Tag Archives: peace

My Shelter

Cast down into darkness, the pain of his wounds was nothing compared to the anguish of his heart.  He grieved for his lost relationship with his master, whom he had loved and served faithfully, these many years, since he was sold into captivity.  “O Adonai,” Joseph wept.  “How could my master, Potiphar believe the wicked lies of that woman?  Yes, she is his wife, but he knows what she is like!  How could he believe such a thing of me?  You know, O Adonai that I was not even tempted by her wicked ways.  Indeed, I was repulsed by her.”

He remained in the place where he had been cast down for only the Almighty knows how long, but eventually, Joseph lifted his head from the cold and dank floor, looking around in the darkness of his new abode.  As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw the forms of others, imprisoned with him.  Some laughed and jested, using epithets, while others withdrew into themselves, staring blankly into space, neither seeing or hearing what went on around them.  Joseph shuddered.

“‘Elyon, You are the Most High God,” Joseph whispered softly.  “And it is in Your shelter, under Your wings that I dwell.  I will say of You, Adonai, that You are my refuge and my fortress, my God!  In You, I will trust.  You will rescue me from the trap of the hunter and the plague of calamities.  You cover me with Your pinions, and under Your wings I am sheltered.  Indeed, Your truth is my shield and protector.”

Joseph’s head snapped around to the noise of raucous laughter, as some of his fellow inmates kicked and bullied another, weaker prisoner, who tried to cover his head and his sides with his hands and arms, curling into a ball, to protect his vital parts.  Eyes snapping, Joseph arose to his full height, glaring down at the man’s tormentors. “Enough!” he spoke with all of the authority he had been given by ‘Elyon.  “Get away from this man immediately.  You will not torment him while I am here.”

The bullies looked up at Joseph, standing above them, so strong and mighty.  Then, without argument, they backed down.  He had spoken to them with such power, that none, not even the biggest bully dared to cross him.  Joseph, whispered his thanks to Adonai, as he knelt down to the man, who was still curled up in a ball.  Gently, he checked his wounds, ripping his own clothing, to bind the worst of them up.  The man thanked him profusely, and watched and listened, as Joseph continued to pray.

“I will not fear the terrors of night or the arrow that flies by day, or the plague that roams in the dark, or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.  A thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand; but it won’t come near me.  I will keep my eyes open, and I will see how the wicked are punished.”

“Who is this god that you pray to?” the man asked Joseph.  “You speak to Him so familiarly, as though you knew Him.  Is He not offended, as other gods are, when you speak to him in such a personal way?”

Joseph smiled gently at the man.  “No, my friend.  My God is not offended.  He is the God of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is the living God, the only true God.  Indeed, if you will makeAdonai, the Most High, who is my refuge, your dwelling-place, no disaster will happen to you, no calamity will come near your tent; for He will order His angels to care for you and guard you wherever you go.  They will carry you in their hands, so that you won’t trip on a stone.  Indeed, you will tread down lions and snakes, young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.

“Because I love Him, He will rescue me; because I know His name, He will protect me.  I will call on Him, and He will answer me.  He will be with me when I am in trouble.  He will extricate me and bring me honor.  He will satisfy me with long life and show me  His salvation.  He will do the same for you, my friend, if you will make Him your dwelling place.

The entire prison had fallen silent, when Joseph shared this good news with his fellow inmate.  Now, many began to question Joseph about his God, even the warden, who had come to see why the prison had become so calm and quiet.  It was clear to Joseph that God had a plan for him, even in this dark and dirty place, and with his face set like flint, he spoke silently to God in his heart, “Yes Lord.  I will follow You and obey You, even in the darkest of prisons.”

Because of his love and obedience, the Lord was with Joseph, and showered him with His faithful love.  Joseph became the warden’s favorite that day, when he brought God’s peace into the often violent prison, and before long, he put Joseph in charge over all the prisoners, and everything that happened in prison.  Indeed, because the Lord continued to shower His love on Joseph, and the prison now ran so smoothly, the warden no longer had any worries…

Beloved, even in the midst of prison, Joseph was able to not only find peace, but to thrive, because he understood that His dwelling place was in the shelter of ‘Elyon, the Most High God, not the prison where he currently resided.  Where is your dwelling place?  No matter where you reside, you, too, can have peace that passes all understanding and even thrive, as long as you dwell in the shelter of the Most High God…

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Psalm 91
Complete Jewish Bible

You who live in the shelter of ‘Elyon,
who spend your nights in the shadow of Shaddai,
who say to Adonai, “My refuge! My fortress!
My God, in whom I trust!” —
He will rescue you from the trap of the hunter
and from the plague of calamities;
He will cover you with His pinions,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His truth is a shield and protection.

You will not fear the terrors of night
or the arrow that flies by day,
or the plague that roams in the dark,
or the scourge that wreaks havoc at noon.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand;
but it won’t come near you.
Only keep your eyes open,
and you will see how the wicked are punished.

For you have made Adonai, the Most High,
who is my refuge, your dwelling-place.
10 No disaster will happen to you,
no calamity will come near your tent;
11 for He will order His angels to care for you
and guard you wherever you go.
12 They will carry you in their hands,
so that you won’t trip on a stone.
13 You will tread down lions and snakes,
young lions and serpents you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he loves me, I will rescue him;
because he knows my name, I will protect him.
15 He will call on Me, and I will answer him.
I will be with him when he is in trouble.
I will extricate him and bring him honor.
16 I will satisfy him with long life
and show him my salvation.”

What in the World is a Peacemaker?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 NASB)

What in the world is a peacemaker? Jesus said that the peacemakers shall be called sons of God, and as the only begotten Son of God, and the Prince of Peace, He must have been a peacemaker, right? For the commands He gave to us, and the lessons He taught, He demonstrated in His own life. Let us therefore examine Jesus’ life and discover how we, too, can become sons of God.

Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace. Throughout the scriptures, we see that He repeatedly spoke of peace, and yet He had many enemies, who wanted nothing more than to destroy Him, from the time of His birth. So the peace He was speaking of, obviously had nothing to do with whether or not we have enemies.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27 NASB)

Indeed, Jesus warned us in Matthew 10:34-42, that He didn’t come to bring peace on earth, but a sword. He said that He came to set families against one another. That doesn’t sound very peaceful, does it?

I remember when I was first saved as a child of around eleven or twelve years old. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my parents the good news. I was sure they would be proud and happy for me. As soon as I jumped off the church bus, I hit the ground at a run, delighted to share the wonderful news of my salvation with my mommy and daddy.

Yet, their response to this good news wasn’t what I expected. Instead of rejoicing, they were angry at me and at the church bus captains that they sent me to church with every week. I was told that if I was going to turn into a holy roller, like my church bus leaders, I wouldn’t be allowed to go to church with them anymore, did I understand? I didn’t understand, but I promised to obey them. I couldn’t bear the thought of not being allowed to go to church anymore. So, I began to read my bible in secret, and I didn’t talk to them about my relationship with Jesus for many years.

I didn’t understand their reaction back then. I was heartbroken, and sure I had done something wrong. Maybe they reacted like that because I didn’t know enough to share the good news about Jesus. There was one thing I was certain of though. I knew that Jesus was and is the Son of God, and though it would have made my parents cringe, I knew that I wanted to be like my church bus captains, who loved the Lord and served Him so joyfully. They truly lived according to His ways, and I wanted to live like that too.

Beloved reader, my relationship with Jesus did not bring me peace with my family. It drove a wedge between us. There was much conflict between me and my parents throughout the years, and they often seemed to hate my faith.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ (Matthew 10:34-36 NLT)

So, if Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the One who blessed the peacemakers and said that these would be called the sons of God, didn’t come to bring peace on earth, what kind of peace was He talking about? I know without doubt that Jesus walked the walk He proclaimed, so there must be an answer to this, right? Why did He come?

1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for usBecause of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, He will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. (Romans 5:1-11 NLT)

Beloved reader, rejoice with me, for the answer to our question is found in this scripture passage. Jesus didn’t come to bring peace on earth. He came to bring us peace with God! Do you want to be a son of God? Then work to bring others to peace with God. It is both as difficult and simple as that.

Don’t get it twisted. Even though you may be attacked at every side, and even though you are surrounded by enemies, our goal is not to be at peace with the world. Our goal is to love our enemies, even though it goes against everything we’ve been taught by the world, and seek to help them make peace with God. Keep your mind fixed on God, and don’t allow the troubles of this world to cause you to lose focus…

You will keep in perfect peace
   all who trust in You,
   all whose thoughts are fixed on You! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

Do you want to be called a son of God? Then beloved, stop seeking your peace in this world. True peace comes from knowing and loving God. True peacemakers share the peace that God has given them, with others. True peacemakers don’t lose focus of this goal…

Do you long for peace? Seek the Lord with all your heart. Trust in Him, and no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, don’t lose focus of the One who loves you with an everlasting love. While you may never have peace even in your own household, true peace comes from your relationship with God.

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

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

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NLT)

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Lord Have Mercy!

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

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

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

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

This is dictionary.com’s definition of mercy:

[mur-see]

noun, plural mer·cies for 4, 5.

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

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

eleeō

[e-le-e’-ō]

verb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Do You Mourn? Be Comforted…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mourn-sorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

All You Can Eat…

When Jesus was tempted by the devil, the prince of the air challenged the Prince of Peace (Shalom) to turn stones into bread, and this was Jesus’ response to him:

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  (Matthew 4:4 NLT)

Let’s think about His response.  Jesus, the very Word of God, who created the universe and all that is in it, said that we need more than bread to sustain us.  In fact, the Word said that our sustenance comes from every word spoken by God…

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through Him,
    and nothing was created except through Him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and His life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.  (John 1:1-5  NLT)

It was through His Word, that God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them.  It is in this Word that we live and move and have our being…

14 So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.  (John 1:14  NLT)

16 From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.  (John 1:16-18 NLT)

It is by this Word that we live…  This is the Word that we must feed on…  It’s like going to an all you can eat banquet or buffet, only this food is good for you, and there are no calories!

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
    Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!  (Psalm 34:8  NLT)

Are there some who still say, “But I want some bread?”  Then join me in this all you can eat banquet… For Jesus, the Word of God, is also the Bread of Life!

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the true Bread from heaven. 33 The true Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.  (John 6:32-35  NLT)

Just in case you don’t understand that your very life comes from Christ, He goes into even more detail…

47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the Bread of Life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the Bread from Heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever; and this Bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is My flesh.”

52 Then the people began arguing with each other about what He meant. “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” they asked.

53 So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. 54 But anyone who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 Anyone who eats My flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent Me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 I am the true Bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”  (John 6:47-58  NLT)

To make it clear, we are to feast on the Word of God, for this is where we will find life.  And unlike the bread we feed to our flesh, you can’t overindulge on this Bread.  This Bread of Life will fill us, and breathe new life into us.  The Bread of Life won’t leave us feeling sick and bloated, no matter how much we eat of it.  Instead, our strength will be renewed and restored…

Beloved, have you tasted this Bread of Life?  Do you feast on the Word of God?  Have you tasted and seen how good He is?  If not, come to the banquet, and eat your fill, then have some more.  For this is an all you can eat banquet, and as Jesus said, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Where Do You Live?

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

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

house_PNG50
House (Image Not Mine)

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

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

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

(John 15:4-8  NASB)

Strong’s Lexicon Definition for Abide

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

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

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

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

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

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; *abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will *abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and *abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

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

(John 15:9-11 NASB)

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

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

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

(John 16:33 NLT)

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

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


* Emphasis added

© 2017
Cheryl A. Showers

Inside Israel – Remembering the Holocaust

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

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

Romans 11:12  NLT

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

Wailing_Wall_Jerusalem_Victor_2011_-1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hurt? Overwhelmed? Fearful? Angry?

Do your problems seem insurmountable?  Does it seem like you have a mountain of debt?  You’re all alone?  Nothing’s going right?  Nothing will ever work out in your favor?  Then I have a word for you!

Depressed

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

Isaiah 61:1-2  NLT

depression1600x1200

The Lord has given me a word to share with all who are feeling depressed, overwhelmed, lonely, hurt, grieving and angry.  This is a word for those who have given up.  It’s a word for those whose problems have become impossible.  Let those who have an ear, hear what the Spirit says.

The God I serve is holy and just.  He is not a God who can’t hear. The answer to your problems is closer than you think…

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

Deuteronomy 30:11-14  NLT

Your problems are not insurmountable.  They are not as big as you imagine.  Beloved children, the monster in your closet is only a shadow, and though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fear not, for the Lord is with you.  His rod and His staff will comfort you.

For just as Peter lost his focus when he walked on water, so you have lost perspective with your problems.  The winds that night were fierce, stirring the waves up into a terrible froth, as their caps battered the boat the disciples were in.  Yet, when Peter saw Jesus walking on water toward him, he forgot all about the violence of the winds and the waves. He only had eyes for His Lord and Savior, who was calmly walking on top of the raging sea, coming to them…

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Matthew 14:28-29  NLT

Think about it.  The storm was impossible.  The waves were high as they crashed into the boat, and the wind blew against them, battering their bodies and the boat.  And while the wind blew the stinging needles of the salt water against their skin and their faces, Peter noticed none of it when he saw Jesus walking to them on the water.  Indeed the wind and the waves were nothing to him in that instant, as he shouted across the water to Jesus.

28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Matthew 14:28  NLT

Then, when Jesus told him to “Come,” Peter leaped out of the boat, and immediately walked on the water towards his beloved Savior.  You see, in that moment, his focus was sharp, and his perspective was clear.  For nothing is impossible with God.  Peter knew that, perhaps better than anyone else, for he did what no man has before or since he and the Savior walked on water.  Indeed, he was really doing it, until, for some reason, he took his eyes off of Jesus, and looked around, noticing, for perhaps the first time, since he had started his great adventure, that the wind and the waves were really whipping against him.

30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Matthew 14:30  NLT

Can I tell you something, beloved?  The wind didn’t just suddenly start in that instant, when Peter first noticed it.  It had been blowing all along.  The other disciples were already aware of this, and they were scared, which is why none of them cried out to Jesus to command them to come.  Yet, though the wind was beating against him, Peter took no note of it, as long as he was focused on Jesus.  Beloved reader, have you been like the rest of the disciples, focusing on the wind and the waves?  Or are you like Peter, focusing on Christ instead?

We are all human, and sometimes our  problems seem to loom so largely against us, yet, it is in these most difficult times that we must look away from the problem, and look to Jesus, the answer to all of our problems.  Let’s look at the seraphim, who circle the throne of God day in and day out, 24/7…

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of His robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
    The whole earth is filled with His glory!”

Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Isaiah 6:1-4  NLT

Throne Room by Pat Marvenko Smith
Throne Room
by Pat Marvenko Smith

These seraphim continuously cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!  The whole earth is filled with His glory!”  What leads them to cry out like this continuously?  They never stop calling out to one another about God’s holiness, no matter what else goes on at the throne of God…


One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.“Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.

Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”

Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed My servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”

Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God.10 You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! 11 But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”

12 “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Job 1:6-12  NLT

Now, we all know that Satan is the devil himself.  We know that he’s a liar, and the father of lies.  We know that he comes to steal from us, to kill us and destroy us.  We know that it is this terrible beast, who is behind all of mankind’s troubles.  We know that this old serpent lied to our forefathers, and deceived them into giving up their dominion over the earth.  We know that he has led many men to do horrible things to one another.  We also know that at one time, he was a big deal in heaven, until he rebelled against God, and led 1/3 of heaven’s angels in the rebellion against the Almighty.  We also know that Satan is constantly appearing before God’s throne, accusing us day and night…

… For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth—
    the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.

Revelation 12:10b

So, what do we do about it?  Let’s look and see how the seraphim, those creatures who encircle God’s throne respond, when our accuser appears before the throne…


In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,  

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—     the one who always was, who is, and who is still to     come.”

Revelation 4:6-8  NLT


Day after day, and night after night, the keep saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty…”  When their enemy and ours approach God’s throne, they don’t even notice him, though they have numerous eyes, because to them, he is nothing in the light of God, and all of their eyes are fixed on Him alone.  And beloved, it isn’t just the seraphim that have things in perspective.  The 24 elders do as well…


Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), 10 the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, 

11 “You are worthy, O Lord our God,
        to receive glory and honor and power.
        For You created all things, 
        and they exist because You created what You                pleased.” 

Revelation 4:9-11  NLT


Beloved, I know we are at war.  I know how the enemy is trying to tear you down, because his demons have been tormenting me as well, with pain, fear, poverty and depression, but the time has come for us to stand.  We must remember that we are not alone in this battle, no matter how lonely we are.


So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

10 In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.11 All power to Him forever! Amen.

1 Peter 5:8-11  NLT


Beloved, humble yourself under the mighty hand of God.  Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you!!!  Beloved, the word of the Lord for all of us is to refocus.  We must stop focusing on our insurmountable problems, (for with God, all things are possible, even those things we think are impossible…) and look to Christ.


Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.

Colossians 3:1-3  NLT


16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  NLT


Finally, beloved brothers and sisters, as we stop focusing on our impossible problems, and gaze upon the author and finisher of our faith, it is important to remember how we overcome the accuser of the brethren, the enemy of our soul…


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

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

Revelation 12:10-11  NLT


© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

What Are You Worth?

Price

by Ben Huberman

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


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

1 Peter 1-18-19

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


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

Isaiah 43:7  NLT


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

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


noun, plural glories

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

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

Matthew 10-29-31

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

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


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

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

Genesis 1:26-27 NLT


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

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


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

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

Psalm 139:13-18 NLT


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

Psalm 139-13-14

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


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

Psalm 139:14 NLT


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


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

Psalm 139:15-16 NLT


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


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

Psalm 139:17-18 NLT


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


adjective

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

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

So, beloved reader, what are you worth?

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

My Forever Friend

Friend

by Ben Huberman

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

I am a woman who is truly blessed.  I don’t have a lot of friends, but the friends I do have are wonderful, and would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them too.  My husband of 35 years has been my best friend, and rock, through many trials in my life.  Frankly, I don’t know how I could have gotten through many of those trials, if it hadn’t been for him.

Yet, much as I love my husband, when I read the prompt, “friend,” the One that I thought of was Jesus.  Jesus knew me before I was born.

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 

Ephesians 1:4 NLT

When I think about that, it blows my mind.  I don’t know you, but I do know me, and if I’m going to be totally honest with you, I was not born holy and without fault.  In my life, I’ve lied and cheated, cursed God and others, and murdered those whom I hated in my heart.  Yet, in spite of this, Jesus chose me!

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

John 15:16 NLT

Not only did He choose me,  but He chose me to be holy and without fault in His eyes, and the only way for me to be holy and without fault, would be for Him to recreate me.  And, He did just that!

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through Him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through Him and for Him... 

…  21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were His enemies, separated from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now He has reconciled you to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result, He has brought you into His own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before Him without a single fault.

Colossians 1:15-16, 21-22 NLT

Imagine that!  I was an enemy  of Christ, yet He chose me!  Then, through His death and resurrection, He changed me and brought me into His presence and presented me holy and blameless, without a single fault to His Father.  How amazing!

Yet, as wonderful, merciful and kind as all of this was, it wasn’t enough for my Savior.  I would have been happy to be His servant all the days of my life, but Jesus had a better plan…

John 15-9

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

John 15:9-17 NLT

This scripture passage explains the relationship I have with my best Friend, Jesus.  The first sentence sums up His feelings for me, when He says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me.”  Jesus is the One and only Son of God, the Father, and here, He states unequivocally, that He loves me (and all of His disciples), the same way His Father loves Him.

As a woman, I can’t say that I know for certain how a father loves his son.  However, I would imagine that a father’s love for his son would certainly be as strong as a mother’s love for her son, and as a mother, I have a fierce love for my children.  I would go to war to protect my children from harm, and when I think of the love God has for His Son, I know that it must be stronger than you and I could ever imagine.  Therefore, when Jesus said, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me,” He was speaking as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  He was speaking of a strong and passionate love, that we cannot, in the frailty of our human emotions and thoughts, even begin to conceive.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus

Jesus then ordered His disciples (all who love Him and follow Him), to remain in His love.  The Greek word for “remain” in this passage is menō, which means:

    1. to remain, abide

      1. in reference to place

        1. to sojourn, tarry

        2. not to depart

          1. to continue to be present

          2. to be held, kept, continually

      2. in reference to time

        1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure

          1. of persons, to survive, live

      3. in reference to state or condition

        1. to remain as one, not to become another or different

    2. to wait for, await one

When we examine the Greek meaning for this word, we get a clear understanding of what Jesus meant when He ordered His disciples (those of us who follow Him too!) to remain in His love.  He was saying, “Stay here in My love.  Don’t depart from My love.  Tarry (wait) in My love.  Continually be present, here in My love.  Endure, survive, live in My love.  Remain as you are now, in My love.  Wait, here in My love for Me.”

He was essentially saying that He wants us to remain in His love, just as He remains in His Father’s love.  In other words, He wasn’t asking us to do anything more than He did, by remaining in His Fathers love.  Honestly, I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be, than in the midst of His love.

So, how does one go about remaining in Jesus’ love?  He makes this abundantly clear to us…

10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

John 15:10 NLT

The way to remain in Christ’s love is to obey Him.  Obedience isn’t a very popular concept in today’s culture.  Indeed, most people prefer to live in total rebellion to God’s word.  Yet Jesus says that if we obey His commandments, we remain in His love, as He obeys His Father’s commands and remains in His love.  Many people look at obedience as drudgery, but Jesus’ outlook on obedience was entirely different…

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

John 15:11 NLT

He wants us to be filled with His joy, so He tells us to obey Him and remain in His love, so that our joy will overflow!  So, what exactly are we supposed to obey, in order to be filled with this overflowing joy???

12 This is My commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

Jesus’ commandment is a very simple one.  We are commanded to love each other, the same way He has loved us, stating that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  We are afforded the hindsight to understand that Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the night before He was crucified.  They had no way of knowing, as we do, that Jesus was getting ready to demonstrate His great love for His beloved friends, (which includes every disciple then and since then), by laying down His own life, for all of mankind…

Then, He finishes this discourse by telling His disciples how much they (and we) meant to Him…

14 You are My friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a Master doesn’t confide in His slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me. 16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. 17 This is My command: Love each other.

John 15:14-17 NLT

If I remain in Christ’s love, by loving my fellow disciples, then I am no longer merely His servant.  When I am obedient to His command to love one another, I have become a friend of Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is as I remain in the love of my best Friend, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that I am able to love others, as He loved me.  It is because of His great love, (He calls me His friend!), that I am filled to overflowing with unending joy.  How thankful I am to have the Friend, who sticks closer than a brother.

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

Fight the Good Fight

Fight

by Ben Huberman

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate?


What does it mean to fight, and is there ever a good reason to fight?  Is there anything worth fighting for?  Or against?

There are several different definitions for the word fight, in dictionary.com.  However, for the sake of this post, I will use the following definition:


verb (used without object), fought, fighting.

7.

to engage in battle or in single combat; attempt to defend oneself against or to subdue, defeat, or destroy an adversary.

8.

to contend in any manner; strive vigorously for or against something:

He fought bravely against despair.
verb (used with object), fought, fighting.

9.

to contend with in battle or combat; war against:

England fought Germany.

10.

to contend with or against in any manner:

We are currently living in a time, when many of the values that we hold dear in our hearts, are being turned upside down, and those of us, who call ourselves Christians, are expected to accept these changes silently.  If we don’t, we run the risk of being labeled “intolerant,” “homophobes,” “bigots,” “haters,” or worse.  So, we’re left with a question, “Do we strive and fight against these changes that seem to be inevitable, no matter what we do?  Or do we meekly accept the changes that grieve our very souls, in order to keep the peace?”

Fought the Good Fight
I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about these things, and, no matter what the world thinks of me, in the end, I have to be true, not to myself, but to the God and Creator of the universe, the One whom I serve, and love with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.  When I am at the end of life, here on earth, as we know it now, and I meet with my Father, face to face, I want to be able to look at Him and say, the same words that the Apostle Paul said at the end of his life…

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.


So, what things are worth fighting for?  Certainly the lives of those, who are unable to care for or defend themselves, specifically unborn children.  Although, those who have been pro-choice have tried, for years, to claim that life begins only after a baby is born and takes his/her first breath, ultrasound and many other tests that are done routinely, prove otherwise.

Those of us who are pro-life, know that the instant the sperm fertilizes the egg, life begins, because in order to grow, something must be alive.  We know this from a physical standpoint, when at 12 weeks, we are  first able to hear the heartbeat of that unborn baby, and we know this from a spiritual standpoint, because scripture tells us of this fact…

 


13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body

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

Psalm 139:13-16 NLT

The Lord gave me this message:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as My prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5 NLT


Psalm 139-16

According to  the word of God, we live before we are even born, because He already knows us, even then.  Now, whether someone shares my spiritual beliefs or not, is beside the point, because I believe this with all my  heart, and because I believe this, I must fight for the life of every unborn child.  An unborn baby is  not merely a parasite, he/she is a living human.  Therefore, according to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not, the fact is, that abortion is the murder of an unborn baby.   Whenever someone snuffs out the life of the unborn child, you are stealing the very rights that every man, woman and child has been endowed with.  With every life that has been taken by means of abortion, you are taking the place of their Creator, and saying that their life is not as important as the mother’s life.  With each abortion, that is performed in this country that guarantees these rights, the child is denied the right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

These are the very things our forefathers believed were worth fighting for.  Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness are God-given rights (They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…), NOT man-made rights.  Therefore, mankind DOES NOT have the right to take away someone else’s rights, whether those of grown men and women, those of little children and infants, or those of babies, who have yet to draw their first breath, while they grow in the safety of their mothers’ wombs.

As a follower of Christ, I must fight the good fight for these precious children, who are unable to speak for themselves…  Jesus made His love for children very clear, and He also made it clear that those who harm children have a heavy price to pay…

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them. Then He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:1-5 NLT

Beloved readers, when I think of the millions of abortions that have been performed in the United States, since Roe vs. Wade in 1973, my heart breaks, because for every single one of those millions of unborn babies who was not welcomed into this world, millions of mothers, fathers, nurses and doctors were not only denying the children their right to live, they were also telling Jesus that He was not welcome in their lives either.

So we come back to the word fight.  Are there things worth fighting for?  Absolutely.  It is certainly worth fighting for the life of every unborn child, who has yet to draw his/her first breath.  Is there anything worth fighting against?  Again, the answer is absolutely.  Until we draw our  final breath, we must fight against evil, no matter what form it takes.

We must fight against the evil of racism, whether it comes in the form of white men hating black, hispanics or other ethnic groups, or whether black men hate white men.  For, no matter what form it comes in, racism is ugly, and those who hate others because of their skin  tone, also hate the God and Creator, who created ALL MANKIND in His image.

We must fight against the evil of sin, in every form, because it, like cancer, kills.  Until we draw our last breath, we must fight against hatred, bitterness, cruelty, and anger.

We must fight against anything that is detrimental to the family, as God created it to be.  For, in order to truly create a family, there needs to be a father (a man), and a mother (a woman).  Since the beginning of time, this has been the only way for a child to be conceived.  Without a man’s sperm, and the woman’s egg joining, mankind will cease to exist, and the fact remains that no matter how man has tried to alter this fact, both a man’s sperm, and a woman’s egg are still required to create life, and it will always be this way, no matter how man may try to alter or procreate in other ways.

Perhaps many of you  are now calling me intolerant, because I say that homosexuality and lesbianism are abhorrent to creation, because no matter what attempts they may make to change this, it cannot be done.  Lesbian women still need man’s sperm cells in order to procreate, and homosexual men still need women’s eggs and their uterus, in order for procreation to occur.  I didn’t design it this way, God our Creator did.  In fact, the Apostle Paul felt that homosexuality was a battle worth fighting over, more than 2 thousand years ago…

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, He abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

Romans 1:24-32  NLT

Now, more than 2 thousand years later, this is still a fight worth fighting.  Numerous children are being led astray by the lies the homosexual community spouts as they try to convince the public that homosexuality and lesbianism are normal, and should be accepted by all.  Yet, the fact remains that this lifestyle is not, nor has it ever been normal or right.  Those who choose to maintain this lifestyle choice do so, in rebellion to God, our Creator.

Ephesians 6-12

I’m sure that there are some, who are very angry and offended by what I have written here, but I don’t write these words to stir up strife.  Let me be very clear to all who question my motives, I do not hate homosexuals and lesbiansIndeed, I love them, for they are men and women, just like those of us who do not participate in that lifestyle.

My children have done many things that I didn’t like, when they were growing up.  Indeed, the truth is, that I hated some of the things they did, but I never once hated my children.  I never once stopped loving them.  The same holds true with those who call themselves gay.  Although I hate the homosexual acts they commit, and though I abhor many of the things they say, I don’t hate them.

Perhaps some of you reading, think me intolerant, and you’re absolutely correct.  As I have stated all along, in this post, there are some things that are worth fighting for, and some things worth fighting against.  Homosexuality, lesbianism, transgenderism, beastiality, pedophilia and other sexually deviant practices are sin against one’s own body, and against the bodies of others, and should not be tolerated, much less encouraged, under any circumstance, and while I have breath, I will speak out against such practices, and I will write against them, because such lifestyles are unhealthy and deadly.

More importantly, I fight against these things, regardless of the consequences, because these practices are against God’s will, and when I stand before my maker one day, I want to be able to say these words to my Lord and Savior:

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

2 Timothy 4:6-7 NLT

© 2016
Cheryl A. Showers

The Evil All Around Us

The evil all around us permeates the atmosphere, invading homes, neighborhoods, cities, towns, municipalities, states, regions and nations with fear and angst, deception and theft, as well as hatred and murder.  From racist cops to criminals and terrorists, including many others in between, evil is all around us.  How did this evil get here, and who is responsible for it? 

While most people like to believe that mankind is basically good, with only a few who are capable of evil, I subscribe to another, less popular viewpoint.  It is my belief that since Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, forbidden to them by God Almighty, the Creator of mankind, everyone birthed thereafter, was born with a sinful nature, which makes each one of us susceptible to evil.  Indeed, as the knowledge of man increases, so does his capacity for evil, and it is the sin, into which we are all born, that destines us to death. 

Image Credit: nymphschampions.wicki.com
Image Credit:
nymphschampions.wicki.com

Many, who don’t ascribe to my views often pose this question to those who believe as I do, “If all of mankind is truly born into sin, then how can there be any good people?  The answer to that question is that the Creator of all humanity has given everyone a free will, which enables them to choose whether to succumb to their sinful nature, or choose to do good.  Furthermore, He gave people (who, because of their sinful nature, were all condemned to die once, and after that, receive judgment), the option to receive the free gift of salvation and redemption, if they would simply choose to have faith in Him and His Son, Jesus.  However, as simple as that sounds, our humanity rebels against the notion that our salvation rests on something as simple as having faith in the One who created us.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 
(Romans 5:12  NLT) 

Adam’s single act of disobedience to God’s command led to the first murder, which, incidentally, was also the first death, when his and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, killed his younger brother, Abel, in a jealous rage.  I’m certain, that when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, in an act of rebellion against their Creator, they never dreamed that this single act of disobedience would lead to the devastating loss of not just one, but two sons.  For when Cain slew his brother, Abel, not only was Abel lost to them, but Cain was as well, for the Lord punished him by cursing the ground he walked on, forbidding it to yield crops to him.  He also banished Cain from the land, and condemned him to walk the land as a homeless wanderer.  From Cain’s vicious and murderous attack on Abel, man grew more and more sinful, and more and more violent.  If Adam’s one act of disobedience could have such devastating effects, that have continued to grow more and more horrible, with each generation that followed, how do we effect the world and the people around us, when we reject our Creator and His commands?

Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. 
(Ecclesiastes 7:20  ESV)  

Image Credit: truth459.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
truth459.blogspot.com

Because each of us is born with a sinful nature, sin is instinctual to us.  Children need to be taught what good is, and how to do it.  Yet, no one has ever had to teach a child how to sin, because that comes naturally to us.  Have you ever noticed that when a child begins to crawl around and walk, discovering the world around him, he immediately begins discovering the many dangers around him?  Though we try to baby proof our homes, there is always some danger that the toddler discovers, that causes our hearts to pound in fear for him.  It is during this time, that we begin to tell the little one, “No,” and the child quickly learns what “No” means.  However, although that child knows that it is wrong to touch certain objects or to go to certain places within (or sometimes even outside) of the home, for some reason, the child seems to gravitate towards those things.  Did you ever wonder why that is?  It is because that baby, just like every other baby born after Adam ate the forbidden fruit, is born with a sinful nature, and it is the responsibility of the parents and those who are involved in that child’s life to teach him what is good, and how to do good.

Though all of us have different weaknesses, every one of us has been guilty of some wrongdoing, and no one had to instruct us on how to do the wrong thing.  Indeed, no one even needs to tell us that it is wrong.  For just as we are all born with a sinful nature, we are also born with the knowledge of right and wrong, because God, in His infinite mercy, has written His law on the hearts of mankind, so that no one can truly say, “I didn’t know my actions were wrong.”  In fact, that very law that is written on our hearts not only checks our actions, but even our very thoughts, so that we also feel guilty, when we are simply thinking about those things that are wrong.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
(Romans 2:14-15  NLT)

“If this is true,” some may ask, “then why do so many people commit such heinous crimes, without feeling any guilt?”  The answer to this question is very simple, yet very profound.  For although we may feel guilty when we first commit a sin, the more we engage in that or other sins, the less guilty we will feel about it, until, eventually, our conscience is seared. 

12 Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters.  Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.  13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
(Hebrews 3:12-13  NLT)

This is true for all sins, no matter how big or small they may seem to be.  For God does not measure the size of a sin to determine one’s guilt or innocence.  God hates ALL sin, because sin is deadly.  It’s like cancer, killing and destroying every cell within us, until we, like every man, woman and child, since Adam sinned against God, finally die.  For those, whose hearts are hardened against God when they die, there will be no other chance for redemption.  Those, who choose to believe in their Creator, and His Son, Jesus, will receive eternal life, though their earthly bodies have died.

Yet, in spite of God’s great mercy and compassion on mankind, the overwhelming majority of mankind will choose to reject their Creator, choosing, instead, to follow their own sinful nature.  Although God has written His law on the hearts of humanity, they will still choose to go to hell, rather than heaven.  Indeed, despite the knowledge that is written on every heart, they will still choose to ignore that knowledge and follow the road to destruction.  They even make jokes about it, saying, “Well, if I go to hell, I won’t be alone.  All of my friends will be right there with me.” 

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate.  The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” 
(Matthew 7:13-14  NLT)

When I look at the world we live in today, it both saddens and sickens me to see how much evil has increased since I was a child.  When I was a child, there were the occasional fights in school, talking too much in class and chewing gum.  Most crimes were limited to big cities, which were far away, and though we had bomb drills, and lived during the Cold War, we had no fear, for who would ever be foolhardy enough to dare attacking us on American soil?

12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 
(Matthew 24:12  NLT)  

Now, I am fifty-four years old, and in today’s world, children and their parents fear they might not come home from school, alive, each day.  We now live in a world, where children plot and kill their parents, and where not only fathers, but also mothers, murder, abuse and molest their own children.  There are also police, who are corrupted by power, and use it to commit violence and homicides against both innocent citizens and unarmed criminals, thereby violating their duty to protect and defend.  Though they have made an oath to heal to the best of their ability, and to do no harm, doctors and nurses murder the very patients they have sworn to care for.  Yes, things like this have been happening since Adam’s rebellion, yet it is becoming more and more prevalent, and the crimes that people commit against one another are becoming more and more heinous.

Image Credit: openwalls.com
Image Credit:
openwalls.com

As we look at the evil all around us, and perhaps even within us, it would be easy to lose heart.  Yet, the very God who created us, also loves us with an unfathomable love, and He knew, long before He created the heavens and the earth, that Adam would sin against Him, thereby ushering sin into His beautiful creation.  Therefore, because sin is so deadly, God had a plan worked out for the redemption of mankind, who was created in His image, even as He breathed life into Adam and Eve.

For the penalty for sin is death, and because sin is so deadly, there are no exceptions.  Whether you eat a forbidden fruit, or whether you destroy the life of another human being, the requirement for the atonement of sin is the death of the sinner, for the sins he has committed.  Yet, despite the evil all around us, God’s love for mankind was so great that He made a way to redeem the life of man…

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

God knew the depths to which the depravity of man would sink, still, even so, His love for us was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son, so that we could live.  He knew that Nero would be born, and that he would commit terrible, torturous atrocities against those who followed Christ.  He knew that Adolf Hitler would one day, destroy the lives of untold millions, and in the process, slay six million Jewish men, women and children.  God knew that Osama bin Ladin would rise up and kill thousands, in the name of his false god, Allah, as he spewed out violence and hatred.  God also knows that one day the antichrist will rise up against Christ and His people, torturing and killing countless men, women and children.  Still, God chose to give the life of His one and only Son, so that you and I could live and be with Him in eternity.  And don’t think that Christ had no say in the matter, for He made it very clear that His love, is so great, that He laid His life down for us willingly…

17 “The Father loves Me because I sacrifice My life so I may take it back again.  18 No one can take My life from Me.  I sacrifice it voluntarily.  For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.  For this is what My Father has commanded.” 
(John 10:17-18  NLT) 

Yes, it is true that we live in a world with evil all around us, yet we don’t have to be discouraged or afraid.  For Jesus has told us in His word that as long as we live here on earth, there will be pain and tribulation, but we mustn’t fear, for He has overcome the world.  In fact, the word of God also tells us something else that many Christians in the western hemisphere have chosen to ignore…

12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.  13 Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.

14 If you are insulted because you bear the name of Christ, you will be blessed, for the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.  15 If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.  16 But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian.  Praise God for the privilege of being called by His name!  17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household.  And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?  18 And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” 

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you.
(1 Peter 4:12-19  NLT)

Sadly, not only do these “leaders of the church” ignore this passage, they also accuse those who suffer of having weak faith, causing believers to doubt their own faith in God, sometimes even causing them to turn away from the Lord, because they feel hopeless.  Those so called “leaders,” who make these false claims that someone’s suffering is their own fault, because a true child of God would claim healing and walk in it, will be held accountable for every false statement they have made in the name of God.  Indeed, the blood of every man, woman and child they have caused to stumble and turn away from God, will be on their hands.  For those who do these things, causing emotional pain and spiritual death, are just as evil as those who cause physical harm to another human being, and God will hold them accountable for every sin they committed in the name of Jesus.

As I stated earlier, there is evil all around us.  The spirit of evil dwells in the hearts and souls of many men and women, and it also exists in Satan and his demons.  Even so, when the enemies of our souls attack us, remember this, and take hope; though the evil all around us can steal our bodies and our minds, those who belong to Christ, should have no fear, for the evil cannot touch our spirits, which belong to Christ, and will one day arise from the grave in triumphant victory, clothed in our heavenly bodies.  Therefore, when you read of evil in the news, or watch it on the television, fear not!  For if God is for us, who can be against us?

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

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

Greetings to ALL My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

In the blessed name of Jesus, I remain,

Your Sister Cheryl

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Hosanna!

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

Hosanna in the highest!”

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Matthew 21:9b  NASB ~

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

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

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

~ Luke 19:38  NLT ~

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

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

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

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

~ Luke 19:41-44  NLT ~

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

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

~ Isaiah 50:7  NLT ~

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

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

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Help Me Lord, I Need An Answer!

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

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

Image Credit: Pinterest
Image Credit:
Pinterest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We did, John and Jesus told us to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Bob Bugg
Image Credit:
Bob Bugg

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

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

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

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

© 2015
Cheryl A. Showers

Adopted Into God’s Family

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

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

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

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

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

~ Jeremiah 31:3  NLT ~

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

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

~ John 3:16  NLT ~

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

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

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

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

~ Psalm 139:13-16  NLT ~

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

Cheryl - Grade 6
Cheryl – Grade 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Ephesians 1:5  NLT ~

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

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

Image Credit: Pinterest.com
Image Credit:
Pinterest.com

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

~ 1 John 3:1  NIV ~

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

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

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

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

~ Ephesians 3:14-20  NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Chosen

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. ~ Ephesians 1:4-5  NLT ~

Do you remember what it was like to play sports in school? I never did like gym class except  for badminton and bowling. Running races was humiliating, because as tiny as I was at the time, I was equally slow. However, by far, the most degrading thing about gym class, was the team sports (i.e. – dodgeball, kickball, softball, basketball etc.), because that was when the gym teacher would choose team captains (always the most popular and athletic), who would, in turn, choose their teams. Of course, the team captains always chose the most athletic (because they wanted to win), and the most popular (because if the team captain wasn’t already one of the popular crowd, if he/she chose wisely, perhaps they would welcome him/her into their elite clan).

Image Credit: A Tribute to the Wonder Years (Last One Picked)

Now, I don’t know where you landed in the scheme of things, but I was neither popular, or very athletic. Therefore, I was usually one of the last ones chosen for a team sport. In fact, when the captains began choosing their teammates, I would often pray, “Lord, please let them pick me somewhere in the middle. Please don’t let them pick me last.”

Not only did I hate team sports, team projects were equally undesirable. You see, the brighter, more popular children would team up with one another. Those children who weren’t as intellectual also had their own cliques to work in, which still, left me the odd one out. I was just one of those children who don’t quite fit in anywhere, and even as an adult, I likewise, continue to struggle with feeling out of place. 

That’s why I get so excited about this scripture…

Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. ~ Ephesians 1:4-5  NLT ~

Image Credit: Homemaker Chic “How I Cured My Infertility… Naturally”

Do you see it? Before He made the world, God loved me and chose me! Praise God – this is one instance in my life, where I was among those who were picked first! What’s more, if you are born again, believing that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, then you, too, can rest assured that as surely as God loved me and chose me before He made the earth, He loved you and chose you before He made the world. Isn’t that Good News?

 Just think about it! When I was a child in school, it felt as though my whole world was broken all around me, every time I was rejected. Actually, even as an adult, it still sometimes feels that way, when someone rejects me…

Image Credit: Knowing Jesus
Image Credit:
Knowing Jesus

And yet, if I put things in perspective, I gain a whole new insight that allows me to see things as they really are. Now, all of those soul crushing moments don’t seem as devastating, when I consider that the God and the Creator of the universe chose me to be His beloved daughter, long before He spoke all of creation into being. For you see, my present problems are nothing, when I fix m eyes on Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior…

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

 Now, when I keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and think of how God chose me before He created the earth, Jesus reminds me of this…

16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.17 This is My command: Love each other.

Isn’t that wonderful news? Jesus chose His followers. Are you one of Christ’s followers? If so, that’s because He chose you. Do you doubt me? The fact is that we wouldn’t even love Him or anyone else, if not for one thing…

We ourselves love now because He loved us first. ~ 1 John 4:19  CJB ~

Do you need more convincing? Well, beloved reader, it just gets better! 

But you are a chosen people, the King’s cohanim (priests), a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9  CJB  ~ 
Do you see the beauty of it? Long before we were born, indeed, long before the earth was even created, God thought of each one of the men, women and children who would love and follow Him, and He chose us. He called us by our name, and do you know what we were chosen for? We were chosen to be holy and without fault in God’s eyes. We were chosen to be God’s chosen people, and not only that. We were chosen to be a royal priesthood (the King’s priests), in order for us to declare the praises of Christ, who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We were chosen by God, because He loves us and it gave Him great pleasure to bring us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and adopt us into His own family. 
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. ~ Ephesians 1:4-5  NLT ~
Beloved reader, have you ever had a spouse or a lover leave you for another? Did your parents ever choose a sibling over you? Have you ever been the last one chosen by people? Beloved Christian, if you’ve ever been in this position, rejoice! For you are loved and chosen by the Lord of all creation, who will NEVER leave you or forsake you! Beloved, you are CHOSEN!
© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Whoever Has the Son Has Life…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Nevada Pain
Image Credit:
Nevada Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Overcoming the Spirit of Heaviness

R.I.P. Robin Williams by: DanDynamite

R.I.P. Robin Williams
by: DanDynamite

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

Depression

Dictionary.com defines depression this way:

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

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

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

TodaysBibleVerse.com
TodaysBibleVerse.com

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

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

Image Credit: Subconsciously Thinking
Image Credit:
Subconsciously Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 23 – A psalm of David
New Living Translation

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

It’s Time for a Change

Image Credit: neo (un) orthodoxy
Image Credit:
neo (un) orthodoxy

I’m getting older now, and while at fifty-three, I’m not ancient, I’ve still lived long enough to witness and be a part of many changes. Also, while I’m not yet ready to die, (Lord willing), I have reached the place in life, when we begin to comprehend our own mortality. My body is not as strong as it once was, and for the last three years, I’ve been living with chronic pain, which often renders me immobile. Though I’m still able to walk, the pain of doing so is often so excruciating that I’m confined to my recliner. This same recliner once belonged to my mother, who suffered from the same disabling back and leg pain.

Frankly, this isn’t the way I thought I would be spending this part of my life. I had envisioned a life filled with ministry, as I continue d ministering in prison for many years to come, as well as ministering wherever the Lord would send me, preaching the gospel and worshiping Him in dance. But all of that changed, when the back pain that I had dealt with off and on since childhood, (I have scoliosis, and have dealt with back pain off and on ever since I can remember.) came to stay in 2011. As early as 2008 and 2009, I began to notice that my pain was occurring more and more frequently, though I was able to tolerate it, because I still had more good days than bad.

However, by 2011, the pain had become my constant tormentor, and I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings for work. The job I had once loved, was now a chore, which steadily grew more and more difficult to continue, while still, the pain continued to increase like a cumbersome, misshapen burden, continually tormenting me. By 2012, the pain had become so torturous that I began praying as soon as I got out of my car, “God, please help me make it across this parking lot to my office. Please help me, Lord. O God, please help me get to the building. Help me walk to the time clock, Lord…” On and on my prayer continued, and after I clocked in, I prayed for God to help me walk from the time clock to my office…

I’ve worked since I was fifteen years old, and I have always been a very dependable employee. I could always be counted on to get to my job on time, every day that I was scheduled to work, however, I began calling out frequently due to the pain, and on the days I was able to come to work, I had to fight the pain in order to get up and get ready on time. Because I missed so much time from work, my boss told me that I had to apply for FMLA, in order to keep from losing my job. Therefore, on September 1, 2012, I was placed on FMLA for twelve weeks. At the end of the twelve weeks, my pain had only grown in its intensity, and I was unable to return to work. The pain affected not only my job, but also my hopes and dreams for ministry, and I was forced to resign from prison ministry as well as my job. 

A few months later, my mother passed away. I was devastated. A month after losing my mom, I was admitted to the hospital with C-diff, a serious and contagious intestinal virus. Most often contracted by the elderly, this viral infection can sometimes be deadly. Then, to top that off, a few weeks after I was released from the hospital, my daughter, her husband and their children, who had been living with my husband and me, packed up and moved more than eight hundred miles away from us.

All of this happened within a five month span, and after losing so much, so quickly, I fell into a deep depression that I’m still trying to climb out of. As the reality of my own mortality became evident to me, I found myself battling many demons I had thought were long gone, but now, in my weakened state,  they rose up against me, much stronger and more ferocious than ever. I faced demons of rejection, fear, and anxiety, as well many others. On top of this, I came to the realization that many of the things I had long dreamed of doing, would never come to pass, because of the constant pain I now lived with. 

I won’t lie. Though I am a born-again, spirit-filled believer in Christ, I lost hope, when the Lord didn’t answer my impassioned plea for healing. Instead, my pain grew worse and worse. In the process of losing my mother, I felt that I had failed both her and God, which caused me to question my salvation. I fearfully worried that when the time comes to meet my Maker, would He look at me and say,   “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”? I was afraid that He would, and as crazy as this might sound, coming from a woman, who was once certain of her Father’s love for her, I began to fear that I had somehow lost His love, because I was so unworthy.

Without His love, my hope was gone as well. For how can anyone ever hope for anything without His love? How is it even possible to live, apart from His love? I was miserable. I was afraid of dying, and yet my reason for living was gone. My ministry was over. My mother was gone, as were my daughter, son and my grandchildren. I shudder to think of what might have happened to me if not for my beloved husband.

For more than a year, I grieved, as my emotional and spiritual pain matched my physical pain. When I first realized the seriousness of my back pain and came to comprehend that this pain wasn’t merely temporary, but chronic, I prayed that God would heal me.  As I stood in the shower, crying aloud because the pain of simply standing to take a shower was now so intolerable, I would beg Him to heal me… 

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

~ Jeremiah 17:14  NKJV ~

I don’t know about you, but I hate pain, and I desperately wanted to believe that I would be healed from the many medical problems in my spine. Yet, no matter how much I wanted to believe this, something within me (I believe it was the Lord.) said that I would not be cured, and that I must go through this. That isn’t what I wanted to hear. 

So, how do you pray, when the pain is sometimes more than you can bear, yet you know this is God’s will for you?

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  NKJV ~

O, how this verse speaks to me on so  many different levels! For those who are in the midst of constant pain as I am, whether it is physical, emotional, spiritual, or all of the above, just look at another translation of this verse, and let it wash over you. The Voice ™, a fairly new translation of the bible, released in 2012, is a beautiful translation of God’s word. In fact, today is the first time I’ve read from this translation. Let’s look at Philippians 4:6-7 in The Voice ™… 

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  VOICE ~

This verse just speaks to me. I have been so anxious about so many things during the last year and a half, and the first thing thing I read in this scripture is, “Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.” In all honesty, while in the midst of all my struggles, I haven’t spent a lot of time praying. Yet this scripture commands me to pray, instead of being anxious. Is it possible, I wonder, that if I had spent more time praying in the last year and a half, I might not have suffered from anxiety? Even though the pain of my spinal condition is something that I must live with, if I continually pray about it, I’m certain He’ll help me endure it. 

The next portion of this scripture has tripped me up, in this time of pain and suffering… He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” Wow. God commands us to be thankful for what has come, and I have been anything BUT thankful. While I haven’t been like Job’s wife, saying, “Curse God and die,” I haven’t been thankful for the pain that has come to my life, either. In fact, to tell you the truth, I’ve spent way too much time crying, whining and complaining, and it hasn’t made me feel any better. In fact, the truth of the matter is that I’ve been perfectly miserable. 

Therefore, I believe a change is in order…

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:6-7  VOICE ~

Image Credit: Q4 Consulting
Image Credit:
Q4 Consulting

I’ve decided to do exactly as this scripture commands. Whenever I feel anxious about things, I will  pray. Not only that, but this scripture commands that I pray about everything, because God longs to hear my requests. Isn’t that a wonderful thing to know? I’ve never even considered that before. Have you? Think about the magnitude of this…

… He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. ~ Philippians 4:6   VOICE ~

I don’t know why Almighty God would long to hear my request, but I feel blessed and encouraged that He does. Praise God! I wonder… is it possible that God has allowed all of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain to enter my life because He longed to hear my requests? When I think of my pain in this light, it becomes easier to thank God for what has come. 

Finally, in Philippians 4:7I discover yet another reason to give thanks to God for what has come…

And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. ~ Philippians 4:7  VOICE ~

When I pray about everything, I overcome those feelings of anxiety, and I am able to give the Lord what He longs for. How awesome is it to know that we are able to fulfill one of the Lord’s longings, simply by praying to Him about everything? When I give the Lord what He longs for, not only do I overcome my anxiety, I also receive the gift of having God’s peace watching over my heart and my mind in Jesus…

Yes, it is indeed time for a change in my life. How about you, beloved? Have you been dealing with pain and suffering in your  life? If so, how did you respond to the pain? Did you pray about everything, giving thanks for what has come into your life? Or were you anxious as I was, neglecting to pray and give thanks? If so, maybe it’s time for a change in your life too. Why don’t you join me in obeying this scripture, and let’s see if the peace of God that is promised descends on our lives, in Jesus’ name?

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

A Teachable Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

by michelle w.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what do you think? Are there times when honesty is not the best policy?

Some people claim that it’s kinder to tell a white lie to someone than to hurt them with the truth. But I can’t agree with that. To convince someone to believe in a lie is to set them up for failure. If I ask my husband how I look in a certain outfit, I’m asking him to tell me the truth. If he lies to me about little things, how do I know if he will be honest about other, bigger things?

Image Credit: financefox.ca/35-money-lies-people-tell-regularly/
Image Credit:
financefox.ca/35-money-lies-people-tell-regularly/

If someone is consistently honest in both little and big things, then I feel I can trust them in all things. However, if someone candycoats the truth, or avoids telling me the truth, for fear of hurting me, then I have to wonder if this is a person I can really trust…

Let’s break this down… What is a lie? According to dictionary.com, a lie is:

noun
  1. a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. Synonyms: prevarication, falsification. Antonyms: truth.
  2. something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.
  3. an inaccurate or false statement; a falsehood.
  4. the charge or accusation of telling a lie: He flung the lie back at his accusers.
verb (used without object), lied, ly·ing.
  1. to speak falsely or utter untruth knowingly, as with intent to deceive. Synonyms: prevaricate, fib.
  2. to express what is false; convey a false impression.

According to Jesus, lies originated with Satan, who is the father and inventor of lies, and those who lie, are the devil’s children…

You belong to your father, Satan, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. From the start he was a murderer, and he has never stood by the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is speaking in character; because he is a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie!

~ John 8:44 — CJB ~

Furthermore, those who live a life of lies, live in bondage. The only way for a person to be truly free is to walk in the truth. If you don’t know the truth, you are bound — enslaved — by lies. Prior to telling the Jews who refused to follow Him that they belonged to their father, Satan, Jesus (Yeshua) said this about the truth…

31 So Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you obey what I say, then you are really My talmidim {disciples}, 32 you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

33 They answered, “We are the seed of Avraham and have never been slaves to anyone; so what do you mean by saying, ‘You will be set free’?” 

34 Yeshua answered them, “Yes, indeed! I tell you that everyone who practices sin is a slave of sin. 35 Now a slave does not remain with a family forever, but a son does remain with it forever. 36 So if the Son frees you, you will really be free! 37 I know you are the seed of Avraham. Yet you are out to kill Me, because what I am saying makes no headway in you. 38 I say what My Father has shown Me; you do what your father has told you!”

~ John 8:31-38 — CJB ~

Is it better to enslave a person in lies or to set him/her free with the truth? The truth isn’t popular in this day and age. It’s much more comfortable for people to be politically correct… But that doesn’t make lying the right thing to do. No matter how you color it, a lie is a lie, whether it is black or white, and all lies are spawned by the father of lies, the devil himself, because the truth isn’t in him. 

Jesus, on the other hand, speaks nothing but the truth, because He is truth…

Yeshua said, “I AM the Way — and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”

~ John 14:6 — CJB ~

Because I serve the living God, I choose to live in truth, rather than be enslaved by lies. Though speaking and living in truth may be offensive to some, there is life in the truth. Wouldn’t you rather have someone speak the truth to you in love, rather than to look you in the eye and lie to you? Though the truth is sometimes painful, there is health and freedom in it… But though a lie might feel good for a time, there is danger from living and believing a lie, and most certainly, bondage comes from lies… 
© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Silver Bullet Prayer direction for current situation – written by my pastor‏

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

Greetings Beloved Readers,

Forgive me, because it has been awhile since I’ve posted any letters from our sister in Israel. Unfortunately, due to my illness and my vacation, I’ve fallen way behind, and I will do my best to catch you up. 

Meanwhile, there is an urgent need for prayer that just came today, for the nation of Israel, and our beloved sister in Israel has sent us a letter from her pastor. Please read this entire letter and begin to pray as the letter directs. It is vital, both for our friend and her pastor, and for the nation of Israel, and for us as well. I truly believe that this is a mandate from the Lord, calling for us to pray for Israel, and He is showing us exactly how to pray for Israel in these last days.

May the Lord bless you, my beloved readers, as you join with me in fervent and urgent, but not panicked prayer. One more thing for you to know, our sister has asked that her name not be revealed, for obvious reasons, and I’ve done the same for her pastor, changing his name to Pastor, where it was written before. And now the letter from our sister’s pastor…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prayer Priority Alert

An American attack on Syria seems to be imminent.
An American attack on Syria seems to be imminent, and Arab leaders warn of terrible consequences to Israel, if Syria is attacked.

Arab leaders spew bellicose threats
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is quoted as saying: “The intervention of America will be a disaster for the region. The region is like a gunpowder store, and the future cannot be predicted.”^1

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi warned that, “The basic repercussion would be a ball of fire that would burn not only Syria but the whole Middle East.”^1

In Israel
Thousands of Jews and Arabs line up at gas mask distribution to get their gas masks in preparation for a possible counter attack from Syria and Lebanon (Hezbollah).

Patriot anti-missile batteries in Haifa are put on alert, Netanyahu convenes security cabinet, and IDF announces major drill on Golan Heights (meaning the IDF is moving troops to the Golan if it is ordered to attack Syria, or if Syria launches a ground attack into the Golan.

But don’t get rattled or excited in the flesh – it won’t help

In 2006, at the beginning of the Lebanon War, as I began to pray earnestly for our security situation and the war (which was not going well at the time), the Lord stopped me in the middle of my praying. He warned me, “Pastor, do not pray your opinions to me, pray what I show you!”

I took that to mean that I should not pray out of excitement, or be animated by my emotions or flesh, or even let my prayers be guided mostly by the newspaper headlines. So often, we are unaware that we are praying that way. Rather, He wanted to lead me by His Spirit, that I might pray what was strategic to Him.

But Abraham stood yet before the LORD… Abraham drew near…


When the Lord came to Abraham and revealed to him that He was on His way to judge Sodom, Abraham’s response to the news, is instructive.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near…” Gen. 18:20-22

I take this to mean that Abraham turned His heart to God; he drew near to God rather than allow himself to let his emotions and flesh run wild with speculation and anticipation. Rather, he approached God with the full weight and impact of God’s Word and revelation of His nature and character. These were the only things guiding His intercession on behalf of Sodom! Who knows what prayers he would have prayed otherwise?

So, I urge you to actually turn to God, get a hold of His Word and ask Him to lead you in your prayers and intercession on behalf of Israel now.

You should remind yourself that God is sovereign, especially in all that pertains to Israel’s restoration and protection. How beautifully it is expressed in Isaiah 54.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.14 In righteousness shall you be established: you shall be far from oppression; for you shall not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. 15 Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake. 16 Behold, I have created the smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy. 17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” Is. 54:13-17

This is just one of hundreds of promises and declarations of God’s purpose in these days, to restore Israel to the Land and to Himself.

If you let His Word fill your heart, you will find faith arise in your heart –His Word is the fuel of our faith. His Word will inspire, lead, and guide your praying, and you will be taken into a realm of prayer and intercession that, you have not experienced before.

There, when you are in the Spirit, you will pray boldly and on subjects that you have not thought of, but that He wants you to pray. And when you pray His Will, you have the confidence that He will answer.

One example scripture that can inspire and guide your praying…

Zechariah 12:

Vs. 1 – The Lord’s sovereignty as creator and giver of life to man – this is how this chapter opens – get a hold of it and it will keep you from panic praying.

Vs. 2-3 A warning to all the nations who take Israel and Jerusalem a their problem to solve or resist.

Vs 4, 9 God personally battles the nations who come against Israel (whether diplomatically or militarily).

Vs.5-6 What God does for the governors and leaders of Israel.

Vs. 7-8 What God does for and within the nation of Israel

Vs. 10-13:1 Spiritual restoration of Israel is part of all of this conflict!

If you take time with this chapter, praying through it, giving God glory for His sovereignty, worshipping Him as creator, you will be enabled to have faith for the rest of it, and that makes all the difference.

We will continue to keep you posted as the situation unfolds. The papers are saying that the American attack could come as early as tomorrow, but nothing is for sure.

Blessings from Israel,

Pastor

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

caddo-7-word

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

Inside Israel – Doves of Jerusalem …and trains!

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

Greetings Beloved Readers!

Praise the Lord, I am now up to date with the letters from our sister in Jerusalem. As always, I want to encourage you to pray for Israel. It is so important for us to understand that even though the Lord has saved many of us and delivered us from sin, and adopting us as sons and daughters, His love for Israel is not diminished. Israel still remains His chosen people. Therefore, we must cry out for His people in these last days.

This week, as you read the letter from our sister in Israel, let the following scripture passage be your prayer for God’s chosen people…

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

 

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

And now, without further ado, I introduce to some of you, and present to those of you who follow our letters from our sister in Israel…

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Blessings and love to you dear sisters and brothers.  May The Lord of glory be blessed and glorified! 

 

Image Credit: Remi Kahane http://photolight.co.il/show_photo/346116.html
Image Credit:
Remi Kahane
http://photolight.co.il/show_photo/346116.html

Although most of us picture doves as white, the doves of Jerusalem are that beautiful ‘doe’ color…like a deer.  Perhaps you wonder why I write so much concerning nature.  Today I believe I understood the reason (besides the fact that I have always loved nature). 

 
When we first made arrived, we found that our new reality demanded that we find work as soon as possible.  Not being able to handle my new language yet at all, (and NOT having many qualifying skills…AND being 49 years old at the time) I was happy to be offered a job with a rather well known international ministry here.  Being in this intense area, there are probably more large, international ministries functioning here then anywhere else on earth, and not just ‘English speaking ones’ either.  It is the same with news media outlets; there are more world news media groups stationed here then anywhere else on the earth (that is a fact).  That should say something.  Those of you who know Jerusalem know what a tiny city this is.  When I was offered work with this ministry I asked them to pray with me as there were some doctrinal issues that they held that I could not stand in agreement with (not foundational ones of course).  They prayed and assured me that I was the one for the job and it would be fine.  I was so thankful for the work as the main part of my job was answering many of the letters that they received and I loved that.  We began each day with Bible reading and prayer and I loved the fellowship, in spite of our differences.   But the area that I was not in agreement with allowed them to embrace a false prophecy, which led them to the verge of bankruptcy and most of the staff had to be immediately dismissed, including me.  It was then that I found out that they had not been paying into our form of ‘social security’ for me (as a citizen it was required for the boss to do that) and that left me, after a year and a half, without the ability to receive unemployment. 
 
The Lord certainly works everything to the good and for His glory, for it was the beginning of an intensive course in learning to REALLY trust Him and walk by faith in a new dimension.  I was without work for two years after that (my husband was not in the country at the time…another story that glorifies Him in the end) and I felt firmly that He was directing me to work in secular work immersed in my new ‘culture’ rather then to work again with a ministry and He surely has directed my path.  But what in the world does this all have to do with ‘nature’ and ‘doves’?!? 
 

Image Credit: Kazwell http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaz/2275391632/
Image Credit:
Kazwell
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaz/2275391632/

Just this:  Because we are such a small body here and so dispersed, I now have very little opportunity for fellowship outside of our weekly meeting, but today I realized just how much He speaks to me through His creation!  I understood that I daily ‘fellowship’ with Him in this manner (as well, of course, in His Word and in prayer) and am edified!  No, it does NOT take the place of ‘fellowship’ with the body (HIS perfect design) but He always provides when we want His will, and this is part of my current provision. 

 
And now, back to our doe colored doves!
 
holytrinitypm0Jerusalem is literally covered with doves.  I have learned that if they are near to me as I walk and I don’t look directly at them or speak to them (yes…I do that! :-[ I admit it) they will stay where they are, but if I look at them or speak they will fly away.  Now we all know that The Holy Spirit came as a dove so as I learned this I have thought about how The Holy Spirit did not come to speak of Himself, but to point to Yeshua…to bring to remembrance everything that He said and to magnify Him…not to draw attention to Himself.
 
But yesterday my attention was drawn directly to a dove sitting on the ground next to a wooden fence along my path.  He looked at me and I sensed that he was injured.  I went toward him and he did not move, but kept watching me.  I saw that his gentle breast had been harmed, most likely by a cat.  I reached down to pick him up, but stopped: Where would I bring him?  There was no place around that would make him to be less prey for another cat attack, nor could I bring him to work…he would be petrified.  I know enough that if I were to touch him, he would carry my ‘scent’ and that might be worse…so…I stood and prayed simply that The Lord, Who cares for all creatures, would care for him mercifully, and went to walk on.  A bit further I felt just bothered to leave him like that so I turned to go back and then I saw a most unusual sight.  Another dove flew down and began to peck at him and flap his wings angrily.  I felt so bad, thinking that he was being attacked…UNTIL…I saw him reluctantly move and then, after some more pecking and harassment move again, and suddenly, hesitantly, he took off in unsteady flight, but up into a tree.  The second bird had come to rescue him and had likely been watching when I stooped down!  Immediately I thought of so many of the painful and harsh things that seem to come into our lives when we feel most vulnerable and I wondered at the goodness of God to ‘afflict us in His faithfulness’ (as is repeated over and over in Psalm 119, that marvelous teaching Psalm!)  for example 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Your word.  And verse  71 It is good for me that I was afflicted,That I may learn Your statutes.     
 
Do my ‘parables’ drive you crazy?  I hope not!  I gather strength as mana to go through my days as He blesses me with these encouragements!  I actually thought about it as I was faced with my daily train ride.  Two days in a row I arrived halfway to my destination when the loud speaker announced a ‘hefetz ha’shood’ or an ‘unidentified object’ that the bomb squad was being called out to investigate.  We are usually advised to ‘walk’ or ‘possibly wait up to half an hour’, but this week, the first time, we were told that we would all have to get off of the train as the driver was being told to turn around and go in the other direction.  The lady-older-then-myself with some 20 kilos of cherries that she had just bought at the shuk began to grumble loudly, as did the very old man with a walker. Soon there was quite a rebellion taking place as it was noon and the sun was hot and the train was crowded with elderly people with packages or young mothers with babies.  I decided to walk rather then listen to the rage.  Thankfully today we were allowed to sit and wait.  As we did I looked around and it hit me for the first time that our trains carry perhaps an pretty odd assortment.  They are full of baby carriages and strollers, often twin strollers.  There are lots of shopping carts (mine included) and then there are walkers, canes, crutches, wheel chairs, Seeing Eye dogs, shopping bags, suitcases and myriads of backpacks, not to mention weapons.  More then occasionally there are also the ‘tools of the trade’; a mop and bucket, large tool box, computers or assorted furniture being brought home.  Sitting next to me today was a woman with a portable oxygen tank attached to her nose.  In front of us stood a young girl with BOTH a rocking horse and a plastic push ‘bike’.  And then there are all of those pregnant women!  No wonder the train is always so crowed! 
 
As many of you realize (although it IS summer where you are as well as here, and I know that many of you are up to your ears in activities…God BLESS your summer with joy and blessing in Him!)(along with work and children home, more difficult for some then for others.  MUCH GRACE to those of you who have difficulty!)  things here are more volatile and tense then ever, if that is possible! I think back to the beginnings of the ‘revolution’ in Egypt that began very shortly after the US President visited there, and how ‘revolt’ has been sparked in almost the entire region.  The nations on all of our borders are shaking and smoldering and the world is so foolishly trying to ‘solve the problems’ with embarrassing rhetoric and shallow human reasoning that knows almost nothing of the ancient roots of the problems…nor The Maker Who is watching over His Word.  The latest moves to ‘arm the rebels’ in Syria while screaming and crying about all of the people dying is so pathetic but can not be seen as funny.  More weapons will NOT stop the bloodshed.  I look at my Bible and see so many circumstances for which there was NO HUMAN SOLUTION.  Take, for example: the Sea in front and the Egyptians behind as the Israelites came out of Egypt.  Perhaps it was thousands in the wilderness without food in both the ancient days during the 40 years in the wilderness and the nearer days when Yeshua said ‘How many loaves have you?…Bring it to Me!’  What about Legion howling in the tombs or the lame man waiting for the stirring of the waters?  AND…how about Yeshua…dead in the tomb?  Oh my, there is no end to examples….in fact the Bible is FULL of situations that there was NO human solution for.  But we live in an age of ‘humanism’ and seem to actually have a foot in the door of the one world system that will carry the mark for buying and selling.  I can see much more clearly how that could be possible now.  When our value added tax went up 1% I somehow thought that my bills would also go up 1%, but (as I have admitted before) I have NO understanding of economics and basically bills (especially grocery bills) have shot up a whopping 25%!  Since wages don’t increase, I think of how young families who are not prepared by The Word mixed with faith and the fear of God will withstand taking such a mark.  From my vantage point the world appears to be spinning faster and faster out of the control of the nations and their leaders. 
 
And there are those of you who pray for our nation (I am aware that there are many also who might read some of these letters who don’t find the time to pray.  PLEASE don’t take ANY condemnation from me when I mention those who do!  It is ALL unto The Lord and we ALL do what we can and believe we are called to do.  Please be released from any condemnation over this.) I would like to ask for specific prayer for a 60 year old problem that I believe our nation is poised to impose a solution into that is perhaps unjust and I am very concerned. As you know we have a Bedouin population.  The Bedouins are a fascinating people.  They are nomads (I suspect that they are the people described in Jeremiah 35:1-12) and live mostly in the Negev where they move their goats and camels from place to place living in tent like structures with large extended families.  (google Bedouin if you are unfamiliar with them) Over the years efforts have been made to settle them in villages and extend all the benefits to them of education, health care, sanitation etc.  They are currently listed as the most rapidly growing population in the world.  Their land claims are not written down.  Israel is a small nation and wants to establish its borders.  Legislation has just passed to establish the Bedouin in villages against their will and this strikes me a lot like ‘American Indian Reservations’.  I have a long and personal history with Indian Reservations and my heart breaks at the thought that the same awful injury might be done here.  Please pray that this legislation is somehow overturned and that some just solution is found. The Druze population in the North was also nomadic and they were peacefully settled into villages, but I have a very bad feeling about this Bedouin decision. Thank you for praying if The Holy Spirit brings it to mind. 
 
But in the midst of all of the ‘distressing news’, you likely haven’t heard of the more then 30 wounded Syrians from both sides of the conflict that have been treated in Israeli hospitals as friends or family bring them to our borders.  Also, a lovely ‘peace prize’ was just awarded to our fast response health motorcycle paramedic service which was founded by an ultra religious man and an Israeli Arab working together.  They have no political agenda; they simply share a passion for saving lives and have formed a nationwide service that rushes to all emergencies.  In this context, a Jewish man with a kippa (skull cap) has delivered a Moslem baby and a bearded Moslem man has delivered an orthodox Jewish baby.  Lives are saved, and the result is trusting friendships…the same as I have found in my daily walk…’peace’ is made through kindness, one on one in the small ways that we can.  He is our Peace…He HAS broken down every wall. 
 
It is I who enjoy sharing, so I thank you for making time to read.  Come and visit???  God bless and encourage you ever nearer to His Heart beat. 
Thank you for continued prayer for our younger daughter at this time. 
Lovingly, your sis

Inside Israel – Taking a moment to share – 19 June 2013‏

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

Dearest brothers and sisters in Yeshua,

He is precious and to be glorified and blessed, and as His Blood bought body, how very precious are each of you!  

… for you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…” (2 Corin 6:16) 

Continue reading Inside Israel – Taking a moment to share – 19 June 2013‏

Inside Israel

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

Greetings Beloved Readers,

I apologize for not posting the Inside Israel letter sooner, however, I was having computer issues, and since all of you have computers, I know you understand. Nonetheless, all is well now, and the letter from our sister in Jerusalem follows. As always, I ask that you keep our sister in your prayers, and that you also pray for the peace of Jerusalem according to scripture…

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.

~ Psalm 122:6 — NLT ~

Before sharing our sister’s letter, I want to let you know that I will be posting another letter from our sister on Wednesday, to help us get back on track from when I got behind. And now, without further ado, I present to you the letter from our sister in Jerusalem…
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Inside Israel – just to say shalom – 4 June 2013‏

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

My Beloved Readers,

Greetings to you all in the matchless name of Jesus Christ, who forever remains, KING of kings and LORD of lords. May each one of you find peace in His presence, and may each one of you understand the boundless extent of God’s love for you. I pray that you will know, as all of God’s children should know, how long and how wide, how high and how deep His love for you really is, and may the roots of His love reach to the very depths of your soul and spirit! Continue reading Inside Israel – just to say shalom – 4 June 2013‏

Inside Israel – a bit of sharing on 5/29/2013

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

My Beloved Readers,

Please forgive me for not posting the Inside Israel letters for the last few weeks. I’m not up to talking about it yet, but I was recently hospitalized, and I haven’t been online very much lately. For those of you who have been praying for me, I truly appreciate your prayers, and I ask you to please continue praying for me, as I am in a dark place that I’ve never been in before, and without the help of the Lord, I could do nothing.

O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls;
they will pray day and night, continually.
Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord.
Give the Lord no rest until He completes His work,
until He makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.

I also ask you to please continue praying for our sister in Israel, who so kindly shares her life and the mighty works of the Lord with us, and for all of Israel and Jerusalem in Jesus’ name… I will post another Inside Israel letter on Wednesday, June, 19, to try to catch you up on our sister’s letters.
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Home…

Five Sentence Fiction – Home

Jun 12, 2013 ~ Written by lillie

What it’s all about: Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week I will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in your five sentences, just use it for direction.
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Last week, my husband and I flew to Georgia to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, and though it was the first time I’ve ever been to Georgia, I was home. When we were at the airport in Atlanta, which is like a ginormous maze that was much to large for me to walk through, I was transported by wheelchair to my destination, assuring that my husband and I would catch our flight on time, and there, in that airport, surrounded by strangers from all over the world, I was home. 

Above the Clouds Cheryl A. Showers
Above the Clouds
Cheryl A. Showers

As my husband and I flew high above the clouds and I saw the world below from heaven’s perspective, taking note of the homes and buildings, which seemed too small for even a miniature doll house, while the people below were much too small to be viewed by the naked eye, again, I was home. Continue reading Home…

Inside Israel

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Below you will find the most recent letter from our sister in Jerusalem. Please remember to pray for her and also to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, especially now, during these last and evil days… This is my main reason for sharing these letters, so that you and I may pray for Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, as Scripture instructs us. For then, both we and they shall be blessed…

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

And now, my beloved readers, without further ado, here is the letter from our sister in Jerusalem…
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Inside Israel – Announcement

Image Credit: Jerusalem Shots
Image Credit:
Jerusalem Shots

Greetings My Beloved Readers,

Those of you who followed Deb Feller’s blog, SIMPLE POEMS, SIMPLE FAITH BY DEB FELLER, remember that almost every Sunday, she would bless us by sharing a letter from a sister in the Lord, who lives in Israel. I always looked forward to reading these letters, for it made the Lord’s command to pray for the peace of Jerusalem much easier for me, as I came to know this beloved sister through her letters.

Therefore, when Sis Deb decided to step away from blogging for a while, there was more than one void left. Firstly, there was a void left that no one else could ever fill, as Sis Deb was anointed to take the word of God, and write lovely, short poems, that cut through everything, as she brought the simplicity of God’s word to life. The other void that was left were the letters from Inside Israel, however, Sis Deb shared the email address of our sister in Israel with me, and I will now be receiving these letters from Inside Israel. Continue reading Inside Israel – Announcement

Salute to Ames Department Store and the Gift of a Lifetime

Image Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ames-2001.jpg

Does anyone remember Ames Department Stores? Ames Department Stores were the forerunners to the Walmarts of today. If you wanted to buy your items at a lower, discounted price, you went to Ames.

The second job I ever had was at Ames Department Store, where at the ripe young age of nineteen, I was hired to work behind the jewelry counter, and it was there that I discovered the gift of a lifetime! Seriously… you see, while I worked behind the jewelry counter, I came to know many of the other Ames employees and managers.  Continue reading Salute to Ames Department Store and the Gift of a Lifetime

Dark Night of the Soul

Image Credit: caddoveil.com

When I got up this morning, I had no intentions of posting anything other than for Sis Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays, but right after posting that, I was strongly led to write another post. I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it this morning, because my husband and I were going out of town to see my son, daughter-in-law and five of my seven grandchildren. Also, to be honest with you, this wasn’t really a post that I wanted to share with anyone, however, when I returned home, the compulsion was there yet again, to share this post, and there was also a promise as well. You see, I believe with all of my heart that this post I am sharing with you has the power to mend broken hearts.

As many of my regular readers know, 2013 has been an extremely difficult year for me thus far. Beginning in January, towards the middle of the month, I had to take my husband to the emergency room, because his foot became extremely swollen and so painful, he could hardly walk. Then, my mother was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital because she was very ill, and before the month was over, I was taken to the emergency room for chest pains (I had pleurisy, which is extremely painful… If you’ve ever had it before, you know what I mean.) 

February was no kinder, as my mother’s condition grew worse, and we came to the realization that her time on earth was coming to a close. She passed away on February 15, and was laid to rest on February 22, and it broke my heart. I didn’t realize how much I loved my mom until I lost her. And then, my husband’s other foot started swelling and hurting, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on with  him…

Then, as we marched into March, I became terribly ill. I thought I had a stomach virus, but as many of you know from a post that I wrote, I had developed C-Diff, a terrible stomach infection, that caused me to be hospitalized for several days. When I finally left the hospital, I was placed on an antibiotic for 20 days, and though I returned home, and felt somewhat better, all of my strength was gone, and up until this past week, I was extremely nauseated.

Image Credit: http://content.bandzoogle.com/users/ tabladrum/images/photos/gallery/445726.jpg?0

In this midst of my illness, my husband’s illness, and grieving for the loss of my mother, I fell into a deep, dark depression. It was truly a dark night of my soul, and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it, as the spirit of heaviness weighed down on me, smothering and oppressing me. I was so sick, I couldn’t eat, and was constantly exhausted. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and at the same time, I was extremely lonely, if that makes any sense.

I hate depression and its lies. I thought I was a woman of great faith, and then to find myself wallowing in anxiety and depression brought shame to me. You see, I’m a minister of the Most High God, and many times, I’ve ministered to others who have been depressed, but now, I found myself struggling with a depression like I hadn’t had in many years. I thought those days of darkness and depression were long gone, when the Lord had helped me to overcome them years ago. For crying out loud, I’m a prayer warrior, a mighty woman of God, but now, I was reduced to a weeping, painful, lost little girl.

I loved the Lord, but I couldn’t write as much as I wanted to, because simply sitting up at the computer made me feel as though I was going to throw up, which fed the depression, which kept growing like some dark, black monster. Then, my daughter and her family moved to Georgia, a couple of weeks ago. The Lord revealed it to me before they even told me, so I asked my daughter, who was dumbfounded, because she said she and her husband had only talked about it the night before…

It broke my heart that they were moving more than twelve hours away from me, but at the same time, something happened within my spirit… The Lord had spoken to me again. A spark lit my hope, which had nearly died… In the dark night of my soul, God had not given up on me. He was still speaking to me.

Image Credit: http://propheticverses.com/rev01/rev0101/ rev0101bjesus/0101b23isa49.htm

Then, one day last week, I was talking to a friend, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I prophesied to her, confirming everything the Lord had spoken to her earlier during her devotional time with Him. It had been so long since the Lord had used me to prophesy, and in the dark night of my soul, I had feared that I was destined to spend the rest of my life like this — alone and miserable, no longer able to hear the Lord’s voice as I once had, no longer useful to Him.

It had become hard to pray, because I was no longer sure if God could hear me. As I write these words, I’m struck by how weak I was, how deceived I was, but when the enemy ties you up in those chains of deception and covers you with those robes of heaviness and oppression, it’s hard to see the truth through the darkness.

As the Lord ministered to me, igniting my hope and reminding me of His great love for me, I made a decision to go to church last Wednesday night, no matter how I felt. He had exposed my problem, showing me that I had a spirit of heaviness, and I knew what needed to be done.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. 8 Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In His kindness God called you to His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power is His forever and ever. Amen.

~ 1 Peter 5:6-11 NLT ~

As I cast all of my cares upon Him, I felt a weight lift from me, as the Lord ministered to me. You see, I had bought into the lie from the enemy that I was a failure, no longer fit to be used of God. In my grief, and pain, the enemy just kept coming after me, with more and more ammunition, and in my weakness, I buckled under the weight of it all, forgetting that which is true…

His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.

~ Psalm 30:5 NLT ~

The Lord ministered to me that night, as He’s been ministering to me all week, reminding me of His great love for me… He reminds me that though I was disappointed in myself for being weak, He was not disappointed. 

13 The LORD is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. 14 For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust. 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone — as though we had never been here. 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

~ Psalm 103:13-18 NLT ~

How grateful I am that I have a Savior who loves me just as I am. Though the enemy came to steal my joy, kill my hope and destroy my life, I serve a Savior who redeemed me. He purchased my freedom, and paid my ransom with His life. He not only restored my life, He gave me abundant life. 

10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

~ Philippians 3:10-14 NLT ~

My beloved readers, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Lord placed it in my heart to write this post not to expose my weaknesses, but to encourage you. I know that some of  you are battling with grief and depression, just as I have been. I know that many of you are in the midst of a dark night of your soul, and you wonder if you will ever again see the light of day. Listen to me, my beloved friend, as I pray for you, for the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…

1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

~ Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV ~

Father, in Jesus’ name, I cry out to You for every man, woman and child who You lead to read this post, that You would bind up the brokenhearted. Comfort those who mourn, Lord, in Jesus’ name, and set those who are imprisoned and bound by depression, affliction and addiction free. Lord, I know that what You have done for me, You will do for others, because You are no respecter of persons, and You don’t love me any more than You love Your other children. 

Arise, O Lord, and show Yourself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to You. Father, give each person who is weighed down by that spirit of heaviness, a garment of praise in its place. Lord, let them begin to praise You in the midst of their pain, and as they do so by faith, Lord, set them free!

Father, for those who are in the midst of a storm, in Jesus’ name right now, I  speak to that storm, and I say, “Peace — Be still!” For those who are bound by fear, I speak to the spirit of fear right now, and I cast that spirit out in Your name, because You are love, and perfect love casts out fear. For those who are in the midst of that dark night of the soul, I loose Your Holy Spirit and Your Word, in Jesus’ name, because in You there is light, and the darkness must flee. 

Lord, I believe that You allowed me to go through this dark night of my soul, so that You could minister to others who are going through similar pain, and so I loose Your Spirit to each of those that You lead to read this post, and in Jesus’  precious and holy name, I speak life, peace and hope to each one. Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

Daily Prompt: Happy Happy Joy Joy

by michelle w. on March 28, 2013

We cry for lots of reasons: sadness, pain, fear . . . and happiness. When was the last time you shed tears of joy?
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I haven’t responded to a Daily Prompt since March 18, because I’ve been sick and tired and depressed for quite a while, but when I saw today’s prompt I had to respond!

Since you don’t know me well, let me start off by telling you that for many years, I was unable to cry. I learned years ago to stifle my tears, out of fear, pride, bitterness and rebelliousness. As a child who was made fun of for having “buck-teeth” and the last name of Payne, I learned to swallow my tears, because even though my classmates tormented me, I refused to give them the satisfaction of seeing just how badly their words wounded me.

Image Credit: http://mybedsidemanner.blogspot.com/2012/07/ kind-word-turns-away-wrath.html

And then, there was my home life… All too often, if I would cry, my mother would warn me to, “Shut up or I’ll give you something to cry about!” And she would too. I can remember getting beatings from my parents, and nearly choking on my tears, trying not to let any escape past the huge lump in my throat, sometimes with success, and sometimes unsuccessfully. 

Did you know that you really can will yourself not to cry and not to feel? The problem with that is when you begin blocking one emotion, it inevitably leads to blocking all emotions. When that happens, we become so out of touch with our feelings, that we really don’t know how we feel about anything. I remember not knowing how I felt about things, and so I would carefully watch how others responded to certain situations, to see how I “should feel.” I eventually came to the point that I was unable to cry — whether I was happy or sad. The tears just wouldn’t come.

It is a good sign if a person is able to shed tears. An individual who had had much experience in spiritual matters once made this statement: Giving your love to a person who cannot shed tears is like handing over your money bag to a thief to keep. This is quite true. A person often feels uneasy about giving his love to one who cannot shed tears. For tears are the one thing that is indispensable in this world. It can rightly be said that a person who is unable to shed tears has lost something of the very essence of man: he can no longer be considered as being human.

~ Practical Issues of this Life ~
by: Watchman Nee

To be unable to cry was a terrible thing. As a child, I learned to repress my emotions as an act of self-preservation, but by doing so, I killed something inside of me. You see, tears are an outlet of the heart. So what do you do, when that valve has frozen and will not let any tears escape? 

You could do what I did. I remember reading the following verse from Psalm 56, and how it caused me to begin to ponder and pray to God about it.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.

~ Palm 56:8 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://waitingatthewindow.blogspot.com/2012/10/tears-in-bottle.html

Isn’t that amazing? God keeps track of all our sorrows. He knows how deeply wounded I was as a child, and He cared. I can’t help but be amazed about this every time I read it or think about it! He has collected all of your tears, and all of my tears and placed them in His bottle. Imagine that! Your tears and mine too, are so important to God, that He has collected each and every one of them. Isn’t that awesome? And get this — He has a written record of every single tear that you have shed throughout your entire life, because those tears mean that much to Him. Do you remember every single tear that you’ve cried? I don’t, but God does.

When I read that scripture and realized how important our tears are to God, I began to pray, first, asking God to forgive me for quenching my tears, and then, asking Him to give me back my tears. Lord, help me to cry again. Restore my tears in Jesus’ name.” I won’t lie to you. It took a few years for me to have the privilege of crying again, but I got those tears back.

Having said all of that, 2013 has been an especially difficult year for me so far. Lord willing, the worst is behind me, and the best is yet to come! I lost my mother in February, the day after Valentine’s Day, and my heart has grieved for her. I never dreamed it would be so painful, and though I knew I loved her, I never realized how much I loved her. I’m sitting here weeping as I share this.

Anyway, January and February were both difficult months, as I dealt with my own physical issues, and my mother’s dying. Then, in the beginning of March, I got terribly sick — to the point that I thought I was dying. I had a horrible infection called Clostridium Difficile. It was terrible, and I was hospitalized for several days because of it. After returning home from the hospital, I was extremely weak and nauseous for several weeks — actually up until just a couple of days ago. 

Image Credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/eyes/images/
16143904/title/tears-photo

It was horrible. With all that has gone on in these first few months of the new year, I was unable to attend church during this time of trouble, and I fell into a dark place, as the spirit of heaviness oppressed me. During the last few months, I’ve wept more tears of pain and sorrow than I ever remember crying. You would think those tears would just dry up, but they just keep coming. However, if I have to choose between shedding those tears or repressing them, I choose to shed them, because there’s a release that comes after I’ve cried, as though those painful things have been cleansed. It also helps, knowing that my dear sweet heavenly Father values my tears.

I shared all of this so that you can truly appreciate my answer to the question, “When was the last time you shed tears of joy?” The last time I cried tears of joy was last night, when I attended a very special worship service at my church, as we celebrate this holy week in remembrance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. As I walked into the sanctuary with my pastor, who drove me to church, because I was unable to, I felt the joy of the Lord wash over me. As I helped prepare the communion, pouring the juice into the individual cups, and then helped to prepare the altar for the service, my heart was filled with contentment.

Have you ever been homesick? That’s how I’ve felt these last three months, and when I entered the sanctuary, I felt as though I’d come home. And then, my pastor asked me to open the service in prayer, and overwhelming joy flooded my soul as I realized that in spite of everything, I had been through, the Lord could still use me to bless others. When it came time for the foot washing, in remembrance of when Jesus cleansed the disciples feet, my pastor called for the ministers to come forward to wash the feet of the least among us, the children, and so, the other ministers and I knelt at the feet of the children in our congregation, and washed their feet as we prayed over each child. 

“But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then, and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then.”

~ Mark 10:31 NLT ~

What a privilege to humble ourselves and serve the children and the youth! My pastor then had the ministers sit down, as she humbled herself and washed the feet of the adult members of the church and the ministers. After this, she singled out one of the children, a girl who is often angry and rebellious, a girl who reminds me a little bit of myself as a child, in that she feels overlooked and unloved, and so she acts out sometimes. It was this girl that she asked to wash her feet, as she told her that the Lord had chosen her over the adults and ministers, to pray for her and wash her feet. You could see how seriously this girl took this invitation, as she soberly looked into her pastor’s eyes, with tears glistening, and then knelt at her feet and slowly, solemnly and gently washed first one foot and then the other, quietly praying.

After this, we sang together as the Spirit led. My heart was flowing over with joy, and last night, for the first time in such a long, long time, I wept with joy, and as I wrote this post, I was again, weeping with joy!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Who Wants To Be The Next American Idol?

American Idol
American Idol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love music and all of the arts. In fact, the creative gifts that God has given to mankind have the potential to move us, often, changing our moods. These gifts can be used for God’s great glory, or they can be used to further the kingdom of Satan. It’s our choice how they are used. By the way, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this, I’m not going to bash American Idol. 

You see, I enjoy watching American Idol. I enjoy the talent of each of the contestants, but (you know there’s always a but, isn’t there?) what breaks my heart is when I see someone laying his/her heart on the floor before the judges and the audience, only to be told that they don’t measure up. I hate to watch someone who has given his/her all be told in front of a live studio audience, not to mention the millions of viewers who have tuned in, that this was their worst performance so far. 

Image Credit: FOX

Oh, I know what some of you are thinking, “Well, it is a singing competition…” Or maybe, “They have to expect that, when they go on the show…” I understand that, but does that make it right? Does it make it any easier for the contestant? Did anyone else feel as terrible as I did a couple of weeks ago, when the IDOL judges bashed Charlie Askew’s performance, while he struggled not to cry and to hold it together? That wasn’t entertainment to me. That was just plain hurtful and mean. Couldn’t anyone else see how fragile Charlie’s state of mind was? Was it truly necessary to rip him to shreds? I praise God for the compassion that Ryan Seacrest showed Charlie, in possibly averting a potentially more devastating situation…

And then there was last night with Lazaro Arbos. That absolutely broke my heart. I get it that this is a competition, and that losing stinks, but as I watched the judges critiquing Lazaro, I was again, very disturbed by Randy’s critique most of all, because while the others tried to offer constructive criticism, his was not, as you can see…

I think sometimes, in this world, people get so caught up in the drama and the competition, that we forget that the people we are critiquing are real live people, with real hopes and real dreams. We forget to look at their fragility, and see that while some may be strong enough to receive constructive criticism, no one wants to go onstage and be put down in front of millions of people. We forget that the talent each contestant has is his/her God-given gift, which is not for us to snatch away from him/her and smash into pieces. Sometimes, when we do that, we end up damaging that gift beyond repair, and while we are able to continue happily along our way, the person who so generously offered to share his/her gift with the world is now left holding a lot of broken and shattered pieces, with no idea how to put it all back together. 

Therefore, my friends, who critique others, I would urge you to look at each person as individuals. Understand that some are more fragile than others, and don’t compare one person against another, because God created us all differently. My gifts are different than yours, and God gave them to me to accomplish something different from anyone else. I can’t and won’t try to measure myself by anyone else’s standards, because I can only be as much or as little as God has equipped me to be. I can’t try to conform myself to anyone else’s standards, because God created me and has called me to meet His standards.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.

~ Romans 12:2 NLT ~

When people go on these competitions, they have so many different people telling them what to wear, what to sing, and what to do, that many, who are so young and pliable, lose sight of who they are. They lose themselves in the glamour and glitz, and in the criticism’s of others, and those who are not as strong inevitably wind up being crushed and damaged — some for a lifetime. American Idol is not just about one’s singing ability. It’s as much about someone’s appearance as it is about his/her talent. It’s about what the American public wants, which is not necessarily talent…

My advice to people who are involved in competitions — whether they are singing, or sports, or dancing, or writing, or whatever, is to glorify God in all that you do, because He is the One who gives each of us our various gifts. Do you wonder why I write so much about Jesus, why even my fiction points to Him? It’s because I am so grateful for the gifts that He has given me, and I understand that He gave me those gifts so that I can glorify Him with them. 

Sure, I check my stats like everyone else, but I don’t write according to that. You see, I’m well aware that while people may love what I’ve written one day, they may hate what I have to say on another day. I understand that, therefore, I choose to please God, who never changes, rather than man, who is fickle.

24 But Jesus didn’t trust them, because He knew what people were really like. 25 No one needed to tell Him about human nature.

~ John 2:24-25 NLT ~

I choose to please a God who does not compare me to anyone else. He knows all of my weaknesses, but He doesn’t condemn me in front of millions of others, for the sake of applause. I choose to live my life trying to please someone who loves me no matter what I do — and even when I totally screw things up, I don’t have to feel that I’m no longer worthy of His love.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 39 Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 8:38-39 NLT ~

As I close, I would just like to offer up this prayer for all who are involved in competitions, both judges and contestants…

Father, in Jesus’ name, please let men, women and children everywhere, who are involved in competitions know that every good gift they have is from You, and let them use those gifts to bring glory, honor and adulation to You and not themselves. Lord, I pray that those who judge others, would do so constructively, to help, rather than to crush the spirits of the competitors. I pray that You would fill every judge with truth, so that they would judge fairly, and truthfully, and also with compassion, so that they would speak the truth in love, rather than in condemnation. I pray that You would also fill judges everywhere with wisdom, so that they would offer constructive criticism, that would help the contestants to grow, rather than squelching their gifts.

In Jesus’ name, Lord, I also pray for contestants everywhere. Lord, make them aware that their talents are a gift from You for Your glory, and let them have the mindset to please you, rather than mankind, who is so fickle. Let them use their gifts for Your glory, so that people can see You working in them and through them. Lord, let them seek Your face, and give the competitors a knowledge of how You see them, so that they will confidently walk in Your Spirit and Your presence.

Father, I finally pray for Lazaro, and for Charlie specifically, because both young men deeply touched my heart. Lord, please reveal Yourself to each of those young men, and let them know how long and how wide, how high and how deep Your love for them is. Let them know who they are in You, and save them from destruction, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers