Tag Archives: life

America’s Immigration Problem from a Biblical Perspective

In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah 1:1-3  NLT

Wailing Wall of Jerusalem

In my last post, I promised to address the United States’ Illegal Immigration problem from a biblical perspective, and one of the first things that I want to note is that Jerusalem, God’s holy city is and has been surrounded by a great wall, for many centuries.  In fact, when the Jewish refugees returned to their ancient home, after being captives of first Babylon, then Persia for seventy years, they returned to find their city in tatters.  Walls were torn down and burned.  Why was this wall so important to Jerusalem, and can we draw any parallels between their wall and the United States’ determination to build a wall today?

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

Nehemiah 1:4  NLT

As you well know, there has been a lot of outcry in the U.S. regarding the building of a wall along our borders.  On the one hand, we have people crying, “Build that wall!” while on the other hand, we have people equally outraged crying out against it.  As I was preparing to write this post about illegal immigration from a bibilcal perspective, the Lord placed Nehemiah on my heart.  Therefore, as I share his story with you, we will compare Jerusalem’s need for their wall to be restored, and our own nation’s cry for a wall.

Early the following spring, in the month of Nisan, during the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was serving the king his wine. I had never before appeared sad in his presence. So the king asked me, “Why are you looking so sad? You don’t look sick to me. You must be deeply troubled.”

Then I was terrified, but I replied, “Long live the king! How can I not be sad? For the city where my ancestors are buried is in ruins, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

The king asked, “Well, how can I help you?”

With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied, “If it please the king, and if you are pleased with me, your servant, send me to Judah to rebuild the city where my ancestors are buried.”

The king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked, “How long will you be gone? When will you return?” After I told him how long I would be gone, the king agreed to my request.

Nehemiah 2:1-6  NLT

After much mourning, praying and fasting about the sad state of his homeland and its broken wall, the king of Persia, whom Nehemiah served as a cup-bearer, inquired about his obvious heartache.  Nehemiah then told the king about his concern for Jerusalem, and his brothers and sisters, and the king immediately asked, “Well, how can I help you?”  Obviously Nehemiah had favor with both God and King Artaxerxes.  

The walls of Jerusalem were originally built to protect its inhabitants, including the Judean king, and the holy Temple of God, from the attacks of their enemies.  The walls were built and rebuilt to keep Jerusalem’s enemies out…

After praying to the Lord, Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes to send him to Jerusalem, so that he could rebuild that once great city on a hill, the land of his fathers, and the king agreed to do so, giving Nehemiah a letter to Asaph, the manager of his forest, instructing him to give Nehemiah the lumber he needed to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, its gates, the Temple gates, and a house for Nehemiah.  King Artaxerxes also sent letters to the governors of the province west of the Euphrates River, instructing them to allow Nehemiah to pass safely through their land so he could rebuild the city of Jerusalem.  The king also sent horsemen and army officers along to protect Nehemiah.  (see Nehemiah 2:7-9).

11 So I arrived in Jerusalem. Three days later, 12 I slipped out during the night, taking only a few others with me. I had not told anyone about the plans God had put in my heart for Jerusalem. We took no pack animals with us except the donkey I was riding. 13 After dark I went out through the Valley Gate, past the Jackal’s Well, and over to the Dung Gate to inspect the broken walls and burned gates. 14 Then I went to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but my donkey couldn’t get through the rubble. 15 So, though it was still dark, I went up the Kidron Valley instead, inspecting the wall before I turned back and entered again at the Valley Gate.

16 The city officials did not know I had been out there or what I was doing, for I had not yet said anything to anyone about my plans. I had not yet spoken to the Jewish leaders—the priests, the nobles, the officials, or anyone else in the administration. 17 But now I said to them, “You know very well what trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and end this disgrace!” 18 Then I told them about how the gracious hand of God had been on me, and about my conversation with the king.

They replied at once, “Yes, let’s rebuild the wall!” So they began the good work.

Nehemiah 2:11-18  NLT

walls
Rebuilding Jerusalem’s Walls

As I read the response of Jerusalem’s city officials, priests, nobles and members of the administration, I immediately drew a parallel to the response of many of our nation’s citizens cry for Donald Trump to, “Build that wall!”  Like those Jewish refugees from so long ago, our nation’s citizens are weary of the terrorism and hatred that is taking place within and without our nation’s borders.

Please bear with me as I attempt to speak for those United States’ citizens who love our great nation, and who, contrary to the accusations of many more liberal people within the nation, are neither bigoted, racist, hate-filled xenophobes, homophobes, or any of the other epithets aimed at them.  The men and women of this nation, who are crying out for our immigration laws to be obeyed, are simply men and women who care about this nation’s citizens and its children.  Those who want that wall built, do not want it built to keep good, law-abiding immigrants out, but to keep those out, who have no respect for the law.  We have not cried out for new immigration laws, but for those laws that have already been written, to be enforced.  There are some who accuse the people who believe this way of being inhumane.  Some even accuse Christians of not being “good Christians” because they hold these beliefs.  I disagree.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

Romans 13:1-5  NLT

According to scripture,  a “good Christian” obeys the law of the land, providing that law does not cause us to disobey God.  Enforcing our nation’s immigration laws does not cause people to disobey God.  Furthermore, I would submit that many, who are promoting sanctuary cities, and encouraging people to disobey federal immigration laws, are not being humane, but anarchists.  Indeed, when we look at the actions of those who accused President Trump of being a demagogue, who stirred up violence in his campaign, we soon discover that it is many of these people, who are in fact, demagogues.  They have attempted to preempt free speech, by leading violent riots against anyone who does not support their views, on many college campuses across the country.  It is many of these people, rather than the ones supporting adherence to the nation’s immigration laws, who are engaging in anarchy.

anarchy

 [an-er-kee]
noun
1.  a state of society without government or law.
2.  political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control:

The death of the king was followed by a year of anarchy.
3.  anarchism (def 1).
4.  lack of obedience to an authority; insubordination:

the anarchy of his rebellious teenage years.
5.  confusion and disorder:
               Intellectual and moral anarchy followed his loss of faith.

It was impossible to find the book I was looking for in the anarchy of his bookshelves.

Legal immigrants and refugees have been, and always will be welcome to settle into our country.  However, those enter into our country illegally, already demonstrate a lack of respect for the laws of our land.  It is utterly wrong to reward those who illegally enter this country, demonstrating their contempt for our laws, while other immigrants, who choose to come to this country legally, must wait for years sometimes.  Further, how is it logical or reasonable to expect the taxpayers of this nation to support illegal immigrants with free healthcare, no taxes, food benefits, and other aid, while many legal citizens are often unable to obtain the help they need???

Is it reasonable to welcome people that we know nothing about, people who may be terrorists and criminals, into this nation?  Absolutely not!  Those who claim that welcoming everyone into our land is humane are wrong.  It is not humane to our own citizens, who may become prey to terrorists and criminals, simply because some people wanted to feel good about themselves by letting anyone and everyone enter our country.

Laws are put into place for the good of the citizens of that land.  Immigration laws protect a nation’s citizens.  Look at how quickly  and horribly radical Islamic terrorism has invaded Europe, since those countries within the European Union have no borders.

A border wall between the United States and Mexico, another nation, is not the same as the Berlin wall, which separated brothers and sisters from the same country (indeed the same city!).  Just as Jerusalem’s walls were necessary and approved of by God, to protect Judea’s sovereignty, so too, is it necessary to protect the sovereignty of the U.S.A., and if that means building a wall, I feel certain the Lord would approve.


Footnotes:

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

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Sacrificing to the fire of Molech

21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Moloch, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the Lord.

Leviticus 18:21  NLT

The worship of Moloch is believed to have begun with the Phoenicians, a group of people who inhabited Canaan between 1550 BC and 300 BC.  Ashtoreth, the goddess of fertility, was considered to be Moloch’s consort.  Therefore, those who worshiped Moloch, also worshiped Ashtoreth.  Sexual immorality, prostitution, fortune telling and divination, usually in a grove of trees, were all a part of Ashtoreth worship.  As part of their worship of the fertility idol, women often sacrificed either their hair or their chastity to it…

Because Ashtoreth was considered Moloch’s consort, ritual prostitution was an important part of worshiping Moloch, as well.  Yet, what sticks out in most people’s mind, when thinking of Moloch, is the abhorrent practice of sacrificing children (usually firstborn sons), to the idol, by “passing them through the fire.”  It is thought that Moloch idols were giant metal statues that had a bull’s head and a man’s body.  There was a hole in the stomach, or an open mouth, in which a fire blazed.  Parents would place their children and babies on the statue’s outstretched arms, which were angled like a ramp, so that the children would roll or slide down the slippery arms, into the raging fire, to be burned alive.  People sacrificed their infants and children to ensure prosperity for themselves and their future children.

The whole thing sounds disgusting, doesn’t it?  Just last week, I was reading about one of Judah’s most wicked kings, King Ahaz, and it was while reading about him (2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28), that I started thinking about Moloch, and the depths of mankind’s depravity…

Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years.  He did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, as his ancestor David had done.  Instead, he followed the example of the kings of Israel.  He cast metal images for the worship of Baal. He offered sacrifices in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, even sacrificing his own sons in the fire.  In this way, he followed the detestable practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.  He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the pagan shrines and on the hills and under every green tree.

2 Chronicles 28:1-4  NLT

Do you wonder how someone could sacrifice his/her own child to an idol?  I remember reading about this practice as a child, feeling horror that such a thing ever happened.  Now, as an adult mother of two, and grandmother of ten, I feel even greater horror that this ever took place.  Yet, what is even more disturbing to me, is the fact that this wasn’t just an isolated event in history.  You see, men and women throughout the world continue to sacrifice their children for their own prosperity.  The only thing different, is the name of their idol.  Although men and women no longer sacrifice their children to Moloch, here in the United States, they sacrifice their children to an idol called “Choice.”

Woman 20 Weeks Pregnant With Twins Has Abortion Last Week
Woman 20 Weeks Pregnant With Twins Has Abortion Last Week

Again, just last week, during the same time period that I was reading about King Ahaz, I saw an article about a mother (click picture link above), who decided to abort her unborn twin girls at twenty weeks gestation, because she already has daughters, and doesn’t want any more girls.

What an abomination!  Just as King Ahaz, sacrificed his children for selfish reasons, this woman chose to murder her unborn twins, because they  were girls.  And, just as Ahaz and this woman sacrificed their children on the altar of Moloch, or “Choice”, so, too, do many others.

The Lord said to Moses, “Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel.

“If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Moloch, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I Myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled My sanctuary and brought shame on My holy name by offering their children to Moloch. And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Moloch and refuse to execute them, I Myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Moloch.

Leviticus 20:1-4  NLT

I’m not suggesting we stone women who abort their babies, nor those doctors who perform the abortions.  However, I do believe it is important for us to cry out against abortion, and to try to influence our government legislators to revoke the current laws that legalize the murders of the unborn.  If we do not take a firm stance against the idol of “Choice,” God Himself made it clear that He would turn against us and our families, cutting us off from His community.  With 57,762,169 unborn babies aborted since 1973, when Roe vs. Wade made abortions legal in this nation, is it any wonder that our country is in such turmoil?  And yet, if we will stand against this evil, and turn from our wicked ways, God promises that He will heal our land…

14 Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14  NLT

While it’s true, the unborn are not placed on Moloch’s golden arms and rolled into the flames, as children were in Ahaz’s day, there are a number of different, but no less inhumane ways in which the unborn are sacrificed today.  Also, while they are not consumed by flames, we must understand that unborn babies feel pain, just as a newborn infant, a toddler, a child of any age, or an adult, like you and I feel pain…  (For more information, click this  link about Fetal Pain)

  • “At 20 weeks, the fetal brain has the full complement of brain cells present in adulthood, ready and waiting to receive pain signals from the body, and their electrical activity can be recorded by standard electroencephalography (EEG).”
    — Dr. Paul Ranalli, neurologist, University of Toronto
  • An unborn baby at 20 weeks gestation “is fully capable of experiencing pain. … Without question, [abortion] is a dreadfully painful experience for any infant subjected to such a surgical procedure.”
    — Robert J. White, M.D., PhD., professor of neurosurgery, Case Western University

It is utterly foolish and naive to believe that abortion is the mother’s choice only, and it hurts no one else.  Obviously, it not only kills, it also hurts the tiny human within the mother’s womb.  To understand this, let’s look at what is involved in some of the abortion procedures performed in the United States…

  • RU-486 – a drug that can be taken after the mother misses her period, and can be taken up to the second month of pregnancy.  This drug works by blocking progesterone, which is necessary to nourish the developing baby.  Without this hormone, the baby cannot grow, and it will die.  A second drug is administered to stimulate the uterus, so that it will begin contracting, and the baby will be expelled.
  • Suction Aspiration – after the woman’s cervix is paralyzed and stretched open, a hollow, plastic tube is inserted in the woman’s uterus.  It has a sharp, knife-like edge as it cuts and suctions parts of the unborn baby and its placenta from the walls of the uterus into a bottle.
  • Dilation and Evacuation – performed after the third month of pregnancy.  After the cervix is dilated and expanded, the abortionist inserts an instrument (similar to pliers), grabs hold of the unbaby’s limbs, and begins tearing and pulling the limbs from the baby’s body, until all that remains is the baby’s head.  The final part of the procedure is to crush the baby’s skull and remove it.  After the procedure is completed, like a puzzle, the nurse must place the various parts in order to ensure that the entire baby was removed.

For those who wish to read more about it, there are several other abortion procedures that are performed in the U.S., which you can learn about by visiting How Are Abortions Done?  

Abortion is a violent, invasive act, and sometimes, we get so caught up in the philosophy of it, that we lose sight of the brutality of it.  Many people claim that while abortion is not for them, all women should be able to choose their own course.  For those who refuse to take sides, I have included a video of an actual abortion procedure.  To watch this procedure and still uphold a woman’s right to choose, is to endorse infanticide, which makes us no better than other countries that engage in such atrocities…

http://www.herestheblood.com/

Everyone must take a stand on this issue, and if you refuse to stand on the side of life for every unborn child, you have chosen death.  I leave you with the words that Moses spoke to the Israelites before they crossed into the promised land, and like he did, I urge you to choose life!

11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

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

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

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

Deuteronomy 30:11-20  NLT

© 2016
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

Death is Defeated ~ Matthew 9:23-26

Image Credit: Imagens Biblicas
Image Credit:
Imagens Biblicas

23 When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, He saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. 24 “Get out!” He told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at Him.25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept through the entire countryside. ~ Matthew 9:23-26 — NLT ~

Nothing was too hard for Jesus to do. He gave sight to the blind (Matthew 9:27-31; Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 8:22-26; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43; John 9). He healed lepers (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16; Luke 17:11-19). He healed those who were paralyzed (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26; John 5:1-15). He also performed many other miracles, some that are written in the Bible, and others that aren’t…

Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. ~ John 21:25 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Every Knee Shall Bow, by J. Kirk Richards
Image Credit:
Every Knee Shall Bow, by J. Kirk Richards

Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to us, when we read that among the many miracles He performed in the name of God, He raised the dead. Jesus was fully aware of the power and authority God had given Him. Therefore, He walked in the complete fullness of God.

He was and is the Son of God. Therefore, He had authority over everything in heaven and on earth. This included authority over every living creature…

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 earth11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11 — NLT ~

authority over every animate and inanimate object

36 As He rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of Him. 37 When He reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of His followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen.

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

39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke Your followers for saying things like that!”

40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” ~ Luke 19:36-40 — NLT ~

Image Credit: David & Jonathan Inc.
Image Credit:
David & Jonathan Inc.

authority over the angels in heaven and the demons that roam the earth…

53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and He would send them instantly~ Matthew 26:53 — NLT ~

33 Once when He was in the synagogue, a man possessed by a demon—an evil spirit—began shouting at Jesus, 34 “Go away! Why are You interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 

35 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” He ordered. At that, the demon threw the man to the floor as the crowd watched; then it came out of him without hurting him further

36 Amazed, the people exclaimed, “What authority and power this Man’s words possess! Even evil spirits obey Him, and they flee at His command!” ~ Luke 4:33-36 — NLT ~

... authority over every curse…

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NASB ~

authority over every sin…

Jesus climbed into a boat and went back across the lake to His own town. Some people brought to Him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, Be encouraged, My child! Your sins are forgiven.” 

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does He think He’s God?” 

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so He asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 6 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 

7 And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for sending a man with such great authority. ~ Matthew 9:1-8 — NLT ~

authority over every illness, whether curable or incurable…

16 That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and He healed all the sick. 17 This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.” ~ Matthew 8:16-17 — NLT ~

Jesus’ authority even included the wind and the waves…

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

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

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this Man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey Him!”  ~ Matthew 8:23-27 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Peace Be Still, by James Seward
Image Credit:
Peace Be Still, by James Seward

Jesus Christ, Son  of God and Son of Man, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, has ALL AUTHORITY on heaven and on earth. This all encompassing power includes the power  of life and death. Therefore, because of His great power and authority, He was able to walk into that house filled with mourners grieving the death of a little girl and after shutting them up, He then threw them out of the house, allowing only the little girl’s parents and His disciples to enter the house with Him and go to where the little girl lay, dead on her bed…

Image Credit: Sunday Education
Image Credit:
Sunday Education

41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat. ~ Mark 5:41-43 — NLT ~

So what does this mean to us? My beloved readers, it means everything to us! For you see, our whole hope is built on Christ’s authority over death, because each day that we live, we are also draw one day closer to our death. Now, for the very young, that day seems far off, but for those who are middle-aged and beyond, that day becomes more and more imminent. Therefore, Christ’s authority over death is our only hope…

14 Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. 15 Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. ~ Hebrews 2:14-15 — NLT ~

I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave. ~ Revelation 1:18 — NLT ~

25 For Christ must reign until He humbles all His enemies beneath His feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 — NLT ~

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, Jesus’ authority to raise that little girl from the dead wasn’t just a one time event. He raised others, and at the end of time as we now know it, He will finally destroy death, once and for all! That means our loved ones who were born-again before their death, will be resurrected. That also means that if we, who are born-again, die before His return to earth, we will be resurrected as well.

Thank You, Lord, for Your compassion and grace. Thank You so much for sacrificing Your One and only Son for us, and Lord, thank You for making a way for us to be reborn in the Spirit. Lord, I praise You for conquering sin and death, so that we, Your children, could live with You throughout eternity. In Jesus’ name I  pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

My Grace Is Sufficient…

8 Three times I begged the Lord to take this thing away from me; 9 but He told me, “My grace is enough for you, for My power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me. 10 Yes, I am well pleased with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and difficulties endured on behalf of the Messiah; for it is when I am weak that I am strong.

~ 2 Corinthians 12:8-10  — CJB ~

grace-thorn-in-the-fleshHave you ever pleaded with God to take something away from you (pain, physical imperfection, disease, you name it…)? Have you ever been brought so low that you were certain you couldn’t take anymore? I don’t know about you, but I’ve been there. The truth is, I’m still making my way through, and just when it seems like I’ve got this thing beat or under control, it rears its ugly head up and knocks me down again.

Paul felt that way. You see, in this passage, Paul was telling us his experience of having visited the third heaven. He also spoke of how he was given a thorn in his flesh to keep him from becoming prideful…

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

~ 2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

2 corinthians 12v9When I read this passage of scripture, I feel a stirring within, as I wonder about that thorn in the flesh. What does the scripture passage photomean? What is a thorn in the flesh?

Lord, I don’t want to take Your word out of context. I don’t want to shame You by reading something into it that isn’t really there. I pray Father, that You would open the eyes of my heart, and give me a true understanding of Your word. Holy Spirit, speak to me through Your word, and reveal the truth of Your word in Jesus’ precious name, amen.

For the record, no one knows exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Some have speculated that his thorn in the flesh was poor eyesight, often citing these scriptures…

Look at the large letters I use as I close in my own handwriting. 

~ Galatians 6:11 — CJB ~

2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him (Paul) on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?”

4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?”

5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”

~ Acts 23:2-5 — NASB ~

depressedThis theory may or may not be true, though in all honesty, unless the Lord clearly shows us, we will never know for sure what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Perhaps we don’t know for sure, because if we knew exactly what his thorn in the flesh was, we would be less likely to try to apply this scripture to our own lives, but who knows for sure?…

Still, I feel compelled to study this passage of scripture so that I can apply it to my life.Therefore, let’s start with the things that we do know for sure…

  • One thing is certain — Paul visited the third heaven (though whether he was in his flesh, or out of his body, he wasn’t sure)
  • Paul was given a thorn in the flesh
    • He received this thorn in the flesh to keep him from exalting himself because of the revelations he had received from God
    • His thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan, sent to torment him and to keep him from exalting himself

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

Since I want to understand what Paul was telling us in this passage, so that I can apply it to my own life, I’m going to start by examining the original Greek text… The Greek word used for the phrase, Because of the surpassing greatness, is hyperbole

I.     a throwing beyond
II.    metaph.

A.     superiority, excellence, pre-eminence
B.     beyond measure, exceedingly, preeminently
C.     beyond all measure

Paul's VIsionAccording to this, the revelations that Paul had were superior, excellent, pre-eminent, exceeding and beyond all measure. Has the Lord ever spoken to your heart or given you a revelation? He has spoken to my heart many times, and those times are precious to me. They are awe-inspiring and exciting. Indeed, I would say that anytime God reaches down to one of His adopted human children, it is an extreme moment. For it is during those times that we experience Abba’s excellence, His superiority, and His preeminence.

All too often, I’ve seen men and women who have claimed to have a close personal relationship with the Lord, become prideful, and even arrogant, as though the Lord couldn’t speak to someone else.. I’ve seen men and women, who claim to have heard from God, live in utter rebellion to His word, while claiming that all we need to live a life of  One of my biggest fears is that I might become prideful because the Lord has spoken to me. That’s why I often pray, “Father, help me to stay low. Help me to be humble and to stay humble. Please don’t let me become prideful because of the work that You have done in me.” Perhaps that isn’t an area that you struggle with, but it is one that I always pray about, because if the Apostle Paul, who was such a powerful man of God, struggled with pride (as 2 Corinthians 12:7 alludes  to), then it is something that I need to pray about, because I am nowhere near as mighty in Christ as he was.

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

The Greek word for revelation is apokalypsis, which is defined this way…

I.     laying bare, making naked
II.    a disclosure of truth, instruction

A.     concerning things before unknown
B.     used of events by which things or states or persons hitherto withdrawn
         from view are made visible to all

III.   manifestation, appearance

According to the words spoken so far in this scripture verse, Paul had a supreme experience that was beyond all measure, when he had his apokalypsis. You see, my beloved readers, he received a disclosure of truth and instruction concerning things before unknown. Things that were hitherto withdrawn from view were made visible to him. They were manifested before him.

Is it any wonder that Paul was in danger of becoming prideful and therefore needed to have a thorn in the flesh after such an experience? Often times, we forget that all of the great heroes of the bible were mere mortal men, like we are, and as such, they too, struggled against their flesh, just as we do…

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

2 Corinthians 12:7 — NASB ~

The Greek word for “keep me” in this verse is mē, which means, no, not lest. Let’s look at the next word(s) so we can place it together with mē, and gain understanding.

7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!

The Greek word for “from exalting myself” in this verse is hyperairō, which means:

I.     to lift or raise up over some thing
II.    to lift or raise up over some thing
III.   to carry one’s self haughtily to, behave insolently towards one

Therefore, Paul was given that thorn in the flesh to prevent him from raising himself above others. He was given that thorn in the flesh to remind him not to carry himself haughtily and that he not behave insolently to others. Pride is one of ugliest of all sins.

It was pride that caused Lucifer to be cast out of heaven. It was pride that caused his fall to the earth, and it is his pride that has caused his ultimate fall into the lake of fire. Pride is the cause of Satan’s destruction, and it is the cause of our destruction as well. Pride causes us to disregard the needs of others. It causes us to think more of ourselves than we should, and less of others. Pride causes us to think and feel that we are gods. Pride leads us into other sins. Pride leads us to hell.

Therefore, in light of this, when I read this passage of scripture, I’m able to see God’s love, His mercy and His grace in ordaining Paul’s thorn in the flesh. You see, although Paul’s thorn in the flesh tormented him, God used that torment to help Paul stay humble, for He knew that if Paul became prideful, his ministry would suffer. He knew that if Paul became prideful, he would no longer minister life to either the Gentiles or the Jews, because the ministry would no longer be focused on Christ, but on Paul, himself. God knew that if Paul became prideful, he would be in danger of hell…

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).

~ James 4:6 — AMP ~

What about you, my beloved readers? Do you have a thorn in your flesh? Have you prayed and asked God to remove it, but still it torments you? Has it occurred to you that perhaps, out of His immeasurable grace and love, God has given you a thorn in the flesh to keep you humble? 

I’m speaking to myself as well as to you. Many times, I’ve asked the Lord to heal my body, and I have believed, only to be disappointed. I’ve even had different leaders within the church imply that the reason I’ve suffered with my affliction is because my faith is not strong enough, or perhaps, I did something to cause my pain. All of that has caused me to question my own faith, but then I read this scripture. Whatever Paul was tormented by did not leave him when he prayed about it, and certainly no one could imply that Paul’s faith was weak. 

So hold fast to your faith, my brothers and sisters. Unlike the message that much of the church preaches nowadays, God’s servants are called to suffer. Read your scriptures — both Old and New Testament apostles, prophets, judges, evangelists and ministers of every kind, who were called by God, suffered greatly for the Lord. Unlike today’s church would have you believe, they were not exempt from pain and suffering, and neither are we. Therefore, we must come to realize that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And know this, my beloved suffering readers, God’s grace is sufficient!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Go Away And Leave Us Alone!

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

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

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

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

~ Matthew 8:28-33 — NLT ~

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

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

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

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

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

~ Mark 5:1-7 — NKJV ~

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

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

~ Mark 5:6 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: pastormarkwood.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
pastormarkwood.blogspot.com

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

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

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

~ Matthew 8:30-32 — NLT ~

Image Credit: biblegraphics.com
Image Credit:
biblegraphics.com

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

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

Image Credit: James Tissot
Image Credit:
James Tissot

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

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

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Let the Dead Bury Their Own Dead

"Let the dead bury their own dead."
“Let the dead bury their own dead.”

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

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

~ Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ John 1:4-5 — NKJV ~

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

~ John 11:25-26 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

Matthew 8:21-22 — NKJV ~

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

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

~ Revelation 1:17-18 — NLT ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — NLT ~

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers