Does this seem like an impossibility to you? Do you feel as though you’ve seen too much, done too much and had too much done to you to ever have a pure heart? God knows that I have felt this way for most of my life. Though you don’t know my heart, and though I can’t know yours, God knows. Indeed, it was God who described the condition of everyone’s heart.
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NKJV)
So, knowing this, how could Jesus, bless those with a pure heart? Do they really exist? And, knowing this, how could He make it seem possible for anyone to achieve this? I’ve been dreaming about this message all night, as the Lord placed scripture after scripture into my heart, and if you’ve longed to see God, but despaired of it ever happening, because of the things you’ve done in life, have I got good news for you! For, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, butwith God all things are possible.”
Let’s look at King David. King David had it all. He loved the Lord, and God had blessed him with the kingdom of Israel, and the love of his people. He walked uprightly before God, and was seen on many occasions singing and dancing before the Lord. And yet, like you and me, King David’s heart was just as deceitful as our hearts are. Do you remember what happened?
During the time of year, when kings went to war, we discover that King David stayed behind, in Jerusalem. For whatever reason, David chose not to be where he should have been, and after waking from a nap, he walked out onto the roof and looked around. And while he was standing there, he saw a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath.
Now, instead of averting his eyes from her and leaving his perch on the roof, David he sent a servant to find out who she was. After discovering that she was married, you would have thought that this man of God would have forgotten about her, but instead, he summoned her to his presence and committed adultery with her. Before too long, Bathsheba (the woman) informed David that she was pregnant.
It never occurred to David that he should repent, and ask for her husband’s (Uriah) or God’s forgiveness. Instead, he began to plot, to cover his sin. Have you ever been there? When you’ve sinned against God and man, have you tried to cover it up? Though it shames me, I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never tried to hide my sins.
David sent a message for Uriah to come home, hoping that he and his wife would have sex, and then Bathsheba could claim that their child was Uriah’s. However, it turns out that Uriah was a much more honorable man than David was, and he refused to enjoy the comfort and pleasure of sleeping with his wife, while his fellow soldiers were suffering in the midst of the war. David didn’t give up, though. He invited Uriah to dinner that evening, and got him drunk, hoping to get him to sleep with his wife, while under the influence, but even then, Uriah refused to betray his duty to his fellow soldiers.
So, rather than repenting and confessing his sin to Uriah and to God, David plotted another plan… one that involved Uriah’s murder. David sent Uriah back to the front lines, where the battle was the fiercest, and ordered the other men to be pulled back, so that Uriah would be killed in battle.
When Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, learned that Uriah had been killed in battle, she mourned for him. Then, once her period of mourning was over, David married her, and she became one of his wives. Before long, she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done. (1 Samuel 11 NLT)
Indeed, God was so unhappy about what David had done, that he sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront him with his sin. When he realized that Nathan speaking of his sin, David confessed and repented of it, and God forgave him. However, the consequences for David’s sin were great. (1 Samuel 12 NLT)Still, knowing the consequences of his sin, David prostrated himself before God, confessed his sin and repented.
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight— That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. 16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar. (Psalm 51 NKJV)
Beloved, oftentimes, we think that because our sins are forgiven, we shouldn’t suffer the consequences for those sins, but this isn’t true. Though Jesus paid for our sins on the cross, in this world, we still suffer sin’s consequences. Yet, if we truly repent, as David did, though we pay the consequences of our sin, we can still be washed clean, even as David was. Do you wonder if David will ever get to see God, because of his sin? I believe he will, for even in the New Testament, David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart.
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’ (Acts 13:22 NKJV)
Even after these terrible sins against God and man, David remained a man after God’s own heart. Doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me great hope. Yet, if what Jesus said is true, then how can our heart be made pure, so that we, too, can see God? We must do as David did, and repent and confess our sin to God…
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
Do you want to see God? Then you must have a pure heart. How can you have a pure heart? Confess your sins to God, repent from them, and ask Him to cleanse your heart, just as David did, and your heart, beloved reader, will be made pure, and you will see God.
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.
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.
5 “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.6 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.7 If you *abide in Me, and My words *abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
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.
9 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.
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.
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?
Just recently, I’ve been worshiping to this song by Jason Upton, over and over. It has become the cry of my heart. As the daughter of the Most High God, the more I learn of Him through experience and through His Word, I find myself more and more wanting to be like my Abba, my Daddy…
7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
9 God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him.10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
God is Love. Real love is that God loved us and sent His Son, Jesus to be a sacrifice for our sins. I’m not there yet. God has given me a greater love for mankind than I could ever have imagined, yet, I cannot truthfully say that I would be willing to sacrifice either of my children for anyone’s sake… Daddy make me just like You!
8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.9 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.
I have such a hard time loving my enemies. It’s hard to love someone who hates me or those I love. Yet my Daddy loved me when I was His enemy. In fact, before He adopted me, when I was still a child of His enemy, the devil, He loved me and you! Daddy make me just like You!
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much,5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)6 For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
8 God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
God, my Daddy, is rich in love and mercy. And He has made me, and you, if you are His child, an example of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us. Do you wonder how far that grace extends? His mercy, love, grace and kindness to us is so great that when He raised Christ from the dead, He raised us up right along with Jesus, and seated us in the heavenly realms. What kind of love is this? Daddy make me just like You!
How amazing is the love of Father God for His adopted sons and daughters. How could we not long to be like Him? Once He has captured our hearts, there is nothing more we can desire than to truly be like Him, and praise God! He knows that we, in our humanity, could never achieve our hearts desire to be like Him on our own, and so we, the sons and daughters of the Most High God have this assurance…
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
My prayer for each and every child of God is that He will continue His work within each and every one of us, so that each one of us will be like our Daddy… Daddy make each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ just like You!
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, like a pearl of great value… Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Man, King of kings and Lord of Lords, is the Treasure; He is that Pearl of great value! Now, when the merchant and the man discovered this great Treasure, (Jesus), what did they do? They sold everything they owned, so they could get that treasure. There was nothing more important to them than getting that Treasure, the Pearl of great value. Likewise, nothing should be more important to us than Jesus, our Pearl of great value…
23 Then He said to the crowd,“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?26 If anyone is ashamed of Me and My message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when He returns in His glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.27 I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.”
These words of Jesus are offensive to most people, including we, who call ourselves Christians. Instead of trying to follow Jesus on our own terms, we must do as He says…
23 Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make Our home with each of them.24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.
Do you love Jesus? If you do, you will obey Him. If you don’t obey Him, then you don’t love Him. Do my words sound harsh? They’re not my words. Jesus said they’re not even His own words, but those of His Father.
Before you take offense at what I’ve written, I should let you know that it’s taken me almost a week to write about this Pearl of great value, because I’ve had to deal with the fact that I haven’t been treating Jesus like the Treasure He is, for far too long…
Father, please forgive me for giving up on You. Forgive me for doubting, Lord, help my unbelief! Please forgive me for ignoring You, Lord, my Pearl of great value. Forgive me, Lord, for trying to live on my own terms, and for refusing to carry my cross daily, following You. Forgive me, my Lord, for trying to hang on to my life as I wanted it to be, instead of giving it up for Your will, instead. Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love. According to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions, and cleanse me from my sins. Against You, and You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are just when You speak, and blameless when You judge…
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then, I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You!
As we study this parable about the treasure and the pearl of great value, the story of the rich young man immediately came to my mind. Do you remember how the young man questioned Jesus about how to obtain eternal life?
17 As Jesus was starting out on His way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to Him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good.19 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
This man seemed to do everything right. He obeyed all of God’s commands, but when he stood before (Jesus) the Pearl of great value, he failed to recognize His worth. Although he was willing to obey God’s law, he was unwilling to give up his earthly treasures, unlike the merchant and the man, who discovered the buried Treasure and the Pearl of great value. Jesus, who felt genuine love for this man, even tried to make everything clear to him, saying that if he sold everything, he would have Treasure in heaven, but the man failed to recognize the Treasure(Jesus) speaking to him… and so, with a sad look on his face, the man walked away from the greatest Treasure he could ever hope for, because he already had so many possessions that he couldn’t bear to part from…
23 Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”24 This amazed them. But Jesus said again, “Dear children, it is very hard to enter the Kingdom of God.25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:23-27 NLT
Hear me now… People throughout the world are seeing Jesus’ miracles, signs and wonders, even in this day and age, while here in the United States, we see few, if any. Do you wonder why this is? It is because we already have so many treasures of our own, that we don’t hunger or thirst for that Pearl of great value. Even the poor of this nation, (and I am counted among the poor) are not truly poor in comparison to the rest of the world…
You see, though I have very little money to live on each month, it is still more than others around the world have… I still have plenty of food to eat… I have a car (it’s old, but it’s paid for, and it runs)… I have a computer… I have medical care when needed… Do you see? In this nation that I love, I lack for nothing that I need, and I praise God for that.
Yet, this fact remains. My poverty is not poverty as the world knows it. Because all of my needs were met when I was able to work, and now they are met by the government, to whom do I run, first, when another need arises? Who am I depending on? When my back pain became unbearable, did I turn to Jesus first? Or did I turn to the doctor? When the doctors could offer me no help for the pain, and offered instead, a very risky surgery that could do more harm than good, was I angry with the doctors? Or did I get angry with Jesus, that Pearl of great value, who still hasn’t healed me in the last four or five years?
Until right now, I haven’t even admitted this to myself. I stopped asking Jesus to heal me, because I didn’t want to be disappointed if He didn’t. So, I became more and more depressed, for the last four years, and my faith began to shrink. I just gave up on the great Treasure. Now, instead of praying regularly, I seldom bothered to talk to Him. Instead of enjoying His presence, I wallowed in my pain. Unlike Job, when I lost my health, I also lost much of my faith… much of it, but not all of it.
For the God who saved me many years ago, remained faithful to me, in spite of my unfaithfulness. Though I had lost hope in Him, in His great mercy, He restored my hope. Then, as I began this study, about the great Treasure, I was convicted, because I have neglected this Pearl of great value. How could I write about this great Treasure, when I have failed to fully appreciate His value?
For almost a week, I watched TV, played video games, and did what I could, to ignore this study. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to deal with the fact that I had not treated Jesus as the great and wonderful Treasure that He is. Then, yesterday, as I tried to nap, I heard a still small voice whispering to my spirit, and reminding me of other times when He’s healed me. In 2004, I had a hyperactive thyroid that was so bad, the doctor was talking about doing a procedure to burn out my thyroid gland. I was taking blood pressure medicine, and still my blood pressure was through the roof. I shook with tremors constantly. My heart rate was super high, and I suffered many other symptoms because of it, but I remember praying for God to heal me one night at church, and He did! To this day, my thyroid is normal, and so is my blood pressure, heart rate, etc.
As I thought of how the Lord has healed me in the past, I felt His presence strongly, and felt as though He was saying, “Trust Me. Ask Me to help you, and believe that I can and I will do it for you.” I had stopped asking Him to heal my back several years ago, after living with the pain for more than a year, because I couldn’t bear the thought of asking Him for this, and being disappointed. Instead, I chose to live with no hope, and without hope, there is only disappointment…
Then I began to wonder, “What if I’m the one who keeps derailing me? What if God is ready to heal me, but I keep giving up on Him, before He can act? What if He chooses not to heal my back? Does this in any way devalue Him? Is He not still, the great Treasure? Isn’t He still the Pearl of great value?”
There is much more to this study, but for today, I leave you with this thought… Is Jesus your great Treasure? Is He your Pearl of great value? Or do you, like I have done, treat Him as something of much lesser value?
31 Here is another illustration Jesus used:“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
What is the Kingdom of Heaven? Some say that the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God are two different things, but, if you examine scriptures, Jesus spoke of them interchangeably…
30 Jesus said,“How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it?31 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds,32 but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.”
18 Then Jesus said,“What is the Kingdom of God like? How can I illustrate it?19 It is like a tiny mustard seed that a man planted in a garden; it grows and becomes a tree, and the birds make nests in its branches.”
So, again, where or what is the Kingdom of God? How do we find it?
3 Jesus replied,“I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
The first thing we need to understand about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, is that only those who are born again will be able to see and enter it. He also tells us that the Kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit…
3 “Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].”
Jesus makes it clear in this verse that the poor in spirit (those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant) have the kingdom of heaven… He doesn’t say that the kingdom will be theirs, using the future tense. He spoke in the present tense, meaning this is already so.
Therefore, since Jesus tells us that we must be poor in spirit to receive the kingdom of heaven, and that we must also be born again, in order to even see it or enter it, we must be poor in spirit in order to be born again. For it is when I was poor in spirit, that I recognized my absolute need for a Savior. Because I am poor in spirit, I know that apart from Jesus, I can do nothing. I needed and I still need Jesus, and in order to be a part of His kingdom, I needed to be reborn. I was already born of water from my mother’s womb, so now, I needed to be born of the Spirit.
4 “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].”
It is because I was (and still am) poor in spirit, that I began to mourn (repent) of my sins, and I cried out to Jesus to forgive me and save me. In that instance, He heard the cries of my heart, and I was born again. He had not only forgiven my sins, He had also cleansed me from all unrighteousness. I was no longer the same. I had been transformed, not because of my goodness, but because of His mercy and goodness. Immediately, I became a part of the Kingdom of God, because His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me. For, His temple is not in a building made by human hands. According to His word, His temple is now within my body…
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
The kingdom of heaven is here on earth, among His children, who have been born of His Spirit. When two or more of us gather together in His name, He is here, in the midst of us. If you have been born again, you are a part of His kingdom, and you can see it…
So, what is this kingdom like???
31 Here is another illustration Jesus used:“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field.32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches.”
Therefore, the tiny little mustard seed represents the word of God, planted into the hearts of man. Then, that tiny little seed grew into an enormous tree, which represents the growth of the church. Think about it, on the day of Pentecost, there were only about one hundred and twenty (see Acts 1:15) Christ followers, but after the Holy Spirit blew in, settling on them in the upper room, they rushed out into the streets, rejoicing. Before the day was over, three thousand more believers had been added to their number (see Acts 2:41)! Everyday after that, more and more believers joined them, as the church continued to grow enormously (see Acts 2:46-47). Within a short time, the number of believers grew to five thousand (seeActs 4:4)! As people were healed and witnessed many miracles, signs and wonders, crowds of men and women began to believe (see Acts 5:14)! Indeed, as God’s message spread, the number of believers greatly increased. Even some of the priests became believers (seeActs 6:7).
The church grew amazingly fast, and amazingly large. Just look at how many people claim the Christian faith today. In fact, as that mustard seed grew into a huge tree, birds came and made nests in it… Do you remember that the birds represented the evil one, snatching the word away from the believers in the first parable we talked about inSowing Seeds Begins with Prayer?
Whenever scripture speaks to us in parables, they don’t change. For instance, leaven (yeast) always represents sin. The seeds in these stories, represents God’s word. Likewise, the birds represent the evil one. Whenever the word of God goes out, the enemy seeks to destroy it or snatch it away. In this case, we see that the enemy has built nests within the church. So, what does this mean?
In the parable we discussed yesterday, inThe Wheat and the Weeds Know the Truth, we saw that the weeds, which were planted by the evil one, grew up right alongside of the wheat (true believers). Likewise, today, we see the true believers (the church) represented by the mustard tree, and nesting within its branches, are the birds (those sent by the evil one, to snatch the word of God away from the believers). Do you wonder if this is even possible? Look at this warning from Jesus…
24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.25 See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.
There are deceivers in the church, right now. They are in the pulpits, on committees, and in the pews. Some may seem righteous, but their hearts are black. Therefore, it is vital that you know the Truth, and the only way to know Truth is by having a close relationship with Jesus. Talk to Him and study His word.
16 Rejoice always;17pray without ceasing;18in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings.32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NLT
15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
Beloved reader, if you walk in close obedience to Jesus, you will not be fooled by the birds in the tree. Even if you are momentarily fooled, God will open your eyes to the truth, and when He does, you must proclaim the truth of God’s word to others, so that they will not be fooled. I’m not telling you to kill the birds, because the Lord will remove them, when the time is right. I’m telling you to speak the truth in love and walk in truth.
15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.
24 Here is another story Jesus told:“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
We learned yesterday, from Sowing Seeds Begins with Prayer, that the good seed that was planted, represents the word of God that was planted in the hearts of people…
1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone.
Jesus is the word of God. He is the living, and the spoken word of God. Every scripture that has ever been inspired or God breathed, points us to Jesus. And Jesus made it clear that He is the only Way to God. He made it clear that He is the Truth, and that He is Life. Those who hear this and understand this, represent the good seed that the farmer spread onto the ground…
Let’s look at a portion of the prayer that Jesus prayed for those representing the good seed, on the night before He was crucified…
13 “Now I am coming to You. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with My joy.14 I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.15 I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do.17 Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth.18 Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world.19 And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by Your truth…”
This is such an important passage for the good seed. Do you see what Jesus said? He gave us God’s word. He gave us Himself. When we become the good seed, by hearing and believing God’s word, He makes us holy.
Jesus knew that He would be crucified the next day, and so He asked the Father to make us holy by His truth. Do you remember who Jesus said the Truth is? God’s word, Jesus, is Truth. We become holy, good seed, by God’s Truth – Jesus…
25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
Who is the enemy of God? We all know that the devil is God’s enemy, but did you know that the devil isn’t God’s only enemy?
1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.
4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit He has placed within us should be faithful to Him.
42 Jesus told them,“If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on My own, but He sent Me.43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear Me!44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.45 So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe Me!46 Which of you can truthfully accuse Me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe Me?47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
The weeds that were planted among the wheat or the good seed, weren’t just the devil. It included religious leaders, and people who call themselves men and women of God, though they really hate the truth. Paul even warned Timothy about this…
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
Beloved, Jesus didn’t tell these parables just because He liked telling good stories. He was telling them to prepare His people then and now, and to warn them. Today, in the church, (I’m not talking about the various buildings, where people attend services. I’m talking about the people themselves, who claim to be Christ followers.) there are many false beliefs and practices, which have sprung up over the last two thousand years, since Christ’s death and resurrection. Some false beliefs and ideas came from merging true Christianity with pagan practices. Others came from people trying to make Christianity more appealing to the masses, by ignoring obedience, and making Christianity more worldly. Still other false practices and beliefs came from the very pit of hell, in order to deceive the people of God.
Because of this, we have men and women in the pulpit, preaching lies to their congregations. Some deliberately deceive their followers, while others unwittingly do so, as they repeat the lies that they have been taught, ignorant of the truth themselves. That is why it is vital for each person to pray to the Almighty in Jesus’ name, asking Him to reveal the Truth to them. Also, when you read a book by a Christian author, or a post, such as this one, pray and seek the truth in the scriptures for yourself. I’m human, and though I don’t want to mislead anyone, I do make mistakes. See if what I’m telling you lines up with the word of God. Likewise, whenever you read something by any Christian author, see if it lines up with God’s word. Beloved reader, you don’t want to be mislead, because God isn’t going to separate the weeds (the deceivers) from the wheat (true Christ followers), until the last day…
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
The deceivers and the deceived continue grow along with the lovers and believers of the truth. Therefore, pray, study and read God’s holy scriptures, for in them, you will find the truth…
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Later that same day Jesus left the house and sat beside the lake.2 A large crowd soon gathered around Him, so He got into a boat. Then He sat there and taught as the people stood on the shore.3 He told many stories in the form of parables, such as this one:
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.6 But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.7 Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!9 Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
When Jesus walked the earth, fulfilling the Law and the prophets, He was here to seek and save those who were lost. Yet, He knew that He would soon be leaving the earth, and He needed to prepare His disciples to continue His ministry, when He was gone. Of course, He knew that we would have His Holy Spirit living within us, but there were still many things He needed to teach us about ministry. Therefore, He shared this parable with the people.
Later, after He explained why He spoke in parables to His disciples, (see Why Parables) He explained the meaning of this parable…
18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts.
Have you ever tried to share the love of Christ with someone, and he/she just doesn’t get it? Even though the reality of Him is so real and so clear, this person simply can’t grasp what you’re saying. This has nothing to do with a person’s intelligence. I’ve known people who have read the bible from cover to cover, without ever hearing it speak to them. It often seems like the most logical people believe in the most illogical things. They’re more willing to believe in “coincidence”, rather than God’s answer to someone’s specific prayer. Or, they might believe in some unproved theory, such as evolution or a cosmic disaster from which life evolved, rather than seeing the evidence of God’s creative design.
The reason for the disbelief of many of these people is found in Matthew 13:18-19 NLT. Though they have heard the word of God, before it reached their hearts, the evil one came and snatched it away. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge a person has, if the word of God never reaches his/her heart. Therefore, don’t be discouraged when you meet someone like this, because you now know how to pray for him/her. Pray that God’s word would reach this person’s heart, and that its roots would grow deep…
20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.
When I ministered in prison, I can still remember how mightily the Lord would work on the hearts of the women. I remember one woman, in particular, who was so on fire for the Lord, and when she was released, she asked me to come to her home and pray for her, her new home, and her children, which I gladly did. I took her to church with me, and she wept through the whole service. She was so thankful to God for setting her free, and so was I, but, within a month, she was using crack again, and prostituting herself. She ended up going to another prison. It broke my heart. I continued to pray for her for several years after this (I still pray for her, whenever I think of her, like now), and I visited her at the other prison, and again, after she was released from that prison. The last I heard, she was living with a man that she wasn’t married to, but she was no longer using drugs. Still, sadly, she also wasn’t walking with the Lord. Oh, she knew the Christian lingo, but the fruit she bore, told another story.
I was really discouraged by this, and yet, it’s clear to me now, that she represented the rocky soil spoken of inMatthew 13:20-21 NLT. Father, I pray, in Jesus’ name that You would break the rocky soil of my friend’s heart, until it is no longer hardened against Your word. And I pray, Lord, that You would once again sow the seed of Your word into her heart, so that those seeds would take root, and those roots would grow deep into her heart. Let faith grow strong within her, and rekindle the love and the joy she once felt for You, in Jesus’ name.
22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.
Have you ever met someone who worries about everything, all the time? As I read Matthew 13:22 NLT, my heart goes out to someone that I love dearly, and I’m moved to pray for this beloved person, for whom I haven’t known how to pray. In all honesty, I simply get so frustrated with this loved one, that I don’t even bother to pray. Father, forgive me for my impatience, and please touch the heart of this loved one, and remove the thorns of worry and anxiety that plague him/her constantly. Lord, just as You sent Your word and healed many others, I ask You to send Your word to my loved one, after the thorns are removed, and heal him/her, in Jesus’ name.
23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Of course, everyone wants to minister to someone who will truly hear and understand God’s word, but having lived with farmers for the last thirty-five years, I’ve learned a few things about soil. Did you know that not all soil is good for planting? Most times, soil has to be worked, fertilized and prepared for planting. Then, once it’s been planted, it needs to be weeded and tended. Knowing this, isn’t it just possible, that Jesus told this parable to the disciples (and to us too!), so they wouldn’t just give up on people?
Perhaps, we need to begin praying for God to work the soil of the hearts of those we love and minister to, so they will be prepared to receive the word of God, when it is planted…
I love the parables of Jesus. They give me something to ponder and pray about. My prayer is that my ears would not simply hear the words, but that I will listen to His words, heed them, and understand them. Father, open my ears, that I may hear. Open my eyes, that I may see, and open my heart and mind, so that I may understand Your words and live in obedience to them. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Jesus often spoke to people in parables, and His disciples asked Him why He did this…
10 His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do You use parables when You talk to the people?”
11 He replied,“You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not.12 To those who listen to My teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.13 That is why I use these parables,
For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. 15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”
These words sound harsh to many, but they give me hope. Have you ever tried to share the truth of the gospel to someone, and no matter how clear it is to you, they just don’t get it? Indeed, they don’t even want to hear about this Jesus, who has captured your heart. Have you ever walked away from a situation like this, feeling like a failure? I have…
Yet, perhaps the failure wasn’t mine. Perhaps, in His great wisdom, this was part of the lesson that Jesus gave His disciples (that includes all of His followers), so that they would continue in the work that He gave them, even when they felt as though they had failed. I have shared the gospel with friends, family, people I love, and with enemies, sometimes, with great success. Other times, I’ve faced abysmal failure, which left me feeling ill-equipped and unworthy of sharing this Good News.
Yet, as I read these words of Jesus, my heart wonders, “Is it possible that they heard, but they didn’t listen? Could they have seen, and yet not seen?” Again, I am reminded of something else Jesus spoke to His disciples…
44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up.
When I think of the prophets of long ago, crying out for the people of God to repent, they weren’t welcomed with open arms and open hearts. No, they were mocked, scorned and ridiculed, at best. Many were even assaulted, and murdered for sharing God’s Good News. Many were killed by the religious leaders of their day.
So, why is it, that I expect things to be easier for me? Why is it, that I expect the church to embrace me in love, when I don’t have any words that will tickle their ears? Though I speak the truth in love, most still don’t want to hear it.
15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to Me and let Me heal them.’
Still, we must continue to speak the truth in love, and proclaim the good news whenever we are given the opportunity…
1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom:2 Preach (proclaim) the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
Beloved, Jesus commanded all of us to go and make disciples of all nations. Every man, woman and child, who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been given the honor and the privilege of sharing the Gospel with those we come into contact with. Therefore, let us not be discouraged when it seems that no one is listening, or that no one really cares. It is our joy and honor to speak the truth in love, and trust the Father to draw whomever He will to Jesus. It is also our privilege to call upon the Lord to open the eyes, ears, hearts and minds of those with whom we share the Gospel, and let Him reap the results.
I ministered in prison for ten years, and during that time, I saw many of the same women leave and return to prison again and again. Sometimes, I was certain they had finally seen the light, only to watch in sorrow, as they returned to prison again and again. Yet, I don’t believe my time there was wasted, because I only know what the Lord led me to speak and do. I don’t know who really listened and understood in their heart, but God does. My time wasn’t wasted, because I obeyed Him, and I drew closer to Him, as He filled my heart with love for the women I ministered to. We may never see all of the results of our labor, before our time in this life is finished, but let us be like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all of the prophets who have gone before us…
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.
Father, I pray that You would continue to give us, Your children, eyes to see and ears to hear You. Give us hearts that are willing to obey You and walk humbly with You, O Lord. Show us Your ways, and let us not look to the right or to the left, but help us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on You.
Please help us not to be discouraged by what seems like failure to us. Instead, give us a willing spirit to speak Your word in and out of season, no matter whether it is received by others or not. And when our work here is finished, Father, let us be able to join Paul in saying…
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.
The following post showed up on my daughter’s Facebook news feed the other day, and led to great discussion, and deep pondering:
“What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for His people to come together?”
“Christ calls men to carry a cross; we call them to have fun in His name.”
What if there was no stage? Why does there have to be a stage in ministry? Aren’t we supposed to be one in Christ?
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
— Galatians 3:26-29 NKJV
Jesus didn’t need to stand on a stage. He ministered wherever He went, and people listened, because they were hungry for the truth. He didn’t need an opening band to warm the crowd up. He warmed them with His love. Jesus ministered, not only on the temple steps, but in the streets, at funerals, wherever He went.
He didn’t preach nice ear-tickling sermons. He wasn’t politically correct. Indeed, society’s leaders hated Him, because He cried out against sin and injustice, and He spoke words that were contrary to their belief system. He offered them nothing of this world, and yet, people were drawn to Him anyway…
43 But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said.44 For no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them to Me, and at the last day I will raise them up…”
— John 6:43-44 NLT
— Read John 6:20-70
Jesus didn’t depend on a contemporary worship service, or a charismatic speaker to draw the people to Him. He knew that only One could draw mankind to Him, and that was His Father. What makes us think, that with our many “programs” today, we can draw people to Jesus? Only God can do that, and while we may draw many people to our mega-churches or our mini-churches, we aren’t called to make church members of all nations, tribes and tongues.
We are called to make disciples (followers of Christ) of all nations, but how can we do this, if we are so focused on our various programs that we’ve lost sight of the only One who can draw people to Him? How can we make disciples of all nations, when we are busy building bigger and better churches? Didn’t Jesus command us to GO and make disciples of all nations? We can’t do that within the four walls of the church. We must go into the world, speaking the truth in love, as we follow God’s Holy Spirit, and allow our Father to draw men to Christ.
Yes, we must join one another in prayer, and disciple others, so that they, too, can go into the world, allowing God to minister through them, and draw still more to Christ. Entertainment is not necessary. Yes, it’s great to sing praises to the Lord. Scriptures command us to do so, but it is for His glory, not our own. It is to bless Him, not ourselves. We are called to worship Him, not to entertain ourselves.
Is it any wonder that more people are not drawn to churches? Much of what they receive in church, they can receive in the world. Our churches have become so comfortable with their traditions, and programs, that they no longer have room for the gospel of truth.
What if we went to church one Sunday, and there was no music or band playing? What if we went to church one Sunday, and there was no one on a stage? What if we went to church one Sunday, and the only words spoken were the words of God? What if we went to church and everyone humbled themselves and prayed, and repented of their sins, and sought God’s face? What if this became the norm? What if, after humbling themselves, praying and seeking God’s face, men and women left the building, going into the world, and making disciples of all nations… of this nation???
What if you, and I started this today, within our own home? Brothers and sisters, the people of this world want something genuine and real. I want something genuine and real, don’t you? I want to hear God’s voice, not another man’s voice. I want to walk in obedience to God’s will, not man’s whim, don’t you? What if God’s people, those of us, who call ourselves children of the Most High, would humble ourselves and pray and repent, and seek God’s face? What if we turned from our wicked ways? Is He not still the same God, who promised to hear from heaven and come down, and heal our land? If ever a nation needs healing, ours does!
Father, hear our cries, as we stop “doing church as usual.” Hear us, Lord, as we (I) humble ourselves before you. Lord, I seek Your holy face, and I turn from all my wicked ways. Forgive us of our sins, and heal our land. Lord, draw us closer to Jesus, and draw those who are lost, beginning with the leaders of this country, Father, to Jesus! Draw our families and our loved ones to Jesus, Lord. And also draw our enemies to Jesus, Father. Unite us with one mind, one body, and one Spirit, in Jesus’ name, amen.
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for His servant?”
So many of us are feeling very self-righteous during this current election season. We have the democrats, who are so full of themselves, as they decry the republicans for not caring about the poor, the elderly, and the minorities, though their actions against the very same speak volumes. Is Hillary truly for women and minorities? Or is she simply for herself? Open your eyes, friends!
Then, there are republicans, who are outraged that a criminal, such as Hillary Clinton, is running for office. After all, let’s really look at her track record. She claims to be a woman’s advocate, yet when her husband, Bill Clinton was charged with sexually abusing women, she did what men and women throughout the ages have done. She blamed the victims. And yet, how can the republicans truly be outraged by this, when their own frontrunner, Donald Trump, has a very similar track record to Bill Clinton. This man is no respecter of women, minorities or the poor!
So, instead of uniting in prayer, what do the men and women, of this country (who claim to be believers), do? We attack one another. We attack one another for being on the wrong side. The white Christians attack their black brothers and sisters for electing such an ungodly man as Barak Obama as president, and for looking to Hillary Clinton, who is equally ungodly and amoral, to answer their prayers for the good of this country, while the black Christians attack their white brothers and sisters for turning to the ungodly Donald Trump to make America great again.
Hear me, now. We’re each accusing the other of being ungodly, because we’re on the wrong side, but the fact is, that it’s entirely possible that we’re all on the wrong side. Neither Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, nor Donald Trump can make America great. Neither of them can deliver us from the evil that we see growing ever stronger all around us. Not one of them can set us on the right track. Furthermore, if you ask God whose side He is on, you are very likely to receive the same answer that Joshua received, when he met the commander of the Lord’s army…
13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for His servant?”
I can’t make you or anyone else do what is right. I don’t have the power to change your hearts. I don’t even have the power to change my own wicked heart. Therefore, if there is to be any hope for me, for you or for our country, I must humble myself under the mighty right hand of God, and repent of my own sins. I must stop believing the foolish retoric taught by the modern church, misleading the people of God into thinking Christians should never suffer. Beloved readers, understand this – suffering is part of our calling…
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 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.
This, dear brothers and sisters, is the ONLY hope for our country. Do you want the best for our nation??? Then let’s humble ourselves. Do you want to protect our nation’s children??? The pray and seek God’s face. Cast all your cares on Christ, because He cares for you. Stop looking at our brothers and sisters as enemies, because they don’t think like we do! The fact is, that NONE of us thinks like God, but He doesn’t see us as His enemies…
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Let us unite together, pray together, humble ourselves under God’s righteous right hand, and stand firm, and resist the devil, our true enemy, who is prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking to destroy someone. Then, and only then, will he flee.
All sides are weighing in on this most recent outrage of Obama, and it’s plain to see that he is intent on leaving this nation a legacy of selfishness, perversity and sin. Obama wants to build a monument to honor the LBGT community, by erecting a monument on a piece of parkland across the street from the Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, because this is supposedly the birthplace of the American LBGT activist movement. Apparently, the movement began as a result of protests in 1969 against police raids on Stonewall Tavern.
Frankly, he could have stopped there, and it would have been bad enough, but now he’s taken things further, choosing to put our nation’s children at risk, for the sake of a few confused souls. Make no mistake, by trying to create a law allowing both males and females into children’s and teen’s bathrooms at school, the president is not only establishing his legacy of wickedness to the nation, he is also endangering this nation’s children.
Advocates for this cursed reform, claim that this new law endangers no one, it simply allows transsexuals to be themselves. However, by opening this door that has heretofore been closed, we are saying that any man who claims to feel as though he is a woman can enter a female bathroom, to relieve himself, and vice versa. For the sake of a few, are we willing to put all of our children at risk of pedophiles entering their bathrooms, by claiming to be transsexual? Yes, there are those who say pedophiles will commit their crimes anyway, and yes, this is true. However, does this mean we should make it easier for them to commit their crimes against our children? Think people! Has this nation completely lost its mind???
Do you really wonder why this nation has such poor choices in the upcoming presidential election? Have you entirely lost your ability to reason??? Take heed United States of America, or you will suffer just as Israel suffered many years ago. Take heed, or you too, will topple like Sodom and Gomorrah. Hear the word the Lord spoke to Isaiah the prophet, and let us recognize the similarities between then, and now…
9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ 10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.
Does this not sound like America’s current status? People see what is right and true, but they don’t see. They hear the truth, but they don’t understand it, because their hearts are insensitive. They just don’t care about endangering our children. Their own sinful urges are all that matter to them. Do you wonder why our only choices for the presidency of this country are Hillary Clinton, a known liar and a criminal, Bernie Sanders, a socialist fool, and Donald Trump, a bully and a womanizer?
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Beloved readers, if we don’t rise up and cry out against our nation’s foolishness and corruptness, maybe God will still excuse us. However, when a nation begins sacrificing millions of innocent children, so that others may freely and openly practice their sinful ways in freedom, and we stand idly by, doing nothing, it is inexcusable! Oh, wait a minute! We’re already doing that now, aren’t we, by sacrificing millions of unborn babies every year to abortion, so that millions of women are free to sin as they wish, while perverted baby-killing agencies (perhaps better known as abortion agencies), get rich off the sacrifice of these babies. So, America, what shall we do now? Once again allow our nation to sacrifice millions more innocent children to the fires of Molech? Or shall we arise, lock arms, and take this as far as we can, even by pulling our innocent babes out of the schools that allow people of all sexes to enter in the bathrooms?
21 You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.
Beloved readers, hear me when I say that God will not allow this to continue forever. There is coming a day, when He will step in to avenge the millions and millions of infant lives already taken, and do not think He will overlook the lives of the innocent children that Obama is putting at risk. Obama will one day answer for his crimes against God, and against His children, and so will we, if we do nothing to protect the innocent. “But how can I help the children?” you may ask. I will tell you. Do not send your children to schools that enforce Obama’s hateful toilet policy. Write, protest, cry out against it. Refuse to vote for anyone who endorses these policies. And take this wise advice from the prophet Micah…
8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
Do justice, people. Do justice. I was violated by a pedophile, who lived in my own home – my stepfather. Though she knew what happened, my own mother failed to protect me. Now, Obama wants to place our nation’s children in harm’s way, and we have an opportunity to take a stand against this great evil. I praise God for North Carolina’s state government, for their strong stance against this, as well as Texas’ state government.
It grieves me to say that Governor Jack Markel of my home state, Delaware, welcomed this latest policy with arms wide open. In a statement to the press, he stated, “Our mission to build a welcoming and accepting state that can compete in the global economy requires laws that reflect our values,” Markell declared. “Today, we guarantee that our transgender relatives and neighbors can work hard, participate in our communities and live their lives with dignity and in safety.”
How dare he??? It is not ever a good mission to welcome and accept everyone. I do not and will not, welcome pedophiles, nor any other sexual deviants to have access to my children, my grandchildren, nor any other child, as long as I have breath. I know firsthand the damage that can be done to a child who is traumatized by someone’s perverted sexual deviances, and I would never want to even risk something like that happening to another child. Will pedophiles continue to commit crimes, regardless of this latest grievous law Obama has tried to enact? Yes, however, that doesn’t mean we should make it easier for them to access innocent children! How interesting that Obama didn’t enact this law while his girls were in public school… Oh, that’s right! His girls go to private schools, and are surrounded by the secret service, who protect them from harm’s way!
The time for silence has passed. The time for civility has passed. It is past time for Christians to be “nice.” As a matter of fact, nowhere in scripture are we told to be nice, although we are commanded to be kind. The difference between nice and kind is that nice people say and do whatever makes someone happy, whether it’s good or right or true, or not. Kind people know how to speak the truth in love, even if it is painful to the person hearing them, because that is what’s best.
Today, you have a choice, so be wise. Will you choose to stand up and protect our nation’s children, and fight for them till the end? Or will you choose to sit quietly, ignoring what is happening all around us, as our country sinks deeper into wickedness and perversion?
14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
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.
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:
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.
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!
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. 2 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!”
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.2 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.3 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!”
4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
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…
6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them.7 “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.”
8 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.”
9 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.
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.
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…
6 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.7 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.8 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.”
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…
9 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.”
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.
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.9 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.
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.2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.4 And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory.
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.
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 theLamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
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.
4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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:
to remain, abide
in reference to place
to sojourn, tarry
not to depart
to continue to be present
to be held, kept, continually
in reference to time
to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure
of persons, to survive, live
in reference to state or condition
to remain as one, not to become another or different
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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…
7 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.
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?”
2 Jesus called a little child to Him and put the child among them.3 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.4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
5 “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf is welcoming Me.6 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.
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.
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.
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 lesbians. Indeed, 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:
6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
What is envy? Dictionary.com defines envy this way:
Envy – a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.
Have you ever felt envy? I sure have, and I can tell you, envy is a horrible, sickening feeling that won’t allow you to rest or feel peace, because someone else has something that you feel they don’t deserve, or more accurately, someone else has something that you believe should be yours.
Beloved reader, believe me when I tell you that nothing good has ever come from envy. If you cultivate envy in your heart, you can be sure that bitterness will take root in your heart immediately, as you fixate your thoughts on why you, and not the other person should be the recipient of his/her bounty. It matters not whether it is material possessions or emotional or spiritual possessions that you envy and desire, because all envy leads to bitterness, and bitterness leads to anger, wrath, hatred, and murderous thoughts.
You see, I know all too well that this is the path envy takes, because for years, I was envious. And understand this, too, envy may begin with one lone instance and one lone person, but all too soon, it spreads to others as well. I can remember envying my sister for our parents’ love, and then it spread to others, friends, neighbors, enemies, etc. All too soon, I even envied people I didn’t personally know, because they had what I longed for and thought that I deserved.
There’s something else you need to know about envy. When you allow envy to blacken your heart, it also blackens your vision, and all too soon, you are unable to see the truth that is in front of you, because your blackened heart only sees that it has been wronged. When your heart is in this blinded envious state, you are unable to see that there are others who may offer you the very thing you long for (in my instance, it was love), therefore, you will ignore, overlook or even push away the very ones who truly do love you.
I remember being so envious of others, who were popular, and seemed to have it all, the love of their parents, good looks, riches, intelligence, etc., while I had nothing. I was so blinded and bitter from my envious thoughts, that I couldn’t recognize the truth from a lie. If someone claimed to love me, I was so sure they wanted something from me, and wanted to hurt me, that I doubted their love, and pushed them away.
16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
It was crazy. I hated my parents for not loving me enough. I hated my sister, because I blamed her for taking all of my parents’ love away from me. I hated children at school, who seemed to be loved by teachers, other classmates, and their parents, while I believed that no one loved me. This crazy envy that had led to bitterness and hatred, also led me to do many other stupid things.
I began to lie, in order to win people over to me. Now, isn’t that the craziest thing ever? After all, no one loves a liar. Jesus even said this to men who had lied and deceived themselves and others (I would have been included in this also).
44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
You see, in my bitterness and envy, I had also become a liar, and I was indeed a child of the devil, who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, and had no truth within him. Please don’t think I’m exaggerating, because this is truly the course that envy leads us on. You see, envy led me on a murderous course, one that could only lead to judgment, condemnation, death and hell…
15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.
It wasn’t until I met and fell in love with Jesus, my Lord and Savior, that my eyes were opened to the truth about my petty little life. I had been living a life filled with envy, anger, malice, hatred, and murder, which had completely blinded me to the truth. You see, I even had the audacity to feel justified in my bitterness and envy, when the truth was, that I was just as guilty, and in many instances, even more so, than those who had sinned against me.
As Jesus began revealing these truths to me, through His Holy Spirit, I began to see that I was the one who needed to repent and to seek forgiveness from those I had sinned against, and the first one I needed forgiveness from was God, so I asked Him to forgive me in Jesus’ name.
The next one I needed forgiveness from was my sister. You see, the things I blamed her and envied her for, weren’t true. She didn’t steal my parents’ love from me. She couldn’t control the actions of the adults in our lives as a child, nor could she control our parents’ actions as an adult. She was a little girl, caught in the middle of what must have been a horrible situation for her too, but envy had blinded me to this truth. I am truly sorry for the envy, bitterness, hatred and malice I held against my sister for far too long, while at the same time, as crazy as it seems, I loved her like crazy. You see, I deluded myself into thinking that it was okay for me to be angry and bitter towards her, but it wasn’t okay for anyone else to hurt her.
It took the love of a merciful Savior, to show me that it was never okay for me to have anything, but love for my sister. And, do you want to know something amazing??? When I allowed Jesus to strip the envy from me, bitterness, hatred, malice and murder left my heart. In its place was pure, unconditional love for this sister whom I had envied for far too long.
We’ve never had a close relationship, and for that, I share some of the blame. Maybe, we’ll never have a close relationship, because the fact is we were never encouraged to cultivate one as children. Indeed, we were often pitted against each other as children and even as adults, but I can honestly say this. The envy I once felt for my sister is dead and gone, as is all bitterness against her. She will always be my baby sister, and I will always love her, even if it’s from afar.
Beloved reader, if your heart is filled with envy and bitterness against someone or against many, I urge you to relinquish that envy and bitterness, because it will only destroy your life, and you will miss out on all the love and joy that God has for you. Please ask for God’s forgiveness, and for the forgiveness of those your envy has harmed, then stand back, and wait for the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, to fall upon you. Finally, beloved reader, remember this:
12 Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.
Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
I’ve thought often about the legacy I will leave when I’m gone, especially as I grow older. I want to leave a lasting legacy of good. I don’t have to be remembered by a lot of people. What’s more important is that people remember that “Jesus Led Me All The Way.”
5 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.
I want to leave my children and my children’s children the great gift of knowing and loving Jesus. I would be beyond happy, if when people spoke of me after I’m gone, they would say, “The only thing I can remember about Cheryl is that when she prayed for me, I felt the powerful presence of God.” It would bless me if someone said, “She reflected God’s presence in her life.”
As crazy as this may sound to some, I want to leave behind a world that hates me, not because I was hateful to the world, but let them hate me because they hate my Lord and Savior.
8 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me first.19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted Me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to Me, they would listen to you.21 They will do all this to you because of Me, for they have rejected the One who sent Me.22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.23 Anyone who hates Me also hates My Father.24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate Me and My Father.25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated Me without cause.’
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.
I want to leave a legacy of honor and truth, not only to those who love me, but also to those who hate me. I want to share the unfailing love that I have received from God, to all that I come in contact, whether they return that love or not. My hope is that with each day and each year that passes, I will be more and more like Jesus, so that those who know me, will see past my flaws, and see Christ, who lives within me. Finally, when my time in this life is over, let this song be sung at my funeral, and let this phrase from the song, by Fanny Crosby, be written on my tomb: “Jesus Led Me All the Way”
A friend of mine wrote a short post on Facebook, thanking God for listening to us, and for not only listening, but for speaking to us as well, and the Spirit within me leaped for joy. Have you ever taken the time to meditate on that thought?
Just think, the God and Creator of the universe and all that is within it, not only hears my voice, but He recognizes it from the noisy cries and shouts of billions of people, and animals, and machinery. He hears my weakest whisper in the midst of bombs going off, gunshots ringing, and the shouts of angry mobs, and in spite of all that the God of all must do, He’s not too busy to pause and listen to me. And just think, with all that He is doing, to prepare for great and terrible day of the Lord, He makes time to speak to me, and not just to me, but to everyone who calls upon His name!
Just stop what you’re doing right now, and think about that for a minute… If you are a child of God, He listens to you, when you cry out to Him, and even when you’re too weak to utter His name, and when you don’t even know how to pray or what to pray for, He sends His Spirit to pray for you…
26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
I don’t know about you, but I find that so encouraging. When I am at my weakest, and everyone else has turned their backs on me, God hears my cries, and He answers them. When I have failed God, and broken His heart yet again, in His mercy, He still listens to me when I cry out to Him.
16 Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. 17 For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. 18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. 20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.
I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times God has heard my cries and delivered me. And when I have forgotten how great His love is for me and for you, He reminds me yet again, by listening, and responding to my cries. And get this, this love that I’m telling you about is not just aimed at me. He loves you just as much as He loves me. His love for us knows no bounds. If you won’t take my word for it, then take King David’s…
4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. 5 They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. 6 This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles...
15 … The eyes of the Lordare on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lordis against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
Imagine that! It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this, yet I know it is true, because this poor woman has cried out to the Lord over and over again, and He has heard my cries and delivered me from all my fears.
How can I help but respond with love to the One who loves me with such a fierce love? How can my heart not beat faster at the sound of His voice? How can I not love the One who sacrificed everything for my sake? How can you not love the One who gave His all for you, and leans close to hear your voice?
1 I love the Lord because He hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. 2 Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Thank You Father, for the great love You have for Your children. Thank You for hearing our voices above the cacophony all about us, and most importantly, thank You for actually listening and responding to us, too. Thank You, Lord for Your still small voice, and help us, help me, to be still, and listen.
Help me to wait on You Lord, and teach me how to bless You, just as You bless me. Lord, I pray that those who read this will rejoice in You, because no matter what’s going on in the world, You still have time to listen to Your children, and to answer them. Father, in Jesus’ name, I pray that You will continue to hear us when we call upon You, and that You will continue to answer and show us great and mighty things that we don’t know. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
The United States is at an interesting juncture in its history. For what may be the first time in our history, we no longer feel as strong and invincible as we once did. Many of us, who call ourselves Christians, feel especially threatened, as our nation becomes more and more sinful, and rejects Christ, and all that He, and therefore, we, stand for. Because of this, many Christians, fearful of living in a nation that seems to have turned against us, are looking for a leader to rise up and fight for us, much like Israel did, when they wanted a king to rule over them, rather than the prophets and judges, whom God had chosen…
As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel.2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba.3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel.5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
Doesn’t this sound like our current state? Things are pretty bad, as many who are currently in office, are greedy for money and power, and have perverted justice. When we look at President Obama’s current administration, there has been deceit since day one. Not only that, marriage laws, between one man and one woman, have now been abolished, in favor of same sex marriage. Parents are no longer only one mommy and one daddy. Now, children may have two mommies or two daddies. Then, as President Obama nears the end of his term in office, we are faced with the possibility that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders could be our next President, neither of whom are friends of Christ.
Therefore, many of the people of God, out of fear, are looking for someone to rescue us from sinful liberals, so they have looked to the Republican party for a hero, who will fight for our rights… And it seems they have found an unlikely hero in Donald Trump. Perhaps hero is the wrong word… how about fighter? Donald Trump is indeed a fighter. If you don’t agree with him, or if someone questions him or his motives, he comes out swinging, often lacerating people with his tongue.
Now, before I continue talking about Donald Trump, let’s look back at what happened to Israel, when they said they wanted a king…
10 So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king.11 “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots.12 Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment.13 The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him.14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials.15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants.16 He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use.17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves.18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said.20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”
21 So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said,22 and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.
Beloved readers, what kind of a king are you asking for? A wise and kind king? Or a king who is cruel and harsh? Are you looking for a man after God’s own heart? Or are you looking for someone else?
Have you ever been bullied? I have, and being bullied is something that no one wants to experience. Bullies cause damage that can last a lifetime, and if you vote for Donald Trump, you are voting for a bully. I’ve seen how “The Donald” bullies those he dislikes, and I also remember that he claims to be a Christian, and has even been seen holding a bible recently, for all to see. The thing is, just because someone waves a bible and says, “I’m a Christian,” doesn’t make him one. And for the record, the pope was not out of line, when he said, “And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel…”
Look at Trump’s history, as well as his current behavior. If someone disagrees with him, he resorts to bullying and name-calling. Instead of sounding like a grown man, full of wisdom and capable of leading an entire nation, he sounds like a petulant child on the playground, bullying the weaker children. In fact, if he were my child, I would likely spank him, and ground him.
Believers, yes, Donald Trump is a fighter, but so is our GOD! He is a Mighty Warrior, and HE is our protector. Do not look to someone like Trump to defend us, because he cannot protect us by using evil tactics.
Do you really want to be responsible for putting a bully into office? As believers, we are responsible for our actions. If I vote for someone who calls women or anyone else, “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,” I’m implying that I am in agreement with him, and you know what Jesus said about name-calling…
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.”
Beloved followers of Christ, have you forgotten who your true King is?
20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Beloved believers, why would you vote for someone who constantly spouts evil? Can you truly picture Donald Trump as the head of state? With his temper, and the wicked things that come out of his mouth, if he becomes our President, he could very well insult the leaders of other governments, and lead us into war.
What about our freedom of speech? This is a man who wants to sue anyone who says anything in disagreement with him. How about freedom of press? Under Donald Trump’s reign, only those things that he approves of will be allowed. Do you think I exaggerate? Be careful who you cast your vote for, or God may very well give you what you’re asking for. Do you think Obama’s reign has been horrible for our country? Just wait and see what life under Donald Trump will be.
Do you know what the Lord said to Samuel, when Samuel told Him that the people wanted a king?
6 Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance.7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting Me, not you. They don’t want Me to be their king any longer.8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned Me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment.9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”
We’re still in the midst of the primaries. The Republican candidate who will run for the presidency has not been chosen yet. Look at the other candidates. Look at what they stand for. Examine their lives. There is one, Ben Carson, who is still in the running, though his polls are way down, who has always claimed to be a Christian. This man has not joined in with the others in name calling and hatefulness. His plans to help our nation make sense. I would much rather vote for a man, who has shown himself to be wise and kind, than one who has shown himself to be hateful.
Perhaps Dr. Carson won’t be elected, but at least when I lay my head down at night, I will know that I did what I could for our country, and that ultimately, I have chosen to trust the King of kings and Lord of lords to care for me and protect me, and not someone who is filled with hatred and anger.
Beloved Christian readers, in the end, whomever you choose to vote for, let’s remember that in the end, President Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, nor Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson are our enemies. We are not at war against them, nor with any other man.
12 For weare not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:18-19 NLT
The first part of Ephesians 5:18, (Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life…”) is a no-brainer. We’ve all known and loved people who allow drunkenness to ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones as well. Too much liquor over a short time, can at the very least, cause people to act foolishly, and at the very most, cause death, either from alcohol poisoning, or by drinking and driving. Drunkenness leads to a loss of self-control, and clouds one’s mind, leading to broken families, broken marriages and much pain, to oneself and to those who care about that person. This is a warning that all should heed.
… Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
… Be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. Be filled with the Holy Spirit… What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit and how do we get filled with the Holy Spirit? On the night before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples how to be filled with the Holy Spirit…
15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17 He is the Holy Spirit, Who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.19 Soon the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me. Since I live, you also will live.20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.21 Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”
John 14:15-21 NLT
Let’s examine this passage closely, and see what Jesus says about being filled with the Holy Spirit. The very first thing we must do, according to Jesus is to love Him and obey His commandments. Let’s ask ourselves, “Do I love Jesus?” If we do, we will obey His commandments. These aren’t my words or interpretation, they are the words of Jesus…
15 “If you love Me, obey My commandments.
John 14:15 NLT
Those are powerful words. Obedience isn’t popular these days. Perhaps obedience has never been popular, but it is absolutely necessary, especially if we claim to love Jesus. Do you love Jesus? If you do, obey Him. Do you hate Him? Then don’t obey Him. It’s just that simple. Those who truly love Jesus, obey Him. Jesus makes this very clear to us.
22 Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are You going to reveal Yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”
23 Jesus replied,“All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and We will come and make Our home with each of them.24 Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.25 I am telling you these things now while I am still with you.26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as My representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—He will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.”
John 14:22-26 NLT
A lot of people say they love Jesus, but their lives tell another story. All who truly love Jesus will do what He says. Again, those aren’t my words. They are the words of Jesus. Anyone who doesn’t love Him, will not obey Him. These words force us to examine our own hearts. Do I obey Jesus? Or do I rebel against Him? What are Jesus’ commandments? An expert in religious law once asked Jesus this question:
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied,“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
Do we love the Lord, our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? According to Jesus, this is the first and greatest command. Therefore, if we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will obey His commandments, and that means that not only will we love Him, but we will love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
So, who is our neighbor? When He was asked that question, by an expert of religious law, Jesus answered by telling him the story of the good Samaritan, who showed mercy to an injured man, who normally would have been his enemy; while those who should have loved him and cared for him, left him to die. (See Luke 10:30-37) Therefore, according to Jesus, our enemies are our neighbors, and we must show them love and mercy.
So, let’s ask ourselves, “Do I really love Jesus? Do I truly want to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” If your answer to these questions is yes, then we must obey His commands. We must love our neighbor and our enemy, as we love ourselves…
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 you!45 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.
Before we continue with our study of being filled with the Holy Spirit, let’s examine our own hearts. This command that Jesus gives us is not an easy command. It isn’t easy to obey this command to love our enemies.
I’ve heard many people preach and teach about loving your enemy, and I’ve heard a lot of false teaching about it, so I want to be sure that we truly understand Jesus’ command. The best example for knowing how to love our enemy comes from none other than Jesus. Let’s see how He handled His enemies, beginning with His betrayer, Judas Iscariot…
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to His Father. He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end.2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.3 Jesus knew that the Father had given Him authority over everything and that He had come from God and would return to God.4 So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist,5 and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him.
John 13:1-5 NLT
Fully aware that Judas Iscariot had betrayed Him, Jesus still chose to lovingly wash his feet. Later, after the foot washing was done, Jesus spoke about His betrayer…
18 “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats My food has turned against Me.’19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I am the Messiah.20 I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes My messenger is welcoming Me, and anyone who welcomes Me is welcoming the Father who sent Me.”
21 Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and He exclaimed,“I tell you the truth, one of you will betray Me!”
John 13:18-21 NLT
Think about what Jesus must have felt as He knelt down on His knees to wash Judas Iscariot’s feet, knowing that this man, whom He had loved and cared for, was His betrayer. What strength Jesus showed, in kneeling before him, and washing his feet, just as He had washed the feet of His other disciples. What kindness He showed Judas, by not revealing His betrayer’s identity to the other disciples…
22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom He could mean.23 The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table.24 Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s He talking about?”25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”
26 Jesus responded,“It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.”And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.27 When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him,“Hurry and do what you’re going to do.”28 None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant.29 Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor.30 So Judas left at once, going out into the night.
John 13:22-30 NLT
Whenever I read John 13, I can’t help but marvel at the great love Jesus showed to His betrayer. Although He knew very well that Judas was a thief (John 12:6), as well as His betrayer, Jesus treated Him with great lovingkindness and mercy. Just think about it, the closer you are to someone, the more painful the betrayal. Jesus loved His disciples like brothers, and this brother’s betrayal cost Jesus His life. Yet, even knowing this, Jesus didn’t shout his name out, so the other disciples would perhaps take care of Judas Iscariot on their own, and get rid of him, using any means necessary. Instead, Jesus lived what He taught. He lived a life of love and obedience.
What about you? Have you ever been betrayed? Have you been stolen from, lied to, used or abused? Do you love your abuser? Or do you hold on to your pain, hating those who have hurt you and betrayed you? Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? Then choose to obey Jesus’ commandments, starting with His command to love…
Father, I pray that You would touch the heart of every person who reads these words, and that You would fill our hearts with Your love. Help us to love those who don’t love us. Help us to love those who love those who have harmed us. Help us to love others, just as You have loved us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)
As I look at the white snow outside, I’m struck by its beauty. It is in gazing at the pristine whiteness of the snow, that my thoughts turn to the purity of God. For He is purer than the whitest snow. He is holy. He is righteous. What’s more, He hates all impurities. even the most minute impurity.
How is it then, that such a clean, holy and righteous God would love someone like me?
8 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
(Romans 5:8 NLT)
Isn’t that mindblowing? Think about all of the sins that you’ve commited in your life; every sinful act, every sinful word, every sinful thought. Think about every rebellious act that you’ve ever committed; every time you knowingly chose to do the wrong thing, every time you chose not to do the right thing. Think about every time you hated someone… according to scripture, that is the same as murder in God’s eyes. Think about every time you used God’s name in vain; not just the times you used His name as a curse, but also the times you spoke erroneously in His name. What about all of the lies you’ve spoken, the gossip you spread, the condemnation you brought on others? Did you long for those things that weren’t yours? Were you envious of others? Did you ever lust after anyone? It was while we were in the midst of this filth, that God looked on us with love.
It was when we were bitter that He loved us. Think about the times you doubted God, were angry at Him and rebelled against Him, choosing instead, to go your own way. It was even then, that He loved us. How amazing is that?
As I think about how He loved us in the midst of my sins, I am reminded of the song that we sang on the day that I was saved. It is an old hymn, “Just as I Am”, that has been sung many times, as people made the choice to serve God, and it blessed me then, as a 11 or 12-year-old girl in the 70’s, and now, as a 54-year-old grandmother.
For those of you, who have never known of the love of Christ, I pray that you know and experience His great love for you today. God loves you, no matter how great your sin, and He loves you way to much to leave you that way. You don’t have to try to straighten up for Him to accept you. Come to Him just as you are, and let Him clean you up. Listen to these words of promise from the Lord, Himself…
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
(Isaiah 1:18 NKJV)
As you listen to the words of the song below, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, and ask Him to set you free from the sin that binds you. If you find it difficult to believe that God loves you, and He can set you free, ask Him to reveal the truth to you. If you seek Him, you will find Him…
For those, who already know and love Him, as you listen to the words of the song below, rejoice and give Him thanks, for the great love that He has lavished on you, in Jesus’ name.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.” (Josh Duggar – May 21, 2015)
If you live in the U.S., and you have access to newspapers, magazines, the internet or television, then by now, you’ve no doubt heard about Josh Duggar’s shocking statement, in response to allegations of child molestation. Many people have commented and weighed in on this subject, with some valid points and some foolish ones. This is an extremely difficult situation, for the victims of Duggar’s actions, first and foremost. It is also extremely difficult for his parents, the siblings who weren’t molested, as well as Josh’s wife and children. Many people have already cast judgment on Josh Duggar and his parents, and while I can’t judge the Duggar’s hearts, what can be judged is their behavior at the time Josh molested five different girls, and their behavior now. In judging their behavior, let us remember that it is the responsibility of Christians, to help our brothers and sisters in Christ, when they fall into sin…
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.(Galatians 6:1 NLT)
20 “If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins. None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. 21 But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself, too.”(Ezekiel 3:20-21 NLT)
As a former victim of child molestation, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on this indredibly painful topic. First, I’d like to address the announcement that Josh made. One thing that jumps out to me in his account is the fact that Josh appears to tiptoe around the subject. While he comes across as sounding regretful and repentant, there is a part of me that questions Josh’s sincerity. If you glance at Josh’s statement, he seems to address the issue, but read it again.
Never once does Josh confess his sin, which is all over the tabloids. Not once, does Josh admit to molesting anyone or committing incest, not to mention pedophilia. Instead, he merely says, “I acted inexcusably…” A teenager acting inexcusably could be guilty of any number of offenses, ranging from minor ones to major ones. Perhaps, you think I’m being too picky, and that Josh’s disclosure of his “inexcusable actions” is enough. However, the fact is that he hasn’t said enough. In his statement to the press, Josh never really confessed to the crimes of molestation, pedophilia and incest that he allegedly committed. Is it necessary for him to say the words? Absolutely. Just as an alcoholic needs to confess that he/she is an alcoholic, so too, a pedophile and a child molester must admit that he/she is a pedophile and a child molester.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)
According to scripture, we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven. According to dictionary.com, the definition of confess is:
to acknowledge or avow (a fault, crime, misdeed, weakness,etc.)bywayofrevelation.
to own or admit as true: I must confess that I haven’t read the book.
to declare or acknowledge (one’s sins), especially to God or a priest in order to obtain absolution.
(of a priest) to hear the confession of (a person).
to acknowledge one’s belief or faith in; declare adherence to.
to reveal by circumstances.
to make a confession; plead guilty; own: to confess to a crime.
to make a confession of sins, especially to a priest.
(of a priest) to hear confession.
According to the above definition, when Josh Duggar gave his press report, he did not confess to, or own the crime he committed. He only admitted to acting inexcusably. Many of us have acted inexcusably, but our inexcusable actions did not include child molestation or incest. Josh Duggar needs to own and confess what he has done, without hiding behind words that are meant to minimize the crime, so that it doesn’t sound as bad as it is.
Another thing that greatly disturbed me when I read Josh’s statement was this comment:
Perhaps you’re wondering how I could possibly find this statement disturbing, but I urge you to read his entire statement, and take note on whom he focused. Josh understood that if he continued down that road, he would end up ruining his life. He’s absolutely right. He may well have ruined his life with those actions, but what about the lives of his victims?
Regardless of whether he continued on that path, he certainly, at the very least, damaged the lives of his victims. And who, besides God and Josh, truly knows how many other victims there were? We do know that Josh’s actions have already harmed the lives of at least five, not including the rest of his brothers and sisters, his parents, his wife, and the babysitter and her family, as well.
I also found it terribly disturbing that in their interview on The Kelly Files, Mr. and Mrs. Duggar repeatedly minimized the seriousness of their son’s crime against his victims, two of whom were their own daughters!
J.B. Duggar: “… And the girls, we talked to them, and they didn’t know that anything had happened because they were asleep…”
Kelly: “Like when you went to bed at night during that time frame, were you scared? Were you worried? You know, he’s 14, he’s having this problem. What’s going to happen when we go to sleep?”
J.B. Duggar: “Right. Nothing ever happened like that again in the girls’ bedrooms after that.”
J.B. Duggar: “Ok. So, we had safeguards that protected them from that. But there was another incident where — two different incidents where the girls were, like, laying on the couch, and it was — he had touched, like, over the couch and actually touched their breast while they were asleep. And so –“
M. Duggar: “Over their clothes.”
J.B. Duggar: “– over their clothes. And so it was a very difficult situation. But as we talked to other parents and different ones since then, a lot of families have said that they’ve had similar things happen in their families. And so — I mean, this is, for us, of course, this is public shame that our son did this back 12, 13 years ago…”
J.B. Duggar: “… All of these — again, this was not rape or anything like that, this was like touching somebody over their clothes. There were a couple incidents where he touched them under their clothes, but it was like a few seconds and then he came to us and was crying and told us what happened, and it was after that third time he came to us is where we really felt like, you know what?…”
Kelly: “And we’ll going to get to that in one second. The subsequent incidents after the first one involved daughters who were awake, at least a couple of them?”
J. B. DUGGAR: “There was a couple, yes. And they didn’t really understand, though, what happened.“
Kelly: “Yes. What –“
M. Duggar: “It was more his heart, his intent. He knew that it was wrong. But in theirs they weren’t even aware. They were like, you know, it wasn’t — to them they didn’t probably even understand that it was an improper touch.”
Kelly: “I know that the ultimate one before you really got help involved a very young daughter, and I’ll avoid the age because I don’t want to identify anyone specifically, but a single digit. I mean, what was that like for you to hear? You know, one, you must have thought for some time this is a pubescent boy, I don’t know what he’s going through, but he’s testing. But when it moves to a young daughter –“
J. B. Duggar: “Right. At that point, that’s when we pulled him out of the house and we said, he can’t be here. And so, we pulled him out and then, he went through working with that man –“
Kelly: “Yes. He goes through counseling.”
J. B. Duggar: “Yes.”
Kelly: “And then when he was done with the counseling, this is not like a licensed therapist, it’s somebody, a Christian-based –“
J. B. Duggar: “Christian based. But I’ll tell you why.”
Kelly: “Treatment facility…”
Kelly: “… I’m asking you more as the father of your girls than as the father of Josh. You know, it must have been very hard to look at your little one and know the behavior had been ongoing, as difficult as your position was.”
J. B. Duggar: “Right. I was so thankful, though, that Josh came and told us. And our girls, even though this was a very bad situation, as we’ve talked to other families who have had, you know, other things happen, a lot of their stories were even worse…“
To read the entire transcript of the Duggar’s interview, please click this link:
The repeated minimization of Josh Duggar’s criminal actions against his sisters is disturbing. In much the same way that King David, of Old Testament times, ignored the brutal assault that his son, Amnon, committed against his half-sister, Tamar, the Duggar’s also appear to ignore and minimize the traumatizing effects of their son, Josh’s, sexual assault against their daughters. Indeed, protecting and defending their son’s reputation seems to be more important to them, than acknowledging the seriousness of the crime committed against their daughters.
As a matter of fact, the following statement, made by J.B. Duggar, shows just how out of touch with reality they are…
J.B. DUGGAR: I think you actually said pedophile, and a pedophile is an adult that preys on children. Josh was actually 14 and just turned 15 when he did what he did, and I think the legal definition was 16 and up for being an adult preying on a child. So he was a child preying on a child.
KELLY: You do not view Josh as a pedophile?
J.B. DUGGAR: No.
Just to clarify, Wikipedia provides this definition of pedophilia:
Pedophilia or paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children, generally age 11 years or younger. As a medical diagnosis, specific criteria for the disorder extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. A person who is diagnosed with pedophilia must be at least 16 years of age, but adolescents must be at least five years older than the prepubescent child for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.
While it may be true that Josh committed these crimes when he was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, at least one of the children was more than five years younger than he was. Furthermore, what difference does one year or two make in a situation like this? Let’s remember that Josh molested one of his sister’s, who was under ten years old.
The Duggar’s appeared to be more concerned about the release of Josh’s records, than the crimes he had committed against his sisters. Quite frankly, this whole situation is troubling to me, though many Duggar’s fans claim that they are being unfairly attacked because of their Christianity. I’m a Christian, and I find both Josh’s actions and their response to his actions terribly troublesome.
I believe the Duggars mishandled this situation from the very beginning. Josh Duggar should be on the sexual predators list, just like all others who commit the same crimes. Also, because of the nature of his crimes, he should never be left alone with children, who are unable to protect themselves.
Perhaps you think I’m being too hard on Josh Duggar and his family, but I would suggest that they did not then, and still have not taken this situation seriously enough. I love the Lord, and I’m not questioning their faith in God, but consider this…
Suppose there was a really nice young man at your church, who taught Sunday School, or worked in the nursery, and his background was just like Josh Duggar’s? Would you, as a parent, feel comfortable leaving your children in the care of this man, who says he is a Christian, and he’s turned his life around, or would you remove your child from his class? Knowing this person’s background, I believe that any parent who left their children in the care of someone who had committed incest and pedophelia, would be grossly negligent.
Even if this person had totally turned his life around and given his heart to the Lord, I would not leave my child alone with him, because even after we are saved, we still struggle with temptation, and though I pray Josh has truly changed, to risk a child’s well being, when only God truly knows his heart would be a sin. You see, up until very recently, this was something that was hidden in the dark, and it wasn’t Josh who brought it into the light. He was content to leave it in the darkness, and because God hasn’t revealed whether or not it is now safe for Josh to be alone with children, I reiterate that it would be sinful and grossly negligent to leave a child alone with him.
Because of this scandal, TLC has now cancelled the Duggar’s hit television series, 19 Kids and Counting, and I believe it was the right decision. While I understand that many Christians love the Duggar’s show, and they see a double standard here, believing that this cancellation is an attack on Christianity, again, I disagree. Should the Duggar’s be held to a lesser accountability than other television stars, who have fallen in disgrace due to their sins? Should they be allowed to continue to air their show, when Bill Cosby, for instance, who has been accused of drugging and raping numerous women over the years, has had his syndicated series’ cancelled? I would have to say no.
Friends, let us remember that we, as followers of Christ, are held to a higher degree of accountability than the world is, and although we may have sinned and committed crimes before our salvation, we are not exempt from the consequences of those sins and crimes, just because we are born again. Accepting Christ as our Savior does not give us a “Get out of Jail Free” card. What we receive instead, is a much greater gift, instead. For, when we are saved and delivered from our sins, we receive eternal life, and a “Get out of Hell Free” card.
I won’t deny that this scandal tripped many triggers in me, due to my past. However, I’m not condemning Josh Duggar or his parents. I truly do pray that he has turned his life around with help from the Lord. I also pray that Mr. and Mrs. Duggar will stop minimizing the incest and molestation committed by Josh against their children and their babysitter, and face the true scope of their son’s sin, and the harm that was done to the victims, so that all of them can truly heal from their pain.
As for my fellow believers, let us all agree to pray for deliverance and healing for everyone who was involved in this crime, both the victims, their families, and the perpetrator and his family.
Last night, I had two different dreams, yet both had the same theme. The dreams were what I call “God Dreams,” because both dreams were scripture filled, and they dealt with spiritual warfare. I wasn’t sure if the first dream really was from the Lord or not, because it dealt with a friend, and usually, when I have a “God Dream,” I KNOW it is from the Lord. Yet even though I didn’t know for sure if it was a “God Dream,” I felt a strong compulsion to share it with my friend in writing right away, before I forgot it. I felt very strongly in my spirit that my friend was in danger and needed to be warned of this danger.
In the second dream, Abraham, Isaac and Israel were there, as were many others, including me, and we were all joined in an angelic battle against evil. I felt the darkness all around me, as many, who I thought were friends, who were saved, turned out to be evil. I remember battling against the evil, and many good people were killed. Even some of the angelic beings, who loved and served the Lord were killed. Yet, even so, it was during these battles that I witnessed many miracles, as the dead were raised, and some who were wounded, were instantly healed.
One thing I remember during this dream, which, like all dreams, seemed so real at the time, even though there was evil and darkness all around, I had no fear. Now, you should know that I do not consider myself to be a brave or courageous person. I DON’T like pain, and though I love the Lord with all of my heart, I am in no hurry to die. Yet, I waged war against evil in that dream, and I was fearless. Were there times when I was afraid? Yes, the war that was taking place was very real, and there were times when my heart would pound a little harder, but the Spirit of the Lord was upon me, and I knew, and heard it said in my dream, over and over, “The battle is the Lord’s.”
I won’t share my other dream with you, because that wasn’t meant to be shared with anyone but her. However, suffice it to say that she, too, was in the midst of a spiritual battle.
I’ve thought of these dreams off and on all day, today, and I feel such an urgency within. Friends, I truly believe those dreams were meant to remind me, and now you, as I share this with you, that we are living in very dark times. We are living in a time and place that calls good evil, and evil good. We are living with those who call right wrong, and wrong right. We live among those who call the darkness light, and the light darkness, and there are too many, who call themselves children of the Lord, who don’t know the difference.
What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NLT)
Beloved reader, heed my warning. The time is upon us, when there are false teachers, false prophets and even apostates teaching false doctrine, and many are falling for it, because they do not KNOW the Lord. Oh, many know of Him, but they do not truly KNOW Him, because they don’t want to know Him.
What about you? Do you know God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or do you simply know of Him? Do you know His ways? Or do you just know about the things that He’s done?
God calls Himself our husband. Jesus is the bridegroom, and we are the bride. I’ve been married for thirty-four years to the same man, and you know what? I KNOW him. I KNOW his ways. My husband doesn’t have to say a word to me, and with just one glance, I KNOW what he is thinking. We KNOW each other so well, that we finish one another’s sentences. I know what makes my husband smile, and I know what makes him angry. I know what makes my husband happy, and I know what hurts him. When my husband hurts, something within me hurts too, because I KNOW him so well, and I love him.
That’s the kind of relationship that God wants with each one of us. He wants to reveal His character, His intimate ways to us, not just His mighty acts. He wants us to feel His joy when a soul is saved, and He wants us to feel His pain, when someone is lost. He wants us to love what He loves, and to hate what He hates. Yet, sadly, most people will never know Him that well.
Instead, most will settle for a “prophetic word” from someone who may be nothing more than a glorified fortune-teller, wrongly called a prophet in the church. People like those prophets who prophesy “entrepreneurship” or “money in your future.” They like when people tickle their ears, and they believe what they want to believe. What about you? Do my words offend you? Beloved, I don’t want any false prophets tickling my ears. I want to know God so well, that when someone lies, I know it deep within my being. I want the truth, not a lie that gives me false hope.
I want to hope for what is real, and I don’t need someone to prophesy over me, because I KNOW the Lord, and HE talks to me. Does He talk to you? Or are you so busy listening to what your pastor says, that you can’t hear God? Pastors are meant to help us draw closer to God, NOT to take His place.
Do you know what His word says? Or do you only know what you’ve been taught that the word says? Beloved, I urge you to talk with God, listen to God, and read His word, so that you can begin to know Him and His ways. Don’t simply read what I write, or what some other author writes, or what some evangelist or worse yet, some televangelist says. We are ALL human. We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God. We ALL get it wrong sometimes. SOME get it wrong ALL of the time, and if you don’t know God, you won’t know the difference. Someone could be “ministering” to you now, and because you don’t really know God, he/she could be leading you straight to hell. And understand this, my friend, YOU will be held accountable if you don’t know God, because God has given every one of us ample opportunity to know Him.
For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. (2 Corinthians 5:10 NLT)
Beloved reader, the dreams I had last night are a warning. Let he who has an ear hear that warning. The days are getting darker and darker, and there is a war taking place in the spiritual realm that most don’t even know of. That war is being waged for your soul and your spirit, and if you don’t know God, you don’t stand a chance. Do I sound melodramatic? Yes! I know I do, because it is THAT serious. Therefore, I will close with the words Moses spoke to the children of Israel before he died. And I pray with all my heart, that you would heed these words and choose life!
15 “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.16 For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep his commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.
17 “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods,18 then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
19 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20 NLT)
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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 you! 45 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.
5 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
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.
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!”
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!”
“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.
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.”
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!
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.
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:
“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:
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…
5 “And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. 6 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. 7 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. 8 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. 9 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 afterJohn 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:
4 Jesus told them,“Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—5 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.6 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.
2 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.
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)
Yesterday, people from all over the world celebrated Valentine’s Day, the day of love, which begs the question, “What is love, anyway?”
Love is something that most human beings long for and seek for most of their lives. I truly believe that within every man, woman and child, there is a place within our hearts that needs to love and to be loved. There’s a place within us that longs to know and to be fully known, and yet despite our obvious flaws, still be loved completely…
Almost my entire life has bee spent seeking the love and approval of others… family… friends… strangers… and even enemies! Rejection from family, the ones who are supposed to love you no matter what, left me feeling alone and unworthy of love. All too often, I would prayerfully and tearfully ask God what was wrong with me. Why was I so unlovable?
Because of the pain I felt from the rejection of those family members, I was blind to those who truly did love me, just as I am. I was blessed with a husband and children who love me very deeply, and yet, I spent most of my life waiting for them to see the “real me”, which would cause them to reject me too.
As a child, I had to fight to win my parents’ love and approval, and unfortunately, all too often, I failed in my plight. As a result of this, I grew up feeling unloved. For I always did something terrible, which caused them to withhold their love from me.
Knowing how my family felt about me, I was certain that the God of heaven and earth, who knows all and sees all, could never love me. He has seen the best in me, and the worst in me. He knows every bad thing I’ve ever done and ever thought of doing. He also knows every bad thing that I will someday do, and so I was convinced that He couldn’t love me, until I began to hear His voice…
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
I had always felt ugly and defective, both inside and out. As a child, I had buck teeth and a curved spine, which caused me to have to wear a back brace for 23 hours a day. And yet now, the Lord was telling me that He had knit me together in my mother’s womb, and He had made me fearfully and wonderfully in His image. Even so, I still doubted that God could really love me. After all, I had grown up believing that I was unlovable, so how could He love me?
Long ago the Lord said to (Cheryl) Israel: “I have loved you, My (daughter) people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.”
I was amazed. How could the Lord of all Creation, the King of Glory possibly love me? And yet He not only loved me; He also drew me to Himself. What an amazing God and what an amazing love!
I accepted the great gift of His love, and yet, there was still the little girl within me that wondered, “If God had really loved me and chosen me from the foundations of the world, why had I always felt so unloved? Why had I always felt so alone? What was wrong with me?”
You see, I wasn’t questioning God’s goodness. I was questioning my own worth. I was certain there was something terribly wrong with me, something ugly and unlovable. Then, one night, as I was driving with my daughter, who was pregnant with her first child, while we were discussing baby names and their meanings, the Lord spoke to my heart…
Glancing at my daughter, as I drove, I suddenly said, “Do you know what Cheryl means?”
“No,” she responded, “what does it mean?”
“It means ‘Beloved,'” I replied.
“Yes, My child. Your name is Beloved, because you are My beloved. I loved you and chose you before the foundations of the earth were laid, and it is I who named you. For you are My beloved, and I have always loved you.”
Suddenly, everything made sense. I am lovable, because God loves me. I am worthy of love, because God has made me worthy, and if God has that kind of love for me, isn’t it possible that He loves you as well?
Now, my outlook has changed. After all, if God could love me so much, that He would sacrifice His one and only Son in exchange for my life, then how could I not love people, even my enemies, just as He did? Because He loves me so much, I can’t help but share His love with others.
So, what is this love that God has for us, and that He commands us to share with others? Paul, an apostle of Christ, and a great man of God, gives us a wonderful image of what love is, in 1 Corinthians 13…
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture!10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.~ Ephesians 1:4 NLT ~
Are you as amazed as I am, at the lengths that God has gone to, in order to win our hearts and rescue us from sin? God looks at mankind, knowing that we are sinful from the time we are born. It’s our nature to sin, and God is fully aware of that…
The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. ~ Genesis 6:5 NLT ~
Still, the Lord saw something in us that He loved. Despite the sin that enslaved and controlled each and every one of us, God saw something worth dying for. Doesn’t that amaze you? It blows me away! I know myself pretty well, and when I examine my own heart, I can’t imagine why anyone would be willing to die for me, let alone the Creator of the Universe, whom I’ve hurt too many times to count…
But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.~ Romans 5:8 NLT ~
I feel like jumping up and down for joy as I write and share these words with you. How exciting! In order to comprehend just how wonderful this is, we need to understand that God, also known as Yahweh, Adonai, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our Strong Tower, and by many other wonderful names, is holy…
No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God. ~ 1 Samuel 2:2 NLT ~
Now what is the importance of God’s holiness, and what does it mean to you and me? Firstly, Ephesians 1:4, the scripture we’re studying, tells us that God chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault. Therefore, we must know and understand what holiness is, so that we can be the people God chose us to be, in Jesus’ name…
The Hebrew word for holyis qadowsh, which means:
sacred, holy, Holy One, saint, set apart
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. Therefore, I have written the word and definition from the Hebrew translation. Obviously, holy in reference to the Lord, would be the definition Holy One, for He is the only God who is holy. Though other nations chose to worship other Gods, Yahweh alone was the only Holy One, and because of His holiness, He called His people to be holy like Him…
For I, the Lord, am the One who brought you up from the land of Egypt, that I might be your God. Therefore, you must be holy because I am holy. ~ Leviticus 11:45 NLT ~
Now, the New Testament, unlike the Hebrew, was written in Greek, which was a common language, spoken by most nations at that time. Therefore, the Greek word for holyis hagios, which means:
most holy thing, a saint
Now, I know that some churches only refer to certain people as saints, after they have died, however, when we read God’s holy word in its proper context, it says that He chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. Sometimes, we miss out on what God is truly saying, because we listen to what “the church” tells us, without looking to see what God says in His word. According to Ephesians 1:4, God chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes… There was no gathering of apostles, priests, cardinals, bishops, priests, pastors or even the pope, who determined whether we were holy or saints. God alone chose us in Christ.
4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. ~ Ephesians 1:4 NLT ~
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9 NLT ~
Beloved readers, do you see what God has chosen us for in Christ? He has chosen us – not just people who receive a title from mankind, but you and me to be a holy nation of royal priests, so that we can show others the goodness of God. According to the Hebrew and Greek definitions of holy, we have been chosen to be sacred, set apart from the world, and saints who are holy.
So, what does this mean to us? Firstly, I can be none of the things God chose me to be unless I am in Christ, for apart from Him, we can do nothing…
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:5 NLT ~
It is also very important for us to remember that God in Christ chose us to be His royal priesthood of saints, not us, and not anyone else, be it a preacher, priest or anyone else…
You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name. ~ John 15:16 NLT ~
Beloved readers, it is clear from the scriptures that we have been chosen to be holy (set apart, sacred, a saint), so that we can show others the goodness of God. Sadly, many people who call themselves Christian are no different than everyone else. The King James version of the bible declares that we are a peculiar people, and yet, if we live and behave as everyone else, how are we peculiar?
It’s really sad that you can often tell, just by looking at them or speaking to them, when someone is Islamic, because they often dress differently than us, and they live differently as well. Yet, with a few exceptions, most people could not tell if someone is a born-again Christian or not, because so many continue to live and do as the world does (i.e. – telling little white lies, gossiping, cussing, hating people who are different than they are, fearful of saying “Jesus Christ,” except when they are taking His name in vain…), and so the list goes on and on.
Beloved reader, please join me today and let each one of us examine our hearts, and let us also ask God to do so as well. This is a wonderful prayer that David prayed, and if we ask God to do this, He will be faithful to help us…
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. ~ Psalm 139:23-24 NLT ~
4 Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. 5God 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).
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…
4 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 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…
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 meto 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…
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.
4 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 ~
Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is a letter rich with power and meaning, for those who truly want to live the life that God has called us to. Therefore, we must make our way through it, slowly, pondering every golden nugget, so that we, like Paul, and so many other men and women, chosen by God before us, will come to say and mean, “For Christ I live, and for Christ I die.”Thus, we will continue our study from where we left off the last time, when we learned that we areBlessed With Every Spiritual Blessing in the Heavenly Realms...
The same scripture that tells us we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms, also gives us the reason why we are so blessed, hence, we must examine this scripture more closely:
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realmsbecause we are united with Christ. ~ Ephesians 1:3 NLT ~
Did you see the reason for our blessings? We only receive those blessings when we are united with Christ. Therefore, in order for us to understand this and be united with Christ, let us first look in the dictionary to see what “UNITED” means…
1.made into or caused to act as a single entity: a united front.
2. formed or produced by the uniting of things or persons: a united effort.
3. agreed; in harmony.
Looking at these definitions of united, we can see that to be united with Christ is to act as a single entity. In order to act as a single entity, with Christ (or with anyone), we must know Him intimately, just as a husband and wife know each other. If we are strangers, or if we don’t know Him well, how can we act as a single entity with Christ? As we go about living our lives, remember, we are a representation of Jesus, acting in His name. Therefore, we must know Him well enough to know how He would act within the context of any situation you find yourself in, and the only way you can know that is to know Him intimately.
To be united with Christ is to be agreed and in harmony with each other, and to make a united effort. I can’t think of another that I would want to be in agreement or in harmony with, can you? To be agreed with Christ, we must know what we are agreeing with, and one of the best ways to know Him is through prayer and bible study. Remember, the bible is the Word of God, which is living and active. Unlike any other book that we may read, as you read and study God’s Word, you will come to know Him, and the more you know Him, the more you will love Him, which will make it easy to be agreed with Christ and in harmony with Him.
Beloved reader, please join me in a walk through some of the many scriptures on being united with Christ, so that you and I will be able to both understand, and walk in union with our Lord. Many times in scripture, followers of Christ are called the “Bride of Christ.” This implies that a wedding has taken place, and that Christ is our husband (or groom). According to scripture, this is a sacred union…
5 And He said, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”~ Matthew 19:5-6 NLT ~
Marriage between a man and a woman is part of a sacred covenant (a binding agreement between husband, wife and God. It is to last as long as both husband and wife are alive. If one or the other dies, the other spouse is free from the covenant and may marry again if he/she so desires.)
As it is when a man and woman marry, so it is, when we are joined in union with Christ Jesus, our Savior, except that thisis an eternalcovenant, which must never be broken. Therefore, just as it happens in a marriage between a man and a woman, there are many forces that will attempt to separate us from Christ, though God, our Father has expressly forbidden it.
It is equally important for us to understand that when we are united with Jesus, we are also united with God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and with all other believers. Therefore, we must do as the scriptures command…
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT ~
Beloved readers, it is when we (Christ’s church), separate ourselves from one another, with our different denominations and beliefs, or between the different cultures, ethnicities and races, that we become divided. Look at the scripture below, and see what Jesus said about this:
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”~ Matthew 12:25 NKJV ~
“As long as there are “black” churches, “white” churches, “hispanic” churches, “Baptist” churches, “Methodist” churches, “Pentecostal” churches, “Holiness” churches, etc., racism, bigotry, and prejudice will never end.”
Indeed, the fact is that as long as the church remains divided, SIN will always enter in through the divisions. There is a reason why there is so much sin within the church. (When I say the church, I am speaking of every man, woman and child who has been born again.) Therefore, as Jesus said, “A house divided against itself will not stand.”Beloved readers, I urge you to examine your hearts. How do you respond when people of a different culture or race come to your church? Do you welcome them, or do you ignore them? Be honest with yourselves.
When you meet someone from a different denomination, do you think you are superior to them? Do you sometimes feel that only your place of worship has all of the right answers, and that everyone else is all wrong? I remember attending a church, many years ago that didn’t believe in expressing their feelings, while singing or praying. Because I loved worshiping the Lord, I would lift my hands to honor Him. Many people who attended that church were irritated by my expression of love for the Lord, and one even commented with a sour expression on her face, “I think you need to go to a Pentecostal church!” I can smile at that memory now, but at the time, I didn’t even know what a Pentecostal church was, and the way she spoke those words, it sounded like she was cursing me.
I shared this because I want you all to be very careful of how you treat God’s children. Jesus told us that the two most important commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The second one is to love your neighbor as yourself. I didn’t feel a whole lot of love coming from that person, when she made that comment to me. However, I did eventually go to a Pentecostal church, and I did feel much more at home there. Therefore, God took the comment she made to hurt me, and used it for my good.
It really doesn’t matter whether another believer is from another denomination. We really mustn’t allow that to separate us. For God didn’t intend for the Methodists to be united against the Baptists, or the Pentecostals to be united against the Roman Catholics. When the command to be united was written, it was written to all who believe in Christ. The author of Psalm 119 prayed a prayer for unity that would be good for all of us to pray…
A church united with Christ, and thus, united together was so important to Jesus, that in His last prayer, on the very night He was imprisoned, before being crucified the next day, He prayed about it…
Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to You. Holy Father, You have given Me Your name; now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are.~ John 17:11 NLT ~
The early church knew the importance of unity, as they gathered together, in the upper room, praying and waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit…
They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. ~ Acts 1:14 NLT ~
1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. ~ Acts 2:1-4 NKJV ~
I often wonder what the early church would think about the church today. Imagine one hundred twenty men and women all gathered together, with one accord. Just think about it. Below is the Greek word and definition for one accord, found in Strong’s Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible…
1. with one mind, with one accord, with one passion
“A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ’s church.”
When we read through the book of Acts, and see all of the miracles, signs and wonders that took place, it is important to note that believers in Jesus, both male and female were united. Their one focus was to share the Gospel of Christ, first in Jerusalem, then in Judea, next in Samaria, and finally, to the ends of the earth. They were all united in their purpose, in their faith, in their hopes and dreams. They were there to give glory to God in all that they did.
As we continue to ponder Strong’s definition of “one accord,’ we come to understand that these men and women were of one mind. This means that each one of them were focused on one thought; the thought of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who had promised that He would never leave them alone. They were waiting for the promised appearance of the Holy Spirit.
As it says in the excerpt from Strong’s Lexicon, everyone of these men and women were different, yet they shared one common goal. Their goal was to wait, as Jesus had commanded them to do, ..
4 Once when He was eating with them, He commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift He promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”~ Acts 1:4-5 NLT ~
7 He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”~ Acts 1:7-8 NLT ~
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if plain, ordinary people, like you and me, got together, in obedience to Jesus’ command, and began to pray together. Would we see miracles, signs and wonders?
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 ~
Why is it that Christians in third world countries see miracles, signs and wonders? After all, we hold conferences, revivals and crusades, so why don’t we witness and participate in the miracles, signs and wonders like they do and like they did in the gospels and the book of Acts? Could it be that in biblical times, and still in third world countries, the people were of one mind and one accord, as they humbled themselves and prayed, and sought God’s face?
Is it possible that we tend to walk in our own ways, rather than living united in Christ? Would it be truthful to say that instead of conforming and transforming into the men and women God created us to be, we’ve tried to mold and conform God into who we want Him to be? Have we placed Him in the box of our men’s and women’s conferences, praise-a-thons, crusades and revivals? Instead of praying and prophesying according to God’s will, are we praying and prophesying according to our own will, or the will of those we minister to? Perhaps this is why we aren’t performing even greater miracles, signs and wonders than what Jesus did, even though He promised that we would…
“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.”~ John 14:12 NLT ~
Beloved reader, if each one of us will live united in Christ, and seek to do His will and not our own, we will be of one mind and one accord. Then, we can ask anything of the Father in Jesus’ name, and it will be done, but apart from Him, we can do nothing…
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.6 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.7 But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” ~ John 15:5-7 NLT ~
Beloved reader, my prayer for each one of us is that we would humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, and ask Jesus to not only be our Savior and Lord, but to show us how to live united in Him. Whenever the disciples were unsure about how to do something, they asked the Lord. They even asked Him how to pray! So, why shouldn’t w e ask Him to show us how to be and live united with Him?
Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that You open the eyes of our hearts, and that you would teach us what it is to live in union with You. Show us how to submit ourselves to You, and to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Show us how to pick up our cross and follow You, and show us how to count the cost, and then with full knowledge of what it will cost us to live in union with You, give us the will to say, “Yes!” to Your will and Your ways. And Lord, in the days ahead, help us to remain focused on You and the message You have given us from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, and in the coming days, as we continue this study, give us a hunger and a thirst for more of Your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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.
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 ™…
6 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. 7 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…
6 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. 7 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 ~
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 4:7, I 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?