Tag Archives: repentance

Feast in the Midst of Famine

As the famine ravaged the land, and their supply of grain dwindled down, Jacob feared that his family would starve.  Therefore, he gathered his sons together and said, “Go back to Egypt and buy us a little more food.”

“Abba,” Judah replied sadly, as he gently gazed at the old man, who seemed to grow more and more frail, with each passing day, “The man was serious when he warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’  If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food.  But if you don’t let Benjamin go, we won’t go either.  Remember, the man said, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.'”

5-they-get-home-and-tell-jacob

Jacob’s heart constricted, and he regarded each of his sons, before he finally settled his gaze on Benjamin, his youngest.  The heavy weight of pain that he had carried for years, seemed to grow heavier, as he contemplated losing yet another son, and tears flowed freely from his eyes.  “Why were you so cruel to me?” Jacob moaned.  “Why did you tell him you had another brother?”

“Abba,”  they gently replied.  “The man kept asking us questions about our family.  He asked, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’  So we answered his questions.  How could we know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here?'”  It grieved all of them to see what the anguish their sin had brought to their father.  If only they could go back and change it all, but that wasn’t possible.

How long, O Lord, must others suffer for our sins?” Judah silently prayed, as he gently laid his hand on Jacob’s shoulder.  Guilt and shame washed over him, for his part in bringing his father to this piteous state.  The results of his and his brothers’ evil acts were far worse than they could ever have imagined.  His abba was wasting away, not because of the famine, but because of their evil act of jealousy.  No longer the vibrant man he had once been, their Abba was now a shell of his old self.  He had grieved for Joseph for more than twenty years, after Judah and his brothers had given him a death sentence, and now, they were asking Jacob to trust them with Benjamin.  Who could blame him for his fear?

Judah spoke tenderly to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way.  Otherwise, we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones.  I personally guarantee his safety.  You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you.  If that happens, let me bear the blame forever.  Abba,” he earnestly said, “if we hadn’t wasted all this time, we could have gone and returned twice by now.”

Jacob sighed and prayed,  “Which is worse, Adonai?  Losing Benjamin to his brothers’ wicked schemes?  Or watching him, and my other sons and grandchildren die a slow painful death before my very eyes, due to starvation, because I’m afraid to trust You?”  Jacob blew out a deep, shuddering sigh, as he answered Judah,  “Alright.  If it can’t be avoided, then at least do this.  Pack your bags with the best products of this land.  Take them down to the man as gifts—balm, honey, gum, aromatic resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.  Also take double the money that was put back in your sacks, as it was probably someone’s mistake.  Then take your brother, and go back to the man.  May El Shaddai give you mercy as you go before the man, so that he will release Simeon and let Benjamin return.  But if I must lose my children, so be it,” Jacob said, as he drew in a quivering breath, and clutched his right fist over his heart, which pounded rapidly.

The brothers immediately packed their belongings, with Jacob’s gifts and double the money, as soon as he announced his decision, and headed to Egypt with Benjamin.  They watched over Benjamin protectively, as they made their way to Egypt, lest any harm fall upon him.  As soon as they arrived, the brothers sought out the governor, and presented themselves to him.

When he saw Benjamin with them, Joseph’s heart soared within his chest, and he informed the manager of his household, “These men will eat with me this noon.  Take them inside the palace.  Then go slaughter an animal, and prepare a big feast.”  So his manager did as he commanded him, and led the brothers to Joseph’s palace.

When they saw that they were being taken into Joseph’s palace, his brothers were terrified.  “It’s because of the money someone put in our sacks the last time we were here,” they said.  “He’s going to pretend we stole it, then seize us, make us slaves and take our donkeys.”

Fearfully, they approached the manager of Joseph’s household, and said, “Sir, we came to Egypt once before to buy food.  But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks.  Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack!  Here it is; we have brought it back with us.  We also have additional money to buy  more food.  We have no idea who put our money in our sacks.”

The household manager smiled at the brothers.  “Relax.  Don’t be afraid.  Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks.  I know I received your payment.”  Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.

All of the brothers rejoiced when they saw Simeon, and took turns hugging him and patting one another on their backs.  The manager then led them into Joseph’s palace and gave them water to wash their feet.  He also provided food for their donkeys.  Informed that they would be eating here, they prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon.

An overwhelming array of emotions filled Joseph when he came home that day, and his brothers bowed low to the ground before him, presenting him with gifts from their (his) homeland.  He felt great elation as he looked at his brother, Benjamin, who knew nothing of their brothers’ treachery, and great nostalgia for his father and his homeland when his brothers presented their father’s gifts to him.  He also felt some doubt and misgiving at his brothers’ seemingly changed hearts.  Had their hearts truly changed?  Or was their professed shame for betraying him, merely a ruse?  After receiving their gifts, he asked the brothers, “How is your father, the old man you spoke about?  Is he still alive?”  With bated breath, he awaited their answer, and anxiously prayed for his father’s health.

“Yes,” they replied.  “Our father, your servant, is alive and well,” and they bowed low again.

After he expelled a breath of relief, Joseph again looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother.  Feigning ignorance, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?”  When his brothers acknowledged that this was indeed their youngest brother, Joseph was overcome with emotion.  “May God be gracious to you, my son,” he gasped, before he rushed from the room and raced to his private room.

Tears began to run down his face, as soon as he exited the dining room, and raced to his room.  Joseph quickly slammed the door behind him, threw himself on his cushions and wept with great misery.  How he longed to hold Benjamin in his arms and shower his love on him…  He yearned to see and hold his father again…  And, despite their betrayal of him, his heart ached to love and forgive his other brothers, but could he trust them again?  Finally, after shedding many tears, Joseph regained control over his emotions, washed his face, and returned to the dining room where his brothers and  his cohorts were gathered.  Then he ordered the meal to be served.

Joseph told each of his brothers where to sit, and amazed them by seating them according to their age, from the oldest to the youngest.  The waiters served Joseph and his Egyptian cohorts at his own table, and his brothers were served at a separate table, because Egyptians despised Hebrews and refused to eat with them.  Then Joseph filled his brothers’ plates with food from his own table, giving Benjamin five times as much as he gave his other brothers, and they feasted and drank freely with him.

Adonai had indeed blessed these errant sons of Jacob, by allowing them to feast in the midst of famine.  For the first time in the more than twenty years since their great sin against Adonai and their brother, Joseph, the brothers felt hope arise within them.  Could it be that He had seen that their hearts were broken and contrite?  Had they prayed to Him as their descendant, David, would do one day?

Psalm 51
New Living Translation

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of Your unfailing love.
Because of Your great compassion,
    blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
    Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night.
Against You, and You alone, have I sinned;
    I have done what is evil in Your sight.
You will be proved right in what You say,
    and Your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
    yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But You desire honesty from the womb,
    teaching me wisdom even there.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
    You have broken me—
    now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
    Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me.
11 Do not banish me from Your presence,
    and don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
    and make me willing to obey You.
13 Then I will teach Your ways to rebels,
    and they will return to You.
14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
    then I will joyfully sing of Your forgiveness.
15 Unseal my lips, O Lord,
    that my mouth may praise You.

16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
    You do not want a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
18 Look with favor on Zion and help her;
    rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit—
    with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
    Then bulls will again be sacrificed on Your altar.

 

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

 

Are You Salty Enough?

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”  (Matthew 5:13 NLT)

Can pure salt (sodium chloride) lose its flavor?  The answer to that question is no. However, take note of the question I asked.  I asked if pure salt could lose its flavor, and the answer is that in its purest form, it cannot.

However, in ancient times, before and when Jesus walked the earth, the salt collected was not always in its purest form. Indeed, many times it was contaminated with other minerals, and full of impurities.  Therefore, when eating of this contaminated salt, the partakers of that salt may have tasted the minerals and other contaminants, which would have given the salt an “off” flavor.

Also, salt is water soluble.  Therefore, in a humid climate, salt that has been exposed to condensation and water could be dissolved, leaving only whatever contaminants were mixed in with the salt, again, causing the salt to lose its flavor.

Dead-Sea-Israel

In Jesus’ area, salt would have been obtained from salt marshes nearby, or from the Dead Sea, and these would have been full of the contaminants I’m talking about.  For in those days, we didn’t have the factories or the ability to extract other unwanted chemicals from the salt.  Therefore, it wasn’t uncommon for someone’s salt to be flavorless or to taste “off.”

Indeed, it was fairly common, and when that happened, people would throw the useless salt out into the road, where it would be trampled into the ground.  It’s important to note that the unwanted salt was not thrown into the field or someone’s yard, otherwise, it could kill someone’s crops.  Therefore, it was safer, to throw it onto the roadways, where nothing was planted, and where it would be crushed by people and animals into the ground.

Now, armed with this knowledge, what could Jesus have meant, when He said, “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.”  (Matthew 5:13 NLT)

In what ways could a man or woman of God, the salt of the earth, lose his/her flavor?  One way that we could lose our flavor and become like useless salt, is if the Word within us is watered down or diluted.  For instance, there are many preachers, teachers, evangelists and prophets, who preach a watered down version of God’s word.

They refuse to speak of sin and the need for repentance, because they don’t want to offend anyone.  Some don’t believe the devil and his demons really exist.  Some believe in psychology and psychiatry, yet turn a blind eye to demonic possession and oppression.  Their gospel is so watered down that it is entirely flavorless.  Is it really any wonder that so many want nothing to do with the church?  After all, how is this any different than living in the world?  These people have lost their saltiness, and as Jesus said, they should be cast out.  Yet, instead, many of us embrace them!

Then, there are those who, like the salt that we discussed earlier, are filled with many impurities.  They sow seeds of discord among believers.  We all know some of them.  The Apostle Paul described these people in 2 Timothy 3:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 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. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

These flavorless preachers, teachers and prophets include many teachings that are the antithesis of scripture.  You’ve seen it.  There are so-called clergy, who believe and teach that homosexuality is of God.  They not only condone it, they even practice it and encourage others to do so!

Beloved reader, how many televangelists have you seen, who couldn’t care less about your souls? All they want is more money and power.  You’ve seen the preachers, the deacons, the elders in the church, who have no love for Jesus.  They are in these positions for the power and prestige it brings them.  You’ve seen the Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, who, though some may love youth and children, care more about making sure youth and children have fun, rather than being concerned about their relationship with Christ, not to mention those who are there as predators, and seek their own pleasure by destroying our children and youth.  You’ve also seen people in the church, who are content where they are, as long as they aren’t forced to confront their own sin.

Whether these people are flavorless because of impurities or watered down versions of the gospel, if they don’t repent and change, they will be cast out and trampled, just as Jesus said.  Beloved reader, if any of this describes you, I urge you to repent before it is too late!  Jesus makes it very clear that we are to be the salt of the earth.  We are to bring a good and rich flavor to this decaying world.

Have you ever eaten a cake that has no salt?  It is one of the most disgusting things you’ve ever tasted, because even sweet things need the savory flavor of salt.  Otherwise, it just tastes like something rotten.  If we only believe, teach and preach the scriptures that say God is love, but refuse to believe, teach and preach those scriptures that show He is also a just God, who will avenge injustice, it is like eating a sickening sweet cake that has no salt.  It is disgusting.

How can we expect our children to do what is good and right, if we don’t teach them the pure, incorrupt truth?  How can we expect anyone to do what is right and good, if we don’t show them?  As a wise person once said, we, Christians, are the only bible most of the world will ever see.  If we have lost our flavor, they will simply taste and see what it is in everyone who is without Christ… unbelief… hatred… bitterness… envy… strife… adultery…  Don’t you want others to come and do as David did in Psalm 34:8?

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Beloved reader, have you lost your flavor?  If so, I urge you to repent.  Seek the Lord, while He may be found.  He is not only a just God, but also a merciful One.

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)

Cast away any flavorless, worldly teachings you have been exposed to.  Seek the Truth of God’s Word, so that you may be able to walk in His power and strength.  I urge you brothers and sisters in Christ, do not become like flavorless salt, lest you be cast away and trampled.

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

Please, Help Me to See God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019
Cheryl A. Showers

When Fear and Darkness Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ 1 Kings 19:4 — NLT ~

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

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

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

~ Jeremiah 20:7-9 — NASB ~

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

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

Now put yourself in Elijah’s place…

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

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

~ 1 Kings 19:9b-10 — NLT ~

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

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

Now, let’s look at what happened next…

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

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

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

~ 1 Kings 19:5-8 — NLT ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

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Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

THE WORLD HATES OUTCASTS
JESUS LOVES OUTCASTS!

I am so grateful that Jesus loves the outcast, the broken, the ugly, the unwanted, the unlovable, of whom I am chief among them. He looks at those the world despises and He says, “Come, My beloved! For I have loved you with an everlasting love. With cords of love, I have drawn you to Me. For I know the plans I have for you — plans to prosper you and not to harm you. I have plans to give you hope and a future. Fear not, for I am with you and I will never leave you nor forsake you. Though your mother and father forsake you, I will lift you up! Come to Me, all of you who are weary, tired, worn out and exhausted, and I will give you rest. Stop trying to fight your own battles, My beloved, for the battle is the Lord’s! Be still, and know that I am God. Humble yourself under My hand, and in due season, I will lift you up! Continue reading Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays!

Truth or Lie: Reality Check – I’m Heartsick

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Do you ever feel heartsick for the church? I’m not talking about the various places that we visit on Sundays and sometimes through the week. I’m talking about the body of Christ, those people who claim to be children of God. Do you ever feel like picking her up and shaking her? Do you ever get angry and outraged at some of the foolish things she does, because you know that she’s playing with fire, and endangering her own life, as well as the lives of others? Do you ever feel like weeping and wailing and grieving and mourning for her?

I do. My heart weighs heavily on me, and I’m so deeply troubled and grieved for the people who comprise the church. You see, somewhere along the way, many of the men, women and children were taught a lie, and because that lie felt more comfortable than the truth, they bought it — hook, line and sinker. You see, in ministering about the goodness of God’s grace, many in the church have gotten the impression that it’s okay to sin, because God will forgive you if you confess your sins, and after all, He knows your heart. So what caused me to feel this heaviness today? 

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I was on Facebook last night, and someone that I go to church with had posted a poster with a saying that was crude and it included the F-bomb. Now, I’m friends with a lot of people who do not know the Lord, and while I don’t like that type of language coming from anyone, it is not as offensive to me as when it comes from a Christian. But even this posting didn’t upset me as much as the fact that another Christian actually “Liked” this post. And the fact that another Christian “Liked” this post wasn’t nearly as upsetting to me as the fact that the other Christian who “Liked” this post is a pastor that I know and love. 

Brothers and sisters, I feel it necessary to remind you that when you are born again, you are no longer the same. You must understand that you are no longer enslaved by the sins that once  held you captive. You have been set free from those sins, by God’s grace and mercy, and therefore, you must stop catering to those sins. It’s time for a reality check.

What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!

~ 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT ~

Let me break this down for you, because it is vital that you understand, lest you be led astray and die in your sins. Before I became a Christian, I had a foul mouth. There used to be a saying, for those who cussed alot…

“You cuss like a sailor.”

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Before I became a Christian, I heard that statement frequently. In fact, I was quite proud of that, and the fact that I knew more dirty jokes than anyone else I knew. I loved smut. I read trashy novels, watched dirty movies, cussed when I was angry, cussed when I was happy, cussed for no reason at all. Really, when you do something all the time, you get to a point that you don’t even notice when you’re doing it.

But that changed when I repented and asked Christ to save me. You see, I was reborn, not of flesh this time, but of the spirit. 

3 Jesus replied, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never 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, “The truth is, 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 new life from heaven.”

~ John 3:3-6 NLT ~

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When I was born of the Spirit, my life changed. I was no longer the woman I was before. I didn’t stop cussing and telling dirty jokes immediately. I didn’t stop smoking immediately, and I didn’t stop reading and watching smut right away. Nonetheless, I had changed. You see, before, I enjoyed those things, and was quite proud of my vices. Now, the first change I noticed was the shame that enveloped me when I cussed. Those things that I used to take pride in now grieved me. The things that I used to gleefully participate in, now disgusted me.

I tried to change my behavior, not so Christ would save me, because He already had. I wanted to change, because I loved Him and I was so grateful for what He had done for me, but the harder I tried, the more I failed, until, in utter despair, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to change me, and He heard my cries and answered me. I can’t tell you the date I stopped cussing, but I can tell you that I did, because Jesus took the curses from my mouth and replaced them with blessings. 

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One night, when I was praying to Him, He spoke to me. I can’t remember what I was praying to Him for, but I remember His words to me, “Cheryl, you keep asking Me for things, but what are you willing to give to Me?” He asked.

My response was immediate, “Anything!”

“Are you willing to give Me your cigarettes?” He asked.

“I’ll give you anything but that,” I bartered. “Lord, I’ve tried to stop smoking before. You know I can’t.”

“I know you’ve tried before,” He responded, “but this time, if you’ll give it to Me, I will take the desire away from you.”

I agreed, and He took all desire to smoke away from me. I had smoked for twenty-four years, starting when I was twelve years old, but now, the smell of cigarette smoke sickened me — literally. To this day, I can smell when someone has been smoking, and the odor is nauseating to me.

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You see, I was a new person. The Cheryl that once loved sin, now hated it, because she was a new creation. The new Cheryl loved Jesus, and she wanted to please Him. Once, I belonged to the world, and I lived as the world does, but when I was born again, I no longer belonged to the world. 

1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. 3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory. 5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. 6 God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. 7 You used to do them when your life was still part of this world. 8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you.

~ Colossians 3:1-10 NLT ~

I shared all of this with you, because if you have been born again, you should not be living the same life that you lived before your salvation. You should be different. Your life should be different. Your desires should be different.

Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires.

~ Psalm 37:4 NLT ~

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I used to think that verse meant that God would give me a nice bank account, a new car, or a better job, and I used to pray for those things. But then, as I began to delight in the Lord, He changed my heart. No longer did I pray for the things I once prayed for… Do you remember why?

I’m a new person, and as I delighted in Him, He gave me new desires… As I delighted in Him, He gave me my heart’s desires… I now desired my husband and my children to know Him… I now longed to serve Him… I wanted to share His love with others… I wanted to love others as He loved me…

I had become someone new. What about you? When you were born again, did your life change? Or do you still laugh at the things you always laughed at? Does it grieve you when you sin? Or are you able to justify your sins?

My friends, if you are born again, and yet you haven’t changed, then it’s time for a reality check. If you’re still dropping the F-bomb, laughing at dirty jokes, posting things that should not be posted on Facebook, Twitter or your blog, or “Liking” any of those things, then perhaps you really weren’t born again, or perhaps you don’t really understand about grace…

14 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace. 15 So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive His approval.

~ Romans 6:14-16 NLT ~

My beloved friends, please, examine yourselves and do a reality check. It is a lie to believe that you are born again if you haven’t changed. I don’t care if you carry the title of pastor, evangelist, prophet, elder, apostle, bishop or anything else, if you “Like” someone else’s sin, if you continue in sin, then sin is your master, not God. 

1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will accept. When you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask? 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.

Brothers and sisters, I’m heartsick at how some have twisted God’s grace into an excuse to continue to live in sin. God is full of mercy and grace, but Jesus died for us, so that we might die to sin. That is God’s grace. Jesus did not die so that we could continue to dwell in sin. He died to set us free from sin.

So now, I ask each one of you to examine your own hearts. If after giving your life to Christ, you find that you are still living for yourself, it’s time for a reality check. 

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume His enemies. 28 Anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to His people. 30 For we know the one who said, “I will take vengeance. I will repay those who deserve it.” He also said, “The Lord will judge His own people.” 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

~ Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT ~

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Beloved, it grieves me to write such harsh words, but I must. I urge you to seek the Lord with all your heart. Examine your hearts, and if you are guilty of trampling on the Son of God and treating the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Cry out to Jesus, and walk in obedience to His will. He is full of mercy and grace, and He will save those who are truly repentant. He knows that we are not capable of changing ourselves, and if you will delight yourself in Him, He will give you new desires… desires to please Him. He will set you free from the law of sin and death, if you will simply love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Words of Jesus – Fasting in the Secret Place

 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NLT)

Other people’s opinions didn’t seem to matter to Jesus. In fact, the ONLY opinion that mattered to Him was His Father’s, and if we’re to follow after Him, then that’s where our hearts must be also.

It is easy for us to get so caught up in trying to please or impress others, that we often lose sight of what’s really important. Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself, because I want to please the Lord, and yet, all too often, I find myself trying to please my pastor, or other members of the church, knowing that this is not pleasing to God… Not only do I end up not pleasing God, I think I even grieve His Spirit, and that’s just horrible.

Let me explain. Every year, at the beginning of the year, the pastor calls for a fast. Now, that’s not a bad thing, but has it become a tradition, a ritual, a religious act? I comply with this every year, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But here’s the issue I have with this – This is not something Holy Spirit is leading me to do, and I end up doing it merely because I’m a leader of the church and it’s expected of me. And throughout the 21 days of the fast (yes, it’s always 21 days), I struggle because I have not been led by the Spirit to do this.

It’s totally different when I hear the Spirit telling me to fast. Four years ago, when I went to jail to minister one Sunday, I was asked by the guards and the inmates to visit another inmate in her cell, who was having seizures. Now this was highly irregular. I am not normally allowed to go on the block, but the Lord was moving. I went back there, and as soon as I saw her, I knew that she was not merely having seizures. She was demonized.

It was amazing, because I felt no fear or nervousness in the situation. You see, I knew I wasn’t in charge. Jesus was totally in control, but although I bound those demons, I saw no change in this woman’s condition, and it grieved me. Later, after I left the jail, I prayed and I asked Jesus why the demons did not stop tormenting this woman, and I heard the Lord speak very clearly to me, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.”

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I knew what I had to do. I went on a clear liquid fast, and a friend loaned me Jentezen Franklin‘s book, Fasting: Opening the Door to a Deeper, More Intimate, More Powerful Relationship With God“.  (If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it!) I started out planning to fast for 21 days, until I read the chapter about the flies, and I heard the Lord speak to me again. He told me this was to be a 40 day fast. It was amazing.

I went to two women’s retreats during that fast, and if any of you have gone on retreats, you know that good food and fine dining are a part of the fun, but I was okay. I went to restaurants with my friends, and we had a great time, and I wasn’t even tempted to eat, because the presence of the Lord was so strong in me and I didn’t want to do anything to quench His Spirit and what He was doing in me and for the women that I ministered to in prison. This was a fast that the Lord called me to go on, and it had a purpose – His purpose.

The next time I ministered in jail after this fast was completed, unbeknownst to me, the woman who I had ministered to before attended the church service. Now you need to know that I had never seen her in a church service before, nor since I had ministered to her in her cell, and I had only seen her the one time.

As I was ministering, I looked to the back of the room, and I began to prophesy to this woman. Her countenance was changed and I didn’t recognize her at first, until the Lord revealed to me that she was the one that I had fasted and prayed for. I looked in her eyes and I told her that I had been fasting and praying for her for forty days. As she began to cry, I told her that she wasn’t just having seizures, she was demonized. She nodded her head as the tears flowed, and told me that since that Sunday when I had ministered to her, she hadn’t had anymore seizures, but prior to that, for several months, she had been having seizures multiple times a day. I was amazed by what the Lord had done, and that He had given me the privilege of being a part of His kingdom.

So this brings me back to what I was talking about earlier… Somewhere in the four years since that time, I feel like I lost something that I’m just now starting to get back. I love my pastor and my church, but I love the Lord more. One of the things our church is so proud of is the fact that we are not traditional or religious, and we follow Holy Spirit, and yet, the truth is, we are human, and our pride in this has blinded us to the fact that like so many, we have become traditional and religious…

No, we don’t have bulletins and programs and rote prayers like some denominational churches, but we have become traditional in other ways… And please don’t think I’m dishonoring my church by speaking this way, because as I said before, I love my pastor and the members of my church very much. And the truth is, on this side of heaven, there is no perfect church yet, until Jesus returns from glory and separates the goats and the sheep… and helps us sheep get right too.

Here is where the real problem is… I have become traditional and religious and I have grieved Holy Spirit, and this grieves me. I hear the Lord saying to me, I hate all your festivals and sacrifices. I cannot stand the sight of them! From now on, when you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look. Even though you offer many prayers, I will not listen. For your hands are covered with the blood of your innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Let Me no longer see your evil deeds. Give up your wicked ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:14-18 NLT)

I hear You calling to me, Lord, and I repent. Forgive me for grieving You, for trying to please everyone and offend no one, and by doing this, I offended and displeased You. Forgive me Lord and change my heart. I repent Lord and I humble myself under Your righteous right hand. I will fast when YOU lead me to fast. I will serve YOU first – help me to be attentive to Your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers