Tag Archives: Old Testament

Working Toward Something Good and Beautiful

Image Credit: Health Care Diary
Image Credit:
Health Care Diary

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve written or posted anything. During that time, my pain medication has been elevated, due to a continued increase in the pain I suffer. The increased pain medication has made it nearly impossible for me to write, as I have been unable to stay awake long enough to read, write or think with any clarity. Then, when the pain meds wear off, the intense pain also renders me unable to write, as I struggle unsuccessfully, to get my mind off the pain and focus on something else.

Then, in the midst of this, my FaceBook account was hacked by someone pretending to be me. This imposter created a clone of my account, and began contacting some of my friends, trying to obtain personal financial information from them. Needless to say, I reported this to FaceBook, and I’ve closed my account for the time being…

Image Credit: Landon Gilfillan
Image Credit:
Landon Gilfillan

Meanwhile, for the last nine days, my husband and I have been visiting our daughter and son-in-law, and three of our nine grandchildren. This precious time with my family has given me great joy, despite the pain I’m in, and last night, before bed, my granddaughters asked me to share a bible story with them. This completely blessed me, for there is nothing I’d rather do than share God’s word with people, and especially with my beloved grandchildren…

Therefore, I shared Daniel 1 with them last night, and I will continue sharing the story of Daniel and his friends each night for the rest of our visit… So, after beginning to tell Daniel’s story to my grandchildren and preparing to share the next chapter with them tonight, I felt a stirring within me to write. This urge to write has been missing for the last few weeks, but now, I found myself wanting to share Daniel’s story with you…

Image Credit: Point of Power
Image Credit:
Point of Power

As you may already know, when King Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army invaded Judea, the Lord allowed Nebuchadnezzar to make Judea’s King Jehoiakim his prisoner and take him back to Babylon. The Lord also allowed his army to rob His holy Temple, carrying some of its sacred vessels back to fill the treasury of Babylon’s false gods. Among those captured in the invasion, were members of Judah’s royal family, and several members of nobility. It was from these members of royalty and nobility, that Nebuchadnezzar chose the brightest young men who were also the most handsome, to be trained to serve in his royal court.

Among those chosen to be trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court were four young men named, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Then, possibly in an attempt to make them forget their roots, one of the first things Nebuchadnezzar did, was to change the names of his captives. Thus, Daniel became Belteshazzar, Hananiah’s name was changed to Shadrach, Mishael’s name became Meshach and Azariah became Abed-nego.

Image Credit: Minister to the Heart
Image Credit:
Minister to the Heart

To further enhance the change in the lives of Nebuchadnezzar’s captives, they were sent to live in his palace, where they would be trained in the Babylonian ways for three years. Daniel and his friends meekly went along with all of these changes, until they were presented with food from the king’s table. While these rations were very generous and were gratefully received by other prisoners, to be forced to partake of this food, would defile Daniel and his friends before the Lord, and they would rather die than be seen as unclean by their God. 

Therefore, carefully choosing his words, Daniel spoke for himself and his friends to the king’s chief eunuch, asking that he and his friends be served nothing but vegetables, grains and water. Ashpenaz, the chief eunuch, refused, but Daniel was persistent, and quietly spoke to the guard that the chief eunuch assigned to him and his compatriots…

12 “Please, do us a favor. Put us, your servants, to the test for the next 10 days. Give us a vegetarian diet and water. 13 When the time is up, you can see for yourself our condition and compare it to the condition of the other young men who are eating from the king’s table. Then, after you have seen what has happened, do whatever you think is best with us, your servants.”

14 So the guard agreed to do as Daniel requested. He tested them on a diet of only vegetables, grains, and water for 10 days. 15 When the 10 days were up, he looked them over and noticed that Daniel and his friends were better off than all the young men eating from the king’s best foods. They looked healthy and well nourished, 16 so the guard continued to hold back their royal rations and replaced them with a strictly vegetarian diet. 17 Through all of this, God conferred upon these 4 young men superior abilities in literature, language, and wisdom. God had given Daniel an additional gift, too: the ability to interpret visions and dreams. 18 When the 3-year period of training and conditioning, as set by the king, was over, the king sent for the candidates; the chief of the royal eunuchs himself escorted them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king interviewed all of them and found that none of the candidates were any better than Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they were each assigned an important place in the king’s court.  ~ Daniel 1:12-19  VOICE ~

As I think about this story, and I ponder my own situation, which seems so hopeless and untenable, I’m struck by the presence of God in Daniel’s life. Think about it. Daniel was a God-fearing Jewish boy, whose desire was to serve God faithfully in Judea, in the midst of God’s chosen people. Yet, instead of having his dream fulfilled, Daniel and his friends were cruelly snatched from the arms of their loved ones and deposited into the midst of heathens. Also, rather than serving the country they loved, in Jerusalem, home of God’s holy Temple, they were now forced to serve a pagan king, who served pagan gods. Nothing had gone the way it should have, and Daniel’s dreams of ministering had been snatched away from him… Or had they?

As I think about my own situation, it all seems so hopeless. I’m in so much constant pain, that I’m unable to stand and minister like I once did. My dreams of ministering for the Lord seem to be beyond my grasp right now. I’m no longer able to preach and minister in the prisons like I once did, and my dance ministry has also fallen to the wayside, for how can you dance, when merely standing, sitting, walking or laying cause excruciating pain?

Still, as I read about Daniel, I’m struck by the knowledge that God not only knew about Daniel’s situation, it seems that He orchestrated it, for His glory…

The Lord gave Nebuchadnezzar the victory and allowed him to take King Jehoiakim of Judah as his prisoner. At the same time, He permitted the Babylonian king to rob God’s temple of some of its sacred vessels and carry them away to Babylonia (called Shinar), which was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to fill the treasury of his own gods, Marduk and Nebo.

After the king returned home, he commanded Ashpenaz, chief of the royal eunuchs, to bring some of the Israelites who had been taken captive to the palace. These included members of Judah’s royal family and the nobility.  ~ Daniel 1:2-3 VOICE ~

Now, if God orchestrated the events in Daniel’s life, and in the lives of His chosen people, doesn’t it seem plausible that He would also orchestrate the events in my life and yours? To be kidnapped and taken to a country far away, seems like a horrific experience, and yet, when you realize that God was behind it, this dreadful event is miraculously changed into a reason for hope and even joy. 

Likewise, a life of constant chronic pain was not a part of the life I dreamed of having. I dreamed of preaching throughout the country, in prisons and churches and wherever else God sent me, but I now see that what I had once thought was God’s will for my life, was really only my own hopes and dreams for my life. They were my plans, not His. Furthermore, knowing that this chronic pain is not some tragic misfortune caused by the devil, unbeknownst to God, but rather, it is all a part of His plan for my life, makes my current circumstances worth rejoicing over…

28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.  ~ Romans 8:28 VOICE ~

Now, as I look at Daniel, who was snatched from his home, never to return again, I can see that God orchestrated everything in his life, changing it into something beautiful and good. So, if God orchestrated Daniel’s painful events into something good and beautiful, don’t you think it’s possible (even likely) that since I love Him, He has been orchestrating everything in my life to work toward something good and beautiful?

What about you, beloved reader? Have your circumstances been difficult? Be of good cheer. For as long as you love Him and are called according to His purpose, God will orchestrate everything in your life to work toward something good and beautiful.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

ה He (Behold!) Show Me Your Ways

Psalm 119:33-40

ה He

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in it.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, And not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.
38 Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You.
39 Turn away my reproach which I dread, For Your judgments are good.
40 Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.

Image Credit: fisheaters.com
Image Credit:
fisheaters.com

Hallelujah! Psalm 119 is a beautiful, powerful psalm, which takes us through the Hebrew alphabet, from beginning to end, as it focuses on the statutes of the Lord. Psalm 119:33-40 begins with the Hebrew letter, ה He, which is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and means behold!

Therefore, as we begin to study this portion of scripture, behold! Look and see what God wants to show you in His  word… Let’s begin our study by looking at Psalm 119:33…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.

~ Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

Image Credit: photo.neo6.com
Image Credit:
photo.neo6.com

This seems pretty straight forward, but it’s important for us to understand that the Hebrew language is different than the English language. Therefore, for us to truly understand what was being said when the Lord inspired it, let’s look at the Hebrew meaning for Psalm 119:33…

Beloved readers, behold! See what the Lord spoke to His people many years ago, and because His word is living and active, it continues to speak to us. Let’s really begin to dig into this scripture verse and behold what the Lord shows us…

The Hebrew word for “teach” in this scripture is yarah:

  1. to throw, shoot, cast, pour
    1. (Qal)
      1. to throw, cast
      2. to cast, lay, set
      3. to shoot arrows
      4. to throw water, rain
    2. (Niphal) to be shot
    3. (Hiphil)
      1. to throw, cast
      2. to shoot
      3. to point out, show
      4. to direct, teach, instruct
      5. to throw water, rain
Image Credit: freebibleimages.org
Image Credit:
freebibleimages.org

The word “teach” takes on a whole new meaning, when you see what the original Hebrew text was… Behold! Throw, cast, shoot, point out, show, direct, teach, instruct me… In this scripture, the writer is asking the Lord to cast him, shoot him, point out and show him. He’s asking the Lord to direct him, teach him and instruct him. 

Imagine this, as you’re praying to the Lord, you’re telling Him, “Behold! Lord, I’m an arrow in Your hand. Take me, Lord, and place me within Your bow, aim me and shoot me where you want me to go!” 

Do you see it? When we become as an arrow, we relinquish control. We are now at the Lord’s mercy, as He takes us from His quiver, places us on His bow and takes aim. He is the One who directs us, choosing where He will send us flying to. He is the One who pulls us back and shoots us in the direction we are to go. As you can see, this requires complete trust in the Lord, as an arrow does nothing on its own. 

Image Credit: thelongbowshop.com
Image Credit:
thelongbowshop.com

While in the quiver, the arrow rests quietly with the other arrows, waiting for its Owner to choose it. The arrow is not its own — it belongs to the Archer. Once chosen, the arrow rests in the hand of the Archer. The arrow has no say over where it is shot, or even how or why it is shot. It simply rests in the hand of the Archer, while He aims and points it in the direction it is to go, and then shoots it.

Are you willing to rest in the hands of your Archer? So often, our problems arise when we try too hard to do things, rather than simply resting in the hands of the Master, and allowing Him to aim us and shoot us where He wants us to go.

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “way” in this scripture is derek:

  1. way, road, distance, journey, manner
    1. road, way, path
    2. journey
    3. direction..
    4. manner, habit, way
    5. of course of life (fig.)
    6. of moral character (fig.)

Now, remembering what it means when we say, “Teach me, O Lord,” let’s look at the “way” we are asking Him to teach us. As we rest in the Lord’s hands, we are asking Him to cast, shoot, direct and instruct us in the way, road, distance, journey, manner, path, direction, manner, habit, course of life and course of moral character that we should go. This is powerful. We’re not just asking for direction, we’re asking the Lord to cast us on the journey of our lives. We’re asking to be shot in the manner of our moral character. We’re asking the Lord to show and instruct us in our habits.

Image Credit: knowledghi.com
Image Credit:
knowledghi.com

Just think about this… When we ask the Lord to teach us, we’re asking Him to send us in a new direction — on a new way. We’re asking Him to send us on a course of life, to direct us in the way our moral character can be developed. We’re asking the Lord to shoot us toward new habits. It isn’t enough for us to read the scriptures, and then walk away with no change in our lives. We must seriously surrender to the Lord, rest in His hands, and ask Him to send us in the way that will change our moral character and the course of our lives as we develop new habits.

Isn’t it amazing how such a simple scripture can be so life-changing? As you continue to read and study this verse, make it your prayer to your heavenly Father…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “statutes” is choq:

  1. statute, ordinance, limit, something prescribed, due
    1. prescribed task
    2. prescribed portion
    3. action prescribed (for oneself), resolve
    4. prescribed due
    5. prescribed limit, boundary
    6. enactment, decree, ordinance
      1. specific decree
      2. law in general
    7. enactments, statutes
      1. conditions
      2. enactments
      3. decrees
      4. civil enactments prescribed by God

According to this definition, the statutes we are praying for are our limits, ordinances, prescribed tasks, prescribed portions, the actions prescribed for ourselves, our resolve, boundaries, decrees and enactments prescribed by God… Think about it this way — as we pray this prayer, we are asking the Lord, to choose us from among the other arrows in His quiver, while we rest in His hand. Then, as we rest in His hand, He places us on the bow, aims us, and shoots us on our journey that will change the course of our lives, as our moral character and habits are developed.

But how are these qualities developed? The Lord, casts us to our prescribed boundaries. He sets our limits before us as He casts us toward them so that we may enact His decrees. It is in the course of acting out His decrees that we develop moral character and new habits, thus establishing a new course of life.

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

The Hebrew word for “keep” is natsar:

  1. to guard, watch, watch over, keep
    1. (Qal)
      1. to watch, guard, keep
      2. to preserve, guard from dangers
      3. to keep, observe, guard with fidelity
      4. to guard, keep secret
      5. to be kept close, be blockaded
      6. watchman (participle)

This part gets me so excited. I’ve always thought that “keep” as it is used here simply means to obey, but as I read it according to how the word natsar was intended, I see that its meaning goes much deeper. When I ask the Lord to choose me and cast me to my prescribed limits, so that I may develop a good moral character with new habits that establish the course of my life, according to Psalm 119:33, I then make Him a promise…

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

I not only promise to obey His word, which is vital, but in this instance, the promise I am making is to also watch over His word and guard it. I’m promising to guard His word with fidelity and preserve it. I’m promising the Lord that I will be a watchman for His word, keeping it close and guarding it from danger. 

As I read and study the word of God, something happens within me. As His word takes root within me, and the Lord speaks to my heart, zeal for His word begins to grow, and I find myself fiercely guarding His word from error. I find that it angers me to see people take the Lord’s word out of context or give it a different meaning than what He has clearly inspired its authors to write. I have become a watchman for God’s word.

That is why I write against false teaching and false prophets and teachers. I do it because there is a fire within me for the word of God, and I cannot sit idly by while false teachers take advantage of those who do not know what God’s word truly says. My heart longs to see men, women and children come to the saving grace of Christ. I long to see them saved, healed and delivered from the sin that so easily besets us. I long to see them set free, and it is the TRUTH that sets us free.

Therefore, I must speak the truth in love, expose the lies and also expose the false teachers that many have set on pedestals. For we serve a jealous God, and He alone is worthy of our worship, while some of the men and women who claim to be bible scholars and teachers of the word are charlatans who fleece the flock, and they must be exposed. 

ה He

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, And I shall keep it to the end.

Psalm 119:33 — NKJV ~

Bless the Lord, my beloved readers. Meditate on this word from the Lord today, and commit yourself to asking Holy Spirit to teach you, aim you, shoot you and cast you towards the limits and boundaries that God has decreed for you, so that you too will be a watchman on the wall, guarding the word of God and hiding it in your heart to the end.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Related articles

Who Feeds You?

Image Credit: http://ilovejesus.ws/images/seekthetruth1.jpgImage Credit:http://ilovejesus.ws/images/seekthetruth1.jpg

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

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

~ Ezekiel 34;1-10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://njministries.org
Image Credit:
http://njministries.org

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

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

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

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

~ Matthew 23:27-28 — NLT ~

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

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

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

~ Matthew 7:15-20 — NKJV ~

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

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

~ 2 Peter 2:1-3 — NLT ~

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

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

~ 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 — NLT ~

Image Credit: John Blake
Image Credit:
John Blake

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

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

~ James 3:1 — NLT ~

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

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

~ Proverbs 18:15 — The Living Bible ~

Image Credit: SMSCS.com
Image Credit:
SMSCS.com

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

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

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NLT ~

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

~ Proverbs 18:15– NKJV ~

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

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NIV ~

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

~ Proverbs 18:15 — NASB ~

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

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

~ Proverbs 1:7 — NLT ~

Image Credit: eewc.com
Image Credit:
eewc.com

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

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

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

~ Psalm 14:2 — TLB ~

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

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

~ Psalm 14:2-3 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Zachery Oliver
Image Credit:
Zachery Oliver

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

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

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

~ Acts 2:38-39 — NKJV ~

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

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

~ Ephesians 2:8-9 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

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

~ Hebrews 11:6 — NKJV ~

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

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

~ Galatians 1:6-9 — NKJV ~

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

~ Galatians 2:15-16 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 5)

Greetings to My Beloved Readers,

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

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

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

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

Hastings Dictionary of the Apostolic Church ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“The Christian Church depended at first on voluntary gifts from its members.”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

~ Acts 2:44-45 — NLT ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan,Oxford Companion to the Bible ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Image Credit: http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html
Image Credit:
http://www.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/12339622/Catedrales-mas-asombrosas.html

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

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

Baker’s Dictionary, 1960 ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

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

~ Galatians 5:1 — NLT ~

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

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

Related Articles:

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? Update

Greetings Friends,

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

May the Lord bless you!

Love,
Cheryl

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 4)

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

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

Malachi 3:10 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 3)

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

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

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

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

Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

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

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

Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

In verse 8 we learned:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Galatians 3:13-14 — NKJV ~

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

To Tithe or Not To Tithe? (Part 2)

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

~ Malachi 3:8-10 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

~ Malachi 3:8 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Hebrews 10:11-18 — NKJV ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

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

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

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

~ 2 Corinthians 9:7 — NLT ~

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

When Fear and Darkness Come

helpesless8trackscoverHave you ever come to a place in your life, when out of nowhere, fear grabs you and wraps its black tentacles around your heart and your mind? Then, suddenly, as the fear wraps itself around you, like a relentless boa constrictor, squeezing your heart and lungs so that your breathing becomes labored, panic begins to set in, and you are left with butterflies in your stomach, a racing heart, and a muddled mind. Your every instinct tells you to flee. Have you ever been there?

I’ve experience that many times in my life, and it’s a horrible feeling that leaves you feeling as though everything is out of control. When you’re in that place, you feel as though you’re all alone, as though there is no one else who has been there or who could possibly understand. On top of the intense loneliness, you feel like a complete failure, as though you’ve let yourself down, and worse yet — you feel as though you’ve let God down. Have you been there?

That’s why I find such comfort in 1 Kings 19:1-9a:

When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.”

3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

Image Credit: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3002796/posts
Image Credit:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/3002796/posts

Are you familiar with the story? Elijah was one of God’s most powerful prophets. He was a strong and mighty man of God, who performed many miracles, signs and wonders in the name of the Lord. As a matter of fact, right before this incident, Elijah had just called fire down from heaven, as the fire of the Lord consumed his offering, proving to the people of Israel and the 400 false prophets of Baal that the Lord is God. Then he commanded the people to seize the 400 false prophets and killed every one of them.

Image Credit: http://www.specialtyinterests.net/elijah_drought.html
Image Credit:
http://www.specialtyinterests.net/elijah_drought.html

Now, following such a huge victory, it seems kind of crazy that Elijah would turn tail and run away in fear of his life, just because of the threats of one woman. After all, if the Lord had given him victory over the 400 prophets of Baal, wouldn’t you think He would protect Elijah from one woman?

Still, when the spirit of fear grips you, it blinds you to the truth. That spirit of fear magnifies the perceived danger until it becomes larger than life. It isn’t logical or reasonable. As a matter of fact, everything is distorted and warped, making it difficult to think clearly. Have you been there?

4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

~ 1 Kings 19:4 — NLT ~

Now many people have preached and interpreted this verse as Elijah’s pity party. I too, have been guilty of this same interpretation, until recently, when the Lord brought me to a dark place that I’ve never been to before. As I make my way through this dark place, I’m learning that a lot of my judgments of others have been harsh and unkind.

Let’s spend a few moments looking at things from Elijah’s perspective. The life of a prophet is not an easy one. You see, a prophet loves the Lord passionately, and is filled with zeal for Him, that burns within him/her like a consuming fire.

7 O Lord, You have deceived me and I was deceived; You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; Everyone mocks me. 8 For each time I speak, I cry aloud; I proclaim violence and destruction,
Because for me the word of the Lord has resulted In reproach and derision all day long. 9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.

~ Jeremiah 20:7-9 — NASB ~

Image Credit: http://davidmacadam.blogspot.com/2011/06/prophetic-authority-showdown-on-mount.html
Image Credit:
http://davidmacadam.blogspot.com/2011/06/prophetic-authority-showdown-on-mount.html

Not only does the prophet love the Lord passionately, he/she also loves the people of God. The prophet would pour his/her heart and soul into proclaiming the word of the Lord. The prophet would long for the people to repent and  turn back to the Lord. He/She would long for their salvation. As a former prison minister, I understand this. When I ministered to those inmates, the word of the Lord burned within me, and my heart’s desire was for the salvation and deliverance of each and every woman I ministered to. When I minister in my church, again, the word of the Lord burns within me and my heart’s desire is for every man, woman and child to know the Almighty and love Him. I love those people I minister to, and I long for them to walk in liberty in Jesus’ name.

Now put yourself in Elijah’s place…

But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 Elijah replied, “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with You, torn down Your altars, and killed every one of Your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

~ 1 Kings 19:9b-10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: http://quietplace4prayer.wordpress.com/tag/faith/
Image Credit:
http://quietplace4prayer.wordpress.com/tag/faith/

Do you really think Elijah was having a pity party? Think about it. His life was being threatened. The people he tried so desperately to lead to repentance and save had not only rejected the Lord, they had also killed the Lord’s prophets. The danger he faced was very real. Not only were his fears real, but he had had enough. He was tired and depressed. He had failed in his mission to lead the people to salvation and repentance. He felt as though he was all alone, and he asked the Lord to take his life, possibly thinking that the God who loved him would be more merciful in his death than the people he had tried to save.

As I said before, my thoughts about Elijah have changed. I find that since I’ve experienced anxiety and depression, I’m less likely to pass judgment on Elijah or anyone else who is experiencing anxiety and depression. It’s really easy to assume that someone is feeling sorry for himself and having a pity party when he/she is depressed. I know, because I’ve accused people that I love, who have suffered from depression of “feeling sorry” for themselves, and I’ve since had to repent. 

Now, let’s look at what happened next…

5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”

8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God.

~ 1 Kings 19:5-8 — NLT ~

After running for his life, Elijah fell into an exhausted sleep. This is typical behavior for someone suffering from depression, and let’s look at the Lord’s response to Elijah. The Lord sent an angel to give Elijah some food. A person suffering from depression and anxiety often doesn’t eat properly, and knowing this, the Lord provided nourishment for Elijah, and then let him lay down and rest some more. After allowing Elijah to rest some more, the angel of the Lord came to him again and touched him, instructing him to eat some more to sustain him for the journey ahead of him. Apparently this food was supernatural, for it sustained Elijah, giving him enough strength to travel for forty days to Mount Sinai.

If Elijah had merely been having a “pity party” or was “feeling sorry” for himself, would the Lord have treated him so gently and compassionately? I don’t think so. I remember the Lord’s response to Jonah, another of His prophets, who was feeling sorry for himself, because a plant died. Unlike His gentle and compassionate response to Elijah, the Lord rebuked Jonah for his heartlessness. 

Therefore, my beloved readers, I urge you to read the rest of this chapter, and take note of the Lord’s gracious treatment of Elijah, especially where the Lord spoke to him in a still small voice. This is not gospel, it is merely my conjecture, but I find it interesting that the Lord chose to speak to the depressed and frightened prophet in a still small voice, rather than thundering at him. Could it be that the Lord knew the depressed prophet wouldn’t have been able to handle the powerful, thunderous blast of His voice, and so, He chose to speak to Him in a gentle whisper? What a merciful and compassionate God we serve. 

As I read this story, I draw strength, knowing that the Lord understands depression. He understands fear and anxiety, and rather than beating a person up when they’re already in the depths of despair, He shows us how to respond to someone suffering from depression…

  • Encourage the person to rest
  • Encourage the person to eat and take care of him/herself
  • Speak to the person with gentleness and compassion
  • Encourage the person to seek his/her healing from the Lord, who truly does care
  • Let the depressed/anxious person know that he/she is not alone
  • Be a friend and helpmate to the person suffering depression, and don’t judge them harshly

My beloved readers, if any of you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, be encouraged. The Lord doesn’t think you’re just “feeling sorry” for yourself, and He doesn’t think you’re having a “pity party”. He understands, and He knows how to help you, just as He knew how to help Elijah. 

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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

Greetings My Beloved Readers,

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

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

shine_on

Shine On Award Rules:
Swift Expression

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

2. Put the Award on your blog.

3. Share 7 little secrets about yourself.

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

Seven Little Secrets About Me:

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Mama Blog Award Rules:
Musings and Rants

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

Super Sweet Blogging Award
Musings and Rants

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

Here is your question nominees to get your awards:

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

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

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

~ John 15:16 NLT ~

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

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

~ Ephesians 1:4-8 NLT ~

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

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

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

    Grace Unveiled

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

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

Share the Love – April 2013

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

Image Credit: https://www.facebook.com/ photo.php?fbid=2824221493128&set= t.1486714266&type=3&theater

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Ben Nelson ~

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

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

~ Ben Nelson ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

God Cries Out To His Children Through Isaiah

Photo Credit: http://www.christcenteredmall.com/profiles/isaiah.htm

How deeply the Lord loves His children! So many Christians never venture into the Old Testament, because they say it’s too difficult to understand, but I love the Old Testament. If we take the time to study the Old Testament, it will help us to understand the New Testament better. When we study the Old Testament, we see the character and the nature of God. Think of it this way:

  • The Old Testament is the prequel
  • The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament
  • The life we are living is part of the sequel.

Therefore, let’s take a look at this first chapter of Isaiah. We’re going to study this chapter a little at a time.

These visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem came to Isaiah son of Amoz during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah — all kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1 NLT)

The first verse is packed with information.

  • The first thing we learn is that a man named Isaiah, had visions concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
  • The next thing we learn is that Isaiah was the son of a man named Amoz.
  • The final thing we learn is that Isaiah had these visions over a long period of time (see Kings’ reigns below)
  1. King Uzziah        (788–736 BC)    Reigned 52 years
  2. King Jotham       (758–742 BC)    Reigned 16 years
  3. King Ahaz           (742–726 BC)    Reigned 16 years
  4. King Hezekiah    (726–697 BC)    Reigned 29 years

2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.” (Isaiah 1:2-3 NLT)

Photo Credit: http://the2520.com/israel_and_judah_called_to_obey.htm

Right away, Isaiah calls the heavens and the earth to listen to what the Lord says. You see, although the children of Israel are God’s chosen people, His word is important for all to hear… those in the heavens… the angels… the cherubim… the seraphim… the devil and his demons… all who live on earth…

Do you notice in that verse that Isaiah is crying for the earth to listen? He didn’t say, “Listen, O Israel!”  That means that this message is important for all who dwell on earth to hear. Do you see? This is a message that is not just for the Jewish people. God’s word is timeless. It’s not just for the people of long ago. It is for the people of today as well. Therefore, my friends, I cry out to you, Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! Listen to what the Lord says!”

This is what the LORD says: “The children I raised and cared for have turned against Me. 3 Even the animals — the donkey and the ox — know their owner and appreciate his care, but not My people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand.” Can you hear the voice of the Lord as He cries out? Do you feel His sorrow?

If you’ve ever raised a child who turned against you, even if only for an instant, do you remember the pain you felt? Do you remember your grief, when your child rejected you? Did you try to reason it out in your mind? “This child I raised and cared for has turned against me.”  

Photo Credit: http://www.ehow.com/how_8783240_do-stop-clashing-teenagers.html

I remember how I felt when my children rebelled against me. It broke my heart. I remember thinking of the love that I had lavished on my children, only to arrive at that moment when they rebelled against me. And I can remember thinking and saying something very similar to what God says here. “Even the dog appreciates me, but not my child. After all I’ve done for them, they still don’t get it. No matter how much love I’ve given them… no matter how much I’ve sacrificed… they still don’t understand.”

For all of the men and women who are parents, I’m sure you can understand these feelings. It’s very likely that you’ve experienced them too. When you’ve gone through that experience with your children, did you ever stop to think of that time when you rebelled against your parents? Did it occur to you that, “Oh my goodness! This is how I made my parents feel”?

Has it occurred to you that this is how your heavenly Father feels when we rebel against Him? He spoke those words, because His heart’s desire is that you would understand. Do you have any idea how much God loves you… how much He has sacrificed for you?

He loves you so much that He poured His life out for you on the cross, and all He asks from any of us is that we would return His love and obey Him. Isn’t that all you’ve asked of your children?

Photo Credit: http://www.ehow.com/info_8712216_advantages-parental-discipline.html

Think about it… why does a good parent discipline his or her children? Isn’t it because we want them to grow up to be responsible adults, who are equipped to succeed in life? When you require obedience from your child, isn’t it because you know the dangers that could come to your child if he/she disobeys? 

Is it possible that God calls us to obedience because He knows the dangers that we will encounter in this life, and He wants to protect us from them? Is it possible that as any good parent, He wants us to grow up to be the men and women He created us to be, so that we will succeed in life?

Hear, O heavens! And listen, O earth! The Lord says that He formed you in your mother’s womb. While you were hidden from view, God carefully knit you together in His image, and before you ever drew your first breath — indeed, before the foundations of the earth were laid, He knew you and had a plan for your life. His plan was for your good. He wanted to give you a wonderful future filled with hope. He wanted to adopt you and be your Daddy, and all that He’s ever wanted from you, is that you would be His baby and love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He said that if you love Him, you will obey Him. Therefore, I ask you, my beloved friend, Do you love Him?

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers