luke 21  both flowed together as a part of what happened “One day“.

With this in mind, we see Jesus addressing the people after the priests and the elders had come, challenging His authority, followed by the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees) and their spies, who tried to trap Him into saying something against the Roman government so they could have Him arrested, then followed by the Sadducees (who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead), who tried to ensnare Jesus with a question about the resurrection. Boldly addressing each one of their attempted ruses, Jesus displayed both His wisdom and His authority, as He turned His focus on His disciples, warning them.

46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

~ Luke 20:46-47 — NLT ~

Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the teachers of religious law. Back then, the teachers of religious law were the priests and elders, the scribes, the Pharisees and the Saducees. Today, it could mean pastors, priests, bishops, elders, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, cardinals, popes and many other religious leaders. And how can you recognize those leaders that Jesus is talking about? He made it real easy for us to recognize them. They are the ones who like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings when they walk in the marketplace.

Think about some of those who love to preach in their flowing, lavish robes. Oh, they claim that they are their “priestly garments,” and that it is biblical, but is it really? (I warned you that I was going to offend some people and challenge your beliefs.) Only the levitical priests were ordered by God to wear specific robes, and those robes were not man made designs, but according to God’s pattern. “But,” you might say, “These robes show my office… my calling… my status… I am a royal priest…” Perhaps, but isn’t the same true of every Christian?

 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NLT ~

I’ve been told that I need to purchase a robe, so that when I preach the Word of God, I will look the part. Really? When Jesus, the Son of God preached the Good News, He didn’t have a special robe to wear. In fact, as we see here, He even spoke out against it. So I ask you, are those who wear these robes and demand that others wear them as well practicing Christianity or “churchianity”?

Before you get too angry with me, please note that I’m not saying that some of these people aren’t genuine Christians. Many are, but they, like all of us, have been misled about many things in the church. It’s time for Christians to wake up and begin practicing Christianity as Jesus taught us, and not the “churchianity” that the church has taught so many of us.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

~ Ephesians 5:10-14 — NLT ~

So,  we see Jesus warning His disciples not to parade around in flowing robes like the scribes and Pharisees, so they can receive resectful greetings from people in the marketplace. How many preachers, evangelists and televangelists revel in the respectful adoration they receive from their followers, who dare not call them by name, but are instead required to address them as “Pastor… Prophet… Evangelist… Minister…?” 

Far too many times, I’ve seen various ministers followed by an entourage of servants, expecting them to carry their bibles for them, as well as water and something to wipe the sweat from their brow. Some even expect their servants — er – followers — to wipe the sweat for them. How is it that Christ’s ministers, who are called to be Christlike, expect others to serve them, when Jesus came to serve others? Doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Look at Jesus’ instruction to His disciples…

42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

~ Mark 10:42-45 — NLT ~

Now, my friends, if this was Jesus command to His disciples over 2000 years ago, and if He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, has this command changed? Of course not. Jesus calls us to serve, not to be served. He doesn’t want us dressing up in flowing robes, or the finest clothes,  so that people will admire our finery, as we lord it over them and preach. He doesn’t want us preaching to draw attention to ourselves, rather, all focus should be on God. And understand this, God isn’t impressed by our flowery language, flashy robes and the things that impress people. He looks at our heart, and it is the love and passion for Him and for His word that draws Him to us.

Therefore, beloved readers, let’s ask ourselves, are we practicing Christianity or “churchianity”? Do you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Or do you love the attention you get when you stand before people, preaching and/or prophesying? Do you serve others? Or do you expect others to serve you? Do you follow Christ? Or do you follow those who walk around in their ostentacious robes, seeking the adulation of others? Do you follow those who expect you to serve them?

Beloved reader, I urge you to pray about the things that I’ve shared with you, and more importantly, see what God’s word says about them. Then, we’ll continue with part 2 of this series – Churchianity vs. Christianity.

© 2014
Cheryl Showers

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

by michelle w.

Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

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Image Credit:
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What a world we live in! Does anyone seriously think this question  is worthy of consideration? Is there anyone who would rather live a lie, and consider that the best choice? Since this  is the question posed by today’s Daily Prompt, let’s ponder this together…

Let’s just start with the small stuff, and work our way up from there. When I get dressed to go somewhere, since he’s the only one I live with, and since I value his opinion, and since I trust him to be completely honest with me, I often go to my husband and ask, “How does this look?” or “How do I look?” Now, because I value his opinion, when I ask my husband this question, I expect an honest answer from him. If something looks ridiculous on me, I trust that he will point it out to me, thus saving me the embarrassment of going somewhere dressed inappropriately for the occassion. 

Image Credit: icannascheezburger.com
Image Credit:
icannascheezburger.com

Because I’m his wife, and a reflection of him, when I ask my husband if he thinks I’m dressed appropriately for an occassion, I trust that he will be honest with me, because he does not want me to be hurt by appearing somewhere looking foolish. Sometimes, when he gives me a negative response to what I’m wearing, it hurts my feelings, but I do understand that though we are married and have become one, we are also still two individuals with two different opinions, and our taste varies. The thing is, when my husband looks at me and says, “Honey, you look good,” I know I can take that to the bank, because he